Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Day in The Life

Yeah... I am a horse trainer's wife. Romantic, you say? Huh... Hadn't really thought of it that way. I guess it would radically depend on your definition of romantic, wouldn't it? I grew up in town, so romantic for me doesn't look anything like this... at all. ever. What do I do all day? (You do realize the last person who asked me that question has gone missing....) I guess I could give you a run down - before I start up the tractor and dig a hole to shove you into...

5:30 a.m. My alarm goes off. Because we live out here in the boonies, I get to get up before anyone else and wake two teens who sleep like something out of Walking Dead and threaten to "eat my brains" in like fashion. But that doesn't actually happen for another ten minutes. (The getting up part, not the eating brains part..) That's right... I hit the snooze! Don't judge me...

5:40 a.m. I drag my worn carcass out of bed and don a ratty purple robe (because my husband thought my fav color might make my robe less hideous - he was wrong) and stumble down the back hallway to the kids' rooms, only once contemplating either dousing my sleeping mate with ice water or bouncing a fry pan off his noggin. I am not a morning person.

5:45 a.m. This chunk of time of late is spent scrubbing my kitchen floor and re-laying miles of pee-pee pads while 8 hungry piraƱa puppies attempt to eat my slippers off of my feet. I do not have my coffee before this task, as I might actually wake up and vomit profusely, causing me more scrubbing.... It's a choice.

5:50 a.m. I feed the nasty little crap-factories puppies. Wondering about puppies? Yes, I have eight little buggers running around because my 12 year old Corgi (because all Queens have Corgis, right?) got knocked up by the neighboring Jack Russell. My dog never left the property... "Sucks" does not begin to describe how I feel about this turn of events!

6:00 a.m. I remind my boy that the car needs started. As it does every morning... and now I start hunting down some sweatshirt, sweater or other jacket-type garment that might hide from the waist up that I am still in my pajamas. I know one day I will regret this fashion choice, but until then I can hope that that day is at least in warm weather...

6:10 a.m. The kids and I pile into the car accompanied by the aforementioned Corgi dog to traverse to the nearest bus stop, roughly 8 miles away. (My companion dog is snuggled up to the man in bed... Traitor!) If I am lucky, it is a silent trip. Otherwise I alternate between the desire to poke out my eardrums or run us off the road as two close-in-age teens fight it out. First rule of Fight Club... (you get my drift)

6:33 a.m. My kids leave the arena confines of the car to board their respective busses and annoy another adult for roughly 45 minutes on their way to school. While my ears may still be bleeding from the ride to the bus stop, I do take a moment to pray for both of my kids to make it through school without incident... No sarcasm. It's what I do...

6:50 a.m. Home and time to make the coffee! I have an addiction to caffeine. Don't mess with me before I have had my share, and if my coffee maker ever breaks you better hope I can find the Starbucks instants I have stashed around the house. If you are lucky, I will boil water to drop them in... If you aren't, I may just pour the packet straight into my maw! Yes, it's that bad!

6:52 a.m. While the coffee maker sputters and coughs into life, I do poop patrol in the puppy pen. Seriously... *gack*

7:00 a.m. I have my coffee in hand (after mis manos are washed of course... *gack*) and I sit at my iPad to write out whatever drivel I may have had stewing in my brain. The thing about being a blogger is that you are constantly living your life in the land of, "That is something to blog about..." or "Quick, take a picture! I can use that on my blog!" It is a sad, weird and perplexing existence. One I have come to accept as who I really am, as the whole Queen thing didn't seem to take... I know! I have the dog... Who knew?

7:30 a.m -ish I kiss the hubby goodbye and only slightly grudgingly eye his mug of coffee... Yeah, I don't share well either.

8:30 a.m. - ish I wonder what the hell is taking this post so long as I pour myself my second cup of joe, and gripe to the open air that the Man took too much coffee.... (It's a thing... I don't know how else to explain it.)

9:00 a.m. It is time to find actual pants and head up to the office. While I think it should be perfectly acceptable to work in one's jammies, the hired man and our assistant trainers don't appreciate it. And fuzzy slippers don't hold up well under 1000 lb horse hooves - Go figure!

9:15 a.m. I realize that not only have I become hopelessly distracted, but I need to do laundry... AGAIN... craptastic!

9:30 a.m. I drive up to the barn. Yes, I realize that I should walk, but every time I have that brilliant burst of energy I am immediately regretful that I have left something in my car that I need to complete my task at hand. And while angrily stomping back to the house and down the driveway to my chariot probably burns mucho calories, it also endangers anyone caught in my path. I cannot be responsible for any more singed eyebrows around here... Folks look creepy without eyebrows... Have you noticed that?

9:32 a.m. I stomp and whine and generally throw a hissy until my husband gets out of my chair and stops touching my computer. It's not his fault, exactly, but he is the anti-geek. If he touches it, it won't work. If it needs wireless, cellular service or radio waves - he will block it's ju-ju. It is weird, but it is who he is. He is the anti-techy and I hate it when he touches my gadgets. Otherwise, he's' a great guy... No really.

9:35 - ? This is where the magic happens... Web updates (yes, despite some off hand comments, I actually do update our website!), accounting, deposits, emailing, phone calls, billing, ordering - It all gets piled on my desk and I sift through it as best I can. When I am not actually chained to my desk I am in my rolling office running errands (another reason to keep the car close at hand). I try to compile a route and make errands in town on one day, maybe two, per week. It cuts down on the speeding tickets and the risk of bodily injury to others. I used to be cute enough to get out of tickets... Yeah... shut it!

3:40 p.m. I head to the bus stop to gather my evil teens cherubs who have had glorifyingly fulfilling days survived by the skin of their teeth. Once more we start home and if I am lucky, they are tired enough to be ruining their hearing with headphones and loud music, otherwise - more ear bleeding.

3:45 p.m. (The afternoon bus stop is closer than the morning one... Don't get me started!) We all pile into the house and start afternoon chores. After I yell a little first... Ok. A lot. The boy has puppies to wrangle outside, the girl has a cat box to clean, they both have homework and I have more floor scrubbing to do... *gack*

3:50 p.m. Feed the crap-factories puppies again.

4:10 p.m. I realize that I forgot to take out something for dinner, so I stand at the refrigerator and ponder what might actually look like I didn't forget something as important as feeding my family.

4:12 p.m. I pour a glass of wine to deal with the guilt...

4:13 p.m. I settle on something for dinner and realize I forgot to change out laundry. While I stomp around the laundry room, cussing the fact that I am not the only one who wears clothing at our house but I am the only one who does laundry, I can count on at least one, "Geesh, Mom... why are you so grouchy?"

4:13.30 p.m. I ponder how much digging it would take to bury a body...

4:15 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. I busy myself with any other project that may have slipped the radar during the day. I have a card business, a feed business, a family and the horse business.... I am never idle long! And there's always puppy poo... lots of puppy poo!

6:00 p.m. I begin the glorious gastronomical adventure I call dinner. It must be done in 30 minutes or less or I lose interest and patience points. I can manage crock pot meals for longer, but let's all pray I put in enough water in the morning... Do you know how long it takes to get the smell of BBQ pork-scorch outta your house? A looooong time... very long.

6:30 p.m. I feed kids, if they are lucky. I pour myself another glass of wine and try waiting on The Man to come in for dinner. Sometimes I actually make it a whole 5 minutes before I am sure he will be another hour or so and eat gluttonously fast over the sink.

6:36 p.m. The Man arrives home to his wife hunched over the sink... cleaning. Yeah, I was cleaning!

7:00 p.m. I am a TV junkie. It is here that I sit for the next two hours and zone out in front of the boob-tube. At least I admit it! Not like some of you who tell the rest of us you don't have a television and yet you know who won every last wretched season of The Bachelor! Yeah, you! Maybe here is where you see romance? I might even get to share a couch with The Man... that's romantic, I suppose...sorta.

8:30 p.m. I banish the kids to their rooms to read before bed, It started in grade school and we just never stopped. I like it. Leave me alone...

9:00 p.m. I drag my body back down the same hallway of the morning ritual to say prayers with my kids and turn off lights. At least three times a week I yell at no-one in particular for getting into my card making supplies and ruining my scissors. It's a Mom-thing... at least my mom did it. What is it about scissors? Weird...

9:05 p.m. I make some lame-o excuse to retire to the bedroom where I drowse and finally pass out for the night while trying to watch some last ridiculous television show. I am sure I am the picture of desire with one leg hanging out of the covers and my mouth open and drooling... why doesn't he come to bed with me??? Between the hot flashes and the dragon breath, I cannot understand it...

Romantic? I think not. Satisfying, exhausting, pure hilarity - ABSOLUTELY! But not really romantic. Romantic would be someone else doing the dishes (Crap! I didn't do the dishes!), someone else folding the laundry (which I have to wash again because it soured during the one warm day we have had all month), someone else having the hot flashes..... Yeah. Not romantic, but it's mine and I am blessed to have it... No, I mean that!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Day Late

I was never the fashionable one. That was my sister. She always had the cutting edge first and foremost in her wardrobe choice, her haircut, her shoes... I was always the "safe" one. The follower, never the leader. I would watch, critique, scoff and then eventually follow right along when the others said it was safe to do so. Today I laugh at that mentality. I still do that. But I can laugh at it and not fill with angst over something as trivial as my brand of jeans. If they cover my butt and they don't cut me in half, I'm good!

I bought this today...

The Holstee Manifesto

If you can, blow it up and read it. Like The Flinch, it will scare you in some ways. It should. It has some unconventional things in it and some very practical things too. It has been the driving force of my plans to keep writing and it has kept me from throwing in the towel of late. See, I am a little very frustrated with my surroundings and I have been struggling with how to make it all fit inside my head. As usual, I have arrived to the party late and everyone seems to be worn out and packing up to head home. I hate that. Just when I think I have finally figured out what everyone else is so excited about, the big to-do is over and I am left with a closet full of bell bottom jeans that fall way too low on my tuchus! (No one wants that.)

Well, this time I'm not budging. This time I am sticking with what I know to be my dream. Even if I showed up to the clubhouse too late to show everyone my cool stuff, I have to believe that what I have is important enough to keep doing, though I may be doing it alone.

Are you confused yet? Wondering why I am ranting? It's like this. There are two kinds of people in this great life of mine. There are those who know what they want to be when they grow up, and there's me. I have been in a supporting role for most of my life. I have been the wife, the partner, the mom, the taxi, the gopher, the friend, the confidante, the support system. I have been happy in that role, supporting other's dreams and pushing them to places even they were afraid to venture. I saw it as an integral role in their dream, knowing that I didn't really have my own, not yet. I didn't fret about it, though... I had a peace that just kept me satisfied to be good at being there for them. It was enough.

I had always figured that one day I would know what it was that I was supposed to be excited about and I was patient in that. I tried my hand at some things, but I didn't discover my dream until later. When my time finally arrived, I was stunned by it. Hit me like a ton of bricks! Completely out of my comfort zone and I wanted to refuse to do it. God would not be denied, no matter how much I explained that I had supporting roles to tend to. I had to write. I have learned to love it. I have had times that it was exceedingly difficult, but I know now that this is my dream. I cannot deny this passion, I have to write.

That's the thing about dreams and God-given passions. They will not lay quietly dormant while you decide to make time for them. They do not care that others don't quite understand it, they simply demand to be done. When I don't write, I am a shell of myself. I become cranky, lazy, depressed and surly. My husband knows this. He kicks me out of my support role often because he knows... He has his own passions, his own drives that press him onward. He understands what that brand of dissatisfaction feels like.

The thing about late bloomers like me is that we are often confused when we finally figure it out. We are in the minority, I think. We make a decision to follow our dreams later in life, for whatever reason, and we often find ourselves standing alone. I was excited to share that dream with all of those amazing people I surrounded myself with, all those people I supported through the years. They aren't here. They are off settling down. They are in inventory mode, taking stock, revamping and restructuring. It is frustrating for those of us who just arrived... We are full of excitement and drive and we are told to wait... slow down... don't make so much noise...

It feels a bit like the bar is closing down and I still want to dance the night away. So, dance I will! I am going to keep right on going and when those folks who are in contemplation are ready to rejoin I will be ready. I will welcome them into my dream and show them around. I will make them a cup of something warm and lovely, I will wrap them in my appreciation. I appreciate that they have shown me how to pursue my love, my passion, my dreams. I will profess to them how much their example has taught me to live without hesitation. I will share with them my excitement and hope to teach them to be excited again for their own dreams.

For those of you who are coming into your passion later than you expected, read and re-read the Holstee Manifesto. Let it sink in for you. It doesn't matter that some group of twenty-somethings wrote it... It has truth in it. What have you got to lose, really? There is something glorious about coming into your own with so much life-experience. You realize that what others think of you is less important than following what truly makes your heart sing. With age, comes a patience and a clarity that allows us to pursue our love more wholly, more determinedly, more completely.

"Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them so go out and start creating." The Holstee Manifesto

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nothing Like Me

She is reserved, funny, laughs without boundary. She isn't afraid of much, but afraid of everything all at the same time. She is sassy and yet she is the good girl. She is nothing like me.

She is thin and lovely, more likely to adopt her brother's hand me downs than raid my closet. She is shorn - spiky and edgy locks - and for many years bemoaned her long tresses, always asking to cut them off. She is nothing like me.

She is painfully shy and silent in public situations yet with her friends often the most outgoing, in-your-face and loud. She is opinionated and unafraid to speak against injustice, no matter who she speaks against. She would rather not be celebrated or called to attention, even on her birthday. She is nothing like me.

She is angry and sullen, prone to moodiness and then to an unsolicited apology. She is sensitive to others and yet unapologetic when she feels she is right. She is no people pleaser. She is nothing like me.

She is talented and smart, quietly striving and reaching for her dreams. She is sure of what she wants with a plan to make it so. She will not take no for an answer where her passion lay. She refuses social norms and requirements for her own brand of normal. She is nothing like me.

She is pragmatic and realistic, making easy paths to her goals rather than complicate them with the desires of others. She is more adult than I will ever be. She is nothing like me.

I love her with a fierceness, not because of any reflection she makes of myself, but because she reflects nothing of me. She is her own and that is immensely attractive. I love her because of her independence, although today it breaks my heart wide open. Today is the last day she is 14. Tomorrow I lose her a little more and my grip on her formation is loosened again. She is my daughter, she is nothing like me.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

From Where I Stand...

"Do you see that? Just on the horizon?" one woman asks the other. They are looking through binoculars off into the distance, engrossed in the view.

"I do! It is beautiful... Takes my breath away!" The other woman peers through her own binoculars certain that she too is sharing in her friend's vision.

It is only after they take the device from their eyes that they realize that they have been standing back to back and not side by side. Each had been gazing upon a different view and assuming the other was watching too.

It's called perspective and it colors every choice we make, every word we speak and every relationship we are involved in. It has little value in our existence, however, unless we can take a hard look around us and decide it doesn't make a hill of beans difference.

In the movie "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" there is a scene where Mr. Cruise's character needs to gain access to a remote location down a hallway with only one entrance and a guard posted at one end with an unobstructed view. I don't know if the device exists, but they used a computer that took into account the perspective of the guard and projected an image of the empty hallway on a screen as he should see it no matter where he turned his head. They took this screen and allowed the rendering to cover their actions behind it in true spy-savvy fashion. There was only one problem. With one guard the vision of what the hallway should look like was simple and the computer handled it with ease. When more than one person was thrust into the equation, however, the view became distorted and the whole perspective changed, ultimately falling into ruin when a flood of guards entered the station. The computer simply couldn't keep up with the different view points and it failed to present a unified vision.

Our perspectives and views of the world around us are varied and unique to us. We are influenced by our upbringing, our religious views, our political stances and the company we keep and while I could sit here and write a sweet little ditty about how we all should take this into account and love one another for who we are, it should ring hollow with you. What I really want to land on here is not quite that easy and tidy. I am going to make a mess in your head... deal with it!

See the thing about perspectives is we think they justify us. We think the world should stop and understand why we chose the path we did, why we are passionate about this or that. The world could care less about why you do what you do. You are a vapor in the wind and no one cares what you think. They care what you do. They care if you impact them... Because like you and me, they too think the world revolves around them. They are the guard in the hallway and they want only their perspective to matter.

So what do we do with all that? Do we chuck our perspective and stop giving a crap? Nope. You couldn't even if you really wanted to. No, you keep your perspective but you start taking into real account the actions of Christ. He didn't make excuses for anyone on the basis of their perspective, their upbringing, their social station or lack thereof. He unwaveringly told the truth.

If Christ had made excuses, the Pharisees would still be in power. If Christ had not thrown a hissy fit about personal space, the tables in the Temple would still be upright and doing a swimming profit! No, Christ didn't care about why someone was sinning - only that they were. He grieved not for the loss of someone's fortune, but for the loss of their soul. He told the truth in his short time among us and he didn't spare even His closest friends His sharp rebuke. Christ understood that making excuses for one's actions did nothing for the offender's state of salvation. It clouded the view, shrouded it in fog and left the soul wandering in the abyss of selfish pride.

You want to make a difference? Start by telling the truth. Don't hide behind your perspective. No one cares if you had a rough childhood, if you have served in the Peace Corps, if you lost everything in the crash... turn that into something we do care about. Tell yourself the truth about who you are. You are a sinful, short sighted, self-serving human being. If you can work with that, you have a real chance at succeeding. When we are honest about who we really are out here in this fallen world, our sphere of influence can broaden and impact so many more. No one wants to be led by someone who looks untouchable. We want to be led by someone who understands us, someone who has been there, done that and bought the tee-shirt. That is why we follow Christ.

He alone has withstood everything we have ever encountered, and come out on the other side with something valuable to say. He doesn't come to us pristine and finely dressed, with a mouth full of unmelted butter. Christ comes to you battered and bruised, bloody and scarred from the fight and says with clarity, "Follow me... I know the way." He got those wounds from you and me. From our ignorance and our pride, from our stubborn insistence to do it our way and yet, he continues to lead us. He doesn't tie us, hand to hand down a long line bound neatly together, and drag us into salvation. He asks us to follow Him willingly. He waits while we stray into parts unknown to us (but not to Him) and He rejoices when we return to follow. He is patient in the face of our rebellion and our excuses. Much more patient that we deserve.

You want to do something useful? Stop leaning on your excuses and your own perspective and take into account how Christ sees you. Would He care why you refuse to do as He has asked? Would He sit quietly and listen to the reasons you have strayed from His will yet again? Do you think He would excuse you because you have no resources? Think again! Christ would tell it like it is, call your sin a sin and tell you to get off your duff and do something useful with yourself. Yes, He would tell you that no matter how many times you fall, He will love you and that He forgives you. But He will also remind you that choices have consequences and that He expects better of you. Take Him at His word. Step out with what you do have, give of your meager self (or of you greater self), and make what you think matter less and what you do matter so much more. God has promised to equip us as we are called into His service, so there is no excuse for putting it off.

Step out today and be used by Christ. Bring Him glory and put aside your fears of looking incompetent. It isn't about us after all, it is all about HIM!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pick up the shovel and start digging!

We have all heard (and even uttered) the phrase, "Put down the shovel and walk away from the hole!" It is something I use with my husband often, especially when he is teetering on the edge of really pissing me off... It means, in short, stop talking before you say something you cannot take back or get out of gracefully. You are digging a verbal hole and you are going to make enemies if you don't stop. It's good advice... Sometimes.
I have been reading this guy and I am being challenged to actually pick up my shovel. He isn't necessarily a Christian - I don't think his message hinges on his religious preference at all. He is, however, motivational while being aggressively in-your-face with what he has to say. I don't necessarily like the cursing - but as I have stated before, I can work past that if the message is right. And his message is right.
So often I talk myself into the lull and the lie that I can't say certain things here because it wouldn't be "right" or it isn't the right place. I might alienate readers or I might not get God's message across because I offended someone. The truth of what living the Christian life is about is controversial, though. Jesus was a radical! He was in your face and used language that the uppity-ups viewed as inflammatory and blasphemous. He didn't dilute His message to please everyone, on the contrary - He amped up the reality of what He was saying and pared back the BS.
Funny thing happens when you pare back the BS... Your message - your real message - comes across loud and clear. There is no room for misinterpreting what you are saying. It makes you stand out. It shines your light without a dimmer switch or a lampshade to soften it. It makes you vulnerable and it makes you believable. Let me be crystal clear about what it isn't. It isn't an excuse to be ignorant. It isn't a reason to attack others on a personal level and name call or make assumptions about their private lives. Pare back the BS, not civility. Don't wander around the point, get to it and settle in. You may not be agreed with, but at least you stand a good chance of being respected for it.
When I started this new blog, I promised myself I would take off the gloves. I have let that slide. I have softened and I have disappointed some of my own desires because of it. I cannot say that I won't do it again. Some days I just don't have the energy to get real. Isn't that sad? It's sad, not because my readers will be sad, it's sad because those are the times I am lying to myself just to get through the day. Pathetic.
So here it is... Getting real and letting you see more of me than you may have wanted.
* I am a Republican. I believe in letting people make their own decisions about healthcare, business, and contraception. I believe that making others accountable for my actions is wrong. If I decide not to buy insurance and I get a horrible disease, I think you should let me die. I will be sad and possibly regretful, but making that choice is my right. Quit telling me that I am too stupid to make my own decisions and that government has to babysit me. I am pretty damned smart and I don't appreciate the condescension. And I don't appreciate someone telling me that I have to pay for someone else's choice either. There was a time when responsibility mattered and people got stronger for it. I want that back.
* I support horse slaughter. When you see first hand, as I have, the neglect and mistreatment of these horses that no one wants to care for properly, you begin to understand the true definition of humane treatment. God gave us the animals to be a part of our lives, not us to them. Get it straight and make a choice.
* I am a pathetic people pleaser and getting this real is scaring the crap outta me! I want my message to matter, however, and because of that I will keep going.
* Being a Christian is the most difficult, obscure and frustrating thing I have ever done. I am ridiculed, marginalized, taken for granted and often lonely. It is also the only thing that I have done that is worth doing even though it hurts, except maybe childbirth - and that too is closely tied to my Christian beliefs, so go figure. I do things that others won't because of my faith. I take risks that don't pan out because of my faith. My investment in my walk is more important than whether or not I have money in my account but sometimes even I wonder what in the hell I am doing it for. It won't stop me. I can still choose, and I choose Him.
* I am more afraid of succeeding than failing. I am sure you are too. Know how I am sure? Because failing is expected. Failing is planned for, waited on and accepted daily. Failing doesn't get you noticed. Failing doesn't put you out there. Failing in this day and age is safe. Ask Lindsay Lohan. Ask Donald Trump. Ask anyone really. Failing is a big, fat non-event. Success... Now that is some scary stuff! If you succeed you must be accountable. If you succeed, there will be consequences and stands to make. I am not afraid of failing - Failing would be welcomed in the face of succeeding and becoming even more real. I challenge you to download that little book and really take a look at what you are scared to succeed at.
(Takes deep breath...) Here's the deal. I was called out today. I was called out to make a stand as I see it. It doesn't mean that I don't value my friends who have differing viewpoints. I am not that narrow-minded. It does mean that I have been holding back a part of me in order to not rock any boats. I have come to believe that rocking boats has value. People who rock boats make a difference and I want to make a difference.
If I have pissed you off, unfollow me. I get it. You don't want to be confronted and made to listen to things you don't like. I feel that way too. But I also hold value in the things that make me mad and require me to examine why. I read stuff that really irritates the crap outta me. I examine it and I come up with what I think on the subject. It makes me stronger. It makes me viable. It makes me believe. It doesn't threaten me or what I love. It's an opinion. My grandfather had a saying about opinions: "Opinions are like (inserting slightly cleaner version here, the interest of civility, of course) butt-cracks. Everyone has one and no one is particularly interested in yours." True. And if you are no longer interested, see ya.
If, however, what I have said resonates for no other reason than to fuel your fire and make you distill down what you truly believe, then GREAT! That was what I was after. I am all about a respectful, impassioned response. Ideas are meant to be batted around, not people. Pick up your shovel and start digging. You may just strike gold...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Are You For Real?

Authenticity. It has been on my mind lately. For reasons that you probably could give a rat's hairy hind end about, I have been consumed by it of late. So, in true "it's all about me" fashion, I have decided to rant write about it.

The Man and I have been watching old episodes of Pawn Stars. Fun show. It chronicles the transactions of a Vegas pawn shop and the random stuff that crosses that counter is extremely entertaining. I realize that having a blog post about authenticity and referencing a show that is obviously scripted (at times) is hypocritical and confusing, but stick with me - I'm getting there.

The thing about Pawn Stars that hit me as I struggled to start this post is simple: Authenticity gives things value. You can have a beautiful replica of something very valuable, never been out of its replicated packaging, but if it is a replica and not an original it is darned near worthless. Watching episode after episode it was evident that if the trinket, weapon or artifact turned out to be a fake, these savvy shop owners weren't going to make much of an offer, if anything. They pissed some folks off, letting their dreams of found millions explode into the dust from whence it came. It didn't matter. They told the truth of what they saw and let it guide their offers or non-offers. They couldn't let the little old lady's saddened face or the irate man's tirade sway what they found, it just was. It was either authentic, or it wasn't.

Because it is all about me, I look inward, again. (I see that eye roll...) I fought having just one blog for a long time. The reasons aren't as ethereal as you might hope. They were selfish and fear filled. I didn't want someone who was reading my blog for Christian inspiration to run across my posts about Vodka and discount what God was saying through me. Or read my posts about "things that piss me off make me crazy" and judge whether I was being Christian enough. I was separating my lives and frankly, I was being inauthentic. I was trying to put a face to my writing that didn't make sense to me anymore so I took a deep breath and chucked it.

It was a scary thing to do, but I realized (with some Heavenly help, of course) that being me is what being a Christian is all about. It's messy and confusing, funny and irreverent. Being me is more valuable to Christ than pretending to be something I am not. And I am not perfect, straight laced, a hymnal singer or ever without copious amounts of alcohol to choose from in my home bar. It is who I am. It does not diminish me or God's influence through me, in fact it widens your search for reality in the Christian world. It makes you more likely to seek out God than to stand on the sidelines and repeat over and over again, "I could never be good enough." None of us will ever be good enough! That's the whole point of grace, right?

Before you go off and think that this was an easy choice for me and all went off without a hitch, I have to warn you. Making the decision to be authentically me had its issues. I knew there would be some who would quit reading. I understood those that didn't already know my Christian walk might be turned off because of they thought they knew me and I definitely didn't look or sound like any Christian they knew... I knew also that I might gain some things that were unexpected because I was being more honest about the reality of being Christian-me. Stepping out in faith was hard and I had to trust that God was going to lead the way and not leave me hanging.

The fact is, it will change things, and you may not like some of the changes. You may alienate some of your closest friends with your authenticity. You may find that your being the real you has consequences that you didn't count on. It might hurt. There will be people who feel as though they don't know who you are now. That's a toughie... It isn't easy to reveal things about ourselves that we have been keeping under wraps. It makes us look like we were lying about who we really are, and at first blush it may be true.

I am reminded of Paul and who he started out to be in the Bible. Before Christ changed his name (think: Biblical Witness Protection Program), Saul as he was known to his Pharisee friends, was the biggest persecutor of the Christian church. He was a zealot to say the least, some would say he was fanatical. They would be right. He had been known for his ruthless persecution of those that followed the carpenter from Nazareth. He was a violent and cold hearted individual who had but one goal in mind: stamp out Christianity at all costs and kill those who would follow though they face death.

Paul underwent a change, a transformation of his very being and he became an authentic Christian follower on the road to Damascus. It was a dramatic scene and one that leaves Paul ultimately blind for a time. He left behind the ways of his Pharisee counterparts. He confused them beyond understanding. In an instant, his whole life changed. He lost his job as a Pharisee-prosecutor. He forfeited his comfortable routine and his home. He lost friends over it. Thing drastically changed for Paul and some of that change had to be painful. Not only did he lose his old friends, he had a hard time making new ones because of his violent past. For a while there, Paul was very much alone.

Making a decision to be more authentically us is going to have consequences. When it is just a tweaking of who we have already been, that is one thing. More often, we are called to radically change who we have been presenting to the world, and those changes are bound to cause us angst. We like our routines. We like our friends. We want to change, sure! But we want things to stay comfortable too. We don't want to lose...

Here's the thing: God doesn't take half way. He sees your heart and He knows when you are faking it. You simply cannot fool HIm. God knows our need for companionship and He understands how loneliness can affect us. He will provide the right kind of encouragement and the blessings that will confirm we have made the best choice when we prayerfully seek Him out. God wants us to be authentic. God values us as we are. He made each and every one of us and He calls that a good thing.

Don't hide your light under a basket of who you think you should be, shine it out! You never know who you might influence to do the same thing... And that is what God finds valuable.