Michele Minehart

words & yoga

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Reserved

A year ago I got off the plane in Austin, where it was only 2 degrees warmer than Ohio, for the first ever IF:Conference. This thing was an enigma, but I knew I wanted to be there – my favorite writers would be speaking and they were trying for a whole new thing when it comes to Christian women’s conferences. I hungered for a sense of authenticity, a newness within my familiar Christian world.

 

Alas, she will not be at IF this year, she's too busy having another baby. Seriously, who has 4 kids?!

Alas, she will not be at IF this year, she’s too busy having another baby. Four babies. Who does that?!

At the first session Lori and I sat so close to the reserved tables we could have swiped their cell phones and programmed in our own numbers. We refrained. As Jen Hatmaker arrived in the 11th hour, she asked the general population of Reserved Table Sitters where she could find a seat. I said, loud enough to be heard, there was a seat open right beside me. She didn’t rush over.

I rummaged up the nerve to walk over and introduce myself to my favorite blogger, Sarah Bessey. I’m awful at small talk and generally awkward around new people, specifically those who have no clue who I am, yet whose work profoundly shapes me. I can find specific places where her words have etched a new pattern or direction, a new hope, into my life. What is the appropriate way to introduce yourself to such a person? What do you say and how do you not gush?

After my idol-stalking, I made my way back to my seat among the commoners, aware I had made my role for the weekend a taker – a receiver. An audience member. I felt small. Even in a more intimate venue with hospitable atmosphere, I carried a sense of division between those who were doing God’s work and those there to learn how.

This invisible division was not the work of the speakers or event organizers. It was the work of a liar, one who wanted me to take the easy way out – comparing and belittling myself and others.

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In black, on the right, Hatmaker, et. al.

As the worship music began playing, I watched. These women who had such genius thoughts and words, who led organizations and spoke to crowds of thousands, sang with me the same words to the same tune.

I loved IF. I came back inspired, ready to live out my next chapter. I read Jennie Allen’s Restless in its entirety on the plane ride home. I grew in my sense of clarity and confidence. I vowed to stop apologizing for myself. (Thank you Brene for reiterating that promise this year). Overall the conference propelled me into a generally positive direction, getting me off my ass and into work for kingdom things. I dug into ideas for reaching the women of my own church with this fresh breath. My hopes were high – we could grow BIG and be REAL and go DEEP in our faith.

This is what I wanted.

Except, not really. What I really wanted was to do something well. I wanted on the map. I wanted to find a way to that reserved table. I went looking for a way to validate my life and my ministry. I took off in search of a victory story to bring back, believing it was a step toward a someday when I could be a part of that, over there, with those people.

And I failed. And then I quit.

I failed mostly because the thing I offered our church women was not what they are seeking. I worked in marketing mode, starting with my product then creating a felt need and offering the solution to that need. I believed if we just made it BIGGER and BETTER and all of those cool-kid things, we would see success. I was foolish. A successful ministry is one in which people leave closer to God – period. That, over there, with those people, is not this, right here, with these people.

Over and over in our world, I’m convinced bigger does not mean better. It means centralized, it means cheaper and often it means under control. But it doesn’t mean better.

And so it goes in the Christian Celebrity world. I have continued to voraciously read the work of well-known leaders and grow from their wisdom.  I have also become alert to the dangers of celebritizing them. There’s a concern in believing an elite group keeps all the answers. (It’s especially dangerous if you put people like me in that group because we like to think we have all the answers.)

Not a single woman on the panel of speakers comes from a rural context, where talented and faithful people grow disciples, largely unnoticed. If the pastor of my childhood church could get the town’s entire population into church on a given Sunday, s/he still would not have more than the local megachurch here in Dayton on a slow day. Numbers don’t tell the whole story.

This year as IF approaches, I’m taking a different approach. I value the words and wisdom of conferences – I’m a complete geek. I’d learn from all of the conferences, all the time, if I could. I’m not going to miss the inspiration of some of the top voices of my generation.

Instead of longingly watching The Reserved and feeling as if I should aspire for more,  I’m reserving seats for some of the most amazing women I know from Ohio. (And Troy, MI.) When I take a good look at the women I know, let me say, I know some fabulous people. Loving, beautiful, talented and faithful. The way in which we live out our faith is quite diverse (though we as a group are not diverse. I regret we’re quite monochromatic. I would like to see that change).

if lakeIF I believe (which is the theme for 2015) that bigger is not always better, than I’m determined to live it. I have 12 beautiful souls joining me for IF:Lake – most of these women I know. Others, they are awesome by association because my friends have good taste. It’s not a closed group, I simply started with those I know and threw open the doors.

My heart is so full as I dive into these final 2 weeks of preparations. Of course, I’m hoping that the women making the trek will hear something to inspire their life with God. Yet I’m most excited to hear from them. They may not have a stage, but I can learn a thing or two about living as IF God is real from these ladies.

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The love of local (OR: 22 Things that Will Change Your Life)

Most bloggers that earn income from their site do so through advertisements and paid featured posts. Other than goods and services offered (like ebooks), this really is the only way to make money from a blog. I don’t mind that other bloggers found success in this (actually my checkbook is a tad envious) but after paging through my MIL’s Good Housekeeping pile this weekend I realized I don’t have much of a shot. I don’t have many products I love to use, let alone promote in good conscious.

I won’t tout Tide because I make my own laundry detergent. Kraft and other big food stay away because I hate processed foods. I can’t even really make good from the retail sector because I’m a fashion disaster. I can’t seem to tell the world why we’re better because of a product because, in general, I don’t like products.
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But you know what I love?

Books. Local businesses. People who love doing what they do. Being kind to the earth. Being kind to our bodies. Growing our minds, endorsing creativity and pointing us toward God.

Here is my non-compulsory list of Things, People, Places and Ideas I Love and Think You Should To*.

  1. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Just read it and live a better story. If you’re frustrated with life, begin editing (and start with the art of character development).
  2. Bakehouse Bread & Cookie Co. The ingredients for their bread are: flour, water, salt. They buy local and support local causes. When I have the hankering for a good piece of bread, that’s where we turn, even in our gluten free life (the sourdough doesn’t seem to mess with me too bad). We haven’t had a grocery store loaf of bread in this house for 2 years.
  3. Cloth Diapering. Samozrejme and Nell’s Natural Baby are your best resources. If you love to visit a brick & mortor and hear from an expert on all things natural-parenting, visit Allison downtown Troy. You can take a Cloth Diapering Basics class or ask a million questions – she’s great. If online ordering is your style then click over to my friend Jodi at Nell’s. She also has a good variety of natural parenting supplies and she cares about her customers.
  4. The Happy Box at Fulton Farms. Every Friday a box full of fresh, organic produce appears at my door! It’s a little bit like Christmas when I open it to see what I find. They use as much of their local produce as possible and supplement with a supplier, so my box is full every week.
  5. Yellow Tree Yoga. I’m a better person when I leave this studio – or even coffee with Mary. As she says, yoga is like a mirror into the soul, a way to examine without judgment. I feel better and my posture toward the world bends a little deeper after my sun salutations.
  6. The Overfield School. I enrolled us here because they did things like roll pinecones through paint. They have a resident naturalist and a resident studio artist on staff for all students to have access. Nature and art lie at the top of my list of things I value but remain clueless, so we outsource. Now, I love the educational philosophy, I love the teachers, I love the community. We meet monthly for parent discussions and I leave a better person and a more mindful mother. I feel challenged in a healthy way to offer more to my kids – not the “I’m not doing enough” kind of challenge, but a “oh, wow – and then we could!” kind of way.There are still openings for some of the classes next year if you want the same environment for your kids.
  7. Toms Shoes. I didn’t realize that such controversy existed about the philanthropy piece, but truth be told Toms Shoes are the long, ugly-toed girl’s best summertime friend. I own 2 pair.
  8. Ohio University. I went there. I learned about history and grammar and stuff, but I also experienced true, authentic friendships that have set the bar high. I think that if Jesus were to come back to earth for a quick visit, he’ll stop in Athens because it is of His very own essence. And because of Bagel Street Deli.
  9. Aaron Craft. There’s nothing you can buy related to the kid, but I’m just a huge fan. Top notch kid.
  10. Ruby’s Salon. I’ve only made 2 visits but Tara has made me beautiful and she’s a beautiful soul. She believes beauty shouldn’t be limited to those with money and offers a 5th Saturday Free Cuts program (yes, free!) and works on a sliding scale “suggested amount.” I overpay every time because I want her to keep doing this. She’s revitalizing an old downtown salon and serving the people of the community by using her gifts. Also, she’s the Master of the Perfect Bang. And also (again) you can make your appointment without a pesky phone call. WIN.
  11. Clinique Long Last Lipstick in Glow Bronze. It’s the most perfect color ever. Thanks to my amazing MIL, I keep a tube in nearly every bag I own.
  12. Lucy Chapman. She starts my garden from seed every year and is a genius. Not only does she have green thumbs, but also artsy talents. I’ve not purchased any of her other things, but I love what she adds to the world and I think you might, too.
  13. Thai 9. We go there for nearly every date. Get the Pad Sea Ewe and thank me later.
  14. Beer. I just love it. I think it’s in my family genes. I just learned that I’ve never known exactly what is in my beer, which gives me more reason to love and support local breweries – we’re cooperative owners of the 5th Street Brew Pub, so that’s a good start.
  15. Good sermons (*nerd alert*). I regularly listen to my friend Paul at Central and a guy named Jonathon Martin from Renovatus. Also, my friend Trevor from Journey at Christ Church.
  16. Mosquito Creek Farms Sourdough Pizza Crusts. Our grocery co-op used to carry them and ahhh-maaaay-zing. Now we pick them up on Saturdays at the Farmer’s Market.
  17. Local Farmers Markets.
  18. Xochitl Tortilla Chips. Only comes in a box of 9? Don’t worry. It won’t be a problem.
  19. In Defense of Food. It changed the way I looked at what I eat.
  20. Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture. It changed the way I looked at providing for my family.
  21. The Overachievers: The Hidden Lives of Driven Teenagers. It changed the way I looked at “success” for parenting.
  22. Bossypants. It changed the way I look at the art of humor (and the genius behind it).

So, there you go. My unsolicited list of Best Things Ever. Happy day!

 

*No one paid me to write this post. Full disclosure: some of these people DO pay me to do work for them. However, I work for them because I believe in what they do, not just because they pay me. My recommendations are completely my own. And, if you click on an Amazon link, I do make a small percent if you buy the thing or anything on that visit. It’s like pennies, but Amazon pays me, not the producer, so again – I’m not a paid endorser.

**Popular to contrary belief, I also did not get paid to see how many links I could include into one post. That was just a fun little challenge for myself.

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When I Paid GoDaddy $10 for Google to Eat my Blog

There was a day, not too long ago, that I was perfectly content in my blogger world, oblivious to the realities of Interwebs Law. Such as, autorenew your domain name. A few weeks later, via a looooooonnngg convo with a young fellow in Phoenix and 8000 emails with Burak in Southeast Asia and this is what I get:

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Fantastic. Fortunately my Personal Internet Genius, Jordan, and I had been discussing making a move from the Big G to my WordPress he had created. So here we go. New digs. Have a looksee around. Put up your feet. Find all those fancy share buttons and email subscribe thingys I hear all about.

Hopefully I’ve fixed things for all the feed-readers out there (are there any of those, thanks to Google yanking the Reader a year ago? And what does the Google have against bloggers anyway? Why do you hate us so?)

Oh, wow. Take a look at these formatting options. Who knew I’d been driving the Ford Escort of the Bloggy world? (No offense to you Escort drivers. They’re cute.)

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