27 February, 2015

Girl in the Red Dress

The Rules:
1. Set a timer for five minutes
2. Look at the image and write what comes to mind, no editing, no thinking about it - just write. 
3. If you want to post what you wrote below, I'd love to read it.
4. Save what you write

26 February, 2015

God is Not a God of Rules and Oppression

Today I came across a blog from an incredible woman making her own way after leaving an incredibly spiritually abusive home. She broke away from her family, went to school, and is trying to come alongside others, while finding a faith that is real and true.

A friend of hers still lives in a home where manipulation and control are used to keep their 20 year old daughter under their control. From the way she wrote, the “church” (term used very loosely) sounds more like a cult.

Simply put: Christ – God – Faith – Salvation – Christianity – whatever term you want to use is not a series of rules. You do not show your faith by not doing things. Your entrance to heaven is not determined by your clothes, the car you drive, what you listen to, or who you vote for.
Man puts so many rules on faith that do not come from God. All they do is keep us from coming to know God in a real way.

God is not some dictator, some authoritarian who demands devotion by a list of dos and don’ts. That is not the God of the Bible. That is not how Jesus lived. The people overcome by rules and do lists existed in Jesus’ time and he spent a lot of time speaking out against them.

Faith is not action – or not legalized action. It is not wearing skirts to your ankles, only listening to hymns with harps, never reading or viewing anything that makes you think. It is not all the constructs, rules and parameters that people put around it.

I have seen too many people ruined, too many people hurt, too many faiths destroyed by people who treat faith and God as some evil deity to appease rather than someone who is full of love, grace, compassion, empathy, healing, joy and community.

I applaud this woman for her courage, for her ability to stand in the gap. She is a light to those who realize how they were raised is not right, and yet still want to know this incredible God in a real way.

Yet at the end she makes a humbling statement: they will not leave until they are ready. We cannot make those we love escape something harmful. We cannot help them see who God is until they are ready. But the glory of it all is that God, the true God who created the world, knows each of us down to our bones, wants us to come to know Him fully, is only a page turn away.

Last year I was challenged to read the scripture for scripture sake. I asked God to remove the lies I was raised with and show me His heart behind His words. It has been remarkable. 

God is not the rules, hatred, fear, oppression, or domination that man has put on Him. He is not the abuse, manipulation, control and isolation of the writer’s friend’s “church.”

He is the God of freedom, of life, of light and peace. He is the God of breaking bread with those we do not understand and loving those around us with deep unconditionally. He is a one-on-one God who desires that all His children come to know Him intimately, for themselves.

Spiritual abuse is so hard to come back from because it tends to so deeply shape who we are. Yet if we can give God our beaten and tattered theology, and come to Him with an open heart, He will give us so much more than we could ever have expected.

25 February, 2015

Journal Idea: Make a List

It's week two of the journaling series. Today we are going to talk about lists.

Lists are a great way of capturing information when you are short on time, or when you want to capture some of the day to day things we tend not to notice. 

Gadanke did a video on documenting where you are. Katie created a print out to help you to write down what you’re reading, celebrating, watching and waiting on. 

Too often when we journal we can write about the day to day, but never stop to document what we’re doing on the periphery.

Instead of printing off the fall list, I decide to just write it on a page in my Joyful Things journal.

I started by writing six categories on the page.

Then I wrote in my answers.

Now the back of the page was blank. I decided to write down one of the insights from Own Your Life that has really stood out to me.
"I do not have the power to make everyone like me or approve of my values, looks, actions, or performance. But I am responsible for how I react to others' criticism of me. If I allow their words to destroy my self-image, then I am allowing them to control me. As I have grown in my walk with God, I've thankfully realized that allowing others to control the way I think about myself is a dark, endless hole. I am committed to gradually growing and learning in every area of my life, but essentially I have accepted that I will always be the same person under it all. I must daily decide to enjoy the person God made me to be." - Sally Clarkson

I added some washi tape and there is another page in the journal.

While doing this, I was reminded of a post I wrote in 2013 that followed some of the same idea. I decided it would be fun to do a second page using that list.

Because there were more questions, I used both sides of the page. I messed up with the permanent marker, but decided to go with it. I like this list because it gets more into the routine, the things that don’t get recorded. I use this list when I want to get the juices flowing, because most times one of these prompts will trigger something more. 

Don’t forget to date your entries.

Did anyone do the photo journal from last week? How did it turn out? 

*In the spirit of full disclosure, these are affiliate links in the post, which means that I may get a commissions if you decide to purchase anything from Gadanke. I only recommend products & systems that I use and love myself, so I know you’ll be in good hands.* 

24 February, 2015

Taking a Stand

Here is my entry from the February 20th's Creative Prompt:

She was going to do it. She was going to take a stand and do it. She looked at the snow outside her apartment, her home for three years, and wondered if she really had the strength.


There was no way. She couldn’t make a life for herself. The cost of rent alone made where she was an ideal arrangement.

Three years in the city and she had yet to audition for one play. She had found them, gotten the script, practiced. But then the day of something came up. Something always came up. A business lunch, a list of errands, some other appointment that had to happen just then. No one else seemed as panicked about the timing as he was. The business meetings were luncheons and drinks. She didn’t feel like she needed to be there. He barely paid any attention to her anyway. She told herself it wasn’t intentional.

Sliding off the stool she looked at the script in her bag, a part she really wanted, one a friend had gotten her an audition for. She didn’t tell him about it. She didn’t want something else came up at the last minute. What was she doing?

She looked at the studio again, in the middle of a high-rise, with a great view of the city. She could see the river and the city across it. Would she ever reach this place again?

Money was not a reason to stay, neither was security or comfort. They had been together for so long; she barely knew who she was outside of him anymore. He made all the money, content to let her work at the coffee shop, content to always have her reliant on him for everything. Surely it wasn’t… who was she kidding! It was intentional.

It was intentional how he said he supported her dreams and yet never actually let her pursue them.
It was intentional how he degraded her in front of his friends and then said he was just drunk.
It was intentional that he had the password to her email and yet always forgot to give her his.
It was intentional.

It was. It was time for her intention.

She had been discussing it with her friend for weeks. They only communicated when her shift at the coffee shop coincided with his being at work. Her friend offered up her couch. She lived on the other side of town, in this basement apartment that leaked when it rained and always smelled musky. But it was something, a new start. Her friend was going to help her get a job on that side of town. There was a waitressing job that would give her time off for auditions. Was taking orders really that different from making coffee?

She sat on the stool again, pulling her leg up to rest on the edge. She looked at their apartment, cold and void of anything personal. It was supposed to be their dream. He got her out of Wisconsin, she told herself. And for that she would always be grateful. But they had outgrown each other. Their lives didn’t mix anymore. His friends found her simple. Her friends found him pompous. He wanted the flashy; she wanted the warm and comfortable.

On the couch was her overnight bag packed with the few items she was taking. It would be okay. She could do this.

The snow started again, blurring her view of the city. She had to go. If she didn’t she would talk herself out of it. The city might shutdown again and then he’d be home and wonder what she did to the apartment.

Sliding off the stool she reached for her bag. She left the keys on the counter, they would not be her life raft. She was leaving. One more look. A deep breath. A choice. Turning to the door she saw her future before her and for the first time in a long time was filled with possibility.

23 February, 2015

Why Arquette Got it Wrong

Last night was the Oscars. Today there will be tons of commentary on the dresses, the speeches, and Neil Patrick Harris standing in his tighty whiteys. 

Full disclosure: I have seen zero of the films nominated. I am not that big of a film person any more, but still there are actors I respect and follow and it’s interesting to listen to the pre-Oscar hype and then see who walks away with a trophy.

I appreciate speeches that go beyond the, “I’d like to thank my manager, the cast and my dog!” There were two that stood out in that arena to me. But before that, some other highlights.

1. Reece Witherspoon taking on the media.

On the red carpet Witherspoon spoke about the #AskHerMore campaign, a drive to get reporters on the red carpet to do more than ask a woman who she is wearing. Before the event, Witherspoon posted this photo on her Instagram.

It is true that men get asked about their films or interests, while women get asked about whose dresses they are wearing. It’s sexist and a lot more stars are taking a stand. At the SAGs several actresses refused the mini cam (a truly sexist machine if there ever was one!) One even asked: Do you do this to the guys? They are taking a stand. Still, if we ever want to get beyond asking an actress what designer she is in. Maybe we should get rid of Fashion Police and all the shows tonight that will do nothing but talk about the dresses and reduce women down to pieces of meat. The mini cam before, people dissecting stars’ appearance after - how are they different?

2. Neil Patrick Harris acknowledging the seat fillers.

I think Harris did a fine job hosting. It’s hard to keep people entertained when you only have 15 seconds. I enjoyed the envelope gig, though maybe he should have revealed it before they were over on time. The best Oscar host is still Jon Stewart. It’s time to invite him back.

3. Lady Gaga.

I was cynical at best, annoyed at worse, that they would have Lady Gaga anywhere near the Oscars. She is herself an act, someone who creates chaos and lunacy for attention. My criticism of her singing ability was silenced last night, but then it raised the question: if you can sing like that why do you put out the pop crap you do? It would be like finding out Justin Bieber could sing at a Broadway level and yet chooses to put out the lyrically low, technically insulting dribble he does. We all know Pink can sing, so her belting it out last year for the Wizard of Oz was no surprise, just a really warm, awesome, triumphant moment. She brought creditability to her already varied career. All Lady Gaga did last night was make it harder to go back to singing about her Poker Face. And it also showed she has no idea what to do when she is standing there in a ball gown verses jiving on stage dressed in meat.

The two speeches that stood out to me were Graham Moore for best adapted screenplay and Patricia Arquette for Boyhood. To me those are the best and worse speeches of the night.

Moore’s speech was genuine, heartfelt, emotional and real. As someone who did not fit in either, it was encouraging for him to reach back and encourage others. It was a humbling moment in an otherwise superficial display.
“When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong. And now, I’m standing here and I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere: Yes, you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird, stay different. And then, when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along.”

Which brings me to Mrs. Arquette. I found her speech jumbled, chaotic and misplaced. She went through the standard thanks you, before mentioning something about helping people in third world counties and then launched into how the time for women’s equality in America is now.
"To every woman who gave birth, to every tax payer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else's equal rights. It's our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America." 

Here is why Arquette’s plea failed.

As women in America, we have it pretty good. As far as equal rights go, we can vote, we have control over our bodies, we can do what we want, and we get an education.

Do women need to get paid the same as men? Hell yes. It is insulting that women work just as hard as men, putting in the same time, making an equal contribution and get paid 22% less. It is wrong and in 2015 it should not be.

Yet I take issue when people (women especially) paint the picture that women in America are back in the 1700s. We have helped everyone else get equal rights (a total falsehood) and yet women are still domesticated house servants! Please. You want to talk women’s equality let’s talk about how martial rape is legal in Afghanistan. Or about honor killings in India. How gendercide happens daily in Asia. Let’s talk about how little girls are stoned after they are raped in the Middle East. Let’s talk about ISIS or Boko Haram are taking child brides. Let’s talk about how rape is used as a weapon of war in the Congo. Or about how Female Genital Mutilation or fistulas ruin a girl’s life. Let’s talk about how in most of the developing world widows have zero rights.

The point? We have it pretty damn good. Yes we need to get paid the same. But as women in America we need to be taking a stand for women who cannot speak out. We need to be taking a stand for little girls who don’t get an education because they are a girl. We need to fight for girls who never get a chance at life because of their gender. We need to stand up for archaic practices that punish the victim of rape but not her rapists. We need to ensure that every woman is allowed the basic rights that we have in America.

It’s not about voting rights or equal pay; it’s about having the basic freedom to decide what happens to your body and your life.

Yes, I want to get paid the same. Yes it is a discrimination and ridiculous and wrong. And yet, I would give up .20 cents on the dollar if a girl in Pakistan could go to school without fear of being shot in the head, if a woman in India was seen as a person and not property, if abuse was not tolerated and then covered by a burka, if a little girl was not smothered at birth for being born a girl.

Thank you for the cry out for women’s rights Mrs. Arquette, yet could you phrase it in a way that does not make it sound like we in America are suffering any forms of injustice equal to the rest of the world because of our gender? Maybe instead of screaming about it, you should take the Charlize Theron approach and refuse to work until you get paid equally. If female A-listers refused to work without equal pay, Hollywood would adapt real quick. Or become like Reece Witherspoon and start making the movies you want. The problem with crying for freedom instead of taking actual steps towards it is that it still makes you dependent on someone else to make the change. So do something tangible instead of making an impassioned cry at the Oscars.

What was your favorite moment from last night?

20 February, 2015

Friday Creative: Getting Ready

The Rules:
1. Set a timer for five minutes
2. Look at the image and write what comes to mind, no editing, no thinking about it - just write. 
3. If you want to post what you wrote below, I'd love to read it.
4. Save what you write

18 February, 2015

Journal: Write it on a Photo

Last fall I started journaling with Gadanke and Katie's weekly ideas to help you overcome writer's block and document your life in unique and meaningful ways.

I loved the ideas and how it brought a new aspect to my jounraling. I am a voracious journaler. I have been since middle school. It's my way to document what's happening, processing life and stay sane. Yet I wanted to be able to incorporate photos and mementos. To make it more than just words on a page. I've struggled to merge the Project Life idea with what I write in my journal.

I really love Gadanke's journals. I have the She journal.

It's filled with prompts, fun paper and places to record what is going on.

So I jumped at the chance to become an affiliate for Gadanke, because I get the vision Katie has for helping people capture their story. Our stories matter and everyone has one to tell.

On Wednesdays I am going to be showing you my entries through Gadanke's journaling workshops using the Joyful Things journal.

In the second workshop (the first is an introduction), Katie uses a photograph not just as a reminder, but as the page as well!

I found a photo from our recent trip to DC.

Before I wrote on the photo, I made a list of what I remembered from the trip.

Then I took my sharpie, wrote on the photo - and dated the entry. I slipped it onto my Joyful Things journal and my first entry is done.

Join me next Wednesday, when we look at Documenting the Season. If you want to journal along with me, go to Gadanke and pick up a journal.

*In the spirit of full disclosure, these are affiliate links in the post, which means that I may get a commissions if you decide to purchase anything from Gadanke. I only recommend products & systems that I use and love myself, so I know you’ll be in good hands.*
© Amanda Lunday