thoughts on “the nashville statement”

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I’ve been a Christian my entire life. I was blessed to be raised to know that I am a beloved child of God by so many wonderful people in Methodist and Presbyterian churches. It wasn’t until I got to high school that someone asked me if I was “saved,” and I found out that to a lot of Christians, I’m apparently some kind of heathen. Uh, I never “met Jesus” because Jesus has always been there? I can’t meet Him any more than I can meet my own heartbeat. I got saved 2,000 years ago, I guess? I grew up in a tradition with women pastors, now a tradition which allows LGBTQI people to serve as pastors and be married in church. My church is officially a “More Light” Presbyterian church, committed to pursuing justice and full inclusion for marginalized people and examining ourselves and our space to make sure we are on the right track.

I understand that Evangelicals are my brothers and sisters in faith (though I’m not always sure they feel the same way about me), but a lot of the time I find myself wondering if we actually read the same book and know the same Lord. We come from very different planets. And they’re the ones who keep adding doctrinal statements as if they were new creeds, as if sexuality is an essential tenet of the faith to agree upon (look at any of the historical creeds and see if it comes up…it doesn’t), instead of a place where people of faith can agree to disagree. This week, I’m again baffled as in the middle of all that is going on in the world. a bunch of Evangelical leaders have gotten together to condemn some of the most marginalized people in the world: LGBTQI folks.

This week?! When millions of people are underwater, when Nazis march in our streets with the approval of the president white Evangelicals elected, when nuclear war seems a realistic threat? This is a week when Christians should be showing people the face of Jesus, and instead this group has decided to turn Christ’s back (they presume to speak for Him) on LGBTQI people. We should be making the news for our compassion, love, and service to the people suffering the devastation of hurricane Harvey. We should be making the news for our condemnation of white supremacy and our bold proclamation that we are all one in Christ Jesus, all beloved children of God. We should be making the news by proclaiming our allegiance to the Prince of Peace in the face of violence and war.

But instead, we’re making the news for once again announcing what everyone already knew about Evangelicals: they are not down with The Gays (or lesbians, or gender nonconforming/nonbinary/genderqueer people, or trans folks, or people who are intersex, or women who question their idea of Biblical gender roles). Did anyone actually have any doubts that they believe that? Did we really need a new reminder?

I find myself wanting to scream: this is not my faith! This is not the Jesus I know, love, and follow! This is not my tradition.

But I know that this isn’t actually about me, but about the vulnerable people who will continue to be hurt by this kind of theology and rhetoric. The gay kids kicked out of their homes to live on the street by “Christian” parents. The kids sent to (or desperate adults who choose) conversion therapy to have spirit and self-concept broken in the name of God. The people who will be driven to suicide because they feel that not even God can love them as they are. The people who will be ostracized and bullied by people who claim to follow Jesus. These aren’t thought experiments, but very real people who will experience very real pain and violence because words and theologies have consequences.

If you are LGBTQI, the thing I want you to know more than anything is: you are a beloved child of God. You are made in God’s image. You are the creation of a God who loves diversity and difference. You are a work of art. You do not need to change who you are in order to be loved by God, or to serve God, or to belong to a community of believers. You are worthy and acceptable. Period.

I also want you to know that there are millions of us who love Jesus and you, too. Who would welcome you next to us in our pews, who would bless and support your loves, and who would be proud to serve and change the world alongside you. You are welcome in our homes and hearts. You are welcome at our tables. You are welcome in our workplaces. You are welcome in the bathroom stall next to us. We are your brothers and sisters, and there are actually a lot of us that the Evangelicals and Nashville Statement writers do not speak for. We will speak out with you against hate and discrimination and oppression. We will examine the ways we are complicit in your marginalization. We will check our privilege. We will work to make our spaces and our society ever more welcoming. We are with you and for you, and so is Jesus.

the moment we realized just how “normal” our daughter’s disability has become to us

Today I took Etta to get her second filling in 5 short years of life. This is hard for me, because I didn’t get my first cavity until I was like 28. (I’m blaming pregnancy for ruining my perfect record. It’s a thing.) Anyway, we’re pretty into good oral health and hygiene, and with her first filling, I felt like a failure for letting it happen.

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Our new dentist here in Denver is awesome, and she said it looks like Etta just doesn’t have good enamel (something about her teeth being hypoplastic?), that it didn’t form right on her baby teeth, and leads to grooves and weaknesses where cavities can form, despite our good oral hygiene. The good news is, on X-rays, her permanent teeth look better, but we may be spending a lot of time at the dentist for these baby teeth.

After we left the dentist, my husband said to me, “Man, Etta sure got the short end of the genetic stick.”

It was only a beat later that I realized how absurd that comment sounds. I mean, we have one kid with spina bifida, but here we are agreeing that it’s actually the “healthy” twin who lost the genetic lottery. And it’s actually kind of true! Etta’s the short, tiny one (finding school uniforms to fit a 3-year-old-sized Kindergartener was a struggle). Etta inherited my cardiac mutation. And now it turns out that she got crappy teeth?

Meanwhile Claire’s differences have just become normal to us, and normal to her as well. Strapping on AFOs, using catheters, scheduling doctor’s appointments and therapies, monitoring for signs of shunt malfunction, wondering if she’s getting a cold or a UTI, they’re just part of our life.

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And remembering how we felt on diagnosis day, or when we came home from the hospital, I realize how huge this mundane life actually is. What at first seemed insurmountable and life-shattering, turns out to just be another way of being a person in the world. Aren’t we all just adapting and trying to use the bodies we were given to the best of our capabilities? Don’t we all sometimes need extra help in certain areas?

So, in case you’re a parent or person who just got a big scary diagnosis, I hope you can read this and take a little comfort in knowing that one day, it may very well all seem very very normal. Just part of life. Not a tragedy at all.

Here we are today, thinking just maybe it’s our able-bodied daughter who got the bum end of the twin genetics dice roll. What an amazing thing.

to kindergarten they go

Today, Etta and Claire headed off to kindergarten, two tiny girls with giant backpacks. This year, they will be in different classrooms, but they will be right across the hall from each other, and will have recess and lunch together.

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There’s another set of twins in kindergarten this year, two boys, whose blond hair seems to have a counterpoint in each of our girls. They are both in Claire’s class. Their mom, and many others, asked me if I chose to keep the girls together or apart. The truth is, we saw a lot of benefits in both options and decided to let the school handle it. They’ve done great together at Montessori, and all of their teachers there remarked on how they are neither clingy or dependent on each other, nor antagonistic and fighting– they just kind of coexisted like any other two kids in the same class. They are also very different little humans, though, and I think being on their own could give them each a chance to shine and grow in a way they can’t together, and I’m excited to see how this will go. We’ve been reading a great little book called Twindergarten about a set of twins who are in different kindergarten classes, right across the hall from each other, but who are together for recess and lunch, and it’s really helped them prepare for this change.

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I realized at Back To School Night that I’m mostly just excited for them as they embark on this big journey. Their teachers had big sheets of paper on the wall where we answered questions like what we are most proud of about our children, what they are curious about, what they like to read about, etc. To me, the most interesting question was what our hopes and dreams are for our children in their kindergarten year.

I want this to be the year they fall in love with learning and school. I want them to be, like I was, excited to learn and to be with friends. I am excited to watch them learn to read and have the world of books unfold for them, a world that has always been my happiest and safest place. But most of all, I hope they continue to grow and stretch their kind and loving hearts. “Brave” and “kind” are much higher on my list of desirable traits than “smart” or “successful.”

I mostly don’t feel sadness that my “babies are growing up.” I am so thrilled to see them becoming who they are. I am so excited for the adventures that await them. I woke up before my alarm, just buzzing with excitement. I can’t wait to pick them up (about to head out on our bikes to get them!) and hear how their day went!

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dealing with a summer skin freakout

dealing with a summer skin freakout | erniebufflo.com

In my mind, summer is a season of barely any makeup and glowing skin. Instead, lately my face has kind of been freaking out. It’s not an all-out breakout, but my face is more congested than I-70 traffic. My forehead and chin are covered with little bumps thanks to clogged pores. It makes sense: sunscreen, sweat, still using my heavy cooler-weather moisturizers… my face is not handling it well.

Luckily, I know how to take care of this issue. Counter-intuitively, the first step is OIL. Specifically oil-cleansing. I know. When your pores are plugged up, you’re probably thinking oil is just going to make the issue worse, but “like dissolves like.” When your pores are clogged up with oils, sunscreens, and makeups, oil can dissolve it. I like to use either Trader Joe’s Facial Cleansing Oil or Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Oil. Put a pump or two into your hands and massage into your dry face for a good minute. Really go in on the bumpy areas, massaging in circles. Don’t be weirded out, but you might feel actually gritty stuff coming out of your pores. That’s normal! Great, even! Then remove oil with a wet washcloth (I use flannel baby wipes) and wash with your usual non-foaming face wash. Definitely try an oil cleanser. Recently, I was staying with a friend and convinced her to give it a try. I ended up leaving her my bottle of Trader Joe’s oil cleanser.

Next step: clay mask. I like the Captain Blankenship Petal mask or the L’Oreal Detox and Brighten Clay Mask. Tip: apply your clay mask with a foundation brush. Leave the mask on until it feels dry and like your nose might crack off. Remove with a wet washcloth.

dealing with a summer skin freakout | erniebufflo.com

Then: ACID. I’m a fan of the Pixi Glow Peel Pads, but I would absolutely not recommend 20% glycolic acid for acid beginners. I’m also a big fan of The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid. Start with the 5%, or if you’re used to using acid exfoliants, go for the 10%. Apply all over your face. If you use the peel pads, rinse after a few minutes. If you use the weaker acids, you can just wait a bit (I go with 15 minutes to whenever I finish whatever show I’m watching and remember to do the next step) and then move on to moisturizing.

Speaking of: I’m back on my old standby while my skin adjusts to summer life: Clinique Moisture Surge. I love the cooling gel texture and the way it makes my skin feel plumped in a baby-cheek sort of way. It feels extra soothing on skin that’s seen a little to much sun, too, and it doesn’t clog my pores. I’ve been using the stuff for over a decade now, and am still super loyal.

After one night of this, my skin texture was already drastically smoothed out. You want to do this routine once, maybe twice a week. Otherwise, I’m sticking to my usual routine and keeping up with my retinoid (Mad Hippie Vitamin A Serum) and 10% Lactic Acid every other night.

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we finished updating our ski condo, and it looks amazing!

Yesterday morning, we officially finished updating our Keystone ski condo rental just in time for a professional photo shoot. Thanks to a super-speedy photographer (who, it turned out, had spent several years living in my hometown in Arkansas– small world!), the photos are here and ready to show off. As I mentioned in the “before” post, the overall aesthetic of the condo when we got it was “aggressively brown” with a side of “lodge cliche.” I think we’ve achieved a modern mountain aesthetic that feels both stylish and peaceful, and we’ve managed to add more sleeping accommodations. If you’d like to book a stay in our condo, please check out our VRBO listing.

Our building, Expedition Station, right in the heart of River Run Village.

 

I’m calling the wire animal heads my “vegan taxidermy.” All of the living room furniture is new. Log coffee table from Zulily (brand privilege), two log side tables from Target, pillows from Target, all other furniture from American Furniture Warehouse, and “vegan taxidermy” from Hobby Lobby.

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My kid has spina bifida. The AHCA is a nightmare bill for kids like her, and pro-lifers should be calling their Senators in droves.

I decided, in light of the AHCA, to research the average cost of health care for people with spina bifida. They call them “million dollar babies” for a reason. The first year, according to an article I found on PubMed, is $41,000. Every year after that is around $14,000. (The first year is the most expensive, usually, because of neurosurgery and NICU stays. I’d bet we racked up more than $41,000 in our first month of life.)
In Arkansas, we had private insurance, as well as Medicaid TEFRA, for which we paid an income-based premium and which we qualified for on the basis of Claire’s disability. It covered 100% of what our insurance didn’t. And there’s a lot that insurance doesn’t cover, but that is necessary to help kids with SB be as independent as possible, like therapies and developmental preschool. In Colorado, a supposedly more progressive state, we still have private insurance, but no Medicaid. We end up paying more out of pocket for our daughter’s care, even though we are privileged to have excellent insurance because my husband works for the university hospital.
I remember when I testified before a committee about Arkansas’ proposed 20 week abortion ban. I talked about how 20 weeks is right around the time that people usually get a fetal diagnosis that changes their very wanted pregnancy into a nightmare. One thing that people are wondering when they get that diagnosis is, can we afford to provide this child with the care she will need for the rest of her life? Will this bankrupt us? It’s a very real consideration. And I have read that 60% of people who receive a fetal diagnosis of spina bifida choose termination.
I’m pro-choice. I support safe, legal abortion care for any reason. However, I also truly believe that there are ways we can help people keep these WANTED pregnancies instead of terminating. And one of those ways is helping them afford the care their disabled kids will need for their entire lives.
The AHCA comes from the supposedly pro-life party. And yet this is a deadly bill for people with disabilities, many of whom depend on Medicaid for their life-sustaining care. This bill will make the answer to “Can we provide this child with the care she will need?” a “no.” I am confident it won’t help, and will in fact increase, that 60% termination statistic.
It also creates new worries for us as parents of a kid with spina bifida. Will she stand to have her coverage capped at some point? Will our insurer say, welp, you’re at the limit, we won’t pay any more for you, and kick her off? Will she be able to get a new policy with her pre-existing disability? Will she be able to work as an adult, or will she have to stay unemployed, lest she get too “rich” for her meager benefits? Will my husband have to stay in his job forever to ensure we keep the insurance we have now, because she might not be covered if we have to switch providers?
If you haven’t already called your senators about the AHCA, please do so. It’s a needless “screw you” to Obama that will cause pretty much everyone to pay more for less coverage, and will literally lead to people dying and pregnancies being terminated. Repealing the ACA and replacing it with this cruel bill helps no one but rich folks who will be getting a tax cut. Please call your Senators and oppose this bill. Today.

I have a new job!

Two months, no blogs– what gives?? Well, here’s the story…

We recently received an unexpected inheritance from Jon’s grandfather, George, who died about a decade ago. George had wisely invested in Denver real estate way back when, and fortuitously, by waiting this long to sell his property, his three kids made a bunch of money, which they generously decided to share with all the grandkids, too. We wanted to honor this gift by investing it wisely, and, convinced by a very business-minded friend who owns two condos in Keystone, we decided to invest in a ski condo which we could manage as a vacation rental and also use ourselves.

Why Keystone? It’s close to Denver, we’ve enjoyed visiting there, and it is a little less pricey than some other ski areas, real-estate wise. I will say it felt surreal to be looking at ski condos that cost more than our actual home in Denver, but we felt pretty confident, thanks to our friend’s experience, that were making a good choice.

This is where I’ve been lately: shopping for, buying, and planning a renovation of our new ski condo. Since I’m a stay-at-home parent, it makes sense for me to be the primary manager of our vacation rental, so I’ve been researching and reading and pinning and shopping and generally obsessing with this condo. Part of the big plan is we want our place to look FANTASTIC in online listing photos, so I have been channeling my inner Joanna Gaines, and reminding Jon that he’s my Chip. I HAVE A VISION, OK?

My goal is to make our condo a stylish, rustic/industrial (no cliche lodge furniture or generic decor for us!), family-friendly destination. Because I know what it’s like to travel with little kids, I especially want to make it the number one unit people want to rent when bringing kids to Keystone. We will have pack and plays, high chairs, night lights, baby monitors, bouncy seats, toys, books, and more to prevent families from having to schlep so much gear. Also, our condo has a private pool not shared with any other buildings, and our unit is on the quiet slope-side of the building with no neighbors above. We also chose a unit close to the playground and skating rink/putt putt course, with the Kidtopia headquarters in the same building. Kidtopia puts on cool kids events and activities– on a recent visit, our girls participated in a strider bike race, and Claire got second place! Our unit has slope views, and you can walk to the lifts.

I figured I would share our “before” photos this week, and next week will be the big reveal of our renovated unit. If you want to go ahead and make a reservation, you can check out our VRBO listing and sign on up!

I am not sure which is more baffling here, the permanent Christmas decor, or the chicken-themed art in a ski condo.
I would describe the “before” aesthetic as “aggressively brown.”

Having both a queen murphy bed and a queen sleeper sofa, plus a third bathroom, means this 2 bedroom condo can sleep a TON of people.
BEARS! DEER! CHEVRON?
Fun fact: tons of Keystone condos have this exact bedding. And wall art. I think it came with the place when it was built in the 90s. Which means tons of folks are happily paying the big bucks to sleep under 20 year old bear comforters. Ew.
Am I the only person who irrationally hates tchochkies on top of cabinets? They just get sad, dusty, and gross.

We are ditching the twin beds for a queen with a lofted twin above it. I’m also turning the skylight nook into a cute play space.
That balcony view, though.

sometimes maybe you should go to bed mad

I love this guy with all my heart, and sometimes we go to bed mad.

I don’t give a lot of marriage advice. I mean, every couple is different, and you have to find your own groove. The most I’ll usually say is “Marry someone you truly enjoy spending time with” and “Be most excellent to each other, and party on dudes.” But, I’ve been married going on 11 years now, and there’s one piece of ubiquitous advice that has always rubbed me the wrong way: “Never go to bed mad.”

This is really dumb advice.

We tell people all the time to “sleep on it” when they’re facing a big decision, and it’s because we know that sometimes you just need to let your brain work on something while you stop thinking about it, and maybe things will seem clearer in the morning. We know that big decisions take time and marination. But we tell people in a relationship that they have to solve all their differences and arguments before the sun sets on them?

Sometimes the thing you’re fighting about is just stupid, and you’re so far in that you forgot that fact, but you’ll realize it when you wake up in the morning and it no longer seems to matter as much.

Sometimes, particularly if you have small children, you’re not really so much in a fight as you are sleep-deprived and irrational, and after some sleep you’ll realize that the whole thing wasn’t even a disagreement.

Sometimes one of you is a hot-head and needs some cooling off time.

Sometimes one of you is an internal processor, and you’ll be able to work stuff out and communicate your side more clearly after you’ve had some time to work it out in your own head for a while.

Sometimes everyone will be able to be calmer and more receptive if you continue the discussion over a cup of coffee the next day.

Sometimes, going to bed mad may even mean one of you storms off to bed and the other conks out watching TV on the couch, and you both wake up missing each other and in a more loving frame of mind the next day.

Sometimes, without the pressure of WE HAVE TO SOLVE THIS RIGHT NOW BECAUSE WE CAN’T GO TO BED BEFORE WE RESOLVE IT, you can actually have the space to come up with a better, more amicable resolution.

Sometimes you really should just go to bed mad. Because in the morning, you’ll find you just aren’t mad anymore.

So, there’s my new piece of relationship advice. Screw “never go to bed mad.” Sometimes you should just sleep on it.

Dear Governor Hutchinson

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Here is a letter I just sent to the Governor of Arkansas, because I am heartsick over the state’s plans to execute 8 men right after Easter. Please join me in praying that the Governor will change his plans, and if you feel so-moved, write a letter yourself.

April 6, 2017

Dear Governor Hutchinson,

I was born and raised in Arkansas. I graduated from high school in Hot Springs. Went to college in Batesville. Left for 3 years while my husband did a residency in South Carolina, and returned when he got a job at ACH afterward. I gave birth to twins in Little Rock. They learned to walk there. Though we moved to Denver last summer for a job opportunity, Arkansas will always be my home.

It is with heartsickness and horror that from afar, I follow the news and see that Arkansas plans to fire up what I can only describe as an assembly line of death right after Easter. I was nurtured by the Presbyterian Church of Arkansas. I worship a Jesus who was executed by the state. I love a Jesus whose resurrection, which we celebrate at Easter, revealed the lie of redemptive violence, and showed that the only true power is that of life and love. I know you love that Jesus too.

It is in the name of Jesus that I beg, pray and humbly ask you to stop these 8 executions. Many of the men who stand to die at your hands are mentally impaired, had poor representation, valid reasons to grant clemency and halt the death machine. We cannot worship an executed and risen Lord on one day and execute others slaughterhouse style the next. There is no “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” in such an act– we know what we do. We know that it is horrific, unChristlike, unhuman. It is a blasphemy.

If I could, I would be protesting at the gates of the governor’s mansion. Instead, I am praying 1,000 miles away, sending you this letter, begging you to do all that is within your power to live out the teachings of the Jesus we both love and celebrate in this season.

Your fellow servant of Christ,

 

Sarah Sweatt Orsborn

 

Image above is by Adam Selwood, via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

skincare review: The Ordinary

erniebufflo reviews skincare from The Ordinary

erniebufflo reviews skincare from The Ordinary

One common bit of feedback on my last skincare post was that many readers and friends are looking for skincare more on a drugstore budget. I hear that. I tend to stick with “natural” and “organic” products and those are generally expensive, though I have to shout out the Botanics Line (currently I can only find it online at Ulta or Target) for offering cheap, effective, organic skincare. In the spirit of trying to help my friends and readers find affordable, safe, and effective skincare, I decided to order and try some products from The Ordinary. The Ordinary is very hip in the skincare nerd world these days for offering lots of good, active ingredients in good, scientific formulations, at what seem like bonkers prices. The problem is, unless you’ve done a lot of skincare research, it can be hard to figure out what to buy, how to use it, what order to use products in, etc. Seriously, I think Deciem, the company that makes The Ordinary should be paying the skincare nerds at r/skincareaddiction for all the service they’re performing answering thread upon thread about how to use The Ordinary products, which products do what, and in what order.

Note: I ordered these products myself, and this is just my review as someone who bought and tried the products. This is my honest opinion, and this post is not sponsored.

Continue reading “skincare review: The Ordinary”

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