Tuesday, April 30, 2013

33: where I'm at

A blog with a focus on online dating and I haven't even mentioned it in what seems like a long while! There's a reason for that.

My eHarmony options petered out a month ago. Seems like longer ago than that when all the online drama was occuring. But anyhoo, I do have a 23 year old in my "Your Turn" folder, but I'm not ready to see how things would go with someone 4 years younger than me. Not online. Not with someone I don't already know is mature.

On ChristianMingle I've had several smiles. Some of them more amusing than not. Today I got one from a 49 year old whose second chin covered any existing neck and who attended church only on "special occasions." But his favorite actors were the same as mine! Jimmy Stewart, Errol Flynn, Olivia deHavilland. Now if I could get a younger man who had the same favorite actors . . . nah, impossible!

Errol Flynn and Olivia deHavilland
in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur
in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

But I did get a message from a seemingly very promising option on ChristianMingle. The only problem is *pause* I'm not a subscriber. So I can't reply. Not until I pay the $30+ for a month's subscription.

I prayed about it. The Lord answered "Wait until your spiritual life is better." I didn't like that answer. I never have liked any limits put on the possibility of finding "someone." I considered arguing with the Lord. But a friend's archived post reminded me of how ugly it gets when you try to fight God. It simply isn't worth it. Even today, quite randomly, I felt such gratitude to the Lord that I have no relationship or other commitment that I am struggling to hold onto in the midst of inner torment due to resisting God's will. And for once I thought maybe I understand when people say to hold everything with an open hand.

So I haven't paid the money to be active on ChristianMingle, and eHarmony, as I said, is currently dead for me. And thus why I haven't talked about online dating in the last month.

Alternate moral to the story: If you've never watched a Jimmy Stewart/Jean Arthur or Errol Flynn/Olivia deHavilland movie, you're missing out!

Friday, April 26, 2013

32: a worldview chasm

I guess when you enter the enemy's camp you should expect to be shot at. I just wasn't expecting the kind of ammunition that would be launched our way.

A friend of mine on Facebook (an unwed, pregnant teenager, by the way) posted a pro-life picture on the Planned Parenthood Facebook page.

You can imagine the conversation that ensued.

I think I've subconsciously always thought that if I could sit down with a pro-choicer I could reason with them for life.

What I did not take into consideration is that there has not simply been a worldview shift in our society. No, a CHASM separates the pro-life and pro-choice positions. We start from completely opposing presuppositions. Our definition of the value of life is so opposite that it is impossible to really debate.

my nieces and nephew, ten years ago
Evidences of the chasm (quotes taken from the raging FB discussion):

"Being pregnant is not our natural state." I have to wonder what is more natural than pregnancy?

Christians value babies and life. Pro-choicers call fetuses: "an unwanted non sentiment pencil eraser sized zef."

The Bible calls the fruit of the womb a reward. Pro-choicers say a female fetus "is invading someone else's body inside the womb. It doesn't matter what the gender of a fetus is, if it is unwanted, then we have every right to remove it. If it can't live outside of the womb, it is not our fault."

Christians believe that a fetus/baby is a result of sexual intimacy and that we are responsible for our choices. Pro-choicers say, "It's there against consent. And we're free to remove it. No one is under obligation to provide bodily resources for another person to live."

In reply to my comment that the fetus IS there with consent, that of two consenting adults, someone said, "Consensual sex is only consent for sex and orgasms. Consent must be continuous to remain valid. Consent can be revoked at any time."

This comment stunned me: "You also fail to realize that there is no right to life."

Perhaps the underbelly shows in this emotional reply, "And anyways I HAVE NO OBLIGATION TO RISK MY HEALTH AND LIFE FOR ANNNNYYYYYOOOOONE."

One lady summed it up well:
"Abortion advocates say nothing about
when life begins because it doesn't matter.
It's my uterus. I decide what stays in it or not.

Really simple."

A fetus is an unwanted invasionary force. The issue is not life. The issue is all about what I want.

Now I understand. Now the invisible chasm that separates Biblical teaching from the pro-choice worldview has become crystal clear.

All because of a Facebook discussion.


By the way, just because some people are adamant pro-choicers, that does not mean that many people aren't still on the fence, waiting to be convinced either way. My friend Rebekah is doing a good work with Students for Life! Also, God is in the business of regeneration--not just tweaking our points of view, but giving us a complete makeover!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

31: they remind me of what I know

I was driving to a friend's house last weekend and turned on a Focus on the Family podcast. It was Ann Kiemel, sharing her story of wanting children ever since she was little, not expecting that once she was married she would have miscarriage after miscarriage, telling her listeners that she let sorrow take her by the hand and teach her many things, sharing how God provided an adopted son when she was 37 and then another adopted son five months after miscarriaging twins, and encouraging her listeners to keep dreaming. I cried with her and was inspired.

Sometimes we can KNOW God is faithful. But the glorious thing about surrounding yourself with the testimonies of other believers is that you can hear someone who has been through hell tell you on the other side that, yes, indeed, God is faithful. It's not just a fact or a theological belief or a promise. It's empirical reality--but it helps to hear that again and again from people who have experienced it.

Sometimes we can KNOW God is faithful. But then in my church community group a widow of five years shares her own experience. How when her husband died the last thing she wanted to hear were the normal God-is-in-control sayings. She knew her God, but she was in full-on grieving. Now, five years later, she tells us, from experience, that Christ transcends everything, including human emotions. So we can squirm and scream and that's okay, because God is not going to let go of our hand.

Sometimes we can KNOW God is faithful. But then I open up a book I borrowed from my friend. And it's Elisabeth Elliot in the preface to These Strange Ashes, saying that she underwent three lessons in God's sovereignty her first year as a jungle missionary. On this side of it all, she doesn't know why God lets bad things happen to "good" people (See, even Elisabeth Elliot hasn't solved this question!). But she can declare her trust in God and that He is worthy of her trust.

"The horses and chariots that the servant had first seen were real enough. [Elisha's servant] had good reason to fear, if that was all there was. They had no place to turn, it seemed. But for every visible reason for terror, there was an invisible and immensely more powerful reason for trust." --Elisabeth Elliot, preface to These Strange Ashes
I need community, not because I don't know the truth enough to get by on my own and not because I haven't experienced God's faithfulness many times in my own life. I need community because in the middle of life or trials I can lose heart and forget what I KNOW. The testimonies of others inspire me to believe again. To believe Him.

"'You are My witnesses,' says the LORD,
And My servant whom I have chosen,
That you may know and believe Me,
And understand that I am He.'"
(Isaiah 43:10)

Monday, April 22, 2013

30: I reserve the right

After teaching for a year in a (very) small, country, ultra-conservative Christian school, I know that I could send my kids to a private school like that one and they'd turn out perfectly fine. But I don't want to delegate the responsibility of schooling my children to someone else. I want that privilege. I want that responsibility.

I can't wait to be standing in my kitchen cooking, my little girl standing next to me, hand held tightly to my shirt, me teaching her how to count or what the sounds the letters of the alphabet make.

I can't wait to be folding laundry with three little ones, all of us singing Bible verses or the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

I can't wait to see a cool field trip online and be able to pack up my boys and girls and go, watching their world expand as they pet animals, climb on cannons, try on prairie bonnets.

I can't wait to plan their learning myself. I can't wait to integrate life and fun with learning.

Why would I want to send away my kids for up to seven hours a day? It might sound selfish, but I don't want to give someone else the privilege of seeing their eyes light up when they finally get a concept. I want to be the one to praise them when their handwriting is beautiful. I want to sit with them on the couch and hear them read, not for 15 minutes at the end of the day as homework, but as part of life.

I know it will be hard. You don't go into homeschooling simply for the joy of it. Homeschooling is like marriage--some days are really hard, but through it all, it's rewarding and worth it.

I know the answer to "why would I want to send away my kids for up to seven hours a day" is "because a couple hours of no crying or fighting or asking questions or making messes sounds great!" (especially to the homeschooling mom!)
"Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;
But much increase comes by the strength of an ox."
Proverbs 14:4

Some things are easier. Doesn't mean they're better.

And some things--like doing life (and school) with my kids--are too glorious for me to share with strangers. I reserve that privilege and responsibility for myself.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

when I grow up distraction (v)

I went to a play this weekend put on by [apparently] a bunch of homeschoolers/homeschool grads. Even though I'm fairly removed from that culture now, I love going to these plays just to be part of it again.
So . . . when I grow up I want to be a homeschool mom! (I've known that for awhile, but every once in awhile you just have to unabashedly proclaim it!)

I LOVE HOMESCHOOL! (and that's after 12 years of it, folks)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

29: mourning a deferred hope

"The truthful lip shall be established forever,
But a lying tongue is but for a moment." (Proverbs 12:19)

What a great verse to tell my kids! I thought this morning as I read it. Should I underline it? Write it down somewhere so I won't forget? No. To what purpose? I won't remember it. I don't have kids. I'm not about to have kids. I may never have kids.

And I broke down and cried.

Today I am in mourning for what I don't have--a family of my own.

I don't know whose fault it is that I haven't married yet. Lord, teach me how to mourn without being bitter or mad or blame You.

It's not even about getting a guy. It's about the life I've always dreamed of one day having. A reason to get up early in the morning. A reason to clean the house. A reason to shop the household good section of the thrift store. Falling in love and deciding on the right guy is just the big and important and tricky mountain that stands between me and that other life.

The grass isn't always greener on the other side.

I know. I don't want it to be greener. I just want it to be . . . a different shade of green.

My life now is good. It's a different kind of good than I wanted, but it's good.

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick" and, boy, that Scripture is so true.

It's okay to be heart sick. It's okay to be sad.

I will trust Him to see me through.

So today I'm mourning the deferrment of a hope, the dream of so many young Christian girls who are still waiting.

Waiting? Yeah. I can't stop hoping yet. I just can't.

(I'm making myself very vulnerable in this post. But I do so out of conviction--conviction that Christian young women should not be ashamed of wanting what God has called good.)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

28: for love of ice cream or for love of God?

Who first thought of mixing milk, sugar, and ice? I don't know, but they were brilliant.

I love icecream. I LOVE icecream. It started when I was in college. It didn't help when I started working at the Snack Shop--my job was to serve icecream and make milkshakes. Everyone knew if you accidentally made more milkshake than the plastic cup could hold . . .you could sneak behind the divider and drink the leftovers. YUM! I loved to mix two or three different flavors. Options included Espresso Chip, Mint Chip, Butterfinger, Chocolate, Vanilla, Birthday Cake--but I digress.

Then there was Bible Conference freshman year where the field house offered $1 milkshakes for the week. A friend and I went over there, had a milkshake, then threw maturity to the wind and each ordered another! I think we went back again the next day with a mutual friend and had another round of $1 milkshakes.

Now, six years later, I'm trying to try to be good and cut back on sugar. At least I've been trying for the last couple weeks. Or has it only been a week? Ugh.

If I'm good, I can put a little symbol on my calendar--a circled S with a line through it. If I'm bad, well, I don't get to write anything.

As part of an interview process this week, I had to teach a lesson on the frog cycle to a class of kindergarteners this morning. Despite my apprehension, it went SO well. I left feeling accomplished and confident! I love teaching!

Then I went to my normal MWF job of teaching reading to a conglomerate of grades at a local Christian school. It went horribly. The kids weren't listening, everything was going wrong, as usual, and any confidence and pleasure in my abilities went out the window. I can't do this!

Before I even left the school I was figuring out how I could get some sugar before rushing off to tutoring.

Because, as the saying so aptly puts it, desserts is stressed spelled backwards.

On the drive to tutoring, I was slightly convicted. Was I going to find solace in a milkshake instead of God? Was my choice of therapy going to be icecream instead of my Father?

So, I prayed.

And right before the Chick-Fil-A exit, after quickly searching my heart, I decided that it would be okay to pray AND to get the cookies 'n' cream milkshake too.

Moral of the story: I've always got to remember that food or entertainment is the bandaid not the cure. God is the cure, though He can use food or entertainment to bless me!

Unfortunately, I've found it a lot easier to be deadened by entertainment than to pray about what is on my subconscious. Thankfully, God doesn't give up on our sanctification.

Monday, April 15, 2013

27: trying to express the why's of this blog

Why do I blog? I blog because I need to write. Whether or not people read what I write is more or less inconsequential. Of course I want people to visit and be encouraged! But I can't be discouraged when no one reads because the point is to pour out all my beginning writings so I can learn via practice to be a better writer! (Can you tell I'm giving myself a peptalk?)

Why do I sometimes write about stuff like online dating or love? They say you should write about what you know. Mothers write mommy blogs. People into nutrition write blogs on eating well. As a single 27 year old I write about what I know, or don't know, or am interested in, or something like that. (I have to justify this to myself.)

Why do I write about how I'm realizing I've harbored more bitterness than I care to admit? Why do I write personal stuff? Not because I enjoy it! The vulnerability of other bloggers always ministers to me, and so I hope that I can do the same for anyone who stumbles across this page. (I'm trying to attain that balance between sharing struggles and sharing solutions. I can share struggles just for shock value, and I can share solutions that I'm not really applying just to make myself sound better.)

If you're reading this, thank you so much for stopping by!


what I had considered using for my banner

Friday, April 12, 2013

26: what not submitting to authority looks like

I work with children. One boy I especially enjoy teaching, and I like to think that he enjoys learning with me. That is, when he is allowing himself to learn.

For the first time in my very short teaching career, I have run across a child who I can (almost) shamelessly call a brat. I'm not in the habit of calling children names, but in this case, I am justified.

When I was growing up, my mom liked to differentiate between identity and behavior. So, if I had been this child, perhaps she would have said, "You are not a brat, but you are acting like one right now."

She is right. He is not a brat. But he sure is a crackerjack actor.

Since I began working with this child, I have been able to witness, in living color, what rebellion to authority looks like. It's when . . .

a child tells you that this is his house so you have to do what he says.
you arrive to hear the child yelling at his babysitter.
a child tells you you can't use the word "obey."
he smiles at you, and you smile back, and then he says, offended, "Don't look at me."
a child shakes his head, crosses his arms, and tells you emphatically that you are wrong.
he tells you to leave his house and never come back (fortunately, that is rare).
It's when a child not only ignores your greeting when you enter, but proceeds to refuse to say a simple "hi" for the next 45 minutes, until, magically, in the middle of the lesson, he turns to you and says, "Hello, Michelle! How are you?" with that endearing smile of the ghost of the promise of who he could always be if he would only give up this obsession to be the boss, to be the one in control, to not let anyone tell him what to do, no matter how simple.
It ain't pretty, folks.

Makes one think twice about the supposedly nicer, more civil ways I also reject authority.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

25: simply bitterness

The Bible says that hope deferred makes the heart sick. Sometimes it can also cause bitterness.

When life doesn't happen as we would have hoped, there are several ways we might deal with the disappointment.

We can let it not phase us, accepting that life is full of ups and downs and so move on (I wonder if those who live in third-world countries accept disappointments easier than us because they've factored sorrow into their reality since birth.).

We can let ourselves fully grieve while leaning into God all the harder, like a wife might lean into her husband for extra strength, and so, hopefully, come out having known sorrow, but healed.

Or we can grieve while allowing cynicism, bitterness, and a general hardness to protect our still vulnerable insides. In such a case, the grieving never really ends, healing never really comes. Sometimes we call women who have been through hard life experiences and come out independent and capable as "strong" women. But every once in awhile their words betray that they have never really recovered and that they are still bitter.

I don't want to be that kind of strong woman. That is one reason why I've been thinking and writing about bitterness a lot lately.

Another reason is that I've seen how the amount of bitterness I have allowed in my own life is hurting my relationship with God and thus affecting how I live my life.

The other reason why I write about bitterness is because I find it fascinating. Bitterness is sneaky. It's easy for us to catch, hard for us to get rid of. We all are susceptible, and I think most live with some amount of bitterness without ever eradicating it, like living with parasites.

And so I'm obsessively combing through my heart, trying to uncover the bitterness, trying to find its source, trying to figure out the antidote.

I think I've found the antidote too. But I'm still trying to figure out how to apply it to my soul.

"[T]o be bitter is to let go of trust and faith in God. I cannot simultaneously have an uttermost confidence in Him and be bitter . . . ." --April 7, 2013 journal entry

More on that later, Lord-willing....

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

24: running smack dab into a strong dose of true-blue idealism

He is only 15 years old. Almost 16, he tells me. We're cutting vegetables for my friend's little sister's wedding. I've seen him on and off over the last couple years, whenever I travel out of state to visit my friend. But despite not having a real relationship with him, or at least not one that should merit real conversation, he tells me a little of his dreams as we chop olives and tomatoes for the reception dinner.

He thinks about marriage a lot, he tells me. He really wants a family. He says that more than once. He thinks about what kind of father he wants to be. He wants his children to be a better father than he will be, and his children's children to be better fathers than theirs. If the Lord tarries, he adds.

And I don't know how to handle his admission.

Because I feel like I know reality. His desire is so good! I know he can work on becoming a godly young man and preparing himself for marriage right now, while he's still a few years short of adulthood.

But he also might find himself a decade later still without the prize. Cynicism pricks my insides.

What happens when hope deferred faces off with youthful idealism?

It depends on what's in your heart.

More later, Lord-willing....

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

23: the mysterious amazing thing about which I have no clue


I know two, no, three things about love.

1. I don't have a clue about it.
2. It's a mystery.
3. It's amazing.

I heard Candice Watters quote Proverbs 30 in an old Boundless podcast episode today. It reminded me of what I do know about love, namely, that it is mysterious.

"There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
Yes, four which I do not understand:
. . . the way of a man with a virgin." (vv 18-19)

What draws two people together out of all the people in the world? I don't know. I have tried before to make myself love someone. (I mean, isn't love a choice?) I have almost tried to manipulate my brain. I thought that if I relaxed that the feeling would come. It didn't. Instead I felt like I was going mad.

So I don't know how it happens. Crushes I know. Chemical attractions, yes. True-blue love? Still an unconquered wilderness.

Tonight at community group a mom was saying how she used to think Proverbs 7 was about some prostitute on the bad side of town.

"With her enticing speech she caused him to yield,
With her flattering lips she seduced him.
Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter" (vv 21-22)

Now she realizes that all women have an amazing power over men. That is a mystery to me too. Why do logical, sensible, controlled men fall head over heels with emotional, talkative, melodramatic women? (By the way, those are extremes and generalizations for the sake of contrast.) Men and women are different, sometimes quite different, so how do they go together? Why do they even want to go together?

That's the big mystery.

And, yet, true committed love is amazing. A friend's boyfriend told me the story of how they met. (Clarification: They are both adults in their 30s and are heading towards marriage, not just young pups who will break up next week.) When he got to the part where he asked her out and she said yes, I interrupted with, "And you were head over heels?"

"Oh, I still am," he said. "I've been head over heels ever since."

(collective "awwww!")

Perhaps I shouldn't try to write about that which I know nothing about. But I can still make observations and wonder philosophically about it.

Oh, but I do know one other thing about love! It is a divine gift from God to mankind.

(I would like to add here that I believe a guy truly loved me once, and I consider it an extreme blessing from God that I have been allowed to experience that no matter what my future holds.)

Monday, April 1, 2013

22: simply the unphilosophical books I'm reading

I went to the library Thursday and checked out seven Christian romance novels (chick-flick novels, I like to call them).

I've read three of them so far.

A Hopeful Heart was really good. It was by Kim Vogel Sawyer, and she's just a good author! It made me want to be a rancher's wife!

Now and Always and Yellow Rose Bride were both slow to start and had unexplainable gaps, or jumps in what was going on. For example, one moment the girl would be talking to the guy in the afternoon in town, and the next paragraph it was evening and she was kissing him? Did I miss something? Or one moment the girl's host is telling her to go into the house and eat breakfast and the next paragraph she's scanning the ruins of her destroyed house? How'd she get there, by teleport? I really enjoyed Lori Copeland's Brides of the West series, which is why I checked out these other two by the same author. But with the slow starts, the gaps, and the fact that both stories ended with someone unexpectedly going insane and threatening the heroine . . . they weren't my favorite.

Another book I read the other day, a novella called Alabama, had four stories where the girls were consistently being kissed by guys they didn't know if they loved yet, and they didn't even bat an eye when they were quite casually, unexpectedly, kissed on the lips! I had to wonder if I missed something, because pretty sure if I had never been in a relationship before, like one of the author's heroines, and then a guy I knew just upped and kissed me, I would be surprised, shocked, dumbfounded, thrown into a big question mark, and most definitely would not continue the afternoon as if nothing happened, like in the book. Maybe it's a Southern thing?

No moral to the story for this post.

By the way, any storyline that has to do with mail-order brides, or, like with A Hopeful Heart, girls coming from back east to find a husband, has my immediate interest!