The heart

This red, bloody, pulsating thing.

I give it to Him

It’s bruised; having been carelessly mishandled, forgotten and left.

The slightest touch can cause it great pain

What it is good for, I surely don’t know

With gentle hands He takes it and makes it His own.

Why He wants it is a mystery

How He will heal it (if He does), is yet to be seen.

The onlookers are grim

It doesn’t look good, they say

Perhaps it would be better to put it away

To lock it up where it cannot be reached, or held, or hurt any more

I nod in agreement, my eyes pleading, bloodshot and sore

He smiles, “I make all things new”

He says as He takes the heart I can’t bear anymore.

Dear divorce

Dear divorce,

Thanks to you, I learned nothing on earth lasts as long as it should.

Dear divorce,

You spread the heinous lie that ‘happiness’ is on the other side of leaving, that it’s the only answer

You convinced them that ‘children are resilient;’ after all, we ‘want you to be happy.’

Dear divorce,

You taught me to trust no one, not even those who say ‘I love you’, not even myself.

Dear divorce,

You showed me how my world can come crashing down on me at any moment – so don’t get too comfortable.

Dear divorce,

You made nights slow torture as I tried to manage the pain in the darkness alone.

Stop crying

Stop crying

Stop crying.

Dear divorce,

You taught me to isolate myself, to keep my distance, to remain unattached, to fear instead of love.

Dear divorce,

You made me desperate for attention but wary of affection.

You convinced me to cling instead of trust, because they will leave.

They will.

Dear divorce,

You caused guilt to follow me every day of my life. Guilt that envelops me, though it wasn’t my fault.

It wasn’t my fault

It wasn’t my fault

It wasn’t my fault.

Dear divorce,

You made closeness feel impossible, love seem unattainable.

Dear divorce,

You made me feel unlovable – that I am not worthy and never good enough.

You told me that something is wrong with me – it must be.

Dear divorce,

You filled me with rage but gave me no way to express it. You told me to shove it down, deep deep deep.

I’m angry

I’m angry

I’m angry.

Dear divorce,

You left me with the heart of a broken child, a heart too weak to love, too hurt to be held.

It hurts.

Dear divorce,

You stole my haven, my comfort, my security. You just took it.

You bastard.

Dear divorce,

You’ll never know what it’s like to make a vow to someone and keep it until you die.

You’ll never grow old with the person you promised “till death do us part.”

You’ll never experience the unconditional love from one person all of your days.

You’ll never know what it’s like to come home to the same people, the same person, year after year.

Dear divorce,

You’ll never know what they mean: the words ‘love’ and ‘family’ and ‘stay’.

Dear divorce,

You will miss out on countless moments: Hugs and kisses, tears and breakthroughs, fights and grief, forgiveness and reconciliations, firsts and lasts. You lost them and you will never get them back.

The ghosts of memories will haunt you until your lonely death.

What could have been.

You’ll never know what could have been, what was on the other side of staying – the forgiveness, the grace, the love.

I pity you.

Dear divorce,

You thought you had me. You believed I would buy into the treacherous lies, but I won’t.

You have led many others astray, lured them with your siren’s call, but not me.

I will never be yours – I have seen too much.

The charm of ‘freedom’ is only loneliness. The happiness you promise is empty – a black hole of egotistical wishes.

I know the suffering, I know the fallout, I know the pain. I know.

I will never choose you – not as long as I live.

You are dark, sad and alone.

I pity you.

Dear divorce,

Thanks to you, I know that I will never be yours.

The new chapter

This isn’t what I wanted.

I don’t mean that in a boo-hoo-poor-Miranda kind of way, it’s really more just a matter of fact.

This isn’t what I wanted.

When I was dreaming and wondering and planning what my life would be like, this was not it.

I never imagined I would move to the Midwest (of all places). Not for one second did it occur to me to look into jobs at the company I will now be working for. I didn’t hope to one day be 23 years old, in an apartment, alone, where I know few people and am far, far away from my family: my home.

This is not what I wanted.

If things had gone according to my plan, I would still be in Charleston, engaged to the man I loved and surrounded by my close friends and family.

To me career was never a priority – my mission stood outside my work and I was fine with that. Moving for a job never crossed my mind.

But doors that I had started to walk through were painfully shut on me, and doors I had never seen before sprang open abruptly. I didn’t feel that I chose this new path, rather that I was being chosen for it. I could walk through the door or not, but it had been opened for me. Why? Couldn’t tell you. I hope for my good, and also for a greater good – a higher purpose. But right now as far as I know, I could be as “woefully wrong as Humphrey Belcher, who decided the time was ripe for a cheese cauldron.” -A.P.W.B.D.

I have decided to accept, tentatively and somewhat reluctantly, that maybe, maybe my plan wasn’t the best one (maybe).

Maybe there is a bigger, better plan that will successfully lead me to the peace and joy I have been aching for.

Maybe something about moving, about living here (of all places), about making the new friends I will meet and developing my writing skills, maybe all this is necessary for my growth, my peace, my happiness. Perhaps this is an essential part of my journey that will make me more myself and help me to become the person I want to be.

Possibly the things I do here and the relationships I form will turn out to be of the utmost importance.

The reality is that I don’t know. What I do know is that I left behind my friends and family, my job, my home to come here.

Not because I am sure it’s the right thing, but because I am trusting.

We don’t know everything and if we think we do we’re just kidding ourselves. We’re not in control of the all doors that open and close in our lives, sometimes we just have to step through one that is open and see what happens – always hoping for the best, always trusting.

To me the worst thing we can do is to hang on stubbornly to what we want and knock on a closed door insistently, shouting for someone to come and open it.

Life is too precious to waste on what we think is best, what we hoped for, what we wanted. I don’t mean that in cynical or Debbie downer kind of way, I just mean that sometimes we need to choke down our piece of humble pie and realize that we don’t always know what we really want; we don’t always know what is best for us.

A door was closed on me that I desperately wanted to sprint through, but as much uncertainty and pain and fear that I feel – I am walking through the door that was opened and trusting that it will be for the best.

As I sit here in my (mostly empty) and very quiet apartment, waiting for my friend to drop off a sleeping bag (my mattress is arriving Wednesday), I have decided to trust, to make the best of this and to let go of what I thought I wanted.

Because maybe, just maybe, there are things at work here bigger and better than I could have dreamed up myself.

So if you’re in a place of uncertainty, unknowing, disappointment…you are not alone. New beginnings aren’t always the Hollywood moments we want them to be. Often there is a hard fall before the recovery. And often the recovery is long and slow. So hang in there, keep hoping and, most importantly, keep trusting.

This isn’t it.

xo

Miranda Kate

I’m not ready for marriage, but I’m doing it anyway – a man’s perspective.

img_6905

Last week I proposed to my girlfriend and, amazingly enough, she said yes. If you knew me, you would know that is nothing short of a miracle.

As I began to share the news with family and friends, a trend developed among my male cohorts. Their response took some form or another of the sentence, “Wow, dude, that’s a huge step, I didn’t know you were ready for that.”

My response was: “Well, I’m not ready, but that’s not really the point.”

They weren’t expecting that answer.

My friends were expecting something like what we hear in movies or from guys who are unwilling to be vulnerable with one another: “Yeah man, trust me, when you meet the one, then you’ll just know!” As if you know your love is real when you experience this magic voodoo feeling of clarity that will just overwhelm you when you meet the right person.

But if I were to say something like that, I’d be lying. And I usually try not to lie.

This outlook which is expected from us is in fact the soul crushing myth perpetuated by those who claim that love is nothing more than a feeling.

So why do my fellow men ask that question? Why have I asked that question of others in the past? Because for most guys, this phantom thing we call being “ready” is our bulletproof excuse to delay doing the best thing in exchange for the easy thing.

Just look at the three hallmarks of how the current culture does romantic relationships and it’s easy to see how good men have gotten at delaying commitment.

  1. Safe Sex: The reasoning goes something like this, “Well, we need to know if we are sexually compatible right? It’s a huge part of a relationship! But we aren’t ready for kids. Instead, we use contraception which allows us to have safe sex and know if we are compatible. Win win!
  2. Live together before marriage: “How else are we supposed to know that our relationship can work before making a lifelong commitment? We have to be sure, and living together is practical. It makes sense. It’s safe.”
  3. We should get a dog before we get a kid: “We don’t know if we want to have kids yet. We want to travel and just do us for a while. We’ll just get a dog and see how that goes. After all, with divorce rates being so high, we should practice being parents together before bringing kids into the world. It’s the safe thing to do.”

All of this is nonsense. Safe sex is a myth. People who live together before getting married actually have higher rates of divorce than those who don’t. And having a pet is NOTHING like having a child of your own.

If the wise people in my life, the ones who have been married for 25+ years, have taught me anything, it’s that you can never be ready for something as big and beautiful and incredible as a lifelong commitment to another person. Being ready isn’t the point. Freely and willingly choosing to give your significant other everything you’ve got, for as long as you’ve got it, is.

The real tragedy is that when men delay doing the best thing in exchange for the safe thing, we deny ourselves the ability to thrive. When a man defends, protects, uplifts, glorifies, loves, and serves a woman, yes he gives up his independence, but in return his life is elevated to an entirely new level. He goes from coasting to thriving. From passive to passionate. From selfish to courageous. From a good man to the man of your dreams. And that’s not by some uncontrollable fairy magic, that’s the power of love as choice.

Unfortunately, what women have failed to realize is that they are complicit in this. Women set the standard for the relationship. Not men. And most women let men off the hook. Ladies, if you really loved him you would challenge him to be more than a safe bet. You would challenge him to reclaim the power of choice. And you would challenge him to love you the way Jesus loved the world in his time on earth.

In the hours before he was arrested, Jesus said something to his disciples that really knocks me out. He asks God, if possible, to spare him of the immense impending suffering. He essentially says, “I don’t want to do this. It would be much easier for me to open the gates of heaven without having to suffer so please don’t make me do it.”

Now, I am no scripture scholar. Nothing even close. But, what I read here is that Jesus identifies the complex surge of emotion humanity experiences when we are faced with the hard choices. It’s this feeling that, we know we are meant for something and we know we desire it deeply, but we don’t want to do it because our fears are yelling things at us like, “what if it’s really hard?” or “what if I fail?” or “what if I am not good enough?” or “what if it doesn’t work out!”

Jesus knew his mission in life was to destroy the power of death and save the world. And he had a truly deep desire to do it. But he also had a moment of gut wrenching hesitation before doing what was required to accomplish his mission. However, contrary to what our culture might say, the solution wasn’t for Jesus to feel better or find some safe way out. The solution for Jesus was to stare directly into the eye of his fears and choose the better path anyway.

The same goes for all of us. Especially men in relationships.

The honest truth is, I am not ready for marriage. Marriage scares the crap out of me!  

I’m afraid of committing my entire life to one person. Terrified of accepting this incredible person’s love knowing that there is a really good chance that I will do something massively stupid that will hurt her. And, of course, scared of exchanging my independence for a life devoted to someone other than myself.

That kind of fear doesn’t get vanquished by some magic clarity that comes with “the one”. It’s still there and it will remain there even after I say “I do.” But that’s ok. It’s natural.

I didn’t propose because I was ready. I proposed because deep down in my soul I know God created me for marriage. I proposed because my future wife is an incredible woman and the life partner I don’t deserve but got anyway. I proposed because I love her more than I love myself. I proposed because she challenges me every day to become the man God created me to be. And I proposed because I want nothing more in life than her eternal happiness.

And that, my friends, is the point.

By Jack Beers

Marriage is an adventure – like going to war.
GK Chesterton

The comeback kid

IMG_6924.jpg

My mom loves to remind me of the day I learned to ride a bike. There was a big hula balloo because the Rodriguez siblings had gotten new bikes! Oh, happy day! My new bike was sans training wheels which only added to my excitement.

Unfortunately, as six-year-old Miranda soon realized, learning to ride a bike is like…learning to ride a bike; it’s difficult at first. So, long after the initial eagerness had faded and my brother and sister had gone inside, I could be found in the driveway, angry and frustrated but resolutely determined to figure the darn thing out, now.

I fell over and over, tears brimming in my eyes, my hands and knees stinging from scraping the pavement – yet I kept getting back on.

You can probably guess how this story ends…fifteen years later I still don’t know how to ride a bike.

Jk Jk

Of course, the reason my mom loves that story is because my “determination” – aka stubbornness – came to my aid, I didn’t give up.

Those of you who have been following my blog to some extent can guess that it has been a tough year for me – even more difficult than learning to ride a bike with only two wheels (if you can imagine).

This past year I fell in love with a man that surpassed my (very high) expectations. It was wonderful – like a chapter out of someone else’s life. We had so many lovely, sweet, fun, beautiful times it often felt surreal to me.

Obviously that wasn’t the difficult part. The difficult part was all the fear that accompanied this relationship. It was absolutely impossible to understand why I had such a difficult time trusting someone so good – someone who clearly cared about me. It was incredibly painful to constantly question him and his love. It was torture to be bombarded by doubts and insecurities about the relationship every day. Together or apart, no matter what he said or what I told myself or what others shared, fear plagued me as I struggled to love and trust someone and be loved by them for the first time in my adult life.

The joy of finding someone that until that point I had only dreamed of was tainted by my deeply rooted fears – fears that came true when Nicholas finally bowed out in February.

“I told you.”

That awful voice in my head which so often had urged me to make a run for it rang in my ears months after the fact.

It was right.

This year was also dramatically humbling. Amidst my turmoil and angst I came to the startling conclusion that I am one of the least qualified people to speak on the topics of love, relationships or familyThe fact that this has been my main source of content is almost laughable.

Almost.

Who am I to speak on the subject of love? When I fail so often to practice the thing in my own life. I am still the obstinate girl who falls over and over again – broken and bruised – only now the fall is emotional, spiritual and psychological, in addition to physical.

I barely understand what love is really meant to be – if anything I know better what it is not meant to be.

I guess that’s something.

The thing is – much like myself all those years ago – I have a streak of stubbornness that refuses to give up.

This became especially clear to me on this break, my mini sabbatical from publishing. It was a lovely and painful time. I did some travel (nowhere exotic but still fun), lots of bike riding/exploring, took lots of pictures, caught up on some reading and spent a good bit of time just reflecting. Even though I enjoyed all of this, it was difficult to face the reality of losing someone I had cared about so deeply. A reality not made any easier by our regular crossing of paths. Every day I had to accept all over again my loss and look ahead at the murky future with only wisps of hope to hang on to. 

On a particularly difficult day during this time I grappled with the tough question of why the heck am I doing this?

What’s the point? Loving only leads to bitter disappointment. People are too imperfect, too broken and too difficult to love (most especially myself). Why bother? I could be content doing my own thing; traveling, writing, enjoying casual friendships and relationships without commitment or difficulty. 

I had my chance and I blew it, who’s to say there will be another one?

Yet here I am.

I guess the reason for that is the reality that everyone else at some point in their life has also been faced with this question. If you haven’t yet, you will be. And the people I most look up to, I’m most inspired by and desire to be like, they chose to love. Not because it was easy, not because they didn’t get hurt, not because it always felt wonderful or rewarding, but (I think) ultimately because at the core of their being, they felt it was worth it. It was a calling too beautiful, too precious, too valuable to turn down.

Love makes us better people, it challenges us to grow and change in the most beautiful of ways. It heals and gives us strength to move forward, day in and day out.

Love is why we are here and what makes this treacherous, incredible, awesome life worth living. It’s an adventure in and of itself; the most fulfilling and challenging one. 

There is still a part of me – the wounded, guarded, angry part that taunted me after Nicholas and I broke up – that doesn’t believe a word of this. But I’m hoping to prove this side of me wrong in time.

I’ve fallen down, and I will continue to do so. But I won’t give up. I’m back and I’m in it for the long haul.

Here’s to the kid who got back on the bike one too many times, and to everyone who has dared to choose love – even when it hurts. 


On another note, there are two, more practical things I’d like to share with you.

  1. I’m changing the setup of this site just a little so that it can become more of a community and less of me ‘talking’ at you. To help me make it more collaborative, Some incredibly talented people agreed to write for you here and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Keep an eye out for some contributor articles coming soon.
  2. As of last week I have agreed to take a position as content lead at Dynamic Catholic. I will be moving to Cincinnati, Ohio this summer!

I want to sincerely thank all of you who have prayed for me and encouraged me during these past few months – it has done more than you can know.

And of course, to my readers..this wouldn’t mean much without you.

xo

Miranda Kate

“For what is life without love?”
Pedro Silva

Monday 5: This blouse by Zara & other things to be excited about this week

img_6897

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a restful weekend. I finally have been feeling better and even socialized some this weekend! Very exciting.

I did watch the Superbowl. Well, I was in a house in which the game was playing. And I occasionally looked at the screen… the food was in a different room so that didn’t really help. As much as I struggle to understand the game itself, I do appreciate that football brings people together.

Last week I got in a quick photo shoot with my talented photographer Lizzy. It was a beautiful day and the neighborhood we went to provided some truly beautiful backdrops! That is where the picture above come sfrom, you’ll see more of those in the near future.

All that being said, here is this week’s Monday 5, I hope it helps to add some pep to the beginning of your work week!

This shirt by Zara

When I was in Houston over the holidays I got to go to Zara, one of my favorite clothing shops. This was even more exciting because we don’t have one where I live so rarely get the opportunity to shop there. One of the two things I got was this blouse, I love it. It is so soft and kind of a retro chic that I think is starting to become more and more popular.

Scrubs

It’s hard for me to get into TV shows, especially comedies because they rarely come close to my favorite, The Office. However this week I ventured into Scrubs and was really pleased. I know most people have already seen Scrubs, it’s not exactly new, and now I understand why people like it so much! I love the goofy humor combined with some more serious themes and life lessons. I especially appreciate the insights into the protagonist JD’s head – they are so easy to relate to and clever! While I have a lot to catch up on and won’t be watching too much Netflix in the near future, I look forward to making my way through JD’s experience at Sacred Heart.

La La Land soundtrack

One of the outings this weekend was to finally see La La Land, which other than being nominated for a million awards has also been recommended to me by multiple people. I thought it was well done and appreciated that it varied from most of the movies we see today. Probably one of my favorite parts was the soundtrack. The music was fun and upbeat without being cliché – a balance I imagine is hard to strike. In any case I’m looking forward to having a new album to listen to!

Towel folding: new practice

Ok I’ll admit this one sounds pretty lame… it probably is. But I honestly am really excited about it. I used to always just either hang my towels on the rack or fold them and then hang them. But this weekend I mastered a new way of doing so that looks so much prettier. First you fold it so that the monogram is centered (everyone has monogrammed towels… right?) and then you drape it over the rack instead of hanging it. It’s kind of hard to explain in writing but it looks so much better and every time I walk into the bathroom I can’t help but smile…it’s the little things, okay?

Trust

Patience and hope have been brought up in the past two week’s Monday 5’s. I’m starting to realize that our ability to be patient and have hope is directly related to our trust that things will work out. There’s often a lot of uncertainty in life; as much as we plan there are few guarantees. This could beg the question, why plan at all? Fair point. But I think planning is kind of an action-oriented way of hoping. After all, the plans we make are things we hope will happen. The things we want (career, home, family, travel) aren’t to be disregarded; I think our desires speak really deep truths about who we are. Planning, in a way, expresses trust that what you want is important and is possible… otherwise why work toward it or hope for it at all? This requires some trust. We don’t know what is actually going to take place, whether or not the thing we hope for or work toward will come to pass… but we trust that it will. If we didn’t trust it would be really hard to hope for something, much less have patience while we wait. So as much as I am not a fan of the unknown, I’m excited to develop a deeper trust that things will work out for the best. Why wouldn’t they?

I hope (and trust) that everyone will have wonderful Monday and productive work week.

xo

Miranda