How to Be Brave and Messy

When Bryan and I were dating, he planned an elaborate surprise date that ended with us seeing The Civil Wars in Indianapolis. They were incredible, and it was the first concert I'd attended where I realized I was getting old because I lost count of how many times I thought "I wish I could sit down."

And in the vein of standing room only concerts, if there are height requirements for rides at amusement parks, there should be requirements for people that are eight feet tall that stand in front of all of the short people. Anyway.

Since that night, we've gotten engaged, married, and had a baby. The Civil Wars came out with another album, went on a silent break, and subsequently broke up. Everyone seemed floored by it - the duo was loved by many and everyone wanted to know why.

They remained quiet, and eventually the speculation and clamor died down enough for us to miss them while holding tightly to what they'd already given us.

Last Tuesday, Joy Williams re-emerged as a solo artist. I listened to her album on NPR and was immediately hooked - and found myself poring over interviews she'd done with various websites, speaking for the first time about the band's demise and how she has moved on.

In each one, she spoke with gentle candor. What happened was none of our business, and while it seems things did not end well, she was able to share honestly but gently at the same time. Her songs are vulnerable and deeply personal in a way that others can connect in their own experiences. She wrote bravely, and figured out how to write about what happened to her without it being at someone else's expense.

In this particular interview, I saw this passage and I've not been able to get it out of my head:

"I’m not cleaning closets now. I’m letting things be messy. I feel like I went to a deeply inward process. Before I felt more comfortable writing in metaphors, until I met Matt Morris. During one of our very first writes, he said to me…
“You are so afraid to say anything wrong that you are risking not saying anything at all.”
“You’ve got to be brave. If you’re feeling mad as hell, then we’re going to write a mad-as-hell song. If you’re feeling broken beyond measure, we’re going to write a broken-beyond-measure song.” Something locked in for me. Then he asked, “How are you feeling right now?” And with tears in my eyes I just looked at him and said, “I’d love to write a happy song. One day I will.” 
Matt said, “That’s a great way to start a song. What next?” He told me to put my laptop away and just talk. So I did. Not one single line from “One Day I Will” was overly woven or crafted. It was literally me, just talking, one line at a time. And that’s pretty much how writing the rest of the record went after that."

 Lately as I've tried to write, I've found myself frustrated by how careful all of my words feel. I was telling my Nana that I just didn't know what to say anymore. There were so many things that came to my mind, but all of my thoughts were being filtered through what others might think. What they might like. What they might be offended by. If it was funny enough, or poignant enough. The problem with the internet is that it makes everything feel very permanent and hard to forget, and as we're learning and processing things and sharing them, it's hard to be confronted with those things over and over when we don't do it in a beautiful way. I was being so careful so as not to share anything until I'd reached a point of certainty about what I thought. It was wrong, because "am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)" 

He tells me to follow Him, to share about Him that others could recognize and want to know more of his goodness, but never does he expect me to do it perfectly. He knows that I can't, and that's why my life is hidden in Christ, who did it all perfectly. He knows that I will be a mess, that I will say the wrong thing, that I will make mistakes. That I might say something stupid or offensive. That doesn't mean I just don't say anything. I think it means I just need to be braver and remember the glorious freedom of saying when I'm wrong, and saying that I changed my mind. Of asking for forgiveness when the situation warrants, and reveling in the fact that the Gospel is my certainty.

By Joy Williams being honest and brave and sharing her heart with others, it is helping me to do the same. It's possible to talk about what's happening and what's messy and what I'm not sure of and to speak candidly without forsaking gentleness and kindness. I'm not going to stop trying.

I read Scary Close by Donald Miller recently and am thinking about getting this tattooed on my back - only not really, because get that needle away from me.

He talked about how he got comfortable being careful, too. And how he changed his mind and decided this:

"I am willing to sound dumb.
I am willing to be wrong.
I am willing to be passionate about something that isn't perceived as cool.
I am willing to express a theory.
I am willing to admit I'm afraid.
I am willing to contradict something I've said before.
I'm willing to have a knee-jerk reaction, even a wrong one.
I'm willing to apologize.
I'm perfectly willing to be perfectly human."

I hope that you feel permission to do the same - that you aim to please Him, and not people. That you know that there is grace abounding for when we don't do it well. To not stop trying to be brave and messy.

(And please, for the love. Go listen to Joy Williams' new album, Venus).

It's Friday, I'm in Love

This morning, Elsa woke up before 6 am, screaming at the top of her lungs. JOY TO THE WORLD is what that is. She's fine, I guess she was just pretending to be a rooster or something? Later as I went to make her breakfast, she took it upon herself to remove her diaper and start playing with her poop (nononono). Please, try as hard as you can to not be jealous of our morning. She keeps things exciting at all times, that is certain.

We are in the midst of a brief interlude from monsoon season, and it kind of looks like summer (for the next five minutes until it starts raining again).

SPEAKING OF SUMMER - I MADE A PLAYLIST. (P.S. I had to switch Spotify accounts, so all of my playlists are now HERE). 


+ Bryan and I went to see Jurassic World and I LOVED IT. Granted, I love Jurassic Park more than most, but I was really surprised at how fun it was. I think I was just expecting it to be kind of awful like the second and third ones, but it was a good amount of nostalgia and lots of fun new things. WAY TO GO, GUYS! Anyway - look what all these zookeepers are doing

+ Making this for dinner because I'm on Day 18 of Whole 30 and I just kind of want to eat ten chicken pot pies. More on that later. (Also, I am freezing more bananas to make this dessert because it made me weep joy tears).

+ All 15 Pixar movies ranked from worst to best. I was in agreement for most of it, but I was so surprised what they ranked as number one! 

+ Sorry, Lululemon - I like Kate Hudson's workout gear better than yours and it's a fraction of the cost (praise hands). You get the first outfit half off (like a three piece outfit for $25), and I wear the pants all the time because they are maximum compression and I need all compression available. Amen. I hate it when I am "running" (I just started, and it's not pretty, but it's trying, so...) and I am constantly having to pull my pants up over my belly. Oh, is that just me? Whatever, just GET SOME.

+ HONEST COMPANY MAKEUP! I love all of their products (though I was kind of freaked out by the sunscreen reviews). 

+ LAURYN HILL COVERING NINA SIMONE. Everything I never knew I wanted.

+ And finally, some helpful tips on navigating the Farmer's Market.

Okay, okay fine - and a picture of my scrumptious tiny girl:


What have you been reading lately? IT'S BOOK TIME. In case you have no interest in reading all of my rambles, I've included basic yes-or-no verdicts below each title.

How to Maybe Get Rabies

Our dear subject.

This happened a couple of months ago in the dark and scary time known as winter. Let's relive it, shall we?
Little Traveler Mouse - Felting Dreams - READY TO SHIP. $68.00, via Etsy.

"There's a mouse in the bathroom, we're going to have to put traps down."

Bryan said this nonchalantly as he went about getting ready for work.

We live very close to the ground (read: basement) and near all sorts of wooded nature, full of animals -- so it wasn't terribly surprising to hear, but still.

My mind raced with images of the mouse and its fecal feet, traipsing across my face as I slept. No thanks. I thought of my baby that gets into everything, and puts everything into her mouth. No thanks. BUT A MOUSE TRAP? I DON'T KNOW IF I CAN DO THAT.

I mostly hoped Walter would fulfill his feline duties and take care of things quickly - maybe just by catching it and then we could release it into the wild (read: backyard).

The next day, I saw it scurry across the floor. It was at that point that it turned into a straight up, tear apart your entire home, Mouse Hunt.

Walter would catch him, get confused about why his toy was moving, and drop it. OVER AND OVER. Eventually Walter and I were both on the floor trying to reach under the couch to catch it. The mouse and I made eye contact, and shared a moment. This mouse had kind eyes. I imagined it living in a discarded tampon box, enjoying a tiny cup of tea and reading Game of Thrones. It was too personal. We could not kill this mouse.

We lost it again and called it a day. Bryan and I were in bed when he whisper-yelled, "LOOK."

Tiny mouse poked its head out from a cinder block holding our bookshelf in place. The crazed urgency to catch it overwhelmed me as I shot out of bed and said, "THIS ENDS TONIGHT."

Bryan was laughing at me and also probably concerned for me, because I had completely lost my mind at that point.

The chase went on for a while -- long enough for me to throw enough shoes and end tables and wake up our sleeping baby. Finally, we cornered it in the bathroom.

Walter had all but given up. He was tired, Bryan was tired, Elsa was tired, the mouse was tired, and I WAS GOING TO CATCH IT.

Bryan handed me a blanket and I tossed it on top of it. I had done it. I had trapped it, without killing it. I was going to peacefully return it to the outside world.

"Okay, now grab it with your hand."

To Bryan, that meant:

"Grab it with your hand over the blanket so you don't actually touch it."

Which I translated as:

"Grab it with your bare hands and befriend it like Snow White!"


And the kind-eyed literature-loving mouse I'd worked so hard to catch unharmed SANK ITS TEETH INTO MY FINGER AND I HAD TO DETACH IT FROM MY FLESH.

I cussed.

Bryan said, "WHY DID YOU GRAB IT WITH YOUR BARE HANDS" but I couldn't hear him because all I heard was the Holy Spirit shouting:


It was a dramatic evening to say the least -- but I'm thankful that I lived to tell this tale.

The wound healed beautifully, the mouse went to a better place (I can't talk about it), and now I know that Cinderella probably died from rabies because there's no way those mice were her friends.