Breathing Life into Little Piggies

Little Girl Painted ToesMy nieces, “The Adorables”, love to have their nails painted. At ages 2 and 4, they are not yet allowed to paint their own nails, but they love to sit like little princesses and be pampered while Auntie Aurora applies (usually glitter) nail polish to their delicate fingers and toes.

Over Christmas break, I removed chipping red nail polish from my own toes the day before I saw The Adorables in preparation for our nail painting time together. The next day when I pulled off my socks and shoes, Lily (who turns 3 this month) gasped and pointed at my feet.

“Auntie Aurora,” she began in her little voice, “What happened to your toes?”

I laughed and smiled at her as I explained, “I took off my nail polish!”

My feet are pretty calloused from running and years of soccer, so I rarely go without nail polish. On top of that, I have poor circulation in my extremities, so my hands and feet tend to get cold easily, and my nails turn purplish-blue as they become mildly cyanotic.

Lily’s brow stayed furrowed in concern as she gently touched the big toe of my left foot. “Are your toes not breathing?”

My eyes widened in astonishment as I realized that Lily was referring to the blue hue of my toe nails. They turn blue due to lack of oxygenation, so my little 2-year-old niece was right. “That’s right, Lily! My toes are blue because they are not breathing.”

My sister-in-law is a nurse, so I thought she must have had a conversation with Lily about oxygenation, but when I asked my sister, she was as astonished as I was! Lily figured this out all on her own. Displaying greater understanding than most adults. Because she’s precocious.

Who is this child?! Oh yeah. She’s related to me. Precocious runs in the family. 😉

Authentically Aurora

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Moments – Part III

PianoBy the time our newest alto had claimed her victory in Apples to Apples, the night was growing late, and people soon began to filter out. I moved to the sink to start washing dishes while others collected discarded napkins and bottles to help me clean up.

Two by two, acquaintances-turned-friends departed until only Michael and our newest alto remained. Michael had settled himself at my keyboard, playing the piano softly while I washed dishes and the other girl listened to a voicemail on her phone. My heart skipped a beat, wondering why Michael was lingering, but I pushed down my racing thoughts and focused on being in the moment, enjoying the peaceful harmonies emanating from my keyboard.

The other girl finished with her voice message, looked around as though surprised to see everyone else gone, and bid goodnight to Michael and me, seeming to think nothing of leaving the two of us alone together. I, on the other hand, thought lots of things about leaving the two of us alone together. But I again coached myself to be present, not overthinking or over-analyzing but just enjoying the surprising turn of events. There are three things that soothe me more than anything else in the world: singing worship music, having my mom brush my hair, and listening to a talented pianist at his craft.

I leaned on my kitchen counter, peering over Michael’s shoulder as his fingers played across the black and white keys. “What are you playing?” I asked.

“‘For All We Know,'” he told me, continuing an arpeggiated chord progression. When I shook my head, indicating that I wasn’t familiar with it, he added, “It’s a song by The Carpenters.”

“Oh! I think my mom used to listen to them.” I recognized the name of the group but also knew they were before my time. “Did you listen to a lot of oldies growing up?”

He nodded, and we continued talking about music for a while before moving on to visual art. Michael asked to see some of my paintings, so I got some out of a back closet to show him. When I pulled my rendition of “Red Poppy” from a top shelf where it had been collecting dust, he exclaimed, “Oh! Georgia O’Keeffe!”

I glanced at him in astonishment. “Michael! I am so impressed by you! How did you know that?” He just shrugged, looking pleased.

After reviewing my paintings, I also pulled out a sketchbook and flipped through it with him, pointing out a few of my favorites – a self-portrait I did a few years ago as well as a portrait of my late grandfather I sketched more recently.

“You are so talented,” he breathed quietly, still looking intently at my sketches.

“So are you,” I said, smiling up at him as he bent over my artwork.

“Thanks.” We smiled shyly at each other for a moment before Michael broke the silence, clearing his throat. “Well, I should let you get to bed.”

We moved toward my front door, and I stepped forward to hug him goodnight. Michael had hung his rarely-worn glasses from his top button, and he pulled them from his chest just before our bodies met so that I could rest against him. We didn’t hug for long, having only ever hugged once before, but I was still smiling well after he left.

I am only now looking up the lyrics to “For All We Know.” And they are perfect.

Love, look at the two of us
Strangers in many ways
Let’s take a lifetime to say
“I knew you well”
For only time will tell us so
And love may grow
For all we know.

Authentically Aurora

The Liebster Award

Liebster AwardWhy do you write? Is it for the attention; the acclaim; the dream of being the next Jonathan Acuff? Is it your way of cataloguing or even processing your life? Or is it for the pure love of writing?

I write because it is therapeutic and because, let’s be honest, my life can be a great source of entertainment for the downtrodden desperately in need of a laugh. But it’s also nice to be noticed and complimented on a job well done, even though that wasn’t my goal going in. So it is with great honor and appreciation that I accept mylittlepieceofquiet‘s nomination for The Liebster Award. Consider this my acceptance speech.

Jennifer Lawrence acceptance speechI’d like to thank, first and foremost, God for the gift of words, particularly the Word who is also the Way. Next, I’d like to thank my family and friends for all of their support through the crazy adventures detailed in this blog. And lastly, I’d like to thank all of the kind, psycho, timid, bold, wise, immature, clueless, well-intentioned and not-so-well-intentioned men who have served as fodder for my writing. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Alright, on to the good stuff. What is the Liebster Award? It’s an award of recognition in which one blogger with less than 200 followers nominates 11 other gifted bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Here are my 11 nominations:

  1. Masculinity Summit
  2. Lifeloveandthepursuitofmommyness
  3. Written For Our Instruction
  4. codegirlblog
  5. typetasting
  6. themodernladyofficial
  7. Casey Fiesler
  8. MARKMDMPH
  9. Fictional Types
  10. My Heart Will Sing No Other Name
  11. Scribal Tattoo

Next, my 11 answers to mylittlepieceofquiet‘s questions:

  1. Do you have any pets?
    1. Nope, but that didn’t keep me from getting fleas earlier this year!
  2. If you could meet anyone from the past, who would it be and why?
    1. Jesus. It’s hard to trump the Son of God. Initially, my answer to “why” was going to be that there are some questions I’d like to ask God, but then I decided that, really, I just want to bask in his presence, sit by his side and be wrapped in the strong arms of the One who loves me more than I can imagine.
  3. What are some of your hobbies?
    1. I have tons of hobbies. I get bored easily, so as soon as I feel like I have mastered one, I move on to another. Over the past five years, my hobbies have included: reading, swing dancing, writing music, painting, photography, running, traveling, cooking, ancestry research and now blogging!
  4. Do you prefer to drink coffee or tea?
    1. I have always loved the smell of coffee. It’s a comforting smell that reminds me of mornings in my childhood home as my dad was getting ready for work. But only in the past few years have I started to like the taste of coffee. I drink green tea every morning, but I’ve become a sucker for sweet coffee drinks.
  5. What is your favourite season of the year and why?
    1. Christmas, duh! Actually, fall in general. I love the crisp weather, the changing leaves, the spices and smells of the season, the focus on friends and family, the perspective shift to a season of giving, and the celebration of the birth of our Savior.
  6. How long have you been blogging?
    1. Just a few months now. I started in August.
  7. What are a couple of your favourite movies?
    1. Top 3: Bourne Identity, Tangled, Gladiator
  8. If you could pick one favourite book, what would it be?
    1. Besides the bible? Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith. It was one of my favorites in junior high/high school and still has a special place in my heart.
  9. What is your favourite colour and why?
    1. Picking a favorite color is tough because my favorite color to wear is not the same color I’d pick for a new car, nor is it the color I would choose for the interior decorating of my living room. My favorite color to wear is green, but when I was a girl, my favorite color overall was purple because I believed it to be the color of royalty, so I thought it best represented God, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
  10. What is one of your favourite quotes?
    1. So many good ones, but for today… my dad always said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
  11. What is your favourite type of music or favourite song?
    1. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of country music, but this week, my go-to song is Blank Space. Don’t judge. Horrible lyrics, but you’ve gotta admit that it’s catchy!

And finally, my 11 questions to my 11 nominees:

  1. Which of your posts is your favorite, and why?
  2. If you could meet anyone from the past, who would it be and why?
  3. What are some of your hobbies?
  4. Where is your favorite place to sit and write?
  5. What is your favorite topic to write about?
  6. How long have you been blogging?
  7. Of the topics you’ve blogged about, which is the most difficult to write about, and why?
  8. If you could pick one favourite book, what would it be?
  9. What is your favourite colour and why?
  10. What is one of your favourite quotes?
  11. Who has been the most influential person in your life?

Thanks again, and happy reading!

Authentically Aurora

Nick the Strict – Part III

Akiane Co-creation

When Nick and I met up for our second date (the aforementioned “fun” walk in the park), it was blessedly only 97 degrees outside – not even triple digits! It was perfect walking weather such that my foundation only partially melted off of my face. I had chosen a preppy-but-athletic look, sporting a bright pink tank top with black running shorts and sparkly stud earrings (seriously, girls, what do you wear for a date like this?!). I will say that Nick looked good in his black athletic tee and basketball shorts, although I’m not sure how he didn’t sweat to death.

He had arrived at the park nearly twenty minutes early and, for some unknown reason, felt the need to text me to let me know that he was already there. I, of course, then felt rushed and stressed as I dashed home from work to change and then got back behind the wheel to drive to the park in rush hour traffic. Needless to say, my greeting smile was a bit forced as I screeched into a parking spot next to the walking trail.

We had a nice conversation at first, with Nick telling me about his kids at school (classes started this week) and some of his hobbies (fishing and volunteer work). But the conversation turned sour when Nick asked me about my hobbies. I have an engineering degree but love the arts – music, painting, dancing, etc. So I told Nick about one of the paintings I’m working on now, and then I started raving about Akiane Kramarik, a child prodigy who has painted a beautiful portrait of Jesus.

Nick interrupted me mid-sentence and blurted out, “She painted Jesus?” As such a zealous Christian, I thought he would be pleasantly intrigued, but his tone was accusatory as he went on, “That’s idolatry. Don’t you know we’re not supposed to make graven images?“I was taken aback. As someone raised in the church, I am familiar with the Ten Commandments, but I thought Nick’s approach was extreme. The purpose of that commandment was that followers of God worship Him only and not other false gods (e.g. Baal), man-made images (worshiping the created instead of the Creator), or – as in Jesus’ New Testament teachings – more intangible idols like the love of money.

To call a painting of Jesus idolatry is ridiculous. It’s true that if the viewers worshipped the painting itself, that would be idolatry, but Akiane painted that image as an act of worship to Jesus himself! She was honoring God, not insulting him, through her use of these phenomenal God-given talents. Akiane and artists like her glorify God when they turn their gifts back to Him in praise.

I didn’t want to get into a fight, but I stood my ground calmly and rationally. Nick has more of a passionate, intense, emotion-based style, so he attacked me verbally, not even stopping for breath so that I could get a word in to counter his onslaught. “Contentious” was the word that came to mind as I looked at his contorted face.

As he ranted on, in my head, I thought, “Look, punk. I was raised in the church, am the granddaughter of a pastor, have led multiple bible studies, have done mission work on five continents, and even went to seminary. Just stop now because you are blatantly wrong.” But externally, I let him get it out of his system while I watched the clouds drift by, pink-rimmed by the brilliant sunset, and imagined how I would paint them.

Nick clearly didn’t have ears go hear the truth, so I didn’t bother to disagree later in the evening when he told me: a) who and what I should and should not pray for, b) what Christian women should and should not wear, and c) what my relationship “red flags” should and should not be. I think I’ve certainly got that last one down, and dude, you’re sunk.

Well-intentioned but Pharisee-like Christians such as Nick are part of the reason there are so many atheists in America today. And that makes my heart sad.

Authentically Aurora

A Gentleman’s Heartbreak

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 11.12.08 PMTonight’s post isn’t going to be my usual sardonic style. It is going to be a more subdued, sad post, because sad is how I feel. Tonight I broke the heart of a perfectly wonderful man, and I feel terrible.

It was our second time out, and on both dates, John not only made dinner reservations but also presented me with a bouquet of fresh flowers. I cannot remember the last time someone brought me flowers. My ex-fiance would occasionally have them delivered to my office for Valentine’s Day or my birthday, but he never hand carried flowers to deliver in person for no other reason than to let me know that I was cherished.

John dressed well and opened my door for me consistently. He told me that I was stunningly beautiful and wonderfully intelligent. Both nights after dinner, he had an activity planned for us. Tonight we went to a painting-and-wine venue, and he had the forethought to bring a cooler in his trunk, stocked with drinks for us to enjoy while we painted. He did everything right. He was a sweet, kind, thoughtful, considerate gentleman, but we had no personality chemistry.

Conversation was stilted at dinner on both dates. We had difficulty finding topics to discuss, and when I would ask him a question about himself, I found myself bored or disinterested by his answers. John was also a bit socially awkward. When he got excited about something, he would pump his fists in the air and yell loudly enough for other diners to look over at our booth, remaining oblivious to the impact of his outburst. He also tried to speak in broken Spanish to any waiter or waitress who appeared foreign (our Korean waitress looked offended).  He was incredibly well-intentioned, but I felt uncomfortable being with John. In fact, if I’m honest, I was embarrassed to be with him, which sounds awful, but it’s the truth. John treated me like a queen, and I appreciated that more than he probably realizes – it was so refreshing to be treated with dignity and care! – but I cannot marry a man whose behavior regularly makes me want to crawl under the table in embarrassment.

So at the end of the evening when John asked me if I would like to go out on a third date, I told him that I thought he was a wonderful man but that I did not feel like we had romantic chemistry. He was shocked and crushed. He told me in a heartbroken voice, “I really thought I was going to get a third date.” When his face fell, it made my heart ache to see such a sweet man in so much emotional pain, especially since I knew it was caused by me. I tried to encourage him, telling him all of the things I appreciated about him and how much he had to offer the right girl, but it was clear that he had already invested a lot of his heart in the relationship, even just two dates in, which is probably part of why I felt so adored.

Although John may have some things to learn in regards to emotional intelligence, many other men could learn a lot from John about the power of truly investing in a relationship and loving their partner well.

Authentically Aurora

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