Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Church on the Porch

I grew up in church. Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, I was there.  Sunday school, choir practice, youth group, sermons, lots and lots of sermons.  It’s where my best friends were, and it was the lense I learned to see the world through.    

Throughout our years together, Cowboy and I have attended quite the menagerie of churches.  We’ve seen the beauty and, unfortunately, some of the really ugly. We’ve been members, participants, told we couldn’t be members, or worse only one of us could join. (If you know us at all, you know we’re a packaged deal.  For better or worse, you get both of us.) We’ve taught Sunday school, volunteered, and attended Bible studies.

And right now, we are officially on a break. There, I said it out loud.  We are churchless.  Without a church. Without a denomination.  

But what does that mean?  Does it mean our faith in God is diminished?  Does it mean we love less?  Does it mean we are no longer Christians? Nope, absolutely, 100 percent no. In fact, for us, I would even dare to say that our faith in God, our love, and commitment to what it really means to be a Christ follower is stronger than ever before.

When it comes to church, we have not found the right fit for us, a place that speaks to us, a group where our core values line up.  It doesn’t mean it’s not out there, it just means we haven’t found it, and so instead of continuing the exhausting search, we are taking a break.  

So what do you do on a break? You have church on the porch.  We are intentionally taking time to sit on the porch and soak in the awe and wonder of God’s creation that surrounds us.  

Watching the horses laze around the pasture, while dogs nap in the yard. Watching bees and dragonflies buzz through the air, as hummingbirds hover at the feeders. Marveling that a single Basil plant growing out of an old horse trough can smell so fragrant and get so huge.  Feeling the breezes on skin warmed by the sun. And being grateful, oh so grateful.  Not because everything is perfect, because that will never be the case, but because we’ve let go of the perfect in return for finding peace and joy in the moment.

My Farmtastic Life - Maybelle rests in the shade of a Basil plant
A fellow church on the porch attendee, Maybelle rests in the shade of a Basil plant.

Observing our surroundings is just one part of church on the porch.  There is reading, discussing, listening to music, inspiration of all kinds.  For me, church on the porch brings clarity to my crazy thoughts, a deep rooted grace of sorts.  The conversations are special, personal, and helpful.  Oh, and most importantly judging is banned from the porch. Curiousity is welcomed.

Sometimes church on the porch happens on a random Thursday evening. Sometimes it’s a glorious Sunday morning.  Sometimes once a week and sometimes more often.  Sometimes for 15 minutes and other times for hours.  There are no rules.  Just time to revel, to meditate, to laugh.  (Laughing is totally okay during church on the porch, in fact it’s encouraged.)

So if you are struggling right now to find the place you fit, don’t be afraid to do what is best to nurture your soul and explore your faith.  It may not look very traditional, but what you may find is oh so spiritual.

P.S. I absolutely love to read.  Right now I’m working through a series of Rob Bell books, including: What Is the Bible?, Velvet Elvis, Love Wins, and How to Be Here.  If you need a little inspiration and are looking for a more expansive, inclusive view of God, I highly recommend these as a great place to start.

P.P.S.  Please don’t take this as encouragement to leave your church if it is working for you.  We think that is a beautiful thing.  This a personal story of finding a new way to express our own faith, while struggling to fit within the traditional boundaries and options present for us.

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

The Sun, The Water, and Hope

August has shown us the best of humanity, and through tears of joy and sorrow, it has offered us hope.  We so desperately need hope.  We need to believe in the goodness of the human spirit, in what unites us all – our raw, deep down humanity, our will to survive and thrive.

Earlier this month, we saw people lining up, camping, and gazing skyward in unity at the beauty and wonder of the eclipse.  Caught up in the awe of nature, of science, of God’s creation. We now see people launching boats in streets swollen with water to rescue strangers, animal rescuers descending to make room for displaced critters, and people around the world donating in ways big and small to help those in South Texas with hurricane Harvey.  It is these images that give us hope.

Admittedly, this Texas farmgirl has been glued to the news in the mornings and evenings, keeping a watchful eye on my Twitter feed throughout the day, and checking on friends in Houston as they wait and watch.  Doing my best to go through the workday, but in the back of my mind thinking all the while about what is important in this life.  Watching as the dogs and cats and horses and donkeys laze around the farm unaware of the world in peril, getting some sort of peace observing their peace and knowing Cowboy and I would do anything to safeguard our little zoo.

My faith in God is such an important part of my personal journey, and continues to grow and expand as I watch these beautiful moments when we come together with the best that we are, offering all that we have in order to help a fellow soul.

My Farmtastic Life - The sun, the water, and hope. The beauty of humanity when we all come together.
There is nothing more beautiful than connecting to your fellow humans – reach out, hold someone’s hand, say a prayer, offer a hug.

When I first sat down to write this post, I wanted to talk about how we’ve all gotten into an us vs. them mentality, and how it is pulling us apart.  How at some point, all of us are part of a them group to someone.

Even today as my fellow Texans are fighting to survive, I watched as ultra conservative religious leaders took the opportunity to launch the Nashville Statement – targeted to isolate and condemn our LGBTQ friends and those of us who love them.  And again, my heart broke as all I could think was, “Really?  Seriously? This is what we are spending our time on?  Why oh why are we not lifting up our neighbors?  Jesus was and is the ultimate in love, and we are so missing the point.”

And while I could argue until I am out of breath as to why this latest attempt to divide us is wrong and heartbreaking and ill timed on so many levels, it’s become clear to me that we simply cannot give hate or those who look to divide us any more airtime. It is enough. Silence may be our greatest gift to each other.  If no one is listening to the dividers, then they no longer become dividers, and we become the uniters.

The beauty of our world is that we can all communicate quickly, loudly, and hopefully thoughtfully.  The curse is that we can all communicate quickly, loudly, and if not careful not so thoughtfully.

So as we watch the tragedies that surround us, let us share the beautiful stories.  Let us link our hands with our neighbors in comfort and solidarity.  Let us remember that there is far more good than evil.  We just have to make our voices thoughtfully and beautifully heard.

P.S. If like me you grew up in a church that had a limited view of love and are looking for a breath of fresh air, might I suggest checking out Love Wins by Rob Bell.  You might just find a little respite for your soul.

P.P.S. There are lots of ways to help those who have suffered and are suffering from the effects of Hurricane Harvey.  Whether you want to help families, babies, the elderly, or critters find a spot that speaks to your heart and offer your hand. See list from Texas Monthly. #TexasStrong

P.P.P.S. For all of those who have checked on us at the farm during this storm, thank you for thinking of us.  The farm was never in danger, as we are several hours from the coast.  However, knowing you care means a lot.  God bless!

P.P.P.P.S. A version of this post was published in the Glen Rose Reporter.  This farmgirl is delighted to serve as a community columnist.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Blank Space

I’ve always loved to organize and clean out. I hate to clean – you know the dusting, mopping, toilet scrubbing variety – but I absolutely, 100 percent love to clean out a closet, organize a drawer, or set up a system. I once even organized my mother-in-law’s pantry as a surprise while she was away on a trip. Is my love of organization a sickness? Perhaps.

I’ve been known to clean out a closet and then continue to walk by it throughout the day, open it up, and gaze in satisfaction as all of the things are neatly lined up and in their place. For me, there is a sense of accomplishment and order in this action. Please tell me that I am not alone here?

On the farm, I even get a little nuts with the critters, and when I am totally on top of my organizational game, each horse has a signature color complete with feed bucket and matching rope and halter set. Okay, yes, I might have a problem because I can guarantee you the horses care not one little itty bitty bit what color their buckets and halters are when it’s feeding time. Shocker, I know.

As I work to keep things in order, lately, it seems like our house has become a pass through for stuff. I buy things, organize things, remove things, and buy more things. We’ve constantly got a give-away pile going – we’re donating stuff to charities for auction and fundraising, donating to the local thrift store, giving things away to friends. I’ve even got one dear girlfriend who has a closet full of amazing shoes, well because Zappos and I have become entirely too good of friends, and I only have so much room.

However, if I’m honest, this constant give away pile is driving me a little batty. Recently, I said to Cowboy, “What if we just pull back a little? There’s nothing we need. What if we just bask in being grateful?” To which he whole-heartedly agreed on many levels, but especially since he is the financial wiz of the household (or farmhold, is that even a word?). Every time the give away pile grows, he does the math of what we’ve spent on things we don’t need and things that fundamentally don’t make life better.

For me, sometimes I accumulate things because I am looking for the perfect combination of things. As if it at some point, there is the concept of never needing to buy another thing. If I have the perfect combination of shoes for potential occasions. If I have just right set of cookbooks. If I have one more inspirational sign. (Gosh, I just love a good inspirational sign.)

But here’s the deal. There will never be the absolute right combination of things, because life’s not about things. And more than ever, I’m realizing it’s about the soulful, grace soaked journey and not about arriving at some mythical destination where you know all you need to know and have every imaginable combination of things you could possibly conjure up. Life is not perfect. It’s a beautifully imperfect, personal journey we all must take and define for ourselves.  And at the heart of it is gratitude, and sometimes so much physical clutter just gets in our way.

I’m learning that this search for the right combination of stuff is just a search to fill up space, a space that signals some sort of arrival or accomplishment. But blank space can be amazing space. It’s a place that allows us to imagine, to create, to find inspiration. And if we are always filling up all of our space with more stuff, rotating through the stuff, and adding new stuff, we are often missing the point.

Look, I’m a girl who loves to shop – from Amazon to a local boutique – I absolutely love the thrill of the hunt. But for me, at this point in my life, I’m starting to see the beauty in the blank space. In the thrill of the experience, the laughter, the creativity.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying stuff is evil or bad. Stuff is what you make of it and what you let it become to and for you. Things can hold treasured memories. Things can inspire you. Things can provide much needed functions. What’d I’d say is just don’t let the things define you, because you are so much more than the sum of your things.

And on that note, I’m off to organize a closet, and enjoy not filling up the blank space

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Breathable Moments

The new school year has arrived for many, and before you know it we will be running headlong into fall festivals, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  And then the yearly cycle starts all over again.  How is that even possible?

It doesn’t help that stores are already lugging out their cornucopia displays and swathing the shelves in shades of yellow, orange, and brown.  Before you know it, we’ll all be singing Jingle Bells as we grocery shop. Lord, help us.

The older I get, the faster it seems that the seasons fly.  So I propose that we all just take a moment to breathe it in.  We seem to be in a perpetual cycle of wishing for what’s next in life, and often find ourselves challenged to appreciate right where we are.

Trust me, I get it.  I’ve been a box checker my whole life.  Rushing around to tackle the never ending projects, worrying about the details, and wondering what is next on my list.  But the times that I feel pure joy are when I stop to be right in the moment.   The everyday, less than glamorous moments.  Those are the ones that speak to my soul.

Whether it’s looking around the farm and watching the animals, sitting with Cowboy on the porch and talking about our day, snuggling up on the sofa with my best fur-girl Maybelle, or getting a sweet phone call from beloved family and friends.  Those are the moments I live for.

And no, the irony is not lost on me.  We’re taught early and often to strive for something more, to shoot for the stars.  And that’s not a bad thing.  It helps us learn to be hard workers and diligent about our goals. But it also builds in us this sense that we will someday arrive, that things are not quite good enough yet. This is when all of those sayings about enjoying the journey come flooding back to me.

It’s also when I stop to take a lesson from the farm.  The critters around here live in the moment.  They don’t know any other way.  Take the horses, for example.  They mosey around the pasture, soaking up the sunshine, drinking cool water, and looking for any hint of fresh green they can nibble on.  They are not thinking to themselves, “Gee, I wish it was next spring when the grasses are so much  more plentiful.”  Nope, they are sweating away, kicking up dust, enjoying being alive.  It’s all they know how to do.

As we run around in this hot Texas sun getting ready for the rituals of back to school, one of the things I hear us Texans lamenting most right now is how hot it is and how we wish it was fall already.  Well of course it is hot, it’s August in Texas.  It’s sweaty and sticky and buggy.  But you know what? It’s also the time for swimming holes, ice cream, and new school shoes.  And I think those are all pretty great moments to breathe in.

P.S. – A version of this post was published in The Glen Rose Reporter.  This farmgirl is delighted to serve as a community columnist.

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Forget Your Baseboards

If you’ve watched HGTV at all, it seems that all of the world loves to entertain. Whether buying, selling, or renovating, the cute couple on TV inevitably declares their need for entertaining space galore because they do, in fact, love to entertain.

Well it’s summertime on the farm, and that means the visitor count is up around here as treasured friends and family come from far and wide for a little R&R. And while Cowboy (my better half) and I love to spend time with them, we are not what you would call natural born entertainers. We are homebodies and spend our days working around the farm on projects surrounded by our burgeoning cast of four-legged characters.

So as the date approaches for each impending visitor’s arrival,  I can lose my marbles a bit as I look to make a perfect experience for them.

The cleaning lists get out of control with things like baseboard washing, stall deodorizing, and tucking in fresh plants here and there to spruce things up. And bless Cowboy’s heart, he graciously goes along with my crazy as we work through lists of lists of lists.

And then there is the cooking and baking. In my head, a farm visit is just not complete without something scrumptious to eat, whether it is a night of divine enchiladas with Cowboy’s homemade salsa or a morning brunch of strawberry stuffed French toast.

The bottom line, I suddenly think we need to provide the Martha Stewart experience. The only problem is that Martha Stewart has a STAFF!  Cowboy and I just have a zoo of critters, and trust me they do not contribute to the cleaning one itty bitty bit.

But here’s what I’ve come to realize, our friends and family are not coming to give us the white glove test, to judge the color of the petunias, or have a taste testing event. They are coming to see us. To be enveloped in warm hugs. To laugh deep belly laughs. To drink in the country air. To sit a spell on the porch and watch the horses mosey by.

IMG_6417
Maybelle says, “Just relax and enjoy some time on the porch. The view is great and the company is even better.”

Like lots of things in life, it’s easy to put unrealistic expectations on yourself and those you love, searching for the perfect and forgetting the good that is right in front of you. It’s something I continue to remind myself of on a regular basis. How thankful are Cowboy and I that we get to live on our beautiful farm, and how special it is to share it with those we love?

So if you find yourself lucky enough this summer to have friends and family that want a little piece of your time, give it freely. Put the vacuum away, pour a cup of tea, find time to just revel in each other’s stories and in the moment.

Life is short, and when we look back, I can guarantee none of us will be wishing we had washed just one more baseboard.

P.S. – A version of this post was published in The Glen Rose Reporter.  This farmgirl is delighted to serve as a community columnist.

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Unfriended

I’ve been thinking about this piece for a while now. I’ve mulled it over and over in my mind. Would I write it or not? How long would it be? How much background would I share? Am I willing to share so much of my personal faith? So here goes …

I’ve composed this piece in three parts:

  • The Background – a little about how I grew up and how my faith has evolved
  • The Incident – the seemingly harmless interaction that shook me to my core
  • The Result – how my faith stands today

Part 1: The Background

I grew up Southern Baptist, so Southern Baptist that our pastor was the president of the Southern Baptist Convention. We didn’t dance, movies were frowned upon, and any music that wasn’t Christian, and preferably Southern gospel, was seen as less than ideal. In the ultimate irony, as a young teenager I had one poster of a boy on the back of my bedroom door, and took it down due to guilt over the potential to lust. Oh, what was the irony you ask? The boy was Kirk Cameron.

As one friend recently put it, “You mean you grew up like Footloose? That is a real thing?”

Yep, that was a real thing, and in many places it still is a very real thing.

There was a lot of pressure to stay in the lines. You showed up at church every time the doors were open – Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night. You wore dresses, and not just any dresses but nice dresses with giant floral patterns, bows in your hair, and the perfect giant curls. Yes, some of that was just simply the 1980s, but the point is that the lines extended to how you looked and dressed.

One of my very best friends was often ostracized because she loved to wear black, was little alternative, and marched to the beat of her own drummer. We were an odd pair – I followed every rule, terrified to step out of line, and she fought to be herself, even in the face of harsh judgment. She’s still one of my best friends, and part of our life-long bond is that we survived that crazy time in our lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got some good memories, too. I loved to sing and play music, and we got to do that in spades. We had summertime rollerskating parties after church. There were secret moments where a boy you had a crush on would boldly sneak and hold your hand in a church service and your body would tingle with the electricity of something new, the danger of getting caught, and the simple power of a human connection.

And then time moved on … and literally my family and I moved on and away to Texas. Probably one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. We left that church.

We still went to church, but it was different. There was more freedom, less rule following, and just a general casualness. But I had spent my formative years learning how to live in the box really well, so while I occasionally dipped my toes in the waters of life, I pretty much kept decorating my perfectly safe and limited box.

Fast forward over 20 years, and my world has greatly expanded. There are things, that if my childhood friends who still practice that same form of devotion knew about me, would have caused them to write me off long ago.

Here’s my top 10 list of actions, thoughts, and beliefs that are wildly out of step with how I grew up:

  1. I married a Catholic. Not only did I marry Cowboy, I went through the entire conversion process, and we got married in the Catholic Church. Why is this a big deal? Because people I grew up with thought Catholicism was a cult. I was seriously stepping out on a ledge with this one.
  2. Cowboy and I have gone to all kinds of Christian churches – Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, non-denominational, heck we even tried the Cowboy Church trend for a while. Today we would tell you that we are Christians, and not so great at being joiners.
  3. I’ve got friends, like true-blue-do-anything for you friends, that are from all walks of life and all manner of beliefs. Now yes, lots of folks talk a good game here, but I mean I love these people for who they are. It’s not about tolerating them or spouting some “love the sinner” language at them. Some of my friends are gay. Some are transgender. Some are atheists. Some are Jewish. Some are Mormon.  Some Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some are Catholic. Some have blond hair, and brown hair, and red hair.  You get my point.  It’s ridiculous all the classifying of people we do.
  4. I listen to all kinds of music. I even sometimes dance – although admittedly I’m no Ginger Rogers so it’s generally more of a wiggle and a waggle kind of affair.
  5. I sometimes curse. Well, because sometimes you just have a moment.
  6. Cowboy and I don’t currently have a church. Sometimes we have church on the porch.   We are Christians, we hold our beliefs dear, but we also hold our love for others dear. We aren’t keen on signing up to belong to any group that is unkind toward any other group. We hope we will find a new church home someday, but for right now we are okay.
  7. I believe tithing doesn’t mean the money has to go to church. I believe it’s about doing good, and your gifts of time, money, and your talents can be shared with any group, cause, or organization that makes this world a better place. I don’t think God is keeping track if it went to a certified church.
  8. I believe women can be in charge, and can be leaders and pastors. That we don’t have to be relegated to childcare and women’s ministries. I also believe we don’t all have to aspire to motherhood. Ladies, if you want to be a mom. God bless you! It’s one amazing calling, gift, and job. But if that’s not your thing, that is okay, too. And out in the world, while women can work for men (no shocker there), men can also work for women. In my day job, I am the only girl on the leadership team. That means I work with a lot of men. I travel with them. Eat with them. Work with them. Some have even become like brothers to me. But don’t get me wrong, I’m still wildly devoted to Cowboy, and he is my one and only guy. You can do both.
  9. God’s greatest gifts to us are love and grace. That means, our greatest gift to others needs to be love and grace. “Now wait a minute. No one would argue that point,” you might say. You are correct. No one will argue that point, but my point is that we need not to just talk about this but LIVE IT.
  10. God can use anything to speak to you. It’s okay to read and learn and question. God can stand up to your questioning. We don’t need to run away and hide from other religions and see them as scary. If you take a minute to look and listen, you will see that we are really not all that different from each other.

If many of the folks I grew up with knew the real me as I am right now, I’d be added to prayer lists, seen as on the fringe, and dare I say, unfriended.

Which leads me to why I wrote this piece in the first place. I wanted to share an experience that happened several months ago that shook me, wracked me with tears, and caused me to do some deep soul searching.

Part 2: The Incident

A childhood friend, who knew me then and still subscribes to her deep version of faith, who even makes her living in the ministry, wrote me off. Now in her defense, she only knew the me of 25 years ago. Through the magic of Facebook we reconnected, talked over Messenger, shared Christmas cards, and voila our friendship was back in tact.

But here’s the thing. She didn’t change; I did. Her beliefs, her behavior were exactly how we were both raised. When we rekindled our friendship, her assumption was that I was how I had always been. Through the limited window of Facebook, she saw pics of the farm, of Cowboy and me, and read my stories about farm life. She was missing the context of who I really am.

Through Facebook I also learned that politics were somewhat of a passion of hers; they are not so much for me. And that over time her politics and her faith had become intertwined in ways I didn’t, and still don’t, fully understand. As a rule, I try to avoid politics, especially on social media. I’ve got friends on all sides, and I try to be respectful.

One night I saw a political post she made, and I responded. Another testament to why one shouldn’t Facebook at night. I don’t recall saying anyone was wrong, but more just sharing a different point of view.

And it wasn’t about anything earth-shattering; it was simply about all of the hubabloo about whether Pence would eat dinner with a woman who wasn’t his wife. (In case you missed this media circus, as I had before I saw her post, simply Google “Pence dinner.” You’ll have reading for the next week from all sides.)

If you’ve stuck with me this far, you know, from my comments up above, that in my line of work you sort of have to forget gender all together and just get the job done. I mean really, in most lines of work that is jut how you have to roll.

And what started as a harmless comment where I thought we were sharing ideas turned into an explosion. I desperately tried to go back and re-read my comments to make sure I hadn’t been offensive, but it was of no use. My comments were erased. Others who vehemently agreed with her, including her husband, where chiming in. And that was it. I was fully exposed for who I am today.

I sent a private message trying to make sure that she knew no harm was meant. I didn’t think she was wrong, I was just trying to share my point of view. Radio silence.

And then it finally came the next morning, the response. A scathing private message. At the end of the day, the tone of the message was what hurt so much. There was a moral superiority. That somehow she and her family were more faithful, closer to God, more devout because of their point of view.  I was free to have my point of view, but I was clearly less than.

I read and reread the note. I had no words, except simply reply to her that I appreciated her sharing her thoughts. And then in a flash, it was over.

I was unfriended.

This girl, who I had known since we were 13 and 14 years old, who had slept over at my house and me at hers, was done with me. I was written off in the name of God. And all of those feelings of having to stay in the box came flooding back.

I had very clearly stepped out of the box. I sent one more private message wishing her well, and expressing sadness that she had unfriended me. And there were crickets. Not a sound. Not a peep. It was over.

Part 3: The Result

I wrestled with how this woman of immense faith could cut me out. And then I remembered what I have always known. We, as humans, have an uncanny ability to misuse the words of God. That when churches and people of faith cut you out, tear you down, and look to break you, that is simply not God. It’s the farthest thing from God.

What breaks my heart is that my story is not unique. Heck, this is not even my first go-round with being shoved to the outside in the name of faith.  So very many have been hurt by the church. And for many, the church and God get intertwined in a way that makes the two inextricable from each other, and understandably so.

But what this hard lesson reminded me is that God is love. God is God. And while there are those that would seek to use God’s message to separate, to hurt, and to feel superior, there are even more of us seek to show God’s love. We’re often quieter and harder to spot, but we are here.

My Farmtastic Life - God is Love

God is here. God loves us, even when people disappoint us. God is ready to pick us back up again and walk beside us.

I realize this is quite a long post, and for those of you who stuck with me, thank you for letting me share my story. To those who have been hurt in the name of God, my heart breaks with you. But know, that those people do not speak for God. God is love.

P.S. As for my friend, I truly do wish her well. I don’t hold ill will or bad feelings toward her. I realize that she never really knew me as I am today, and when she caught a glimpse of the real me, it was frightening. If she ever reached out, I’d gladly answer her call.

P.P. S. We’ve all (at least I think) unfriended folks in our lives for different reasons, especially in the world of Facebook, if for no other reason than to limit who we share our lives with. Sometimes it needs to happen. This piece is far less about being unfriended and more about when you are cut off in the name of God and when you are seen as less than. To anyone in my past who may have experienced the feeling that I thought you were somehow less than, please accept my sincerest apology. I continue to grow and to learn, and I cherish the people in my life who allow me to call them friend.

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Wear the Bathing Suit

Summer is upon us, and it is now the official start of bathing suit season. Yes, I know, women (and some men) all around the world are heaving a collective sigh of dread. But truly it doesn’t have to be that bad.

What do I mean?  Of course squeezing yourself into Lycra and spandex is bad. Of course trying to figure out high cut, low cut, two piece, one piece, straps or no straps is bad. Even the bravest of souls can have their ego crushed in a dressing room trying on bathing suits.

You know what I mean. We ladies are famous for trying on suits with skirts hoping for a little ego relief only to feel like a hippo in a tutu from Fantasia. We try the shorts, the tankinis, and any other ini we think can hide a roll, a layer, a bump, or a bulge.

But here’s the truth, it really doesn’t matter. We all have different bodies, and that’s okay. Now listen, I’m going to be honest with you. I’m what some call a curvy girl, as least that is the nice new marketing term for a plus size gal these days. Not going to lie, I kind of  dig the new term. But my point is that this love-your-body thing is not something that has ever come easily to me. I’ve spent years apologizing for my body and having some crazy unrealistic expectations for it. Bless my heart.

My Farmtastic Life - Bathing Suit Season
Bathing suit season is here, lord help us all. But what if instead of dread we found joy?

But seriously, just take a  moment to  stop and think about all your body does for you – it fights to keep you healthy, it carries you around on two legs, it has eyes and ears to see and hear and take in this amazing world around us.

And I know for some of us, our bodies feel like something we are battling or trying to tame, but give yourself and your body a break. Work with your amazing body – no matter its limitations and imperfections.

As the temperatures rise and the glistening waters of summer beckon, so many of us are busy worrying about how we look doing summer activities or trying to cover ourselves in giant t-shirts that we miss what is right in front of us. There is a whole season of joy and fun and movement to be had.

Imagine your summer if you spent it experiencing some out-in-the-sunshine joy moments instead of sitting on the sidelines. Whether you’re skipping rocks and splashing with your kiddos in your local rivers and lakes, hiking the trails with friends at a beautiful state park,  jumping in the waves at a dreamy beach, or swimming in the community pool for a family day out, there are adventures to be had.

So dear friends, I’m here to tell you, just put on the bathing suit. Don’t miss out on another summer. Don’t fret about someone taking a photo of you because you don’t look perfect. None of us do. We’re one big bunch of perfectly imperfect people, but we are oh so capable of feeling and sharing deep down joy.

When you look back on this summer, I hope you remember the moments of joy, the friends and the family, and the amazing ways in which your body carried you through. Because 10 years from now, I can promise you that you will not be looking back thinking about your bathing suit, but about your memories. So go make memories!

P.S. – A version of this post was published in The Glen Rose Reporter.  This farmgirl is delighted to serve as a community columnist.