Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Christmas in New York

Warning-this post contains many sappy romantic moments. If this kind of thing makes you roll your eyes and say "Good grief Charlie Brown!" you better leave now

  I have always been a hopeless romantic. In second grade I would stand outside at recess letting snowflakes cover my hair and trying to catch them on my eyelashes daydreaming about the day I would be old enough to get my first kiss in all of the blustery beauty winter had to bring. All while all the other kids were running around like fools screaming "dandruff dandruff you guys have dandruff!!!" It's a good thing I married my husband because when it comes to romance, the man does not mess around. 
     I promised myself when I was little that one day I would get to New York City for the holidays. I needed to find out for myself if it was as romantic as it looked on the movies. When we moved to Boston almost a year ago, I knew this would be my year. I told my husband the only thing I wanted for my birthday was a trip to NYC and that is exactly what I got along with so many New York moments I will never be able to forget. 
     (We stayed at the Double Tree over in Rockefeller center. I definitely recommend that location. It is very central to everything and the subway was right outside of our hotel.)
     I remember thinking that it would be an added bonus if it would snow while we were there, but I didn't get my hopes up. Wouldn't you know that the forecast changed and it snowed big fluffy flakes all day long. I was ecstatic. We did the normal touristy things while we were there, but when you do them around Christmas time everything is different. The entire city is dressed up in its Holiday best. We walked around and window shopped, admired the lights, dove in and out of stores and coffee shops to get warm, went to Rockefeller Center and admired the beautiful tree and all of its 45,000 lights, ate at our favorite restaurant where the manager bought our appetizer because we were all from the same place in Florida. I kept sneaking glances at my husband (who was figuring out the subway system like a champ) thinking to myself, there is no one I wold rather be sharing this trip with. 
     After dinner we walked to Central Park. The snow was coming down so hard with the entire skyline wrapped around us I felt like we were trapped in a magical snow globe. Justin took me to the top of this rock and when we got to the top he asked me to dance. So there we were in the middle of a New York moment I will treasure forever. I went to bed pinching myself because I could not believe what a perfect day we had.
     New York is a magical place, but nothing quite measures up to being there during the holidays. It's busy, cold and most of the restaurants you really want to eat at are booked for months, but it is worth the hassle. I fell in love with my husband all over again during that trip. I loved how handsome he looked with snowflakes on his beard or how cute it was that he was always surprising me with hot cocoa to keep my hands warm while we walked around. The entire city was in love that weekend, everyone was holding hands and stealing kisses. I thought back to the times I wondered if NYC would be as magical as they made it seem on the movies and you guys, it was even better. All because I was there with my best friend. 
     If you ever have a chance to sneak away to New York for a quick weekend in December, don't even hesitate. Book your trip, grab your camera and spend the weekend getting into the holiday spirit with the one you love. 

Thank you honey for making my holiday NYC dream come true. There is no one else I would have rather shred that moment with. 

New York, I love you!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Christian Bullies

     A little over a year ago I tried on my first pair of jeans. Some of you might think this sounds crazy because you've been wearing jeans your whole life and don't get what the big deal is. However, things were a little different for me. From the time I was six years old I had a closet full of dresses and skirts. I never knew why I had to wear them, it was just something my mom told me I had to do. I hated it because of how I felt in them and how other kids at school made me feel. When I got older I hated wearing skirts even more. Yes, skirts are made for girls but for some reason I never felt very feminine while wearing them. I always struggled with awkward lengths and how hideous tennis shoes looked with everything. It got to the point where I didn't even care what I looked like when I left the house because I felt ugly no matter what. When I went anywhere I stared at the ground and tried my best to avoid eye contact with people in general. My hair was long, unruly and I had no clue how to style it. My face had never seen the slightest bit of makeup and I was tired of disliking what I saw when I looked into the mirror.

     It sounds silly, but when I put those jeans on I couldn't stop smiling. I felt like a woman!  Later I made an appointment at a salon and had my hair trimmed, conditioned and styled. When the guy spun me around in my chair I almost cried. I was so beautiful!! A little later after this I treated myself to a makeup kit so I could learn how to highlight my own natural beauty. This amazing transformation was taking place and I actually started looking forward to getting ready now because darn it, I felt like a gorgeous woman! And then the bullying began.

     I started to notice friends from church walking right by me without saying hi, people were disconnecting from me on various social media sites, I was getting emails and text messages from people saying they were "praying for me to come back to God" and even a few family members told me I was hell bound. I was so crushed. I contemplated going back to the way things were before just so I could be accepted again. While so many Christian people were condemning me and making me feel like a total "backslider" they had no idea what I had been through to get to this point in my life. Lots of prayer and Bible reading followed by Godly council. After almost a year of struggling with what to do I finally felt peace about my decisions. I lived so many years doing certain things because people were telling me to but never really knowing why. My own husband wasn't comfortable with me slapping a pair of jeans on the first time because that wasn't how he was raised either! But together we prayed and read scriptures and in the end he knew it had to be my decision.

     So why was I still made to feel so awkward when I went to the grocery store? Why did people delete me from various social media sites? Why were people sending me "there is still hope for you" emails? I don't know. Maybe because they thought that was what they had to do. While they thought they were "reaching out" and trying to save me, I felt very small and hurt. I felt like I was in a room full of mean bullies. I could not believe the amount of harsh words people felt like they needed to say to me. People would put sad faces on photos of mine and ask me what happened to myself. What happened to loving people the way God does?

     I am not writing this post to try to convince anyone to change their physical appearance. I respect your decisions and always will. I am not writing this to ask for advice or a Bible study, I have already gotten plenty of that. I have made a very personal decision for myself, one that I have to live with. If I woke up tomorrow and felt God speak to me and tell me to change my ways, you better believe I would listen. But until then, please stop trying to 'save me'. Personally, I wasn't going to be able to tell anyone about Jesus or invite them to church because I was too busy staring at the ground feeling like an ugly duckling. I am still a very modest woman. I believe in one great big God. I believe in the power of prayer and being baptized in Jesus name. I don't cuss, do drugs or smoke. I occasionally play slot machines and always promise to give God the first 10 percent. (just a little joke people) I am a Godly, Christian woman and I am tired of being bullied. In the last year I have felt more hatred from former Christian friends than I ever care to admit, but I am done with that now.

     The bullying has to stop. If you would like to approach me and ask me anything your heart desires, please do. But please, stop trying to change me. The emails have to stop. The comments in the photos, the innocent slip ins during normal conversation, the hatred. It has to stop. God is love. We as Christians are all supposed to be the light in the middle of this dark world. How are we going to reach out to anyone and help them understand who God is if we are too busy judging those who already know the answer?

( I understand that this is a very controversial post. I knew that while I struggled with whether or not to publish it. Please keep your conflicting comments to yourself and remember, if you don't have anything nice to say...")