Had I been braver I would have just cried
I would have dropped my shoulders, I would have unclenched my fists
I would have just cried
Had I been braver I would have lain down my sword
I would have stopped stabbing you with words flung with flames from my mouth
Had I only been braver

Were I braver I would find some sort of middle ground between apathetic complacency and completely falling apart overwhelmed
Were I braver I would dive into the words that heal, the words that lift instead of diving into a bottomless pit of self loathing and despair
Were I braver I would reach out for you, for your shoulders to lean on and your hands to help me up instead of reaching for another cookie, chip, brownie, swiss cake roll.
Were I only braver

Brave is really hard. It's what makes it so brave.


Never Saw it Coming

This popped up in my google reader sometime in the last few days (which have been CAHRAZY). I wanted to share it with you all. Because more often then not I'm ready with a list of girls much more capable than I just like Amy Beth said at the end of her post.

I haven’t mentioned the crisis in Haiti on the blog but, if you’re my friend on Facebook, you may have seen me post various statuses over the past few days about the unfolding horror that is happening with orphans in Haiti. The suffering isn’t just limited to orphans, of course; it’s reaching across the island and into the lives of each person residing there. The scope of the tragedy is almost too much for any of us to grasp, but when you start considering the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of children left with no parent to provide for their needs… well, it becomes nearly unbearable. Which is exactly why I want to bare my heart with you tonight.
– — –
Before I went to Garbage City in Egypt and saw poverty-stricken children up
, I honestly hadn’t given much thought to orphans before. I had several close friends in college who spent their holidays volunteering in orphanages throughout foreign nations, but I never went, mainly because I didn’t have that same desire. I was in the middle of running our ministry for girls here in the States and, on more than one occasion, mentioned to friends how I was glad God called me to the jungles of middle schools rather than the jungles of Africa.
So, naturally, He sent me to Africa last summer.
– — –
When you’re standing in an orphanage staring at a room full of cribs, it’s easy to vow that you will do something — something — about what you’ve seen. But, for many people, the fulfillment of that vow will never come. Emotions and feelings fade when the need isn’t staring at you; it’s just, unfortunately, human nature. Sometimes we forget what we’ve seen. My problem is that I can’t forget.
– — –
I knew I had a problem on my hands by the time I got back on the tour bus after leaving the orphanage. I walked to the back of the bus and took the very last seat, putting my backpack beside me in hopes that no one would want to sit next to me and talk. I sat there, staring at the street full of garbage and knowing that life
had, on that day, changed for me. They took us back to our flats so we could shower before catching the 8:35 p.m. train out of Cairo
. I can’t explain to you what a defining night that was for me, other than to tell you that as the train rolled along, I knew nothing would be the same for me. It was confusing and yet clear at the same time; I would, somehow, be connected to orphans. Whether I wanted to be or not.
– — –
I have no idea why God has put the plight of orphans in my heart but let me assure you that it is not because I have asked for Him to do this. I imagine that I know a little about what Moses must have felt like when God asked him to speak knowing that he had a stuttering problem. It’s the kind of situation that makes you want to pull up a chair at God’s conference table so you can explain to Him that He’s accidentally chosen the wrong girl for whatever plan it is that He’s got in mind. In fact, if He’d like, I could make Him a list of girls I know who are far more suited for this calling than I. But sometimes He picks the girl who never saw it coming.

“Had Mary been filled with reason there’d have been no room for the child.”
-Madeleine L’Engle


Freak Out

Let me preface this by saying that there are very few times I have ever had the thought, "I should get married..." (And that there will be a lot of parenthetical asides in this post (and maybe some cursing))(It can be like a drinking game, parenthetical aside? Take a shot!)
But I've been traipsing down a trail of marital longing for the last week.
Why you ask?
Health insurance and money.
I need a rich rich husband so I don't have to be self disciplined or careful about money in any way. (What? I can't be the only one that ever had that thought)

It's interesting to me the way that all of this is coming to a head since I spent most of 2009 telling myself I needed to get on track financially and start sticking to my budget and being better about savings. (Which...unsurprisingly I didn't really do...)
Our health insurance at work is switching to HSA (health savings account) and in addition to the monthly premium of about $120 I will need to save money in a HSA to pay for 100% of my medical costs (except well visits) up to $5000.
Thankfully I work for a pretty great company that is kicking in 1/2 of the deductible so I only have to meet $2500 of that. But as a relatively healthy, single, no dependant person there is no way I will hit that deductible without something catastrophic happening.

I briefly considered opting out of health insurance anyway but a good friend reminded me that as a homeowner I would be just 1 car accident or fall down the stairs away from losing my house...so I came to my senses.

Additionally I have to save money up in a FSA (flex spend) account to pay for some dental work I need to get done and for an eye exam and new contacts (or at the very least glasses). That's another $80ish per paycheck coming out.
I'm flat-ass broke people. I may or may not be completely freaking out and considering getting a THIRD job.

I don't freak out about much (ok I do, but not to this extent). I especially rarely sweat being single at 30 (Thirty flirting and thriving hellllo!). But when it comes to dealing with money and savings and paying all the bills I freak out and want to be married quick quick quick.
(This, if anything, should be a massive sign to those of you on the "Get Bethany Married" train why I should so not be married at the moment).
I mean, people care about my well being, my parents will help me if I just ask (which is the most daunting part) and Sharen will coupon her ass off to help me save at the grocery store. But really, it's on me. If I don't stick to the budget I'm the one that can't pay the bills. If I indulge in to much carryout/delivery then I'm the one that runs out of gas money.
For the most part it's me and only me that worries about paying the mortgage (although I think the mortgage holder is also concerned but in a non-committal type of way)

It just feels really overwhelming and I have cried FIVE TIMES about this. FIVE TIME. (FIVE!)
So I have to start shopping smarter at the grocery, I have to stop shopping in any other way. I need to be better about my gas usage (although I've started to carpool to work so that is fantastic). I have to just batten down the hatches and deal with it.
But really, I just feel like throwing myself on the floor and screaming about how unfair it is.

I don't often feel alone. But when trying to sort through all this insurance, budget, finance stuff I've just been feeling really really alone. Because even if your spouse isn't as engaged in the finances as you are they're at least in the boat with you.
If my boat sinks, I sink by myself. (and now I'm crying while typing this...shit)

Being an adult is hard and I feel like even though there are people that love me and want the best for me and will help me I feel like I'm the only person on my team. If I lose, I lose. The people that love me and want the best for me and will help me still have their own houses, their own teams (spouses), their own budgets to go back to.
It's all very whiny and I know for sure they are suburban white girl issues. That's why I titled this post "Freak Out" instead of "Completely rational line of thought based totally in reality".

This bring the freak out portion of the post to an end. Thank you for participating. Please allow your car to come to a complete stop before you exit.

Finally, I would like to say that I am humbled by the way that God is showing up in this. Especially considering all the tantrums I've been throwing his way lately. I got an email offering me $100 to babysit overnight for some kids that fits my schedule and I'm dog sitting for a week in February. So I know (I know) it will be fine. I just have to make adjustments and keep moving forward. It's just annoying and I'll stop typing there so I don't spin off into another irrational tangent.

ETA: I came home from work tonight and my basement was flooding thanks to a cracked toilet tank. It's will have it's own post later. But Whiskey.Tango.Foxtrot!


Water for Elephants by Sara Grun

The 2nd book I read this year was Water for Elephants
I got this book at a book swap at the end of my last bible study with church. It was very very good.
There's no book jacket blurb so here's a review from Booklist:
Life is good for Jacob Jankowski. He's about to graduate from veterinary school and about to bed the girl of his dreams. Then his parents are killed in a car crash, leaving him in the middle of the Great Depression with no home, no family, and no career. Almost by accident, Jacob joins the circus. There he falls in love with the beautiful performer Marlena, who is married to the circus' psychotic animal trainer. He also meets the other love of his life, Rosie the elephant. This lushly romantic novel travels back in forth in time between Jacob's present day in a nursing home and his adventures in the surprisingly harsh world of 1930s circuses.
This book made me want to go see a circus, and ride a train.
My favorite relationship in the book is the one between Jacob and Walter. So sweet and seemed like a true relationship with an actual arch to it.
:prude alert: There are some racier parts to the book, which I could have done without. But they were pretty far apart so I just pushed through them instead of putting the book down. :prude alert:

Overall I think it's a great book and made me feel all dreamy about life like only a handful of other books have done before.


A Song I Knew by Heart: Bret Lott

I'm reading 52 books in 52 weeks and have 1 book done.
I read A Song I Knew by Heart by Bret Lott
I'd read a book of his many years ago called Jewel (yes yes yes from Oprah's book club...)which was just lovely so I was excited to find this one on the shelf of the Fairfield Public Library.

The jacket description of A Song I Knew by Heart is as follows:
"And Ruth said, 'Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whiter thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.'" Ruth 1:16

During a cold Massachusetts winter, a man's car fatally skids on black ice, leaving a mother childless and her daughter-in-law a widow. Naomi and Ruth, bound together as kin, are now each other's only comfort. Naomi lost her own husband, Eli, eight years ago, and now she has lost her son.
Watching Ruth struggle through grief, Naomi suddenly realizes what she must do to make herself whole again: She must return to her childhood home in coastal South Caroline. There, she remembers, was the innocence of youth and first falling in love. But when she tells Ruth about her plan, she receives an unexpected reply: "Were you go, I will go. Where you live, that's where I'll live too." So the two women plan the journey together.
The only family Naomi has down South are in-laws, people she hasn't seen in decades, having kept in touch over the years only through annual Christmas cards. But when she phones, apprehensively, to tell them of her plan, they welcome her with openness and warmth. Arriving at a home full of sons and daughters and grandchildren, Naomi and Ruth are flooded with a love they are nearly too fragile to accept.
Yet Naomi carries a deep secret in her soul- and not even this change of scenery can erase its dark shadow. As the long Southern days seep into their hearts, both she and Ruth begin to find themselves reawakened. And as the love of her new found family and her enduring bong with Ruth prove themselves stronger than sin, stronger than heartache, redemption finds Naomi once and for all.

One of the biggest things I took away from this book is how heavy undeserved grace and forgiveness can be when you refuse to accept it and when you feel so brittle from years of holding on to secrets and shame.
It was sad and happy, soft and hard, bitter and sweet at the same time. Very good. It also made me want to go to South Carolina.
Yet this news should have been joy. It should have been joy, this forgiveness.
This should have been joy.
But I did not know what to do with this forgiveness, did not know where to place it, or where to hide from it, or how to hold it.


52 in 52

I decided I really wanted to read more this year. I read a lot, but it's all sort of disjointed and a lot of it is unfinished.
So my goal is to read 52 books during 2010.
Book 1 is already done.
I went to the library with my seester and nephew on Saturday and checked out:
A Song I Knew by Heart by Bret Lott
Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Geometry Sisters by Luanne Rice

Other fiction in the queue:
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Suite Francais by Irene Nemirovsky

I'll also be adding in quite a few non-fiction books too, but after a few years of living in non-fiction I'm really enjoying fiction again.
I also have quite possibly 52 books at home that I've not read yet that I've bought myself, inherited from people I love and just found a long the way. But that won't stop me from going to the library! However I am not allowed to buy new books at all. I don't have the money and it's just silly to buy books where there are lovely libraries all around my house.

So that's my challenge! 52 in 52 and beyond.


The dead in me

I've been feeling very heavy of late. Weighed down and pushed around. I've been feeling very alone and adrift away from God. Most of it is probably the way I've been feeling chronically sick since pretty much Thanksgiving. Some of it is winter, and the way the darkness seeps into the darkest places of my heart and settles in for the long haul.
Some of it is old news. Old wrestling matches with demons that I've been slaying again and again since I fell in love with Jesus almost seven years ago.

But I'm realizing that this heavy feeling, this weighed down feeling almost always precedes an intense period of closeness to God. A period of renewal and growth. I can't figure out the swing of this, and I'm not sure I'm meant to.

I was pruning this potted plant I have. Some dear friends gave it to me over a year ago as a housewarming gift. It's the first potted plant I have ever kept alive this long. Ever. Bobbie told me the trick is to not over water it or under water it of course, but she also told me to prune it. To pull the dead leaves off. Because the plant will naturally focus all of it's nutrients and attention towards the dying leaves and even the dead parts to try to bring them back to life. But what ends up happening is the rest of the plant also begins to die because the viable leaves, the parts that could make it are being deprived of the nutrients they need.

Often when I'm stuck in the mire of this dark before the dawn I feel the need to pick and poke. To spend a lot of my time sitting and thinking about the depression, the anger, the hurt to get it out of my system. My m.o. has been to pay the darkness some attention in hopes of seeing it through to the end and getting on with the business of living.
But what ends up happening is the tentacles of darkness reach into my heart and grab on with a strength I am always surprised by. Oh, I need to address the demons and take them to the foot of the cross, but I also need to not pay them more attention then I ought.
It's a tension I'm not used to living in. A fine line I haven't yet learned to walk. But I'm beginning to see more clearly a kind of balance that is sustainable and livable.
As I'm seeing that balance I'm beginning to see that there is someone else that is coming along to prune the dead from me. Someone else that is removing that which is stealing the nutrients from the living parts of me. Someone that is raising the dead in me.

I want to see miracles, see the world change
Wrestled the angel, for more than a name
For more than a feeling
For more than a cause
I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
And You're raising the dead in me -24 Hours Switchfoot


I can stay hidden

Hidden like the secrets I kept, the ugly truth I never spoke
I can choose to not speak, not share.
Withheld, withholding.
I can cross my arms and hold it all in tight to my heart. Growing cold even when bundled under the thickest coat.

I can stay hidden up in my head, lost in the memories of hurt, rejection, despair and longing to belong. I can unfocus my brain and let the world around me go fuzzy, out of focus. Held back and hidden.
I get lost up there sometimes. Forgetting the whispers of hope woven in and out of those memories.

I feel paralyzed. Hoping that if I only stay still enough, detached and calm enough that whatever it is that is paralyzing my will pass on. So I freeze. Often slowly, but occasionally all at once; freeze my heart, my thoughts, my head and actions. Waiting for the paralysis to pass.

But I'm beginning to realize, that freezing is what ends up causing the most damage. Freezing is what causes me to begin to sink. I confuse being still with freezing. I wallow instead walking on.



Like a hand reaching out of the shadows. Lurking, lurching.
It's dark shadow looming over my heart. Squeezing, crushing. Freezing it solid.

Wondering when it will hit. The grief, the sorrow.
Wondering how long the barricades will hold.

I harden my heart. I work dilligently to not smooth the callouses of time spent dodging and dancing away from the pain.
I've become very proficient at avoiding.

Is it overwhelming? Shut down.
Is is hard? Don't even try.
Is it scary? Squeeze shut your eyes.
Is it intense? Dramatic? Turn and calmly walk the other way.

So much time spent avoiding, deflecting, sticking my head in the sand.
My mouth is so dry. My heart so thirsty from swallowing the sand I'm hiding in.

The steps to water so clear. The path so easily travelled still lies untouched.
Fear. Hate. Loathing. Laziness. Fear.
Fear that I've become so numb. Fear that I've lost sight of hope and am clinging only to cope.



I started being intentional about my weight loss a few months ago. I lost 10 pounds almost right away and then nothing. I was losing inches because my pants were getting bigger but the scale wasn't moving.

Then tonight. I weighed in before my first workout with FT in 3 weeks (after which I puked and couldn't even drive for awhile) and was down SEVEN pounds. SEVEN. Since before Christmas. Which means I was losing weight OVER THE HOLIDAYS.

So encouraging.

In summary, I have lost 17lbs since October. Only 80lbs to go!



In 2003 I made a New Years Resolution to never make another New Years Resolution again. I've kept it every year since. But I think I might break it this year.
2009 was a pretty big year for me. But we've already covered that.

I'm thinking that I would like to make a few resolutions for 2010. I want to say that I will accomplish them; but I have a history with not following through on things in my personal life so I'm scared. I want to be upbeat and positive, I want to totally believe in myself. But I'm not, I don't. But here are the things that I'm going to try to do this year:

  • Savings
I have been pretty good at staying out of debt. With the exception of my mortgage and student loans I have $0 in debt. I have no credit cards except for my bank card that comes right from my checking account. But I absolutely suck at saving money. I suck at it big time. If I have a quarter I'll find a gumball machine that I need a gumball from. The only time I'm good at savings is when I'm imminently under pressure to have the money to pay for something (a trip, taxes, tires etc.). But mostly what happens is I don't pay something that month and make up for it the next month.
This is a system that for the lack of a better phrase that has served me well for the last almost 6 years (which is when I paid off all my credit card, car loan etc. debt).
But owning a house has gotten me a little scared straight. More to the point, property taxes that I have to save up for because I don't escrow them and being legally responsible for an expensive asset have scared me straight. I hate feeling like I'm missing out on something because I don't want to or can't spend the money on something, but I'm learning to realize that I'm not really missing out on anything, there are ways around it or a way to just not feel like I'm missing out.
So for 2010 I'm going to save money. $50 a month at first, building it by $5 a week after that if possible. Even if it's not much I have to start somewhere. I can't wait until I have $700 to put in a savings account to start saving, I just need to start somewhere.
Extra money that I make through working at the book store and dogsitting will go straight to savings. 100% of it.

  • Budget
Part of the savings plan has GOT to be getting back on budget. I have a budget, but I'm a little loosey goosey when I stick to it (if I stick to it). Clearly whatever is going on with that budget is not working for me. So I'm going to sit down tomorrow and but it all in line. What I owe to whom (who?) when and what I earn from who when and how to make it work out. I am a single person with no debt and an excellent full time job and many part time gigs on the side. There is NO reason it should be this hard. The only person that is screwing up this equation is me. So I'm going to try to pull myself up by my boot straps and just get it worked out. So if I'm grumpy...blame the budget. Money and I are climbing in a cage and I'm not getting out until I've beaten it into submission.

  • Weight/Working Out
Please don't look at me while I discuss this. My weight is ridiculous. It's out of control, I'm out of control. I hired a trainer that I work out with once a week. But I have to face that I'm not really working that hard at it. I'm doing just enough until it gets hard and inconvenient and then I just half-ass it to get by. It's the pattern of my personal life. Because I don't believe I'm worth the effort.
I can't afford to work out with FT anymore than once a week because he's really freakin expensive. But I am going to be better about going to the gym 3 times a week no matter what. I will be saying no or not now to a lot of things that I love doing so I can go get better so I can keep doing them for a long time. Monday Mornings, Tuesday Evenings, Wednesday Evenings for sure. Depending on my part time gigs Friday night or Saturday during the day as well. You can ask me about these. Make me tell you. I might need you to not make eye contact with me while we talk about it, the shame is really palpable. But please ask me if I went to the gym and if I say no call me on my shit. If I start to cry, that would be the sign that you need to be a little nicer about it though...I'm really ashamed in this area and might throw up with the realization that more than 1 or 2 of you read this.

  • Weight/Nutrition
This is the hardest. I really love food that is terrible. I will not eat fish. Stop telling me I should. I'm starting small and working my way up from there.
  1. No food from a building with a drive thru attached
  2. Only eat out (at a non-drive thru building) once a week.
  3. No soda. At all.
  4. Candy, cookies, sweets of that sort 3 times a week total. Quantity those 3 times not to exceed 150 calories.
That's the best I can do right now I think. Nutrition is really hard for me. I can't figure out why I can't get it and I feel pretty stupid as a result. If you see me drinking a soda please physically remove it from my hand. If you see drive thru wrappers around me ask me about them. Again, eye contact may have to be severed for awhile, but please push me on it. I'm very sneaky.

I'm hoping to have lost 40 pounds by the end of 2010. That should be easy, no problem. But I'm terrified of being a failure so that's the goal I'm setting.

There you go. My ridiculously terrifying list of goals for 2010. Promise you'll help? I'll need all I can get.