“When the Phone Rings” A Zoe’s House Adoptions Post

Anytime that phone rings with an unknown number my heart pounds and a lump forms in my throat. I take a breathe like a prayer and press that button, choking out a greeting that I hope sounds less nervous than I feel.  “Hello, this is Christina with Zoe’s House….” and most of the time the response deflates me like a balloon. It’s a doctor, a social worker, a friend from a local pregnancy resource center who has a question or someone wanting to donate maternity clothes and all of those calls I can answer with ease.

But when it’s the other call, the “Hello……(pause)… I’m pregnant and want to talk to someone about adoption?” Those times, that lump grows larger, my breath catches and for a moment I draw a blank, every time. The significance of that moment and what it costs her to ask that question is never lost on me.”

Click Here to read the rest of this post that I wrote for Zoe’s House Adoptions!

The Power of a Woman

I look around me and see so.many. different things that women are being pressured to do or be…..
Strong. Proud. Educated. Self Sufficient. Beautiful. Desirable. Able to speak their minds. Able to stand up for themselves. Capable. Articulate. Fit. Accomplished. Unblemished. etc etc etc etc
I’ve seen it, I’ve felt it, I’ve LIVED in the pull to live in a way that fights to convince myself more than anyone that I have got it all together, thank you very much and truly……it’s all exhausting. Trying to hold it together, to not need anyone and to look GREAT while doing it. Trying to keep the pain at bay, press past it and not let anyone see it lest they think for a moment that I may be vulnerable….may be just as weak and frail and wounded as they are.

Life, is beautiful and wild and worth living intentionally with every breath every day, but sometimes life is also really real and really hard. And from that place, I want to be a woman who is kind, compassionate and nurturing, who see’s pain and offers love, who can take a breath and slow down and empathize with the person right in front of me and stop trying to prove anything to anyone, most of all myself. I’m a fighter, God knows it kills me to back down from a fight…..but more than the ability to clench the jaw and fist through pain I believe the power of a woman is in the ability to FEEL the pain. To bear long though it, to carry new life through suffering and come out victorious.

Could we just……stop. Could we lay down those expectations that have been piled high on our shoulders by the voices around us and the voices within and just leave them where they lie. Little girl, young lady, women of all ages and races and places of life, let’s hold our heads high and not from pride but from the vulnerability and tenderness that makes us “Woman”. You have nothing to prove.

On Grief

I posted this on Facebook about a week ago. And since my thoughts lie in this direction, wanted to paste it here as well.

“I watched an interesting video on the topic of grief the other day. At the end, the man speaks of death saying “death feeds everything that lives. The recognition that that’s the case, and that it includes, not you, that’s the easy part to see, but that it includes the people that you love and the things you don’t want to end. That’s grief, and it’s not personal. But the key, the real skill to being grateful is not to be grateful for the stuff that benefits you. That’s easy. What about being grateful for the stuff that doesn’t benefit you in the least, but you’re grateful that it’s in the world anyway? Now you’re getting somewhere, now you’re seeing the big story. Now you’re willing for life  to be bigger than your life span, or your childrens lifespan.

Grief is not a feeling. Grief’s not how you feel, grief’s what you do. Grief is a skill. And the twin of grief, as a skill of life, is the skill of being able to praise, or love, life. Which means wherever you find one authentically done, the other is very close at hand. Grief and the praise of life, side by side. …….. Grief and the ability to love life, they’re toasting the living.

That has proved so true in my life. When I have not allowed myself to grieve, my heart has grown cold and I have found myself unable to fully live. But when I allow myself to feel pain, to walk the painful and slow road through grieving I also find myself living new all over again. It’s Ann Voskamps “Eucharisteo” – swallowing the death and the life of Christ, thanking God for all things – the good and the ugly. Or as Bonhoeffer said, the Christian living life from the perspective of the end unto the beginning.

Take some time and think on that. Grief, hand in hand with the love of life. What do you think?”

On this day 4 years ago the man I was named after struggled one last time for breath, and breathed into the eternal glory of no more sickness. I remember blogging on valentines day that year of how I was able to Skype with my family in his hospice room, and coax a smile onto his beautiful, wrinkled face. I cherish that memory on days like today when I miss him deep down to my bones. His beautiful smile, his soft wrinkled hands, the smell of his shirts when he’d hug and not let go. My grandfather was a precious soul. It’s crazy to me to think that the things that remind me of him – his wrinkled hands and deeply lined face, the ragged sound of his breathing – those things that are included in all of my memories have nothing to do with who he is now. I don’t remember him without an oxygen tank, I never saw him run, never saw him young. But now he is free, whole and remade. I can’t imagine what it will be to see my grandfather whole. Today we grieve as we remember you Carroll, but our grief is laden with heavy hope. Hope that does not disappoint, grief that leads to truest life.

Hello 2015

I’m determined to blog more this year than I did last year, which shouldn’t be a challenge!  My silence is best clarified through the words of a good friend “Once we give something up, it’s much more comfortable to ignore it.”

There has been much to ignore, but there is also much to shed light on, see clearly and to say. For now all that I’ll say is… you should take two posts and read this from Randy’s blog.

“There are a lot of Jesus’ words that make me scratch my head, but there’s phrase that has made sense to me since I was a kid.

When He said “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit…”, that made sense.  I grew up watching wheat fall to the earth and die….and seeing harvests reaped because of it.” Click here to read the rest…..

Skin Care, with FOOD!

This stuff makes me happy, happy, happy.

I have funny skin. Funny as in it just doesn’t want to pick one skin type! Dry around the mouth, black heads & oil in the ‘T-zone’. For years I’ve tried product after product without success; if it targets oily skin it dries the rest of my face out, if it targets dry skin I’ll break out, if it’s for combination skin it will do nothing for me. Anything any friend suggested I’d give a try & every time I would be disappointed! Meanwhile I was still trying to remove chemical ridden products from the rest of my life, examining ingredients lists & ruling out even most “natural” or “organic” items due to long lists of things I couldn’t pronounce or chemical preservatives & “fragrances”. The biggest exception in this lifestyle change was my face. When I found a face wash & a lotion that both “kind of” worked, I just stuck with them, purposely ignoring the label. I didn’t know what else to do & was tired of wasting money on products that didn’t work.

Fortunately, something magical happened to my life when I met Pinterest, it was like we were made for each other. Pinterest just gets me! Ok I’m done…..but really….Pinterest is wonderful. Anyway I started to see all of these pins about using everyday items found in your kitchen on your face & what sort of modern hippie would I be if I didn’t leap for joy at the chance to rub banana peels on my chin for 5 minutes at a time, three times a day??? **Actually I really found the banana peel thing to be massively tedious & couldn’t bring myself to do it enough to see any results. If this has worked for you, let me know. Maaaaybe I’ll give it another shot.** After trying a number of other ridiculous things….I have found a simple 3 step skin care routine that 1) WORKS for me & 2) I like enough to ACTUALLY do every night. Those are two big points people. I take no credit for this regime, so I will happily give links to the different pages where I found the info along with credit where it’s due.

At this point I feel like you can only still be reading because you’re either super excited to rub Honey on your skin or your morbid curiosity is forcing you forward so that you can gain information to mock me with later. Either way, here’s the list with links!

  • 2 Ingredient Makeup Remover (I only use on my eyes): Jojoba & Vitamin E! Prior to this I used Coconut Oil which worked but had issues. It never seemed to go away, so I’d take off my mascara at night, wash my face, get up the next day & reapply make up. But I felt like my waterproof mascara would “bleed” throughout the day. I’d glance in the mirror & there would be a little bit of black under my eye, like the Oil was still at work. Jojoba oil doesn’t do that.
  • Honey Face Wash – Oh yes. Pure, raw, organic unfiltered, unheated, sticky goodness. Oh yes, it does sound gross & yes, I am serious. The good news is, it’s really not gross! In the link above ‘Bohemian Kate’ explains that you do first, wet your face as usual, & then apply the honey.
    • I don’t use any more than about 3/4 a tsp on my whole face, & once it touches my wet skin it really does kind of dissolve. I rub it around real good just like a normal face wash, & then I rinse it off with coldish water. *Insert face wash ad with girl flinging tons of sparkling water on her face, somehow that’s what my counter always looks like when I’m done*
    • I have found it helpful to wear a head band (like the thick sporty cloth ones) when washing my face, it keeps my hair out of the honey & the honey out of my hair! The head band can get a little sticky but if so, I just wash it in the sink, hang it up & let it dry to use again.
    • It’s really important that you’re using raw honey, not the stuff that comes in the cheap honey bear at your local super market. ‘Bohemian Kate’ has a link in her article to another post detailing the glories & benefits of raw honey
    • No my face is NOT sticky when I’m done! It’s actually quite soft!
  • 2 Ingredient MoisturizerCoconut oil and Tea Tree Oil! As stated before, I have probs with CO messing with my eye makeup so I keep this away from my eyes, also because I can’t imagine the burn of Tea Tree in the eye *shudders in fear*. I used to moisturize with JUST CO but found that too greasy. I also have used Tea Tree in the past as a toner/astringent & it was way too drying, but a little bit of both works together wonderfully – they are antiseptic & antibacterial, will reduce redness & can dry out pimples while moisturizing! I scoop a little bit of CO into my palm with one finger(less than a tsp), add 1, single drop of Tea tree to it, then swish it around with my finger till it’s all melted & mixed. Usually that is enough for my face, neck & chest. Be mindful to not put too much on your face though, as again, that can leave your skin feeling greasy.

Ta-Da! That’s it! I’ve been using this routine for over a month & I’m noticing real improvement in my skin. I mentioned it to my hair dresser and yes, like you, she also thought it a little strange that I’m washing with honey. BUT! Skeptical as she was she did say that she had noticed my skin condition was improving before I had mentioned it to her. That is a good thing to hear from someone who has to be all up close & personal with your details.

A couple of tips

  • When you get Ketchup or jelly or honey at some restaurants or hotels they come in tiny glass jars. Keep those. Because they’re really small & cute, but ALSO because you can wash them out & reuse them! I use these to hold my eye make up remover & CO in, thus saving space in my bathroom cabinet.
  • I am currently using Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil, which is a total game changer if you ask me. It’s cray expensive, but you can save money by buying in bulk. I signed up for their newsletter & wait until they have sale prices for bulk orders, then I get people to jump in & split a 5 gallon bucket with me. It’s glorious. I may have a blog post coming up with all the ways I use CO.
  • All of my Essential Oils come from DoTerra. I do not recommend using EO’s unless you know they are pure (sorry Whole Foods, HyVee and Trader Joes!). If you do not have a local EO representative who can explain the need & benefit of pure oils, or a way to purchase them, please feel free to contact Katrina Bocanegra through her DoTerra page. She’s awesome and would love to help you

Soul Mates & Snow Storms

I read a blog post today that was written by an old friend from high school. (Wait – did I just say that? “An old friend from high school?” am I old enough to make those statements??) In it she spoke of the HEART behind those who move to Southern California. She recalls the way that the sand and the ocean and the sky over both steal you away and ended with,

California, you’re my soul mate.

I read it and thought, woah, me too.

I love it, I love the food and the people, I love the perpetual sun sun sun, that’s like joy and peace resting on your skin. You close your eyes and it washes over your face – warmth and HOPE. I love all of the people who ARE Southern California to me and how they represent the essence of being received, being brought into a people and a place that are not your own and for no reason, made a part of it, brought in and given what you have not earned. I love the sand. Love the food, OH the food! The fresh fruits and avocados and Froyo and sushi and tacos just everywhere. 

The Ocean. Sand that sparkles like glitter and bare feet pressing in, leaving momentary impressions that warm you from the toes up. The sound of the unstoppable waves, the birds and the far off dolphins. There is nothing like that endless, eternal sound of the water slapping the sparkling shore, washing away the prints of the vagabonds walking in it’s currents, leaving blank canvases again and again and again.

What else can I say? California completes me. 

But then…….there is the glory of the Midwest blizzard. Here’s the thing, I adore the snow. The excitement of the impending storm and the brooding clouds hanging lower and lower until they burst forth with pure, unexplainable magic. Each droplet frozen into unique, exquisite, breathtaking flakes of the purest crystal white, taking the dark, dead landscape and covering it; transforming it. The sun rises and everything you see is new; crisp, clean, unadulterated and shining. It’s magic. Cold, frozen, sparkly magic. As a child I loved to throw myself into a giant mound of it and have to dig my way out, pausing when tired and FEELING the immense stillness, that quiet that comes with the snow, it’s like quiet down into your soul.

I love snow ice cream, making snow angels, building snowmen, staging snow ball wars, going sledding. I’m not afraid to drive in the snow and I don’t even really mind shoveling the snow. Ok, I don’t mind the IDEA of shoveling the snow, but that probably begins my problem because here’s the thing, I hate to be cold.

I’m small! There’s nothing I can do about that, and it’s like no matter how many pairs of long johns and smartwool socks I stack on, I’m just going to be cold from October to March. And the shoveling, I attack it with layered zeal, but like everything else in life, lose my steam long before the project is over. Again, I’m small! ………but have a big heart?

Yeah, that doesn’t really help. My idealism and raw excitement before each snowstorm doesn’t even compare to the deep, deep groan in my soul that comes mid-way through shoveling the driveway. And so I ask myself on a regular basis why the heck I have not moved to SoCal yet. The only answer I can really lay hold of is how much I love the 4 seasons, but with each passing year that answer is losing it’s grip. If I’m going to survive by filling up my heart with all too brief, summer San Diego visits….well, I may need to buy a snow blower.