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“Girl Defined” by Kristen Clark & Bethany Baird

Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird (now Beal) are so brave for writing Girl Defined. Nowadays it is difficult to say you are a follower of Christ, let alone a girl who is defined by God. But Kristen and Bethany have done it. Really, truly done it. Sometimes to stand up for what you believe in you must stand alone and these sisters are not afraid to do so in a way that is relatable to many girls out there who are struggling to find who they are in the world. I love reading a lot of fiction so I naturally enjoy going for the novel over any other book, but this book reads like a novel you don’t want to put down, yet speaks the truth. OK, so I know not everyone reading this right now believes the same thing I do, but for me, this book grabbed me and woke me up. I love the study guides at the end of each chapter because they do not just give me a quick review of what I just read, but teach me how to apply it to my life which is the whole point of learning about how to be a girl defined by God. Kristen and Bethany provide many real-life examples from their own lives and girls they know to really show how they let culture and ways of the world influence their thinking and how they broke out of that and learned the only way to live a meaningful life is to live it by following Christ.

I know this last statement can come up against much criticism, but we are not here to live a comfortable life free of tribulation. If you don’t know what defines you as a girl, you can easily be led astray by media, celebrities, fashion, modeling, validation from guys, a desire for independence, a successful career, physical appearance, sexual freedom, the comparison trap, and many other things society says we have to be to have value as a woman. It can get confusing to live a life based on those things, even with seemingly “good” things like having a successful career. Yet of all the examples Kristen and Bethany provide, my favorite one has to be the stories of Mrs. Meyer and Mrs. Harris. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to win so many dance trophies in life, yet spending most holidays alone like Mrs. Meyer. I don’t think anyone truly wants that no matter what they believe in. On the flip side, it is inspiring to learn about Mrs. Harris who spent much of her life investing in girls’ lives who were lost and struggling and trying to figure out who they were. (Some were drug addicts or pregnant and didn’t know where else to turn.) The girls she mentored go on to live lives glorifying God and have children and raise their kids to do the same. Reading about these stories convicted me to do better in my walk with the Lord.

If you are confused about what direction your life is going (or not going) and are looking for some answers to tame the noise in your head, this book is for you. If you think you have your life figured out and you don’t need any help, this book is for you. If you already follow Christ, but have always wondered just exactly how the Bible helps define who you are, this book is for you. If you don’t already follow Christ, but want to learn more about Him, this book is for you. If you are tired of all the pressures you feel from peers, parents, and believe there is more to life than what is offered in the world, this book is for you. We all truly have something to learn from biblical womanhood.

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Dark Horse

It’s the ones you have to watch out for, not because you are competing against them, but because they are the quiet ones who speak up when you least expect it and make you think. Or they talk the talk all the time, just not in the confident way you would think until one day you wake up and they are wearing the shoes. In the blink of an eye the friend you are always helping becomes the friend you never thought you needed to keep living. Or it’s the one thing you said you’d never do or become a fan of. Train your brain not to worry about any of these because the only one you are in control of is yourself and even then it’s not 100% of the time.

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Karaoke at Hotel Karaoke

Saturday, May 18, 2019 – Nerdy 30s Ladies of KC – I hadn’t been to a karaoke night since my last one in college, but the feeling was the same – I was really looking forward to singing my favorite pop songs. I do believe karaoke is typically sung in front of a room full of people in bars and such, but Hotel Karaoke is like what I was told Korean karaoke is – the kind where you can get a separate private room for you and your friends to sing in front of each other instead of in front of a bunch of strangers. (I have decided not to share any of the photos of that night here not simply because it’s dark in a karaoke room, but the darkness will matter to some.) I remember it had rained pretty hard earlier and I had thought I’d not make it, but I’m really glad I did. There’s something about the Nerdy 30s Ladies of Kansas City that made it a night so warm and inviting and nonjudgmental. I felt free to be myself to sing “Sometimes” by Britney Spears and “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys. Someone did some Alanis Morissette and someone else did some Billie Eilish. We also got to do “Zombie” by the Cranberries of course. There were also a lot of classics and oldies that I didn’t recognize or know the words to, but then again, I wasn’t born here so it’s not like I have parents who listened to that stuff when I was growing up. I was genuinely happy to see so many girls having a good time belting their hearts out to their favorite songs, no matter the genre or tempo or style. If you can talk, you can sing. It just takes practice to sound good. But everyone knows sounding good is not the goal of karaoke, especially if you’re just with your friends. You get to act goofy and do whatever you want with it. For me it’s another form of therapy.

It was also nice that it was a girl’s night. All previous karaoke nights I’ve gone to had been co-ed. It was a good feeling to get away with just the girls. Before in college singing was a way to relive stress and we’d be out pretty late because we could. That night I didn’t want to be out late since I knew I had a ways to drive back home as well. Staying up was a way to escape from life back then, but getting to sleep at a decent time is my escape from life now. I try not to use sleep as a form of escape, though. It’s more a form of rest for me that sometimes shows up in the shape of a forced nap. That’s when I know I’ve been burned out. Everyone gets excited when their favorite song comes on, even if they believe they are a terrible singer. Being able to sing along is just the cherry on top of the extra chocolatey sundae.

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writer’s arrhythmia

Heart pounding. Silence. Wind blowing. Cicadas chirping. Night breeze over my back. The sound of thoughts flying onto paper.

Heart pounding. Toilet paper unable to load properly. Toilet paper rolling. I feel like my cat watching it roll down. I stop it. Not today.

Heart pounding. Body heat rising. Love wrecked. Like the movie. Or am I? I know the odds. I know reality. But my heart keeps beating like a drum. Pounding away inside its cage. Waiting to be let out.

Heart pounding. Hair falling one strand at a time. Jumping up and down in my pink pj’s. Was my punctuation right? I don’t like grammar. Silence broken.

My heart pounds for many reasons, but it gets real confusing when it’s pounding for each of the many reasons at once right before my favorite team wins.

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reading a pizza

Today I choose joy. I find it everywhere. Whether I am peeling an organic crisp apple or waiting at a car dealership for my car maintenance service or reading a middle-grade novel for the first time just to try it out or scribbling away in my notebook or texting a friend to see how they are doing after a rough week or having lunch with my mother or seeing an American Cornhole League tournament on TV (that’s a thing?!) or smelling a partially burnt thin-crusted frozen pizza or listening to the sound of the coffee machine behind me. Joy is all around, soaked up using all five senses. I’m having a Walt Whitman kind of day and hanging on.  

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thoughts while apple-picking

I went apple-picking with my mom this morning and it was not until later when I suddenly thought of Robert Frost’s poem, “After Apple-Picking.” It inched into my mind, a poem about apple-picking and crazy writer me thinking if the there’s a hyphen or not. Turns out I got the hyphen from Frost even though I have long since forgotten the words to his poem. My brain certainly has an odd sense of humor. I remembered he wrote about apple-picking, but not what the poem was actually about. Now rereading it brings up memories of learning about iambic pentameter and how there were a lot of themes of death in his poems. I feel like he was one of the G.O.A.T. poets, but it’s sad to see that depression ran in his family. It seems like some of the greatest artists and comedians come into existence after going through depression. I mean, I guess that makes sense. Depression makes you think a lot and a lot about life. Only after all that thinking are you able to string words together to make people laugh or be selective about the words to use to craft a poem or song. I don’t know exactly where I’m going with this, but it came out of my thinking. Maybe the meaning will just come to me after.   

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because they howl

Raccoons try every single fruit before they are ripe and throw them on the ground when it doesn’t taste right. It’s kind of like how I like jalapeño peppers, but jalapeño peppers don’t like me. But not quite. While the raccoon doesn’t know any better and is following the “leave no stone unturned” philosophy, I do know better, yet I want to eat the jalapeño anyway. I like the taste of it, but I know it’s going to do something bad to my body later. You know those foods you like to eat, but it gives you the runs or something? Yeah. Anyway, there’s more than one Nashville in the United States. It makes me think of how there’s a Springfield in almost every state. I’m pretty sure there are more Springfields than Nashvilles though. But one day I’m going to figure out how to fit inside a balloon. It just seems like a fun idea. Do some contortionist move and make it happen. I should have known Myrtle Beach is not in Massachusetts. I feel like I’ve heard of it growing up and read about it in a Sarah Dessen novel, but I have no idea why I thought it was all up in New England. Maybe it’s why upside down cats crack me up. They try to get your attention so they stick their heads where they know you can see them, even if that means they’ll be looking at you upside down while meowing. Where I thought Myrtle Beach has always been and where Myrtle Beach actually is are upside down from each other. And then I pick at my face as if I’m getting $1 million to do it. In a weird way it helps me think. It’s like I can’t let my thoughts fly on their own. They must be tethered to my face or I won’t be able to get them out on paper fast enough. I think a coyote watches me when I’m at home.  

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loosey-goosey

I wonder when I look out the window to observe the geese in my backyard if they ever look in at me and wish they could have a freaky Friday moment with me for a day. Somehow I don’t think it’d be really fun for me if it actually happened. I’m much too clumsy as a human to trade places with a goose. On the flip side, the goose might add some more grace to my steps if it traded places with me. Geese know not to raid a garden, but they also know how to peacefully protest against cars killing their kind while crossing the street. No joke. They will stand in the middle of the street and refuse to allow cars to pass in the spot one of their loved ones was killed. So I bet I’d learn so much about how to survive in the wild as a goose and life would be like going to Charm School. Well, it’d be like that until I remember watching them chase each other with beak to tail action to get out of their personal space. And their water fights. And their pooping on the same grass they like to eat. But then I watch the way they like to move across the grass and I can hear the “Jurassic Park” soundtrack and I know they know something about life that I don’t that I will only know if I were one of them.

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Sick Day

Sometimes I don’t mind getting something dirty because I actually enjoy the process of getting it clean again. Of course, other times I’m totally annoyed I messed up one of my favorite shirts or stained the carpet or something. It’s like learning to fix a mistake. If we never make mistakes, we’ll never learn anything new. And I love learning something new. But I also enjoy familiarity. It’s that feeling of coming home to your family, the same family that’s been by your side for years. While I love being alone, I don’t think I could truly live alone. It would be too quiet. It wouldn’t be boring because you all know I’d read all the books and watch all the shows and movies. I love gathering good stories. When silence gets too loud, it can really drive a girl crazy.

Sometimes I don’t mind getting a little sick because I actually enjoy the process of getting better when I have fluids, sleep, eliminate waste (either from the top or the bottom), and eat something light. I guess I like the process of getting better step by step, whatever the reason is. In a way getting sick is getting myself dirty and getting better is how to clean myself up. I know it’s a bit of a twisted mindset, but it is a part of who I am and I am not going to deny it.

Sometimes I don’t mind when something is broken because that means I get an opportunity to solve a problem. Having to fix something can be annoying, but when I reach the end goal and actually fix it, it’s a really good feeling. I guess what I’m trying to say is, life would be so boring if it were problem-free. Both the hurdles we jump over and the hurdles we don’t teach us who we are and how we can improve. Without them there’d be no growth and ain’t nobody got time for a perpetual desert.

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“Life gives you lemons, you just work it out”

I like this line from Ashley Tisdale’s song, “Lemons.” I think it especially applies now during this pandemic, when everything feels like it’s coming straight out of “The NeverEnding Story.” I had always heard of the “when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade” quote growing up, but this is the first time I’ve heard “lemonade” switched out for “work it out.” It’s such a simple switch, but it makes so much sense in my head. I think it’s basically an ode to solving problems. I don’t like having problems, but I like the process of solving problems. So if lemons = problems, when you have problems in your life, you solve them. Work it out = solving problems. I know life is a lot more complicated than that, even if there was no pandemic, but when you’re feeling stressed, sometimes breaking life down to this one simple formula helps. No matter what the problem is, whether it’s flossing your teeth when you’re feeling an extra toothache due to buildup or figuring out a budget that works towards getting yourself out of debt to coming up with a new diet plan to help yourself lose weight or get in shape, treat it with a focus that there is a solution out there and you are fully capable of reaching it. The pandemic can be included in this. In fact, it’s going to have to be included since it literally affects everyone in the world. How you deal with it is up to you, but don’t let it get you down. Treat it as a lemon that you need to work out and consider those around you who will be affected by your decisions in how to handle it. Make time to break down the steps you need to take and then take one step at a time. Once you get to the last step, life becomes so much more sweeter because of all the obstacles you had to go through to get there. Lemonade, anyone?