Who Are You?

I mean really, who are you? Give me the deep. Give me the real. Give me the vulnerable. Give me the pain. Give me the joy. Who are you?

A couple months ago, a friend of mine brought this question up. You know the one. It’s at the beginning of all encounters with strangers.

“Hello, I’m (insert name here).”

“Nice to meet you (insert name here)! I’m (insert name here).”

“So what do you do?” And this question is usually answered by some sort of occupation. The conversation turns to job stories and then we part ways. They were really nice! Were? Nice? Oh did we miss the boat. They ARE so much more than nice. Yet all we gathered during our 3 minute encounter was they do something x number of hours a week with education, or cars, or computers, or, or, or.

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Have you noticed how easy it is to stay at the surface with someone? Maybe we don’t even realize it–I would argue it’s because as a culture we are afraid. Afraid to go deep with a stranger, afraid to go deep with an acquaintance. We want to be likable, but at what cost? The cost of actually being known.

It might feel safe to keep distance between what you do and who you are, but you might as well lock up any dream of being understood with this thought process. When I think of how many people I’ve kept at the surface, it’s saddening. The time was filled with emptiness–nothingness. I missed the opportunity to know them and to be known.

Do you know who you are?

Are you having a hard time answering the question for yourself? Who am I? Try answering the question for someone else, someone you really know. “(So and so) is extremely empathetic and really can feel the pain others are going through. They find the hope in the darkness and always look at life half-full. They are a fighter, and have conquered many valleys….” On and on and on. It’s captivating and you want to know them more.

I’ll tell you what, people are much more likable once I know them. Or once I begin to know them for who they are. Isn’t our culture so backwards sometimes?

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Here’s my double-dog-dare: the next time you talk to someone, ask them the question. “Who are you?” Sure it’s going to be awkward, but the one minute of awkwardness will be nothing compared to the forever feeling of being known. I would also bet the conversation will last much longer than 3 minutes so make sure you cross a few things out of that crowded schedule to make extra time! You never know who you might bump into.

So here we go, who are you?

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I’ve Missed You, please read and forgive me!

First off, I’m so glad you are still here. I would like to apologize for vanishing. It wasn’t that I needed a break, or that I didn’t want to connect with you, or that I wasn’t interested anymore. I’ve simply been sick. Don’t worry, in a good kind of way.

My husband and I found out were pregnant a couple of months ago, and I couldn’t share it to the world wide inter-web before my body gave into a pregnancy sickness called Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Some know the sickness as “Princess Kate sickness.” So I’m okay with being compared to a princess. 🙂 Essentially, I spent most days on the couch with a bowl right beside me for 3 months. My sweet girl and I watched Toy Story more times than you could count, and I ate a lot of potatoes. My husband has pulled double duty and, like a champion, took care of the house and cooking while I was sick.

It overjoys me to let  you know that I am out of the worst of it and beginning to feel better. Thank you to everyone who checked up on me via email and social media. You are all too wonderful. ❤ IMG_3841

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IMG_4000What have I missed?! If you are reading this, please comment so I can see who is still active. I would love to catch up!

With love,

Emily

P.S. All of these pictures were taken by the amazing Natalie over at NatalieBrennerPhoto, click on any picture or this link to get to her website.

Posted in Community, Family, Pregnancy | Tagged , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Stereotypes and School Rivalries

We all know the cliques and the stereotypes that are attached to them. The band geeks, the Math nerds, the dumb jocks, the teacher’s pet, the English snobs, you’re well aware of them I’m sure. So this is not a post about those. What is the one thing that joins all of these groups into one fighting team? School Rivalry.

During school, we pick each other apart for our status, but come the football game on Friday–united we stand. We find ourselves chanting right alongside the bully that was saying these very things to us the day before.

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School rivalry is a lot like a family. You can’t stand your little sister and pull the heads off of her baby dolls, but if anyone messes with her, you’re pulling off the heads of someone else’s baby dolls.

Because we are a part of our school, we think everyone within the school is a direct reflection of who we are as a person. The same goes with our family. We believe how our sister acts directly reflects who we are as a person. Even though we are two separate people, we are grouped together with one overarching stereotype. When the stereotype doesn’t match with our definition of who we are, we fight back and defend.

We are not defined by the stereotypes put on us by others. Have you ever noticed that all stereotypes have a negative connotation? So no matter what group we are placed in, we lose. We will constantly have to fight for our identity ifwe let the stereotypes define us. We never believe them deep down, but we fight against them as if they are true to prove ourselves.

Of course the only logical option here is to fight fire with fire. So we make accusations of our rivals and post snarky comments on social media. Anytime one of them messes up, we make sure to point it out so the rest of the group knows how we think of them: one-in-the-same.

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But what if we stopped letting others define who we are. What if instead of fighting back, we showed them grace and compassion. If we really want to see them stop, we can’t fight the same way they do, it will only make a bigger battle.

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

The bigger person is not the one who proves the other one is less than. The bigger person is the one who turns the other cheek. We are human and we are going to mess up, and wouldn’t it be nice if someone showed us a little grace when we do? We often feel entitled to this grace, so shouldn’t we give it just as freely as we expect it?

Start believing the truth that you are not defined by the people around you, and it will be a lot easier to love the people across the field wearing the other teams’ color. Talk about a win-win.

Have you noticed how school rivalry has affected your life?

Inspired by Natalie at Brenner Bunch

Posted in Community, Fight, Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Receiving Encouragement to Give Encouragement!

I cannot tell you enough how wonderful and inspiring Miss Julia is over at crippledatYourtable is. I have gotten to know her over the past few months, and she leaves inspiration all over me every day! When she nominated me for the ‘Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award’, I was completely honored and so excited to be able to share her with all of you. Her heart overflows with love. Seriously it pours all over the place.

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I have looked high and low for the description of this award, but haven’t found an official meaning. So to my nominees… I get to create the meaning I suppose! Just like the movie, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, a pair of pants was passed from friend to friend that reminded them of their special bond and friendship. So, this award will be going to all of those ‘sister friends’ I have around the world. How thankful I am for each of you! You have all inspired and encouraged me!

The Rules:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
2. Put the award logo on your blog.
3. Answer the ten questions they have given you.
4. Nominate ten people.
5. Make up ten new questions for them to answer.

Julia’s questions for me:

1. What are you most afraid of?

Well, besides waking up to a bed full of baby spiders…. ughhh. I have always been most afraid of not being able to have children. Before my first, this was absolutely my biggest fear but we have been blessed with such an amazing, perfect, beautiful girl.

2. Has there ever been a time when you believed in failure?

I’m not really sure. I think I’ve always seen past failure for a hope of success in the future.

3. Favorite book?

At the moment, Love Does and Captivating. Must reads!

4. Favorite artist? Why?

Probably, Phil Wickham. His music just speaks to my soul.. he’s amazing and so is his brother Evan.

5. What do you turn to for encouragement?

God through the Bible and prayer, and my husband.

6. Favorite song at this moment?

Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave

7. Best quality in a friend?

Their presence. Vulnerability.

8. Do you like imagine Bob & Larry whenever you pick up tomatoes & cucumbers?

We watch so much veggie tales in our house! Yes absolutely I see them and all of their friends every time I go grocery shopping.

9. Who inspires you? Why?

My daughter. She inspires me to love greater and become the best mom I can possibly be.

10. Favorite Disney movie?

Cinderella, hands down.

My nominees:

  1. Brenner Bunch
  2. Creating Beauty in the Kitchen
  3. Strings of Soulfulness
  4. Humbly Growing
  5. A Pendulum World
  6. Awakening the Soul
  7. Catching Crawfish
  8. You Can Do It Blog
  9. Daughter By Design
  10. Leaving a Legacy Ministries 

My questions for you!

  1. What is it about your best friend that makes them so wonderful?
  2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  3. What helps you get through a long day?
  4. What is a topic on teens you would like to see written about?
  5. When you think about High School you feel _____?
  6. If you could get rid of one day of the week, which would it be and why?
  7. What do you dream about for your future?
  8. What are you most passionate about?
  9. What is the best present you ever received?
  10. Who knows you better than anyone else?

There you have it my friends! Can’t wait to see your answers! ❤

Posted in Awards, Community, Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Rushing with Grace

There are going to be days when we have to rush. We have to rush because of earlier choices we’ve made. We’ll watch the clock and wish for more time, but we’ll see it continue ticking away without a care in the world. Time doesn’t stop for anyone, not even you or me. Ever.

When we are faced with a moment like this, we do not need to be discouraged. Even as we watch the clock tick away, we can embrace all of the abilities within us. What we are trying to accomplish will not be our full potential, but in the moment we will give it everything we can.

There is no turning back, only to fail ourselves. Success does not always have to look the way we think it should. Sometimes success looks like a half written paper, or leaving the house with wet hair, or mismatched socks.

Life will rush us, but we don’t have to panic. The clock will continue ticking and we get to be a part of the race. We all have a bag of tricks we save for this moment and we will get it done. Maybe it’s not perfect, but that is what is beautiful about life. We are not perfect and every time we finish something we get to start something new. Maybe the next project will give us more than enough time and we will finish with ease. But for this project, it’s not going to be perfect. This time we will choose to give ourselves grace instead of criticism. We will chose to continue instead of give up.

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What have you had to rush though lately?

Posted in Encouragement, Peace, School | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Surviving Divorce as a Teenager

They say 50% of marriages end in divorce. The statistic was only a number until my family became a part of that statistic. They say as we get older, we handle divorce better. They say it is easier. They say not a lot changes. Well let me tell you, those are big fat lies–divorce hurts. No matter what age you are.

If you are watching your parents go through a divorce, I am so sorry. No matter how bad the relationship is between mom and dad, EVERY child wants to see their parents happily married. It is really easy to feel alone, especially because it is hard to admit to your peers that your family isn’t doing well.

Although I would much rather write about happy thoughts, divorce affects everyone whether it’s your family or a friends. Hindsight, these are the survival tips I would have given myself and I hope they bring you peace as well.

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Don’t blame yourself. The choices your parents have made do not reflect you. Even if the choices that seem to tear them apart revolve around you, it’s not really about you. Sometimes a bigger problem will disguise itself in a smaller problem. You are not the problem. They are adults and have to take responsibility for their family.

Raise your white flag. Hateful words might spew from their mouths accusing one another. They might want you to pick their team, and sometimes it’s going to be hard not to. Seeing your parents hurt is really hard. The person they vowed to spend the rest of their life with is theirs no longer. Don’t try to fix it, because that is not your place. You are not responsible for making one person change.

Cry. Let it out.

You are not their counselor. It is inevitable you have seen your parents do things in their relationship that was the wrong way. But do not make the mistake of trying to counsel them. This may be the most helpful thing you can do for your parents. They are still the parent, not you. If they need help, they need to find it from another adult–NOT FROM YOU. Even if they get mad at you for not wanting to counsel them, let them get mad. It is not healthy for either of you to have a turned around relationship.

You are not alone. There are so many people out there that have gone through divorce, which is very sad, but true. Don’t wait to talk to someone about what you’re going through. Seek out a school counselor, a youth leader, a mentor, a teacher, a coach, or adult in a healthy marriage right away. When your whole world is falling apart, it really helps to have someone to help you put the pieces back together.

Marriage can be beautiful. Please do not lose hope in marriage. When we see our parents go through something as hurtful as divorce, we don’t want to go through it ourselves. It is easy to have a skewed idea of marriage when we’ve seen it end in disaster. But the good news is we are not our parents. Marriage can be one of the most beautiful, life giving, relationships between two people who come together as one. So, please don’t stop dreaming of building a healthy family in your future. They do still exist.

Give love freely. The best way you can love your parents is by forgiving them for putting you through this. The way you show love will be unique to the situation you are going through. For this reason, it is important to have a mentor helping you see the truth from the lies.

Life gets messy sometimes. But no matter how dark the day might appear, there is always a hope for a new day. You are going to come out on the other side of this stronger. You are loved. You are not alone.

With love,
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Posted in Encouragement, Family | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

You’re More Than A Stranger

I don’t know your name. In fact, I can’t even recall your face–for you are a master of disguise. You don’t wear a cape and you are as humble as they come.

Remember the time you held the door open for me, and I said “Thank you,” with a smile? I meant it. As I wheeled the stroller through with ease, you were my hero. So many times before I had struggled to open the door while simultaneously pushing the stroller through, but not this time. This time you were there. I was only a part of your life for a couple of seconds, but each time I walk up to a door I think of you.

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We met again and again.

Remember the time you stopped to chat with me about blackberries while we were both out on a walk? Those words I will never forget. You could have continued walking, but you didn’t. You stopped and chatted with me, a complete stranger, picking blackberries. We laughed and smiled and then you went on your way. I didn’t catch your name, but you were my hero. I hadn’t spoken to a person in hours and it was so lovely to feel seen again.

Remember the time you stopped to let me cross the street? So many cars before you zoomed past without even the thought, but not you. You came to a complete stop and waved me across, with a smile on your face. You didn’t realize the gift you gave me, but you were my hero. I felt safe as I crossed the street with my most valuable possession sleeping sound in the stroller. I mouthed the words “Thank you,” but it didn’t do justice for the way I really felt. You continued on your way, but every time I cross that street I hope to see you again.

Remember the time you helped me pump my own gas for the first time? I was out of state, and had never had the option to do it myself before. You were in a hurry but saw me staring at the pump completely lost. You could have ignored me and gone on your way, but you didn’t. You came over with a smile and walked me through the steps without the slightest bit of embarrassment. You were my hero. You waited with me until the tank was full and then headed off to the soccer tournament. Every time I’m out of state I think about you and thank you over again while I pump my gas with confidence.

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Remember the time you looked at me and smiled as you walked out of the store? So many people before looked anywhere but at me, while they hurried on their way. But not you. In a world full of people it is easy to feel unwelcome and alone, but not when I saw you. You were my hero. A simple smile made me feel welcomed. We didn’t say a word to one another, but a shared smile was worth so much more. I hope to see you each time I write down my grocery list.

You’re more than a stranger. To me, you are a hero. Thank you.

Have you had an encounter with a hero? Maybe you can thank them here 🙂 I would love to hear your stories! 

Posted in Community, Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments