Sunday, May 14, 2017

This Lady: Mine

My name is Nathan. I am a feminist.

There. I said it.

But feminism may not be what you think it is. It's not about man-bashing to make women stronger; it's about acknowledging and appreciating the strength women already have. Or, at least, thats what I read on a really cool meme once... Either way, God has enriched my life with some incredible women. Their immeasurable and often unacknowledged influence has shaped who I am and aspire to be.

In honor and appreciation of these women, and of all women who breathe life into those around them, I'm writing a series of posts called "This Lady." I hope to inspire a few moments of mindful gratitude to whomever stumbles across my virtual chicken scratches.

So, for the second installment of this series, allow me to introduce you to <insert drum roll here> my wife!

Is she hot? Hella.
Is she my glue? Absolutely!

But rather than describe her beauty or her uncanny ability to coral this man-child she calls husband (I'm still convinced she accepted my proposal as an act of charity), I want to take just a second to acknowledge who she is beyond her role as my wife.

This woman is BOSS. She's built her career as a stylist with excellent skill and service, impeccable business savvy, and an upstanding character. Her success and reviews speak for themselves, but she does much more than just make people feel pretty. Each year for Christmas and her birthday, the cards and gifts pour in and make a tangible statement for the impact she has. If you need someone in your corner - whether you're suffering a loss or rejoicing for an answered prayer - she's your woman. She is with you in the moment, ready to call you "Darlin'," hand you a glass of wine, and have a good chat. But if you come to her with a problem, don't just expect head-nods and "uh hum"s. She's a problem solver, passionate to help others stuck in a rut.

She is strong and grounded in faith, and about as genuine as it gets. As an animal advocate, champion for women's rights, ferociously loving and fiercely loyal; there's a lot to be said about her - too much for just one short post.

She is so many things. But with much love, and certainly most archaically, I'm glad to call her mine.

Read the 1st Installment HERE.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

This Lady: The First Lady

My name is Nathan. I am a feminist.

There. I said it.

But feminism may not be what you think it is. It's not about man-bashing to make women stronger; it's about acknowledging and appreciating the strength women already have. Or, at least, thats what I read on a really cool meme once... Either way, God has enriched my life with some incredible women. Their immeasurable and often unacknowledged influence has shaped who I am and aspire to be.

In honor and appreciation of these women, and of all women who breathe life into those around them, I'm writing a series of posts called "This Lady." I hope to inspire a few moments of mindful gratitude to whomever stumbles across my virtual chicken scratches.

It only seems fitting to start this series with the lady who birthed these ridiculous shoulders - the lady that taught me how walk and talk, the lady that loved me when I wasn't much more than a lumpy blob that pooped and cried a lot.

The first lady. My mother.

Compassion is her greatest strength. Often to her expense, she loves and gives without condition. She's too humble to know it, but she's the kind of role model I want to be for the kids I work with. Her faith inspires me, and her quiet wisdom continues to serve as a guide. She embodies much of how scripture depicts living and loving like Jesus; bold in mercy and grace. In her strength, she has helped me find my own.

This lady - the first lady - is more of a blessing than she'll ever know.

Read the 2nd installment HERE.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

tattoo #3 - momentum

An arrow draws from the tension of the bowstring to launch forward. Likewise, our circumstances, both past and present, positive and negative, can be used to direct and prepare us for our journey. That's why the overall design of my newest tattoo that I just got last fall resembles an arrow, as a reminder that tensions in life can serve as momentum to move forward. God redeems all things, including our experiences. Each moment is a gift, and where we have BEEN equips us for where we ARE; here and now. 

In the center of the image, there are fragments of a compass and a clock, symbolizing the importance of mindfulness in the moment, being present, and making the most of divine appointments. The experiences that led us to this moment also prepared us for it; if it's to weather a storm or to be a haven for someone else in the midst of a tempest. 

As a nod to my wife Kimberly, born on March 18th, the clock is set to 3:18. Time shared with her is a blessing, and my life is so much more fulfilling with her in it. The head of the arrow is a lion, symbolizing Christ and resurrection, as well as strength and courage. The arrow shaft is the coordinates to my parents' farm in IN, where they raised me and still live today. The value of compassion they instilled in me remains as a guide. 

Lastly, the overall design is in honor and gratitude of our dear friend, Marva Diana Rhea. She was a gift to us, and I have very distinct memories of her encouraging me in my work with at-risk youth. Although already in the field, her untimely death led me to dig my heels in and strive to make a greater impact. Losing her to domestic violence is a difficult memory, but it's integral to where I am today. One common interest Marva and I shared was mythology. We had a conversation once about the Roman goddess Diana, and Marva loved that her middle name was that of a goddess known for her wisdom and strength. As goddess of the hunt, bows and arrows were often used on coins and in temples to represent Diana. Likewise, I've chosen to honor Marva with an arrow because of how she influenced the direction of my life and the momentum her memory gives me.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

a little something extra

I remember it clearly; hustling down the halls of my school as a kid, carefully managing my every move. I had to get from point A to point B quickly enough to stay off the radar, while somehow moving slow enough to avoid drawing attention to myself. The pit in my stomach and thumping in my chest were undetectable to most. Many would've seen me as reserved and aloof. The truth is, if I could've just faded into the shadows, I would have.

Thousands of miles and more years than I'd like to admit now separate me from those halls, but I've never really shook the habit of hiding. The jeers and jabs that echoed down the corridors of what should've been a safe place still echo in my mind. Fading into the shadows continues to appeal to me occasionally.

But something amazing has happened. God blessed me with an incredible wife who has been a safe haven for over half my life now. She loves me wholeheartedly and pushes me out of hiding daily. She's a beacon of light and has walked alongside me as God leads me closer and closer to a place of healing; and within that place, I've found a little something extra.

Somewhat recently, several new people have come into my life. I've had great friendships with some really good folks throughout my adult years - but theres just something timely and unique about this particular convergence. Like a mid-2000's sitcom about a group of unrealistically diverse characters, we span the whole gamut; no two of us are quite alike. Our truest commonality is the commitment we all share in our work with at-risk youth. 

These people embody many of the things I value. They live in gratitude and joy, warmth and kindness. They are intentional and sincere, and live in the here-and-now with appreciation for the wonder of life. In this community we share, and with the ferocity of my wife's love, I rediscover what it means to be me.

Whether we're processing the burden of our work, sharing an adventure, or taste testing new and exciting tequilas, the energy is always electric. Those echoing halls from years ago seem more like a nearly forgotten dream. The urge to hide and be lesser-than dissipates and a weight falls from my shoulders, freeing me to be not just myself, but a little something extra.