ashley judd 1, the media 0.

Image via The Daily Beast

You may have already stumbled across the piece that actress Ashley Judd wrote in response to the media criticizing her “puffy face” and making the public assertion that she’d had “work done.” However, if you haven’t, I highly suggest you take the time to read it. It’s definitely worth it.

While I’m usually the first person to be up in arms over the media saying preposterous, body-policing things like this (much like the recent accusations that Jennifer Lawrence is “too big” to play Katniss Everdeen) I usually forget to even consider how the celebrity in question feels. Even worse than that, sometimes I even find myself flippantly making damning comments like this one. Ugh. Shame on me.

Whether they’re celebrities or not, they’re still people. They’re still living, breathing, human beings, fearfully and wonderfully made, and their looks are not the end-all be-all of their worth.

And for Christ’s sake, just because a woman’s face has changed shape over the years does NOT mean she’s had work done. Unless you consider aging naturally “getting work done” then by all means, STFU.

Read Ashley’s killer response here.

the go-to girl.

There was a time in my life I would get supremely offended if I wasn’t asked to do something important for the organizations in which I was involved, whether they be work-related, school-related, church-related, or otherwise.

Planning an event? You’d better ask me to help.
Putting together a band for something? You know you need me to play and/or sing.
Creating a video? You’d be amiss to  not employ my skills.
If you ask someone else, I’ll know it’s because you think I’m completely worthless and incapable of anything good.  

This mindset got me to a point where I was volunteering for any and everything that was needed. My goal was to be everyone’s go-to girl. What’s more, if I felt like I wasn’t someone’s go-to girl for something, I was mad about it, even if the reality was that I was already spread too thin and stressed out to the point of breaking down.

That time in my life wasn’t so long ago, actually. In truth, that time in my life was…

Oh that’s right.

Now.

I suppose it has something to do with my innate need to be loved and accepted by everyone. Ergo, if I’m not doing a thousand things for other people, I’m not giving those people a reason to love me, which means they will reach out to others for their needs and love them instead.

Oh, insecurity. You tricky, tricky jerk.

When I got pregnant, I was forced to sit down and really analyze all the ways I was spending my time — working two jobs, volunteering in and/or leading four (four?! is it really that many?!) ministries, recovering from knee surgery, trying to keep my marriage and other relationships intact…

And I came to the conclusion that I had to step down from some things. And, thanks to my crazy insecurities, it hurt a lot:

You can’t step down from anything. People will think you’re weak. That you can’t handle anything. That you’re worthless and stupid and obviously undeserving of love. If you do this, the people you hold dearest to you will always label you a selfish loser with nothing to offer anyone. If you’re not everyone’s go-to girl, you’re going to be no one’s anything. 

Ouch.

Even though I didn’t want to, I sat down for a meeting with my husband, who is the pastor in charge of the junior high ministry, to discuss an end date for me as a volunteer. (Yes, by the way — I do have scheduled “meetings” with my husband. There are only so many times you can talk shop on your couch before you’re sick of it.) After sobbing uncontrollably over it, I agreed to continue as a volunteer through the end of April, with the 29th as my last day. We’d break the news to the students then. I was absolutely heartbroken. I felt like I was letting all of the students and my husband down.

“You’re not letting me down,” he reassured. “Either way, I win. Either I have a great junior high ministry leader, or I have a healthy, not-stressed out wife and a healthy baby boy.”
“But you deserve to have both,” I protested.
“You can’t give me both. And that’s okay.”

Okay? How is that okay?! It means that someone else is going to step in and be your right-hand ministry leader. Someone else who isn’t me! Someone who may be a better leader than I was! How is that okay?!

After that meeting was over, I knew I had to have another meeting with Lori, the church administrator and a dear friend, about stepping down from leader of the Outward Connexity (fancy term for “fellowship”) Ministry. You’d think that after my meeting with Dan (that went really well, I think, despite my outrageously embarrassing crying fit) I’d be that much more ready for my meeting with Lori. But I was dreading it — after all, it’s one thing to be honest about your limitations with the guy who signed a legally binding document that he’d love you no matter what. It’s quite another to do so with someone who isn’t contractually obligated to care about you.

Last week after rehearsal for an event we have coming up this Friday, Lori and I walked out to the parking lot and were bouncing details about the event back and forth off of each other. Eventually, the subject of events in the fall came up and my stomach dropped.

“Actually, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that…” I started.
“You know,” she said smiling, “I was originally going to tell you that you were done after this event. But, then, I remembered that you need to work on saying no to things. So I was just waiting for you to come to me and tell me you were stepping down.”

Well. Okay then.

So. That’s it. I’ve surrendered two things and (surprisingly) the world is still spinning and I still have friends.

Am I the only one who feels this way? I can’t be, right? Help me out. 

finding shelter.

Oh. Hi there. I’m alive. Sorry it’s kind of been a while. Consider my week-long absence from blogging an elaborate and effective April Fool’s Joke.

The truth is that the end of March and the entire month of April have proven to be the busiest time of my life I can remember. Busy, however, with happy and fun things: three weddings, one of which I’m in, family engagements and celebrations, driving back and forth from here to Central Florida, rehearsals, meetings, events at the church, Lent, Holy Week, Good Friday, Easter, being six (is this real life?!) months pregnant…

It’s gotten to be a bit much. Too much to blog about, I’m afraid. But, like I said, all great things!

Each day this week, my church is holding gatherings at 7:30AM to explore Holy Week. Amidst all the insanity that is my life right now, I bet you’re wondering why I would ever drag my pregnant butt out of bed an extra hour earlier each day just to go to church before work. You wouldn’t be alone, either — I leave my sleeping husband, the pastor and spiritual head of my household, in bed every morning to do this. As I kiss him goodbye, he grumbles sleepily, “You don’t have to do this, you know.” Ah. Yes, husband. You’re so right. Alas…

At Monday’s gathering, my attitude was dreadful to say the least. I was tired — I’m battling insomnia again because, well, that’s what I do — and I was experiencing an epic case of The Mondays. So, even I didn’t know why I “wanted” to be there so badly because, if you looked at me or talked to me, you would have guessed I wanted to be anywhere but. My less-than-great vibes were evidently more obvious than I’d previously thought, later inspiring an overly depressing Durrenbaby blog post and prompting a few “I’m kind of worried about you” and “I love you” texts/messages/emails from some friends.

I really apologize for that. Truly. But, at the same time, feeling safe and cared about is invaluable. For that, I am grateful, even despite the circumstances.

When Tuesday’s alarm sounded at 6:00AM, I’d already been awake for a couple hours again. At this point, I was going on less than ten hours of sleep over the course of three days, and I was so frustrated about it. But I got out of bed anyway (I mean, it’s not like I was going to sleep or anything) and headed to church.

On my way there, I put “The Shelter” by Jars of Clay on repeat.

May this place of rest at the fold of your journey bind you to hope.
You will never walk alone.
In the shelter of each other, we will live, we will live.

I can’t tell you why I put that song on. I guess I just needed to hear the lyrics and feel rested and sheltered from adversity, even though I was anything but.

Well. Wouldn’t you know it?

When I got to church Tuesday morning, Eric’s message focused on Jesus’ stop in Bethany before he headed to Jerusalem for, you know, the good times that awaited him. The town of Bethany was kind of a safe haven for Jesus — a place he could truly “let his hair down” and be himself. Eric challenged us to think of the “Bethany”s in our lives: the people we’re most comfortable being around, the places we’re most “at rest”…

the areas in our lives we find “shelter.”

Well. Okay then. Sacred echo, consider yourself heard.

Where are those places for me? In my husband’s arms. In my church’s corporate gathering area at 7:30AM on a humid weekday morning. On a close friend’s couch, clutching a mug of peppermint tea or decaf coffee.

I just want you to know, if you are one of those people around whom I feel safe (and you know who you are, because I’ve probably said something inappropriate or embarrassing around you, or I’ve cried on your shoulder or in your ear over the phone, or I’ve sent you a frantic text message in the middle of the day detailing some sort of overly melodramatic crisis, whatever) I truly appreciate you. I am so humbled by your presence in my life and I graciously thank you for allowing me to find shelter in you.

I hope you can find shelter in me, too.

In the shelter of each other, we will live…