Painting heart-cries, word by word

Just a Journey February 15, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 10:42 am

I feel the need to write down a brief account of my health journey. Last night, another step was made clear and the frustration and intimidation I felt came out in hot tears and flailing arms and raised voice. So this morning, I want to see the big picture. I want to get a glimpse of the tapestry, even though I kind of have a vice grip on the strand in my hand at the moment.

Let’s start at the very beginning.

As a kid growing up, I don’t remember being particularly sickly. I had some seemingly unrelated issues that were occasionally inconvenient—borderline anemia, exercise-induced asthma, migraine headaches from age 10, mildly poor eyesight, sensitive skin prone to hives breakouts, and a peculiar mini-seizure-like response to irregular flashing lights. Just a hodge-podge of stuff that was easily managed.

When I was pregnant with my 4th child in 2010, I suddenly developed some symptoms that began to hinder my everyday life—painful gas and extreme bloating, long and excruciating trips to the bathroom, increased migraines. I started to wonder if I had IBS, but my midwife suggested seeing what a change in nutrition would do first. I cut dairy, and had some immediate relief. The symptoms began to return and so I cut wheat. I had a brief respite when I gave birth to my 4th child in 2011, but when they came back with a vengeance and an added psoriasis-like rash on my neck, ears, and forearms, I cut gluten. Then beef. Then peanuts. Then garlic.

By 2015, I finally had a manageable hold on my everyday life, but I couldn’t seem to drop the last 20 lbs of pregnancy weight after my 6th was born. The bloating and long trips to the bathroom continued, the rash eased off my arms and ears but remained on my neck constantly. I could survive it, but I knew there was still something wrong inside me.

In 2016, I researched the Candida yeast overgrowth problem and found enough confirmation in my symptoms to attempt a diet plan designed to starve the yeast while building up the good bacteria. For three months I was on a strict no-sugar, no-carb regimen. My bloating reduced to some extent but no other results were apparent. I stopped the diet as I felt it wasn’t providing me with enough actual nutrition to warrant continuing it. I wanted to start working out more vigorously and knew I needed more complex carbs in order to fuel my exercise.

In January of 2017, I took my daughter to an allergist and decided to get some answers for myself as well. With a prick test we determined I was not allergic to anything. The doctor felt I was on the right track with the yeast overgrowth problem and prescribed Flagyl, an antifungal, and a probiotic, as well as a topical medicated shampoo for my neck. While on the antifungal, I again felt some minor relief from bloating and a slight increase in successful bowel movements. The rash remained but did not itch as much. I finished the course of medication, and went back for my follow-up appointment.

The doctor said that although I seemed to respond marginally to the Flagyl, it should have produced more drastic results if the yeast was my biggest problem. At this point he recommended trying Metamucil, to see if that helped. If that didn’t work, he suggested the FODMAP diet people with IBS can follow for relief. And if those did not bring that drastic improvement, he recommended seeing a GI doctor to rule out IBS, Celiac’s (which can apparently be asymptomatic), colitis, and diverticulitis.

I tried Metamucil, which was really gross, but it felt like trying to use stickers when you’ve got a three-inch deep wound. Effective? Not really.

I just looked up the low-FODMAP diet, and wryly wondered what in the world I’d be left with to eat this time. I read one medical article and my heart sank a little. I already do this naturally. I’ve been driven to it by the guess-and-check I’ve been doing for the past 6 years of my life. This has no new information for me. Effective? Apparently not.

So now I’m down to the GI specialist.

I didn’t realize how intimidating that would be for me, but now that it’s here… Everything I’ve been told and everything I’ve read says that to leave a digestive issue like mine to fester gives you a significant chance of acquiring colon cancer. I can’t ignore this. I have to know what I’m dealing with and how to best move forward. I don’t even know if I’m hurting myself every time I eat.

At the same time, I’m still weirdly optimistic because the allergist doctor did say my symptoms seem to be rather mild for any of those “scary,” life-long conditions. Usually there are more extreme problems that act as a red flag.

But the not-knowing part of health journeys is sometimes the more frightening and frustrating part. My journey is mild, so very mild, and I’m not afraid. But I am intimidated by the unknown. What will I have to change about my life? How much will it take away from my everyday routine? Can I handle the added pressure? Will I be strong enough to do everything it takes to be my best for my family?

These are all things I’ve had in my heart in the last 24 hours. I’ve since given them over to God and my spirit is quiet again, patiently waiting for the next step forward and being so sure of who my God is that the unknown shrinks into the back of my mind. But still, that was a process I had to go through. And what I deal with, again, is not really awful. I wrestle more with inconveniences and the feeling of being punished for trying my best. I have a drip, and I know there are those dealing with fire hoses and waterfalls. I am grateful and humbled that this is what I have been given.

I suppose what I wanted was to write down the journey. Sometimes I struggle to know whether what I feel on a given day is an extreme or an appropriate reaction. Writing it down can help me with perspective.

So, I still can’t eat gluten/wheat. I still can’t eat dairy. Or beef. Or peanuts. Or a lot of garlic. I can’t eat rice and potatoes and gluten free pasta too close together. I may never lose this last 20 lbs. I may always look like I’m 4-5 months pregnant on my bad days (not self-deprecation here, people mistake me for pregnant all the time).

But I can learn from this. I can learn compassion for others on their health journeys. I can learn self-discipline, which is always something I need to do better. I can learn not to look to food for my emotional comfort, but rather lean on my God. I can learn to be gracious and think of others’ needs when so many are gracious and thoughtful towards me. I can learn to get creative and have gratitude for what I am able to do, for what I have available to me, for being able to seek answers. There is plenty to learn.

Maybe I should start writing it all down.



This Is For The Theater People: I Adore You September 9, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 7:11 am

I went to see the musical production of Carousel: A Concert at Rabbit Run Theater about a month ago and I was captivated from the beginning. I promised myself I would write a review and I have finally done it. As many of you know, I’m Maria’s daughter. And so you should also know that I would never give a disingenuous opinion of anything—my momma raised me right! My enjoyment of this show was more complete than I’ve had in a show in a long time. This performance was incredible and I will never forget it.

Also, I have never written a review of a play before so if it sounds cold at all, it’s because I leaned on my brief experience of writing for the newspaper.

Stepping On the Captivating Carousel: A Review

                Directed by Brint Learned, the themes of the play shone through every detail in setting and every nuanced performance. From the incorporation of the orchestra on the stage to the symbolism in scenic design and in simple, yet striking, costumes, the careful attention to a cohesive story was evident from the opening interlude. The gorgeous songs and brilliant acting immersed the audience into the story and pathos of Carousel.

The decision to incorporate the orchestra on stage worked beautifully to create an intimate relationship between the play and the music, the characters and their emotions. Never a distraction, the musicians enriched the narratives of each storyline. I delighted in the use of the harp and violins especially. Combined with the scenery and lighting choices, which were used with artistic restraint, the story was effortlessly framed and supported. Some of the musicians even left the “pit” and joined in the ensemble scenes, making the integration complete and blurring the line between the stories we share and the ones we feel.

Musical Director Alex Ulle, who also conducted the orchestra and played the keyboard (amazing), was masterful with maintaining the tone of the show. With excellent music that was both full and poignant, the themes of Carousel were clearly portrayed in harmonious accompaniment to the actors.

The show really shone as the ideal mix of strong singers and wonderful actors. I could not get over how controlled everyone’s performance was. I was sitting in almost the last row of seats and yet I heard every word, every harmony, and there have been professional shows using MICROPHONES where I could not say the same. I will also say that I’ve never seen a live production of Carousel and I’m so glad this was my first.

Evie Koh as Julie Jordan and R. Scott Posey as Billy Bigelow had instant chemistry, which drew the audience in from their first scene together. Ms. Koh captured her character’s quiet independence and resilient vulnerability in a way that evoked compassion in me throughout the play. Her emotion spills from her soaring voice into every song, from the playful and passionate “If I Loved You” to the heartache and unflinching promise in “What’s the Use of Wonderin’?” I was left wishing that such bravery and poured out love in a character could have been better rewarded, which is wonderfully complex.

Mr. Posey’s performance as Billy encapsulated the story of a man who has learned to react to pain and loneliness all his life. Mr. Posey’s blend of bravado and romance was bittersweet from beginning to end. He found a beautiful balance between yearning for love and fearing vulnerability. Fearlessly plunging into the character’s flaws, he gave the audience Billy’s journey, not just his destination. With robust and ringing voice that gave me chills, Mr. Posey highlighted facets of humanity—apprehension, humor, tenderness, rebelliousness—in songs such as “Soliloquy” and “The Highest Judge of All.” By the end of the play, I was aching with all the loss Billy experienced and exultant over his decision to make right what he could.

Paige Heidrich as Carrie Pepperidge, together with Lincoln Sandham as her Enoch Snow, were a delight throughout the play and a wonderful contrast to Julie and Billy. Ms. Heidrich captured the earnest optimism and sweet nature of Carrie, seasoning well with humor that had me rolling! I was intrigued early in the show by Carrie’s song, “Mister Snow.” Ms. Heidrich’s strong, clear voice brought her character to hardy and idealistic life. I loved the contrasts between Carrie and Julie, with Carrie leaning on the safety of social constructs and Julie striking out wherever love led her.

The aforementioned “Mister Snow” brought another layer of fun to the show—I think I cracked up nearly every time he came on stage! Mr. Sandham’s impeccable comedic timing and clear voice gave such a perfect picture of a “gentleman of ambition” with his repeated referrals to buying more boats and having a large number of babies. His song, “When The Children Are Asleep,” was both hilarious and adorable. He was quaint but he was also sweetly sincere and this made his presence a pleasure.

Nettie Fowler, played by Maria Lister-Lyons, brought the array of humanity full-circle with a maternal and exuberant performance. Ms. Lister-Lyons’ rendition of “June is Bustin’ Out All Over” brought an energy to Act 1 that perfectly revealed the strong emotions harbored in the New England coastal village where the play takes place. She rejoiced in all the “young fry” and comforted both Julie and Carrie by turns—always keeping true to that motherly love that can see some good in everyone.

Mr. Tim Shinkle was the quintessential rough-around-the-edges kind of guy as the character Jigger Craigin. While not the strongest voice in the cast, Mr. Shinkle still delivered the tang of a man who has fully embraced a fatalistic philosophy. As the representation of the hardness Billy admired but also feared, Jigger was an arms-crossed symbol I enjoyed despising. It was interesting how my hope stayed alive for Billy but wasn’t even sparked for Jigger. Perhaps it was the difference between a man who was scared and a man who gave up on himself long ago.

Often led by the resonant tones of Ms. Lister-Lyons, the talented chorus’ numbers kept the audience emotionally engaged. Embellished with lively choreography, songs like “A Real Nice Clambake” are a rollicking good time. They had me clapping along and singing the choruses on my drive home! The “Ballet” performance returned to the poignancy represented in the show, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of watching Gene Kelly’s storytelling through dance on VHS when I was a child.

Mr. Learned (director) kept Carousel: A Concert true to the story of human imperfections and the love which trumps them all. It was everything I love about a musical—acting that tugged my heartstrings and split my sides from laughter; songs that were tear-jerkers and songs that were spirited; dancing that enthralled and impressed me; and a somehow brand-new sense of what it means to be a person in this world. I still get emotional when I remember it.

Carousel at Rabbit Run Theater took an appreciative look at a universal truth—people are messy and messy people are valuable.


When Love Becomes a Calling October 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 1:07 pm

God has been doing something in this heart and I cannot write about anything else here until I share it.

Preface: I love my kids. I love our family life and the way I have no other option but to trust God through adventure after mishap after crazy, unforeseen circumstance. There are no regrets, no wishing I didn’t have this life. I love my husband’s passion for our family, his determination to carry a vision and pass it along. I do what I know to do in order to be the mom my kids need. But here’s the odd thing: I’ve never been specifically passionate about filling the role of “Mom.” I’m very passionate about the importance of godly parenting, of family discipleship, of submitting to the role God has picked out for me. But I was not passionate about the role itself. This has now changed—miraculously, in my opinion.

In August of this year, I was in a strange between kind of place with God. I had a renewed desire for sitting in His presence, but I was still fighting off a lot of my familiar distractions. I wasn’t moving forward. Or at least, it didn’t feel like I was moving forward. I felt suspended, pushing against the gravitational pull of my distractions but unable to soar to the heights where God was beckoning.

Then my husband and I decided to go to a community worship night, NO KIDS. I was so pumped to be there, to just bask in God’s presence with no other agendas or time constraints or the usual “I need to go potty” distractions. Again, I love my kids. But sometimes… Well, you know.

So we worshipped. And it was exciting, lovely, encouraging, everything I hoped it would be. The worship leader for the evening kept repeating that he felt this was a night specifically for someone in ministry who needed prayer by laying on of hands. I didn’t think that fit my description and I prayed for whomever that person was. I’m still not sure it was a description of me. But then, well into the service, he called out to mothers who feel overwhelmed. THAT was me. We were singing a song of Gideon, when he was told to rise up. THAT was for me. I gave my husband’s hand a squeeze, smiled and said I wanted to go up to the front to pray. He came with me. I shouted (quite literally) out to God and He showed me—oh! He showed me so much. At the time all I could manage to write down was this:

“I am called to rise, as Gideon.
I have been anointed and my calling is mother.
I have seen what He sees–
I am His message,
I am filled with light to give.

No more fighting lies, insecurity, doubt, insolence in order to
hear Him,
see Him.

You won’t relent until You have it all.”

He showed me what He sees and I finally opened my eyes because He SILENCED the lies in me that bring confusion and doubt. I was so open in my heart and spirit towards Him in that time, I could surrender everything. I was obedient in calling out my will to serve and He drew me up! He gave me freedom and definitions and vision and hope and love and tenderness all because I obedient for two tiny hours on a Sunday night.

When He cleared out my temple corners, I realized the disdain I held for myself, which I believed came from my impatience with my progress, such disdain was not His response to me at all. Ever. He is never ashamed or disdainful. And then I asked what He does see.

After years of yearning, I have sight of my true, God-made, real self and I have a Holy Spirit anointed calling in the motherhood bestowed on me. The acceptance and participation is deeper and more profound than I could generate on my own. There is a chasm of difference between obeying God because it is the right thing and obeying God because of love and gratitude towards Him. I couldn’t see the Victoria He designed to be a mother after His own heart. All I could see was a Victoria that desperately tried to make her square corners fit into the round hole of mommy-dom and failed, time and time again, always unfulfilled. All I could see was the Victoria who felt condemnation over not being in love with devoting her life to her family.

He eclipsed that vision of Victoria with His own. And for the first time, I looked. I didn’t glance and painfully turn away. It didn’t hurt me to look because I didn’t reject it. I received it, by His grace and power, and I am changed. Motherhood still is not a fairytale made reality for me; my personality is still here and still doing its own thing. But I now feel a long-term assurance of vision and purpose in it that, up to now, I had only felt in connection with writing. I am richly blessed.

What happened next? Well, I came home and kept up my daily tasks. My husband and I had frustrating conversations and silly teasing. I had to fight for every victory in my response to rambunctious or rebellious kids—and I didn’t get every victory. So how do I know something changed?

It is moving quietly in me. It was not just a flash of revelation that I talked over and couldn’t maintain. In a thousand tiny moments, I am choosing to walk this calling and reject the twisted version I tried to make up for myself. There is insistent, daily, excruciatingly slow, PERMANENT change happening in me.

In September, God gave me this verse to memorize and carry in my heart: “Dear children, let us not love with words and tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence, whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts and He knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.” 1st John 3:18-22. There is so much there. Maybe I can elaborate in a separate post.

In October, God has reminded me of the verse that says His word is “a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” And He murmured to my heart, “Keep your eyes on My Face, not on your feet.” This is my lesson in continuing to measure progress by His pleasure, not by my analyzing of every tiny step and obsession with how long it takes to get anywhere.

He is faithful with this work in me. I will respond with faithfulness because He has more and more for me. What can I make for myself? Dirty rags and piles of nothingness and maybe an ulcer by the time I’m 40 years old. No. I will wait on the Lord. I will move when He moves. I will receive from Him and I WILL serve Him.

God gave freely what I could not do without.


Things That Might Revoke My 90s Kid Card April 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 10:22 am

It’s true and I can still totally do it, head swivel and all, baby.



You know those lists of things that go, “You know you’re a 90s Kid if you remember…” and then comes a parade of cartoons, toys, and fashion choices that make you chortle in reminiscent glee?

Well, I get a little nervous at times that if my fellow 90s Kids could read my mind, they might take away my slap-bracelet license. Here are some things I did NOT get into as a 90s Kid:



–Saved by the Bell, Friends, Dawson’s Creek

Who will get mad at who THIS week?!

They all seemed so predictable and so boring to me. If I didn’t care who was going steady at my school, why the heck would I care about made up people’s fake relationships when they didn’t even, I dunno, fight mythical beasts or save the world on the side?



–N*sync, Backstreet Boys, Hanson, Spice Girls, Avril Lavigne, etc, etc ad nauseum

As ridiculous as this was, I gotta give Justin Timberlake props. He did grow out of the ramen-noodle hair and make some cool stuff.

I knew girls who would literally scream and start crying when they heard one of the songs by their favorite artist come on the radio. I have never understood this. Besides, I was too busy appreciating the music of the 50s, 60s, and 70s (including musicals) to be bothered with Top 40 radio. That’s right. I was a hipster before it was a thing.



–Banana clips and “baby tees”

This is what banana clips are.

This is what they are supposed to do. BUT IT IS LIES, I TELL YOU. LIES.


Banana clips just can’t handle this curly mane. They always broke. And baby tees just made me feel like my bottom half was huuuuge for some reason. Besides, my parents would have killed me.



–Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Ren and Stimpy, Beevis and Butthead

Yes. Yes I am. And that one episode they showed us in school when I was in 7th grade STILL BOTHERS ME.

I have always had an aversion for ugliness as entertainment. I don’t find it quirky. I find it disturbing.



–Books by R.L. Stine (such as the Goosebumps series)

I kind of wanted to read them because other kids liked them a lot, but I just couldn’t do it. This was the nicest cover I could find.

Furthermore, I hate being freaked out. Especially by my own imagination.



–Power Rangers

I still cringe. Even now.

It was just…TOO cheesy. This coming from a girl who loved the show “Clarissa Explains It All”


So does this make me a traitor to my generation’s pop culture? Possibly.

I do redeem myself with slap bracelets, side pony tails, Walkman AND portable CD player, a little Weezer and Five Iron Frenzy, pogs, All That, Doug, and a brief celebrity crush on Kevin Zegers (from the Air Bud movie).

What are the iconic experiences of your childhood days? Reminiscing is such a joy. 😀


Putting “Good Job” to Death April 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 10:57 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Quite unintentionally, I have become a pretty decent fan of Matt Walsh and his thoughts which he publishes at Today he posted about motherhood, and more specifically, why it is not THE (exclusionary) toughest job in the world.

The man enjoys conflict. This he readily admits.

Even so, his full post makes some hard-hitting points about the perceptions of parenthood in the United States at the moment. I appreciated the clarification that he does not detract from the difficulties and full-time commitment required in being a mother. The point about fatherhood being just as challenging as motherhood had me nodding. I nearly cheered when he touched on the dismissive attitude our culture has towards fathers in general and how debilitating that is for the entire concept of family.

But what prompted me to make a dash for my laptop keyboard was this little sentence tucked into a concluding paragraph: “One day maybe we’ll realize that parenting is designed…to be work — not a job at all, really — that is best accomplished through the harmony of husband and wife.”

Consider this. There are times—many, many times—when I am insecure about whether I am successfully fulfilling the role of mother for my children. In those moments, my wonderful husband and the amazing daddy for our children tells me, “Hon’, you’re doing a great job.” And I am a little relieved, a little disbelieving, and a little mollified that it’s probably just a skewed perspective in my head.

Now, what if the conversation ran like this:
Me: Ahh! I feel as though I’m doing a terrible job at being these poor kids’ mother! I keep making mistakes that will probably send them to lifelong counseling and I can’t DO it all with the house and the blahblahblah…freaking out…blahblah.

Husband: My dear, what you do with our children is wonderful work.

Me: *crickets* Um… Well. That is true. Regardless of how I see my abilities, it’s the kind of work that’s always worth my best. I can’t argue with or doubt that. Silly to freak out, really.

Okay, so in reality, I’m not that quick to turn my hissy fits around to rational thought. But truly, the difference between “you’re doing a great job” and “the work you’re given is great” could be the paradigm shift I need as a parent. The shift in focus is from my qualities and performance as a mom to the REASON I am doing it.

What does Galatians 6 say? “Let us not grow weary in doing good…” (vs. 9)

Hear me out because I’m learning this as I’m typing, which means I’m sharing and not teaching. I may not have this figured out yet. When it comes to the concept of hard work, I get very whiny very quickly, historically. It is something I am having to learn as an adult, having never received the joy in it as a kid or teenager.

In the past, I’ve always felt a little exhausted after reading that verse in Galatians. Maybe even falsely guilty. I do get weary of always having to choose those hard, self-sacrificing, never ending good things.

But what if I was looking at it backwards? What if it is talking about good work, not good jobs? What if work is something objectively good or bad? You can do a bad job in a good work, can’t you? That doesn’t change the nature of the work. Charity organizations are doing good work. But a badly trained CEO may run the organization into bankruptcy. Badly done job, but still within the category of good work.

Being Mom to my five kids who are home schooled and therefore hardly ever out of my minute-to-minute life can be exhausting, of course. (As can being Dad to those five kids after working a rough job every day, Mr. Walsh.) But do I really have a right to call the work of motherhood dreary? Motherhood as a calling, a kind of work, is objectively good. So rather than appealing to my husband out of my insecurities, what if I simply asked for a reminder of the truth?

I could stop being insecure about my mistakes as a mother—not stop improving, but stop beating myself up over my imperfections—and instead…

Instead, I could focus on the work.

I might raise my voice when I promised I wouldn’t, but the work of motherhood is worth an apology and doing better next time.

I might mess up dinner for my family, but the work of motherhood is worth gratitude and sometimes laughing at myself.

I might ignore my daughter’s many, many, many requests to bake something with me on a busy Saturday afternoon, but motherhood is worth listening to the pang in my heart and handing her an apron on Monday morning.

I’m not sure if I’m conveying what I saw in this difference between a job and good work, but hopefully the glimmer of truth in there has caught your eye enough to mine the rest of it yourself. There is something precious here. I intend to keep digging.


Time for Goals March 21, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 9:13 am

If If

If someone asked you to sum up 2013 in three phrases, what would you say?

I think I would say slightly risky, family-focused, and shifting paradigms.

It was a good year for learning. I learned how to take a positive step forward instead of thinking my motivation to death. I learned to love people who were hard to love without sinking. And I learned a bit more about how God likes to work— a time. I learned patience with myself (a little). I learned about having a vision for my family. I learned to appreciate how quickly my kids are growing into the people God planned for them to be, and how quickly obstacles to their growth crop up.

But it definitely wasn’t all shining happiness. In some ways 2013 felt like a lot of growing pains. It wasn’t tragic, but it was hard. I saw my progress in life and struggled to accept that my hopes are still a long way off. I saw my ugly sides and struggled to chip them away rather than obsess over them. I saw where other people failed me (don’t we all) and the choice to be gracious or hold a grudge. I saw the minutiae of my daily life—clean up the spill, stop the bickering, make the food, change the diaper, make the food, read the baby book AGAIN—and I saw how it builds the foundation for my family now and the family to come… I saw big responsibility in the tiny moments and felt intimidated. Had to move past that. Still working on it.

All of this has been useful, some of it was inspiring, and I am grateful for 2013’s lessons. But I do have one regret. Just one. Not too bad for a whole year, I suppose.

My one regret was crowding out my time to be creative. I had little moments, but I didn’t invest in making things, whether it be crazy projects with my kids or a drama for church, or just writing in my journal.

So now it’s March of 2014.

If you asked me what phrases I would want to see this year, I would say this:

Expressing joy

Bigger risks

Creating at every turn

I’ve been training myself to embrace the joy God gives me so freely and I want this to be he year that I dive into it. That’s a risky move.

I don’t like risk; I don’t like that rush of adrenaline, the possibility of messing up or being ridiculous, the responsibility that comes with success. It’s twisted and a little weird, but I’ve lived with it for so long. Last year, I took some definite risks. I didn’t think my way out of them. It was a good beginning. I want to build on that foundation and leap into the void, knowing God holds me up no matter what the outcome.

God made me to create. In some sense, I think He made all of us to create and it just comes out differently for each one of us. That’s a topic for another day. For me, it’s an artistic kind of expression, something to pull us out of the everyday moments and realize He made something beautiful. I have so many ideas, so many plans, so many hopes. I have dreams that would take me years, even decades to accomplish. I have dreams I don’t see how to reach yet. And there are plenty of dreams that are within my reach, if only I would carve out the time to get there.

So it’s time to make goals. I’m not confident with making goals. That’s probably why this blog is so stuffy. :p But I want to give in to the dreamer in me, be filled by the joy God gives me, and dance my way through space.

Here’s to the unknown!


Oh… Maybe I should list some concrete goals?
Well, I guess so. Although that feels terribly final and—

Okay. Compromise. Baby steps. Here are some IDEAS of goals I’m playing with. I can’t have too many or I’ll give up.

  1. Write a certain amount (1 page, 500 words, 15 minutes worth, etc) of whatever EVERY DAY. I’m terrible with “every day” goals. But hey, shoot for the moon, land in the stars, right?
  2. Write a complete fictional story (short, children’s, novel chapter/arc) at least 3 times this year. Baaaaaby steps, remember?
  3. Streamline blogs format and invest into content.
  4. Do what it takes to gain followers. Within reason. I’m not mercenary.
  5. Get at least 4 articles published.
  6. Invest in writing with a budget—magazines, conferences, a class or two, etc.
  7. Choreograph a lyrical dance/drama for church. I have several roughed out but I need to actually do them.
  8. Look into starting a children’s choir.
  9. Take kids to art museum to explore. Bring drawing pads.
  10. Take a dance class!
  11. Explore poetry.
  12. Read new authors. I don’t like doing it because I am a little picky about the books I read. But I want some new books!
  13. Crochet. Anything. Just re-learn how to do it.
  14. Get a garden going for the first time ever. I saw this really cool method where you put the seeds and some topsoil in a bale of hay or straw (forget which) and just let it do it’s thing. No weeds, no digging, and hopefully no epic waste of money. I’m thinking potatoes, attempting tomatoes, maybe bell peppers. Easy stuff.
  15. Practice, actually PRACTICE, singing. Maybe even try writing a song. Maybe.
  16. Craft with the kids once a week, via Pinterest.
  17. Print pictures of my family and friends of my kids so I can help them scrapbook.
  18. Bake more with the kids. Step away and let them make mistakes.
  19. Epically decorate at least one cake.
  20. Lead a group study.

I cannot do all those things. But I can pick a couple that really mean a lot to me and do those. I can’t pick right now because that is just too much pressure, but I WILL. 😛

I will. I have to. I want 2014 to be better. I want to be better.


What I Hear in “Let It Go” (Yes, this is about the movie, Frozen.) March 18, 2014

My family is slow to see the newest films, mostly because we aren’t a very movie-theater-friendly group. When your youngest is one year and your oldest is seven-and-a-half, the possibility for disaster is exponential. Therefore, I am very, very late to the bandwagon of blog posts about the movie, Frozen.

As far as review goes, my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My kids thought it was fantastic. The humor was clean (I’m lookin’ at you, Shrek), the characters grew and changed, the story was a fascinating expression of “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen, and the songs were brilliant. It was more like a musical than the typical animated kids film, which was a pleasant surprise for me. I love musicals!

One song, of course, stands out more than the rest. “Let It Go” is written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez and sung by Idina Menzel. The character Queen Elsa has just exposed her magical ability to manipulate snow and ice in front of her subjects and she sings about the next chapter in her life. From a young age, her father coached her to conceal her gift and separate herself from emotion. The more emotional she was, the more her gift would explode out of her. Elsa is fearful of the hurt she can do (and has done) to her dearest loved ones and to her kingdom. She can’t control her ability. She can’t control how she feels.

And then one day, her choice to hide behind the palace gates is taken. Everyone sees what she can do. Everyone is frightened, including Elsa. So she runs away. She hides in isolation, just as she was taught to do by her father, only now she’s on a mountaintop instead of in her room. On the mountain, she feels a rush, a release. There’s no point in trying to make her power disappear. Alone, she is able to explore her power without hurting anyone.

To me, this is actually a complex part of the movie and of Elsa’s development as a character. As a child, she learned quickly and desperately how to remove her existence from the rest of the world (and even from her sister). She tried to pull her power inwards, tried to control how much it scared her, tried to tame it. With the urging of her parents, Elsa learned to keep everyone out—for THEIR safety as well as her own. But she also received a special prophecy by a troll that it was fear which would consume and destroy her.

Rather than explore what drives out fear, her family embraced fear and held it close. Elsa was a slave to fear. As an adult, when her parents were dead and gone, her sister was desperate for relationship of any kind, and her kingdom needed an involved and confident leader, Elsa was unable to rise to the challenge. She buckled under the pressure. Her fear ruled her, as it always had, and she ran away.

And so, alone on the snowy mountain, in her element of power and far from anybody who feared her, she sings this:

“The snow glows white on the mountain tonight,

not a footprint to be seen.

A kingdom of isolation and it looks like I’m the queen.

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside.

Couldn’t keep it in, Heaven knows I tried.

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see.

Be the good girl you always have to be.

Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.

Well, now they know!

Let it go, let it go!

Can’t hold it back any more.

Let it go, let it go!

Turn away and slam the door.

I don’t care what they’re going to say.

Let the storm rage on.

The cold never bothered me anyway.

It’s funny how some distance,

makes everything seem small.

And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all

It’s time to see what I can do,

to test the limits and break through.

No right, no wrong, no rules for me.

I’m free!

Let it go, let it go.

I am one with the wind and sky.

Let it go, let it go.

You’ll never see me cry.

Here I’ll stand, and here I’ll stay.

Let the storm rage on.

My power flurries through the air into the ground.

My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around

And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast

I’m never going back; the past is in the past!

Let it go, let it go.

And I’ll rise like the break of dawn.

Let it go, let it go

That perfect girl is gone

Here I stand, in the light of day.

Let the storm rage on!

The cold never bothered me anyway…”

(Read more: Idina Menzel – (Disney’s Frozen) Let It Go Lyrics | MetroLyrics)

My soul soared while she sang this song. I’ve seen people describe it as an anthem and that is how it feels. But as she slams the doors of her newly created ice palace, a look of cool confidence on her face, I felt a pang.

Yes, I want to “let it go” sometimes. I want to feel wild and free and able to explore all my potential without fear.

But…it doesn’t work that way. You aren’t freer on the mountain top than behind the closed palace door. You’re still shutting people out, still pulling away. Her frozen powers built embellished walls for her prison.

And that’s what I love about this scene. Elsa is experiencing the exhilaration of releasing responsibility, but it comes at the same price which crushed her since she was a girl. It comes at the price of relationship. It costs her a real life.

This is an invaluable analogy for us, especially us ladies and girls. We would love to toss responsibility and consequences to the wind—we all would, at some point or other in our lives. And in this scene, in this anthem, we yearn to feel Elsa’s pseudo-freedom, to feel her exhilaration. If the movie ended there, if it said, “Well done, Queen Elsa. Go pursue your self-improvement, far from the expectations and needs of others. Become one with yourself. You don’t need anyone!”—I would hate this movie. I would hate it for the lies.

But Elsa doesn’t stay there. She learns to love and BE loved by the sacrifice of her sister (another blog post in itself), and she accepts her part in the world. She is forced to leave her ice castle on the mountain, but she also does not go back there.

It is vital for us to see this for ourselves. The allure of not caring is so strong sometimes. But the price of escape is self-imprisonment. You won’t be better off alone. You’ll just be alone. And you’ll never know what you were truly able to do. Elsa doesn’t discover how to complement her kingdom with her power until she uses love as her source. Instead of making an ornate barred door, she creates an ice rink in summer and saves the comedic sidekick snowman, Olaf, by giving him his own “personal flurry.” (I do wish they had explored how her magical ability fits into ruling her kingdom a little more, but you can’t have everything it seems!)

The only real exploration of your potential is in putting it to use in LOVE.

I do love this song. I love it for being poignant, for being honest, for so accurately encapsulating all I’ve longed to feel as I get weighed down by the struggle against fear. But most of all, I love it for being proven wrong.

Fear and Love do not coexist. Being alone is not freedom. Exhilaration is not true joy, and is swiftly swept away by the fear that sent you out in the cold and built your ice castle.

You were designed for self-sacrificing brotherhood. It is hard. It is exhausting sometimes. But stay, sisters. Stay! When you let go of the fear, you let love in. And love makes all the difference.