Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Rescue Mission

For those of you who are keeping track, I did actually write down a few of my mental blogs this week.

Thursday: "This morning's coffee tastes remarkably like Honey Nut Cheerios. I honestly can't think of anything better."

Friday: "I have a love/hate relationship with freshness seals, especially on peanut butter jars. While they protect my precious peanut butter from the germs and the outside world, they also prevent me from getting to it when I want it. I actually have to fight past the safety measures in order to get my goods."

Saturday: "Did Mayberry ever really exist? Like, did that lifestyle ever really take place, or was it just an idea that was captured on TV to make us long for it?"

Sunday: "Hollywood strikes again. They just don't get it. And we wonder why gender confusion is such a problem."

This final one I will explain.

So, I've been very vocal about how it's okay for women to want to be rescued. We were designed by God to feel that way! Not to say that we aren't strong, but we are strong in far different ways than men. And we are not created to battle in the same ways they are.

This week, I saw a preview for the upcoming movie Snow White and the Seven Huntsman. Everything in me wanted to scream. "SNOW WHITE??? You're messing with Snow White??? You've gone too far, Hollywood."

This is Snow White we're talking about! The high-pitched, sweet-as-sugar young woman who is the fairest of them all. The one who loves and cares for the ones who provide for her. The one who gets to be rescued by the prince on the white horse. (Who, by the way, needs to do that in order to fulfill his calling as a man.) Snow White!!

Now Hollywood has turned her into an action figure. This is insane. They already did it with Cinderella with "Ever After." And you can't find a new Disney movie that doesn't involve a woman saving a man's life through force if you tried for hours. There's even a new one coming out this summer that has a girl with a bow and arrow on all the movie posters getting ready to save the world.

Fine. Whatev. You'll excuse me, however, if I choose not to stand in line for a ticket.

It makes me a little sad. Obviously the women of Hollywood don't know and can't embrace the dream of being rescued. And the men are so lost as to how to do it that they've given over the role to us. It's heartbreaking.

For a long time I fought to be this woman. This kind of strong, physically capable, tough-as-nails woman who could rescue herself and keep up with any man. If you've paid attention to my blog, you've read posts about that. It's not that I wanted to be a man. NO way! But I was trying to take on their level of strength and capability when I had no idea that it wasn't my calling. It led me into such a desperate situation that my world truly crumbled around me.

Thank God. You know why? Because now I get to be TRULY rescued the way a woman was designed to be.

The Lord longs to rescue His daughters. He knows their needs and created them to need protection and security. Ultimately He wants to provide this, but He will, many times, use other people to do it.

This week, I was rescued. Truthfully, I've been being rescued ever since I first met my Mighty Man.

Since we've been together, MM and I have been through our share of issues, and each one has taught us a new and wonderul lesson. We've learned to see and experience Christ in deeper ways and have learned that it's so important to remain connected to Him in order to have a healthy relationship. But this week it went to a whole new level.

I won't give you details. They're not for the internet world to know. But what I will tell you is that our relationship was challenged. I myself was put in a compromising position (to say the least). And our entire upcoming marriage was put on the line. It was the most painful, difficult series of days that we've experienced so far.

Praise God. Because this finally put me face to face with the reality of my desperate need for being rescued. And it showed me the kind of man I get to trust for the rest of my life. The Mighty Man stepped up without hesitation. I've seen glimpses of this in him before, but this was like going from triple A to the Majors. And my man hit a grand slam in his first at bat.

As I faced the reality of my own brokenness and inability in certain areas, MM took over. He stood up and fought for his princess and did what needed to be done. ANYTHING that needed to be done. He refused to sit by and watch me be hurt, confused and scared. He rescued me. And he continues his fight today.

Ladies, if you don't know what this is like, I pray that God will bless you with the experience. He created men to fight for us in ways that we can't and shouldn't fight for ourselves. Whether Hollywood tells you that or not, it's the truth. And when it happens, it not only makes you love these men more and more, but also helps you draw so much nearer to Christ as you witness what He provides in your time of need.

I've been and am being rescued by two Mighty Men: my Father and my MM himself. And I know that they're working together. And if there's anything I can say to you today, it's that it's okay to be rescued, ladies. And men, you don't have to be scared to lead the charge. God has given you everything you need to be victorious in this quest, and He will help you to rescue the girl. You don't have to do it alone. None of us do. He's always with us and will never leave.

Love and hugs to you all!
- Jill

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mental Blogging

One of the funny things about being a writer is that I think in writing language. I'll see or experience something and immediately I'll start a train of thought begins as if I'm writing the opening line of a blog or article. Sometimes, if the thought is really profound, I might even start a book going in my head. :)

Take the other day for example. I ran out of paper towels, and I immediately started a blog in my head that began with, "I'm constantly amazed whenever I run out of paper towels. Every time I replace a roll, I subconsciously expect that the new roll will last forever and that I've seen the last of the empty cardboard..." Then, throughout the day, I added onto this little blurb in my head as related events came up. Later, I kept going with, "...It's the same with toilet paper, hand soap dispensers and laundry. They just feel like they should be one-and-done chores, yet they pop up every few days like annoying weeds that will never stop invading a flower bed."

Isn't that funny? I've heard that people do that with Facebook posts, too. They'll constantly think in terms of status updates. But I've often wondered what I should do with this. Should I keep a notebook handy and record all of the random sentences that my brain authors in a day? That would be an interesting experiment. Ha! Might be kind of scary, too. :)

Depending on the situation, some of these opening lines are serious, but they all have one thing in common: They all are written (or thought) with the goal of capturing the attention of a make-believe audience. With each one, I'm thinking up sentences that would ultimately engage a reader and spark their interest to keep reading. In fact, I bet if there was a market for a book of openening lines I could write a bestseller. But because I'm usually not around a notepad or computer, most of these thoughts come and go without landing. Even now I'm trying to think of more examples but I'm drawing a blank, which is disappointing because if I could just get them out into the world, I would love to know if anyone else thinks the same way. Like with the paper towel thing. Does anyone else ever think that? Is anyone else ever literally surprised when the roll of paper towels doesn't last forever?

Oh! Okay, here's another one. So, the other day I was putting a spoonful of peanut butter in my mouth when I started a mind blog: "There are only two condiments in this world that make any dish better: peanut butter and cream cheese. You can add them to both savory and sweet dishes, and they will make it taste a hundred times better." Does anyone think that? Not that it's a life-changing question, but I'd be interested to hear someone else's thoughts on peanut butter. :)

And, today, as I opened my door to head out for a run, I paused to pick up the newspaper. As I tossed it inside, my mind began to write. "Every Sunday morning feels a little like Christmas. I come down the stairs to find the most perfectly wrapped gift waiting on my doorstep begging me to open it and discover the prize inside."

I've always known I was a writer. Words are my joy, and I live to craft, develop, design and play with them. I especially love finding new ways to say old things, and I get seriously hacked when words are misused, mistreated or, worse yet, disrespected--something that has basically become a national pastime. And it absolutely kills me that it's become acceptable to use this kind of improper, substandard language.

One of the things I've learned through the past few months of freelancing is that people just don't care as much about quality anymore. Through my work writing content for an online marketing company, I've spent a lot of time reading business websites and doing research, and, man, people will just put anything out there in order to fill up space quickly. If you want to find quality writing, you have to deliberately go to a writing-based source like a national magazine or newspaper, otherwise you'll just start swimming through a pool of overused phrases, stale cliches and filler text. It's sad.

I think all of this is boiling down to two points for me:
1. That I want to start writing down my mind blogs to see if any of them turn into material of substance.
2. That this whole thing is reminding me of excellence. The world may not value quality over quantity anymore, but the good thing is that this makes the quality goods stand out. And that's what I'm hoping will happen for me as I continue to pursue writing and editing--that the quality of my work will be what sets me apart and generates business. Because at the end of the day (mentally noted that I used a cliche), excellence is a great way to bring glory to Christ, which is what I believe is the purpose of life in general, be that through work or whatever we do.

While I was at FCA, one of the most popular verses that we would quote was Colossians 3:23-24: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." It makes me think about my Mighty Man who, even though he's been super busy, poured his soul into crafting a soul-stirring sermon for this morning instead of recycling something he's done before. I think about my future brother-in-law who pours his heart into leading worship at our church every Sunday because God has gifted him to sing and play. (Side note: Way to go to both King AND Queen Biz today for rocking it out!) And I think of my mom's cleaning lady who actively looks for projects to complete around the house even if they aren't part of her official list of chores. I'm inspired by people who do what they do with excellence instead of cutting corners. It makes me want to do the same.

Today, as I share my quirky writer's mind with you all, I hope that the Lord stirs something in you about what you do and how you use your gifts and passions to reveal Him. Consider how you use your skills and whether or not you are really putting them to use with quality. If so, how does that reveal Christ to the world around you? And, if you, like me, experience personal shock when you pull the last paper towel from the roll, would you let me know? Just curious...

Have a wonderful week, everyone! :)
- Jill

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Solid Dose of Reality

My poor fiance. . . I have really been a challenge for the last week. He really is a trooper, and I just need to say thanks to him right now for being such a great encourager to me tonight. Love you, Mighty Man! :)

So, a couple of months ago, I made the big decision to leave my full-time job and start doing independent editing and writing work. It was a step that both me and the MM believe was the right one according to the Lord's leading, and I still feel that confirmation today. While I miss my FCA family, I know this is where I'm supposed to be.

However, as with all major changes in life, I've stumbled across a new crop of challenges as a result. There have been a few obvious ones such as where my little independent self will get her next paycheck, but there also have been a few issues that I didn't expect. One major one? The blow I would get to my pride.

When I launched out into this world of independent editing and writing, I was all fired up to do what I felt I was created to do: edit the work of others, making it clear and sharp, while also writing my own projects on the side. Easy enough, right? Of course! There was plenty of market for it, and I had tons of experience! Who wouldn't want me to write for them or edit their materials?

Now, before you think I'm absolutely desperate, I will say that the Lord has so graciously provided some contract writing projects that I'm enjoying. Through a few connections, I've been able to stay busy by writing web content and helping small business owners get great text for their online projects. I really love serving them in that way, and it's been a blast.

However, when it has come to the area of editing and writing major projects like books--which is really what I eventually want to do--I've hit a few speed bumps. I sent out resumes and emails to some of the publishers that I was connected to through FCA thinking that my credentials would get me in the door, only to be informed that no one needs editors right now. Not even experts like THE Jill Ewert.

Seriously. That's how I felt! Until this week, I totally thought I was serious business! I didn't realize it, but I totally found myself thinking, "Come on! I was the magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes! I interviewed Tony Dungy, Albert Pujols and Drew Brees for crying out loud. Doesn't anybody know this about me? I'm legit!"

Oh, sister. Take a good look in the mirror and get real.

Honestly, it was almost more humbling to realize my depth of pride than to be rejected by the publishers. I couldn't believe how highly I thought of myself and how much gratification I had gotten from my career. Now I'm realizing that just like everything else it can all change in a day. And that I'm just human.

So, over the past few days and hours, I've learned a little something. While it's good to recognize your own gifts and skills and work to maximize them, it's important to know that they don't define you. God gives you worth and value based on the fact that you are His child. Period. The gifts He gives you are to be used to bring Him glory, not to bring you false identity. If we lose perspective on that, we'll wind up depressed and discouraged when these gifts are challenged by life circumstances. And, trust me, they will be.

I think God does that on purpose so that we won't get too big for our britches and, instead, will keep Him in mind as the Giver of these gifts. It's not that He wants to level us, but that He wants to protect us from false self-sufficiency. When we start worshipping our gifts and talents (and really ourselves), we forget that we need Him at all. Then, when life throws us one of its inevitable curveballs, we get crushed emotionally and mentally by the loss of our security and identity.

The truth and reality is that God is IT. He's the only thing that doesn't change, won't let us down and remains totally and completely constant. Our jobs won't last forever. Our health will come and go. Our relationships will hit highs and lows. But God and His love will remain the same no matter what. And never are we more able to see this than when our false sources of identity are challenged. Thank God.

Today, as I snack on my humble pie, I'm trying to focus on the positives of this whole thing. Thank God that He showed me my false identity and my pride. Otherwise, I would have continued to believe the lie that my gifts and career somehow gave me value. I'm sure I'll still struggle with it as seasons change, but at least for now I'm aware of His truth and love in a greater way. Thanks, Lord.

Have a great week, y'all! :)
- Jill