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.

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