Month: June 2014

First Anniversary Trip to New York City [in Pictures]

It’s been one year today. One year ago, he wore his suit, and I my dress, and we met at the chapel. I walked with my Dad down the aisle to him. His face – oh I’ll never forget it! We prayed, we listened, we vowed, and put on those shiny new rings. And there it began. It seems like it was both last week and decades ago, but I can truly remember every moment of that day if I try.

They say things about the first year: that it’s the hardest, that it’s the easiest. They talk about honeymoon phases and newlywed fights. I don’t know much about those things, but I do know that if this was the hardest, then I don’t know what on earth people complain about. And if it’s the easiest, then bring it on, world, because we’re in it for the long haul.

This year was absolutely amazing: challenging, rewarding, and so full of love and joy. To top off the year, we took the train into New York City and did some of our favorite things, with my favorite guy.

First up: some shopping, of course. Massimo spoils me. But it was on sale!

Next: the Central Park Zoo, complete with Rio 4-D!

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Then we had a flawless early dinner at Uva. I can’t stop thinking about that meal – this place was awesome. And started off with a three-cheese platter. You can’t go wrong when you start with cheese and figs.

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And finally, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We only saw about 10% of this monstrous museum, but we did get to see some 200 year-old Martin guitars and Van Gogh paintings. Not too shabby.

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And in the end, I took my first taxi ride back to the station and got a piece of cheesecake for the ride home. Thank you for a fabulous day in the city, love! Happy Anniversary, and I can’t wait for so many more!

-debarbibee

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Loving and Respecting My Church

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Open space in the church – where there is room for each other. photo via @darlingmagazine

Our church is a Love & Respect church. I love our church and I really do believe that the book, video series, workbooks, follow-up studies, and retreats have truly helped many families in our church. And I’m really glad that they were able to find a safe place to talk about some conflicts in their marriage and work on ways to resolve them. Satan hates happy marriages, and a place where the church can support them is a very positive thing.

However, I have struggled for years with this book and some of it’s dedicated following. A whole book based on a single verse in the New Testament? A wide-reaching, money-making campaign with THE SECRET to a long and happy marriage, based on two words and a 7,000-person survey – what could be wrong with that?

The website for Love and Respect proudly states that the founders realized the key to marital bliss when they asked 7,000 people at their marriage seminars one question, and then they found the universal truth! 7,000 people?! That’s like asking 8 people in New York City where the best pizza is, and if 6 of them agree, you’ve found the unquestionable answer. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Also take a look around their website and you’ll notice something: a lack of diversity. I wonder why a book written by two white, 50-something, middle-class American’s doesn’t translate to all other cultures if it’s supposed to the universal truth? (Who, by the way, had revenue to the tune of $1.8 million in 2010 for their “secret”.) That seems to be a problem.

I haven’t read it. I have had at least a dozen people tell me to do so. I have read their blog and their daughter’s blog. I have watched their videos and interviews. I have read the testimonials and the critics. I probably know about as much as I can about this book without actually opening the front cover. And I don’t want to.

Why? Because I’ve been hurt by sexism in the church before, and every time it rears its ugly head these days it brings back painful memories. I’ve been treated with disrespect by pastors, Christian camp counselors, authoritative voices in the church and online, and I’ve even been hurt by people very close to me, whom I love. It’s the book, it’s the idea, and it complementarianism in general.

It sucks when someone tells me my husband has to make more money and have a more impressive job than I do to feel good about himself. No he doesn’t; please don’t treat my husband like a bank account. He’s really not.

It find it downright disrespectful when someone tells me I, as a women, tend to act with my heart, and not my head. It is a basic principal in negotiations that you cannot let your emotions rule. If I’m not good at that, then I can’t negotiate. If I can’t negotiate, then the last four years of my life leading up to and studying in law school have been a waste and I need a new career.

I really don’t like it when Dr. Eggerichs uses an analogy that women see, hear, and say everything through a pink filter, and men through a blue filter. No, actually. I see, hear, and say everything through a Deborah filter, and Massimo through a Massimo filter. Get to know me and I’ll get to know you. Then we can understand each other.

I cannot understand it when the founders assume that men do not listen and they only want to fix things. Actually, my husband happens to be a top-notch listener, but we both tend to want to fix things for the other person. That’s what happens when you love someone: you want to make their world better.

I’m insulted when people make jokes about men being the head, but the woman “can move the head any way she wants.” Apparently the only way I have a voice in my relationship is through manipulation and guilt? That’s just being plain rude to me and my husband.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. Basically, every premise that this Marriage-Saving conglomerate puts forth hits us like slaps in the face, telling me once again that I am in the wrong career, so is my husband, and we are nothing more than our defined sexes.

And I’m not the only one. I was so relieved to see that Elizabeth Esther also did not find the book’s old-school misogynistic tone very female-friendly. The thing is that it’s not just insulting to women, it’s also rude to men. They are supposedly the “stronger” sex, but at the same time, they act like a crazy child when their gender trump-card is declined.

My stomach churns when someone brings it up. I know they mean well – it helped them, so they want to pass it on. But it hurts. And it makes me angry.

Anger. That’s not the way I should feel on a Sunday morning. But Satan knows my weaknesses and he grabs a hold of those moments. My mind starts spinning, going faster than I can even form words. I start writing, furiously. Massimo and I vent to each other in the car. “Why? Why is this message still out there? And why do I fall victim to these scars every time this book is brought up?”

The thing is that I know in my head that this is what some people believe, and how they’ve modeled their marriages. Personally, Massimo and I prefer more of a co-leadership model. We respect each other’s hearts and minds, and use them together to make decisions as a team. We don’t worry so much about who’s in charge and who has the last word. In fact, if those thoughts do present themselves in our relationship, it is a sign of a conflict that needs to be sorted out.

But that’s what works for us. And it may not work for you, or your friends, or your kids. I don’t know! But I do know that my past is having a bad influence on my present, and it’s causing internal and sometimes external conflict. And for I while I’ve been stuck: what can I do about it? I’ve been praying and praying for relief from this battle.

And finally, I read this: “Fighting Words.” It’s about the battle between complementarians and egalitarians, and how we are too often either defending our stand or attacking the other. It’s about how we need to lay our weapons down, especially if we truly believe in equality. Since both views are biblically-based, we don’t need to fight about it. If we truly believe in equality, then that should also hold true in our respect for interpretations of scripture contrary to our own.

The message came through even more when I read this, about what feminists and complementarians have in common. It’s not a war, not even a battle. There is grace and there is love and I can stop worrying about defending my views or my decisions. That doesn’t mean we have to stop the conversation, but it does mean that I can show respect for the other side. And that truly, at the end of it all, we’re on the same side: that of defending Christ-centered marriages.

I will continue to have to work on healing the scars from sexist Christians in the past, and I will defend my husband from the same kind of mistreatment. But that is a battle that God and I can work through together. And in the mean time, I can be loving towards couples who find helpful advice in Love & Respect, I can have respect for the leaders who advocate for it’s message, and I don’t want the church to stop talking about marriage. After all, we ought to be submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (see Ephesians 5:21).

-debarbibee

A Letter to My Grandmother

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I talk to my grandmother all the time – events, in church, just  when I’m alone. But I wanted to publish this letter to be read by whomever so desires because I want everyone to know how amazing she was. I want her to live on. 

Dear Grandma,

I miss you. I missed you yesterday and I’ll miss you again tomorrow. We learned about Heaven again this week in church. I love imagining you up there, worshiping God. I bet you’re helping all the kids up there, too. They are probably getting distracted and you are helping them pay attention and have fun. You had this amazing way of walking on stage in front of 200 excited, sweaty kids and getting them to listen while you tell them all about what’s happening the next day at VBS. I have no idea how you did that. I wish I did.

I keep asking God to tell you how much we miss you and love you. I hope he’s giving you my messages.

William got married last weekend. You would have loved it. He married a beautiful girl named Mayra. She loves the Lord, just like you would have  wanted. She and William are hoping to return to Peru to be missionaries, helping teenagers learn about Jesus. You would be so proud. Remember how excited you were when Uncle Stephen and Aunt Holly went to Guinea Bissau as missionaries? Yeah, it’s like that. I can still hear your voice talking about it.

They are staying at your house for a little while, which is really good because Grandpa just had heart surgery. He’s doing really well, you would be proud of him for that, too. He misses you a lot. It’s been almost eight years. A lot has happened in that time. You have more grandchildren, more grand-nieces and nephews, and even a new daughter-in-law.

I got married almost a year ago. His name is Massimiliano, but I call him Massimo. He’s truly wonderful. He loves me so much, sometimes I think my heart is going to explode. He went to eighth grade in East Haddam, so I like to hope that you’ve seen him before. He’s changed a lot since then, but I tell him about you all the time. You would have liked our wedding. We got married at Camp Bethel, just like mom and dad. Nana even made it, trying to steal the show, as always.

Susannah graduated from Hale-Ray last week. She’s going to Nyack and wants to be a teacher or a librarian, like you. She’s so smart and beautiful and kind- all your grandchildren are. I don’t think you have a bad apple in the bunch! How does that happen? You must be watching out for us. I hope you are.

I’ll keep thinking of you. Every once in a while someone brings you up. They talk about how you changed their life, and what they remember most about you. I think that you might have changed everyone you ever met.

I really wish you could know my husband, and Mayra, and Anthony’s soon-to-be wife, Bekah. We’ll always wish you were still here, but we also have the hope of meeting you again. We have hope because death is not the end. I hope you still smell the same way when I see you again. I love you, Grandma.

love,

Deborah

Only God Can Judge Me

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“Only God can judge me!” declares the photo caption.

“Wow, way to judge!” proclaims the comment stream.

“You are just being way too judgmental and critical. Nobody’s perfect! You’re such a hypocrite. Stop judging, get off your butt, and get a life!”

Today, let’s talk about judgment. Comments like those above, though hypocritical in and of themselves, seem to be calling for a judgment-free world. And though the commenters make a judgment in order to call someone judgmental, they seem not to see it and continue on their aggressive campaign towards a passive Utopia in which judgment is no more.

But come on, does he really mean that? Does this commenter really want a judgement-free society?!

After all, where would this society be without some good use of judgment? What if I didn’t judge how fast a car is going into the intersection, and instead I just went for it – hoping that my lack of judgment would be so unoffending to the other driver that it just didn’t hit me?

What if we didn’t judge people by their knowledge of road laws and driving procedures, and we just gave anyone who wanted it a driver’s license?

What if I didn’t judge whether a young child was old enough to walk by himself home from school through a neighborhood that may or may not (I can’t judge) be unsafe? Would my open-mindedness be enough to protect him from getting robbed, kidnapped, or lost?

Would you like a doctor who didn’t judge your suitability for a drug or procedure?

Would you like a friend who didn’t judge whether you were sober enough to drive home?

Would you like a school that didn’t judge whether you grasped the lessons, and just passed you forward no matter what?

The point is this: yes, only God can judge your soul. But I am more than capable of – and should be encouraged to – judge your actions, shirt, driving ability, creditworthiness, sobriety, and whatever else you expose to the world. Would you really prefer a society where no one engages in any critical thinking? Is that better for you? How would you even know – you can’t judge!

To judge means “to form an opinion or conclusion about.” It isn’t always right, and it can change when more evidence presents itself. Having a judgmental society can be a very good thing. It means we’re talking. It means we’re connected. It means that we have seen or learned something, synthesized it, analyzed it, and produced an opinion or conclusion about it. It means that we have brains, and we’re using them. Plus, if we didn’t judge, then compliments wouldn’t mean anything; how meaningful it is to have a blind person comment on the unique color of your hair?

Lack of judgment can lead to car accidents, drug overdoses, bankruptcy, middle-school dropouts, arrests, and all kinds of other things that we don’t bring up at family reunions. It’s not a judgement-free world, thankfully. Judgments come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They can be nice or they can be rude, but the mere fact that you are judging someone or something is not a bad thing. How you do it is another story: respect, humility, and compassion are just as important.

As for your soul – after this world – that is the only thing the Facebook stalkers can’t touch. God can and already has judged your soul. It’s actually really simple: you are a loser; a sinner; a broken, spoiled child who doesn’t even know what you threw away. And you’ve been sentenced to death because of it.

But that’s not the end: God is also merciful and loving. He sent his Son, who was also God, and He died in your place so that you can be made new. You can be fresh, clean, and holy – if only you accept this free gift of Salvation. Just say the word.

And that’s why we can judge each other’s actions, to help each other see right from wrong and pick each other up when we’ve wandered far from home. But we also have to treat each other with kindness and respect, because we have value and dignity as God’s children. And we’ll all be judged by God in the end. So don’t forget that.

-debarbibee

Real Advice for the Class of 2014

So far, I’ve had a pretty relaxing summer. We have had a few big events, but nothing compared to the school year. But this week, all that changed.

Let’s see: the travelers arrived home from Peru at 2:00 am Sunday. Then it was a pretty quiet Father’s Day, where we ate hamburgers, held alpaca blankets, and heard all about their trip (with a surprise visit from Uncle Stephen and my cousin Jack!). Then Monday my Grandparents arrived from North Carolina for the festivities. I’m pretty sure there was nothing big Tuesday, but who can remember?

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All the sisters with Baby Giraffe in her cap and gown!

Wednesday – double graduation, Thursday more preparations (and I think Mayra’s family is coming into town one of these days? There is so much, I don’t even know.), and today (Friday) is setting up the church and last-minute shopping for the Wedding Reception, tomorrow.

Following our Wedding Fiesta tomorrow, we’ll have church Sunday (Massimo and I are on for music – of course), followed by my sister Susannah’s Graduation party. Oh, and in the middle of all that, Massimo has been working extra early and long days to finish some big orders at work.

Let’s just say, emotions are on short fuses these days, and we are just plain tired. But the Grace of God shines through, as always. Massimo got a raise this week, out of the blue. And I couldn’t be more proud and thankful! I’ve gotten to see relatives and friends more than usual, and some that I haven’t seen in a year. I can’t wait to celebrate my brother and his wife (still sounds weird) tomorrow, and, cherry on top: I got to attend my 13th Hale-Ray High School Graduation to see two sisters graduate!

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These girls…

And that was probably the highlight of my week. I’ve been to a lot of graduations (13 at Hale-Ray, 6 college graduations, and a few others). Most of them are generally the same: gowns, hats, “reach for the stars”, “remember your past”, etc.etc.etc. But there is still nothing like seeing someone you love walk across that stage. There is something about that moment, that tradition – it’s like it’s all been leading up to this moment. I’ve seen it many times, with many different people, and now Susannah and Emily have also participated in the rite of passage. They’ve closed one chapter of their lives, and have the pen to the paper to write the next. Well, I suppose it’s more accurate to say read the next chapter, since you are not really the writer.

And that brings me to the shortcomings at your graduation. Don’t get me wrong: it was beautiful and honorable and Hale-Ray did a great job. But being at your ceremony also reminded me of what was missing: Jesus. (There was mention of God, but it was in the Pledge of Allegiance and a song.) Graduation advice tends to be filled with cliches and slogans that make for light, cheery speeches . (I mean, every big event does: weddings, baby showers, birthdays – you name it!) But if you want real advice, the kind you can look back on months and years from now and it’s still the Capital-T Truth – you have to go straight to the source.

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Me and Massimo with our sisters.

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The Grads – Susannah and Emily.

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The Hale-Ray Class of 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I struggle with this. I have gone through periods where I read a lot, and then times where I can’t remember the last time I opened it on my own. One trick I have for getting back into it is to read the Psalms: they are short, beautiful, and jam-packed with the most honest, brutal Truth. I like to read through and underline the promises and actions of God, while circling my actions. This way I can meditate on who God is and what he is doing, while also learning what my response should be. I found this Psalm today for you girls, and I think it pretty well sums up the adventure on which you and your Heavenly Father will find yourselves. Moving on from high school is scary and exciting, and sometimes you can feel pretty alone in this big world. But if you stick tight with The One who made you and loves you more than you can imagine, then everything will be okay (even during crazy weeks like this one!).

Psalm 86

Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.

Guard my life, for I am devoted to you.

You are my God; save you servant who trusts in you.

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long.

Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.

Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy.

In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me.

Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.

All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name.

For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in the truthgive me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

I will praise you, O Lord my  God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

For great is you love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.

The arrogant are attacking me, O God; a bend of ruthless men seeks my life – men without regard for you.

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Turn to me and have mercy on me; grant your strength to your servant and save your faithful [daughter].

Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see if and be put to shame, for you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Congratulations, girls! Stay strong in the faith.

-debarbibee

My Late But Awesome Birthday Present That Keeps On Giving

It was my birthday 18 days ago (Happy Birthday Deborah! Oh, thanks.), but one of the things I really really wanted for my birthday didn’t come until just last weekend. Why? Because it had to be shipped all the way from India!

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It’s a package from India!!!! I’m so excited!!!!

That’s right: I got a JOYN handbag! I have wanted one of these for years, ever since I learned about the company. You see, Joyn is a very special company that has not only supplied me with a 100% handmade, totally gorgeous purse, but it is also changing the lives of men, women, and children in the Rajpur, India region.

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Ahhh! Someone from JOYN wrote my name! I feel like I need to keep this forever!

JOYN is an absolutely beautiful company that is training local artisans in the ancient techniques of weaving, block printing, and stitching to give them not only long-lasting skills and employment, but also hope! Every one of their products is made in the most inefficient way possible: 100% by hand, to give more people the opportunity for work. They also partner with JoyCorps to provide healthy food, safe water, low-interest loans, education and skills to improve the whole community, and lift them out of poverty.

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You’re Welcome!!

The company was started by Mel and Dave Murray as their answer to the extreme poverty they’ve seen around the world. They realized that you can’t just bring hand-outs, you have to bring opportunity to really make a difference. The Christian couple started JOYN and the Dehradun Guitar Company to provide those opportunities.

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Thank you for your beautiful work on my handbag!

You guys I am so in love with this company and their beautiful products! And now that I finally have one of their gorgeous bags I’ve been drooling over, I hope I can tell even more people about JOYN! I have never in my life had a purse like this, and they make so many different styles! It is impeccably well-made: 100% leather and cotton, fully lined, magnetic clasp enclosure, and there is a small inside pocket the perfect size for my cell phone (and I have a big Galaxy S5).

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Even in this terrible picture, it’s gorgeous enough to steal.

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Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? I know. It’s mine.

The only down side is that it takes a while to get here, since I bought mine directly from JOYN. But, you can also buy some products from Dayspring or other vendors. They are totally unique, and of excellent quality. This bag means so much to me and I hope that you might consider supporting this great company, too!

-debarbibee

Walkers, Rise Up!

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Even walkers can take workout selfies, just like runners.

I finally live in a town with sidewalks, and I have plenty of extra time during the summer, so, naturally, I have taken up the practice of walking 2-4 times a week. In the last month, I have walked a total of 30.4 miles over 8 hours and 19 minutes, burning 3,109 calories. You guys, I’m so pumped. I feel really good about this. I bought new clothes and everything.

The problem is that I can’t brag about it because I’m walking, not running. If I was a runner, it would go all, “Oh hey, I’m thinking of going for a run later. Do you think this rain will let up in time?” “Oh, you’re a runner? No kidding! Me, too. Are you doing the 5K for the Fourth of July? Let’s exchange routes and our favorite warm-up stretches.” And we would be great friends and have mutual respect for one another.

As a walker, though, it goes like this: “Do you think this rain will let up? I’m thinking of working out later.” “Oh, do you do yoga?” (Come on, I’m trying to do something significant here.) “No,I’m walking.” “Oh. Are you pregnant?” (Seriously?! No.)

So in this world, the only work-outs worth bragging about are yoga, running, and weight lifting. (Don’t believe me? Check Instagram.) Everyone else is not cool and pregnant.

I want to live in a world where walkers and runners get mutual respect. I want to live in a world where I can say, “I’m getting my walk on. #workout #fitspo #business” and I will be the envy of everyone sitting on his or her couch instead of moving. I want to inspire, and proudly brag about my workouts without reserve. I want that world! And so I say to all you walkers out there: Rise up! Stand proud and declare your love of walking and that this is a totally legitimate and serious exercise. Spread the word! And get stepping! You are just as worthy as those runners. Don’t ever look down at your feet, moving at a pace of 4 mph or slower. Walk on, little feet. Walk on.

Just to drive home my point that walking is just as good as running, let’s do a little side-by-side.

                                                                                Walking                                     Running

Burns More Calories

Than Binge-Watching Netflix                            X                                                         X

Gets You Out of the House                                 X                                                         X

Requires Special Workout Clothes                  X                                                        X

You Have to Wear Sneakers                               X                                                        X

You Get to Know Your Town                             X                                                         X

You Have To Awkwardly

Pass Strangers on the Sidewalk                          X                                                          X

There’s an App for it                                               X                                                           X

Improves Your Health                                          X                                                          X

You Can Take Workout Selfies                            X                                                           X

You Sweat                                                                   X                                                           X

You Feel the Cool Breeze

On Your Face                                                              X                                                           X

You Can Talk on the Phone

at the Same Time                                                       X

You Look Awesome                                                  X  

You Can Go To The Library

or Store and Carry Stuff Home                              X

Your Earbuds Fall Out                                                                                                              X

You Spit Up Drool and

Look Ridiculous                                                                                                                           X

You Get Weird Injuries

And Have to Go To Rehab                                                                                                         X

So, runners do tend to lose weight faster, and can get a medal for running a marathon (There are also a lot of reasons not to run a marathon.). But is that really worth it? Is that really enough to totally make us walkers feel like lame losers? At least walkers have something in common with their grandparents! So that’s all I need. Running is painful and stupid. And you get cramps and want to throw up. Walking is beautiful and it rocks!

Start the  movement! Walkers, arise!

-debarbibee

Thought I Always Have In The Morning

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Morning light streaming in should be romantic and artsy. But I just want to go back to sleep.

What’s that noise? Oh, it’s my alarm. Already? Just five more minutes…

What’s that noise? Oh, it’s my alarm. I just fell back asleep! That’s not fair.

Go back to sleep. Brain, turn off so I can get five more minutes. Okay, that’s not happening. Might as well get up.

Hey, I’m up early! I’m going to have a super-duper productive morning. I will read a book! I will do dishes! I will clean the whole house! And wash my car! But first: breakfast. And coffee.

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Breakfast, breakfast: what will you be? Let’s go oatmeal with bananas.

Oh, these bananas could have gone for a dive in the trash a few days ago. Whatevs. They’ll be all mushy in the oatmeal anyway.

I should probably watch some TV while I eat, since I can’t really do anything else. Hmmm, Netflix, Netflix….

Do I have enough time for a 44-minute episode? Probs shouldn’t risk it. Parks and Rec it is. You can never go wrong with that. Good morning, Tom Haverford.

I finished my food, but Parks and Rec is still playing. I can’t just turn them off. Donna will hate me forever.

Here’s my computer. I’ll do some checking of the internet stuff. Facebook, email number one, email number two, email number three. Just the basics. Then I’m getting up.

Oh, that link looks interesting. I’ll just watch that one video.

What’s that?! A man cracks an egg under water? I have to see that.

Let’s see if my grades are up yet. Click, click, clickety. Why does it take a million websites to get to the one where I can just check my grades? Unnecessary complications.

Still not up. What are those professors doing? Probably sleeping in and not being productive, like me.

Wow, when did the next episode of Parks and Rec start? Autoplay: you got me again.

I’ll just check my Pinterest and get inspired for dinner. Oh, that shirt is on sale? What else is LOFT marking 40% off today?

Hold up: It’s 8:50! I’m going to be late for work. How did that happen?

*I do not have any thoughts while rushing to get dressed, make my lunch, and get civilized for work.*

I guess I’m doing the dishes later then.

-debarbibee

Progress Photos of My Latest Painting

I have always wanted to take progress photos as I work on a painting. So this time, I actually did it! Woo-hoo! It’s definitely not my favorite painting I’ve done so far. But I liked watching it come to life. I hope you enjoy!

20140611_195822I went to Walmart to pick up a fresh canvas, but they didn’t have the size I wanted. So I had to settle for this weird shape. Come on, inspiration. Come at me!

-337788-4309x2883Hey, Machu Picchu looks beautiful. That reminds: I wonder if The Emperor’s New Groove was supposed to be at Machu Picchu? That looks like the mountain from the movie. Hmmm….

Anyway, how can I fit this majestic mountain palace onto that weirdly-shaped canvas?

-337788-4309x2883That might work. Let’s do this.

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And that first layer took a whole night to dry because of this darn humidity! Whatever. I’ll just watch The Emperor’s New Groove.

20140612_211753Grrr… this grey sky is just not working out like I’d hoped.

20140613_085356Okay, I’ll stop with the commentary now. Basically it took three days to finish and it’s comme-ci, comme-ca.

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All done! “Machu Picchu,” acrylic on stretched canvas, 14 x 7 inches, June 13, 2014

-debarbibee

Marriage Advice from a Very Experienced Woman Who’s Been Married 11.5 Months

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Look at those kids: they didn’t know anything! Married for 45 minutes – those babes were just starting out.

My little brother William is getting married tomorrow in Lima, Peru. I am super duper totally excited for him because he’s marrying an amazing, godly woman named Mayra. And I won’t be there. BUT, as his big sister, who has been married a whole 11.5 months, I thought it was my sisterly duty to offer the young man some solid marriage advice. I’m so much older and so much wiser (which are the only qualifications for offering advice, according to The Sound of Music). We’ve found that these were important fundamentals to keep in mind in our marriage, so we wanted to share them as a little gift to you guys.

1. Every marriage is different.

People always ask me, “How’s married life?” (They will ask you, too. A lot. Figure out a thorough, yet succinct answer fast because you will need it on-hand at all times.) I think that’s such a funny question because I’ve only been married once, to this one man. What do I know about “married life?” I know about my married life. That’s all.

You are unique. Mayra is unique. That means that your marriage is totally unique! And that’s awesome and beautiful and amazing. It’s like this precious little other being that is being born, and you get to spend the rest of your life taking care of it and getting to know it and watching it grow. So when someone says something about “marriage,” or “wives,” or “husbands,” or you have expectations about what “marriage” is like, just check those expectations at the door, and examine them fully before you let them in. Focus on how God made You, and Mayra, and brought you together. Start there.

2. That doesn’t mean I can’t give you advice.

Well, it doesn’t mean no one can give you advice. There are some similarities between marriages (like there are some similarities between you and your pastor, or me and my sisters). Marriage, as we know and think of it, is a sacred covenant. It’s an ancient sacrament that is mysteriously binding you both to each other, and to other married couples down the ages. It’s like becoming a citizen of a new country: you have new rights, new responsibilities, and a new identity. But you are also still yourself. Basically, it’s a confusing and pretty miraculous thing. The point is: be wise and cautious about who you listen to, and set a good example for others

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But look at these mature, knowledgeable adults! At 11 months, we’ve seen a thing or two.

3. You’re giving up a lot, and getting a lot.

I didn’t really know what I would have to give up when I got married. I knew I would have to give up some things, but I really couldn’t comprehend how much everything in my life would get re-prioritized. (You really can’t comprehend it before you’re in it; so just hang on.)

Church obligations, social circles, family, school, work, leisure, health, money: everything gets shifted. It’s sort of like on those shipwreck movies where everything’s cool and you’re on a relaxing vacation, and it’s all, “Who wants another soda?” And then all of a sudden you are lost and you need to make a shelter from leaves and sticks and drink pee to survive. Like, whatever your reality was before, you can’t take anything for granted and you have to re-prioritize and start from scratch. It can get messy, and a little painful.

The good news is: you are getting a partner for the rest of your life. And I can’t really begin to explain how much you gain with a partner by your side, through thick and thin. So try not to mourn the losses and focus on building up and investing in the gains.

4. For goodness sakes make each other happy.

When the terrible, stressful things are happening and it’s just one of those days, what makes Mayra happy? Does she like gifts, or time alone, or time with you, or does she like when you help take over some of her usual responsibilities, or does she want relaxing time away? Like, figure it out (ask her), and do it. (Recall the part where she is unique and everyone’s different and stuff? Yeah, she’s super special.)

Find out what makes you happy no matter what terrible thing is going on and tell her so she can do it. (P.S. Did you know that good communication is A-tops first primo important? Mhm. Tell Her!!! Ask Her! Mayra: Tell Him! Ask Him!!!)

5. Pray pray pray together and for each other.

Pray before meals, pray before bed, pray in the store and in the car, pray when your spouse is having a bad day, when he or she is having a good day, pray when you are upset with him or her. Pray all the time, for all the reasons, especially when you are upset. And tell the other person that you are praying. No matter what else Massimo ever does for me, my favorite thing is when I know he’s praying for me. It’s basically the most loving thing you can do for a person.

6. Communicate

Neither of you are mind-readers (as far as I know). We decided early-on in our relationship to not hold each other accountable for something we didn’t know. I can’t get upset with him for something I wanted him to do when I didn’t tell him, and vice versa. Honest, open communication is so crazy important, and non-verbal communication doesn’t count.

There are SO MANY less misunderstandings when you use your words, like our good parents taught you. We are not monkeys; we have a verbal and written language, and that’s why we are able to get married. You don’t see monkeys on Say Yes To The Dress, do you? That’s my point. Talk it out. (And you guys have two languages to use, so you have no excuses.)

I love you both and I can’t wait to see your love for each other and marriage grow over the years!

-debarbibee