Friday, August 19, 2011

A poem

Originally posted on 5/28/08

Dawn's Eternal Invitation

Early morning
The stars retire from their watch
Withdrawing their luminance
Silence cloaks all creation

Suddenly Dawn
Breaks upon the horizon
Daylight comes with symphony
Bringing with her a new day

And so You are
In my bleakest moment
Bursting forth in a song of grace
Beckoning me to dance

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Better Way

Some call me old-fashioned when it comes to dating. I wasn't always this way. Until the last year or so, if I liked a guy, I went for it, because if I didn't let him know I was interested how would he know? Surely no one could put us together better than I could, and certainly God couldn't find the right person for me and put things together without my help.

I am by nature a go-getter and I approached relationships no differently than I did any other goal or dream. I saw what I wanted and I worked hard for it. Sometimes I got him, sometimes I didn't, but it wasn't for lack of trying. No guy could ever say that he didn't know I was interested or that he didn't know what I wanted. I made those things abundantly clear.

In the past I have asked guys out, pushed myself on them, chased them, pursued them. Every time, whether sooner or later, I ended up with a broken heart, a failed relationship, alone, and determined to never make myself vulnerable again. Repeat cycle. There had to be a better way.

Christian and non-Christian friends alike made suggestions for things I could do to attract men: like sports, being more outgoing, be less introverted, flirt more, flirt less, dress one way, dress another, quit looking, quit wanting. I had to give up who I am and my personality and my hopes and dreams and THEN the thing that I no longer wanted would come to me and I could be happy. Bad advice. Like I said, there had to be a better way.

My dad, of course, always told me that a guy should pursue me. He should have to chase me. I need to play hard to get. I need to dress respectably, talk respectably, and expect respect. That did not compute back then, and in some ways the concept of playing hard to get still doesn't compute for me. I'm not hard to get. I'm actually relatively easy to get as long as you've shown me that you are worth my time. I don't like playing games. Games are lies. I hate to say it, but in some ways... my dad was.... you know.

I have noticed a trend of men no longer acting like the pursuer and the provider. Rather than asking you on a date they hesitantly say, "If you want to hang out sometime, let me know." Instead of asking for your number and if they can call you, they give you theirs and tell you to call them sometime. They make suggestions and drop hints that they might want to get to know you better, but then place the ball in your court and leave you to actually do the pursuing.

Have women Have I created the modern emasculated man who would rather not have a chance than to risk rejection? In my pursuit of my own desires and in my own selfishness and impatience, have I stripped men of their need for courage and bravery and taken from them their God-given role? Has the modern woman in opening her own doors, paying for her own dinners, and exercising her independence taken from man his ability and desire to be a leader, provider, and gentleman?

Surely there must be a better way. There has to be, because without it I am left with no hope because my way doesn't work. I tried it my way and my friends' way and the world's way and while I am by no means an old maid, I am still single at 24 while most of my friends are married or in serious relationships. And as for the relationships I've had, I cannot say that I am better for having had them. Stronger and more experienced, sure, but not better.

Albert Einstein defined "insanity" like this: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Intellectually I understood that something needed to change, but the execution of that was the problem. What do you do differently, how do you do it differently, and how do you change your nature?

I'd like to say that there was a switch that I flipped and from that point everything changed. I can't say that; unfortunately I am one who has to learn lessons the hard way. The time did eventually come that I was tired of being hurt and making myself vulnerable. The hurt I've experienced has hardened me and made me distrustful and hesitant to open up my heart, but the story cannot stop there because that would leave me without hope.

I eventually came to the realization that shutting down to protect my heart only protected me from the pain of rejection and of a broken heart, but did nothing to protect me from loneliness or to remove the longing for love and marriage and a family. I could not protect myself from both -- there are always risks in love, but a risk must be measured before taken.

I want to be pursued. I deserve to be pursued and not because of who I am in my own right, but because of how God planned for it to be. You see, God may have created men and women equal in terms of their value but He did not create them the same in terms of their roles.

Ephesians 5:25 says, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." I firmly believe that a man should ask a woman on a date. He should ask for her phone number. He should lead the relationship. Jesus sacrificed Himself in the greatest demonstration of love on the cross. He sacrificed his societal status as he chose to dine with tax collectors and befriend prostitutes and hang out with society's rejects. He risked it all because he loved me.

In the Bible, men are instructed to love their wives like that, and that kind of behavior doesn't start with 'I do', it happens from the first time he comes in contact with a lady to some degree. Does he give up his place in the Walmart line to let you in front of him? Does he sacrifice his time by holding the door for you or stopping to change a flat tire? Is he willing to put his ego on the line and risk rejection by asking you for a date?

Doing these small things sets the precedent for the larger things. Will he give up his carefree life of singleness to be accountable to another person? Will he do without to make sure his family is provided for? Will he lay down his own interests and give of his time and his heart to demonstrate the love of God to his family and lead them spiritually?

Are you, am I, being the kind of woman who is worthy of his love and sacrifice? Do I show my appreciation? Do I do my part?

Ephesians 5: 22 says, "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord." Verse 33 of the same chapter tells wives to respect their husbands.

Do I show respect for men by dressing in such a way that I do not tempt them to lust? Do I show my respect for them by allowing them to exercise their God-given instinct to provide and protect or do I emasculate them by insisting that I can DO IT MYSELF.

Do I submit to God's authority and what His word tells me to do, even when it is against my own sinful nature? Do I submit to my father's authority in my life? Do I submit to a man's decision to do what God has lead him to do by pursuing me or not pursing me? Do I show appreciation for the opened doors, the dates, and the kindness he shows me? Do I reciprocate by making him dinner and showing him kindness in return? Will I listen when he chooses to lead our family in a way that God is leading him? Will I submit to whatever decision he thinks is best for us, even when I disagree?

If I want a relationship with a Christian man who does things God's way, then I must do things God's way. This is not only the better way, but it is the best way.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


I find that God often uses normal, everyday things to teach me or remind me of things about Himself or who I am in Christ. Those moments have come after cleaning a kitchen, only to have it immediately dirtied again. They have come watching Kirby learn new things. That reminder may come in the form of a beautiful flower that I feel God sent just to cheer me. Recently, a reminder of who I am because of who God is came at 28,000 feet above the ground.

A few weeks ago I flew down to the panhandle of Florida to visit family. I had the window seat and watched as we began going down the runway, as the airplane lifted, and as we began soaring above the clouds.

Flight amazes me. I know that there is a complicated scientific and mathematical explanation that utilizes the laws of physics that somehow eliminates the mystery of flight, but to me whatever it is that allows a 35,000 lb hunk of people-filled metal to cruise through the air at about 500 mph is a complete mystery.

As I sat in my seat gazing out the small window of the plane, I thought of another mystery that amazes me even more.

I love to sit and watch as the buildings and cars and people become smaller and smaller. I thought about how in this vast universe, I am only a miniscule part. It was a humbling thought. When I am on the ground, I only see a small part of what is going on because I can only see what is immediately around me, but when I am thousands of feet above the ground, I am humbled to know that I am just a small part.

Any self-importance I may have felt vanished as I realized how insignificant I am in this great big universe. On the heels of that thought followed another: God sees the big picture and I am only a small part of His creation. Compared to the Creator of all that I see below and all that I can not see, I am even smaller, less important.

James 4:10 says, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up." It is only when we realize how un-important we are and how unworthy we are, that we can recognize how big God is and in doing so appreciate more fully the grace that He has so abundantly poured out.

I sat there for a couple of minutes pondering my smallness in relation to God's bigness when the best, most amazing, biggest paradox of all hit me. The question posed in Psalm 8:4 came to mind, "Oh what is man, that you are mindful of him?" I am not just a germ-sized person in an ant-sized car to God. The God of the Universe, the Alpha and Omega, Elohim, Adonai, Everlasting Father, Desired of All Nations, The Great Shepherd, the High Priest, the Holy One of Israel, the I Am... Lord of all Creation, El-Roi "the strong one who sees" SEES ME. He doesn't see just one of many, He sees me. He knit me in my mother's womb (Psalm 139:13), He has a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11), and He loves me forever (Jeremiah 31:3).

It's not just that He knows me and sees me in all my insignificance, but He calls me His child because I have chosen to call him my God. And since He's the King that makes me a princess. "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are." (1 John  3:1) He has given me a crown of glory and honor and has made me a little lower than the angels. (Psalm 8:4)

There is a song by a Casting Crowns called Who Am I.

It says:

Who am I that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name,
Would care to feel my hurt?

Who am I that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever-wandering heart?

Not because of who I am,
But because of what You've done.
Not because of what I've done,
But because of who You are...

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean,
A vapor in the wind,
But you hear me when I'm calling,
Lord, you catch me when I'm falling,
And you've told me who I am...
I am Yours.

I am nothing but His, and because of that, I'm pretty special. You can be too.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

For Sentimental Reasons

Do you remember that girl in elementary school who always used to pass notes? And she would go home with a pocket full of them, put them on her dresser, and a week later shove them into a drawer only to forget about them for a while?

What about that girl in middle school who would save each and every little note or pencil or piece of gum or anything from a boy? After that flavor had expired for the week, she would forget about those little insignificant things she had of his – a note, a pencil, a stick of gum – and they would be buried somewhere in that junk drawer?

What about the girl from highschool? That’s one who saved every corsage from every dance and dried it out and displayed it on her mirror and kept it there until she graduated from college at which point she would tuck it safely away in a shoebox to keep for memories. This girl also has millions of pictures of her and her friends with silly faces, their best smiles, self-photos, pictures of dress shopping, pictures of every single little thing that ever happened and she will keep them forever.

I’m sure you know that girl.  She’s the same one who keeps the pictures of herself with every boyfriend she ever had and stores it in the box of corsages. Not because she misses him or wants him back, but because of the memories. She’s the girl who will occasionally pull these things back out years after the fact and smile while looking at them, remembering all the good times and then tuck them safely away for the next trip down memory lane. When she’s old and dies all of the stuff will still be there, in the same box in her attic for her children and grandchildren to discover.

I’m not that girl.

I’m the unsentimental girl, the heartless one. I’m the one who will keep all of the sweet things from a boyfriend until about a week after I break up with him. Then I throw all of the letters in the fireplace, crumble the rose petals into hundreds of tiny rose crumbs, and throw the teddy bear to the dog for a new chew toy. The dog loves that bear.

Sometimes I feel guilt for not being a sentimental person. I do keep the important things such as my favorite book that Papa used to read me and the harmonica he gave me that I always liked to play with. I keep the letter Daddy wrote to me when I graduated from college and the card he gave me after we had a huge heart to heart that changed our father-daughter relationship for the better. I have the Life is Good coffee mug from one of my ex-boyfriends because he wasn’t awful and I really like the mug. I even kept the Canadian coin he gave me, but mostly because I don’t know what else to do with it and you can’t very well throw money away.

There it is. Did you catch it? I’m defending myself because of my guilt over my lack of sentimentality. It’s just that I hate clutter. I see no point in keeping stuff that is just stuff. The memories will still be there even after the stuff is gone. Why do I need dead roses that smell funny and a bear that I’ll just pack away? Do I have to keep every picture that kids I babysat ever colored for me?

I delete digital photos that are taking up hardly any storage space at all on my computer because I haven’t looked at them in years, I’m not in them, and I no longer have any communication with the people in them. My thinking is that I just don’t need to keep them. They’re just digital clutter.

It’s not that I don’t love the roses or the letters or the teddy bears or the pictures or the people or the memories we made when I was gifted with those things or people, but I have my memories even without the stuff.

But it’s the guilt! And the silly little worries! What about when I have kids? Will I have to keep every picture they ever colored for me? Every handmade gift or craft they ever proudly presented to me? Will it make me a bad mom to throw those things away?

And then I think about the fact of death. What if someone I am close to, my mom for example, gives me a card and I don’t keep it and then she dies and I have nothing in her own words telling me that she loves me? I have nothing from Nana except an afghan that she crocheted for me and the only reason I have things from Papa is because I think they got stuffed in a box at some point that disappeared until years after he had passed away and after his death I recognized the value of having The Three Billy Goats Gruff and Old Mother Hubbard.

I’d like to say that my lack of sentimentality is because I store up my treasures in Heaven, but that would be a lie which might prevent me from ever seeing those alleged Heaven-stored treasures.

Sometimes though, when I look over at that little white bear lying on the dog’s bed, hardly worse for the seven-year wear, I feel an urge to pick it up, toss it in the washing machine, and then put it away nice and clean only to pull it out in ten, twenty, sixty years and realize that your heart never really forgets your first love.