Pretty Insecurities.

This is a blog I am struggling to write. I don’t want to come across as overly insecure, or vain. I want to talk about my strange female need to not want to find myself ugly. It’s hard to talk about because I don’t believe my God creates ugly or stupid.  I just sometimes feel contrary to reality.   But I do think it is sad when people communicate with their body language and dress that they don’t care much for themselves.  I also don’t think women have to dress up all the time for any reason or look the way people tell them to look.  I guess I hope that I can adequately describe the unique differences between genders, the adequacy and value we have in Christ and the  dangers of letting our insecurities tell us who we are. Woman should be called pretty by people who appreciate them wholly, but we shouldn’t look to it to make us feel whole.

I was watching Firefly and Kaylee, the beloved good natured mechanic said “Wash, Tell me I am pretty.” She was looking at all the people coupled off and she needed to know she was pretty in that moment. Like all the girls with their admiring fellas. Wash of course gave a hilarious response. My heart went out to that character in that moment. She had one occasion to dress up for the entire one season of Firefly and no one there to appreciate it. She craved the ‘pretty’ dress in the window and when she got it, no one told her she was pretty. She wanted that dress. Why? To feel beautiful. The actress who plays Kaylee is beautiful and we all know Kaylee has a beautiful heart and is content being covered in spaceship oil most of the time. She shouldn’t need to be told she is pretty. The truth is self evident… just not to her.

In middle school and high school I was that girl with the ratty hair, pajama bottoms and baggy clothes. No one ever told me I was pretty and why would they? By media standards I wasn’t.  I was pretty, I just wasn’t projecting it. I am not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me, I have almost fully embraced the awkwardness of my youth. I am telling you this because it is something I still need to hear. Even if I now project it and even if people have started to bother to tell me fairly frequently.

Speaking for myself as a woman, there is nothing like a GENUINE compliment. Never only compliment a girl on her looks. She is so much more, but don’t think looks don’t matter to her at all either. If you can see she took time on herself, you can take the time to notice. Not in a creepy way, in an encouraging way. Thanks to the world my value is always under scrutiny. Thanks to Christ I know my value will never be tied to what I am really worth. I have complete righteousness. I have nothing to fear and my value is more than many sparrows (Matt 10:31 has always been one of my favorites. Also see Gal 2:20) But I openly confess that I need to  affirmed of my beauty every now and then. I have noticed that my female friends need it too. We want to know we are beautiful. We want to feel loved for all of us. That includes our aesthetics.

 

Note: It does not give anyone the right to break us down to only our aesthetics. We can’t be separated from our hearts, dreams, morals, personalities, fears, faults or any of the other things that make up a human. If you tell a girl she is pretty and you only mean her body, you don’t know what beauty is and you can’t honestly compliment anyone. I know why Kaylee needed that dress. i know why I need a dress.

I have plenty of dresses. If I confidently put one on and tell my gorgeous self in the mirror goodbye on the way out and no one else compliments me that day it will always happen. Especially if someone like my fiance’ doesn’t say anything. His opinion matters more than anyone else. My insecurities will produce a wrongly perceived reality in moments .  For instance, yesterday I found a dress on sale. I wasn’t sure about it until a friend made me feel like I was on top of the world in it and convinced me to buy the thing. Chris and I had plans for the next day and despite the cold I wore it. If I wanted to be beautiful for anyone, it’s him. So jeans and flannel weather or no, I was going to wear it so he could appreciate it.  I never want to outsource the need to be pretty to anyone else. I never want to have to look past Chris to get validated in my looks, and if I rest in Jesus I won’t have to. I felt great, thanks to a dress. I felt great even though I had been down until I put it on, because I felt beautiful.  That could be vain, maybe petty, but it did. I paired my dress with leggings and a mid-drift hipster sweater after trying an embarrassing amount of other options. I had to find the perfect combo piece to adequately show the world how a new dress made me feel. Strong and ready. I was ready for Chris.

Chris and I got through breakfast just fine. As soon as we left I got a reminder. He didn’t notice the dress. Then another reminder, he didn’t remember the last one either. He called Jenna Coleman  pretty two days ago (It should be noted that Jenna Coleman is stunning) and the last compliment was two days ago.. It was over text and it was non specific. I wrote it off as him just saying it. t felt shallow and he only said it because I complimented him first.  I couldn’t remember the last compliment before that. In fact the last thing he said about my appearance was commenting on a mark on my neck. Poor man, I turned into a trap. I waited for him to say something about how I looked and played other thoughts from other times I felt unnoticeable. It was awful. A female hell.

After going to three places I started to cry. I had been hanging my head, frowning and sighing. How could he not tell I was upset? I wanted him to have the chanch to initiate conversation. It wasn’t going to happen. He HAD noticed something was wrong. Sadly the poor guy didn’t know what was wrong. I knew it was silly and that I can’t ever lean on Chris to make me feel whole. Only Jesus completes me. But I was hurting. He thought that I was homesick. The loving man knows the issues close to my heart, it wasn’t a bad guess. I finally cried. He just sat there in silence. I decided he didn’t care he was upsetting me and grew snappy with him for not asking what was wrong. I didn’t know that he thought he already knew and was just deciding what to say. He had lost. He had gone too long without noticing all the work that I had put into my appearance for the day. I felt useless and ugly and it was his fault. Or at least I was blaming him. I had spent all day comparing myself to every girl, hiding my bad skin and comparing myself to every female in every ad. Our look obsessed culture isn’t kind to us when we start to scrutinize yourself. Was he to busy noticing them? Or did I just not measure up to them? When I finally asked him why he didn’t care that he upset me he was rightly confused. “I upset you?” Something so clear to me had not even crossed his mind. He thought I missed my dad. He hadn’t realized it was so important to notice I got a new dress. It told me he didn’t look at me and if he didn’t look at me when I felt my prettiest, in a new dress, when would he? Oh the dangers of assumptions!

In the end, I guess this a confession. Sometimes I am not satisfied with who I am in Christ. Its complicated because I think I was designed to be loved and to feel that way. I think fiance’s ought to tell me I am pretty (and he does) . But that I can’t bank on it. That my worth will never decrease. I wish I could tell you I am always content with Christ in me alone. The point of this blog is to reflect on my Christian walk. I have  been reflecting on this. I don’t like it, but I don’t think it’s ALL bad. I have a natural need to feel loved. I just need to balance that need with the knowledge that I am handcrafted by someone who really loves me. He loves me with a perfect knowledge of all the wrong I have done without . My worth is in that perfect love. That is a gift from God.

Because it’s good for you….. Eph 2:4-9

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

Familiar Noises in the Night and the First hour.

I woke with a broken heart. It would be trendy to say it was because today is September 11. Although I am still woeful for all the broken families and all the fissures still rippling through our country from that day, that isn’t it. Last night as I entered our laundry room I heard a bump upstairs. My crazy brain for some reason thought this sounded like my father upstairs. I got excited, then depressed. It hit me. The smell of vanilla candles, big comfy red couches, a friendly cat, a big tree over a deck and white coffee cups. I want to go home. Not heaven home for once, home being my parents house. I am not sure when I will get to revisit my home town and I admit that in the quiet moments after opening Sozo I can only think of home. Of visiting one of my home towns seven restaurants. I am not sure when I will get to relive memories of coffee with dad in the morning, lunch with mom after church or of movies late at night as a family.  So many memories of sleepovers, track meets, bike rides, block parties and all of the other bits that make up me barricade my thoughts. All of this because of one bump in the night.

I have to wonder what it means. This is my first year officially out of my parents home and I wonder if I am really ready to be an adult or the simple love I have for my family just hasn’t had an outlet in awhile. What does this mean if I think about being married next summer. What does it mean if I just need to be held by my father for a moment and spend some quiet time with mom watching a movie on the sofa? Am I still a child? Am I depressed? Or is this a normal sadness? I guess only time will tell. If I am like this next week I will have to call it what it is. Depression. But not all sadness is depression. It takes someone who has years of experiencing both to tell the difference, but there is one. Sadness is normal. It’s triggered by something. It tells you something is wrong. A friend is dead, you are hurt. It’s a human way of dealing with pain of one form or another. Depression is heavier. It can be triggered by normal sadness but it holds you for long hours, days and weeks. It warps the way you look at grief.  It strips you of hope and its more than a reaction. Its a reaction plus some.

So what will I do about today?  Well for starters, I will master my super white, behind the counter dance while I wait for a customer. I will find the perfect happy coffee hipster mix on Spotify (I think I nailed it this morning) and I will look to the Psalms. If anyone knows homesickness and grief it  is the often lonely heros of the Bible.  If they found hope in their situations, I can find hope for my first hour.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

Long Lovely Lonely Hours.

Sozo just opened! I was discouraged by the first slow moments. I brought  the tables up and turned the lights on. I sighed. I doubted and I shook my head. I greeted the people going by to the market with dogs and told them they should stop by when I got opened up for some coffee. My first long haul shift.  I didn’t know what to expect or who the Lord would provide. After about 2 hours someone came and it was the owner. I went outside and saw no one. I said a little prayer on one of our red tables. I expressed that I believed SOZO was opened in faith. That Chad, Katilyn and everyone else was honestly in pursuit of Him in this. I asked for just one person.

Since then I have been too busy to finish this post. We have met newcomers to Omaha,  people walking their dogs, people from South Africa and Italy. I just made a Macchiato people! And got tipped. Life is surprising and a lot of the people have been interested in the building and it’s uses. The stories I am getting are blessed! I know that there will be long hours without anyone coming in. But today I prayed and we have been running into people since! God is good. I hope to see you at my little coffee station. I will not go mad in the silent moments. I hope. But today I will not find out!

Today this coffee shop feels like home. A dog by my side, quiet music and the click of shoes on the cement. The wonderful smell of coffee beans and shadows from the street in the window. I forget what my bedroom and it’s clutter looks like. Forget my notes to clean the clutter. I am home here. Somehow advancing the kingdom with cups of coffee and smiles. Peace in the moment. Peace where I am at. Joy in the day. I dream of people on the street dragging their story down the stairs, across the room and spilling it onto my counter top. My sense of time will change. A whole day flies by. One day seconds may feel like hours again.  I am not trying to fill every second. I am trying to revel in the seconds today. I will keep busy. But I will not dismay when I am not. I don’t know why we value being busy. I am not cleaning the dishes to get to the next thing. I relate to the woman in the book that my friend reads me by the counter while we wait for another passerby.  I am learning to have peace in moving warm water over cold vessels until they shine. Sozo coffeeshop is a refuge. I am fostering the spirit of peace in me and I am ready to let it bubble from me and overwhelm the area. I hope that others can experience the same peace. I hope that I can take this home with me. Store it in my chest and take it up against my clutter. I will add my peace to the conversation that sells another latte. I am so excited to meet I AM in each moment.

 

SOZO means to save.

If you have been reading my post you know that I work at Spaghetti Works. I have toiled bravely and have made enough Alfredo for a lifetime. I have burns and lines under my eyes to show for it. Sometimes I was depressed over it because it simply brings me no joy to go to work. This is about to change. If you are Mr. Peterson I realized if I am making a special post Monday then this should be shared first.

GAMe ministries in Omaha (check them out) is taking their coffee shop full time. On the same night I returned from work in tears with an unsureness of how much longer I could withstand my job. I didn’t even know if I was going to GAMe that night. All my roommates were but I had stepped into my depression and I wasn’t keen on leaving. But my roommate was patient and waited for me to come around even though it made her late.  The first cantonment was a new one. Not one about volleyball on Thursday.  They needed someone to be the other person for SOZO. They needed someone who loved Jesus, coffee and music. Those happen to be my favorite things in the world. You are only missing books and clothes on that list really.  This was the ministry job I had been praying for.  My roommate next to me elbowed me in the side. Her elbow said “Do it. ” After small group time I expressed interest. I have no real skills in making coffee, only drinking it, so I was nervous.

But then God made it crazy evident this was his plan for me all along. Chad brought me to the person managing the group. He asked me if I knew David. I almost laughed. Did I know him? I was was a bridesmaid in his wedding. He reassured me that coffee could be taught, he wanted a ministry major who would be a talker to be behind the SOZO bar. That was me. They wanted someone just like me.  This job had a bit of a risk to it. We have 3 months to make the cost worth it before we run out of funding.  I was in the perfect mood for risking all I had for ministry. I had gone to college for 4 years to do so. I now had a chance to be part of GAMe expanding. There is so much darkness in the old market and I get to work at a lighthouse within it.

So excited to met people, make coffee, dress like your typical ‘too cool’ barista  and let Jesus use my new exciting position as he desired. I am already so happy to be looking for bands to play, for furniture to fill the place and mastering  frothing milk.

If you are in Omaha we open September 5, 2014. Please come see me. Remember to thank God in your prayers for me. He is being faithful to me and my actions to chase Him and my willingness to wait on Him. He is ALWAYS worth waiting for. SOZO means to save and it has saved me in a cool way already. It took me out of my wanderings and made my purpose clear.

God’s Not Dead

The following is an opinion post. That means it is my opinion. Meaning I am not claiming this as fact and that I accept if you disagree with me. This is my opinion on the wildly popular Christian-flick God’s Not Dead. The movie about a boy who takes on his atheist professor that makes his class all write “God is Dead” on a slip of paper and turn it in for their first philosophy assignment. This story is inspired by a crazy amount of actual cases. I will now review all 6 plots in the God’s Not Dead Movie individually. The movie currently holds a 16 out of 100 review by critics and has the lowest rating possible on Rotten Tomatoes. I want Jesus to be the primary voice in Hollywood but this proves that we are not doing it correctly. Only we want to watch our movies. Hopefully that is worth the cost.

1. Main Plot? Josh Wheaten vs. his Philosophy teacher.

This is the plot the movie was named after. It is about a boy with inspiring faith in a non-religious college setting. He admirably refuses to write that God is dead. That is because God is most surely alive! And the movie uses the plot well to hash out Matthew 10:33 “But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”  Professor Raddison gives Josh a chance in class to logically prove that there is a creator. Which is an impossible task. As Josh points out, we can’t prove God exist. But we can’t prove he doesn’t either. In the first one he talks about creation. His girlfriend of six years (he’s a freshman so they have been together since 8th grade, surely she must be a winner) tells him not to and seems to be very controlling of his life. We are never given a real reason to care about her. The professor asks him a question after the first session about a self creating universe that makes him look stupid in front of his peers. His girlfriend (you know, controlling whats her name.) dumps him over it. Josh doesn’t seem to care so neither do we. Good riddance in fact! No room for girlfriends who say curse God and die in my propaganda. Nope, nope. Considering this movie is made for believers this isn’t really propaganda by my book.  If it is propaganda it’s one I agree with. Jesus’ name ought to be screamed and sung of on every corner in this world by those who love him. If Jesus is who he says he is, then we ought to be making thousands of movies about it!!! Even if we may not be the best script writers.

In the second session Josh comes out on top using the professors assigned reading against him. His presentations are impressive considering his time available and his lack in experience on the topic but  for a movie were acceptable. Raddison confronts him after the second presentation and threatens him. Atheist are the villains in these stories and he tries to make a good one with angry threats every now and then. All of the non Christians in the movie are flat characters who all hate God and people. When Raddison confronts Josh after the second session he quotes scripture and makes Josh realize that Raddison used to be a Christian. He finds out that
Raddison has a heart issue, not a head issue. The problem of pain is his problem. God didn’t save his mom when he was younger and he became a God hating atheist after that.

The third session is an outright debate between Josh and his professor and they both yell a lot. Essentially Josh gets Raddison to admit he hates God. And because you can’t hate someone who doesn’t exist all his classmates stand up and declare Josh the winner. Hazzah Jesus! Most importantly this gains Josh the friendship of a chinese kid in class. Martin is the face of the kids in the class he is fighting for. His father is still in the People’s Republic of China where Chritians suffer from persecution. But this is barely in the story and should have been cut. We only know he may have gotten his father arrested. There was no development. It was just squeezed in. Confusing our already distracted plot.

Lesson from Josh: Fight for the faith. It’s worth it.

2. Angry Reporter Lady

This character is introduced on her way to an interview with Duck Dynasty. I think her name is Amy. This poor girl could never exist in real life, or I hope not. She is the Christian picture of the far left. She is only portrayed as hating hunting, Christians, music and is not very good at interviews. She is not given a single likable trait… except cancer. That is harsh. And of course when she gets cancer her boyfriend dumps her. He is made to look even worse than her! He belongs in a cartoon on the Disney channel, not a movie that discusses real hard issues. Voldemort was more of a believable character than him. At least Voldemort had a background story. Amy’s story makes us feel sorry for her and reminds us that we are better of with having the hope of Christ. I think her story should also have been left out of this story because it was so poorly developed. It ends with her going after newsboys and confessing that she is dying them and all of them praying for her. I don’t doubt the witness of Newsboys but it was a wave of the wand ending for a woman who never even met the main character of the movie.

Lesson learned from this plot: Jesus gives us hope in the darkest times and loves us no matter what.

3. Professor and Girlfriend

Raddison apparently starting dating one of his brilliant students in his class. She is a christian and he spends all of his screen time with her mocking her. This is why we don’t date atheist ladies. She dumps him and that is really the end of her story. Because dating for conversion is bad! No wonder this went bad, a kind-hearted pretty christian and an old nasty atheist would never work. Duh! Not without a 3rd dimension for either of them. I am upset we were bothering with her instead of learning about how our main character became a christian or how he is coping with being dumped. Maybe a few scenes of him studying and falling asleep in other classes, maybe a couple of peers whispering about him in the cafeteria. Not being invited to study groups, his parents making a plea with the professor about his for their foolish son. I would rather have had them develop him and his endeavor. She dumps him and he dies in a crash. The end.

Lesson: Don’t date to convert.

4. The Muslim-girl gone christian.

We meet her looking at Josh and controlling whats her face. She overhears them and it was apparently very impacted by it. She had apparently somehow accepted Christ as her savior. Who knows why or how. All we know is that she was thrown out off her home for being a Christian. We never find out what happens to her after that. We see the pithy preacher give her some encouragement and a verse and she got a reassuring pat on the leg. I assume they did more than that but it isn’t said. I had no reason to assume it. But we should assume the best of them so I will say that the pastor probably also addressed her homeless situation. I think maybe also she ends up as Josh’s girlfriend? This was a separate movie idea. They should make her her own movie. Why was her father so  devout? How did 1 Corinthians get on her ipod? Why did her brother go in her room? Why didn’t her screen time out? Was her dad trying to strangle her at the end or being remorseful?  This story was never finished. It was barely started. However it’s lesson went along best with the main plot.

Lesson: Do not be afraid to stand in faith, even if you stand alone.

5.  Old woman and children.

This old woman with dementia was the best actor and had the best lines. She also connected the professors girlfriend and reporter lady’s evil boyfriend into the plot because they were her children. She again was unneeded and had nothing to do with the main plot but I like her and she is a good character. Even if her son is an underdeveloped mini-Satan.

Lesson: Living a life of faith is worth it. No matter where you end up.

6. The pithy pastor.

A lot of these people have the same pastor. He is first met meeting a missionary that has ‘really’ been in the trenches.. They want a rental car to go ride roller coasters… I guess. It’s said once. But their car breaks and won’t start and neither will the two rental cars they are given by a dealer who would rather be an actor, and with cars like his, maybe he should be. Because of this they are at a scene that was sudden and dark. The professor (mostly from plot one) reads a letter from his mother and runs to the newsboys concert. He is hit by a driver and the missionary declares he has moments to live. He accepts Jesus through the pithy pastor and all it well. I think this would have been more powerful in message if he had just died. Life is like that and we should not look to our deathbeds as the time to accept Christ. In the end nothing that Josh said mattered. The fear of death and his mother’s letter changed his heart. Which thinking about it, is correct. Only God can change any heart to Him. Thank goodness it is up to him.

Lesson: What you are doing where you are matters.

In the end God’s Not Dead was more of a theme than a story. But, it was probably someone’s best attempt at glorifying God and is a step towards the Christian culture being in the forefront of thematic story telling in the United States. We will learn to fix mistakes and we will grow. Practice usually improves us. Also the Word of God never returns void and the movie touched on many real issues faith sometimes requires of us. It holds many valuable lessons and even if I don’t like how many stories they crammed into two hours, I liked all the lessons. So watch it, look at what you can learn from it. Agree or disagree with me. I don’t really care. I just hope that in spite of underdeveloped characters and incomplete plots we can focus on what is good in the movie and encourage Christians to keep going and to keep making films. We are likely doing more good than bad.