Esther Pavao
A friend of mine sent me this blog today. At first, I thought it was promoting pre-marital sex. "Why did she send met this?" But I pushed through and finished and realized I was wrong.

The blog post speaks for itself and I won't blunder through explaining it. It's well-written and easy to understand. It's primarily directed at single Christian women who are waiting for marriage, but I think, as a married woman, I got as much out of it.

I think the principle of the thing is the same. I don't pursue a relationship with God so that I can have wisdom, peace, and harmony in my marriage. I pursue it for the sake of it. Everything else is a byproduct of my love for God. I don't ask God to bless my marriage because I've given Him my life, I give my life because He wants it. My marriage is blessed because of it, but that isn't the point.

I had a conversation with my husband once about motivations. I didn't want to do something because my reasons for doing it were selfish. He pointed out that the thing itself was good, even if my motivations were wrong, and wasn't it possible that God could redeem my motivations because I'd done a good thing, for whatever reason?

I won't go on and on, but I hope you were encouraged.
Esther Pavao
I ran across this on Facebook this morning and it made me smile. Sometimes, the simplest answers are best. Just because you don't believe in God, doesn't mean he isn't there.

 I don't own this video, and I hope I'm not infringing on copyright or anything. But it was sweet and simple and short.
Esther Pavao
I ran across a series of articles recently that really raised my blood pressure. No, seriously, I felt my blood pressure. That can't be good, right? I should probably lay off the caffeine. In my short lifetime, I have been irritated countless times. I have been aggravated, teased, annoyed, angry, and hurt until I cried. But I can count on one...make that two...hands the number of times I've been so angry I actually felt my blood boil. This particular time, I think I was disgusted more than I was angry, but all the same...enough about my feelings.

I found an article quoting the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, a very well-known clothing line. I thought the quotes were surely taken out of context. But a little research proved that they were accurate. In a nutshell, this grown man has stated that his company is for "cool kids" only. He gave an interview to Salon magazine in 2006 in which he openly admits that they target "the cool all-American teenagers" and that some people "don't belong and will never belong" in A&F clothing.

The company refuses to buy XL, XXL or above in women's clothing. The average woman wears near a 14. I've personally never bought anything from A&F. Their clothing is ridiculously overpriced. I wouldn't argue with the common-sense journalist who said, "A&F is an uppity, pre-yuppie brand that targets 18-to 22-year-olds. Who else would have the immature notion to pay $68 for a pair of raveling short-shorts, the modern-day equivalent of loincloths? It's obvious their merchandise is not intended for every physique." (Read the whole article here.)The quote made me laugh, but it's also true.

They've been sued before and a friend told me this morning that they've been sued for child pornography and that their promotional material was so inappropriate, it really out to be restricted to 18 years and older. Seriously, they don't advertise their clothing, they advertise half-naked models. 

Now, I know some people are thinking, "Just don't buy from them if it bothers you." I agree with you. I would never presume to tell someone (unless they are my own child) that they could or couldn't buy from a specific store. But I am anti-bullying, and when it comes from a grown man with the ability and resources to make a difference, I feel an overwhelming shame. American teenagers have are bombarded with magazines and movies and stores telling them that they must fit into a certain mold to be beautiful. Mannequins traditionally advertise sizes 2-4. A vast majority of actresses and models are unhealthily small. Targeting teenagers and attacking their size is low. Who says your size determines your value?

I have nothing against small people. My three best friends are all skinnier than I am and I think they are drop-dead gorgeous. But I find them beautiful because I know how kind they are, how giving they are, and etc. This father says it  even better than I can.

I'll get off my soapbox. This subject has been attacked from all angles by so many people. I really wrote this post to promote a video I watched today that gave me quite a bit of satisfaction. You really should take the time to watch it. I know, he uses some minor profanities, but if that bothers you, you're really missing the whole point of the video.

Esther Pavao
I posted this about three years ago, and found it this morning. Recently, I've been going through my older blog posts and found that some of the fire I had for Christ when I was younger has faded somewhat. I think my zeal for God waxes and wanes, and I wish that weren't true, but I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. Zeal is often compared to fire, and it's an apt description. A flame on a matchstick may be brighter than a burning coal, but you can bet that coal will burn more sharply. That coal has been burning much longer and the heat has gone to its core. Though it appears cold and dead, its entire being is hot and with a little fanning and maybe some kindling, will burst into flame again. The matchstick will burn brightly, maybe catch something else, and then it is blown out or burns out on its own.

I've been thinking about what it means to be in this world, but not of  this world because of a project some of us young people have been working on. It was a discussion topic we were supposed to think about, research on, and pray about. I talked about it with a few people. How can you be born here on this planet, live here, and yet, not be "of" here? These are a series of thoughts that I came up with (with some help).

We Are Missionaries To Earth
For Christians, I think that living on earth is like being a missionary. When you are a missionary, you live in the country, learn their language, dress like them, eat like them, follow some of their customs, and yet, you are different. You are a different race and people can easily see you're not one of them, regardless of the language you speak or the clothes you wear.

We're not natives of earth. We're a different race, a different people. We're only here for a short time and while we're here, we may dress like Americans, speak English, and eat American food. We live in houses like all other Americans, but we are not Americans.The difference should be obvious.

Being A Missionary
When I was in Mexico, everyone could easily see that I was not Mexican. My light skin and hair set me apart, and when I spoke, my language separated me even further. I wore the same clothes as them, and this time when I go back, I'll even somewhat speak the same language as them. I ate what they ate, I followed their customs, even when they didn't make sense to me, and yet I stood out as totally different. In our daily lives, when we come into contact with people, the difference should be obvious. The way we speak, our values, and our behavior should instantly set us apart.

Our Example
When Jesus was on Earth, he attracted people to Him wherever He went. Every city, every house, he had a huge crowd of people who could see He was different. Before He taught, he already had people following Him. When He opened His mouth and spoke, people knew He was different. If we are followers of Christ, should it not be the same for us? If we are patterning our lives after His, shouldn't we be set apart on sight? Shouldn't we be in this world, as He was, and yet make it clear that we are only passing through? We shouldn't have any ties to this world. He told us that He had no place to rest His head. (Matt 8:20) He seriously was just passing through. He didn't allow Himself any ties to this world at all, not even a bed. How much more free would we be if weren't bound by earthly things?

(I'm not saying "Let's all sleep outside on the ground!", but try telling me that if you had to pick up and go right this minute, there wouldn't be several things that you would have to consider first.)

What Do You See?
I cannot remember where I heard or read this, but I remember a story. When Queen Elizabeth I was a little girl, she was misbehaving and her nanny, frustrated beyond measure, dragged her in front of a mirror and made her look inside. "What do you see? I see the future queen of England. Now start acting like it!"

I don't know if this is a true story, but I can imagine this little girl, feeling the weight of her lot in life and living underneath that weight. People will watch every move she makes, every word that comes out of her mouth will be judged and picked apart. Every person she talks to will be a judgment on her character. Every decision she makes as queen will impact an entire country of people. She will be the most liked and disliked person in the country. That's a lot of weight for a little girl to carry.

Take the time to look in the mirror. What do you see? You see a follower of God. Every word that comes of your mouth, everything you do, everywhere you go, you are being watched and judged. If we lived our lives that way, knowing what we are and acting accordingly, there would be a lot less carelessness in our treatment of people.

I used to laugh at those WWJD bracelets and bumper stickers, but in all honesty, "What Would Jesus Do?" If we are patterning our lives after His, wouldn't it be a good idea to ask ourselves what He would do in every situation and with every person we come into contact with?

 My closing thought is this: living in the world, and not being of it requires a constant reminder of who and what we are. Whether you need to remind yourself every morning when you look in the mirror or whatever, know you're not of this world and act accordingly.
Esther Pavao
I am no good at dance choreography. As hard as I try, what I feel inside of me when I listen to music refuses to come out in dance. I find myself powerless to express my emotions through dance, as much as I yearn to and try. Even when I'm alone with no chance of anyone watching, my body refuses to comply with my wishes and I just kind of sway and spin and wish that I could express what the music makes me feel.

I try to go down to the town hall a couple times a week to work on it. I work out and practice over and over the things I've been taught and try very hard to come up with new ones, but I just have to face the fact that dance is one of those things that I constantly have to work at to keep up with. Unfortunately, it just does not come naturally to me. That talent went to my sister.

I think it's because I've never learned how. I've done Irish dance my whole life, requiring little more than fancy footwork and firm abdominals. A straight back and stiff arms are required and as such, I've rarely used them to express myself in dance. It goes against every instinct to even lift my arms in dance.

I think that loving God is kind of like that. We all feel it inside of us and desperately want to express it, but we don't know how initially. It requires learning. We watch other people. But we have to work at it. Learn new things about Him, look foolish, fail, and try again.

I started taking ballet classes this past year. For no reason other than it sounded fun and I admire the grace and talent it requires. I started about a year after everyone else, so I am still clumsy, stiff, and awkwardly learning to push my body to its limits. Literally. I had no idea my legs could do some of the things they are doing.

And that's the point! We are capable of doing so much more than we even imagine! People ask me if I "can" do something. Absolutely! Do I have a natural talent for it? Absolutely not! Seriously, ask the people I play soccer with. But can I push myself to my limits, try new things, try again when I fail, and try harder than before? You bet. I mean that physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I got in fights with my mom a lot when I was younger. Did I think we would get past them? No. I though we would spend our lives at odds with each other. But I tried to understand her and she worked at understanding me. She is now one of my best friends. I started playing soccer so I could spend time with my husband (that's a whole other blog post). Ok, so I'm still not much good at this one. I constantly wind up with new bruises and injuries. But I keep trying, keep playing, and keep getting up when I'm knocked over (literally, in this case). And I keep dancing. I still am the clumsiest person in the class, but I can follow along better now than when I started.

I still fail God daily. I probably will for the rest of my life. But I keep trying.
Esther Pavao

I don’t really know why, but I found myself browsing through some of my older blogs this morning. I really was going through a lot of growth at one point in my life and I noticed that the more I was going through, the more blogs and then the blogs petered out. It's not that I had overcome everything and I had nothing to write about, so why the sudden stop?

I grew up.

Ugh, one of the scariest sentences in the world and one I swore I'd never say. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a naturalist. I dreamed of traveling the world in khaki shorts and hiking boots and finding rare animals. That dream changed and I wanted to be a famous singer. I wanted to sing my heart out on stage and change lives the same way that other singers had for me.

When did I get to the age that my only dreams were to make it to the end of the week before my paycheck ran out? When did getting a second car, paying off the first one, and finally having money in my savings account become more important than dreaming?

I fell out of the habit of learning and dreaming. I used to write all the time and when I wasn't writing, I was thinking about what I could write. I found that I had a talent for putting complicated thoughts onto paper and that people liked it for some reason. I never wrote for the audience, I wrote mostly for my own peace of mind: to get the words out of my head, they needed to be on paper.

When did I get to the age that dreaming became a childish thing? That "planning something fun" meant an evening with a new movie and a couple of beers? (To be honest, I actually get bored doing that. I spend the evening browsing Pinterest while the movie plays in the background.) Making big plans to travel the world became an impossible thing only mentioned in jest.

I had a revelation the other night. My husband and I were eating dinner at his parents' and the subject of relatives came up. Apparently he has a lot of relatives in Hawaii and if we ever made it down there, we could have ridiculously inexpensive lodging.

"Want to go to Hawaii, babe?" He asked me, excitedly. I had a flash of excitement at the thought and then reality kicked in.
"You can't be seriously considering it." I said it really without thinking. He started talking plane ticket prices and transportation costs when we got there but I kept saying, "It's never going to happen," "You can't be serious." "Like we'll ever have the money to do that."

And eventually, he stopped dreaming too.

It's as simple as that. When you stop dreaming, you can kill other people's dreams too. What was the harm in imagining a great vacation to Hawaii in which we can bike all over the island, spend time with each other, and see one of the most beautiful beaches? Sure, it's a little unrealistic, but where's the harm in dreaming? It really isn't as unrealistic as I'm making it out to be, and yet, I stopped dreaming.

I often complain about growing up. I say I want to stay young forever and be spontaneous and crazy and fun, but I've lost the fundamental truth of being a child: dreaming. So here goes: I dream about a trip to Hawaii, just my best friend in the world and me. We're going to someday fly over to Hawaii and try to get a fisherman to ferry us between the islands. We're going to get in shape so we can rent bikes and ride around the island. We'll lay on the beach and obviously we have to try a pina colada because they're iconic.

We're going to travel to Britain one of these days. We're going to backpack through Europe and see Italy, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, and anywhere else we want to go. (And since this is fantasy, we're going to be gone for several months.) Of course by this time, he'll be a famous soccer player so it will have to be in his off-season and I'll be a famous author documenting my travels. And what the heck, I'll also be a famous singer. I've given up the naturalist thing. Apparently you have to actually like animals for that one. Who knew, right? I actually don't know if I'll be famous for being an author. I don't have to decide that one yet. I could be famous for some other reason. I don't really care as long as it got me enough money to travel the world.

Ok, so now I need to snap out of dreamland and behave like an adult. Laundry, dishes, and my husband's lunch are calling my name. But one of these days….

Esther Pavao
I heard a song recently that got me thinking. This happens sometimes, and I don't write anything down, but as I've mentioned before, sometimes I can't get an idea out of my head unless it's written down, so this is more for my peace of mind than anything else.

A song came on when I was flipping through my radio. It's a recent release by Demi Lovato called "Heart Attack". She is pretty famous for having gone through rehab recently for drug problems and overcoming them, coming out with a passion to help other girls.

Anyhow, it came on just as she was singing a line "You make me want to act like a girl/paint my nails and wear perfume for you." It got me thinking about how women are expected to behave in today's society.

There's a certain pressure on women to be successful: to pursue a career and be strong in areas that, before now, were unnecessary. In past centuries, it was nearly unheard of for women to get jobs outside of the home. I'm not against women's rights in the slightest, just making an observation more than anything. But now, since we are expected to be able to be stronger, work harder, etc., there's almost a condescension towards women who haven't pursued a career of some kind before they "settle down" to have families.

It is unusual to find a man who allows you the privilege of "being a girl", allowing you to be soft. I got lucky and found one early on, but many women spend their whole lives searching for the man that finally allows them to stop trying so hard, to stop searching and finally relax and be secure.

The song goes on to say that, in spite of her obvious attraction, she will put her defenses up. She doesn't want to fall in love because if she did, she would "have a heart attack."

This song, while extremely catchy, makes me incredibly sad. We really do live in a time when it really is exhausting, putting yourself out there over and over again and being hurt by people. It's risky, and often people let us down. Physical and emotional intimacy is, quite literally, dangerous. For some people, maybe even most people, emotional damage is worse than physical pain and many choose to simply shut themselves off from the world and relationships rather than face that kind of betrayal.

It takes so long to get over emotional pain. Fleeting joy may seem like an unfair price for lingering pain and damage. So people choose to objectify themselves, become an object to be admired, enjoyed, and used rather than hold out for someone who allows them to "feel like a girl."

But, you know, I really think people forget that lasting friendships and deep relationships are worth putting yourself out there for. In my experience, 100% of the people you allow yourself to care for will hurt you in one way or another. To expect perfection is setting that person up for failure. It's unfair to everyone else to expect them to "get it right" every single time. So take the pain and the joy together! Stop looking for reasons to shut people out and take the chance that you can get close to someone without "having a heart attack."

That was probably way more thought than Lovato expected someone to put into her song, but, well, that's How I See It.