What the Proverbs 31 Woman is NOT.

Proverbs 31

You want to know a secret? I mostly HATE Christian blog posts about women. What women should be, what women should aspire to be, what kind of men women should seek, what kind of woman men should seek, and the list goes on.

I hate them. With some exceptions of course, I feel like they are sexist, narrow-minded, and generally lacking.

I’ve always held that God NEVER intended for men and women to become so unequal. He created different roles for us within families and somehow, even by earlier biblical times, those roles became known as more and less important and they stretched to become meaningful in society as a whole.

Enter the Proverbs 31 woman. I’ve always liked her, but people use her as an example for something she’s not. She’s not timid or meek. She’s not stuck in a box. She’s certainly not less important. She’s feisty and has gumption. She’s a shrewd businesswoman, she works out, and she trusts her gut. My favorite part about this passage though, is that it says absolutely nothing about how good she is at the things she does.

We women love to both judge and compare ourselves to each other, partly out of nature and mostly out of nurture. Society has fueled in us the need to be better than our lady friends. You know who is the worst at this? Type-A people..

My husband recently said to me “You can’t be the best at everything you know.” While rationally I know this to be true, I let it hurt my feelings and you know what it was about? Rice Crispy Treats. Freaking RICE CRISPY TREATS. Ugh, God has so much work to do on me.

Proverbs 31 is filled with tons of badass things that this lady is and does, but says nothing about her skill level. Maybe she rose while it was still night with bedhead and horrific morning breath and went straight for the coffee because she was sooo not a morning person. Maybe all of the coverings and linens she sewed came out with crooked seams. Maybe her charity didn’t serve as many homeless people as the woman next door’s did. It says she GIVES food to her household and maidens, but maybe the Proverbs 31 woman ordered takeout because she was a terrible cook. MAYBE after all of that rising and sewing and feeding and field-buying she was exhausted and wound down with a bubble bath and a glass of wine… sheepskin of wine? You get the point.

She still lived her life like a boss. She was confident in what she did and delighted in serving her family. Even if she wasn’t the best, her husband was proud to be standing at her side and her children ADORED her.

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That’s all we really can do. Be the best us we know how to be and don’t sweat the rest. As a new mom, I’m learning that this is so important to remember. I’ve already crossed craftiness and staying underwhelmed off the list of things I’m good at, and I can assure you that there are more things on that list than the other one. But you know what I am awesome at? Loving that little guy so much that it hurts. He and Bryan make me want to be better for our family. My job is to keep him alive, lead him toward Christ, and love him, and as long as I am doing those things, even if I’m not the best at it, then I’m a Proverbs 31 woman too.

Love, Alex

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No More Ms. Waaay Too Nice Girl.

While I like to think that I’m not a cocky or arrogant person, I will admit to being good at a few things. Among those are strong logic skills, the ability to help others through conflict, and mediating conflict with a relatively clear head. You know what else I’m good at? Arguing. I’ve been told my whole life that I should be a lawyer because of my logic and argumentation skills.

I have a degree in Communication which specializes in the interpersonal variety. I spent 4 years studying human communication in regards to relationships, conflict, business, broadcasting, and the list goes on.  I had a pretty decent GPA at the end of it, and I am proud of myself for the work I did.

Unfortunately, this very expensive education had little to no effect on my own personal experience with conflict. I fail in minor areas such as not being able to see the logic through the rage, getting frazzled and overwhelmed and outraged by all of the many thoughts going through my mind and whatever you just said, and getting tongue-tied out of utter confusion that someone else could POSSIBLY think whatever it is that I don’t agree with. Possibly worst of all, instead of truly believing the fact that I am an adult on the same level as other adults, I make up hierarchies of people in my head and don’t allow myself to get past it. This includes most people of authority, the parents of people my age, and any adult who knew me as a child.

Instead of putting that pricy education to good use and learning how to grow up and emotionally protect myself and my family, I have learned some very bad coping practices. I either do nothing at all out of fear of embarrassing myself, not saying the right thing, or worst of all, hurting someone’s feelings, or I try to argue my points but falter because of the afore-mentioned frustration. I am the queen of “I should have said/done/mentioned/brought up ______. That would have shown them!”

Though I know it will shock you, this sort of behavior brings out many unhealthy habits. I am guilty of slander and gossip. Of stuffing frustration and letting it linger and build. Of inviting bitterness into my heart and allowing it to build and shape me. Of being afraid to live my life the way that God leads me to out of fear for upsetting others or disrupting their expectations of me. Of disregarding my husband’s feelings because I know he will forgive me, while I’m afraid others won’t. (<– the WORST.)

As Christians, we care called to mature conflict. As adults, it is expected in order to thrive in community with others.

God expects more out of His children than this. We’re not supposed to be cowards, but I so am. Regardless of the fact that history (and God Himself) has shown that God will always be on our side when we act justly and wisely in His name. History has also shown that the most respected and trusted people are those who aren’t afraid to be themselves, speak their minds maturely, and keep negative words against others at bay.

So knowing this, what am I so afraid of? Who am I more willing to disappoint?

My husband?

My family?

God?

Or everyone else?

Something’s gotta give. This is bad for me and bad for my family and bad for whoever I am frustrated with.

I am resolving to more phone calls and coffee dates with the source of my frustration and not about the source of my frustration. To better assessment of when to act and when to let it go. To be stronger and less afraid to stand up for myself and rid of unhealthy relationships, but mostly unhealthy situations. This is because I truly believe that things would be better if we were on the same page instead of me stuffing my anger. I truly believe that relationships thrive in mutual respect and much much less passive aggression. I’m resolving to command more respect for myself from others, and to stop allowing myself to be stomped on be everyone who tries, regardless of my own perceived hierarchy.

I’m resolving to start acting like the adult that I am.

Solidarity? Anyone else handle conflict like a child? Ugh, this is going to take work….and liquid courage from time to time.

So You’re Probably Wondering…

Remember that one time when I posted about how my emotions and feelings were going haywire and I wasn’t sure why? And how I took a pregnancy test and it was negative and I was all “THEN WHAT ON EARTH IS WRONG WITH ME?!?”

Well… It turns out my body was like “Psych! You actually are PREGNANT!”

Two for good measure :).

Two for good measure :).

 

As you’ve probably noticed, I kind of fell off the face of the earth when it comes to blogging. A better person than I could have handled it much more professionally, but as we stayed tight-lipped and quiet about the pregnancy, I felt like it was hard to find things to say about anything else. This is kind of a big deal, you know? I mean…just a tad… in my world anyway. I have always intended the purpose of this blog to be to share things I learn about God and life in general as I journey through my own, and this is what was going on in my life, so I didn’t know how to talk about stuff without discussing IT.

But now that we posted this pretty awesome (if I do say so myself) announcement yesterday, I can spew all of the things and all of the thoughts from all of the days I haven’t been blogging! Woo hoo!

Shout out to our good friends Arden and Matt Baltzell for the use of their adorable nursery for who is sure to be their adorable daughter Cambrie coming in July!

 

As of yesterday, I am 11 weeks along. Why did we post a little early, you ask? Well, because we had a bit of a scare last week. I genuinely feel like God was teaching me trust in and thankfulness to Him through all of this. I had been dealing with a lot of fear of miscarriage and other things that go wrong in pregnancies, so I was praying through some of that and asking that God would give me a peace about the life of our baby either way. RIGHT FREAKING AFTER THAT, I went to the bathroom to..you know..take a pee, and I found some blood which scared me to death. I handled things calmly, and by that I mean called Bryan, my mom, and the doctor’s office whilst freaking the eff out with tears pouring down my face.

Somewhere between calling the doctor, waiting for a nurse to call me back, and rushing to the clinic to make sure everything was ok, I did calm down a bit. And if you know me at all, you’d know that this is in no way shape or form because of me. I don’t do “calm” very well. I do “panic and get crap donevery, very well.

I prayed A TON for this baby on that day. I prayed that God would help me put my money where my mouth was and actually trust Him with the life of my child. I prayed that He would leave the baby with us, here on earth, but that I could be ok with it if not. And mostly I prayed that s/he was ok and healthy and wonderful and ALIVE.

Mad props to Parkhill clinic for being on the ball. The nurse told me at first that the earliest appointment they had available was later that afternoon, then for some reason…could be because she could tell that this mama-to-be would not do well that day unless I could get in sooner…who knows… she told me to just come and they would fit me in wherever they could.

I am among the women who are terrified to have male doctors all up in my junk, and guess who my doctor was? A dude. But y’all? I loved him. He was wonderful and reassuring and I wouldn’t have had it another way. He made sure we knew quickly that our baby was perfectly fine and healthy.

Check out those puffy eyes. So sexy.

Check out those puffy eyes. So sexy.

Wait, what was that? Behind us? OH RIGHT it’s the first photo of our precious child! (#LilFitt for the hashtag savvy crew.)

Hand and foot in there, y'all. HAND AND FOOT.

Hand and foot in there, y’all. HAND AND FOOT.

 

Alright so… Some FAQs:

1. Were we trying? No. We had planned on trying in a few months though, so it’s not as giant of a surprise as some other couples.

2. How am I feeling? Like a pile of crap. I was thrilled and glowy for like a week and then I was over being pregnant because “MORNING” SICKNESS (12 pm-bedtime in my case).

3. Will I become a mommy blogger? Again, the purpose of this blog is to share the life lessons I come across through my journey, and that usually means talking about what’s going on in my life. Just expect more of the same, probably. Same self-deprecation humor, same expressions, same terrible-quality photos, same endless pop-culture references.

4. Does this mean you guys will fall off the face of the earth and stop hanging out and doing stuff, even last-minute? Heck. No. Please don’t stop inviting us to do things. We have zero problem with non-family babysitters or leaving our child in the capable hands of others while we go to the movies or out to dinner. Plus, even if we were, we have like 700 family members in our close proximity and plan on using and abusing them for date nights, weekends away, and the like as much as they will let us.

5. Uhhh yeah? What about that #IWillBeThere campain? Well, much like all the songs Mark McGrath’s girlfriend used to sing and their favorite TV shows, that sucker is gone out the window for now. Pre-pregnancy Alex was all “When I get pregnant I’m totally going to work out and stay super-fit!” and then Present-day Alex is all like “Bleghhhegh!” (<– That’s the sound of throw-up, lovely right?) I really do hope I can work out some later on in pregnancy, but for now an occational walk feels like when Rocky ran to the top of the steps and pumped his fist like a true champion. Ask me about it early next year, but for now I’m thinking I will not meet my goal of Size 6 by July.

Most recent preggo pic: 10 weeks!

Most recent preggo pic: 10 weeks!

 

How cute is he? BABY DADDY!

Expect to hear from me more in the future, dear readers, now that my exciting news-cat is out of the bag!

I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just a Little Unwell

**Sidenote (…or topnote): I wrote this on Friday, but am just now getting around to posting it, hence the past-tense verbage.**

 

Y’all, this is my third post this week, crazy right? I am on fire. Or at least I feel like I am and we can all pretend a little can’t we?

Anyways…. soooo um, I have always wanted to foster a sense of openness on here. To be painfully real. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty “real” in real life too, but somewhere between my first vent-session with more people than I would like and a full on melt-down in front of waaaaay more people than I would like, I start to feel a sense of embarrassment. Like “Ok Alex, you’ve let them know you’re hurting and could use some prayer, but let’s quit while you’re ahead and before you let them in on the fact that you’re a crazy psycho sometimes.”

I get ashamed that sometimes the advice doesn’t help, it only reminds me that, try as I might, I can’t just get over it, or pray it away, or let it go. It’s in this place that I usually decide that people will tire of hearing the same hurts over and over again and consider me helpless because I seem to just be wallowing in my feelings.

I’m here to say that I’m losing it, you guys. Seriously. Losing my crap.

I have been a mess lately, and I don’t exactly know why. I tried on Monday to convince myself that the day of the week was somehow to blame, but it hasn’t stopped. All of the spaziness and clumsy moves have continued, and they’ve invited their friends Random Crying and Self-Loathing.

I have been just a loss-of-concentration away from tears at all times. I have been snappy and sad and unpleasant to say the least. I have not been doing my quiet time. It has been very difficult to find God in all of this.

There have certainly been actual contributions to my hurt, it’s not all crazy, I promise! But it sure feels like it sometimes. I know what you’re thinking and no, I’m not pregnant, which although we aren’t “trying yet” was one of the “actual contributions” mentioned above.

Although I know deep down that I am learning something crucial, I still have prayed that God would rescue me. I have told Him I can’t find Him, that I feel like He’s not listening. I know in my heart that He’s really with me and on my side, and that knowledge alone has kept me from relinquishing hope, but it has begged me to wonder why I feel so abandoned. I’ve allowed myself to crawl into a dark space and let Satan whisper to me that I am alone. That no one cares and I’m just being a drama queen.

It was today, on my 87th (est.) trip to the bathroom at work to prevent tears and tell myself to get it freaking together that God reminded me of something. I have fewer times in my life where I felt a true “God-moment” than I would like, but in that place I found myself looking at my hands. I heard God tell me that He made them, and I can curse them just like the rest of myself, but He created something and called it good, whether I want to believe it or not.

As I kept staring down through the floodgates that finally burst, He used those same hands to remind me that His own human hands were pierced for me. That may seem like Christianity 101, but in that moment I neeeeeeded that. I needed to be reminded that regardless of my hurts, pains, and failure to trust, He would allow His own perfect hands to be crushed again and again for me.

I’m still hurting. I’m still fighting back tears. I’m still resistant to change and advice that I’ve heard too many times before.

I’m still His. And although I deny that I’m worthy of His help even as I cry out for it, I know that there is light at the end of this crap, and beauty within it.

Maybe I should take my own advice, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck right now.

Solidarity anyone? Does your life suck right now and you may or may not know why exactly?

Here’s to a Crappy 2009

So I am in the process of reading the archives of a very funny blog I recently came to know (Jamie The Very Worst Missionary– for real, check her out! And do so before you make any kind of judgements about her blog name.), and I just got to her New Year’s post from 2009/2010. She had a really crappy year that she was happy to see end, and I have binge-read all about the reasons why within a couple of weeks.

That’s nice right? To be able to see a snapshot of someone’s life and learn in a day what took them a whole year to figure out. What if we could do that with our own lives? What if we could fast-forward or “binge read/watch” to see how it ends, or speed up the hurt and pain, or just at least KNOW THAT IT’S GOING TO BE OK IN THE END. Don’t we all feel that sometimes? I mean we know it’s immature, and impossible, and ridiculous, but sometimes the circumstances just have us wishing we could get to the “lesson-learned” part of the story. To know that the resolution will come soon.

The truth is, I remember my 2009. I remember that it sucked too. I remember talking with some friends that I still have today about how much 2009 seemed to suck for everyone we knew.

I was a second semester freshman/first semester sophmore in 2009.

I broke up with my first college boyfriend that year, the first boyfriend that ever truly meant something to me.

I had my first TERRIBLE roomate situation. I mean terrible y’all. They like, burned pictures of me and stuff.

I got a demotion at work (yes it was at a restaurant, but cut me some slack, in college-world, it was a huge deal!) which lead me to switch jobs from the first one I ever had since moving to NWA.

I was a pretty good kid, but the only phase where I sowed oats of any variety, it started happening in 2009.

Of course there are other things too, these are just the highlights. (Lowlights?)

I probably cried more that year than I had in a long time.

I wish I could go talk to that girl. I wish I could tell her that it gets better. SOON! I wish I could tell her that college graduation does come, that she survives the homework, tests, and teachers that seem like they will be the death of her. I wish I could tell her that next year, she meets the love of her life. I wish I could tell her that some of the friends that she feels like are all she has don’t last and she finds amazing ones that she could never have imagined. I wish I could tell her so much more.

In the end though, I learned from all of that. God tells us that we will go through trials. We’re supposed to grow in all of our hurts. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and all that stuff right?

But it doesn’t feels like that in the moment. It feels like we could just die right there because NOTHING will get better. The not knowing is the worst part, but later we can look back on the experience and grow. That’s what refinement is all about. If we knew the end of the story while we’re still in the middle, we’d never learn from the experience, and we’d never learn to trust God, and we’d never learn to CALM THE EFF DOWN and lean not on our own understanding.

Sometimes I think back to a younger Alex and how she thought that when she was 24 she would be so smart and successful and mature and wise. And then I laugh my head off. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this. Who thinks “When I’m *that* age, I’ll have it all.”

I learn a lot about my own faith and how little I have of it each time I go through something tough. I like to think that I have more faith at the end each time, but who knows. Hopefully one day I will have the trust for God that I should. The trust to get me through, knowing that God has sooo got this.

As I pray for some friends who have gone through something so gut-wrenchingly hard recently, I’m thinking about all of this. About how my faith will be tested next, and how I’ll need to remember that sometime in the years to come, a future Alex will look back and want to tell me that God has it under control RIGHT NOW. That it is ok in the end. If for no other reason than the fact that God. Is. There.

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On a lighter note, I dug up some photos of me from 2009 in honor of this post, and let me just say that I came across a slew of really embarassing selfies from 2009 that I apprently LOST MY MIND during because I ACTUALLY POSTED THEM TO FACEBOOK. I am so not plastering them on here, but they’re there, if you’re willing to find them.

Oh man. I feel like it would be hard for me to convince you that these ladies weren't my only friends based on this photo.

Oh man. I feel like it would be hard for me to convince you that these ladies weren’t my only friends based on this photo.

Just look at that skater hat cocked to the side. I mean I totally *don't* still have that hat...if you were wondering.

Just look at that skater hat cocked to the side. I mean I totally *don’t* still have that hat…if you were wondering.

Sqeezing out the Yuck, or Something Like That.

Before we got married, Bryan and I went through premarital counseling with our pastor and his wife. I’ll never forget how she described marriage on several occasions. She said that marriage has a way of bringing all of the yuck inside of you to the surface and then squeezing it out. Lovely isn’t it? Somehow, I love that analogy. Like it has a way of showing us all of our ugly parts and forcing us to either rid of them or call it quits, and we all know which one of those is the healthy choice.

So Bryan and I have been looking at houses. We are becoming all too familiar with the phrase “Catching the house bug.” We’ve caught it. Oh has it been caught.

We rent right now, and neither of us has ever owned a house, so we get to go through this little taste of hell adventure together. The problem is, we see this process very differently from each other, and it’s bringing out all of the yuck in me. I think I’ve made it clear how refinement and the realization that I am not perfect makes me feel.

Bryan has always lived in smaller houses and grew up not having a lot of money, so he sees every house we look at with such amazement, I swear he thinks he’s looking at the Wonka Chocolate Factory. He is just so grateful for the fact that a house like that is even in the realm of possibilities for us. It’s all so sickeningly charming.

I, on the other hand, grew up living in decent-sized, while certainly not huge homes, didn’t have a share a room for most of my upbringing, and am just generally a selfish person, let’s just be honest. I look at each house as imperfect and not something I could possibly settle for.

I knew that admitting this would not be fun, but as I type it, I realize just how much yuck I have in me.

Sheesh am I the worst. How much of a horrible a-hole can you be if you find ways to complain about something that most of the world does not have. Gross gross gross. I am officially disgusted with myself.

I hate that I can’t see things with as much contentment as he does. His grateful heart and the sheer thankfulness that he encounters with each house we look at is astounding, and it simultaneously makes me feel like a terrible person and makes me want to be a better person.

God is really showing me a lot with this process. I am learning how yuck-filled I am and how thankful I should be that the wonderful man, friends, and Family that I have been blessed with put up with the apparent ton of crap I put out in the universe. I am learning that my dream home can definitely wait, and that all of this is God’s anyway, duh. I think I need to take a harder look at the yuck in me and do a better job of forcing it out instead of harboring my negativity.

Besides, I could never forgive myself if I made Bryan as jaded as I apparently am. I love that he sees the world in a brighter hue than I do, and I am going to start trying harder to rise to his level instead of bringing him down to mine.

Oh the joy of finding new areas of life that need work. Sooooo much yuck.

Please tell me I’m not the only who needs a dose of humble pie. What about you? What areas of your life have you recently found that need work?

Money Money Money Mooonay (Mooonay!!)

So as I talked about in my last post, the ladies in my small group (Becca, Heather, Raven, and Dia-these names will come up a lot, there will be a quiz later) and I – and two of our husbands… kind of – decided to do an experiment based off the one found in “7: An Experimental Mutiny against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker. We did things sloppily and out-of-order, and we changed some of the rules, but learned so incredibly much.

So it begins. This one is a little embarrassing to start off with, as it was our trial run, our practice round, if you will. We didn’t really know what we were getting into and had not read the entire book yet. We at first thought we’d do each experiment in the course of a week, so that is how long this one (sort of) lasted.

Her rules:

  •  She and her family would only spend money in 7 places total for a whole month. Let’s first establish how wonderfully crazy this chick is. Her places were:
    A farmer’s market
    Gas station (just one!)
    Online bills
    Stuff for her kid’s school
    A limited travel fund (she is a speaker as well)
    Emergency medical stuff
    Target (which she severely limited herself to using only in emergencies )

Notice there are no restaurants, movie theaters, or any other type of entertainment, which if you know anything about me, is such a buzz kill. Since we were only doing it for a week, we decided that free reign of 7 places in 7 days was a little on the lenient side, so we decided to change it up.

Our Rules:

  • 7 transactions ONLY in 7 days.

Yeah, I know. That’s not a lot. This is especially true when it’s your mom’s birthday and you have agreed to dinner, a manicure, and a movie. Bam! 3 transactions. 2 hours.

This was my downfall, people. Right out the gate. This is a pathetic way to start off the telling of my experience, but it was the first one we did. And as you know I am both a rule follower and extremely type-A, so to do things out-of-order would have me twitching. Ask Bryan how it goes for him when he suggests we watch a show or a movie in a series out of said series, I dare you.

Raven stuck it out for 2 weeks and didn’t cheat, and for that, we celebrate. If only this were a relay where when Becca, Dia, Heather and I failed, we could have passed a proverbial torch to Raven and celebrated the group win. C’est la vie.

You’ll just have to trust me that it gets better from here. The funny stories, the complaining anecdotes, the accidental lessons learned, all still to come. While bated breath won’t be necessary, I know the edge of your seat will be worn down by the next blog post, amiright?

Anyway, I did learn stuff. Just from reading and failing, I learned how much we Americans spend on crap. I am only tiptoeing into bleeding heart mode when I say that there are soooo many other things we should be focusing on.

Her statistics are eye-opening, saddening, and, if I’m being honest, embarrassing. We are turning a blind eye to so much suffering and heartache in the world while we buy our 15th scarf, $50 moisturizer, and newest pair of shoes. I know what I’m saying is controversial, but read the book and learn what I’ve learned and try not to feel convicted.
This is still overwhelming to think about, and I’m on the home stretch of the experiment! So yeah, hang in there with me. The stories get funnier and the truths get stronger. Sorry I failed on this first one, but in keeping with my first post  I’m not going to beat myself up over it. 🙂

What do you think so far? Ready to try it for yourself yet?