Christianity and the Greek System

I remember vividly being a fresh-faced college freshman walking along and admiring “Fraternity Row.” The large beautiful homes proudly displaying their Greek letters and emblems.  I couldn’t wait to go through rush (the rigorous process of visiting each sorority and ranking them while they in turn rank you…not stressful at all…HA)! I desperately wanted to be part of the social and philanthropic aspects of sorority life. The Greek population at Ball State University in the mid-nineties only counted for about 20% of the student population. I successfully navigated rush and got into a sorority that I loved! It felt so special. I shared something in common with all the men and women that had chosen to take the plunge and rush a fraternity or sorority. Even though we may have been in different houses, we all came together under the category of “Greek life” and being part of that group felt really good. It was a sisterhood I could depend on, fun, laughter, and friendships that continue to this day. Some of my best days have been spent with my “sisters” and I look back fondly at those memories.

Picture it…Bid Day of Fall 1993 a day of nerves and anxiety in spades! In college, after you have visited every *house and met all the girls (you choose them but then they have to choose you back). Then all the girls who participated in rush are gathered in the gymnasium for the big reveal. You’re given an envelope containing the “magic words” that you’re expected to leave unopened until told otherwise and wait patiently with it on your lap while the people in charge give you the spiel about how it was a difficult process and some people may be disappointed blah blah blah.  Finally, the go ahead is given and you find yourself ripping open your envelope with lightning speed to see where you will be pledging your love and loyalty for the next four years of your college existence (and more if you choose to become an active alumni).

*At Ball State sororities didn’t have houses, we had suites.

I clearly remember opening my envelope and seeing my first-choice sorority! Looking back, I wish I had saved that card that clearly had Welcome to Alpha Phi written in script. It was so exciting and new and wonderful! I was giddy with the thought of being part of this special group. I had four amazing years with my sisters and best friends. Parties, fraternities, Alpha Phi does a lot for the American Heart Association and it was great to be involved with that on a charitable level.

Then you graduate and unless you get directly involved with the Alumni or choose to work for a fraternal organization it pretty much moves to the back of your consciousness. Jobs, houses, spouses, kids, dogs, laundry…life. It can leave you feeling lonely…accept that there is a “Greek System” available to us and it’s through the community in our churches. As a body of believers, we are all in the special club! It’s the club of Salvation and your Bid Day card says Welcome to Eternity with the Prince of Peace. How awesome is that?!? Within that club we have different choices. The Tri-Delt’s (Methodist), Pi-Phi’s (Lutherans), Kappa Delta’s (Presbyterian), Evangelical Alpha Phi’s. Even though we are different and that’s a place that could easily divide us, we are under the larger umbrella of God. As believers we have an opportunity to proudly display our “letters and emblems” and invite people to join. Yes, this is a very special club but unlike the girls gathered around me on Bid Day who were openly crying because their envelopes didn’t have the beautiful script writing they were expecting. God is offering salvation and everyone is invited.

The Gospel according to Lipstick

“May the God of hope fill you with all Joy and Peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy  Spirit.” Romans 15:13

One of my favorite things is hanging out with my mom! In a post Mother’s Day Celebration we met up yesterday for a “treat yo’ self” day. We hit up Jo Malone, Anthropologie, Free People and worked our way over to Nordstrom to have lunch in their cafe. Even though the Nordstrom Cafe has done away with our favorite sandwich (gruyere and prosciutto) we were determined to find a new favorite (goat cheese and turkey….YUM) and their famous fries with olive kalamata aioli. Don’t we sound fancy?!? After our delicious lunch, we headed to our favorite place, the Nordstrom shoe department. We were NOT disappointed! As you can imagine our “treat yo’ self” wore us out and we decided to head home. On our way out we took a spin through the cosmetics area. We are both absolute, without a doubt, unashamed makeup junkies!!! I’m always on the lookout for the world’s best lipstick and have tried every lipstick on the market (drugstore to high end). Ever since taking medication for autoimmune disease nothing stays on my lips anymore (I am also no longer attractive to mosquitoes…weird right?) After looking for my tried and true La Prairie lipstick and finding the counter no longer at Nordstrom in Indy, we sadly left without a single makeup or skin care product between us and started the walk back through the mall. We had parked on the other side at Saks (trying to burn the maximum number of calories while we shopped and had our day of fun). Again, we made our way through the cosmetics area and I found a microscopic area of La Prairie…yay! I would get the only lipstick that stays on my lips! The choices and joy!!! BUT I was then sadly informed that La Prairie was no longer making makeup and was focusing on super expensive skin care. My dry unpainted lips and I slowly started making our way out of the store when the kind associate asked if she could show us anything in another brand. I told her that I was on the hunt for my “white whale” a lipstick that didn’t come off until I was good and ready!

My mom and I were introduced to Chloe, she was the manager at the Saks Nars counter. I have never seen so many lipstick options. Matte, gloss, stain, you name it and they had it. I was a skeptic because I have been lured down this path before only to be completely disappointed as I watched my lipstick attach itself to my coffee cup, napkin, mug, husband…etc. Anywhere except my lips as the day wore on. Chloe, mom and I began talking about lipstick and it’s staying power. The challenges are talking, drinking, chewing your lips and food. Chloe had something that would take care of all of that. She began pulling out colors and testers and soon there was a rainbow of long-lasting color swatches up her arm that would have impressed the most serious lipstick connoisseur. I eagerly found a color and prayed to the Lipstick God’s that this would be my holy grail of lipstick. Despite my skepticism, I was still hopeful that something could be done to give me the color and staying power I so desperately wanted.

Last night as I was thinking about my new Nars lipstick and the hope and promise contained in that new tube, I felt that it was very similar to want I want and hope from God. I face challenges in life as we all do. AND what I really pray for is that God is there through it all! The good, the bad and the ugly, God will remain budge-proof and offer shine and longevity that gets me through my day!

I recently had the privilege of serving on a great Banquet team. This is a three-day spiritual retreat and it’s awesome!! 15 talks by amazing women, the never-ending, unfailing love of God…it’s the best way I can think of to spend 72 hours! I love everything about the Banquet. I often reflect on the time spent there and was recently thinking about one of the talks called “Staying Power.” It’s about the struggle that one may encounter after leaving the Banquet and being out in the real world again and how to stay connected to God in our day to day living. As I apply my new lipstick today and hope that is has the staying power I’m looking for I am reminded of the sweet women I had the opportunity to serve with and the women who attended their Great Banquet for the first time. I’m praying that they feel a connection to God that has a greater staying power than any lipstick formula in the history of the world! I love my sisters in Christ and know that the staying power we are searching for is more than skin deep…it’s eternal.

Searching for Joy​

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19

There is a wonderful children’s picture book called Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Today…I am Alexander. I have had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Parenting has been a DRAG today (Teenagers…can I get a witness?) and when it rains it pours. I’m sitting here marinating in my pity party for one and have decided to force joy and gratitude into my day. I repeat that I am NOT feeling it but I am going to choose joy and be grateful anyway.

My Top Ten things that I am joyful about today:

  1. God is CRAZY about me! I rest comfortably in this knowledge.
  2. My sister is moving home after being in Oklahoma for 18 years! She is here this week looking for a house and a job. Pray she gets both! I am grateful for family.
  3. My husband is the best ride or die ever and I am so grateful for him and our marriage!
  4. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my job! I am grateful for the opportunity to do something that brings me absolute joy and challenges me to be my very best!
  5. One Smooth Stone, Book 1 in my 12 Book series, will be out in June!!! I love my Literary Agent and my Publishing company. I am so grateful to them!
  6. My infusions are working and I feel pretty good health wise! AND 3 cheers to the nurses who administer my Rituxin. They are kind, competent, and caring. I am grateful for them. #Autoimmuneawareness
  7. I have the very best friends a girl could ever ask for! Grateful isn’t a big enough word to describe my tribe.
  8. I have time to pursue my passion and hobbies. I am grateful that God has given me these gifts.
  9. I got a massage today! I am grateful that I was able to practice self-care and reduce my stress level.
  10. My new glasses are pink and have a hint of glitter in them (sometimes it is the small things and I am grateful for them).

Ok, that was easier than I thought it would be. I still think today was a difficult day to be a parent. As I think about the list and especially the wonderful relationships God has placed in my life in the last few months with my agent, publisher, editor, etc. I am excited about this next chapter (book pun intended). I am choosing joy because when I look around there is so much of it! I am grateful!

I feel better and maybe I won’t move to Australia.

 

Mr. Weaver

Romans 12:6-7 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;

Ninth grade, Environmental Science at Clay Jr. High…meet a less than motivated middle school student who could not care less about school. Surprise, surprise, I was at school for the social aspect. I was not a great student in the early years (actually until I was a junior in college), I was average at best. This was of my own choosing as I had more important things to focus on in my youth; boys, 80’s hair bands and spending time at the mall. Before ninth grade, I’d had good teachers but no one that saw “potential” in me or invested time in me or encouraged me to be more than what I was. I had typically been labeled “lazy” and spent most of my elementary years with my desk right next to the teacher. I missed a lot of recess for talking and not turning in assignments on time. I had yet to be inspired by someone in the school system. Little did I know that was about to change.

Meet Mr. Mark Weaver, a dynamic teacher, grades be damned, he was going to influence and inspire and love kids (all kids) to aim for the stars and reach their full potential. It was the first time I remember being excited to go to a class! His room was chock-full of weird things. Animals, Bee hives that had been evacuated, furs, papers, old projects. It was a cacophony of crap that to this 14-year-old was absolutely magical.  Mr. Weaver was always in a good mood, smiling and greeting students for another great day of ninth grade instruction. It was the first time that I had seen a teacher facilitate learning and encourage curiosity. I remember doing a huge project on Gorillas and it was fun, I learned a ton, and it sparked creativity in me that fueled a fire and I knew that people who were “outside the box” were from my home planet. I thrived in this class and it was all because of Mr. Weaver. I was so inspired that I became a teacher because of him. I like to think my brand of “weird” is a tribute to him and the passion for learning that he brought out in me.

I have had the enormous pleasure of seeing Mr. Weaver as I have grown into adulthood (advantage of staying in your hometown) and my oldest son, Connor, had him as a teacher as well! What a joy for my son to learn from a teacher that had such a profound impact on my life!

Mr. Weaver is retired now. My son reached out to him to interview him for a project he had at the high school. Last week, Connor and I got to sit down and share a meal with Mr. Weaver. I can’t describe how special I felt all over again as the memories came flooding back. Mr. Weaver had been part of a teacher study program in Japan and had heard a survivor talk from the Hiroshima bombing. As I sat there and listened to him share stories, I was the same 14-year-old girl who had been so privileged to be in his class and share his electric energy once again. I hope that I am half the teacher that Mr. Weaver was and is. I also hope I have the opportunity to continue to spend time with him. He has many more stories to tell and I have ears to listen. Thank you, Mr. Weaver, for being the best teacher I ever had!

Galentine’s​ Day: 13 Quotes to Celebrate Friendship

 “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
Parks and Rec…what a great show that made me want to move to Pawnee, IN. Leslie Knope was famous for her quirky yet extremely sentimental “holidays.” and coined the term “Galentine’s Day” to be celebrated with her gal pal Ann on February 13.  Over a decade has passed since the first Galentine’s Day and the concept has only gained momentum.
My closest besties call ourselves “Bakers Dozen” so here are 13 of my favorite quotes and inspiring words for all the gals out there making a difference!
1.  Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
2.  Empowered women empower women.
3.  A strong women looks challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink.
4.  You can tell who the strong women are, they’re the ones building each other up instead of tearing each other down.
5.  Some women fear the fire…some women simply become it. (r.h. sin)
6.  There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise. (W.E.B. Dubois)
7.  If you’re searching for that one person to change your life, look in the mirror.
8.  “You always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” (The Wizard of Oz)
9. “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” (Madeleine Albright)
10. “Uteruses before duderuses. Ovaries before brovaries.”  (Leslie Knope)
11.  Never make yourself small for anyone. Be your own person and try wearing a little lipstick. (Grey’s Anatomy)
12.  Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help and brave enough to ask for it.
13.  The world needs strong women. Women who will lift and build others, who will love and be loved. Women who live bravely, both tender and fierce. Women of indomitable will. (Amy Tenney)
To all the amazing women in my life (starting with my MOM)  I treasure you. You’re a gift and I honor you this Galentine’s Day!