What happens when you hear ‘Let it Snow’ ten times in one day:

As long as you love me so
let it snow
I don’t care
As long as you love me so
I can make it through
so many hard days
it doesn’t matter
if you love me so
my dear
a bright warmth in my heart
that keeps me going
your love
oh Colorado snow
you can keep on coming
my love is here
and that is all that I need
to be alright
so let it snow

Fight . Dance . Love

For so long I didn’t realize that I had been battle ramming you
with indifference,
using it as a shield to hide
what I had been so brave to show you once before,
bruising ribs and straining patience,
all the while pushing you back and away from me.

But I’d rather think in harmony with you,
two strains of the same thought wrapping around each other,
turning and reforming movements
to create a beautiful dance.

I’d rather understand who you are
and open up enough to give you space
to move in,
instead of bracing for the impact.

Fall in Love

Fall in Love

Attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907-1991)

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

– See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/prayers-by-st-ignatius-and-others/fall-in-love#sthash.Ispnai4W.dpuf

Not to take away from the importance of loving God [first], but I think it’s worth saying that falling in love with another person and staying in love, changes your life dramatically as well.

This lower case “l” falling in love in marriages and long-term relationships decides how you live your life –where you go and how you spend your time.  In all its heartaches and joys and unexpected moments, it changes you and how you love the world.  Falling in love and staying in love, a life-long endeavor, molds you into a new person.

I guess this is my letter to all those who are not married but who are called nonetheless, who are afraid or think that they do not need this irreversible relationship in their lives.

Falling in love and staying in love is for your good.  It is not about being loved, but rather your love for someone else changing you in an absolute and final way.

I don’t think we think about that enough –how will me loving someone else change my heart for the better? — regardless of how the relationship turns out or how this other person receives this love.  How will this act of being other-centered and constantly shaping my life around this other person change me?

Don’t be afraid to be changed.  Don’t be afraid to fall in love and stay in love.

On Being Single and on the Cusp of My Thirties

I should be freaking out right now, right? Worried that all the good guys are being taken and my time to have kids shrinking. My life getting smaller and smaller as all the opportunities I had when I was younger start to slowly disappear. I am being left behind while all of my close friends fall in love and get married and have kids, and I am left wandering the beach of singleness alone.

Well, I think all that’s really a lie. My life is not getting smaller. It’s not like there’s only so much love to go around and once I’ve past my twenties suddenly the opportunity for love and marriage and kids will dry up.  Those are just unwarranted fears.

Yes, it is a little harder as I lose close friends who were also single, and as I still long for someone to share life with in all its ups and downs and ordinary days –to have this closeness with someone that you love. It is lonely in that way.

But I think it is a lie that just because I don’t have any relationship plans on the horizon and can’t foresee this sort of thing, that it will never happen.

It’s a lie to believe that I am alone or unloved.

The other day a friend of mine was lamenting the fact that she couldn’t go on the high quality vacations that she so loves and had been planning for because she is now pregnant, and having a baby changes everything. Vacations are different with kids. Finances are different with kids.

It let me see the unexpected loss of following God’s will, of dreams and plans you didn’t expect to lose and weren’t asked to give up suddenly no longer a possibility.

It’s a part of growing up I think, or at least something that everyone goes through at some point in their lives. The realization (and fierce disappointment) that life will not go as you thought it would, but it’s beyond your control. That you can’t do with your life what you wanted to. I think it’s something that all of us have to grapple with (and sometimes never stop grappling with).

I think at these points you can choose to surrender and say, “God, I am heartbroken that I can’t do this with my life. But if I can’t do this, let me do something that is for Your heart, that will use me in ways I didn’t expect, that will use all of me.”

I did not expect to be still single at 29 or to have so few romantic experiences in my lifetime up to this point. I gave up going to a school in London and making writing or publishing a career because I knew that God was calling me in a deeper way to motherhood, to that being the focus of my time and talent. I have known the disappointment of losing dreams, of being emptied of desires you had not realized were so strong, in order to live a life more deeply in tune with God.

But I can say, that I have found myself capable of so much more than I ever thought, of horizons brighter and farther than I would ever see on my own (without God giving me eyes to see), of life with new meaning.

My life is certainly not sad or lonely. I know with certainty that married life is in my future, thought I have no tangible evidence to prove to you that this is true, no outward sign to show it. I only have God’s words to me. But it is this that I am choosing to listen to, to believe this truth about my life and not what the world surmises about it.

To me being single and on the cusp of my thirties is a point when I have reached a maturity in my faith to know and trust that the work God has done on my heart and in my life is just beginning to bear fruit; it is a point in which I can see the strength God has given me to walk this road particular to my life, a road that goes beyond marriage and kids to my life and role in eternity, and to trust that there will be strength enough for the rest of the journey.

8 Reasons Why Belle is the Best Disney Princess Ever

Growing up, we all had our favorite Disney Princesses (or Superheroes for the boys).  Actually, I didn’t.  I loved the art work of Sleeping Beauty and wanted to be naturally graceful like Aurora, but had no desire to be a princess who missed all the action because she was asleep.  And yes, Ariel had some cool solos, but the whole not being able to talk thing is not appealing to someone who’s already shy.   And who wouldn’t want to go on a magic carpet ride and have a tiger for a pet?  But then again, it’s hard to identify with a princess who grew up in a palace and got whatever she wanted, rather than a princess who grew up in anonymity, not knowing she was special or would end up wooed by Prince Charming.   (And maybe the reason I never wanted to be a certain Disney Princess is the same reason I never wanted to be anything specific when I grew up like an astronaut or a doctor.)

But I think my favorite Disney story was Beauty and the Beast.  –Interesting, because the main character in this tale is actually the Beast, not Belle.  I recently re-watched it (mostly for the music –I used to have the soundtrack on my computer but it got lost when my hard drive died.  –What.  You know you’ve had those hard core rock-outs to Disney soundtracks too.) and realized what I had missed as a kid, so caught up in the shiny Disney Princess romance:  Belle is awesome.  And totally worth holding up as a model for kids, unlike some of the other princesses.

Why, you ask?  Well, here are eight good reasons why:

(1) Belle sees the inner character of a person, good and bad.  Sounds trite, I know.   But it’s an ability I’d want my daughter to have.  She’s not fooled by Gaston’s conceited gallantry, but also, she is able to spot the good in the Beast while he is still growling in moody tempers and acting pretty beastly.  The scene I’m thinking of is when Belle flees the castle after the Beast erupts at her for entering the West Wing and almost tampering with the enchanted rose:  The Beast has just fought off a pack of wolves to save her, showcasing mannerisms far more wild animal-like than human, yet she marks his humanity in his concern for her well-being.   There’s a moment when the Beast has just fallen to the ground in exhaustion and pain from his fight with the wolves and Belle has to decide whether she’s going to leave him and escape back to her father, or help the Beast back to the castle.  It’s clear she’s thinking something along the lines of, “He just saved my life.  I can’t just leave him here to die in the cold.”  And so, moved by guilt and compassion, she brings him back to the castle and tends his wounds.  From then on she gives the Beast more than the benefit of the doubt that he is trustworthy, though all outside appearances (the fact that he appears to be more animal than human, dangerous, and hot-tempered, and that he’s holding her hostage) would contradict this.  But she’s seen that he does care about other people, so she deals with his other more undesirable character traits.

(2) Belle meets people where they are.  There’s a deleted scene where Belle begins teaching the Beast how to read.  When he admits that he doesn’t remember how to, she doesn’t question his lack of education or smile condescendingly that of course a beast wouldn’t know how to read,  but instead offers her expertise and patiently listens as he stumbles through the opening lines of Romeo and Juliet.  And when they finally do eat dinner together (in the regular scenes) and he embarrassingly slobbers his food and has trouble even grasping utensils, she sets her own aside and defies table etiquette, drinking from her bowl, to work with him in changing his acquired bad habits.  She’s not afraid to lower herself to his level of skill in order to help him.  These actions, in fact, are not demeaning at all, but rather make the audience respect her more for her grace towards the Beast.

(3) Belle challenges others to love and mercy.   “You didn’t even let me say goodbye.  I’ll never see him again,” Belle says to the terrifying beast.  He has just thrown Maurice out of the castle after swapping him for Belle and is now her captor.  The only thing she knows about Beast is that 1.) He appears to be a monster; and 2.) He cruelly locked up her father, a weak old man, simply for trespassing.  Yet she strikes at his conscience, exposing his lack of feeling for human relationships.  Maybe it’s because she didn’t think about whom she was talking to before the words came out of her mouth.  But she doesn’t look that repentant about them. The fact that she doesn’t think twice about it tells the audience she is in the habit of calling others out on their lack of love.  No one, in her mind, is above (or below) finding compassion within their hearts for others.

(4) Belle wants to do something with her life.  She has ambitions and dreams.  She might be living a humdrum existence on the edge of a little town, but that’s not what she wants.  She wants to be challenged, to use all her capabilities.  In an open field, she sings to the skies, “I want adventure in the great wide, somewhere.  I want it more than I can tell.  And for once it might be grand to have someone understand I want so much more than they’ve got planned.”  She doesn’t just want to get through life, satisfying the expectations of others.  She wants to thrive, to feel alive, to reach for something more.

And she may get her adventure when her father finds his way to the castle, but something tells me, once things settle down in her life and she gets used to being married to the Beast-who-is-now-a-human-again, she won’t let her life sink down into routine.  She’ll strive to make a difference in her world with the freedom she’s found.

(5) Belle is courageous.  She does not let fear play a part in her life.  Even after beholding the Beast in his full grisly bearing, she agrees to play the part of prisoner for her father –for the rest of her life.  She has no idea if the Beast was keeping her father alive just to have him for dinner, or if there’s any hope in escaping.  Either way, she knows endless miserable days and the possibility of a painful death await her, yet she chooses it anyway.

She’s not the type to fall apart in dangerous situations.  Evidenced by the fact that when she and her horse are attacked by wolves, and her horse’s reigns get caught in the branches of the trees, she doesn’t run, but grabs the nearest hefty stick and goes after the wolves to defend herself and her horse.  And lastly, she knows a crowd of bloodthirsty townsmen have just left to storm the castle and kill the Beast, and she rides after them to warn the Beast anyway.  All of these actions might seem foolhardy, but they only reveal to the audience another worthwhile character trait of Belle:

(6) Belle fights for those she loves.  She’s not a victim, under any circumstance.  The first thing she asks her father when she finds him in the dungeon is, “Who’s done this to you?” followed quickly by the reassurance, “I won’t leave you.”  If you’re her friend (or horse) she’s got your back and won’t leave you in order to save her own skin, but will do everything within her power to dig you out of the mess you’re in.  Even if it’s your own doing.  Perhaps the most loyal thing Belle does in the movie is to ride after the crew of angry townsmen in order to warn the Beast.  It’s a testament to the belief that he is worth fighting for, that there is something in him that’s been redeemed.  She’s tried convincing them that he’s not an evil creature, but they didn’t listen.  But that, and her small stature, don’t stop her from physically coming to his aid.  She’s strong enough to risk everything to save those she loves.

(7) Maybe this falls under the category of courage, but I think it deserves its own point:  Belle is not afraid to love.  Everyone loves the song “Something There,” but hidden within the feathery and endearing lyrics is perhaps, the most important decision Belle makes within the story:  to love the Beast.  Understandably, she finds her romantic feelings for the Beast alarming.  She’s already vaguely worried that she’s odd compared to the other townspeople, a point she brings up with her father at the beginning of the movie.  And I’m sure, even in the universe that she lives in, it’s not normal to have those kinds of feelings for a ‘beast.’  And then there’s the fact that he’s holding her there against her will.  (And suddenly this sounds like the plot line of a bad romance novel.  Except there’s no erotica, because she’s not attracted to him physically.  Obviously.  And it’s a children’s movie.)  These worries give her pause, but they don’t stop her from making the decision to let herself fall in love.  She could close up her heart and say, “No this situation is too risky.  I’d have to be an idiot to let myself fall in love here.  How could I trust my heart to this guy?”  And she doesn’t let the fear that things might move out of her control if she lets her heart go overpower her reasoning.

Sometimes you get to choose if you fall in love with someone, and sometimes you don’t.  In this circumstance Belle recognized that her feelings could lead her down that path, and she could have chosen to close herself off from those feelings in self-defense.  But she doesn’t.  She chooses to let herself fall in love and see what happens with this new twist in her life.

(8) And finally, Belle’s beauty invites others to change their lives for the better.  The whole crux of the movie, when the Beast decides to spare Gaston, comes about because the Beast has come to know and love who Belle is.  Holding the whimpering and groveling man out over the edge of the castle, the Beast recognizes himself, or at least who he used to be, in Gaston.  In his mind’s eye is this very same scene of the arrogant man begging in fear for his life, except it is himself before the enchantress.  So he gives Gaston a chance to save his life from the mess he’s made of it.  But does this ability to see himself and others more clearly come if Belle had never entered his life?  My guess is no.  Because it all stems from learning to love.

The curse specifies, “If he could learn to love another and earn her love in return, then the spell would be broken” with the caveat that “beauty is found within.”  Now, it’s true that any girl could waltz into the castle and the staff (and I’m sure the Beast too) would do everything possible to make her fall in love with the Beast.  It doesn’t matter who she is, she’s female and that means she could break the spell.  Because, hey, who wants to spend the rest of their life as an inanimate object when there’s a chance that you could be human again?  But the catch is that the Beast has to fall in love with her too.  I can’t see many women putting up with Beast’s behavior, much less feeling all warm and fuzzy inside around him.  And if she’s not interested or even open to the idea of anything more than tolerating coexisting with this beast, chances are, he’s not having a good time either.  Commence overgrown temper tantrums and shredded furniture.

It’s a good thing Belle comes along then, with her beauty that comes from within.  Yes, she’s pretty.  All the Disney princesses are.  But is that really why the Beast comes to love her?  Why do we love someone?  Is it because of how they look?  Or because of who they are?  Or a combination of the two?

The first time they meet, Belle’s act of courage to take her father’s place makes the Beast pause in surprise and respect, asking, “You would take his place?”  And later when Belle is tending his wounds after her escape attempt and she thanks him, he wonders at her and [grudgingly –it’s a new thing for him] says you’re welcome and then proceeds to stare at her closely like he can’t figure her out, but he likes what he sees.  And then Belle is treating him like any other human being, not tiptoeing around his pride, or meeting his glances with disgust, but in fact, being more kind and encouraging than any other person he’s encountered in his life.  And lo and behold, suddenly the audience is seeing a softer side of the beast, one that wants to do something nice for Belle in appreciation for what she’s done for him and to bring her a happiness while she is away from familiar comforts.  –An indication that he’s actually thinking about other people and their wants and needs.

The Beast’s affection and desire for Belle might grow as he looks on her appearance every day, but her physical beauty isn’t the cause for his change in heart.  It’s the beauty that he sees in her character that prompts him to adjust his own behavior.  Her beauty emanates from within and encompasses her every action.  It’s not just how she looks, but who she is.  And that’s something worth celebrating and imitating.

Found, Folded and Waiting, Under an Important Piece of Mail

Dear Sir,

I am sorry to have left you so suddenly,

or rather,

I am sorry for withdrawing my heart

with such forthrightness.

You see, it occurred to me

that these wounds that I have encountered,

ones which have long gone unprobed,

you would unwittingly aggravate and cause further tears in.

And it is better

that I should seek a binding for them

and be able someday to stand

more whole and more freely myself,

than to remain

and risk an infection at the edges,

a discoloring from bitterness,

or worse, to run,

closing myself off from all the good

that might come from our friendship.

(I know that to deny

my feelings for you

as I have tried to do many times before

would only delay the hurt and increase

the sharpness of the blade.)

So I have stepped away

and into the embrace of One

who has long looked to sew these ends

together and hold

my hands to his heart

and whisper the truth until I should know it

and not believe the lie.

For I am not now ready

to love you in the way that I should,

nor are you.

But if we should bring our loves

to the One who abounds in and perfects

all love, we wound find our hearts

renewed, burnt in flames

that shed old onion skin wrappings

and somehow leave the heart redder

and larger than before.

For this is our first task:

to offer up ourselves

to be invigorated to new life,

leaving behind the things which would cause decay

and spread a film over our eyes and limbs.

And if we are to love one another,

as we should,

as this One does us,

how can we learn it

except through Christ?

So this is where I have gone,

should one day your heart call you on

to meet its desires

and you should seek

with a ready and restful countenance

the love which I have withdrawn.

You will find it safe

in the hands of Him

who has been growing and healing it

all along

only to love you better.

—–