Monday, March 2, 2015

Disappear


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Recently a friend made a courageous decision to disappear. She didn’t fall off the face of the earth – nothing that drastic. She disappeared from every aspect of social media – Instagram, Facebook, LinkedN, Google +, Twitter and even got rid of her email accounts. What’s even more amazing is that she is a gifted writer and has had a “presence” in this blogosphere of ours for quite a while. Although her disappearance was sudden, her decision wasn’t.
In her words….”Being off of social media puts things in perspective. I can focus on the here and now. The tangible right in from of me – relationships with my family, my daily priorities and in self-care. I’ve gained more hours in my day by taking myself off of social media.” I asked if she felt like she was missing out and she replied, “No. In fact, the withdrawals only lasted about 7 days.” When asked about friendships that she had made online her response was, “Friendships that I found online and where I made connection also in real life remain intact and those that were merely online, are gone.” Was that disheartening to her? She replied, “I’m practical so I expected it. Community in real life is stronger.”
I’ve contemplated disappearing too. For some of the same and yet different reasons, I question whether this is what God really wants my life to look like. You may not agree with me but there is a heck of a lot of pressure in social media. The pressure of fitting in, being liked and liking others, saying and doing the right thing. Being accepted in social media can resemble the first day of high school as a freshmen in a new town. But it’s magnified a few times over when the community isn’t based on face to face interaction. What you put into the online community can often feel like a quick brush of wind on your face…one day you feel you belong and the next, you’re feeling alone even though you’re in the middle of a crowd.
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I started out blogging before blogging was called blogging. I had this cute little spot in a place called the Heartlands on a website called Geocities. I had an “address” and a neighborhood of people that also wrote on my online community. Now that I think about it, it was a bit hokie but I thought I was cool beans for having my “spot” in the community. I had peeps who lived next door and who shared the love of Christ, family, creating, and adventures. Then years later, the “real” blogosphere happened. I grabbed my blogspot address and I was ready to soar…soar with an audience of one. Little by little, I found friends who surprisingly liked my place chocolatecovereddaydreams.blogspot.com and community happened.
As I grew, my voice grew. I found boldness to tell it like it is and courage to be me. Then came opportunities to write and to speak outside of my little blog. And my voice grew a little louder. I decided to be bold and to take a giant leap and my domain name and website were created.
I immersed myself in social media. I tweeted and liked, shared, pinned and hearted pictures of friends and family. Then I got lost and overwhelmed. I found people who wrote great stuff and who made this social media stuff seem effortless, a breeze. There were retreats to gather and find community, book launches and online Bible studies. I gave in to having it all at my fingertips via my smartphone. Before long, my writing was distracted by the very thing I thought I loved – social media.Best-blogging-community
I no longer knew where I fit. I remembered when my web address included blogspot and how those blogs that I followed and read frequently became friends to me. Trying to keep up with every wonderful blog, I lost the closeness that came from the small community of friends. I guess the best way to describe what I’m saying is that I went from communing and the loving fellowship of a small church and suddenly going to a megachurch where it’s easy to get lost in the crowd.
I don’t want to be lost in the crowd. I don’t want to feel like I want to fight for social medial popularity either. I would rather just be me and if my voice is heard, then that’s okay. Maybe it means going back to being a blogspot blogger once again. But then I fight with what I’ve been told, “You want to write and get your book published, then you’ve got to have a presence on social media.” It’s my heart’s desire to write – just like the air I breathe but going back to writing for the audience of One. I will trust Him to open the doors.images
Have you thought about your place in social media? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Head Over Hills In Love

When I was a kid, my family lived close to a park with lots of grassy hills. My sister and I would lie down at the top of the hill and roll and roll and roll! The momentum of rolling was exhilarating until I got to the bottom and I was ready to roll again. The problem was that I was and still am highly allergic to grass so the thrill was a risk unto itself – with a very itchy, uncomfortable aftermath.

For those of you that have read my blog from the beginning, you know that I have been married previously. So for me, this is a falling-in-love-again-for-good kind of story. Ours is a story – a forever-always – amen kind of love story.

I can spend countless minutes talking about the horrific emotions of infidelity and distrust in my previous marriage but it serves no purpose other than to distract from the beautiful, chaotic love that my love and best friend, Jeff and I share.

When asked what makes our marriage work, honestly the only” What” is a “Who” – God is the very core of our relationship. Without him, I can’t even imagine what our marriage and family life would be like.

We were knit together, each of us, in our mothers wombs. That’s where the similarities of our childhood begin and end. We are chocolate and vanilla, smooth and crunchy, spicy and mild. If you know me, then  you can already guess which one of us is spicy.

We came together not knowing where our friendship would lead. We had the yours and mine kiddos which we knew could be one of the most difficult task of all –  to bring us together and to call us a family. The true test came when we said I do. With our oldest kiddos standing by our sides, we made the no matter what commitment.

Six kids, two son in laws and three furbabies later…we’ve got chocolate and vanilla – in love.
It hasn’t been easy. Blending together families means blending different ideals, visions and goals. I won’t lie – there are times that are tough when we both think to ourselves, “Did I really expect our lives would be this way?” Yet, we focus on what we have and where we are going and we both come to the conclusion that we were meant to be.

I never imagined love could be so sweet. I have found that love doesn’t focus on color but on the friendship and courage to be “real”. Jeff has given me that and more. I don’t have to apologize for being “me”. I know without any doubts, he loves me just the way I am.

Where will this love lead? Only God knows but there’s so much exploring and excitement and challenges headed our way. I will give you a hint…with yours and mine, comes ours….There’s a new Dankenbring that will be a part of our family through adoption. We’re jumping head 
into this adventure of ours called love and life. Are you?
- See more at: http://www.simonedankenbring.com/head-over-hills-in-love/#sthash.eTS96tYn.dpuf

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dare to Be...Vulnerable!

Am I the only one that seems to have no words for the unrest happening in Ferguson? I’ve tried but the ugliness throws me back into the doorway, looking at what’s going on in my community and inside my home instead of being emotionally wrapped up with all that is going on in pandemic proportions elsewhere.

I’m not shutting my eyes to racism because I’ve experienced it more than I really care to think about. But what I do want to talk about is being vulnerable enough to let others into your life and those things that you are most passionate about. People hate what they don’t know or maybe want to know. People assume because assuming is easier than going up to another person and talking and REALLY finding out who you are standing beside, living next to or worshipping with.

We guard our hearts from evil but we also keep others from seeing deeper into who we are for fear that we won’t be accepted. Courage is letting go of the “what ifs” and opening our arms to “why nots”.

I’m terrible about hiding feelings, blemishes, truths, emotions. I grew up in a family where it was better to not “show your stuff”. Even now, Facebook and Twitter can be obtrusive to me. I have to force myself to stop watching and reading and instead, engage.

After I had the flat line/dying thing happen, I developed a new attitude. What I saw when I died was that I had shed my “shell” of who I was. It was like taking off footie pjs and letting them drop to the floor. When I came back, I decided that if that’s what death is like, letting go of what is on the outside and embracing eternity, I no longer want to hold back showing the “real” me. I’m not wanting to do a naked bike ride, I just want to stop hiding behind facades of what some people think I am or I’m not. I’m all for vulnerability – as painful and difficult as it may be.


I’ve decided to challenge myself as well as you, to go outside of what is normal. Instead, divulge, bear, seek and let go. I’m sharing my vulnerability with you. My challenge to you be courageous and share something, anything that will be a giant leap to you being vulnerable. Be yourself! Here’s my leap!

1)    I have been battered and bruised by pastors and members of some churches. I was made to feel like the bad person. I felt as if I had no voice.

2)    I hate, hate, hate when I am asked, “What are you?” I don’t mind when I’m asked, “What is your nationality?”

3)    I have food allergies and the list of food that I am allergic to is growing daily. I’m in denial that I can’t have nuts.

4)    I’m married to a wonderful man that is white. I dislike having to justify mostly to Black people, why I married outside of my race.

5)    I have scars (keloids) on my face, chest and back and the doctors are baffled by them. I have to wear some shirts backwards to cover the largest ones up.

6)    I don’t mind answering questions pertaining to my heritage and race but I don’t like having someone touch my hair out of curiosity. (Yes, this has happened more than once.)

7)    When I was younger, I didn’t fit in with my Black peers because they often picked on me for talking and acting “white”. I also didn’t fit in with my White peers because most of them didn’t understand why I was different from them. It’s taken me years to finally find my “place” and embrace who I am, how I talk, look and believe. I’m a child of the King. That’s more than enough.

8)    I have OCD tendencies from my first marriage and it’s very difficult to overlook things out of place or in a messy room. Even at work, I won’t leave for home until I’ve cleaned up my workspace.

9)    I’m easily amused, curious, in awe of how things work. To this day, I regret not becoming a doctor.

10)  I hate when someone tells me, “You can’t.”


Are you ready for the challenge? Showing your stuff may mean uncovering just a big toe – that’s a start! Go ahead and share your stuff.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

This Thing for Books

As far as I can remember, I had a love for books. My mom would read my sisters and I books that seemed to come alive right before our very eyes. I loved the sound of her voice as she read but I couldn’t wait until I was big enough to read all by myself.
Summers were spent reading underneath the air conditioner or by the stereo where we would trade books with one another. The librarian knew to save books for us because they were quickly devoured and we were ready for more.
I imagined life on the Banks of Plum Creek, being Margaret in Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret or one that I often wished, The Mummy Market, a place to trade in your mom. I laughed with Ramona Quimby and became an entrepreneur with Eddie Hits Paydirt. I saw myself in each book that I read.
The love of books still remains. In fact, to de-stress, one of my favorite things to do is to go to a second hand store and browse through the books. Going to the library is similar to having that first morning cup of coffee on a Saturday…pure delight!
What’s been even more of a wonderful gift is having friends that are authors who I have cheered on from the very beginning. When Kathy Lipp came out with The Husband Project, I was doing the chicken dance on the sidelines. Each and every book after that has been a hit. I definitely can’t forget  Michelle DeRusha who’s book, Spiritual Misfit has become one of my favorites of this year.
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Then there’s Jen Hatmaker, Debbie Macomber, Lysa Teurkeurst, Lisa Harper, Emily Freeman, Annie Downs, Karen Zacharias, Sara DeBarge, Jennifer Duke, Angela Thomas, Lisa Samson, Tsh Oxenreider, Ann Voskamp, Kimberly Cash Tate, Sheila Walsh….the list goes on and on and on.
There’s many that I’ve forgotten and much more that are already on my pre-order list.
2014-08-02 16.33.47Thank you for blessing me with the gift of words to unwind, dream, become brave, admit that I’m a Spiritual Misfit, cry, nod my head, highlight and take to the deepest part of my heart the very words that you speak to me with your gifts. I thank God that you all have the courage to share with us your gift of words.
- See more at: http://www.simonedankenbring.com/this-thing-for-books/#sthash.W5PIW9hk.dpuf

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Because I Need to Remember

2014-07-02 18.57.39The most important things are easy to remember but those vital to survival, are easy to forget.I sometimes struggle with remembering to breathe, often holding my breath without realizing it. Just like breathing, life happens and as it does, I get caught up, distracted, and stuck on things that really aren’t important.
Today has been one of those days...the kind of day that started out with me feeling sorry for myself. I was thinking, “Why me? Why do I have to be the one to go through the pain that I’m in? When will I finally feel “normal” again?” Just as quickly as I thought those words, God whispered this:
“Your pain doesn’t define you; it refines you. You have “this” so you won’t forget.”
Almost two years ago, was when I first began to experience the heart issues and other health issues. Out of the blue it arrived. No warning or way to brace myself for the journey. I’ve been from one specialist to another to seek answers. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been in the ER and admitted into the hospital. As for the tears, God’s bottled enough of those to create another river…cool…the Simone River. I kind of like the sound of that!
The frustration, the endless tests, humiliation, tons of medication – I’m so over it!!
Yet, the magnitude hit me today and I remembered - I died. Flat lined. I was brought back for a reason. I vividly remember what I saw and as much as I can put it into words, I can only say “WOW!” before tears fill my eyes.
I remember – and it makes the pain so much more worth it. I’m not the same person I used to be. I’ve become more resilient, maybe more stubborn, definitely more determined to live each moment and breath as if it were my last. I’m not strong enough sometimes – but He is.
It’s a relief to know that I’m not alone in my pain. In 2 Corinthians 12:8, 9, Paul, who had a thorn in his side asked God three times, to remove the thorn but God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” That’s what it’s all about. It’s about me leaning on Him when I can’t walk one step further or when I feel like I’m going to hit the ground.
Even if in this life I never find my “normal” again, I know I’ll be okay.
I won’t forget.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I'm still here but there's a new neighborhood I'm hanging at

Hello everyone!

I hope you haven't forgotten about me. There's been some wonderful changes going on. One of them is that I finally have a domain name so I'm switching over from blogger to wordpress. The latest blog post can be found here: simonedankenbring.com

It has been a journey..exhilarating, scary and exciting. I'm humbled by all that God is doing in my life. I hope that you will join me and visit me on my new blog: www.simonedankenbring.com See you all there!

Blessings,
Simone