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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An Open Letter to the Unexpected








We were eating dinner at an Indian restaurant with an unexpected group of women from my church.

We've worked hard to commit to each other. Really commit to each other. As women of a certain age outside of the classic love, marriage, baby carriage cycle we have to work a little harder for these relationships.

When you're in your mid/late-twenties, true friendship doesn't

come out of cruise control.

 

One of these friends sat at the end of the table and told us about the time she met her husband.

"It was so strange," she said. "I can't explain it but the moment I saw him I said 'that's the man I'm going to marry.'"

Then the conversation took a turn. Literally. Another woman at the table asked me if I knew the moment I met G that I'd marry him. I noticed several pairs of eyes were watching me across the table as I looked up from my spicy chicken dish.

Then I'm pretty sure I scrunched my face and gave some line about being attracted to him right away. After all, he's the most handsome thing ever. And then he puts on his Navy uniform and brings me coffee in the middle of the work day or plays me a song on his guitar and then, well...all bets are off.

But I didn't expect to marry G. Not right away. Because most of the time I expect for everything to go awry. Especially where dating is concerned.

Don't get me wrong. I have no trouble mustering encouragement and happy thoughts for others. I'm not a total Eeyore. Carrying around that amount of negativity is exhausting. For me and the people who have to put up with me.

However, two years ago when G and I met from across our Sunday school classroom I wasn't exactly in a confident "yes, he I shall marry" sort of mode.

Mostly just remember forgetting how to move my face. This guy was asking me pointed questions about my blog (which was at the time a series of letters I was writing about my future husband...), and it made me want to wriggle out of my skin.

Because he couldn't possibly be interested in what I had to say about singleness. The Church. Or how I feel like we have to fight for community in this world.

But then he spoke in fake British and German accents. But then he made me laugh. But then he only gave me side-hugs until he was sure that we were going to have a dating relationship.

But then after two years of gaining  a past with me he kneeled down and asked me to be a part of his future.

He asked that we lace our lives together forever.

And it's been better than I could've ever expected.

I'm not saying that life is a fairytale. Or that all things unexpected are good things unexpected. But I am saying that there's merit for not being timid. There's freedom in trusting a little more and more when your heart has been damaged.

But finding joy in the unexpected works with everything. It opens your eyes to little miracles here and there.When you hope for what's unseen. When we have faith and assurance for the future we can't see.

This season, these friendships, this commitment is teaching me that there's mystery to the way that we do life. Nothing in life is guaranteed. Not our jobs security. Not our finances. Sometimes life throws us plot twists.

And sometimes love, joy and peace come out of places, circumstances and conversations that we never could've dreamed or expected for ourselves.

Keep the faith, sweet friends.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Please, Stop Chasing Your Dreams

For years I was all about the ring (you know the one I mean).


All about that bedazzled left hand. All about the defiant chase. Playing out my life like I was a main character in a foggy romantic comedy rather than what I really was: a child of God.

For a while there all I saw from the inside-out was a woman with no rock. A woman with no faithful man by her side. A woman whose talents, beauty, friendships were all depleted. Second rate. Because she had no husband. Or potential husband.

I really went to great lengths to get it. Not to brag, but I entered into some pretty stupid relationships slash scandalous bar-hopping outings to try to make it happen. Ever tried to make out with a stranger? A friend's ex? Someone you work with?

Believe me, it's not easy to be that consciously stupid.

To feel the bad decisions stream through your blood. To ignore all promptings of don't do that and stop! you've gone too far. There's a constant storm in your heart and mind begging you to remember to be a good girl.

Because your decisions are pushing you deeper and deeper into an ocean of needless drama. And empty nights drinking rum and coke under the stars with a man who's been clear about his intentions with you from the very beginning.

And somehow you're still surprised by the way it all ended. With tears. Five extra pounds around your waist from binge eating entire Pizza Hut extra cheese pies straight from the delivery box. And your ever-loving aunt holding your phone hostage for an evening so you can't text him back.

I was literally chasing my dream. And yet, I was the one who was 

caught. Trapped. Sucked in.

 





















Years later, there's a bit of glitter on my left hand.


And it didn't come from chasing a dream or a desire. It didn't come from a night in a bar. Or a scandal. Or trying to force something to work. It came after a year of counseling. It came after wrestling to trust again.

It came through God's blessing and timing. It came undeserved. It came as so much more than a ring, but in the form of a man who I trust. Who leads me and my faith. Who makes me laugh. Who makes me want to love Christ more.

And it's so much more than I could have ever dreamed for myself.

But here's the thing: even in the midst of all of this, this swelling season of gifts and parties and registries, I can feel the familiar hum of a new mission. Another chase. Another facet of my life that isn't quite where I want it to be: my weight, my finances, my writing career...



The temptation to hop back aboard the Fight-for-What-

You-Want Express is astounding.


But that train only drops you off, most of the time, in places of despair. And seedy bars. And in areas where your character, the very core of who you are, comes into question.

I'm not asking anyone to sign a pledge stating that they will no longer wish for a stage of life, a piece of jewelry or a partner-in-crime. I'm asking you to stop chasing. Stop running yourself ragged over mere mirages. Over rings and daydreams.

Because maybe you'll get them and discover they're everything you could have ever hoped for. And at the same time those are a beacon toward something else you're not satisfied with, something else you don't have but you want.

Something else to lose your mission or dignity over.

Stop the chase for dreams and pick up a heaping portion gratefulness along the way.


photo credit: StephenMcleod - International Man of Mystery via photopin cc


photo credit: San Diego Shooter via photopin cc




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Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Year Without Resolutions



Every year, it's this year that's going to be different.

This is the year I will lose thirty pounds.

This is the year I will be intentional about my finances.

This is the year I will stop ordering entire pizzas to my apartment at 11 p.m. (See above.)

This is the year I will finish my novel.

Run a marathon.

Moderate my caffeine intake. (Forget it, I don't have a problem). Because where there is coffee there is liberty.

And perhaps stop bending scripture quotes into quips about coffee or sometimes harder drinks.

And every year I start out by peeling back the bed sheets, both feet firm on the floor determined.

It's different, different today. A different year and a whole new me.

Then hours, sometimes minutes later those little vows I made to myself seem less shiny. Less attainable. Less fun. For instance, this morning I've already had three cookies and two cups of coffee.

***

But this year it is different. It's all changing. Because this year I'm making no resolution except to be more resolute.

You might say those two words are exchangeable. I agree, they'd make a darling couple.

But one word seems like it was born out of the other. Like those Russian dolls that pop out from each other, smaller and smaller at each round. Yes, resolution is the larger word. And resolute is born from it. That anchoring word that evokes purpose, and unwavering determination.

Yes. This is the year I will abstain from resolving and am going pedal to the floor, full force into the word resolute.

I will be resolute with my vows to my husband.

I will be resolute in the search for my purpose and calling.

In my commitments to my friends and dear family members. The ones who have shaped and molded my life. The ones who will stand beside me as I begin the crazy, scary and all-things-wonderful adventure of creating a new family. A table for two that will grow and grow.

An outpouring of love. Like the Russian dolls that give and give and give from the very cavern of themselves eight or even ten levels deep.

I will be resolute in my purchase of Keurig cups. Because, you know? This bird you'll never change.

I will be, for the first time in years, resolute in my vows to follow Christ. Making up for all of those times I let the words to Oceans tumble out of my mouth without much thought or action behind them. Lead me where my trust is without borders.

But most of all, I will be resolute in the fact that no matter the changes the year brings, no matter the trials or triumphs–hopefully through triumph after triumph–that I am a child of God. And that nothing, no struggle with doubt, no fist fight with cynicism, no glaring fumbles of the church or a group of people could change that.

Happy 2015, dear friends.

photo credit: half alive - soo zzzz via photopin cc
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