Friday, October 11, 2013

Oh my sweet merciful heavens - or: How Aeryn Rediscovers the Luxury of Being a Girl

Listen up, my children, while I 'splain you a thing. I want to announce to the men of the world that it is a shame ain't no one wants to touch this, because I feel sexy and silky ALL OVER and I am about to share with you ALL THE SECRETS.

Once upon a time there was a Canadian cosmetics company called LUSH, who generously shared its products with its rambunctious neighbor to the south. A fairy princess who walks this fair land under the pseudonym Miranda initiated yours truly into the mysteries of this company, and now I pass them on to you, Gentle Reader.

Wash the face with the cleanser of your choice (mine is Fresh Farmacy). Spread on the appropriate mask. My first experience was with BB Seaweed, which was entirely satisfactory except for the "Hi, I'm Seaweed. I'll be the hole in your mask today."

While the mask is tightening, apply Roots hair treatment to the scalp and work completely through hair to the ends.

Then run a warm to hot bath. Drop one of the many exquisite bath bombs into the running water. I can recommend both Butterball and Sex Bomb. Sex Bomb comes with its own little rose of bubbly goodness, as well. Some people recommend adding bubble bars, as well.

While luxuriating in the warm lavishing of the enhanced waters, shave your legs and other areas. I have discovered the superiority of the Venus Embrace, as its 5 blades make quick work of even the bear pelt on my legs and its floating head handles flab well.

When you think your legs and other areas are smooth, think again. Take generous scoops of Ocean Salt and scrub all over. Then drain the tub and turn on the shower. Shampoo the treatment out of your hair, rinse the mask and scrub off your face and body.

If you think you're finished when you towel off, you are wrong. Emollients! Soften Full of Grace in your hands and spread it all over your face, even your eyelids. Lovely Jubblies (basically bag cream for humans) goes on your bosom and anywhere else you want a tightening effect ("I'm sorry, did you just say ALL OVER MY BODY????").

Finish the luxury with Helping Hands hand lotion and your choice of lip scrub (I LOVE Mint Julips). Yes, I said LIP SCRUB. It's a sugar scrub FOR YOUR LIPS. It tastes lovely and leaves the lips oh-so-kissable. Too bad no one wants to kiss them ...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Christian Perspective on Dysmorphia

Been thinking a lot about my transgender friend, since he had his chest reconstruction surgery. I know the attitude of most Christians is that God doesn't make mistakes and that people who experience dysmorphia between their physical gender and the gender they feel in their soul are somehow wrong, ungrateful, or sinning. I can't think that.

While obviously I agree that God is perfect and that when He created this universe, He created it perfectly, I believe that since the Fall, sin has permeated and polluted our world. Genesis 3 supports this belief. Genesis 2 implies that human souls are created male and female. And so, I have no trouble following logic to the next step, which is that it is entirely possible, due to the aggregate pollution (both literal and metaphysical) of the world and the human genome, for a person to be born in the wrong-gendered body. 

I have never had this type of dysmorphia issue. I cannot even imagine how it must feel. Even though I was a complete tomboy growing up - I gravitated to the boys for play, I spent equal time or more with my Legos and little green soldiers as I did with my Barbies - I have always felt female. I cannot judge someone for feeling things that I have no personal context for understanding or even imagining. I am no position to determine whether someone who decides to travel the extraordinarily difficult road of changing gender - legally, physically, socially - is right or wrong to do so. 

What I can do is offer unconditional acceptance, encouragement, and support for someone who is facing such an enormous burden. I think that attitude correctly reflects Jesus Christ. I am not afraid to stand up for what is right, true, and moral, but this situation requires discretion, discernment, and most of all, love. I can respect my friend for choosing to spend the time, money, and emotional effort to make his outward appearance congruent with his inward identity without any judgment. And I can be grateful that God provided him a loving and supportive wife, since his decisions cost him his biological family.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

God, guilt, and shame

Do you ever notice how sometimes you read something from one source and then something from another source, and the two pieces of information synthesize in your head to form a connection you hadn't noticed before?

Just now, I was in the process of my morning self-improvement routine and this happened, and I want to share my minor epiphany with you.

He Loves Me! Learning to Live in the Father's Affection is a book that has significantly reshaped the way I perceive God's regard for me, and I highly recommend it.  The premise is that Christians have seriously misconstrued God's intent and love for us, and that in order to understand fully what He has done, is doing, and will continue to do for us, we must repudiate a performance-based idea of our relationship with Him. The sentence that caught my attention this morning is as follows:
If we define God only in our limited interpretation of our own circumstances, we will never discover who he really is.
I copied this sentence into my diary for further mulling over, and went on to checking my email. There was a message from Gene Monterastelli. Mr. Monterastelli is a practitioner of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), which uses acupressure principles to direct and control change in your attitudes and actions. This is a very useful technique, although no one really understands how it works.

But I digress. The point is that the title of this morning's newsletter is "The Inconvenient Truth About Shame and Guilt." If you, like me, have a working conscience and are aware of how short you fall from the ideal standards of conduct, this title probably grabs your attention like it grabbed mine. So I clicked the link to this article. Here are the relevant statements:
"When you feel guilty about something, you are holding the other person in a victim state."
When I think I have done you wrong, not only does my guilt impact the way I see myself, but it also impacts the way I see you, and therefore the way I interact with you.
When I feel like I have hurt you, I will call you less, be hesitant in your presence, and be reluctant to spend time with you.
With an almost audible "click" in my head, the two concepts merged and I realized:  This is true not only of human relationships, but also of our relationship with God!

When I am very conscious of my sinful nature, I feel shame and guilt and do not feel that I can approach God with the bold confidence of His child (Hebrews 4:16). When, out of shame, we hesitate to pray, open the Bible, or in some way seek God's face, we both hold back our own development and growth AND grieve our loving Father, who desires an intimate relationship with us. It feels odd to think of it as holding God in a victim status, but it is a useful analogy, in that our reluctance to pursue a relationship with Him grieves Him as much as it is detrimental to our own emotional and spiritual states.

So there's the problem: Guilt and shame prevent us from experiencing the full joy of an intimate relationship with our loving Father and God, and retard our own spiritual and emotional maturity.

What's the solution? I see several parts:

1. 1 John 1:9 promises that if we confess our sin to God, He will immediately forgive and restore us to fellowship. Confession is not complicated. It merely consists of telling God that what you did, said, or thought was a violation of His perfect standard.

2. If you have wronged someone, apologize. That clears the air between you and permits resumption of the relationship.

However, confession and apology, while removing the fact of guilt, do not always remove the feeling of guilt or shame. So how do we deal with that?

3. Use tools such as Bible study, therapy, "acting as if," and EFT.

Some Christians take the attitude that psychological tools are not valid; however, God created the human psyche and permitted us to discover certain principles and tools that work regardless of faith. I believe that both therapy and EFT are tools like this that should be available for everyone's use. Click the link above about Gene Monterastelli to explore his website and learn about EFT. I encourage you to try it. You'll be amazed at how well it works to help remove negative emotions that are otherwise entrenched in your heart.

Once we can remove the emotions of guilt and shame from the equation, a more intimate and fulfilling relationship with a loving God can be discovered. And really, isn't that a desirable outcome?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

You know who you are.

You are the first wave on the beach at Normandy.

You are the tunnel rat who never spoke of the horrors you saw at Cu Chi.

You are the Marine wounded in an engagement that was never reported in the newspapers.

You are the pilot shot down over enemy territory.

You are the prisoner of war who never broke under torture.

You are the sailor who was killed on the USS Cole.

You are the officer who risked his life for his men.

You are the shell of a man dying alone in a VA hospital in the middle of nowhere.

You are the one whose eyes fill with tears when you hear the National Anthem.

You are the one who salutes Old Glory.

You are the one interred at Arlington.

You are the one who served with the men memorialized on a black granite wall.

You are the one who answered your country’s call to arms.

You are the unheralded hero, the scorned veteran, the unknown soldier.

You know who you are.

I honor you.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Work in Progress

I was born for sky and water
To gaze upon mountains from above
To play with raptors on the updraft
To rise beyond clouds into endless Sun's light
To bathe in the caressing heat of His touch
Or in the cold salt Sea, buoyed by Her tears

I was born to dive into darkness
To find the denizens of the deep
Unknown, unexplained, unilluminated

I was born for the glory of the heights
The wonders of the ocean's heavy night

Do not tether me to mundane soil
Do not yoke me to plod well-worn paths
I am no mortal prisoner of gravity
Neither Earth nor Fire can bind me

Seek me where the water meets the sky
Find me there and I will show you
The secrets of the curved horizon

(c) 2013 Aeryn Dex

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
I bind this day to me for ever.

By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.

The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide,
His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.

The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

-- St. Patrick of Ireland

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A bit of poetry

I felt in the need of a bit of centering today, so I paraphrased a bunch of Scripture promises and mashed them all together. Here's the result:

I will wait upon the Lord and He will substitute His strength for my weakness.
He will give me eagle's wings and teach me to fly.
He will give me endurance to run the race set before me and not grow tired.
He will light the path of righteousness for me to walk and I will not grow faint.
I will trust in the Lord with all my heart, and acknowledge him in all my ways - physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually - and He will direct my steps.
The Lord knows what He plans for me. He will prosper me and not harm me.
He will provide for all my needs in accordance with the riches of his glory.
He will guard my heart with His peace.
He is preparing a place for me in His house, where I will live with Him forever.

(c) Aeryn Dex 2013

Feel free to share if you like it. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A few thoughts . . .

A friend of mine recently introduced me to the writings of Mark Batterson. Mr. Batterson is the pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. He has also written numerous books on living the Christian life. One of those books is Soulprint: Discovering Your Divine Destiny. Given the things that God is doing in my life right now, I picked up this book and have been amazed at the insight and helpful thoughts it contains. Here are a couple of quotations that I hope bless you as much as they have blessed me.

[W]hat we think of as the goal isn't really the goal.  The goal is not accomplishing the dream God has given to you. The dream is a secondary issue. The primary issue is who you become in the process. We fixate on what and when and where. God's primary concern is always who. And He won't get you where He wants you to go until you become who He wants you to be. ...
Sometimes you have to die to the dream God has given you so that God can resurrect the dream in its glorified form. And by glorified form, I simply mean pursuing the dream for God's glory. When you stop living for selfish purposes, the pressure comes off. And that's when your destiny comes into focus. ...
No one likes to be embarrassed. In fact, we do everything within our power to avoid embarrassment at all costs. But we need to be embarrassed for the same reason we need to fail: it keeps us humble. And humility is the key to fulfilling our destiny. The longer I live and lead, the more convinced I am of this simple truth: God doesn't do what God does because of us. God does what God does in spite of us. All we have to do is stay out of the way. And the way we stay out of the way is by staying humble. If we stay humble, there is nothing God cannot do in us and through us. And nothing expands our capacity for humility like embarrassment. If handled properly, a healthy dose of embarrassment is good for us. Embarrassing moments are like spiritual antioxidants. They purge the ego of prideful impurities. ...
Too many people live as if the purpose of life is to avoid embarrassment at all costs. They never put themselves in situations that might be awkward. So they forfeit joy. They never reveal who they really are. So they forfeit intimacy. They never take risks. So they forfeit opportunity.
I highly recommend this book if you are searching for your own divine destiny.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

10 Lessons I Have Learned from Living With Cats - #1

Life Lesson #1: Whatever you do, give it your full attention.

Have you ever watched a cat for any length of time? Whatever he does, he does with complete focus. No multi-tasking for a cat, no (at least, not unless he’s one of my kittens, who occasionally get confused about whether they’re playing or grooming). Whether it is watching out the window for a glimpse of a bird or lizard, or batting at a toy, tussling with a sibling – whatever a cat considers important enough to spend time on is important enough for her full attention.

How often do we get bogged down by multi-tasking? Sometimes it’s necessary (I don’t know any mother who has the luxury of doing only one thing at a time), but I have come to the conclusion that whenever possible, it is better to slow down and focus on what you’re doing right now. Give it your full attention. You may be surprised at how much more fulfilling it is, or how much less time it takes (in case of something you really didn’t want to do but had to), or even just how much skill you have in order to accomplish it. If it’s important enough to spend your time on, it’s important enough for your full attention.