Lost in Drawers

Category: essay

The Itch

I have to remember that this is our blog, and it’s okay to be a bit personal from time and again. Lately, I’ve been in a struggle of worry, self realization, trying to look towards the future and desperately attempting to find contentment in our current place in life and the situations we find ourselves in. Recently, I finished reading God Loves Ugly and Love Makes Beautiful. And I can say that I really loved it, and related to all the chapters and especially when she talks about contentment. Then I find this entirely honest post  by the author. It practically jumped out and slapped me in the face.

Contentment. Such a novel idea. But, will the ‘yet’ ever come? It’s been a difficult few years, trying to grow inside of a new new marriage and it’s like we find ourselves at crossroad after crossroad. We are asked to deal with situations that require a choice over and over again.  Now, we have a handful of questions to answer. Where do we want to live and work? When do we know when it’s time to have a baby? How do we move our business if we relocate and grow it into the dream I’ve had for what seems forever? I ask myself what it would be like to be unstuck, and not two people wound up so tight with the weight of the (our) world on our shoulders. How do we find the contentment we seek with so many unknowns? How do we find contentment and just be still?

I can’t say I know the answer, but this I do know. I have the itch to discover something more than merely existing. Bo and I want to have a community and friends around us, and we know that life is bigger than we could ever imagine. I want the “yet” to be the now. Do I know how things will turn out? No. But “if you never try you’ll never know” rings true and my prayer is that me, you and everyone we’ve ever known will step outside of ourselves. It’s time to follow our dreams. Now, I’ll if I can just remember to keep telling myself that.

P.S. A reminder from our friend Jill.

Dear Human: You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you’ll return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of… messing up. Often. You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story. Love, in truth, doesn’t need ANY other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only asks that you show up. And do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU. It’s enough. It’s Plenty.

Three Years

Three years. When we started Lost In Drawers, it was with a long term goal in mind: our brand, our online presence for a vintage clothing store…whether it be on Etsy or otherwise. We had an idea and a blank canvas on which to write our life and build a future business. It was never about living just to blog, but just to live as best we could. This just became our little corner of the internet. At first, we were slow to add things, constantly asking what we thought Lost In Drawers was, and what it should be. Has the blog had a singular theme? No, because that would be a simplification of our life over the last three years.

Is it a fashion or style blog? Yes, in its way. Is it a lifestyle blog? Well, we do live in Fort Worth Texas and we do like to seek out adventures. So, yes it’s a blog about not one thing, but about anything and the excitement and frustration that goes along with possibility. And in trying to document an honest depiction of our life, we have tried to show that we are not perfect. Either of us have made mistakes, and together we have gone through a lot these last three years; some of it our fault, and other things came at us out the blue.

But even when it is Emory making messes about and leaving 400 toys throughout the house for us to pick up at 1 am, we love him, and at the end of the day we love each other. Because we are learning how to communicate, not just say what we think the other person wants to hear. Because we accept that we are 33 (Bo) and 27 (Heather) and we love Disney and probably too many sweet things and there is nothing wrong with that. And we have loved each other even when documenting fashion didn’t quite work, or when the writing was bad and the frustration about life seemed to get in the way.

We started the blog first and foremost because we wanted to open an online Etsy store as a tool for developing our business concept. And three years later, we are still working on the project. It is something we haven’t spoken a lot about, because we believe in taking our time and letting our actions speak for us in what we create that is up to our standards we have set for ourselves. We work, we hustle and we have been riding the three year roller coaster of trying to figure out how and were we want our life to develop and grow roots.

And in all of this, has been the challenge and joy of marriage. Like most young couples, the assumption is that love is all you need and things will magically come together and there will be this wonderful honeymoon phase. And life isn’t like that in the real world if one is honest about. It’d be easy to ignore the growing pains and try and project a perfect image of our life. But we have written at length about struggle and honesty and the search for kindness, both in ourselves and in other people. Creating a new family out of two lives is a challenge, and even more challenging is integrating this new life together with existing family relationships. And the struggle has affected us in that Heather’s school experience was a disaster, Bo’s ministry opportunities dissipated. We have documented it all, and in the hope that the struggle would birth something good both in life and in business.

And three year in, we are learning every day that finding true happiness in our life without constantly wanting something else, and not always looking for something else when our own is right in front of us is a lesson in itself. We’ve made it to three years, and yet in a way we are only getting started – Lost In Drawers is an idea, a hope and now we see it a little more clearly than we did way back in 2009.

C.S. Lewis might have said it best: “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”

Comparison

It’s an easy thing to waste too much time wondering, worrying and comparing one’s life to those around you. I think we pretty much all do it from time to time, as there is plenty of status updates, tweets, blogs and check-ins that tell us that someone else is living a life that we are not. For every passing year of our house being the two of us and a puppy, there is another half dozen new parents with tumblrs full of photos taken with cameras that cost more than month’s rent. And with each year, Heather and I fret over developing our business entirely by ourselves while new ventures seem to pop all around us, both near and far. And friendships, relationships dissolve as they often do, but no one would know it by the status updates and blog posts about dinner parties that seem to feature food that typically only exists on TV cooking competitions.

There is real beauty in the world, and it can be seen, touched, smelled, lived and experienced – and yet we are robbed of it.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  Life is too brief and precious to spend staring at tiny screens and feeling inadequate because someone else has curated an image of life. That life is digital, where homes are perfectly clean and decorated, where children don’t wear stained clothing and look insane when having their picture taken, where husbands are productive at work and still have time to maintain a vegetable garden and a wood shop out back, where workouts are easy and bodies fit in impossibly small sizes and where life is built around being independent business owners and creative directors here or there and families are all smiles and balanced support systems.

We have to be honest. Our house is often a wreck, and sometimes Taco Bell is the best dinner option. Our garden is a mint plant and a tomato plant. We don’t have kids, and our business is year two and a half of development, and we are constantly re doing our budget to deal with the reality of life from week to week. It is not just about the blogs or social media. The world around us is lost in a social arms race to display our lives in a way that appears successful and/or glamorous. And what is the expense? Too many people (us included) spend all their mental, emotional and spiritual energy comparing themselves to others rather than living. And that is the moment when “comparison is the thief of joy.” Heather and I, and all of us, are meant for something better than life spent trying to one-up someone in life: we are meant to live, show kindness, give, be in a community and to find our creativity and passion and do our collective best to be good people.

We are people, with real lives and real challenges, sharing joys and pain, and messy families and hope for the future. The more honestly we try and live out our real and unfiltered life, the more beautiful our future becomes. We won’t stop adventuring , but our life will be our life even when its not a piece of the online world that is apart of all our lives. We will be giving and kind. And that idea frees us from the game of comparison.

And there is joy in that beyond words.

(We try to not be too preachy here on Lost in Drawers, but this is pretty great stuff! )

Philippians 4 (The Message)8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

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What Are We Doing?

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Have you ever stopped for a minute and realized that life is often filled with a certain silence?  When we both look to the future, there are days that seem as if our future is filled with a blank silence that weighs heavy on our hearts and minds. We seem to be asking ourselves too often, what are we doing? It is not as if we don’t have dreams and passions or ambition, and yet we face this silence. Being followers of Jesus, we look to our faith and believe that God has created us for a defined purpose.  So, if we believe that to be true, what do we do when more days than not seem to be filled with this silence?

We want to be authentic, and that means asking the hard questions and not settling for the status quo. When life happens to neither say yes or no, but remains quiet about the future, we have to wonder why? It’s frustrating waiting for life to move, when we have tried to put in a lot of hard work into what we are passionate about. Heather reminds me from time to time that I have worked hard to earn two college degrees, and I have seen how she has done her best to follow her passion in learning at every turn from career and fashion school choices to working on learning and building our business on our own. We have been pushing to take our life from existing to truly living out our passions and what God has given to us.

So, if our generation is waiting for our lives to be more than repeated weeks and months on end, then how do we get beyond the silence and hear an answer, something beyond the silence?

And what is happiness, contentment, direction?

Is there a blueprint for that?

Our grandparents had the post-war boom, the pastel colored house, a few kids and a Chevrolet in the driveway. Our parents had the promise of new wealth and an early retirement. And our generation? Some do aspire to the house (we all need a place to call home), the kids (many of us want them) and the car (DFW is one example of no decent mass transit).

But Heather and I are a couple who have taken some strange alternate route. We are in our early 30′s and late 20′s, we don’t own a home, we haven’t experience the miracle of a child and we lost our newer car and had to get an older one. The old American Dream seems pretty foreign to us, as we were never sure we wanted a perfected curated life at the cost of our spirit anyway. There isn’t a formula that can magically end the silence we feel is our answer as of late. There is only a shimmer of a hope that comes by faith.

So, how do we handle the reality of these last couple of years of questioning and silence? The truth is that we keep looking for the faith that shimmers with hope. As Paul wrote in the scriptures, we run the race (not that sports metaphors are our favorite) with patience, looking to Jesus. In the silence, we have no other hope for the honest questions that come constantly day after day.

Shape Shifting: Thoughts for Preachers, Prophets and Travelers

Bo had a little article published on our mutual friend’s website The Whiskey Preacher.  Check it out!

Shape Shifting: Thoughts for Preachers, Prophets and Travelers

In All Honesty

We all live out a good portion of our lives online. Connecting with friends, collecting and documenting memories and of course, making plans for new experiences…filling out our social calendars. We have talked here on Lost In Drawers about our own discussions about any and all of us self edit online. We don’t show much of the struggle, we don’t ask the big questions. But the fact is that all of us struggle. And, honestly, it is time to talk about it openly.

We have weekly, if not seemingly daily, discussions on struggle. The question as it relates to our friends and family and to this blog and other social media is simply: can we be honest about life’s struggles yet not complain?  We constantly try and seek for perspective about our life. Yet, the doubts still hang out there about how we can be authentic and still talk honestly about life. We do believe that we can still love Jesus, lean on him, and still have a discourse about what goes wrong. So, here goes a round of transparency.

We have been married almost two and a half years, and yet it seems like no one tells you how hard real marriage is. There never was or will be a honeymoon period. It was hard from engagement until today. We are not financially stable. We have fought more than either one of us would have liked. We are stubborn, passionate, and Bo – who is an ordained minister – is in therapy for depression that has undermined much of our communication as a couple. So, the truth is this: save us the the pretty canned speeches about marriage, because we don’t need to hear theory. We need to know that it can get better, that the love we have deep in or hearts will spread to our circumstance and yes, will see us materially stable. Because in marriage, “all you need is love” isn’t enough when you have $20 and payday is 8 days away (which did happen once or twice or maybe even three times). This isn’t to say that we don’t have amazing moments, because we do.  We have explored more than most and we have the documentation in pictures and words to give us smiles for decades. Yet, we do ask ourselves: there is more to it than this, right?

The transparency has to extend further. It is easy to look at everyone’s carefully edited lives on blogs, Facebook and Twitter and wonder – what are we doing wrong? How come everyone else can buy houses left and right and we struggle to find a rental home with enough space to build a life and eventually round out our family? Because, marriage without two bathrooms REALLY is a trial. Seriously. Two bathrooms, two televisions and an office area. All married couples need this at some point. How do you talk about these questions and live a positive life? Do we need a mansion? No. But how is it that others (at least publicly) are doing well on many fronts – often at younger ages – and we look at life and ask… why are we still waiting on an answer to this or that, a path or a way to our future to open, a patch of hope in the midst of darkness?

Life is complicated. The issue we often have with our Christian faith is the the way our religious environments apply the story of God & Creation to life now. Being a minister and not having an outlet to use one’s calling with no ability to pay off a seminary education, and being a independently-minded prospective female business owner and always waiting on someone else to answer so we can move forward with plans can be maddening. “No” and “wait” and never yes is never easy. Yet, all our and your lives we are given simplified answers to impossibly nuanced problems. “Trust in the Lord” we are told. Okay, but how do we balance surrender/trust with engagement and truly caring about something. God is not a genie in a bottle, but our faith hinges on God still existing and active in our worlds. How does “simple faith” answer us, as when those who may not believe and even outspoken against Christian faith are better off in life than we are? Can we die to caring about these things without slipping into a life of mediocrity and giving up on big bold dreams for our life? Yet, all we see out of both ourselves and others in this digital world is carefully curated lives that smack of a magic show of Instagram, Pinterest, Etsy, inspirational quotes and digital friendships than never stop down to say – today I don’t understand how our culture can be so unfair and cruel.

Does the fact that we question and are honest about how society has stacked the cards against many of us change our faith? No. We remain in love with a God who’s earthly embodiment in one Jesus taught of a different way and proved his commitment even until death. We believe in resurrection, not only of Him, but ourselves and our hopes for a better life. Why? Because because of the same complicated nature of life that causes us to ask so many hard questions. Life is delicate, intricate and always surprising. And in spite of all our worrying, struggling to keep the electric bill paid, frustration in communicating, dealing with relationships with family & friends that are often in flux and spiritual searching (in hearts and for a new church currently) – we saw something. We are a part of something sacred and ancient. We saw that this is the story of the Scriptures. The stories of history. Anyone who is remembered dared to be honest. We hope we are doing the same.

Bo & Heather

P.S. I tried to fix every grammatical and punctuation mistake, but sometimes my passion gets the best of me!

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Thankful

The holidays always begin with a time of reflection and wonder about how we got from the first day of the year to this final push to another calendar year. Just how we survived and conquered all of the challenges and opportunities that 365 days bring is truly something to be amazed at, and definitely be thankful for.  This year has certainly been both beautiful and incredibly hard.  From a full calendar year of employment for myself (something I haven’t had in over three years) and the opportunity to take mine and Heather’s collective passion and begin the process of starting a business out of that dream, to the honest difficulty of navigating the rhythm of marriage and the struggle to maintain the ties of family…this year has been packed full of both wonderful and incredibly difficult moments.  But both are exactly what to be thankful for. That we have the opportunity as two people, both similar in tastes and extremely different in thought processes, to struggle and overcome the challenges of life is more than amazing. We are thankful for so many things. That we have our base needs taken care of, from shelter and food and clothing to gainful employment and free time together, well, we make it in this world even if by a fine thread at times by the grace of God.

We are thankful for family and all that implies, from excellent models of togetherness to the opportunity to change those things that are often barriers to depth in relationships. We are thankful for Emory, who over the course of the last 15 months has been a constant source of happiness, laughter and comfort…with only a little frustration!  We are thankful for the freedom we have as human beings to be honest with ourselves and the direction we feel our life should go in, from moving in place and focus in my ministry to how we spend our energy in both experience and documentation of our life on a daily basis through Heather’s lens and heart. We are thankful for a God that we believe in that is not forced into the boxes so often created and fought for by those who are religious and/or political.  As a husband, there is not much I can ask for that Heather doesn’t already give me.  I am personally thankful for how she loves me in spite of my own idiosyncrasies, how she often forgives me and challenges me to be a better man and is protective of who I am and what I want to become.  It is rare to have someone in your life who is so present to all these joys and challenges of life together, and who shows from her love and care of Emory to how she gives to everyone from the closest friends to homeless strangers how life can be lived well.

Together we are figuring out how to live in a way that shows those around us that love wins, that all are accepted by the God we believe in no matter what, that honesty is best in a world of thin veneers of false successes, that generosity is a lifestyle and that at the end of the day and the end of each year we are alive and we are together and we have enough within us to do all it all again for another year.  We hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving and we are happy to wish you all a very happy holidays!

-Bo Liles

P.S. These are some Thanksgiving 2011 family pictures that we wanted to share as we haven’t taken any of us all in a while and we wanted to share them. We want to thank you all ever so much for sharing in a little glimpse of our world with every day and every post. We live our life openly and this blog is merely a by-product of those moments lived out loud. We enjoy all of you and your consistent and wonderful kindness that comes our way. Simply thank you.  ~Heather

 

 

 

Drops Like Stars: A Few Thoughts on Creativity and Suffering

In his book, Drops Like Stars, Rob Bell quotes – among other people – Catherine of Aragon, who said, “None Get To God But Through Trouble.”

It was never meant to be easy, was it?

This is the tension of our world…this disconnect between what we are told, that this or that will make it easy, and the fact that for the 99% of us, this life is often unbearably hard.  Each day is is filled with these highs and lows, these moments of joy and agony.  And what are we to do with it all, in the light of what many of us believe to be the “good news” of the gospel of Jesus?  How can we be what we are meant to be?  These questions are big, and when in the valley of shadows, very hard to see the fairness of the reality we see and the mirage presented by celebrity, et al.  So, how do we be authentic?  How do we be creative, each of us in our own way in the face of much suffering?  These are the types of questions Bell asks us to consider in this book that uses words, images and a whole lot of questions for our consideration.  The premise is such, that the most authentic people are those who move from great suffering towards a creative response.  I tend to agree, in that I don’t think the greatest art comes from sadness but from those who use art as their own catharsis to move forward with their lives.  We need to see suffering as the last wall between us and the discovery of the best of ourselves.  The interesting thing about this book, as with most of the writings by Bell, is the truth in confronting those topics and questions most Christians don’t want to acknowledge.  Many people expect and present religion as a miracle cure-all for life’s problems.  And that viewpoint has very little to do with the narrative of God and humankind.  Suffering is simply a part of our lives.  The world is very much broken, and we are all very much humans.  It doesn’t surprise me that many people walk away from religion that promises much and often does not deliver an instant miracle.  The truth is that we can never see our dreams come true without the suffering to propel us into realizing our passions by our own belief that a greater God created us to do a certain thing with our lives.  If we never suffered, we would never know ourselves.  Rob Bell asks us to see the good in the midst of the pain.  It just might be the best thing that ever happens to any one of us.

Rob Bell is a pastor-turned-author/speaker and can be found here.  His works can be found in various forms here.

Bo

Happy 27th Birthday…

Ever had a dream that felt like a life story?  One that was a movie, a three act play and never a single scene.  In such a dream you get to see progression, you see growth, you see the world as you want it.  It is a vision that can run the spectrum of emotions and experiences – it happens in both a lifetime and split second.  Such a dream is rare and perfect.

And such is my life with my wife, Heather.  She is the dream I have been waiting my whole life for.  She is that dream one never wants to end.  When we met, I had been waiting, in the words of the song, 29 years before I saw (her).  I never thought I would find such a woman, who is at ease with herself, who is honest, who is passionate, who is loyal, who is creative, who is hilarious, who is adventurous and who is absolutely beautiful.  Three years into our story, I am learning new and wonderful things about her every day, I am challenging myself to be the man and husband to match her as the woman and wife I lucked into marrying.  She is my world as well as my doorway to a life I never thought I could have.  She is everything a person is looking for in a companion, and for you all a friend to have.  She is my love, my lover, my muse, my friend, my counsel, my business partner, my wife and my dream come true.

In a word, a dream…my dream.  Perfect. Wonderful.

~Bo

Life is not a straight line

Life is not a straight line.  It is not a a graph chart, with simple peaks and valleys that chart our progress to some eventual ending that is satisfying to us.  We want to simplify the process of living and create a set of assurances that life will end up in our favor.  Religion and much of the modern Western church culture is built around this idea.  And as the world becomes even messier and burdened by the weight of faux celebrity and instant gratification, these assurances have less and less meaning.  We need a different way, because everything in our world says the old way is not working anymore.

We both grew up in various traditional Christian church structures, where one’s worldview was filtered through a set of rights and wrongs, things to do and things to never do.  While we did not live in the era, the whole concept seemed to be more about the simple life that American culture tried to create in the 1950′s.  The American dream made room for a safe God to regulate a safe world of black and white morality…where simple virtues were to be admired and a multitude of sins were to be condemned.  The modern church of America held a mirror to colonial Puritanism and not the cross of Jesus.  The Christian worldview was set in place, and it it felt comfortable as narrow as it is/was.  We “sleep safely in the hands of men.”

When we met, dated and got married…each of us had experienced a lot of disappointment at the hands of religion. It has never been a question of our belief in God (we do) or if we follow Jesus as we understand him (and it may surprise you) or whether or not we feel the Spirit is moving in all things and all people…because we do on all accounts.  But the fact is that there is a point that most people of our generation come to face and it is this: if I choose to embrace who I really am as a person, do I fit the mold that the church says is acceptable.  This has been our struggle as we have moved through several church environments in the last few years.

We feel, fundamentally, that the dream of God is for us to fully embrace ourselves as God created us.  For us, this means embracing our passions – from the role of fashion in living well, to writing to inspire and challenge the norm, to giving to the poor, to embracing a life together that expresses a fierce love and a gentle kindness.  We will not apologize for what this presents, from embracing creativity and frugal use of what we have been blessed with to our insistence that we will love those who have been placed in our lives – not matter if they are Christian or not, no matter what race or ethnicity they, no matter if they are gay or straight, no matter if they are rich or poor, only that they are honest about who they have been created to be.  This seems to pose a problem to much of what church in America is built on, the concept of are you in or are you out.

We don’t think church is about a group of people who think alike and consider their particular group of people the greatest thing since electricity, or at least sliced bread. Nor do we think that church should be a group of self-titled outsiders who consider their brand of anti-church church the true alternative to bible-thumping bigots and narrow minded souls.  We have struggled with the divide between orthodoxy and reform, between traditional and post-modern or emergent or whatever is hip among 20-30somethings pastors.  We have worshiped and joined and led both types of church bodies. And here we find ourselves looking for a new church, and wondering what is possible for us as we look to bond our self-truth with a community truth built by people.

What is church to the people that attend?  Do we want worship that moves beyond cheese and into true emotion?  Are we seeking preaching that moves away from promises of a better life and into what does suffering look like on a Tuesday morning?  Do we want community that embraces us as equals and friends or do we want a quiet harbor where we feels safe after all the storms of the last few years?  Do we want all of these things?  Is that much even possible to expect from a church made up of people? People have hurt us and many of our friends, some in the church and some who do not see how the actions of others can be swallowed up in love.  We want desperately to move from going to church, even church led by family or friends, just because we feel we are supposed to and to find a church that makes us feel we are closer to a God who wants us to be ourselves and use whatever that is for something greater than ourselves.  We want honesty, we want truth, we want kindness that leads to a fierce love – of God, all of creation, of truth beauty creativity and passion…all to make a eternal future that is as it was intended to be.  That is a real community as we see it in the story of scripture.

Honest and free, because life is complex and beautiful and not a graph chart in a cloud room we cannot see.

This is our hope.

Bo

P.S. Sorry this is long but sometimes it’s better to be open than short? eh…eh?

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