Monday, October 28, 2013

He Knows?

The Comment:
What about if he KNOWS. And you're just sitting there like.....hmmm I don't know. I know that it's an inborn kind of thing to want to share your life with someone but at the same time I think I only got half of that gene (also I'm a selfish person-I realize this). I don't want my life to revolve around a guy. Especially since I have things to do!! So what do I do if it's the other way around? He knows but I don't.
Great question...and great thoughts. 
You aren't alone.
I think the tendency is for the assumption to be that all women want to get married and have a family, that we're all just waiting for that 'perfect' guy to come along so we can get down to business. But, that hardly fits all women.

I watched Mona Lisa Smiles again recently, and was reminded of how unfulfilling a life of solely tending house, raising kids, and being a 'good' wife would be for me. Because, I have other things I want to do...that I want to pursue...and I want to have the room to dream about them, and then act on them. I want to be able to tend a house, raise kids and be a 'good' wife...but do abundantly more than that.

Not everyone is like that though. Some women are content and completely fulfilled taking care of their family, recognizing the huge responsibility before them and wanting to do it with excellence. Some women can't imagine having kids, let alone rearing kids... the husband part sounds good, but not necessarily the whole family thing. Some women want to go it alone--no husband, no kids.

We're all different...and it's a beautiful thing.
And so I guess this is where I want us to be willing to understand ourselves better. What do we truly want/long for? In what ways are we gifted, in what things are we passionate about...and how do we move forward into those more fully in a way that reflects the Lord?

I think, for the woman (like you) who wants to share her life with someone but simultaneously doesn't want her life revolving around a guy, there is hope. I think a lot of depends on the guy that you do end up choosing (because, despite how he feels and what he 'knows', you still get a choice in the matter). Is he someone who is going to push you to do the things you need to do outside of him? Is he going to encourage you in them? Support you in them? Is he going to help move you toward better? Are you going to be a better person, a better lover of the Lord, a better lover of people....because of him in your life? I think if that's the case....I think if you find a man who is willing and able to let you flourish in your dreams, gifts, passions... you get the best of both worlds. If he's a man who is going to stifle you and contain you and keep you from the things you love? You don't have to choose that.

The Lord's been reminding me lately that I get to choose.
He's been reminding me that I could be single forever and probably (honestly) be quite content, but He's reminding me that I could choose something else really good, too. That no one can make up my mind for me in that. He's not going to, a man isn't going to.....I get to choose.
So do you.
Don't forget that.
If you're interested in the possibility of sharing your life with someone, be willing to take a step. To go on a date. To get to know a guy. It doesn't mean you're committing your life to him yet. It doesn't mean that you choosing 'yes' in one instance means that you're choosing 'yes' forever with him. Find out, no matter how incredible of a man he is and no matter how sure he is that you're it for him, if he is who you want to do life with.

Process through it, yes. Absolutely. It's a life-altering, life-long commitment. It's nothing to take lightly. But, sometimes I think we have the tendency to allow our own junk to interfere. That sometimes when we over-analyze it all, we get ridiculous about things in a bad way and don't allow good things to happen.

Basically I think over-analyzing is always harmful. There's a healthy balance. Don't make rash, ridiculous decisions...but don't mull through it to the point where there's nothing good coming out of it, either. Don't be afraid to make decisions. Don't be afraid to say YES to a date because you think it means you're committing your life away. Don't feel like you have to, either.

So maybe he thinks he knows.
Allow yourself room to be a human with freedom and choices. Allow yourself to have good things. Allow yourself to dream big and to live life to the fullest (consumed by things that matter)...and recognize that sometimes living fully can absolutely include a husband and a family and making them a priority.

I think you'll find someone who meshes well with your hopes and dreams for your own life. Someone who compliments you in that. It may not be the great guy who thinks he knows he wants to be with you....but it might be. Be willing to be open. Be willing to be wrong. Be willing to be surprised.

But, in the end?

You get to choose.
So, what'll it be?

Your entries will remain anonymous

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Move Toward More

The Comment: 
People say when you know you know... Well I know he just hasn't figured it out yet. [What do you do] when the person you are interested in is clueless. 
Another Comment (along the same lines): 
The question is always in the back of my mind. Will I ever get married? Am I supposed to get married. When do you know that you have found that guy. When do you know he is the right one. How do you know if he is the right one when there is no form of pursuing happening. Maybe I just answered my own question, but in my head it still remains. When do you know it is him. The man that the Lord has for you? Because right when I think I found him he obviously does not feel the same... Oh the questions in my head. 
I hear it a lot...
"When you know, you know."
I've even written about it before.
And maybe it's true... maybe it happens. But, I still don't like us to think of it as a must...a prerequisite for marriage. And, I certainly don't like it when we (as females) allow ourselves to think that just because we think we know, that it must be right.

Because, if I'm being honest, I probably thought knew a lot of times.
Probably once in high school... definitely once in college...and at least once since then (maybe even twice). The thoughts of, "He could be it... he could really be it! He has everything I've ever wanted in a guy!"  Only, there was a missing component. Lack of interest in me. Somehow it didn't seem that important (or else it didn't register)... it was as if I thought it would just happen because he was so perfect for me. How could it not? It was meant to be. Because I knew....and eventually he would too. Eventually the Lord would reveal to him how I was the person he was supposed to be with...right?

And so I waited.
And waited.
I put my heart out there over and over again, establishing friendships with these guys fully based in the hope that we would be together forever someday (once they realized it, of course). And I over-analyzed, of course. Oh, the questions in every girl's head...

At some point you just have to STOP.
To stop processing, and re-processing, and processing yet again... to stop convincing yourself that it's going to look a certain way or has to look a certain way. To stop creating scenarios in your head that are not reality and are merely based on your own hopes and dreams of what could be. It'll drive you wild.

A helpful tip?
If you're convinced that you know and he's not showing any sort of romantic interest in you...? Be willing to admit that maybe you don't know. I'm sure there are a few cases when a woman knew and it took the guy several years to come around... sure. I'm not saying it's impossible. But I am saying that, regardless, let's not be women who base our whole life and identity around that. Do your life, despite him. Don't change your course because you think you have to intersect it with his somehow. If he is your guy, it'll happen. If he isn't, I think you doing what you need to do outside of any relationship is going to help you move on. That once you begin to live as though dating, relationships, marriage isn't your sole purpose in life, you're going to find much more fulfillment when you begin moving toward things that matter significantly more.

Honestly, I think that's often the crux of our problem as women. Our continual desire and need to make men the means to our happiness. When we do that, everything revolves around them...whether they are a presence in our life or whether they aren't. Whether we date all the time, or we never date at all. We define ourselves by our relationship status. We find our worth in it. We find our hope in it. We spend hours and hours analyzing, day dreaming, controlling, manipulating...convinced that when we know, it's going to make the whole world right. We have to find him, obtain him, and keep him.

But what if we could live outside of all of that?
Outside of the over-analyzing of almost every male-female interaction? Outside of the needing to know what he's thinking, what he's doing, what he's feeling, where he sees this going questions that we mull through constantly?

I only think it's possible if we are willing and able to acknowledge that life is about abundantly more. That there's more that matters. That if, while we're chasing passionately after the Lord and someone happens to come alongside us and it makes us better pursuers, knowers and sharers of Jesus....that it's good and just part of our lives instead of our whole lives. But up until (and even after) that point, what if we were people who cared about more? Invested in more? Spent time in more? Thought about more?

It's a hard shift.
I guess I've just recognized in the last several months how consuming romance (or the idea of it) can be...and how much it can strip us, distract us, keep us from our bigger purpose in life. If it happens, let's let it happen and let it move us toward better. But if it's not happening right now? If he's not digging you? Let's be women who press on toward Jesus, no matter what. Let's not get so wrapped up in when/if he's going to 'know', and let's be women who seek to know Christ and let that be what matters abundantly more.

Because, friends, that is a life worth living.
All the questions we can't possibly answer about guys/relationships and all the theories we have and all the 'right' ways to do things? There are always exceptions, always stories that break the mold, always a different ways to do things successfully. People who never thought they'd get married who got married, people who thought they'd get married but never did. People who got married without knowing each other, people who got married after dating 20 years. People with arranged marriages, people who courted, people who online dated. It's all unique, all different.. and it's beautiful.

So, instead of spending so much time trying to figure out how to do it all 'right' (without ever really succeeding)... I just want us to be people who spend our time on the things that matter, the things we do know...and letting the other stuff happen as we go.

The questions are good questions. It is good stuff to process through. It's natural to wonder. But, I want us to not dwell there, to not exist there... and to push on toward He who matters infinitely more than all of this.

Let's STOP.
Stop all the questions about him.
Move toward more.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Unequally Yoked?

The Comment:
What if I fall in love with someone who isn't a Christian?
What if...

Well, I think I'd start by saying that the way this question is phrased makes it sound as though it can't be helped. Almost as if I imagine someone saying, "Debbie, you don't get it. I fell in love with him. I couldn't help it."

In which my response is, "Really...?"
Because, I think love is a choice. And I think too often we allow our emotions to dictate that choice... as though there is no other alternative to the situation. There is.

While I could throw some Scripture about being 'unequally yoked' at you to prove my point, I'm not going to. Most of us know it. It's not always a convincing argument (although it should be all we need). So, I'm going to say this...

I had a non-Christian man ask me several months back if I would ever consider dating a non-Christian man. In trying to navigate through the waters without offending, I explained it in such a way that conveyed the following: I wouldn't date a non-Christian because so much of my being is wrapped up in my faith and my relationship with the Lord. I can't imagine being married to someone who I couldn't share that with. I can't imagine trying to do life with someone who couldn't relate to me on my most fundamental level.

It goes further than that, though. I need a man who can challenge me, encourage me, inspire me in my relationship with the Lord. I need us to agree on things that Scripture tells us is true... especially as we live life together. It has to be the thing we base our lives on, the place we go back to when we disagree as we sort through finances, raising children, loving our neighbors, when we face hardship and tragedy. If we don't have that, our struggles will be even more intensified.

I need the man I marry to not just make me a better person, but a better lover of the Lord. If that's lacking, the relationship doesn't matter. It has to extend into eternity. Our relationship has to be about something far more than what this life is. Which means, if I marry a man who doesn't know or love the Lord and he only makes me happy... that's not good enough. It's just not enough. Period.

And so, to the Christian who thinks they are in love with the non-Christian? I get it. I get that you feel connected, that you feel like you've never felt before, that it's wonderful and incredible. I get it. But, I don't get how, if you're longing to know the Lord more intimately and deeply, how dating or marrying someone who doesn't understand that core part of who you are could ever be truly fulfilling.

Yes, I also get that people can change and that they might become a Christian over time... but you don't ever know that. You can't bank on it (unless you've had some divine revelation from the Lord that I'm not going to argue with, but I would still caution against a life-long commitment).

I got an anonymous comment recently from a girl who had a crush on a guy who wasn't a Christian. There was the potential of mutual interest, and so her immediate reaction was to avoid him, ignore him, distance herself from him. But she recognized that she was being called to love him even more...beyond the crush. That regardless of her romantic feelings for him, there was an infinitely greater call on her life to share Christ with him. This meant having a conversation that communicated that she was only interested in being his friend. And then it meant proceeding into a place that caused her heart to often soar, but she couldn't go there romantically.

She wrote:
I'm hoping that this awkward 'inappropriate crush' situation turns into one where this boy that *almost* stole my affections comes to know the affections of the One True God...not so that I can date him. But so that he might have a life fulfilled in the marriage-love of the Father.
And that's beautiful to me.
Because, in the end, it's not about us dating some really awesome guy for the sake of our own happiness. It's about furthering the Kingdom of God. It's about loving Him and loving others, not with our own agenda in mind. And whatever gets us to that place (being single forever, or married to man who helps make us better in our endeavor)...that is what is better.

I commend how this girl handled her predicament. She didn't play games with him, she didn't flirt with him, she didn't wait for him to pursue her and then tell him she couldn't date him. She was honest from the beginning and then sought to love him regardless.

So while you very well may find yourself in a situation where you feel like you're 'falling' in love with someone who doesn't share your core beliefs? You get to choose how to respond. You get to choose how to act. You could to choose how to love them or if you will love them.

I hope you are willing to see it as a choice. That you're willing to look at what Scripture says about this issue and pay heed. That you're willing to see the weight that an imbalance with such a heavy, deep important thing can have in a romantic relationship.

There will be someone that connects with you deeply and spiritually...that pushes you to know Jesus more in the way that they live and the way that they talk.
You don't have to compromise on this...nor should you.

It's worth waiting for.
No matter what emotional dream you're caught up in right now, stand firm in what you know to be true about this.

Choose what's better.
Choose what's right.
And remember that you not choosing to date someone because you don't believe the same things isn't bad...and it doesn't mean you don't care about them. It just means that this matters. It matters too much to play around with. And you can still love them beyond romantic intentions... you can love them beyond your own happiness. It just might have to look different than you sometimes want.

It's worth it.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sexual Temptation

The Comment: 
I am looking for advice about relationships in the context of sexual temptation. I think it's actually a more common point of fault among Christians but few admit to it. I will admit I have struggled with it and gone too far physically. I once thought that keeping it a secret and removing and breaking ties with the person was the way around it. That is a start, but there is more to restoration and learning to fight against lust, and using the armor of the Lord in another step I think. There is power in confessing our sins to each other and having accountability. It can help free us from the shame or guilt Satan tries to bind us with. I am wondering what your advice is for people in the situation who know they have been wrong and want to overcome lust and restore their heart. Where does one start?
Thanks for your honesty, especially in regards to an issue that is, yes, often surrounded by guilt and shame.

There's a lot going on here, a lot to address... and it isn't very easy/comfortable stuff for most of us to talk about. While we can quickly throw up boundaries around our dating relationships and convince ourselves that we would never go further than [fill in the blank]...we often find ourselves in precarious situations where we compromise just a little. And then a little more. And then a little more....  It doesn't seem very harmful in the beginning, but eventually we're tied up in something that's more than what we bargained for.

I didn't meant to do that...
Guilt consumes. Shame bears down on us. How did I get here...? I never thought I would have done that... Sometimes we want to blame the other party. Sometimes we take full responsibility ourselves. It's messy, because we've entered into a physical intimacy with someone else that isn't committed to us for life....we've entered into a physical intimacy that wasn't intended for us... yet.

I want to stop right here and acknowledge, again, that sexual desire isn't bad. I think it's a natural tendency for us to slip into 'temptation' and 'lust' and immediately convince ourselves that everything sexual is bad and wrong. I think that's the wrong reaction and begins to foster a contempt for something that is meant, in the right context, to be so good.

So, in terms of how to handle being in a situation where you've messed up and want restoration and to overcome lust? I don't know if there's an exact science to it, if there's a formula to follow...but there's maybe some good guidelines to adhere to.

What I do know is that I think it's important and valuable for us to simply acknowledge that we have sexual desires. It's okay. It doesn't make us bad people. It makes us people...created fully with desire, a longing for sexual intimacy. The sooner we can acknowledge that we're sexual beings, I think the sooner we're able to figure out how to then proceed.

I think it's important to be self-aware. To know your tendencies, to know the things that cause you to want to go further, to know the things that cause you to lust. This is going to look different for different people...and it's certainly going to look different between males and females. If you know that laying down next to your boyfriend has tempted you push your boundaries, don't do it. If you know that being alone with your boyfriend causes you two to immediately take advantage of the privacy, make sure you're always in public settings. It requires self-control, self-discipline, a wanting and striving for holiness above the immediate gratification that the sexual act will provide.

The thing about boundaries is that only you (and your significant other) are the ones deciding whether you stick to them or not. As much as accountability can be an important thing, probably all of us have lied about something we've done or only told 'half-truths' or conveniently found ways to navigate around our friends' interrogations as they attempt to hold us accountable to the things we said we wanted (i.e. 'You asked if we kissed, and we didn't... I just forgot to inform you that we found other ways to explore each other's bodies...').

My point is that accountability only really works if we want it to. If we're willing to be truly open and honest about where we're at in our relationships. It only works if the person keeping us accountable is willing to ask hard, awkward questions and then respond with both grace and a steady call to greater when we admit that we've messed up. We have to feel safe in these relationships. Safe, but without allowance. It doesn't work if two people are holding each other accountable, both messing up, and mostly just relieved that they aren't the only ones who weren't willing to hold tight to their boundaries.

Confession is huge. I think you're right.
Because once light is brought into the darkness, into the secret things that we try to hide, the sooner healing can happen. The sooner we are able to find hope, the sooner we are able to receive encouragement and a push toward purity and self-discipline.

So, if you're in a spot where you've messed up....where you've gone too far sexually and you don't feel like you know how to recover? I assure you that there's hope. Don't condemn yourself for having sexual desires, but let's be people who understand ourselves well enough to know how to have self-control, who know how to flee from temptation when we need to, who know how to make decisions that push us toward better (especially in our relationships).

Attempt to discern what you need to do in order to maintain purity in your relationships. While, yes, it can be harder to not 'mess up' once you've gotten to a certain point physically, it's not hopeless. You just have to want it. You have to want purity more than the sex. Your desire for the Lord has to be greater than your desire for the other person, than your desire for physical gratification. It has to be. Sometimes this means stepping away from a relationship, but oftentimes it just means taking an honest look at yourself and being willing to evaluate where your heart is really at. It means living in a way that's refraining from what your flesh wants. It means living in a way that you trust the Lord with your sexual desires and are unwilling to act outside of that in your own timing and in your own way.

It doesn't mean denying desire.
But it does mean understanding the desires, understanding how they affect you...and how to best control them.

I do encourage confession with someone that you trust, someone who you know will continually point you back to Christ. Confession that's honest, raw, and full of reminders that even in our imperfections and screw-ups, the Lord is still faithful in loving us. Confession that ends on our knees as we recognize our continued need for Christ's grace to cover us.

But let us not be people who take advantage of the grace.
Let us be people, instead, who feel the weight of our sin...and we allow it to move us toward the better. Let us be people who are truly changed because of how Christ has saved us, redeemed us and called us to Himself.

We have to want Him more than all of the stuff in this world... because none of the other stuff matters.

There's hope.
Even in the worst situations, even in the biggest mess-ups, even when you did that when you never thought you would (or could)... there's a way out. Your life doesn't have to be defined by guilt and shame.

Move forward into the better.
It is for you.
Your entries will remain anonymous

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Gift

I'm a little girl, standing in front of a present that I'm dying to open.

Only, I'm scared.
As much as I want the present, I'm not convinced it's for me and I'm not convinced that what's inside is actually what I think it is. I'm scared that the moment I step out to grab it, someone will take it away from me. This isn't for you...not this time. I'm scared that the moment I rip into it, instead of the pony that I've been wanting my entire life, I'll find myself ensnared by a dragon. A cruel joke.

Because it's happened before.
And so I'm scared to try again.
But I want the present...and so much of me is convinced that it's truly good, that it's exactly what I want, that it's intended just for me.

I wonder how much our past ruins us sometimes.
How much do the wounds inflicted, the trust that's been broken, the fears that have taken such a deep root in us ruin us? How much do they ruin the good things in our lives because we're unwilling to believe that this time it could actually be different?

I've found myself continually resistant and fearful of the good in my life (can't you tell?). It's a place of vulnerability as I try to navigate through the waters of brokenness and pain and emerge on top as hopeful and excited. How does one find the strength to get back up on the bike after she has crashed, skidded and bruised up her body? How does one overcome the fear of riding in cars after a brush with death in a car accident?

How do we recover?
How do we keep on going?
How do we hope for different results when all we know is the pain and disappointment of rejection, betrayal, and abandonment?

I'm actually recognizing how much easier it is to do heartbreak. As much as I sometimes feel like I couldn't bear it ever again, there's a safety in the fact that it's known. I know what it feels like to have pain. I know what it feels like to open the present and have it not be what I wanted. I know what it feels like to have the present dangled in front of me and then taken away. I know how to move on. I know how handle my heart getting ripped out of my chest. And as awful and heart-wrenching as it is, I know it.

It's this strange existence of wanting the good, being scared of the good, finding comfort in the bad, while simultaneously recognizing how the bad makes me scared of wanting, hoping and believing there could be good. Because the bad affects us. The bad affects our ability to receive the good as fully as we might otherwise long to. And yet, for whatever ridiculous reason, we find ourselves embracing the bad because at least it's something we know, something we know how to handle.

But I want the good.
I want the fullness of the gift that's intended for me that's everything I hoped it could be, even though I know it's nothing I deserve. I want to believe that it's possible. No matter how many times the gift has been snatched back, no matter how many times it's not turned out to be what I want...I want to believe that it's possible.

To not dwell in the pain of the past, to not be limited by my broken perspective, to not exist in lost hope... but to truly hope, to trust, to believe that God is who He says He is. To recover. To keep on going. To get back on the bike and ride again, convinced that this time around there's a good chance I won't fall. To not find comfort in what is known and step into something unknown...

To open the gift.
To embrace the goodness of what lies within.
To be hopeful that this time.... this time it may just be for me and it may just be exactly what I've always wanted.

It's a beautiful thing.
The hope that we can cling to because of how faithful the Lord truly is.

Because of how He heals, because of how He redeems, because of how He saves. And then on top of all that (as if He hasn't already done enough...), He lavishes gifts upon us. Gifts that are intended for us that are exactly what we've been praying for all along.

Let us learn to receive without trepidation, without fear of the unknown and wounds of the past influencing our ability to walk faithfully into the blessings the Lord has for us.

Even when we are so unworthy...
He still gives abundantly more than we could ever fathom.

I'm opening the gift.
But fully confident that this is what the Lord has for me right now and that it's even better than what I thought it ever could be.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Monday, October 21, 2013

Finding Balance


It's a word that comes up repeatedly in life. How do you balance this with that? Your job with your family? Your education with your social life? Your friends with your boyfriend? How do you properly invest time in multiple things without neglecting any of them? How do you make people in various circles continually feel like they're valued to you, even as other priorities arise?

Honestly, sometimes I think we suck at balance. Especially as females when we enter into dating relationships. Suddenly we disappear from everyone else's life and slip into a place where only our significant other can find us, contact us, communicate with us, hang out with us. No one else matters.

As I've gotten older and remained single while almost all of my friends found the love of their life, I watched as they handled balance. Some did it gracefully, and some just didn't do it at all. I actually grew quite hardened as they began to date people, not because I wasn't excited about them being in relationships, but because I wasn't excited about them being in relationships. Yep, you read that right. Mostly I just got the point where I began to dismiss the friendship because I was used to becoming a low priority on their list. They were too enamored in their newfound love to remember me and care about me and so I inserted distance before they ever could.

It wasn't fair.
Nor was it kind.
It was me making our relationship all about me and what I needed/wanted out of that friendship and when they weren't, for that season, able to give me what they had before... I checked out. It was something I did out of hurt. It was my proactive response to feeling like they were always going to choose their boyfriend/fiance over me. More self-preservation techniques brought to you by yours truly.

I think balance is important though. But, I think beyond that, that we have to be people who choose to love people regardless of the various seasons we go through in life.

As I enter into a new relationship, I want to still be aware of the friends in my life. I want them to feel valued and cared about. I don't want my friendships to be consumed with me talking about my new relationship, either. There has to be a way for me to still be approachable and for others to know that regardless of my relationship status, it doesn't change the fact that I love them. I have to be proactive about making time to hang out, about prioritizing, about letting people outside of my relationship know they still matter.

Because, they do. I need them. I need friends to know how I'm doing and where I'm at and what they can be praying for me about. I need to have perspective outside of a dating relationship so I don't get so sucked in that I lose sight of everything else.

On the flip side, I think friends need to be gracious as couples seek out balance in their relationships. They won't be perfect at it, especially not at first. Instead of being like me, I feel like we need to be better at recognizing that oftentimes, the departure into la-la-land is only temporary. We need to be friends who are willing to remain friends, even when we feel like we're getting the short end of the stick, even when we feel like our friends have abandoned us, even when we feel like we no longer matter. More often than not, we still matter... it just takes some time to figure out how navigate through all of that well, how to have balance as people learn how to invest fully into a relationship and also into their friendships.

So, I guess there's a plea for patience.
Let's be friends who are patient with each other as we figure out how to maintain balance. But let's also be friends who are proactively seeking to find that balance as we find ourselves in new situations, jobs, relationships...that we may live abundantly out of love with all people in our lives.

Let's not disengage, let's not withdrawal....on either end. Let's not take ourselves out of people's lives and let's not be so consumed in only one other person's life that we're missing out on the joy and necessity of relationships with all people.

Let's learn love each other through it all without harboring resentment or animosity toward one another.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Crash

Sometimes I get terrified.

In the midst of good stuff, I feel like I'm always waiting, expecting, anticipating The Crash to occur. Things that are this good don't actually happen, I think. And so I brace myself for the worst. Better to be equipped for the blow than caught off guard by it, right?

I'm realizing how debilitating it is to live life like this though. How suffocating.

Could I ever exist in the center of something good without wondering about The Crash? Could I ever possibly believe that good can sometimes just be good? Could I ever let myself have a moment of good without ruining it completely by focusing on the potential bad?

This summer, as I was planning on moving my life again and starting a job that was risky and uncertain (a job that, in so many ways, also felt too good to be true)... I often hesitated. What if it doesn't work out? I kept waiting for something to interfere. I kept waiting for all the bad stuff to surface...because something like this doesn't happen to someone like me. And so I'm scared to believe that it could and that it would. Sometimes I'm so scared that it limits me from moving forward into whatever lies before me.

It happens in relationships, in friendships.
People don't and can't actually care this much about me. It's absurd. Eventually they'll realize who I really am and change their tune. I brace for The Crash.

It seems easier to tell myself that bad is always around the corner. It seems easier to be prepared for what I think of as 'reality'. It's self-preservation, really...

But, it's suffocating.
Living a life in fear of The Crash, anticipating that bad will always come leaves me no room to truly enjoy the good. It leaves me no room to exist in a place of joy because I'm simultaneously caught up in wondering when the bad will appear and destroy whatever good thing I'm in.

I sat down with a dear friend today and as we talked through some of my fears and insecurities, she reminded me that while it's easy to operate out of my brokenness and deep wounds...there's a freedom that's been offered to me. She reminded me that there's an enemy who would love nothing more than to see me so fearful of The Crash that it robs me of truly rejoicing in and enjoying the good. She reminded me that perfect love casts out fear.

There's freedom.
It's mine... if I choose to embrace it.
Christ has come, He loves me so much, He longs to give even me good... will I allow that love to throw out the fear?
Can I embrace the good?
Can I let it be exactly what it is?
Can I trust who the Lord says that He is? A Father who gives generously to His children...? A Father who doesn't give a snake when His child asks for a fish...?

I must.
I can't let the lies, the fears, the worries destroy the good in my life any longer... nor do I want it to. There doesn't always have to be The Crash, and I want to live confidently in knowing who my trust is in that I'll be someone who rejoices regardless of my circumstances, not because I tried to prepare for them ahead of time.

I can't possibly know what's coming.
I can't live life weighing all the terrible possibilities, waiting for one of them to drop down on me.

And so I'll enjoy the good.
The blessings that have been given to me that are abundantly more than I deserve.
Because He is a good God. All the time.

I want to live in that truth and let it be what defines my life... instead of in fear of The Crash.
It's better.

Of that, I am sure.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

This is My Life

It's snowing.
It's October 15th and it's snowing. Because now I live in the mountains.

This is my life.

My job feels like I'm doing a thousand things at once, struggling to identify which things are the most important to spend time on first. We're all filling holes, stepping into roles we hardly feel qualified for, and hoping and praying that the Lord will bless our efforts as we invite people to come.

This is my life.

I'm dating someone now.
I'm 29 years old and I've been the most doubtful and cynical person when it comes to matters of the heart, but now I find myself hardly recognizable. I've become gushy and mushy and confident that this is good.

This is my life.

What is my life?
It continues to be the question that my roommate and I ask ourselves (and each other) quite frequently. We've stepped into this known, yet highly unknown, territory and are taking it a day at a time. We're a motley crew that's assembled to do whatever it takes to see a ministry thriving and declaring the Gospel, that's all about true life-change. We've moved far distances, we've given up things, we've left loved ones, we've jumped on board of a dream that sometimes still feels overwhelmingly unattainable.

This is my life.

And it's a good life.
It's a new life.
A different life.
A life full of surprises, unexpected blessings... a life filled with risks and unknowns and spontaneity and flexibility.

I've blogged a lot about changed lives. About being someone different. About longing to see how the Lord can truly change people....often fearing that I was never on His radar. Often feeling as though I was caught up in repetitive cycles with no way out. Always feeling like I could never escape the pessimism and the skepticism that often chained me.

What about me? 
Can I be different than this?
It was a plea of desperation as I continually recognized the many ways in which I was always the same.

But... I've felt different lately.
It's been a year of becoming a different person as I stepped away from something wonderful and walked into the unknown, only to find myself facing newness of a different kind. Meeting new people, living new places, experiencing a world that pushed me, challenged me, required something of me while simultaneously allowing me to just be.

I'm still me.
But I'm different.
I can see it now.
I can see the Lord's faithfulness in how He orchestrates things, in how He moves people, in how He refines us in the ways that are absolutely perfect.

I guess all I'm trying to say is that I've changed. I'm changing.
And maybe I've been changing all along...but I think it's more visible than I ever thought possible before.

It's not just that my external circumstances are different... but who I am is different. How I view things, how I react to things, how I process things, how I think about things.... it's different. It's better.

And for the doubter and the skeptic... it feels pretty huge.

This is my life.
It's snowing in October.
And I'm becoming more of who I've always wanted to be.
I'm changing.
There's hope.
We aren't stuck.
He's moving us toward His time and in His way.

Transformation is possible.
We don't always have to be that person we've always been.
As much as we tell ourselves to not put God in a box, I wonder how much He's asking us to not put ourselves in a box, either.

This is my life.
It's a good life.
A life of transformation...explained only by the grace of God.
A life of unexpectedness. A life of risk. A life that's not even about me in the end.

A life with snow in October.
This is my life.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Monday, October 14, 2013


“When I took girls to dances in high school, I used to tell them they looked good regardless of if they did or not...because I knew that’s what I was supposed to say.”

A good guy friend said something along these lines the other night as a few of us entered into a conversation about how girls often need words of affirmation. He’s the type of guy that claims he doesn’t really think about those types of things, but somehow knew it was necessary to affirm their beauty on a few special nights of the year.

It’s laughable.
But also a little depressing.
While I’ve never wanted to admit that words matter as much to me as they do, the last few years have really revealed that. I need them. It’s a primary way that people can show me that they care about me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of words. That sometimes words, when lacking actions, can feel quite meaningless...but sometimes the actions, when lacking words, can also feel void of deeper meaning. And so, in recognizing my need for words of affirmation, I also recognize that there’s an action that’s required in order for me to fully receive them. Maybe that makes me hard to please.

It’s kind of revealed that I have a double standard, though. As much as I need them (even if I sometimes struggle to receive them), I’m not awesome at giving them. The other day I found myself telling someone that one of my co-workers had been doing an incredible job and I had been really impressed by them...and quickly was aware of how I had failed to communicate those thoughts and feelings to the actual person.

I’m naturally a withholder.
Withholding good from others because of my own insecurities. They’ll think I’m ridiculous if I tell them that. I don’t know them well enough to say that yet. It might give them the wrong impression if I compliment them on that…

The excuses go on and on… sometimes I just don’t even think about telling the person and I go on with my life.

But what if we did? What if I did?
What if I lived my life in such a way that I never held those things back from others. What if I showered others with the good stuff that I actually think about them often? What if we all did?

It translates into relationships.
I think the more willing that we are to say the things that we think/feel, regardless of how ridiculous they may sound or feel...the better it can be. The better for those receiving it (because how often do we hate hearing nice things simply because we don’t know how to receive them… even if we know we really need them?). The better for us as we attempt to love others well.

Not everyone needs the kind words. Not everyone wants them.
But, I think it’s a pretty beautiful thing when we become people who say what we think/feel when it’s to the benefit of the recipient. When we stop withholding. When we are proactive about loving people with our words and backing it with our actions.

It allows people to flourish.
It allows them to step more confidently into who they are.

And sometimes other people do need us to say those things. They do need to hear them. I often think the Lord uses others in our lives to speak encouragement and affirmation to us. Can we be those voices? Are we willing?

I’m not saying to say nice things simply because you’re supposed to… but, to say them when you think them, when you mean them, when you know it’s to someone else’s benefit (even if it means putting yourself out there a bit, even if it means getting over your own insecurities).

I’m working on not withholding anymore.
To allow my words to be a blessing to those around me and strive for my actions to reflect that as well. To be extra contentious of the ways that I can actively seek to love others verbally. To say the good things I think out offer encouragement, support, compliments, and affirmation.

I think it matters.
Try it.
Tell someone the good thing you’re thinking about them, even if you feel like a complete moron in the process. You may make their day. You may affirm something in them that they’ve been doubting. You may say the very thing they have been needing to hear for a while.

Let’s be voices of love.
Let’s try harder.
Let’s put ourselves out there more.
Let’s withhold no longer.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Sunday, October 13, 2013

He'll Come.

"I want to bless you abundantly more than this."

The words were pressed upon my heart as I walked away from a relationship...not fully understanding why it was over, but somehow believing undoubtedly in the Lord's goodness and protection as I dried my eyes and attempted to moved on. My heart hurt and while I felt like I had given and given and given and tried to make it all work just wasn't working. It couldn't. Something was fundamentally wrong.

"I love that you were willing, but this isn't what I have for you. This isn't who I have for you."

There was the peace that passes all understanding.
And while I wasn't ever going to decide that for myself, I knew that it was right. I had to leave. Even in the midst of the pain, I knew that it was good.

The promises I felt that day weren't forgotten.
But I've spent a lot of time praying, begging, wondering... did He forget?...Did I hear correctly? Does He really have better for me?


But the Lord is faithful.
Faithful to give us abundantly more than all we ask for or imagine.
I don't know if I always believe it when I'm praying for it, but now I feel like I'm living in it. Living in the very midst of the Lord's provision as He exceeds my expectations and surprises me as He asks me to trust Him.

My heart is full.
The waiting is worth it.
The repetitive heartbreak seems fairly insignificant when you realize that it only means it got you to where you're at today.

There are good guys still out there.
Good guys who love Jesus more than anything, who let it transform who they are and how they live. Good guys who seek to love, encourage, challenge and support others. Good guys who are willing to do whatever it takes. Good guys who are patient enough to wade into the brokenness of another and point them back toward the Healer. Good guys who genuinely care, who long to listen, who want to really know people. Good guys who recognize their own depravity and need for Christ and walk in the humility of what that means for their lives.

There are good guys still out there.... good guys who even have things in common with you. Good guys who laugh easily, who enjoy life, who inspire, who dream. Good guys who want you.

They may not be exactly what you would have imagined... but they may exceed your expectations if you're willing to look beyond your checklist (especially with all the things that don't matter that you're still dwelling on). You may even be surprised by how your preferences change as you allow the good guys in.

The good guys might come around when you least expect it, they may come masked in a different age range or a different hair color or a different body build than you might have thought... they may come around ten years later than you might hope for...

But, they come.
They exist.
And it's worth it.
Worth the wait.
Worth the wondering.
Worth trusting the Lord's promises when He asks you to step away from things.

Because He wants to bless us abundantly.
Abundantly more than all we ask or imagine.

I'm living proof.
I found a good guy.
And my heart is full.

Keep waiting. Keep trusting. Keep living life.
He'll come.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Do you have dealbreakers?

You know...the things that come up about someone that make it absolutely out of the question that you would ever consider dating them (or continue to date them…)?

I’m on my way down to Texas, roadtripping with some co-workers, and much of our laughter has stemmed from ‘Dealbreaker” remarks.

  • What if she was super sensitive about her missing arm, to the point where you could never talk about it and she never even acknowledged it was missing (i.e. You buy her gloves for Christmas and only give her one and she asks where the other one is)?
  • What if she had rancid breath all the time?
  • What about facial tattoos?
  • What if he can’t back up a trailer?
  • What if he exclusively wears crocs?

The conversation has been ongoing and ridiculous, but it’s reminded me that I definitely have dealbreakers. They used to be more superficial: If he can’t drive a standard, I won’t marry him (it seemed practical…), or, if he has no musical talent, it’s never going to work (my family loves music), or, if he isn’t athletic… (I couldn’t imagine being the one to teach our kids how to throw a ball).

Okay, okay… I’ll admit some part of me is still superficial. They are all things I’d like for my future husband to have, but I don’t think I could call them ‘dealbreakers’.

The thing about dealbreakers, though, is that so often we establish what these dealbreakers are for us and then we never allow ourselves to be open-minded when meeting people. For instance, if I determine that it’s a dealbreaker if a guy is shorter than me, I may be missing out on someone who is the greatest guy…

The thing about dealbreakers is that we have to be able to admit what our ridiculous dealbreakers are and what we should be willing to compromise on. We have to be willing to recognize what matters and what doesn’t. Is it ridiculous for me to never consider marrying someone because he’s tone deaf if he genuinely loves the Lord and it reflects in everything he does and is?

I do think there are important dealbreakers that we ought to adhere to. There are things that we shouldn’t be willing to compromise on. I’m not about to tell you what those should be for you, but I believe you ought to have some. But make sure it really matters. And make sure what you think matters right now are going to be the things that you’re going to think matter in 50 years (if he’s not the cutest guy you’ve ever seen, is that going to matter when you’re 70 years old? Is it going to matter when you’re raising children and struggling through hard life things together?).

There’s a balance (isn’t there always…).
Have important dealbreakers and dont compromise on them… but, please, do away with the dealbreakers that don’t matter, the ones that are ridiculous (you know what they are). Be open-minded. Allow people to surprise you. Be willing to see past initial impressions and get to know people beyond the things that seem ‘unbearable’. 

Get over the stupid stuff.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Monday, October 7, 2013

The 'Shoulds'

Wade: Sometimes I just think you're just the saddest person in the world. You're always looking over your shoulder wondering what life should be instead of taking it for what it is. You're not honest about what makes you happy. 

I started watching Hart of Dixie last spring. It became a nice outlet in between studying and working...and I was immediately sucked into the (cliche) plot line of wondering just who Zoe Hart will pick. I'm a fan of Wade. Not because he's awesome or makes good decisions...but because he's honest.

This quote stuck out to me several months ago and while I wanted to write a blog way back when about it, it never happened. 

You're always looking over your shoulder wondering what life should be instead of taking it for what it is

I identified myself a lot in that statement. 
The curse of the 'shoulds'. 
Wondering to myself over and over and over again if I'm living life the way I 'should' be, if my relationships look like they 'should', if I'm being honest about what actually makes me happy versus what I think 'should' make me happy. 

For example..
I dated a guy once who didn't necessarily fall under my category of 'guys I should like'. Soon that extended into trying to dictate what our relationship should look like. A Christian couple should do the following things: pray together and talk about God all the time. A Christian man, in a relationship, should lead well (i.e. ask challenging questions, care about my spiritual life, initiate godly conversations). Sometimes I compared our relationships to other relationships...and was convinced we should look like them. We should be more this, or less that, or just like them. 

I was existing in a relationship, trying to meet every requirement in my head of what we should be, what he should be, how I should be....instead of taking it for what it was. I wasn't allowing us to be us...or him to be him. It was destructive, and I was far from happy because nothing was as it should be. You can guarantee he was unhappy, too. 

Do you ever do that?
Nestle into a life filled with unhappiness because you're so busy trying to get everything to look as it should that you've not allowed it to just be what it is? Maybe it's a job. Maybe it's a relationship. Maybe it's even your relationship with the Lord. 

Somewhere along the way we've created our own ideals of how certain things should be and when they don't measure up to that, we're disappointed...unhappy...unable to be honest about what we actually want because we're so caught up in what we think we're supposed to want. 

I'm in a race to erase all the shoulds in my life. 
They're confining and they breed a close-mindedness that I want nothing to do with. I want things to be what they are...I want people to be who they are...without me always trying to change it/them. 

And yes- sometimes the shoulds can move us toward better, but too often I think the expectations we place on other people when we dance with the shoulds give way to a life of making others feel like they'll never be good enough. Sometimes they perpetuate a life of being continually dissatisfied. There's a balance, a fine line...and so much of the time we cross it, catering to a world of not allowing ourselves to see the good that's right in front of us because we're too focused on how it should be better/different. 

I'm tired of ruining good things because I live my life by the shoulds. He should look like this, say this, do this...otherwise I can't date him. We should talk more often, be more open, talk about Jesus more. This ministry should have a better community, be more authentic, make me feel more welcomed. I should pray more, read more, spend more time serving others. 

The shoulds breed guilt. 
The shoulds breed disappointment. 
The shoulds take really good things and rip them to shreds because they often don't stack up to the unrealistic (and sometimes untrue) ideals. 

I can't do it anymore.
I don't want to. 

May we find freedom as we slip away from a life of shoulds and allow ourselves to (yes, strive for better), but also simply be....and let other things be what they need to be. May we let our relationships blossom and look completely different from our friends', may we be open-minded enough to let him be who he is and recognize the good that dwells within without such criticism of him not being who we think he should be. May we let our jobs, our ministries, our friendships, our relationship with the Lord be, without all the pressure of the shoulds grossly distorting our views of true goodness. 

Think about the ways the shoulds destroy your life (and make us sad people), and let's actively fight to not let them do so any longer. 

Your entries will remain anonymous

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Am I too broken?

It’s a question I’ve been pondering lately.
I think the response from everyone else is naturally a, ‘Of course not!’

I’ve wondered.
Am I too broken to maintain any sort of healthy relationship with others? Because I have the tendency to be guarded, to push others away, to doubt, to test, to run away, to not trust their motives, their words, their actions. I have the tendency to believe that people will just hurt me and so it’s better to be ready for when that happens…

Am I too broken?
Am I able to see beyond the past wounds and hurts in my life and believe that my story isn’t always cyclical? Am I able to believe that good could happen? Could I believe that people don’t always lead double lives? That not everyone you let in will betray you?

I’m quick to jump to conclusions.
I’m quick to allow the past to haunt my present.
I’m quick to believe that even the most irrational thoughts might be true...because they have been before.

How does one recover?
How does one believe that healing is possible when she only feels shattered upon letting others in? How does one ask someone else to be willing to walk through that healing with her, knowing the astronomical amounts of patience and love that is required?

I’ve realized that I often decide that for other people. Rather than let others know the depth to which I need healing, I often assume that they’ll want nothing to do with me when they finally realize how messed up I really am. Rather than let them decide to what degree they want to be involved in my life, I decide for them. I only tell them so much. I only let them walk so far.

You shouldn’t have to bear more than this. I think to myself, and act accordingly, when I’ve decided they’ve done more than their part.

Am I too broken?
A life of pushing others away often seems better than the alternative. Who wants to try to get close to someone who is constantly questioning, doubting and fearing? Who wants to have to put up with that? I don’t want to be that person in someone else’s life. I don’t want to have to ask someone else to put up with all of this.

Let me clarify: I don’t feel too broken for the Lord. I know and trust in the depth of His love for me, despite all the junk and baggage that I carry. I just feel too broken for other people. And maybe too prideful to admit that sometimes I need them. And maybe unwilling to believe that sometimes good can happen. Sometimes people can want in…sometimes people can want to choose to love me...that sometimes they might think I’m worth it.

I feel too broken.
But, I also know I can’t let that continue to dictate my entire life as I interact and form relationships with others.

And so I’m trying.
Trying to trust that sometimes people genuinely care, truly want to know me...and while, yes, they might hurt’s not always intentional. That there has to be grace that I extend toward others while they patiently extend it toward me.

It’s a two-way street.
One that’s not only about me and my own brokenness.

Maye I am too broken.
Maybe we all are.
Maybe that’s the point.
That it’s only through Christ’s love that there’s any hope for us at all. That without Him, I’m unable to truly love anyone else despite their baggage...and vice versa. The power of the Gospel displayed through our broken humanity.

I can’t keep running, doubting, fearing, pushing.
Despite my brokenness, I have to believe that others can and will truly love me...while placing my hope and trust ultimately in the Lord, my healer. In Him, my disappointment with the world gains perspective as I’m reminded how truly in need of Him we all are.

And so I walk hesitantly forward…
Trying to let others decide the role they play in my life...instead of running, doubting, fearing, pushing.

Am I too broken?
It’s not the question I want to try answer anymore.

Despite my brokenness, will I let people choose to love me?

Lord, help me.

Your entries will remain anonymous