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

A good man is hard to find?

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You may recognize this title as one of Flannery O’Connor’s most famous short stories. I read it for the first time in my AP literature class in high school and being sixteen and more interested in boys, didn’t think too much about it. This fall I read it again and was a lot more taken by her writing – and this story in particular. If you haven’t read it before I highly recommend it.

Toward the end of the story the protagonist notes, ‘a good man is hard to find.’

Her circumstances are very different from mine (as you’ll note when you read the story), but her observation is one that I’ve found highly relevant many years later in the real world.

I state it as a question because I’m not sure if it’s true:

Is a good man hard to find?

Is a good man hard to find?

I have met some really great men in my life. I’ve also found plenty of men who fall short. I think at my age (23 going on 100), it really isn’t the ‘good’ part I’m concerned with as much as the ‘man’ part.

By this I don’t mean that there are more good women out there than men. Rather, it seems as though guys are taking longer and longer to mature…they’re not really men. Most of the good men that come to mind are a good eight or more years older than I am.

Okay so what am I basing these statements on. To me masculinity can’t really be boiled down to a few qualities like physical strength or aggressiveness – do those really matter that much anyway?

It’s more about man’s purpose.

‘Miranda, you are clearly not a man, what do you know about this?’

Not much, however I have read a little about this topic and rely on other, smarter people who have done their research for my information.

Some men who have taken the question of how to define masculinity very seriously found that there are:

  …“continuities of masculinity that transcend cultural differences.” While every society’s idea of what constitutes a “real man” has been molded by their unique histories, environments, and dominant religious beliefs, Gilmore found that almost all of them share three common imperatives or moral injunctions — a male who aspires to be a man must protectprocreate, and provide.

– Brett, The Art of Manliness

Okay, so it’s not about big muscles or deep voices or how many bar fights they’ve been in.

Good to know.

We can break this down a little to understand what these really mean:

Protect

The only requisite to this is courage. This doesn’t mean running off to battle, picking a fight etc. It is merely a disposition of putting others’ safety in front of your own. Walking a girl to her car at night [even if she insists ‘it’s fine’], walking on the side of the street closer to the cars, getting up in the middle of the night when you hear a weird noise…it really doesn’t have to be anything grandiose. Of course, some men do live this out in very drastic ways such as protecting their country which is of course good too, however it doesn’t have to be that. There are plenty of opportunities for men to live this out on a daily basis in your average city.

Procreate

“The imperative to procreate essentially requires that a man act as pursuer of a woman, successfully impregnate her, and thus create a “large and vigorous family” that expands his lineage as much as possible.”

Um, so yeah.
I realize this sounds a little…antiquated. The reality is that today sex is unattached to pregnancy, if anything pregnancy is mostly avoided at all costs. Not only that, but for men to be the ‘pursuer’ is considered outdated at best and disgustingly sexist at worst.
However, before we condemn this notion as old-fashioned and insulting, I think we should take a second look at what it really means.

When a man pursues a woman (in a healthy, appropriate way) he is conveying the message that she is worth attaining, despite potential difficulty in doing so. In other words, she is desirable. While men desire to be needed, women really want to be wanted. When men pursue us, this desire of ours is fulfilled in a much more satisfactory way. Not only that, but men are inspired and motivated by a challenge. The pursuit then fulfills their own innate desire as well.

Ok so about the ‘create’ part of this. Sex today is rarely about ‘creating’ anything other than, um, sensations. Ultimately we know that the purpose of sex is twofold: expressing authentic love and bringing new life. For this reason, we should never separate one of these fundamental aspects of sex from the act itself. If we do, sex is shortchanged and something that should be completely selfless becomes selfish. Sex should be preserved for the occasions when both individuals a) love each other and are committed to each other for life and b) are open to life (this doesn’t mean what you think…look up natural family planning).

Okay so what does this mean to men? Basically sex for it’s own sake is not what motivates men (or shouldn’t be). Instead, sex that communicates love and could create life is what they seek (and that distinction is how you separate a boy from a man).

Provide

This one is probably the easiest one to understand but also a little tricky. Obviously men need to provide for themselves. What about for us?

DON’T HURT ME IT’S JUST A QUESTION

I realize this is a sensitive topic. I think the answer is that men don’t need to provide for us. Generally women work both before and after getting married (if we marry at all). However that doesn’t mean that men don’t want to provide for us. Whether it’s paying for a dinner or being the sole breadwinner this could mean something different for each person. I don’t think we should shut down the concept of men wanting to do this for us in the name of equality. To say that our equality boils down to our financial contribution is completely inadequate. Women and men can bring different things to the table and still be entirely equal.

Anyway, I feel that a lot of guys my age today have lost sight of these principles of masculinity. I keep hearing of breakups that happen seemingly without good reason…other than he’s just not ready.

He’s not sure, he doesn’t know, he can’t commit, he needs more time…they are not the least bit concerned with protecting, provided or procreating, and it’s a shame because it is through this that they will feel fulfilled and competent as men.

Why they’re struggling with this is a question that would take me a million years to explore, however while maintaining an outlook of compassion and empathy, I know that I’m kind of done accepting less from men. I love them too much to set low expectations.

I don’t want a ‘nice guy’, I want a good man.

A good man is hard to find, but they shouldn’t be.

“I ask you brothers, I ask you men, for the love of all that’s holy, release the stallion trapped in it’s pen, gain a thirst for who you should be. “

Alanna Boudreau

Men, what do you think about this? I invite your thoughts on this (you all know better than I do!).

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

The Breakup

*deeeep breath*

Oh how I wish this post was about the movie with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaugh and not my own life right now.

The downside about blogging about your life is that you can’t just post about the fun/happy/photogenic moments (I mean I guess you could but it wouldn’t be very honest).

My worst nightmare became reality a few weeks ago when Nicholas and I sat down to have what became our final conversation as boyfriend and girlfriend.

And no, it did not end in engagement.

I’m a sensitive person (to put it mildly). I don’t date a lot and when I like someone, I really like them.

The hardest part right now is that I couldn’t really tell you why it didn’t work. I could give you a few reasons that may have contributed, but not really a good enough reason that would cause us to part ways. Unfortunately the reality is that -for whatever reason- it wasn’t working.

I could say that maybe one of us wasn’t trying hard enough, but I think we both tried as much as we could.

In any case I think in general we don’t understand a lot of things until much later.

The weekend following the breakup was brutal. It’s kind of funny because immediately after both of my breakups I’ve had some sort of youth group event. This time it was a weekend retreat with a group of eighth graders and as much as I desperately wanted to contact the leader and tell him I couldn’t make it, I reluctantly went.

In retrospect it was truly a blessing in disguise. Assisting lead a retreat for forty thirteen-year-olds forced me out of my head and shifted my focus. It also helped that the retreat center itself was one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in SC. Not only that, but one of my best friends and my brother both came as well, a huge game changer. Even though I had some pretty tough moments, I pulled through and I think the worst is over.

There is no point in trying to pretend that I’m okay, over it or have moved on. I’m not and I haven’t. It’s heartbreaking, confusing, frustrating and just plain sucks. I wish I could skip this part and go to when I start being okay again. I wish I couldn’t remember all the good times, or that I didn’t have to run into him around town. It hurts a lot and there is just no way around it. Unfortunately the only way through is through and there are thankfully some things that have helped me in this painful, painful time.

Moral support

Honestly I am one of the most blessed girls in the world. My friends and family are so true and so good to me. Everyone who knew what was going on has reached out to me, prayed for me and offered to talk or hang out if I wanted to. They’ve also followed up with me days after the fact and given me their consolation. I will tell you right now that friendships -close ones- are invaluable. People to celebrate the good and commiserate the bad with are an absolute necessity in your life. If you haven’t reached out to a good friend in a while or maybe you just moved to a new area, make the effort, reach out, do it. Life means very little without people on your team to share it with.

Self-care

It’s amazing how much a shower, a face mask, a new conditioner, getting your nails done, A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP, even cleaning your car will do for you. Seriously. I know that in rom-coms the girls going through breakups look like they haven’t showered in days but letting yourself go only makes it worse. Pick yourself up, be kind to yourself and show yourself some TLC (this is a good rule of thumb for any time of life, but especially difficult ones).

Social media fast

One of the first things that I did after the breakup (after crying, obviously) was delete the Instagram and Facebook apps off my phone. I knew the temptation to look for him on there, post something angry or dramatic or just scroll through old pictures of us would be overwhelming. Just give yourself a break. You can live a week or two without knowing what your friend from college that you haven’t talked to in five years is up to. You don’t need to see the engagement photos, the baby pics, the #mancrushmonday posts…you really don’t. That doesn’t mean you’re not happy for everyone else or that you’re somehow bitter, it just means that you need to experience what is going on without also comparing it to the highlight reel of everyone else you know.

Hope

The absolute worst thing you can do if you’re going through a hard time is despair. In breakups it’s easy: ‘no one will ever love me,’ ‘is there a guy out there for me’ ‘I’m not good enough’… these thoughts will consume you and take you down a deep, dark hole if you let them. Don’t. This isn’t it, there is more to come. No, it doesn’t make sense, no it’s not easy, but holding on to hope amidst the absolute most painful times is what will get you through it. Look at all the people that went through breakups and survived. Not only that, but the vast majority people who are happily married now experienced heartbreak at some point before. I haven’t given up on love, or men, or dating.

As difficult as it is, I trust that there is a bigger, better plan in place. I don’t know what it is right now and I don’t understand but that’s okay. Part of our creaturely-ness is that we’re not always in control of everything the way we’d like to be. We were created, we did not will our way into existence. Things will happen to us, good and bad, that we cannot control. We only have power over how we react. I do believe that we were made to love and be loved and that as long as we remember and are open to it, we will experience it. Keep hoping, keep trusting, keep fighting the good fight.

Courage, dear friends.

xo

Miranda

“We were legends
Loving you baby, it was heaven.
What everyone wondered we never questioned
Closed our eyes and took on the world together, do you remember?”

Phil Dunphy & what we actually want from men

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If you’ve ever seen Modern Family you probably know and love Phil Dunphy.

He is the sweet, hilarious, goofy, loving father and husband in the Dunphy family with some pretty amusing lines. As an example, here are a few of his ‘Phil-osopohies’

And:

Or my favorite favorite:

Phil is so endearing, one of the qualities that makes him so is his…cluelessness. He can be a little naive sometimes and Claire (his Type A and at sometimes scary wife) often has to step in and well, take control.

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While I laugh a lot at Phil’s antics and think he’s the sweetest dad/husband, I struggle a little bit with the dynamic between him and Claire.

I think today the media often portrays fathers/husbands as these clueless, goofy and kinda dumb caricatures that are entertaining but not really functional as head of a family.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love goofy guys. Love them. Like, they’re my favorite. But, I think what women need (and want) even more is men who step up (note: these aren’t mutually exclusive, keep reading).

modern family bubble bath GIF by ABC Network

Now, you may be thinking, ‘why does the head of the family need to be Phil? Claire is a strong, intelligent, competent woman, why can’t she have that role?’

Good question.

I think an even better question could be, ‘what does Claire (or any woman) really want?’

Do we want to constantly have to take the lead? Do we want to call all the shots? Do we want to have to be the ones who initiate always? Because in taking away man’s ability to lead, that is what we are communicating.

I think women sometimes allow our desire for control get a little out of hand. To the point where our husbands/boyfriends are little more than accessories or people to pose with for Instagram pics. We’re only happy with them when they do exactly what we want them toWe often take decisions out of their hands and eagerly initiate interactions or make judgements for them.

We text them first, we plan all the dates, we plan everything for that matter, we take charge, we lead.

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This isn’t always healthy, because where does the need for control really come from?

The answer is fear.

We ‘need’ to control because the man can’t handle it/won’t do it/will fall short. So, instead of facing rejection/a poor result, we take matters out of their hands.

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Unfortunately, what happens when we perpetually take over is that we deny men the opportunity to be decisive, to take action, to pursue us, to show us they care.

As a result, we eventually start to feel frustrated and resentful that these men we love aren’t showing their love, aren’t doing their part. Doubts and insecurities start to creep in, do they really love us? Are we wanted? Do they appreciate and value us?

What we really need from men is for them to step up, to take action, to be men.

I don’t want to spend my life chasing after a guy. I don’t want to have to make big decisions by myself. I don’t want to feel resentful or unappreciated.

I want to trust him, to rely on his judgment and to know that my family and my heart are in good hands.

I love Phil, I love goofy guys. I also am type A, like Claire.

I think we can have both and. It doesn’t have to be either he’s goofy or he’s a leader. Either I’m laid back (ain’t happening) or I let him lead.

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I think that as women we can help this dynamic out by letting go of the reigns a little and relinquishing some of our control.

Just see what happens over time if you don’t make plans, if you don’t reach out first, if you let him decide where to go/what to do.

The reason we should do this is to allow room for a give and take in the relationship. By that I mean allow us as women the opportunity to be receptive. Receptivity can be very feminine (as reflected in our bodies). However I think a lot of times we override our natural inclination toward receptivity because it requires us to trust and just be. ‘Doing’ feels so much better because we think we’re in control, we know what the outcome will be; there is no room for ‘what ifs’ or disappointment. But if we never give ourselves the chance to be receptive to our man’s love, how will we know it’s really there?

Trust is a requisite of loving relationships, and trust necessitates uncertainty. Otherwise it wouldn’t be trust, it would just be knowing.

This doesn’t mean we can’t ask for what we want, share how we feel or that we somehow have to become something we’re not (for example trying to be ‘chill’ when we’re just not). It really only means that we can relax.

He’s got this, it will be okay. 

Maybe you will be let down at times – a normal part of life and relationships-, but maybe, just maybe, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when your man steps up to the plate.

Isn’t that what we really want anyway?

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

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Happy Monday! I hope your week is off to a great start. Mine has been a little sleepy so far but that’s what coffee’s for, right?

This weekend I was so excited to visit my college friend Bernadette, her husband Conor and their baby Veronica! They live in Bluffton, SC and it’s only a two hour drive from Charleston so easy enough to go for a weekend.

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We had an awesome time exploring Bluffton, Beaufort and Savannah! There’s nothing like new places with old friends. Bernadette and Conor were excellent hosts, showing me around all the cool places near where they live, although hence why today I’m a little tired!

It turns out there are a lot of cool things in that area of SC so I’ll talk a little more about that in today’s 5. All in all we had such a good time and I think the Beaufort area is certainly worth a visit if you live in the state (I definitely want to go back).

Palmetto Bluff

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The first spot Bernadette and Conor (and Veronica) took me to was a neighborhood (it’s really more of a town) called Palmetto Bluff. It’s definitely an exclusive place. I was so impressed that this existed in such a small town (although apparently Bluffton is growing quite a bit). The area was truly beautiful. Driving in is a long corridor of old oak trees with Spanish moss hanging from pretty much every limb. The houses are spectacular and the little town in the center is charming. The style is made to imitate the old South and it does so very well. They have a post office, chapel, a few boutiques and a nice restaurant – all of which are right by the water where some boats are docked.

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We had so much fun walking around, admiring it all and scheming of ways to get a house there.

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Bluffton Oyster Co

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Being on the water, fresh seafood is one of the great parts about this area. We actually drove to an oyster company (where they fish for and distribute oysters) which was so neat (and a little smelly)!

I love the boats they use to catch the oysters.

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There were oyster shells everywhere.

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I love places like this because they are so authentic. They aren’t trying to be touristy or compelling and something about that is truly refreshing.

Downtown Beaufort

On my way out we stopped by downtown Beaufort so they could show me around a little (Conor used to live there). It is an absolutely adorable town with lots of history and natural beauty.

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The houses are from the old South period and so pretty. There are oaks with Spanish moss everywhere as well as beautiful views of the water.

Beautiful landscaping, old houses, waterfront views, quaint shops…what more could you want?

Mini adventures

I think getting out of your normal routine, a change of scenery and doing some exploring are all very important. It would be nice if I could fly to Europe for a few days every couple of months but unfortunately that is not the case. I think trips don’t have to be cross-Atlantic to be fun (or worth it). There are towns just a couple hours away that we haven’t seen before worth venturing to. We can have adventures that aren’t super expensive or in far away places but still invigorating and enriching. Beaufort and Bluffton are great examples of towns that aren’t as famous or exotic as Paris or NYC but still very beautiful. Adventures don’t have to be grand to be worthwhile, my weekend a couple of hours away from where I lived proved that.

Young families

Bernadette is one of my only friends that is already married. I typically spend time with young adults like me that haven’t yet started families of their own. Being with a married couple and their young baby was such a nice change of pace. It was beautiful to witness up close the life they have started together and how much they love each other and especially their baby girl.

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Their lives are no longer about themselves but about complete self-donation to their spouse and child. In a sense their freedom is limited because they can’t just head out to a bar or to a social outing, but what they have instead is potentially more valuable than the ability to go wherever whenever.

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I appreciate them opening their home to me for a weekend and allowing me to see the beauty of family life that they are living so gracefully.

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Aren’t they cute?

xo

Miranda

Dear Fathers: What I wish my dad had known before he left

Until recently I used to always roll my eyes when I heard the term ‘daddy issues.’

To me it was just an excuse girls used to wear dresses that are too short and sleep with men they knew didn’t care about them. After all, my dad moved out after my parents got divorced and I didn’t go around in skimpy dresses hooking up with guys I barely knew.

I was convinced that I had been unaffected; that ‘daddy issues’ was just a made up term by Hollywood or a misguided psychologist.

In fact, it wasn’t until over ten years afterward that I started to suspect that maybe, possibly I was wrong (there’s a first time for everything!).

I had always been anxious around men and very distrustful of them, something I never questioned. To me that was normal. Why would you think a guy was good? They might be cute, or funny, or charming, or talented…but not trustworthy. And I was more than okay with that. To me thinking any differently was just being naive.

I watched as my friends got hurt over the years while patting myself on the back for not making their same mistakes. I knew better than to try ‘putting myself out there.’ ‘Miss Independent’ was my theme song and I was proud of it (Kelly Clarkson’s version, not Ne-Yo’s).

Of course I did get hurt – heartbroken- in fact. I liked guys and was disappointed by them; but I mostly kept this to myself. It never got far enough that many others knew or that I was particularly invested. When it finally did go wrong, I felt oddly satisfied that I had been right about them all along. Guys couldn’t be trusted, not even the ‘good’ ones. Not even the ones that said ‘I love you.’

That is what I believed. Until I actually met and really liked a good guy, and then I was in trouble.

Big time.

The problem wasn’t him. The problem was that I treated him like every other guy I had known (or thought I had known). Suspicious, questioning, doubting, accusing, undeserving of my trust or the benefit of the doubt…not at first, obviously; but the more I got to known him the more I felt comfortable expressing anger toward him, even when he most definitely did not deserve it.

I became more and more frustrated with myself as I tried to trust and failed repeatedly. Why couldn’t I just have a little faith? Why was I sabotaging this relationship that was so precious to me? Why was I hurting the man I loved so much?

The answer that kept coming up and that I persistently dismissed was this: maybe it was because dad left.

Fathers teach their daughters how to be loved. They are meant to cherish and dote on us. They tell us we’re beautiful and smart and set the standard of how we are meant to be treated by men. They are our rock, a figure of strength and stability amidst the chaos that is growing up in today’s world.

But that’s not what I learned.

What I learned was that men leave, and that it might be my fault. Something about me could be innately unlovable. Because if I was lovable, he would have loved me; and if he loved me, he would have stayed.

Cognitively, at the age of 23 I understand that his leaving had little to nothing to do with me. I also understand that my dad had his own demons that were instrumental in his decision to leave, and that he did not mean to hurt me. But the damage was done. To undo 10 years of deep hurt that was pushed down and strong defenses that were built up is a monumental task. I had to become something unnatural to survive, tough and angry, something not compatible with my naturally sensitive demeanor.

Experience is the most powerful teacher and my parents’ divorce and my father moving back overseas afterward is probably the most defining moment of my life so far. As much as we try to tell ourselves it’s not, divorce is traumatizing and destroys families and the individuals within them.

I’m lucky enough that my dad calls me almost every day. He cares about me, certainly. But unfortunately, phone calls will never replace the presence of a strong, loving father, day in and day out.

‘Daddy issues’ are real (even though I still hate that term). I say all this, not to evoke sympathy, but as a plea to any men out there. If you are married, or thinking about marriage – especially if you are a father – understand that your role is irreplaceable and that you are needed more than you will ever truly know. Your marriage is not just about you, if you have children, regardless of whether or not they are aware of it, they want to be loved by you; and your leaving will affect them for the rest of their lives.

I suffered a lot at the age of 12 when my parents separated. 10 years later it continues to haunt me as I attempt to navigate my way back to trust with someone who actually deserves it. It has been immensely difficult for both of us and not something I would wish on my worst enemy. No one should have to deal with this, but I know many do. Two Christmases, Thanksgivings, weekends shuffling back and forth between houses, step-parents…it’s not normal. As a culture we’ve convinced ourselves that it is, and twelve-year-old girls everywhere are being completely heartbroken by the one man that is supposed to love them the most, by the one man that was supposed to know better.

I wish dad had known that before he left.

Monday 5: (Pro) Life & other things I’m excited about this week

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It was another relatively quiet weekend in the Rodriguez household. Friday afternoon Nicholas and I played with Sally and Anne Louise (more on that later) and that evening even though we had planned to go out with some resident friends, ended up staying in and watching ‘This is Us’.

Saturday I got together with my friend Domi who just got engaged! So exciting! And that afternoon I said goodbye to Sister Kathleen who is being transferred to Miami! It was nice to catch up but also a little sad to part ways for now.

Saturday evening I spent time with my family and Sunday youth group and Mass were my main events. I also got to catch up with my friend Lizzie at a new oyster restaurant called Nico in Mount Pleasant! We had some delicious baked oysters and tasty cocktails.

All in all it was a nice weekend and I feel so blessed to have good friends to catch up with!

Here are some things I’m excited about this week..what’s on your list?

Docility

I feel like I associate docility with people who get walked all over. However, when I came across the term in this book I’m reading, it made me question that definition. It turns out docile actually refers to someone who is ‘easy to teach.’ I’m probably not one of the most docile people (ask any violin teacher I’ve had). But I think it is a good quality to have. In life things happen that we don’t want. People say things we don’t agree with. We are charged with tasks we don’t like. One option is to be grumpy about it and meet these challenges with a bad attitude, another is to be downright rebellious and avoid them altogether. A third possibility is to learn from whatever is happening to us. A break-up, being let go, an unpleasant encounter…certainly these things are not enjoyable and sometimes even heartbreaking, but being angry over time turns into bitterness and resentment. Maybe a better option is looking at it as a learning experience. What is life trying to teach us from this? How can we grow from it? It’s not easy, but this docile attitude is actually a much lighter load than anger, trust me.

Support system

We all experience suffering at one point or another. Sometimes it can be especially difficult, like just-make-it-through-the-day difficult.

Not fun.

But when times like these arise, we have the opportunity to be especially grateful for those who love and support us. Those who text us to check in because they know we’re going through something. Those who call just to listen. Those who open their homes to us to console and advise us. These people too, will be there for us when the joy comes. They will celebrate with all the authenticity in the world because they genuinely care for our well-being and are happy for us. These people should not be taken for granted and I am in so much debt to my support system. We need people like this in our lives and if you try to convince yourself otherwise you’ll find out to be dead wrong. Developing deep, meaningful friendships with people, especially those who share our values is essential to our well-being. It’s helpful to have friends who are peers (people around the same age, state in life etc). But it’s also great to be friends with people who are at different points in their life. For example Sister Kathleen is much older than I and she is a nun but I always learn so much from our meetings together. My friend Sarah is married and has a son close to my age and I also have learned much from her. My friend Bernadette is my age but married and with a baby…reaching out to people that have different perspectives and experiences can be incredibly valuable. I’m so grateful to all these people who have given me so much guidance and support, especially when tough times creep up on me.

This quote

I’ve never been a huge Lord of the Rings fan (I’ve only seen the movies), but as I’ve come across more and more of JRR Tolkien’s quotes I’m having a bit of a change of heart. They are so beautiful and true! This one I found to be especially wonderful and appropriate for this time.

“‘But where shall I find courage?’ Asked Frodo. ‘This is what I chiefly need.’
‘Courage is found in unlikely places,’ said Gildor. ‘Be of good hope! Sleep now!”

Love.

I’m not sure what those ‘unlikely places’ Gildor refers to are, but I hope I find them.

Reunion

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It was so nice to spend some time with Sally and Anne Louise again. Being with children is so nourishing to me. There is something so infectious and refreshing about their innocence, enthusiasm and light-heartedness. To see Nicholas running around with Sally and Anne Louise was very entertaining (although exhausting for him). We had an absolute blast running around a park close to their house and I am so grateful I still get to see them every now and then.

Life

Speaking of babies…today marks the anniversary of the infamous Roe v Wade decision that made abortion legal in the US. Even amidst difficulty and suffering, life is so precious. It makes me so sad that we take the opportunity of life away from unborn children. While I certainly can understand extenuating circumstances that often surround unwanted pregnancies, I think there is no difficulty that should prevent us from giving the person a chance. Hope is a very important virtue that we need to hang on to, for our sake and those of others. How on earth could we determine that a person we haven’t even met yet should not live? I am encouraged by all the mothers that have chosen life (including my own!), even when it wasn’t easy. They knew that they their rights were not meant to infringe on that of the child inside of them but rather to allow them to exercise the privilege that is partaking in the creation of another person. How amazing that we can do that!

Thank you to everyone who has chosen life for us.

xo

Miranda