Thursday, September 18, 2014

109: space model

I think I've mentioned before that I was once told that I'm too picky about guys. I don't flat out disagree, and I don't flat out agree. But the other week a very wise friend presented to me a model for how to prioritize my checklist.

I call it "The Space Model." And I drew a handy dandy illustration in Paint to help you visualize it! Below is my paraphrase of his advice, but of course, it was better coming from the horse's, er, the fellow's mouth.

Non-Negotiable Core: Here you put your few non-negotiables, the essentials that a prospect bf/gf/spouse must have. For example, "must be a Christian and have a personal relationship with the Lord." No arguments, no bending, isn't relative to how wonderful the guy is. If he doesn't have the core qualifications, he's not even on the wish list. Limit what you put here or else you really are picky (those are my words, not his).

Ring of Fire: Here you put the qualities that are almost important enough to be core essentials, but, depending on the person, could be overlooked, maybe. In the words of my friend, if you and the other person are able to put out the fire, then you deserve marriage. But if you play around with these, you'll get burnt. Some people might put "Calvinist" or "Non-Calvinist" here.

Asteroids, or Bricks: These are all the other details. Some are big and important and almost go in the Ring of Fire. Some are preferences, like "he needs to be taller than me." (Hopefully we can be sensible and put that in our Asteroid Belt and not in our Ring of Fire? Maybe we can make it one of the big asteroids near the Ring of Fire??) Like bricks, you get enough of these objections in a relationship compiled one on top of the other and suddenly you have a wall. Can the wall be torn down if the two of you work together? If so, great! But maybe the wall has been reinforced with metal girdings and glued together and ain't budgin'. How you handle the asteroids or bricks is up to you. These are topics to navigate one by one with the guy in your life.

My checklist tends to be a more nebulous this, this, this, this, that, not that, not THAT, maybe this, wish this, hope there's this, etc. I think the Space Model way of prioritizing what you want in a potential spouse is a good way of gaining perspective about what really is important to you and God's will for you.

So when Well-Meaning-Relative wants to know why you aren't interested in Such-A-Good-Guy, rather than wrinkling your nose in that all-encompassing facial expression that says, "Uh uh, please don't bring up such a nasty suggestion again," you can say, "Ah, well, you see, our differences land us in the Ring of Fire and I'm not willing to go fight fires over him," or, possibly, "Hm, you're right. We only have a few asteroids between us. Maybe I should give him a chance!"

In the meantime, go read this post by Holly Stallcup that sounds eerily reminiscent of my own thoughts!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

108: sovereignty and singleness

"God has no obligation to intervene and override the results of our [cultural] sin. . . .

"Are . . . women suffering singleness as a result of their culture? Yes. Are they also compounding the problem with their own sin? Yes. Is God able to intervene and provide a worthy husband for every one of these women? Of course. Will he? Probably not. There comes a time when God takes his hands off and lets us deal with the consequences we've brought about (Romans 1:24-28)."

--Debbie Maken, Rethinking the Gift of Singleness, chapter 6

This quote is not talking about God's personal involvement in our lives, what He's doing and what He has planned. Rather I typed it out here because it helps me understand how so many Christian young women I know are still single and why God allows it if He is sovereign. God is not obligated to provide husbands when our culture and the church have chosen to turn away from encouraging timely marriage. He is still in control, He still uses all things for His glory, but He does not always override culture.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Bride in Store book review

Impatient to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store, mail-order bride--

Well, of course I was going to pick that book to review! Who says that arranged marriages and mail-order brides don't make for fascinatingly romantic stories? I don't!

Melissa Jagears has written an engaging, well-developed story, but if I tell you what it's about, I'll give it away. Let's just say, Eliza, the mail-order bride-to-be, meets someone before she meets her fiance, which causes . . . plot developments.

I have two complaints about this story, both minor.

1) The ending is obvious for a long time (most of the book?) but it takes the characters forever to finally achieve their happily ever after! The story is drawn out with few real threats to make one wonder if they'll end up with each other.

2) Near the end, there is a short conversation about how the way so-and-so kissed such-and-such was so passionate and unlike any kiss another-so-and-so had ever been kissed, even by her husband, and thus this was evidence that so-and-so really cared for such-and-such beyond a shadow of a doubt. (Got that?) I think there is a false implied corollary here, probably unintended by the author, that true deep love is evidenced by passionate deep kisses. I think that philosophy could destroy a potentially wonderful romantic relationship and marriage, especially for those of us who are saving our kisses til marriage. Can't really prove before marriage whether the love is deep and passionate if you have to have an amazing kiss to know! But passion isn't an evidence of love, and I would hate to have one novel cause me to think that if a guy isn't "I'm going to lose her and so I'm going to kiss her like I've never kissed her before" passionate that I am then settling for second best.

Otherwise, this book was worth the wait of putting off other novels til it arrived in the mail. The characters were diverse and likeable, the subplots interesting.

As always, I was given this book free of charge from Bethany House publishers in exchange for my unbiased review.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

107: school update

I'm in the middle of my 3rd week teaching 2nd/3rd grade, and I have to admit, compared to my first year of teaching 1st/2nd and not having a clue of what I was doing, and compared to last year where I had 2nd/3rd/4th with behavior issues and nearly QUIT before the end of the first semester, I am so very content and pleased to only be teaching 2nd/3rd with a relatively equal range of abilities across the board. It's a blessing, and I'm just going to enjoy it!

Monday I went to school and felt off. Ever have those days? And then we didn't get everything done, which didn't help. Yesterday, again we didn't get everything done. But, yesterday I taught the kids (off the cuff, sans dictionary) that "hope" is believing "there is still good." And you know what my good has been, even if at times I miss something and feel unaccomplished? I am teaching. I'm not pushing my kids through textbooks, and I'm not jumping from grade to grade like a plate spinner. I'm actually standing in front of them leading them in gestures and hand motions and chants so they can REMEMBER and I'm assessing and evaluating and giving them immediate corrective exercises so they can GROW and I'm sharing and engaging and teaching them so they can LEARN.

That. feels. good.

Today we did so much, it was rather amazing. It wasn't a perfect day. I need to give myself some corrective exercises (like teaching myself not to let one child effect my behavior). But so far, folks, it's been a good year.

Learning to abide, rejoice, not complain, and love,
preparing for 9/11

Friday, August 22, 2014

106: the star you can almost touch

Some days one's dream feels so close to becoming reality you feel like you could reach out and touch it. No reason for it. No evidence. Just an irrational hope. Irrational, unreasonable, full of fancy and wind and sprightly wisps of cloud. And yet, what is the worth of dreaming without a little hopeless hope?

You know, the Bible has some wonderful things to say about hope. I love the passage in Romans 4 about God and Abraham.

". . . God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; [Abraham] who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations . . . He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform." (Romans 4:17-21)

I don't have a promise from God, just a desire. But sometimes it seems right edifying to, contrary to hope, in hope believe, and entrust the impossible to Him who is in my future right now.

Tuesday's back to school art project

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

105: all I need?

For a couple years at least I subconsciously wrestled with the idea of telling God, "You are all I need." I was afraid that God would dump me in the middle of some situation (e.g. a foreign country where no one speaks my language and there are no believers and no internet and maybe even everyone I know has vanished off the face of the earth) where I would be terrifyingly alone and go crazy.

But, it finally occurred to me recently that God is my provider. "You are all I need," does not have to mean that God is all I need in the sense of, oh, I don't really need food or water or air to survive, I just need YOU. It doesn't mean oh, here at school, I don't need curriculum and administrative help and fellow teachers to bounce ideas off of, I just need YOU. And it doesn't mean, oh, I don't need a friend or my family I just need YOU.

What it means, at least to me :-P, is that God is my provider. So, contrary to my fears, He's not going to leave me stranded without what He deems, or knows, I need. So yes, He is my all in all because He is with me every moment, He knows me, He has made me and knows my needs, and He will provide according to His riches in glory.

Not by my standards or wishlist, of course, but according to the standard of His infinite love and goodness and plans for my sanctification.

He is all I need because of who He is and because He is my provider.

And depending on anyone else to provide for my needs will not work.

blogging on my new computer in my classroom-in-progress

Sunday, August 17, 2014

104: a cloud of witnesses

I hurried up the church walkway and could easily hear the chorus of strong voices behind the closed windows. Inside, the fellowship hall was packed out with believers holding hymnals and belting out praise songs. A good, old-fashioned hymn sing.

I watched one young girl, about 10 years old, her eyes darting here and there as her lips moved. So observant. I wondered if she was taking in the exuberant worship of the large Filipino lady, praising her Jesus. Or if she was learning how to fall in love the Christian way by watching her brother and his fiance sitting across from her. And even if she didn't appreciate it now, she would be influenced by the heritage of her grandma who stood up and exhorted the young people of the church to learn and memorize God's Word now while we are still free to do so.

She is growing up in a community, a long-time community of children, parents, and grandparents.

Yesterday I went to a fundraiser function put on by my old church. Little girls that I had known when I was in highschool were now reintroduced to me as young ladies either in college or about to go to college. One girl had moved and was searching for a church to get involved in there. Another girl was planning on going to Bible college. I marveled. They were still following the Lord. And I remembered. They, too, had spent all these years surrounded not only by a community of believers, but by parents and grandparents that loved and followed Jesus.

Sitting in on the hymn sing, I saw a sweet beauty in the church community gathered together. There is a feeling of security to see the next generation rising up surrounded by older believers urging them on.

"One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts."
Psalm 145:4