Radical Simplicity and a Beautiful, Messy Life

A Hundred Million Things Other than Fat

I am plus sized, heavy, overweight. I am a fat girl. I am 80 pounds over my suggested weight range, and within a few pounds of the heaviest I've ever been. You know what else I am?

I am a girl who can make you laugh. 
And a girl who can laugh at herself.
I am a girl who will help you move,
Who is pretty much always available for a friend In need.

I am a girl who loves all things coffee and christmas and caramel,
Documentaries and poetry,
Colour, contrast,
And clean simple lines.

I am a good mother,
A mediocre daughter,
A bad liar,
A wife.
A truth teller, 
Who sometimes lies to herself.

I can write,
Sew, crochet and bake,
Refinish furniture,
Operate power tools,
fold a fitted sheet,
Make a kick ass lasagne.
I have a powerful right hook.

I wear what I want, 
Leggings, large prints, horizontal strips,
Tattoos and piercings, 
And I rock them with confidence, 
some of the time. 

I am a bubbly introvert.
I wear my heart on my sleeve,
feel emotion intensely,
cry at the drop of a hat, 
and surprise myself with how well I respond in a crisis. 

I throw great parties, 
Invite too many people,
obsess over the wrong details,
leave things to the last minute.
But it works out anyways.

I change my mind. A lot. 

I am a Christian, 
A minimalist,
Probably a pacifist.
Maybe a socialist, 
Definitely not a republican.
I can quote scripture and poetry and Kurt Cobain's suicide letter.

I am awkward, and okay with it.
I laugh at my own jokes,
fall up stairs,
and sometimes spit when I talk. 

I give great hugs. 

I am a missionary,
An activist in a thousand tiny ways, 
I am a sister, an aunt, 
An avid reader, and a bible college drop out.

I am a sexual assault survivor,
A feminist,
A recovering drug addict.

I like to smoke cigars on the porch on summer evenings. 
And dine with great friends and good wine,
And swim alone at night.

I talk when I'm nervous,
stand firm when I'm afraid, 
love fiercely when it hurts.
I am regularly a contradiction,
still figuring things out.
But I know this:

I am a hundred million things other than fat. 

You and I, my friend? We are hundred million things.  And what we see in the mirror is the least interesting of them all. 

Will you take a moment to follow me on facebook, twitter, or instagram? And thank you for reading my words, I'm honoured.

Please Don't Be Nice {A Letter to my Kids}

Dear Kids,

Your whole lives up until now I have told you to be nice. I would like to retract that.

Most the time I said it for lack of a better word.
 "Be nice to your sister."
 Hitting isn't nice."
 "Share, it's the nice thing to do."
 But nice was never the right word. 

The Dictionary says that nice means pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory. Kids, don't be satisfactory. Be extraordinary. Be bold. Be passionate. Be fearless if you can. Be just and wise and steadfast. And in doing so, I assure you, some people will find you quite unpleasant and disagreeable. 

Be self-controlled. Be peacable. Be charitable. Be warm, accepting, genuine. But please, not nice. 

Nice is a counterfeit of Love. It's weak. It may look like love, but it lacks substance. And like any counterfeit the person who is left holding it has been robbed of the real thing. 

My hope for you is a holy discontentment. A soul dis-ease that won't allow you be nice at the expense of doing the right thing. 

The world needs more prophets. More truth speakers. More humilty, vulnerability, and courage. The world needs people who are stubborn about all the right things.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you to be brash and angry and loveless.  The bible tells us to speak the truth in love, because the biggest truth about each person you meet is that they are fiercely loved by their creator, are of infinite worth and value. Any truth that is not impregnated with that love is a lie. Without love you become a clanging cymbal. So love bravely and boldly. Love extravagantly. 

But, kids, please don't be nice.

Will you take a moment to follow me on facebook, twitter, or instagram? And thank you for reading my words, I'm honoured.

What I want you to know about Homelessness

What I want you to know about homelessness is that even those of us that chose it didn't feel like we had much of a choice.

That many of us need far more than just a home, but support, counselling, acceptance, someone who loves us just the way we are. 

That it has its perks: answering to nobody, good panhandling days. 

And it's terrifying.  Every. Single. Day.

It stinks, literally. That bench you're sleeping on got pissed on last night. 

What I want you to know about homelessness is that takes many forms. It can be a tent in the woods or a series of friends couches or emergency shelters or the back of a truck. 

That when you're homeless, meeting your basic needs can be an arduous task. Finding a place to sleep, food to eat, even a place to pee, is complicated. 

What I want you to know about homelessness is that sometimes we don't have any bootstraps left to pull ourselves up by.

That we may have burnt bridges, squandered opportunities, learned destructive patterns of behaviour. But that's not who we are. We are all so much more than the mistakes that we've made.

What I want you to know about homelessness is that it can happen to you. I know soccer moms and church elders and youth group leaders who encountered addiction or mental illness or family breakdowns and lost everything. 

What I want you to know is that the opposite of homelessness is NOT just having a place to live. The opposite of homelessness is relationship, community, friendship, support, and justice.

I want you to know that friends don't let friends sleep on park benches. And neighbours don't let neighbours move into their car. That when we build community we are doing a small and precious part to reduce homelessness. 

What I want you to know about homelessness is that you have the power to change it. In the million small ways you interact with your culture every day and sow seeds and affirm or challenge assumptions. In a million ways everyday we can send the message that every life matters, that nobody should have to sleep on piss stained concrete, that community is a part of the human design. 

You can do small things with great love and make a difference. 

What I want you to know about homelessness is that it doesn't diminish a persons worth. Everyone deserves dignity, respect, options, and hope.

Will you take a moment to follow me on facebook, twitter, or instagram? And thank you for reading my words, I'm honoured.

That's not who I am. (A Lesson in Radical Self Love)

I have a friend who has struggled with addiction for nearly 40 years.  

After months of sobriety, a mutual friend who lives in the same building with him told me that they've smelled something coming from his apartment.  He's smoking something, and it's not pot.  

I asked my friend if he was using again, and he said yes.  But what he said next was inspiring. 

He told me he'd used a bunch of times the previous week.  "and that's okay", he said.  "I'm clean now.  I'm going to meetings.  I'm okay."

He must have seen the concern on my face. 

"Look, I'm an addict.  I've been an addict almost my whole life.  I used.  I fucked up.  But that's not who I am.  My mistakes don't define me. "

That's not who I am.  

My mistakes don't define me. 

This guy could teach a course on radical self love.  I'd attend it.  I need it. 

How often do I redefine myself based on my failures and successes?  I burnt the oatmeal.  I said something witty. I haven't worked out all week.  I look cute in this outfit. I forgot about that appointment. People are liking my facebook status.   My self worth is subject to the ups and downs of an ordinary day.  

But that's not who I am.  My failures and successes don't define me.  I am a child of god, a mama, a wife, a daughter, sister, friend, loved exactly as she is.  Burnt oatmeal and all.

The mistakes you made today? 
They don't define you.  

That sin in your past that still sometimes feels like a log in your gut? 
 It's not who you are.    

The things you've done, or failed to do? 
You are so. much. more.

You and me and my friend?  We were formed by the hands of a loving God, thoroughly treasured and cherished by Him.

May that be what defines us today.  

On Parenting: We're All Just Making it Up As We Go.

Beware of people who tell you they are ready to have children. 

I was twenty-two when a nurse with icy hands coached me through breastfeeding my minutes-old child for the first time. Those first few days gave me a false sense of security, with nurses helping to bathe and feed this tiny new person, a whirlwind of visitors hugging and gifting and cheering me on, I thought that maybe I was qualified for this whole motherhood thing afterall.  Eight years later, I know better.  I would have to live to be about a hundred and forty in order to have the necessary wisdom, self awareness and grace to shepherd a fragile little human into adulthood. 

Children have a way of exposing our own immaturities.  Like when I shout at an inanimate object out of frustration and turn around to see the horror and confusion on my children's faces.  What ridiculousness that I would be angry at a screen door that won't open or a computer that won't load.  Or that I would be jealous when the tired grumpy baby wants her father instead of me at midnight. Or that I would get angry with God when life throws us an unexpected difficulty.  I'm a big child who throws spiritual temper tantrums when things don't go my way. 

This realization sets us free to forgive our own parents. My mother was practically a child when she married my father. She carried all her hurts and fears into this new family just like we all do. Being angry at a parent for the mistakes they made raising us makes about as much sense as scolding a toddler for tripping as they traipse through the livingroom in some adult shoes they've found by the door.   Unless they were 140 when they had us, then perhaps they've had enough time to figure things out. 

So this is parenting -- a broken person or two, still in many ways a child themselves, with all their fears and hurts and hopes and quirks, trying to raise an innately sinful little person to live functionally in this world.  

I ask myself sometimes what is the one thing I hope my kids will be able to say about their upbringing.  I think in my early days of parenting I couldn't have nailed it down to one thing. Parenting wasn't about them back then, it was about me and what I had to prove.  I needed to be strict enough to show I cared, but not smothering.  I needed to be involved enough, get my hands dirty with glue and glitter and mud pies, but also leave enough room for free play and discovery.   I needed to have a clean, tidy perfect space for their developement.  I needed them to profess my faith as their own and live it better than I ever could.  Now I just hope they will be able to say that home was a place of love and grace. 

Of course I could be wrong.  Thirty-one years on this planet isn't nearly enough to know for sure how not to wreck the beautiful little people entrusted to our care.   No matter how many parenting books we read and prayers we say, parenting is always a big sloppy experiment full of uncontrollable variables, isn't it? 

So grace.  It always comes back to grace.   Maybe as my kids watch me try and try again to extend grace to my own mother, grace to myself, grace to them, they will grow up knowing that we are all a broken mess and that's alright; that I was just a toddler in big girl shoes getting up again each time she fell. 

I sit down on the livingroom floor as children pile into my lap and I apologize for yelling at the screen door.  For frightening them. We cry and hug and go on with our day.  My second born confesses to telling a lie, I squeeze her tight and forgive her.  We cozy up to read stories on the couch under blankies as if the mess and sin hadn't happened.  Every day is an opportunity to live out reconciliation and restoration.  Forgiveness and Grace.  These difficult moments where we see ourselves for who we really are and are loved despite of it, where we explode or stumble and somehow everything doesn't fall apart, these moments are grace. These moments are truth. 

If I can give any piece of parenting advice, it is this:  work tirelessly to forgive your own parents for their mistakes and pray that one day your kids will forgive yours. 

Also, beware of people who give parenting advice.  We're all just making it up as we go. 

Will you take a moment to follow me on facebook, twitter, or instagram? And thank you for reading my words, I'm honoured.