Sunday, October 19, 2014

114: stronger

"You are stronger, You are stronger
Sin is broken, You have saved me"

You know what terrifies me? The man that falls hard and falls fast, who loves deeply and over whom a girl has tremendous power to bring incandescent happiness or, through her vacillating mind and emotions, to bring confusion and deep pain.

Forgive the comparison, but it seems God has the same depth of love for us. He staked the life of His own Son on that love. As with anything God does, He loves us completely and fully, not holding back.

"The love of God
has been poured out in our hearts
by the Holy Spirit"

God does not require His love to be reciprocated though. Like when He put Abraham to sleep and passed through the covenant by Himself, holding up both ends of the agreement, so He loves because He loves. He demonstrated His love while we were still enemies of His. He wasn't a gallant knight, laying His life on the line for the fair maiden who would lavish kisses on him when he returned.

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us
In that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us"

I don't respond to God's love because I pity him and don't want him to feel bad. I respond because who He is commands loyalty, obedience, and worship. I respond to Him not because I have tremendous power to bring Him joy or pain, but because He is strong enough to put up with my unfaithfulness, disobedience, and self-serving and still call me back again and again.

"Our God is greater
Our God is stronger
God, You are higher than any other
Our God is healer
Awesome in power
Our God
Our God"

Humans can't do that. God can. And thus my God is stronger and greater than any other. He is my Rock, and there is no one like Him.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

113: young marrieds, old singles

My mom and I drove up to Oregon this weekend to attend the wedding of two 18 year olds.

In anticipating the wedding, all I could think about was how young they were. Crazily young. Just kids.

But seeing the bride walk down the aisle, focused only on the young man at the front of the church, I began to accept that she was ready. As I saw them stand up there, holding hands, eyes only on each other, I told myself, "This is right." Because it was. Is. This joining of two young lives into one is not only ridiculous--how can they possibly know what they are getting themselves into?--but also undeniably right.

fall theme

Her sister, my friend since we were five years old, is now married and will give birth to her firstborn, a son, in less than a month (Lord-willing!). The last few months I've begun struggling with this idea of being single without hope of change, and accepting it. Figuring out what to do with the thoughts of being the single adopted aunt who drives up on her days off to visit her childhood friend, her husband, and her son. How many years will it be like that? Nothing has changed in the last 10. What guarantee do I have that it will change in the next 3? Do I accept the position? Or do I refuse to accept even a hint of the thought that I'm becoming the old maid? Or do I reconcile myself to something in between resigned singleness and hoping against hope?

Meanwhile, soft reminders speak to me. They say I have more value than whether I'm married. That there are still plans for my life. It's the voice I've heard from my youth. And I reply, "Yes, Lord, I know that is true, but I still want this." Still, it's a comfort.

We'll see how life progresses.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

112: a different good

Why not me? The quiet question my psyche asks in the temporary disturbance of freshly raked-over discontent.

Because your story is different, the reply comes.

I've found as a lover of the study of grammar and writing that I have to appreciate this answer. Even as my old dreams die and what I thought was good passes me by, ie. even though humanly I squirm at the plot assigned me, the love of writing in me acknowledges that not everyone gets to play the same part. A book needs different characters with different traits and different plot lines. My dream dies so the author's dream can live. My idea of good doesn't happen so another good can be my own.

To desire is human; to make petitions and requests is holy; to cry out to the Lord is comforting; to discontentedly envy others is sin.

I look at others and am not happy. I look at the path my own story has taken, and I am content to wait on His plot twist a little longer.

"He has been faithful. He will be again."

P.S. This school year is going amazingly well, and I wouldn't trade it with anyone!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

111: redeeming God

I love clouds. I love the emotions and drama they paint in the sky.

The last few years, though, I've wondered if it's okay to love them so much since aren't they a product of the Fall? Were there clouds before there was rain, and was there even rain before the Great Deluge?

Today, driving home, I saw a peacock wisp of a cloud, and it struck me. Beauty from ashes. This is proof that God brings beauty out of ashes.

I serve the Great Redeemer. Clouds might be the result of a world-wide opening up of the skies to punish sin. But even so, God has taken that and created something beautiful.

A friend of mine will soon be a step-mom. She would rather the original family have stayed intact for the sake of those she loves. Is a step-family second best?

God is able to do what seems impossible to me. Yes, He can create something beautiful from nothing. But He can also pick up the broken pieces of the original, and instead of gluing the shattered pieces back into a shabby copy of the original, He transforms and redeems and makes something newly beautiful.

That confounds me. How can a do-over be beautiful too? I feel hesitant to suggest that a re-creation can be equally beautiful to the original design. But isn't everything God makes beautiful?

That's what each of us are. A shattered people redeemed as new creations.

And so I can love clouds anew. They are proof that God is the great Redeemer.

Monday, September 22, 2014

110: of icecream, trophy husbands, and kissing babies

When you are single for a long time, you don’t think of marriage less, necessarily. You simply have more time for your ideas and thoughts to churn and morph and melt and thicken and be re-flavored and . . . when did this become an ice cream analogy?

I took this picture off the internet, and now I feel I have to clarify
that I did not take this sumptuous photograph.
Anyway, I have imbibed some unhealthy notions the last couple years, and it’s taken til now for me to put a label on them.

See, I had decided that what I primarily wanted in a potential husband was someone who I would not be embarrassed to be in public with. Someone who I could be proud to introduce to my family and all my diverse groups of friends.

Even now, the thought gives me happy, warm fuzzies.

In other words, I have wanted a trophy husband.

And I've even gotten to where I can slide a little on less shallow things, like spiritual depth, to get a man whom I can always look up to and respect in that way. If after we were married he became a little distant, at least I could always hold him up as my . . . trophy.

I'm rethinking that notion now. I'm wondering whether I might rather have someone with good character, spiritual depth, and meaningful conversation, even if I have to make excuses for him sometimes or roll my eyes or laugh at him. That's how my friends are after all. I can overlook their quirks because I enjoy being with them. And, to be honest, I'm rather proud to have my friends as friends. But for some reason, once I slap the label "prospect husband" on a fellow . . . I go beserk. He takes on a whole new hue, never before seen through the eyes of "friend."And not that of a rosy love-light either.

Not that I have a bevvy of young men to filter through (I'm done with online dating for now), but it is worth reexamining my unspoken notions.

Meanwhile I came across the funniest picture on FB. Funny because it was so unsubtle.

The article was really good though. And short. I decided not to share it on FB because it would come off a little bold from a girl, but you can read it here.

A few parting quotes from my new bandwagon book, Getting Serious about Getting Married by Debbie Maken. As always, use your own discernment. If God is not speaking to you about this, shelf it.

" . . . God prefers our enthusiasm and embrace of his design to lukewarm neutrality."

"Why would God make us desire marriage by design and then test us to assure our ambivalence toward that very design?"

"God desires your openness and honesty about your desire--not a false ambivalence . . . ."

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.