Yoga in Random Places

Two things: I’m in love with yoga, and I’m still at that point in my relationship where I feel the need to be with Erich 24/7. The result? I end up doing yoga in random places.

In bed

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In the backyard

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In the garden

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On the dining room floor

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Together on the carpet

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Now, I didn’t post this for you to scroll through and coo at the babies in the GIF. Get out to a random place and do some yoga!

Where do you like to stretch?

P.S. For inspiration, see Erich and me failing at flexibility, and check out my Pinterest board for all my random workouts I never do.

PC: So Much Yoga, PopSugar, Mind Body Green, My Modern Met

Complementarians Don’t Believe in “Women’s Work”

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In complementarian churches, there is nothing a woman can do that a man is prohibited from doing, while there are a myriad of things men can do that women are prohibited from doing. That is the injustice egalitarians want to rectify.

I’m being controversial again. Jory Micah, a powerful voice for women’s equality in the church, published my post about how complementarians don’t really believe in “women’s work.” Let me know what you think!

// An egalitarian take on women’s work and another thought-provoking guest post

Weekend Update

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Erich and I are taking a much-needed break from life next week — we’re finally going on our honeymoon! I’m unplugging all next week and over the Fourth of July weekend, so no Ezer posts during that time.

Also: Because we’ll (hopefully) be moving into our apartment sometime in early July and because I’m getting ready to teach kindergarten this fall, the number of Ezer posts might drop from five a week to two or three a week. I’ll see how my schedule shakes out.

But stick around until July! Stay tuned for wedding photos, an apartment tour, and a sneak peek into my teaching prep.

PC: Our sparkler sendoff, by Elena Marie’s Photography

More on Women and Dirty Work

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My mom read aloud Raising Maidens of Virtue by Stacy McDonald to my sisters and me when we were growing up. I don’t remember much of it, other than the comfort of snuggling up to my mom as she read aloud, the beautiful watercolor illustrations, and the funny, relatable stories of home life. The only chapter I can recall is the one describing femininity as soft, beautiful, nice-smelling, and pastel.

That was my technical, working definition of femininity: soft, beautiful, nice-smelling, and pastel. True femininity required proper hygiene, long, flowing skirts, lavender scents, and nicely-done hair and makeup. This no doubt fed into my assumption that women could avoid hard, dirty work on the grounds of their gender. “Lady” was equivalent to “woman”; “lady-like” equivalent to “godly” and “Biblical.”

I love soft, beautiful, nice-smelling, and pastel things. With my pastel pink wedding reception, obsession over Modcloth, and penchant for doing my makeup just for fun, I definitely consider myself a girly-girl.

But I don’t believe that soft, beautiful, nice-smelling, and pastel is the definition of femininity. I don’t believe it’s even a requirement of femininity. Femininity, to me, means “related to what is female.” Each particular woman defines what femininity means for herself, and because every woman is different and because a woman’s body and personality is multifaceted and versatile, femininity in an external form can look like anything from combat boots to high heels.

Women have beautiful bodies, no doubt. Estrogen makes our skin soft; our curves provide warm, snuggly places for nursing babies; we rock stilettos and V-backs and mermaid dresses. Women have strong bodies, too. We birth those babies, after all. We run marathons, perform pointe ballet eight performances a week, and join the army.

I would love to start calling those things feminine, too — the blood and guts, rough and tumble, muscular and strong things about our bodies. With that in mind, here are some feminine things I love:

An army master sergeant, Deshauna Barber, took home the Miss USA title — and she’s awesome. What a perfect combination of beauty, brains, and beast strength! I can’t get enough of this quote:

https://twitter.com/DCHomos/status/739633683334762496The hot dog girl makes me laugh.

http://twitter.com/turnerbrandon/status/738366132382490624/photo/1A period commercial with actual blood.


Cup of Jo’s beauty uniform interviews are my favorite.

Speaking of insane things your body can do…ballerinas in the city blew my mind.

Let me know what your favorite feminine thing is, and enjoy your weekend!

Loft Apartments

Let me tell you a sob story.

Erich and I found the perfect apartment, our dream apartment…and we made too much money to rent it. Due to the affordable housing program in Milwaukee, my tiny teacher’s paycheck almost over-qualified us, and Erich’s chemistry paycheck made it impossible to apply. We joked about him staying home all year and mowing lawns for a living, but no, obviously, no.

While we made too much money for the subsidized apartments, we make too little money to afford the same style apartments at market price. Ah, the plight of post-grads! To assuage my wounded heart, I’m going to share with you my favorite apartment style — lofts in old factories!

All around downtown Milwaukee and elsewhere in the western world, companies are renovating 1900’s factories into loft-style apartments. On the outside, the apartment complexes still look like the original factories, brick, logos, and all. They’re even named after the original factories: Knitting Factory Lofts, Paper Box Lofts, Boiler Factory Lofts, etc.

esser lofts

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Loft-styles are open — unique layouts, tall ceilings, and lots of breathing room. These factory loft-styles still include original brick walls, uncovered pipes, unfinished concrete floors, and random pillars and hardware, lending itself to a modern decorating style.

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berry street lofts
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Did I mention these are my dream apartments? Maybe I’ll make Erich quit his job, after all….

Would you live in a factory loft?

// How I would decorate my dream apartment and my favorite statement walls

PC: Kunzelmann-Esser Lofts (Milwaukee, WI), Candy Factory Lofts (Toronto), Soda Factory Lofts (Williamsburg, NY), Watch Factory Lofts (Waltham, MA), Soda Factory Lofts, Cigar Factory Lofts (Oakland, CA), Boiler Factory Lofts (Toronto), private home (Finedon, UK), Soap Factory (Tribeca, NY)

No More Wimpy Woman

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In my Christian community, marriage meant wives stayed home while the husbands took home the bacon. If a woman felt slighted or discomfited by her role as a homemaker-only, patriarchal apologists pointed back to the curse: “Men received the curse of toiling in the fields. Women received the curse of pain in childbirth. Why would you want the double-curse of childbirth pain and working?”

Leaving aside the terrible theology and exegesis of that claim, this idea made for some pretty entitled women. I frequently heard of the relief of new wives finally getting to quit their jobs once they married, now that their husbands provided for them. They lauded the pleasures of having their husbands make hard decisions for them so that they didn’t have to worry about them. They enjoyed having doors opened for them, their seats pulled out and pushed in, their bags carried, etc. Men took out the trash, mowed the lawn, fixed the broken appliances, and did the dirty, hard things of life that women were too weak (or lazy) to do.

I am one such entitled woman. My father is an excellent, hardworking man. He would fill up my car with gas, take care of finances, run errands, and fix whatever I broke without me asking. I never took out the trash, mowed the lawn, fixed a broken doorknob, or checked my car oil. My dad mediated much of the stress of life for me as I transitioned into adulthood. And I’m not going to lie — I miss my dad’s mediation between me and the hard, dirty, frustrating things of life.

One of the things I miss the most is my dad’s legendary insistence that he drive. I hate driving in the city, whether it’s a tiny college town or a metropolitan area, but particularly a metropolitan area. Erich hates driving in the city. In both of our families, our dads do the driving. I grew up expecting my future husband to slay the dragon of city-driving for me. But here I am, married to a man with a hatred of city-driving that probably surpasses mine.

Erich and I just spent the entirety of yesterday visiting apartments, driving a car without air conditioning in the boiling summer sun, in the craziest traffic, and in some sketchy parts of the city. We were sweaty, cranky, discouraged, and exhausted. And we never wanted to venture into the city again.

As we lay in bed recovering from the insanity that was yesterday, Erich said, “Can you please drive tomorrow?” I said yes, but only because I loved him and knew it was only fair for me to shoulder an equal portion of that stress. And as I lay in bed dreading the coming apartment hunt and city driving of tomorrow, I thought about all the things I’ve had to do in my egalitarian marriage.

I work hard to provide for us. I take out the trash. I carry heavy boxes when we move and fit seven grocery bags over each arm after shopping. I troubleshoot my numerous car problems. I handle the finances. Erich expects me to know self-defense and city smarts to protect myself when he’s not around. He wants me to play hard and get dirty. He can’t/won’t solve all my problems or do all the things I don’t want to do. We make our decisions together. Neither one of us gets to quit and leave the other person to handle the hard things alone. We’re in this together.

That sounds cute: “We’re in this together.” But it’s hard. Life is hard, and yes, it feels like a curse sometimes. There have been numerous times when I’ve wanted to throw in the towel and say, “Erich, you make this decision. You do this thing. You drive the car. I can’t handle this anymore.”

But that’s not my natural feminine weakness demonstrating the God-given order of male leadership and relieved female submission. That’s my lazy, frustrated, quitter side popping up to remind me that I’m not perfect and I’ve got plenty of growing up left to do. That’s not femininity. That’s being a pansy.

In my egalitarian marriage, our union isn’t about Erich doing the hard things and slaying the dragons for me. We do the hard things together. We slay the dragons together. We lift each other up when the other one falls (or sits down and throws a tantrum). And I’m growing in my character because of it. Hard work is a good, needed thing in my life. As much as I hate it, it needs to be done.

I can’t play the gender trump card to get out of growing up and getting dirty, because I am a woman, made in the image of a strong God. Because I am a woman, a human, an ezer, a strength equal to my man, I can endure, conquer, and get over myself. City driving, here I come.

// More on egalitarian marriage and coming out egalitarian

Family Hugs

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Erich comes from a large extended family: sixteen siblings (his grandma and great aunts and uncles), their children (his mom and her cousins), their children’s children (he and his brothers and cousins), and now the spouses of those children (me!). This past weekend, we got together with that side of the family for the first time since our marriage.

We were greeted with many congratulations, and then this phenomenon occurred: they would pump Erich’s arm, then turn to me. “Okay, this is a hand-shaking family,” I thought, and stuck out my hand. They ignored it and went for the bear hug. It cracked me up: every single time, they shook Erich’s hand, the guy they’ve known since he wore diapers, and hugged me, the newbie.

From a couple conversations with other people, it seems that it’s typical to give handshakes to guys and hugs to girls. Who knew? To me, hand shaking was for formal relationships, hugging for family and friends. I tend to hug everybody, regardless of gender, and the guys I know go in for the hug too. I come from a family who hugs or gives one of those “manly handshake hugs” — you know, the firm clasp that pulls in for the hug and a couple slaps on the back. The only person in my family who I don’t hug is my sister who hates hugs. I’ve started giving her fist bumps instead.

Have you witnessed this handshake for guys, hugs for girls phenomenon? What is your family’s “hug-style”?

// We’re still searching for an apartment, a stressful situation which is requiring more intentional love than I expected!

Someone to Talk To

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Instead of putting together a bunch of different things to talk about, I want to give you some suggestions of people you ought to talk to this weekend!

Skype an internet friend. A couple weeks ago, I connected with Ashley (Schnarr) Easter, a fellow egalitarian and Christian feminist and a former stay-at-home daughter. Back in the day, we both wrote for the same website, Raising Homemakers, and knew of each other and our blogs, but it wasn’t until after we both came out as egalitarians that we found each other again and celebrated our newfound freedom! I loved hearing her story and talking with someone who’s gone through the same thought processes, the same coming out, the same shame, and the same freedom. Sometimes I feel isolated and misunderstood because of my past beliefs (“What’s a stay-at-home daughter? People actually believe that stuff?!”), so it was encouraging to connect with someone who knew exactly where I was coming from and where I was going.

Ask a bride. It’s wedding season! I enjoyed catching up with one of my brides-to-be and hearing all her plans and excitement. The squeals and giggles and happy freaking out are a sure pick-me-up for a any day! Eight days until she’s married!

Connect with a sibling. Now that the four oldest siblings are out of the house, it’s hard to stay connected with them. I finally called my older brother for the first time in ages, and we had an amazing heart to heart talk. I’m also excited to get to know his girlfriend — another conversation I need to have!

Call your out-of-state friends. Now that I’m graduated and moving back to Wisconsin, I’m making a more concerted effort at reconnecting with my old girlfriends. The other day, I Skyped my bridesmaid and childhood best friend, who’s now married and the mother of the cutest baby boy. It was fun juggling our conversation around the baby’s giggles and screams — just another reminder that we all somehow made it to adulthood.

Plan regular Google Hangouts with your college roommates. My two roomies moved to Omaha, NE and Brooklyn, NY. I’m hoping to visit the Omaha Zoo again (I grew up near Omaha) and to take a weekend vacation to New York, but until those in-person dates happen, we’re scheduling almost-weekly Google Hangouts. There’s so much to talk about since we’ve graduated, married, started new jobs, rented apartments, and all that jazz.

Enjoy your weekend! Erich and I are moving to Milwaukee today and starting our apartment hunt in earnest tomorrow. What are you doing for the weekend? Did you connect or reconnect with someone special? I’d love to know!

// Really digging these chevron walls and loved writing about my marriage habits!

When a Small White Man Says He’s a Tall Asian Woman, Listen

I’m a strong advocate of good, respectful conversations, and I think those conversations start by listening before discerning. Christians get too worked up about correcting people. We fear we’ve compromised our testimony if we don’t qualify and clarify our love for those who differ from us. We’re afraid we failed as a Christian if someone comes out as gay or trans or feminist or atheist and we don’t say something about how we disagree with them or worry for them. We judge and we speak…but the doubt comes when we’re lying in bed feeling guilty: “Maybe I wasn’t loving enough?”

We should listen first, and when we speak, ask questions. It’s okay to sit in silence. It’s okay to say, “Thank you for sharing your viewpoint with me, I appreciate it” — and nothing else. It’s okay to conclude a conversation with a handshake and a smile, having corrected nothing.

With that in mind, I wrote this response to the Family Policy Institute of Washington’s video, “College Kids Say the Darndest Things: On Identity” — “Being ‘Right’ About a Person’s Identity.” Let me know your thoughts on the video!

Coming Out Egalitarian: Reconsidering Complementarian Arguments

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This is the second in a series about my questions, fears, and experiences when coming out as egalitarian.

In my years of blogging, I’ve been developing a thicker skin. I’m a sensitive, thoughtful person dedicated to pursuing truth and expressing it clearly. Whenever someone questioned my beliefs, even if it was the same, old, worn out counterargument, I felt compelled to engage with their beliefs and reevaluate mine — all in the name of intellectual honesty. How could I expect my readers to consider my arguments and change their minds if I didn’t do the same?

This was exhausting. When I finally found something true, good, and beautiful to share, the critics forced me back to the drawing table, back to the confusion, doubt, and discouragement. I never felt like I could live my beliefs. I was always being asked to reconsider.

The egalitarian/complementarian controversy caused the most angst. Such conversations were always framed as the Biblical, black-and-white, literal interpretation vs. womanmade, squishy, hermeneutical gymnastics. There could be only one valid, sensible interpretation of passages on gender, and it wasn’t egalitarianism.

Those terms for conversation kills all interest in talking right there for me, but I felt guilty closing the conversation. I was 99.999% sure egalitarianism was the way to go, but what if I failed to consider that 0.001% — and what if that 0.001% was crucial to know the truth?

I’ve tried to find the balance between confidently living my beliefs without second thoughts but also being willing to admit when an opposing belief is right — and then I realized that I already knew how to do that.

For the majority of my life, I researched, believed, and promoted complementarian theology without hearing the egalitarian side. And then, after years of thinking complementarianism explained everything, it started making no sense within itself, with the nature of God, and with the women I knew. When I first Googled egalitarianism, I feared falling into false teaching, but I Googled it out of desperation, and I considered it out of intellectual honesty. Its interpretation of Scripture, understanding of the gospel, and affirmation of women seemed more good, true, and beautiful than complementarianism, so I switched allegiances — in a painful, messy, but good way.

Even in my close-minded ignorance, I could see holes in an argument. I started investigating those holes. I realized the argument was inadequate. I looked for another argument that satisfied the questions and emptiness in the first argument. And that led me to greater truth.

I’m comfortable not reconsidering complementarianism because I’ve asked hard questions before. I’ve walked hard paths alone for the sake of truth. If egalitarianism has holes (and I’m sure it does), I’ll find them and question them with the same intensity I questioned complementarianism, the belief system I initially didn’t want to give up.

I’m comfortable not reconsidering complementarianism because I took more than enough time to understand it. Check the archives of my old blog if you don’t believe me: I swallowed complementarianism hook, line, and sinker. From the ages of 11-19, I studied it, implemented it, and saw the world through it. I can still argue from the complementarian position just fine. That was my childhood, as a nerdy, theologically-inclined kid desperate to live a pleasing Christian life. Not only did I study complementarianism, I lived it and observed it and found it wanting.

I’m comfortable not reconsidering complementarianism because I haven’t been convinced by any of its arguments since coming out as egalitarian. I’m a pretty fair-minded, tolerant person who doesn’t mind conceding a good point, but complementarian arguments coming from someone else don’t look any more convincing to me than they did coming from my own mouth.

But most of all, I’m comfortable not reconsidering complementarianism because I find egalitarianism to be more true, good, and beautiful. Why would I reconsider something I found inadequate when I’ve found something fulfilling?

It seems pretty straightforward, but there were mental blocks that held me back. With my passion for egalitarianism, I didn’t want people to say, “I’ll never become egalitarian” with the same fervor I said, “I’ll never go back to complementarianism.” (I recently encountered somebody who was allegedly egalitarian and then switched to complementarianism. Awkward.)

Then I realized that I couldn’t change people’s minds, and that when I was a complementarian, I swore up and down I would never join the dark side too. Sometimes, life, time, other people, and the Holy Spirit are better persuaders than I. Currently, I have no problem telling content complementarians, “I’m not interested in arguing, but I’m happy to explain my viewpoint.” I like conversations and discussions, not debates and accusations.

Then there’s this other thing, so sneaky and subtle that it took me several years to uncover: Complementarians tend to assert that theirs is the default position, and egalitarianism is the aberration; that complementarianism is as old as the gospel, and egalitarianism is as new as third-wave feminism; that complementarianism is rooted in obvious gender differences, and egalitarianism is rooted in overreaction and rebellion.

To be honest, deep down, I still believed complementarianism was the default position too. It’s hard to think otherwise. My church supported it. My family practiced it. Newlyweds, older women, best friends, random Christian people all believed it. I let their assertions that complementarianism was the Biblical, natural, sensible position get to me. I was told I was throwing the baby out with the bathwater and swinging the pendulum the opposite direction (classic metaphors people love to use on anybody who questions their beliefs). I absorbed this insinuation that I was the outlier, the rebel, and the liberal for going against the complementarian interpretation of Scripture.

But actually, I’m not any of those things. I simply disagree with complementarianism. I’m carrying out the gospel to its logical conclusion in reference to women. I’m interpreting Scripture in its historical and literary context. I didn’t need to feel on the defensive, bowing down to an “older,” “less emotional” teaching. My view was valid, Biblical, and sensible too — even moreso.

All of this freed me to say, “I’m an egalitarian, and I’m not reconsidering or apologizing. I’ve found something good, and I’m holding onto it.” I’m not saying I won’t listen to alternative viewpoints. (I still follow complementarian personalities I respect on social media and RSS feed.)

I’m not even saying I’m right. I’m merely saying, I don’t see a need to reconsider right now, and until I have a reason to reconsider, I’m not reconsidering. I will write about and advocate for the full inclusion and equality of women in the home, church, and society without reserve; I will live out my marriage and womanhood with confidence; I will convince those who will be convinced and not be upset by those who aren’t; I will stay friends with complementarians and be frank and gracious about our differences; I will concede good points and ignore bad ones.

There’s a time to consider, and there’s a time to live a life already. And now I’m living.

As an egalitarian, would you or have you reconsidered complementarianism? I would love to hear your thoughts!

// The first article in this series, on getting out of awkward, unhelpful conversations, and why I submit in my egalitarian marriage