My Favorite People

are flawed.

But own it.

It’s a rare attribute– most are so concerned about their image, they feign perfection.

That extends to their happiness, their health, their job satisfaction, socio-economic status.

I like people don’t pretend. Who just wear their feelings openly.

Be that with their facial expression, body language, and what they do (or don’t) say.

Who SHARE their struggles.

You know you can trust those people.

I’m not one to hide my feelings. I did when I was younger.

But since I stopped, my life improved exponentially.

I like myself better, I’m more tolerant of other people. More humble.

People treat me with *more* respect, actually.

You may lose people along the way– but at least you’re being your true self. Over time, the right people will be attracted to and stick by you. I’m not saying to be cruel and irresponsible just because you *feel* like it. Be prepared to accept the consequences of your actions and words.

What I’m saying is, the hardest person to forgive is yourself. Don’t compromise your values and feelings just to perpetuate a facade for everyone else.

I’d rather be rejected for being myself than accepted for putting on an act.

It’s the HIDING that gets us all in trouble. Why be so afraid? It’s not weakness.

We’re all human– we’ve got that in common. We have bad days, aches and pains.

Physical limitations. Disappointments. Abject failures.

Don’t feel you’ve gotta impress everyone.

Be yourself. And I promise, the right people will adore you for it.

Give it a try.

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Michael Sweet Threw a Bible, and I Caught It: My First Christian Rock Show!

I’ve been avoiding music shows lately– I’m tired of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll being championed.

The gold set list on my black leather jacket-- God and rock 'n roll!

The gold set list on my black leather jacket– God and rock ‘n roll!

Tired of hearing rants about how wasted they got on the way to the show, challenging the audience to do shots. I know it’s all part of the image and that partying is what the industry is built upon. But I don’t drink or do drugs and although I go for the music and have a great time, I get tired of being one of the only sober people in the room. Tired of being hit on.

Luckily, my friend Tammie had invited me to see STRYPER last night! And I felt totally at home.

Everyone from the bands to the road crew setting up seemed to be sober. Maybe a few weren’t– but it definitely changed the atmosphere for the better. They played Tailgaters Sports Bar & Grill in Bolingbrook, IL.

People DRANK Coke, rather than bragging about doing it. I saw crosses, not cleavage, everywhere. Mostly, I saw a lot of respect. For the band, for the audience, for the venue.

The show was exactly what I needed after work, especially since a co-worker told me, “You look like a nun.”

She didn’t mean it as a compliment, although nuns ARE awesome. I ran home and dressed up for the first time in months, it seems. I wore a white shirt that I love with golden crosses all over it, and my favorite dangly heart earrings. I put on eye-liner and mascara and actually used hairspray! I searched frantically for the Stryper album I still have on CD, but couldn’t find it. My phone was nowhere to be found so I Facebooked my friend that I was leaving, Googled directions and wrote them down, and got to Tailgator’s within about 25 minutes.

My friend Tammie was waiting for me at the door, bless her. She’s always been a steadfast friend. Even better, she had bought our tickets in advance and we had a table RIGHT by the stage! In the left corner, where Michael Sweet would step out later on a few times.

The two opening bands were wonderful– Ignescent, and Signature. The first was definitely a Christian band, and I don’t think the second was, but I really enjoyed both! As always, I missed a lot that I couldn’t hear– but the musicianship and performances were great. I loved the fact that Ignescent front woman Jennifer Benson was a petite woman about my size. Seeing her up there rocking out– for the Lord!– was so inspiring. I loved that she still locked like a rocker, but modest as well. She had on a black dress, black shredded jeans, and a cute black skirt and black shoes. On the way to the bathroom, I met her! She talked to me for a few minutes and had the best smile. She was really sweet.

When I returned, Signature lead singer Sami Carava walked by me and gave me a sweaty kiss on the cheek, and I grinned.

And as set-up began for STRYPER, I saw the set list being duct-taped down, right in front of us! Black tape.

Bass player Tim Gaines was directly in front of us.

I asked Tammie to use her phone to look-up the verse on the banner behind the drum kit, Isiah 53:5. She had a Bible app! We scrolled down and found it, and I loved it.

Once the set began, I was transported.

Earlier, Tammie had posted a Facebook photo of a BIBLE Stryper had thrown into the crowd Friday night at an acoustic show at the same venue. This was the electric show. As soon as I saw that, I decided my goal would be to GET ONE myself! She also had a yellow guitar pick, given away for their 30th Anniversary tour– they began in 1984.

I saw the tiny hornet-yellow picks set up on each mic with an apparatus that had them lined up for the band members to toss to the crowd.

During, “Call and Respond,” Michael Sweet was throwing Bibles.

I JUMPED out of my chair and waved my hand without shame. “ME!! ME!!”

He looked at me, smiled and tossed one to me. I caught it!! It’s pocket-sized, perfect.

And suddenly, GOD is rock n’ roll. I am so excited to see a legendary band like Stryper endorsing the Bible. Plus, it’s the most genius gimmick ever. It’s the NIV, New Testament. It’s black, with a black band sticker.

They embodied the virtue of charity, throwing out several Bibles and guitar picks.

Sweet was riveting. I loved the Abalone squares on his guitar, and the fact that he wore nice black leather shoes, like a gentleman. Black jeans with yellow crosses down the leg and on his back pocket.

And it was so clearly about the MUSIC, the Lord, and the fans. He talked to us. But unlike every other front man I’ve ever seen, he wasn’t leering or gyrating. He was there to praise, not seduce. To commune with the fans, not challenge them to get wasted. He asked for a show of hands of fans who had been to past shows– smiled in recognition at some of them.

I realized why MUSIC is the booming business it is. It’s healing, on a soul level. And how much pressure Christian bands must face to conform– the gigs they lose and the money the pass up, to adhere to their faith. The pressure they all face to sexualize themselves to sell more albums.

I’m going to look for more Christian bands. Not so say I’m abandoning secular music– but I love the atmosphere of a Christian show and I’ll take the challenge to find more!

During a set break, Tammie showed me the Rosary she had made with rose petals from her mother’s funeral, 15 years ago. I was so happy she let me hold it, it was the most intricate Rosary I’ve ever seen. I’m Catholic and she’s Non-Denominational Christian, but we focus on what we have in common. Earlier this week, we’d talked about attempting to learn to pray the Rosary together. I love that she wants to share that with me, even though she’s not Catholic. What an extraordinary display of friendship.

Whenever I have doubts about this blog, Tammie is there reassure me I should keep going. She’s been a subscriber since she learned about it.

I felt Christ’s presence in that room. Maybe that’s a bold thing to say, but I’m alright with that.

I’ve been looking frantically for His presence– I only thought I could find it in Mass. I’ve been anxious because when my work schedule changes, I won’t likely be able to go to Mass as often, or maybe at all. But now I know you really don’t need to go to a church to find Him.

God, Christ, whoever you identify with– He’s all around us. If you only have the courage to look.

Seek the GOOD– and you will find it.

And I was reassured that I’m not alone in my faith walk. I never wondered what denomination anyone was– it didn’t matter. I felt united under God’s rock concert. We’re all struggling. We’re all trudging forward, best we can.

A man at the table to my immediate left held up two fingers in a cross sign. I saw people closing their eyes, being still- seemingly in prayer.

I loved when he said the band was going to “stop trying to be modern,” (If I heard that right!) and just go back to their roots. This was their last American tour stop before heading out to Brazil. What are the odds that I got to see them!? God’s brought me there for a reason.

I’m an old-fashioned gal, who doesn’t often feel at home in this newfangled world. Hear, hear! I was bummed that earlier I couldn’t find the CD of theirs I had bought in 2005, which still have! I wanted to show it to them, maybe try and get it signed. But look what I got instead!

God’s abundance. Thanks for reading this far– I know I’m a verbose lady!

They closed with an encore performance– “To HELL with the Devil!” That’s the only song I previously knew, and it was absolutely perfect. I was AWED that Sweet’s voice really IS as operatic as it sounded every time I played it in my car.

I bought my first and only Stryper CD in 2005, when I was living in Freeport and working as a news reporter. I interviewed a woman who was selling a bunch of random things in her home– and I snatched up that album.

Now I write on my own terms– with this blog.

The best moment of the night was after they closed with their encore performance, “To Hell with the Devil,” of course!! FINALLY, the audience all got to their feet. I had thought they were a little TOO respectful, all sitting down the whole time.

But it was also just like any other rock show– there were still drunk women lunging at the stage.

Last night was I reminded I’m right where I need to be for me, right now.

Especially when as the road crew packed up, a man HANDED ME the set list with a smile! I screamed and taped it on the back of my leather jacket. I didn’t worry about anyone stealing it, and no one did.

Tammie was so happy for me, too.

Robert Sweet fist-bumped me, and Ox Fox shook my hand as they exited the stage. They were so gracious.

We stopped at the merch table on the way out, and I decided to buy myself a birthday present: I’ll be 34 next month. I don’t have anything planned as of yet. I’ve gotten down on myself in the past for not having the markers of “adulthood” yet– not being settled down with a family and mortage.

I’m still renting and I’m single.

But God gave me this FREEDOM for a reason. And I’m grateful. I’ll enjoy it as long as I’ve got it!

I spied a hoodie with– what else?– To hell With the Devil– on the back, in yellow script lettering. I asked if there any smalls?

ONE left.

Most of my money these days goes toward basic expenses: food, bills, gas. Books. I rarely buy clothes.

But I decided I deserved this. And I gave myself permission to splurge and get it. Now I’ve got a perfect new hoodie for fall, and I can’t wait for Stryper fans to stop me and talk to me about it!

I’m sure that’ll inspire some conversations about religion and God, with all sorts of people.

I can’t wait.

Catch My Breath: My Final Post

Since my last post, I’ve gotten more involved with a church that I love. God has lifted up my heart, and showed me that there is more to me than just being a writer. That I can help others by being of service, with humility. I’ve been happier.

It’s been six months since I quit my column, and I don’t miss it at all.

And I’ve been so much happier without blogging, as well.

Especially about being single. Not my best idea!

I began this blog on a impulse, and I followed it too long. Writing continually from the perspective of a single woman has– surprise!- kept me single. When you’re constantly saying, “I LOVE BEING SINGLE!” it doesn’t send the most inviting message. All the posts I wrote about feeling hopeful and content were true at the time.

But also, writing is the deepest reflection of my intelligence and the essence of me.

“Above all, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”  Proverbs 4:23

And I think that writing has made it too easy for me to deal with being single, if that makes sense. I can’t change the past and the information I’ve already shared– it’s out there, even if I delete the archives. It’s been read. People know it about me. But I’m not the woman I was when I started this blog.

Now I’m someone who is strong enough to admit to vulnerability. To know when to say , “When.”

And I want to keep my heart for myself– not my subscribers or fans. Someday I hope to share it again exclusively, in a relationship. I’d like to even become a wife and mother if I’m lucky. Gasp! Even Feminists want to fall in love again. When I do meet someone next, I don’t want to have to worry again about how to continue this blog while getting to know someone. And I don’t want to become one of those bloggers who writes about the transition into commitment and monogamy.

If nothing else, I’ve learned that relationships are tenuous enough without having to balance a blog along with it.

When I write next, I want it be for the good of others.  But for now, the best thing for my heart is to stop blogging and take a break.

But also I realized my identity is not inextricable with writing. Just like this blog does not define me. There are a lot of things I also love doing! I’ve tried a few this spring since I was honestly trying to figure out ways to keep this blog going without talking about myself so much– to focus on other things.

I’m learning to re-direct my emotional energy to people in real time, not to a page when I’m alone and have perfect control.

Now I’m not worrying about a future novel, my next post, what readers will think of my intelligence or if everything is correct.

I validate myself.

By not writing it down, I validate it by living it in that moment.

If He calls me to write again, I will answer. But this blog is done and I don’t need writing the way I did when I began it.

I don’t want the people who have lovingly supported my dreams to feel like characters in my narrative– they are fabric of my soul, the story itself. I don’t want to leave them to run to a computer screen any longer and reiterate what just happened, reporting on my life.

I’m sorry to those who have felt distance from me because of my preoccupation with my past column, this blog, or any other writing I’ve done. I’m trying to do better, and your patience is something I cherish. To those who supported my writing, past and present, you are a fact of my heart.

And to the men who dared to love a writer, God bless you. I know it’s scary.

The greatest stories of my life are the ones I will not share– but guard with vigilance. From now on, I’ll know better.

I want my life to be a conversation, not a monologue.

I’m giving myself a fresh start, living in the white space.

On the Gift of Solitude

In person I seem outgoing– and I can be extroverted at times. I work in sales! I have to be.

But when it comes down to it, I’m a very introspective person who enjoys solitude as well.

Maybe that’s why I adore driving so much. I used to constantly rock out to music in my car– I’ve never been a talk radio fan. I’ve had my share of phone conversations while driving, not gonna lie. But I find myself doing it so much less often these days.

Lately, I’m really enjoying the beauty of silence while I drive.

And I’m usually alone, or only have one person at a time in my car. Once in awhile I have two or three passengers–but rarely. I prefer to hang out with people one-on-one. That’s for practical reasons as well, since with my hearing-loss even small groups of three can be exhausting when trying to keep up with conversation.

But I wonder, how do mothers do it? I see mothers driving with their cars or SUV’s full of children, and am flabbergasted. How do they concentrate? It seems like one of the most dangerous things you can do. And on top of having to drive defensively, they are mediating sibling arguments and worrying about the safety of all the occupants of the car– are they wearing seat belts? Are the doors locked securely? What if one of the kids is crying or an older child is angry?

There must be special angels for mothers, because I’m in awe of how they somehow deal with all that distraction and navigate traffic simultaneously. What is it like to have your entire existence devoted to the safety and care of others, to the point where you sometimes don’t have time for your own basic needs?

As a single woman, I don’t know if children are part of my future. I’d feel honored to take on that role, but I admit it’s quite intimidating. I imagine every parent questions themselves– do they have what it takes to provide, to overcome their insecurities and be a role model?

But right now, I feel grateful for this time alone. I realize that although periodically lonely,  most people never enjoy the amount of quiet and time alone that I’ve been given in my life. Either they grow up with siblings, always trying to claim space and time of their own, or they spend most of their lives sharing space with others. Some people move directly from home to college roommates or in with a spouse, and then they have children.

They’ve never had their own space, they’ve forgotten long ago what it’s like to have quiet.

Someday I will gladly share my life with a man who wants to be in it.  And I don’t assume I’ll have children when I’m not even in a relationship, because that’s a decision you make as a couple. But right now, the calm is nice. All things come in their own time.

And this has been Deep Thoughts, with Amee Bohrer. Hee.