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.

Ask Him: Feat. Kevin

boots

Kevin is an interesting one. I met him through our young adult group this summer after he had recently left seminary (a type of “school” men go to discern priesthood) where he lived for fourteen years.

Not four, fourteen.

Through a long and arduous process of attempting to understand what he felt called to, Kevin discovered that marriage was one thing he couldn’t let go of and deeply desired. Even more importantly, he realized it was what would lead him to become the best man he could be.

He was excited and super relieved. As beautiful as the priesthood is, he knew it wasn’t for him and that this is okay.

“God doesn’t just want me to be useful, he wants me to be full of joy and at peace.”

So he left seminary and is now headed to grad school this Fall at Notre Dame to study business.

His goal is to be an “evangelizing businessman”. He wants to form relationships with executives and invite them to achieve greatness not only financially, but also spiritually and morally.

He hopes to find “twelve guys with a ton of cash to make a difference.”

#goals.

Go Kev!

What are some qualities you look for in a woman?

“My biggest fear leaving seminary was becoming girl-crazy…so I actually made a list of qualities to look for in a woman to help keep me grounded.”

  1. Christ-centered: “Not just prayer-centered…I want a woman who is in love with Christ. That’s a non-negotiable for me. I guess my fear was falling for appearances without that spiritual foundation.”

  2. Selfless: “A woman who will put Christ first, me second and herself third. Just as I will put Christ first, her second and myself third.”

  3. Honest: “She isn’t afraid to tell me what upsets her, how she feels…I don’t want to date/marry someone who expects me to read between the lines or constantly read her mind. I’m a pretty upfront and empathetic guy; I delicately say what I think. I can’t handle relationships where I feel like the other person is hiding something from me, or is dissatisfied with me in some way but won’t tell me what it is…so I’m hurting them without knowing what I’m doing wrong. That is important to me, not that you’re pleased with me but that you’re upfront with me.”

  4. Affectionate: “That’s really important to me because due to my mother passing away when I was young, there were a few years where I didn’t receive that feminine touch. I definitely could not handle someone who withholds affection as punishment or is constantly asking me to prove myself. To me personally, being affectionate is a quality that I really look for in a woman.”

How do you show interest in a woman?

“First thing is just saying ‘Hey, I’d like to know you better.’ If I’m interested in a girl the first thing I do is spend time with her. I usually take it one step at a time and to me that first step is friendship.”

What do you admire about women in general?

“There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman…I don’t just mean that physically. A woman’s ability to love without limits is incredible. My mom had cancer and they told her that she had something like 4-6 weeks left to live and she basically said ‘forget it, I have kids and I’m going to make sure they’re okay.’ She fought a year and a half. To me that’s incredible. Her ability to give of herself was truly beautiful and inspires me to this day.

And then I see women who flaunt their bodies and it’s kind of a shame really. They’re putting forth their ‘best selves’ and if that’s what they see as their true beauty…it’s too bad. An immodest woman is either looking for something I can’t give or turning me into a man I don’t want to be.

Not that women have to be frumpy, but an immodest woman turns me off because they don’t see what’s really beautiful about themselves, which is that selfless love of a woman that goes way beyond I think the way a man can love.”

You think women can love more than men?

“Yes. Men are naturally protectors, defenders, whereas women are much more relational…women are really the bond that holds the family together. Women are willing to suffer for the love of their husband or kids…it shows how strong women truly are. I think we’re all called to love as we’re able but I think that there’s something very particular about the way women love.

When a woman knows that she is loved and is sure of herself she can love in a way that a man can only admire.”

So what does man have to offer?

“I think a woman has more of a nourishing, bonding love and man has more of a sacrificial and practical type of love.”

Do you think it’s important for a man to ask a girl out?

“Yes. Choices are always about deciding which good thing you want. So for a guy to work up the courage to walk across a room and ask a girl out is a sign that he is willing to overcome obstacles (such as fear) to choose her. For a man to pursue a woman proves that he really cares about her…it’s not a casual thing. The more a guy pursues and proves in his actions that he really wants the girl, the better it is for the relationship. It’s important for a girl to know that he truly cares about her.”

Is it important for him that he ask her out?

“I think it’s important for him to test his own desire. Things that come easy aren’t really worth having. I’m not saying a woman should just blow a guy off…women have a deep desire to be pursued and know that they are truly beautiful. A man is on a quest to achieve something great for someone beautiful. Those are two complementary desires. There is something to the whole Rapunzel story, a man doing something to prove that the women is worth it. If she has someone by her side that fought for her it is so grounding.

If a woman were to come up to me and start a relationship I would be asking myself, ‘Do I really like this girl? Or am I just going out with her because she’s offering me things that I want?’

If you’re really sure that you are beautiful and worthy, why would you sell yourself so cheap? And the guy wants the challenge.”

Kevin’s thoughts on self-worth:

If a woman isn’t satisfied with herself she’s not ready to date. She doesn’t need a boyfriend to assure her – that will never work. She needs time alone to be at peace with herself. If I recognize a woman is struggling with her own self-worth, I feel dating her would be almost taking advantage of her. She needs time apart from someone – she is in a vulnerable state and if you insert yourself at that moment she’ll always need you…I wouldn’t want to do that to her or set myself up to fill a hole I’ll never be able to fill. It would be an act of selfishness for a guy to start a relationship with a girl who he knows is struggling with self-worth.

What are you looking forward to in the near or distant future?

When I left seminary I was totally starting over and I was happy because I knew I was where I needed to be…spiritually what I’ve learned after 14 years of seminary is that happiness and holiness isn’t about achieving some holy-goal. It’s about listening to where you’re called and throwing everything you have behind that calling. My hope and dream – more than a successful career or finding the perfect woman – has more to do with my relationship with Christ, having the strength to leave aside whatever is interfering with that relationship and live His will day by day.

Did I mention Kevin’s Catholic?

I was so impressed with his thoughts, a HUGE thank you to him for taking the time to sit down and chat with me about these things.

To good men.

xo

Miranda

The truth about control and love

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I tried to control him
Boy did I try
It did not work out (clearly)
But not for lack of trying.

If you’ve ever been in the hair products section of a Wal-Mart or Target, you’ll get an idea of how much women love control. We want it, we need it, we thrive on it.

Most of my life has been me trying to control what happens around me…and failing miserably. Unfortunately we cannot apply the same strategy we use for frizz to life, especially not to relationships.

Were my intentions bad? Not really, the need to control is typically motivated by fear – I was scared.

The thing is, there is no room for fear in love; meaning, there is no room for control in love.

Why?

Love is free – a gift given to be received, not possessed.

Love is free.

We can only choose love in freedom and give it freely, not expecting anything in return.

I tried to manipulate and finagle him so that he would do what I wanted – what I felt was the loving thing to do…for me.

‘If he does x, then he loves me – if does y, he doesn’t.’

In other words: ‘if he does x, I can trust him, I am happy with him, relieved, at ease. If he does y I’m angry, upset, hurt.’

I put very strict restrictions around his love and my love for him. I couldn’t let go, I had to control.

There is no room for control in love.

We must allow our beloved to be who they are, do what they want, love us how they love.

They can disagree, they are allowed to disappoint, and so are we.

Our loved one is not an extension of us. They are a person, entire on their own, with a past, dreams, hopes and fears of their own. Embrace their otherness. We should strive to learn, understand and empathize as much as we can with them – but not change, modify, or even “improve” them.

Love demands that we give the other person freedom to choose us in return, not out of obligation or fear, but love.

This doesn’t mean a free pass for them to do something immoral, unhealthy or intentionally hurtful. It does not mean they can walk all over us, always get their way or act in a way that negatively affects the relationship.

What it does mean is that we should trust. We should let go, we can allow them to be and love them for that.

Control is unnecessary, and imaginary anyway. You don’t actually have the control you might think you have.

Don’t do what I did and set conditions around their love and yours. They can do that thing that bothers/frustrates/disappoints/scares you and love you.

A secure attachment is just that, secure. It’s not secure if or when this does or doesn’t happen. It just is secure.

Love trusts, love believes, love hopes.

Their love is not limited to your subjective interpretation of what their actions mean.

If something they do legitimately upsets you, think about the reason behind your hurt feelings. Why are you hurt by it? Explore the feeling with open curiosity. Don’t feel guilty for feeling what you feel, but don’t be afraid to question it either.

Often our hurt has much more to do with something inside of us than the act that caused it.

Granted, sometimes we will hurt and it will be justified. It is important to note these times and discuss them.

However, sometimes we get upset because we’re scared; and sometimes our fear bosses us around too much.

He wants to go out with the guys? Yes, great, go for it. He wants to join a sports team? Go team. He wants to buy a boat? Fun! He dreams of traveling the world? Me too!

Sometimes even the seemingly most inconsequential things like those I listed above can terrify us. What if he meets some cute girl while he’s out? Why doesn’t he want to spend that time with me? Will we be able to travel together? Is he going to sail away forever?

Goodness I remember these fears. They tortured me as I tried to love a good man but felt the insecurities building a wall between us. I wish, I wish I had done a better job of handling these demons. Instead of dismissing them I tried to control everything else – namely him. If he did exactly what I wanted/needed, I would know the fears were untrue. What actually would happen is that then another fear, suspicion, uncertainty would creep up – my thirst for security, certainty and reasons to trust could not be quenched.

Now I know that confidence truly is key, not control. Confidence is simply relaxing. Feeling the fears without acting on them. Choosing to trust over and over and over.

Don’t let fear have the last word. I did and ended up hurting myself more out of fear of getting hurt than anything else – not to mention the man I loved.

It’s so hard. It really was one of the most difficult things, to ignore what the voices in my head were screaming at me, what my emotions were overwhelming me with. You think that because a thought is in your head or because you feel a certain way that the thought you’re thinking or the emotion you’re feeling is objective truth, but that is not the case. I failed too often to love and chose to obey fear instead.

I tried to control
Boy did I try.
But I won’t try now, not anymore.
Love doesn’t control, it just loves.

Keep your affections in boxes, keep your heart free, that’s what they told you those sly foxes but that don’t faze me.
AB

 

xo

Miranda

 

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

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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

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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

Love is/Love does

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“If my inward coldness has burned you some way, please know, please know I’m sorry.”

Alanna Boudreau


Love is difficult
Love is beautiful
Love is sacrificial
Love is tender
Love is heroic
Love is forgiving
Love is painful
Love is miraculous
Love is sweet

Love is thoughtful
Love is vulnerable
Love is delightful
Love is meek
Love is intentional
Love is steadfast
Love is humble
Love is strong
Love is attentive
Love is grateful
Love is fruitful
Love is powerful
Love is obedient
Love is merciful
Love is receptive
Love is mysterious
Love is docile
Love is fierce
Love is gentle
Love is courageous
Love is free
Love is a choice.

Love commits
Love heals
Love gives
Love grows
Loves cherishes

Love submits
Love perseveres
Love protects
Love reveals
Love admires
Love accepts
Love dotes
Love affirms
Love corrects
Love assures
Love endures

Love consoles
Love laughs
Love moves
Love fights
Love trusts
Love resists
Love mourns
Love misses
Love understands
Love respects

Love disciplines
Love listens
Love stays
Love unites
Love transforms
Love prevails
Love never gives up.


As someone who tries to love and fails quite often and in the most clumsy of ways, sometimes it helps me to think about what love really means.

This list isn’t comprehensive, I’m sure you can think of more items to add (help a sister out and share a few!). But it’s a start. The important thing is to never, ever, ever give up. If we keep trying, we will eventually, haphazardly, brokenly achieve something that looks like that ⇑.

Just don’t try to do it alone, that was my mistake. Rely on Grace, it’s the only way…I promise.

Who’s the greatest Lover? You said You are I Am.

Alanna Boudreau

#alltheAlannaquotes #fangirl

Most importantly, please, please remember that you were made to love and be loved.

xo

Miranda

Queens Don’t

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For the past three or four days I’ve basically been listening to RaeLynn’s new song, Queens Don’t, on repeat.

#fangirl

It’s funny because this is a message I’ve been thinking about for a while but just haven’t been sure about how exactly to put it into words, and then she did…perfectly.

“I wasn’t raised in a castle
I grew up on the outskirts of town
No dresses with golden tassels
The rings on my hand are handed down
But I’m gonna find the one that needs me, sees me
And treats me like I’m already royalty
There ain’t nothing priceless on my wrist
I might not fly private, but that don’t mean I ain’t a queen.”

If you detest country music or can’t understand southern accents, the gist of the song is that she (RaeLynn) is a queen and expects to be treated accordingly. Not only that, but she realizes that there are also expectations on her end regarding her behavior as a ‘royal’:

“Queens don’t hate, queens don’t fight
Queens don’t stay unless their king treats her right, oh
Every jewel on my crown you better believe I earned it
Won’t keep people around that don’t believe I deserve it
No, queens ain’t fake
A queen’s gonna rule just the way she was made, oh
I ain’t ’bout to let nobody come and take me off this throne
Some girls might, but queen’s don’t.”

If it’s hard for you to take country music lyrics seriously, I understand. Another way of looking at it is thinking about the Netflix series ‘The Crown’.

Queen Elizabeth knew that there were exceedingly high standards on both sides because of her status. Being waited on and treated with the utmost respect was the norm for Elizabeth. However her status not only required others to treat her a certain way, it also meant there were extremely high demands being made from her. She had to look, dress and behave in accordance with her title. Even if she was not wearing a crown people needed to know she had one.

I know that we aren’t all royal in the sense that people address us as ‘her majesty’ (although I’m not opposed to that), and I know that RaeLynn isn’t ‘royal’ either (or that she thinks she is). The truth that she is sharing with us is a little less conspicuous than ballgowns or diamond headpieces.

It has more to do with our innate dignity: (noun) the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.

As women we have great worth. It’s something that is hard to put a finger on… is it our beauty? Our ability to bring life into the world? Our contributions to the workplace?

I think in general it has to do with less about what we do and more of who we are… in other words, our femininity. Which includes all of this but certainly not exclusively.

I’ve always detested these kind of messages (which is why I have been so reluctant to write about it): You’re so worth it; you are worthy; you are enough; believe in yourself, you deserve so much more…

Ugh, gag. Cringe cringe cringe.

I really hate talking about those things or hearing sentences like that. No thanks.

The unfortunate thing for me is that they (like RaeLynn) are right. Having a little more experience under my belt, I actually have come to realize that knowing this and living in a way that reflects it is of the utmost importance.

Why? Because it’s true; and because men need to be reminded of it…by us (unfortunately GQ and Men’s Health have yet to write an article about this).

Unless they happen to listen to RaeLynn’s music.

There’s a reason men get down on one knee before they propose, there’s a reason we are given flowers, there’s a reason chivalry is a thing (and if you think it’s dead then you need to hang out with better guys). It’s not superficial, it’s not an outdated tradition, it’s not silly or sexist…it’s vital. Why? Because we are absolutely the most beautiful and wonderful thing on this Earth (I can’t speak for other planets) and we should be treated like it, our nature demands it.

Guys don’t get addicted to looking at pictures of fancy cars. You don’t see billboards of beautiful trees advertising sweet smells or promises of luxury. It’s us.

There is nothing more beautiful than a woman, there’s just not. Part of our calling is to reveal beauty. And – this is important – we don’t do so by wearing clothes that are seductive or mountains of make-up. We do so by our demeanor, our words, our actions and how we love. There is nothing like it, and therein lies our absolute and unquestionable worth.

Our gentleness, tenderness, sweetness, receptivity, docility, hospitality, warmth, our strength, our loveliness, faithfulness, resiliency, vulnerability…so feminine, so wonderful, so life giving.

And let me just say, this doesn’t mean that you have to be the ‘nice girl’. I find the ‘good girl’ stereotype a little repulsive. It absolutely diminishes us. I don’t consider myself one. Nice is on the surface, these qualities run much deeper.

I don’t believe many guys intentionally think ‘yeah this girl is worthless’, but like most things our value is not necessarily an innate belief either: they need to be taught (or at least reminded…often).

Men should delight in us, adore us.

If we live and act in a way that says ‘hey, I’m pretty priceless’, others will typically follow our lead.

Okay so how?

You act as if you were the most precious thing in the whole world, because you are.

We take care of ourselves, physically, emotionally, spiritually…we nourish our friendships, we develop our gifts, we find joy in our lives. We are aware of what we say and treat others with the same care. 

Goodness is attractive.

I don’t mean being perfect. Goodness I don’t mean that. I get angry, I drop the ball, I wear my shirt inside out and backwards…but I know. Ultimately, I remind myself over and over and over that I am invaluable and the man who gets close to me will need to know that too.

Precious and sought after, we find comfort in the man who treats us accordingly and love him fiercely.

We don’t let him in until we know (or at least strongly suspect) that he is worthy. It’s okay for us to ask him to prove himself, to show his interest, to pursue. It’s not too much to ask, because the prize is priceless. We should not be asked to leave our throne, we allow them to approach it while watching attentively.

It’s not a chase, it’s not a game. Men’s hearts are not to be toyed with, but sometimes we have to be our own security guards. Really patting the person down (figuratively, ladies) before we let them through the gates. There is too much at risk. If we communicate our own value in how we act, how we treat others and how we expect to be treated, it’s a lot easier to narrow down the field to only a few contenders who are willing to rise up to our standards – because they desire us and they understand that it is worth it.

Honestly, everything I am struggling to tell you has already been said by a very wise man a few years ago.

“When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”

Bishop Fulton Sheen

So, yeah. That’s it basically.

We expect great things from men, but from ourselves first and foremost. When the temptation to ‘settle’ sneaks up on us, we don’t. Some girls might, but queens don’t.

xo

Miranda

My kind of broken

img_1069Kelly Clarkson has this song called ‘Dark Side’ that I really love. It’s not as well known as some of her other hits but I think it has a lot of truth to it.

The gist of the song is that we all have a ‘dark side’ and she wonders if we can be loved despite that.

“Everybody’s got a dark side, do you love me? Can you love mine? Nobody is picture perfect, but we’re worth it, you know that we’re worth it.”

I think there’s this subconscious myth out there that in order for us single people to meet someone and have it work out, we are required to have it all together.

Emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and physically we have to be ‘good enough’.

We are told by well-meaning individuals to use this time to work on ourselves.

Accomplished, in shape, out of debt, well-traveled, an excellent cook…there’s a long litany of things we can (and ‘should’) achieve during our singlehood. Until then we are vastly insufficient, which is why Mr. Wonderful is nowhere to be found.

Okay so yeah, I think self-improvement is a good thing – scratch that – an essential thing.

Isn’t the point of life pretty much to be a  better person day in and day out?

What I would like to challenge is this misconception that you’re single because you’re not good enough…You need this time to become better. Everyone else has already obediently achieved perfection (gee, what’s taking you so long?).

Not so, you want to use this time to become better. And all the time – even long after the right person has wandered into your life (took them long enough!).

No matter how hard you work right now on yourself, you will never be “done”.

Kelly Clarkson knew what she was talking about when she said we all have a dark side.

Insecurities that run as deep as our blood, hurts that still sting, jealousy, greed, vanity, selfish tendencies…these are vices we will be fighting our whole lives. And as soon as we feel we’ve improved in one area, ten other places that need some help will make themselves evident.

In fact, I believe that a lot of our “garbage” isn’t even apparent until someone tries to get a little too close. Struggles we didn’t even know we had come out of nowhere and slap us across the face as someone attempts to know us intimately.

Yes, we should certainly and continually strive for self-improvement – but this isn’t what makes us lovable or worthy of being in a relationship.

We’re already there, friends.

The question isn’t, ‘are we good enough?’ The question is the one KC poses: “Can you love me, even with my dark side?”

Sometimes the answer will be ‘no’, and that’s okay; it is heartbreaking and devastating too, I know. However dating is a discernment, and the question of ‘can I carry this person’s wounds?’ is one much better asked before marriage than after.

We only need one person to say this for the rest of our lives.

We all deserve to be with someone who will see us – brokenness and all – and say:

“this is my kind of broken.”

There are wounds that take a lifetime to heal, bad habits that we are perpetually ridding ourselves of.

The right person won’t ‘fix’ us, they will support and understand our journey toward healing and growth.

We have a responsibility to work on ourselves, to try and try and try again even if we fail 100 times before seeing a minuscule amount of progress. But this responsibility doesn’t go away once we are in a committed relationship – if anything it increases since we now want to be better not only for our own sake but for this person so dear to us.

You are not single because you need to work on yourself; you need to work on yourself, that’s it.

And, so does the person you date/marry.

The beautiful thing is that we are lovable right now, in our brokenness. And for the right person, we will be the right kind of broken (as odd as that may sound).

I know that there is so much that I want to work on, my dark side is dark. I also know that doesn’t stop me from being able to be loved and known intimately.

“Love is never defeated”

Saint John Paul the Great

Love, love and keep loving

xo

Miranda

Monday 5: Perspective & other things I’m excited about this week

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Happy Monday everyone! I hope your week is off to a great start.

This weekend was really a good one. Friday evening I had the privilege of hearing Immaculée Ilibagiza speak and it was truly inspiring (more on that later).

Saturday morning my brother and I hit up the local upscale thrift shop and a little later I got my hair cut!! There’s nothing like leaving the hair salon afterward, I always feel like a movie star. #bestdayever.

Saturday afternoon the Charleston pipe band played at a brewery near my house and it was so cool (and so loud). They were wearing kilts and everything, it was awesome (also, Ghost Monkey Brewery is my new favorite).

Saturday evening the Cundiffs went with me to their first oyster roast! We went to the Sullivan’s Island one that supports the fire station. It was a little chilly but not too bad. The oysters were so good and it was fun to watch the Cundiffs as they experienced it all for the first time.

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Sunday was the Superbowl, obviously. We watched it with the youth group teens and even though I didn’t watch the game that much, had a great time. We played multiple games of foosball and ate a lot.

All in all a wonderful weekend.

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Having said all of that, here are some things I’m excited about this week!

Seafood soup recipe

I tried this last week and it was delicious. The chef Nancy is a friend of my mom and my aunt Carrie’s and her recipes have been hits in our family. Her goal is to make healthy eating yummy which is good for me since I’ve been known to have chocolate chip cookies for lunch. Anyway, this South American inspired seafood soup was easy and yummy, I highly recommend it.   

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Retreat

This weekend my brother and I are helping lead a teen retreat together! It’s been a bit since I did this kind of weekend venture and I’ve definitely never done it with him. I’m excited to get away for a couple of days (we’re going to a retreat center called Camp Saint Christopher) and to have a weekend of service, which is always refreshing (and exhausting at the same time). It’s nice to have opportunities like this to be involved in the community, and to do so with family!

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Perspective

In Immaculée’s talk, she shared her story about surviving the Rwandan genocide. She spent 91 days in a 3X4 foot bathroom with 7 other women; not knowing if the that day would be her last. She came out three months later only to learn that her family and friends had all been killed. It was an incredible story of faith, strength and willingness to forgive. Sometimes I get so caught up in my struggles, my problems and difficulties that I forget how good I really have it; we all go through tough times, but they certainly aren’t all as bad as what Immaculée Ilibagiza had to go through. This kind of perspective is really necessary when you feel especially frustrated and discouraged. If she can survive 91 days of agony, waiting to meet her end, the death of her friends and family and the journey to forgiveness, then I think I can get through my own trials too. It could be so much worse; and even in the worst of it we know ‘this too shall pass.’

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Breweries

I’ve really been on a brewery kick recently. This weekend I went to two new ones I hadn’t been to before. The first was a brand new brewery on Daniel Island called Dockery’s. It is huge, which is kind of a nice change of space from the often crowded, smaller spots in Charleston. The beer was great and I loved the chic, rustic vibe. On Saturday I checked out Ghost Monkey which was awesome. It’s the opposite of Dockery’s in that it’s a tiny spot on the outskirts of Mount Pleasant. It has a very down-to-earth, no frills atmosphere that invites people to just have a good beer and a good time – no sophistication necessary. I’m not sure what it is about breweries that I like so much, I think they have a bit of a different feel than bars – they just seem more wholesome and cozy to me. In any case, I’ve very much enjoyed trying the different spots in the area.

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Corinithians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Recently this verse has been on my mind a lot. To me it kind of answers the question of ‘what is love?’ Is it a feeling? A sentiment? A chemical reaction? Regardless of whether or not you are religious, I think these few sentences are a good starting point, something to keep in mind when we struggle with what it really means to love. It’s not always easy and it definitely doesn’t always feel good, we just have to hope that the effort will be worth it in the end.

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