Jamie The Very Worst Missionary

Syndicate content
inappropriate remarks, embarrassing antics, and generally lame observations from an American Missionary.
Updated: 17 min 19 sec ago

When we are all Priests and Levites.

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 21:29
On Friday, the world fell to its knees in sorrow as the media brought us the horrible aftermath of a coordinated, multi-site, terrorist attack on Paris. The outpouring of love and support was swift as status updates declared our collective heartbreak, Instagram became a sea of candle lit prayer and Eiffel tower peace signs, and the French flag graced profile pics far and wide.
The loss of life was terrible, indeed, but it seemed terror itself would not prevail. In the hours following those bloody events, I started to believe the world could not be terrorized by a handful of men with guns. Global citizens stood together in a strong and united front to give wannabe terrorists the finger; We will weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn, you assholes. But we will not be terrified. Not by you. 
Because you're cool. And because you're not a refugee.
But then we learned some of those men with guns entered the city hidden in a stream of Syrian refugees, like parasites riding on the backs of the innocent, and the attack on Paris that appeared to be over swelled to unleash a second, far more powerful wave of terror upon the world.
Governments across the globe have been forced to reevaluate how to handle the mass of Syrian refugees seeking safety and asylum from the very men who may be hiding amongst them. Opening borders to millions of families forced to flee their homes under conditions of indescribable violence and prolonged starvation has become much more than a huge social and economic burden for the countries and communities willing to offer sanctuary to the displaced. Bundled babies and their exhausted Mamas have been contaminated by their mere proximity to danger, while young men and their desperate fathers have more potential to be active carriers of Hate.
The question is, do we let them in?
The concern is legitimate. It's real. This happened. And whether you like it or not, every governing body has an obligation, first and foremost, to its own citizens, their economy, and their security. The risk must be assessed. Parameters must be set. Systems must be enforced.
But refugees must not be ignored. Not by the Government, and most assuredly not by the Church.
Far from the compassion and mercy we displayed on Friday, on Monday an embarrassing number of American Christians took to social media to yank the Welcome mat out from under the battered men, women, and children at our doorstep. Fear for our property, our lives, our kids, our faith; fear, fear, fear decrees we MUST NOT take in any of those people. Because what if. What if. There are so many “what ifs” to be considered, but they all boil down to the same thing:
What if I try to help them and something bad happens to me?
And, honestly? That fear? It resonates in my heart. I am afraid.
I wantto Love others. I wantto serve and give and help. I want to meet felt needs. That's truly the kind of human I want to be, and I believe it's the kind of Christian I am called to be. But, before I help you, I am forever counting the cost to me. I really do wantto help the orphan, the widow, the refugee... but I don't really want it to cost me very much. Actually, I don't want it to cost me anything. So in the face of a humanitarian crisis, I'm tempted to say bullshitty things like, “We don't have to take them in to help them.” And “We can still love them from a distance.” And “We can't be expected to help everyone.” And, I don't know, some other bullshit about a dog bowl full of poisoned grapes, or something.
But Jesus, you guys. I swear. Jesus effs up all my best plans.
In times of confusion, I turn to bourbon the Bible for guidance, but when I cracked that sucker on Monday to cherry pick it for verses supporting my fears, Jesus totally got in my way. He is alwaysdoing this to me. I was trying to find that story where Jacob (or somebody. I can't remember) plays nice with another clan (or whatever it's called) until they're all super chummy, and then he's like “Hey, I have an idea! You guys should totally let us chop off your foreskins. All the cool kids are doing it.” So they do. And then, while their new 'friends' can't fight back because their wieners are sore, Jacob (and his sons?) kill them all. And the point is, you just can't be too careful when it comes to your life. Or your wiener.
Instead, I landed here...

Terror turns us into priests and Levites. 
Fear will always lead us to the other side of the road, away from the one in need, because fear convinces us that to stop and help is too costly and too dirty and too dangerous. 
So do we let them in, Church?
It's true, if we open our borders, doors, homes, and hearts to Syrian refugees (or homeless vets, or foster kids, or recovering addicts, or poor people of any kind), there is a chance that we will unwittingly show love to our enemies. We may even end up getting hurt. But if we choose to avoid our neighbors and ignore their dire circumstances, then maybe it doesn't really matter if a handful of terrorists sneak in to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave behind a family of hungry refugees; When the Church is willing to let innocent people with genuine needs die in the street because we're too scared to get involved, terror has already done its job - it has stolen our identity in Christ. 
When Christians are too terrified to Love their neighbors, when we are all priests and Levites, the terrorists have already won.
Are we really going to let that happen?

Before you get that tattoo...

Thu, 11/05/2015 - 18:50

On my 40th birthday, I went totally crazy and got drunk and blacked out and woke up with a huge tattoo.

I mean, I did get a tattoo on my birthday – but it wasn't a surprise and I wasn't drunk. ...Unless you can get drunk on the Cracker Barrel's “Country Boy” breakfast. If so, I was definitely drunk.
Regardless, this happened...

It was this or Botox. 
Might as well have tattooed a Christian fish
on my forehead. Hindsight and all that.
A month later, I got color...

Look how much FUN I'm having. Needles are SO FUN!!
I thought I was so cool with my plastic wrap and medical tape.
Then I got home and saw my squishy old lady arm looked like raw sausage links.
 So embarrassing. 
I'm in love with my tattoo and I don't regret it for a second, but if I'm being totally honest, I'd say there are some things about having a tattoo that I was not prepared for. Like your first sexual encounter, or having your first baby, or eating your first Jimboy's taco, no one really tells you what to expect later. But I've been a tattooed person for six whole weeks now, and I've experienced some physical, emotional, and cultural ramifications that took me by surprise.
So, before you get that tattoo, consider this:
  • A visible tattoo is an invitation for chit-chat. It's like you're wearing a sign that says, “I'm interesting and I have 'a story'. ASK ME QUESTIONS!” This is an introvert's worst nightmare. The first time a complete stranger said, “Tell me about your tattoo.”, I was totally caught off guard. I didn't know how to answer, so I stammered, “Well...it's, um...*swallow*...made of ink...aaaand...I like it?”
    (I should not be let outside without supervision.)
  • If people can only see part of your tattoo, they will want to see the rest. Be prepared to hike up your sleeve or push down your sock or undo your belt or whatever, because if the tiniest little bit of your tattoo is peeking out, the hidden parts become public domain. Now the right sleeve on every t-shirt I own is all stretched out and floppy from being pulled over my shoulder no less than 27 times a day – But you can't blame people for wanting to see the whole thing when you're carrying around a work of art. It's just part of the deal. 
  • Tattoo gazing is awkward for everyone. Or just me. I love my tattoo, and I really don't mind showing it off, but after I yank my sleeve into my armpit so someone can take a good look, it get's kinda weird. Like, how long am I supposed to stay like that? How should I hold my arm? Down? Out? At an angle? Should I flex? Are they still looking? Do I need to stand perfectly still? Where should I point my face? OMG. WHAT DO I DO WITH MY HANDS?!?! 

    It is 45 seconds of pure angst. And it's inevitable.
  • Tattoos are gross when they're healing. I know you know already know this. This was not surprise to me, as I've gently rubbed many a glob of Aquaphor over El Chupacabra's crusty, flaky, scabby, healing tattoos over the years. The problem is that everyone is super excited to see your brand new tattoo because it's brand new, but you don't want to show them how awesome it is until it stops looking like the beginning of the zombie apocalypse.
  • Sometimes, certain colors don't like you. Red? Not my pal. The decomposing body stage of tattoo healing lasted a really long time after I had the color done, because Red hates me. It's one of those things you don't know will kill you until you do, but that's why God gave us antibiotics. And if those don't work and your arm falls off? Prosthetics.
    This doesn't even begin to show the terrible things
    that were happening in the red zone.
    ...Terrible things were happening.
  • People are people. Again, no surprise. But if you get a tattoo, be prepared to hear the same exact jokes, comments, questions, opinions, and off hand interpretations every day for the rest of your life. “Did that hurt?” “Is that real?” “Were you in the Navy?” “Were you attacked by a Sharpie gang?” “I don't like tattoos.” “I don't like tattoos on girls.” “I love tattoos on girls.” “Will you marry me?” “Cool ink.” “Is that new ink?” “When'd ya get inked?” “Did you come up with that idea yourself?
    Every. Single. Day.
  • Getting a Christian tattoo is the pretty much the same as having a Christian fish on your car. Now I have to behave myself in public. When I'm wearing short sleeves. 
  • Your tattoo will make you a douche. At least for a little while, you will be a tattoo douche. It's like a right of passage. You will stare at yourself and your tattoo in every mirror, window, puddle of water, and shiny spoon you encounter. You can't even help it. You will also find ways to include your tattoo or parts of your tattoo in all your selfies. And everyone else's. It could be on the bottom of your foot, it doesn't even matter, you will find a way because you're a tattoo douche. Don't despair, this wears off pretty fast for most people. Most. 
Who me? I'm just driving...

(That was before color, but I'm still kind of douching out.)
  • It doesn't matter where you live, you should probably go to Kentucky and get your first tattoo from Scott Bryant. It sounds a little extreme, but I flew out to Louisville specifically to have this guy do my first tattoo because I knew I could trust him with the rest of my arm's life. He's done incredible work on my husband and my son and my sister, so he was the obvious choice for me. He is a tattoo wizard. Also, he's my brother-in-law -- BUT I WOULD HAVE GONE TO HIM NO MATTER WHAT. I'm so, so, so grateful to him for making my first tattoo such a great experience. (Thank you, Scott!!! I don't believe anything Emily says about you.)

You should definitely check out his work, connect, make an appointment through Acme Ink, Louisville (or look for one of the other shops around the country where he works as a featured guest from time to time) and get yourself something nice. 
ALL THAT to say: Here is my finished tattoo. I could not be happier with it!
"And what does the Lord require of you?..."
Micah 6:8


If you have tattoos, do you have any other words of advice or warning for me and my fellow tattoo newbies? We're listening, Oh Wise Ones.
If you don't have tattoos. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???


40 is NOT the new 30

Tue, 09/22/2015 - 17:39
Forty is not the new 30. Shut up, liars.
40 is 40.
I know this because I AM FORTY.
Last week, I turned 40 entirely against my will. I couldn't stop it, or avoid it, or ignore it, or bribe it to go away. 40 came at me like the Grim Reaper on a bullet train filled with “Over The Hill” mylar balloons and reading glasses. It sucks, too, because I really want to be the kind of woman who ages with dignity and grace. I want to be cool about it, easing into each new year with a sense of pride, welcoming the days that lay ahead. But I am soooo not cool about it. Instead, I am aging in more of a dumpy, clumsy sort of way, flopping around in a fight against the forces of time and nature as if those are things I can actually change.
Needless to say, 40 hit me hard.
As my 40th birthday approached, people kept trying to make me feel better about being almost dead. They kept saying encouraging things like “40 is the new 30!” or, even more ridiculous, “40 is the new 20!” And I just smiled back and nodded with a look that I hope said, “YOU ARE EFFING DELUSIONAL.” That's a damn dirty lie, that's what that is. And we need to talk about it, because A) You have been the victim of this lie, and you think something must be wrong with you because when you turned 40 you definitely DID NOT feel 30. Or B) You haven't turned 40 yet, but you think you might someday, and you're clinging to the hope that 40 is the new 30, or preferably the new 20.

Friends, Ladies, Countrywomen, lend me your ears...
40 is just 40.
You can act like you're 30 and dress like you're 20, but you will still be 40. And I just wish someone had been straight with me, so I could have been better prepared. I wish I had been told the truth, which is that I would have a 40 year old body and a 40 year old brain and that this is simultaneously the best and worst thing ever. So, because I love you, here are some important facts about 40:
  • You will grow a lady-beard. This vampire facial hair sparkles like diamonds in the sun. Occasionally, a single hair on your neck or face will grow quite long, and when a loved one attempts to brush it off, you will both be horrified to find IT'S ATTACHED.
  • The cottage cheese on the backs of your thighs spreads like a virus, and it's now on the fronts of your thighs. And your arms. The noonday sun is a 40 year old woman's Kryptonite. 
  • Something frightening happens to a woman's chestal region at 40. It's like flipping a switch. I mean, like, literally flipping a switch; things are pointed up, and then all of a sudden they're pointed down. This happens so fast, it's actually confusing. I'm serious. You hop out of the shower one day and catch a glimpse of your goodies in the mirror, and you're like, “Wait a minute. When did those melt?"
  • Sometimes your hips make noises when you don't want them to make noises. Repetitive hip-popping? Not sexy.
  • People say super nice things, like, “Wow. You look good...for your age.” Don't stab them. Forgive them. They know not what they do.
  • Even when you look really good, you don't look that good. You can get dressed up and your makeup can be flawless and you can be having a great hair day and no one will even notice. The grocery store checker who would have flirted with you at 30, will call you “Ma'am” and ask you about the weather. It's almost like being invisible. But not.
So here's the kicker – All the crappy outer beauty stuff, and the interior moaning and creaking that makes 40 miserable is the same exact stuff that makes 40 kinda kickass...
  • You become more than a pretty face. I know that's sexist and dated and old-fashioned, but as you are less often defined externally by your looks or your boobs or your sexuality, you discover the freedom to share the more significant parts of who you are and what you have to offer the world. Plus, as people stop looking your way, you stop caring if people are looking your way, and that's powerful.
  • You really do look good for your age! Rock on, Lady. But don't forget you are smarter, and kinder, and more generous, and more capable, and wiser, and cooler and better because of your age. In fact, you almost feel like a real grown up. 
  • Your hips pop during sex and you don't even care because you know how to laugh during sex. And you know all the other sex stuff, too. YOU KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT SEX because 40 makes you THE QUEEN OF SEX. OR NOT! Does not matter. 
  • Your body is a wonderland...of lumps and bumps and wrinkles and stretch-marks and scars and depleted muscle mass and droopy tits and turkey skin and tufts of fur, and you are actually coming to grips with it. 'Coming to grips' is a very mature thing to do, and you can do that because you're 40 now. You can look at your body and feel proud of all it has accomplished, and also relieved that nobody else is really looking at your body. Because you're 40 now.
  • Cottage cheese arms make you sad, but they don't make you put away your tank tops. You like tank tops, and dammit, you have the right to bare arms. Let your bingo wings fly free, my friends - 40 don't care.
  • You can't stop the beard, but you do not have to take that shit laying down. I was with a group of women commiserating about our facial fuzz situations, when the oldest of us – the GORGEOUS, stylish, classy chick I want to be when I grow up – shrugged her shoulders and said cooly, “I shave.” And we all stopped talking and our mouths hung open and we stared at her, and she was like, “I shave my face once or twice a week.” This was the most liberating thing EVER. Shave, pluck, wax, peel, sand blast. Whatever, man. We're 40. We do what we want! So if you just want to go with it and let those chin hairs free? Shine on, sister! I support you.
In the interest of community and sisterhood and being on the same imperfect, shriveled up, squinty eyed, forgetful, granny panty team, can we please just let 40 be 40 from now on? Can we quit pretending that 40 should be something other than 40, and instead welcome the next 40 year old woman into our doughy arms, by putting a stubbly cheek against hers, and gently whispering something encouraging, like "I tweeze my chest hairs." or "I pee when I sneeze." or "I'm going gray down there.
Can we spill all of our not-so-old-lady secrets, and let the next woman in line know it's ok to be 40, and to look 40, and to act 40? 
Because, honestly, I'm too damn tired to be 30 again. 
I'm 40. All I want to do is watch Gilmore Girls and take a nap. And that's ok. 

How do you feel about approaching 40? How will you welcome the next woman into the 40 year old fold? 

Actually, I can judge you.

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 21:11

It seems like everybody is always calling everybody else out for being judgmental, and it makes me feel so cringey, because I really think a world without judgement would suck. It would SUCK.
I am dead serious.
Let's just be honest – I'm totally judging you right now. 
I'm forming all kinds of opinions about you based on the way you look, the way you talk, the way you treat other people, the way you spend your money, and the way you eat. I'm judging your haircut, your makeup, your muffin top, and your weird dietary restrictions. I'm pondering your choice of partner and appraising your ability to parent your own children. I am questioning your motives right this very second.
It's true, I am judgmental. And so are you. 
I know what you're thinking. You're like, “But, but, but, the Bible says!” And, yes, I also know what the Bible says. It says,
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
It even says it inred.
But is Jesus telling us not to form opinions? Is that what he means? Are we being threatened to not make observations and form opinions about anyone or anything, or else?
If that's the case, if God is going to form opinions about me based on the way I've formed opinions about others, I'm not all that torn up about it. On judgement day, God is gonna look me up and down and be like, “Oh, honey, no. Those pants make you look fat. And you have cankles. And that angry eyebrow is like whoa. I will say your hair has always been pretty good, except for that short bob you got in the 90's. I was sooooo glad you never did that again. Ugh! It gives me the shivers just thinking about it. And remember when you drove that minivan with a missing hubcap? That was hilarious. Hashtag whitetrash. Also, you were kind of a whore in high school. And your attempts at parenting? Pathetic. Like, I was embarrassed for you the whole time...” And on and on and on and on and on.
And I'll just be standing there, rolling my eyes, like, “Jeez, God is so judgmental.”
But I'm pretty sure that's not gonna happen, because I'm pretty sure that's not what Jesus meant. I don't think he was talking about that kind of judgement.
Judgement in the form of observing and opining is a really healthy, necessary part of life and growth. I ask my children to use good judgment every day. I want them to look at the people around them and be able to make thoughtful choices about who they do and do not want to be like. In my own life, I want to emulate the positive behavior I see in others, and I want to recognize and reject that which is not beneficial to me. But how can we do that if we're not permitted to think critically about the world around us?
I know, I know, “YOU CAN'T JUDGE ME!” is the battle cry of our people. We live in the age of the opinion police, where personal thoughts made public can be swept aside by the opposition with the clutching of pearls or grasping of vape pens, and a smarmy, “Who are you to judge?!” or maybe a defensive, “Judgemental much?” This is almost inevitably followed by a counter attack comment like, “Now who's being judgmental?” or, my favorite, “Aren't you judging her for judging you?”
And so begins the annoying, never ending circle of judgment to infinity. But what if we are allowed to have opinions? And what if our opinions are just that, opinions; not fact or truth or even reality - just our own sincere beliefs about the life we think God wants for us.
I do think we get to form opinions, even about our friends and neighbors and favorite bloggers. But Jesus is warning his followers against using those carefully formed opinions to condemn the people around us. I don't get to decide your worth as a human being or your fate or your future based on what I think of you or your life. I don't decide who's in or who's out. It's not for me to impose my will or my ways on everyone else. It's not my place to issue edicts of eternal fate, no matter how opposed I am to someone else's beliefs. 
I am not The Judge.
Condemn not, or you too will be condemned.For in the same way you condemn others, you will be condemned, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
It sounds so much more serious when you put it like that, it's almost scary. But this is not a threat, it's a brilliant gift from God -- because when you drop the judge's gavel, what you're left with is an open hand.
If you've found yourself unable to extend a hand to the people you disagree with, then perhaps your judgement has crossed over to condemnation. Tread lightly, my friend, you are stepping on God's toes. He has already given us permission to love generously and wholly and to the best of our dynamic understanding, and He's released us from the pressure of trying to change people to fit into our narrow views. 
We get to have opinions, even unpopular ones, and we get to say them out loud if we want to - this two way street is how we grow and challenge and learn from each other - but we need more good judgement and less reckless condemnation. Our conversations are more productive when they're open-handed and open-ended, more invitational than confrontational, filled with personal thoughts, but free of personal demands.
Because see, actually? I can judge you. And you can judge me. But, no matter how tightly we hold to our gavels convictions, we don't get to condemn each other to hell or to poverty or to solitary confinement or to celibacy, or to a life or death apart from Christ. 
He calls us to love freely and then He frees us to love fully.
And that's it, and that's all, and that's enough. 
...But, hey, that's just my opinion.

Bless this Hizzy fo Shizzy; My new office interior on a dime.

Mon, 08/17/2015 - 16:48

Remember how El Chupacabra built me my very own office out of sweat and blood and a shed kit from Costco? 
Me, too.
In fact, I'm sitting in it right now - basking in the glory of a perfectly silent space that is all my own. And I've gotta say, it's a big improvement over my previous writing stations; perched on my bed next to an ever-present, always massive pile of laundry waiting to be folded and put away, or sitting cross-legged on the sofa with the loud swish swooshing of the dishwasher to remind there are other things I could be doing that aren't writing. Things like cleaning or cooking or plucking my eyebrows.
But no more. 
The days of putting off words that are begging to be written and thoughts that are aching to escape are behind me. When I walk through my office door, there's only one thing to do, because under this precious roof I have only one purpose. 
This is where I write. That's it and that's all.

But before I could really start writing in here, I needed a place to sit. I had this beautiful blank slate, a creative space to fill to my hearts desire... and zero dollars to fill it with. For the most part, I would have to make due with what we had on hand, so I set about the house stealing furniture, blankets, baskets, art, and office supplies until the tiny house in my backyard felt like a tiny 2nd home. 
I wanted color, I wanted whimsey, and I wanted it to be free. And I knew the easiest way to pull that off would be to go "Shabby Chic". (Which we all know is just a nice way of saying "Shitty Cheap".)
So I started by jacking this little desk I snagged at a garage sale for like 10 bucks two years ago and painting it.


It was perfect paired with this kickass vintage chair and gray chevron upholstery. (A gift from my incredibly thoughtful sister-in-law!)
But a writer also needs a cozy corner...NEEDS... So I took an Ikea cane chair and a fuzzy wool throw right out of the living room as if no one would notice they were missing. Kids: "Wasn't there a chair here?"Me: "...Uh....I don't think so."

And for a side table, I used these two stumps I had from last winter, when I made my husband and son pick them up off the side of the road after a tree near our house was hit by lightning and took out some power lines and the city had to cut it down. I chiseled the bark off of one and left other intact and I love the color and texture and insects they bring to the room. (This is a work in progress - I have bigger plans for these guys. Check back in 11 years or so.)

For a bookshelf, I took the unused hutch from the sideboard in our dining room (which has been sitting in our garage for 3 years), flipped it over, stuck a board across the top and painted the whole thing with leftover semigloss paint from the office trim. Boom. Free.

It used to be black. When I was priming and painting it, I had serious reservations about how it would turn out, but after a third coat and with the addition of a couple of itty bitty crystal knobs, I think it works. But whatever. It was free. 

Topped with one of my Grandmother's oil paintings, a repurposed picture frame, and office doodads in adorable jars? Love is in the details. 

On the shelves you'll find things I like from people I adore. Custom paper clips and a big jar of pencils (also a gift from the sis-in-law!), my favorite old and new books, a couple of photo albums (remember those?!). And the best? Art and notes and poems and pics from my kids; things I have gathered and saved for the day when I could look up from my own work and be inspired by theirs. 

I think, in the end, the inside of my little office is exactly what I needed it to be:
Quietly reflective and personally inspiring. And basically free. 

Knives isn't really feeling it, but screw him. I LOVE IT. 
My little retreat. My still refuge. My home not far from home.
I call it Sanctuary.

And I pray God dwells here, too.

Bless this Hizzy fo Shizzy, indeed.