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Here are other notes from “Anonymous”:

TIMING

  • God never wastes anyone’s time. He’s neither care-less nor cause-less with how he spends our lives. He sees every season of our life the “main course.”  “main” is right now, happening this very second. it’s not on hold until we get married, or get a better job, or absolve debt, etc.
  • only three years, less than 10 percent of jesus’ life, are visible through the bible. over 90 of his time on earth is unknown to us.
  • we must learn to wait because God is worthy; we aren’t the first who have had God-given (but unfulfilled) dreams and made to wait for years: Sarah waited 25 years to give birth to Isaac after God promised her a baby; Joseph waited 20 years to rescue his family from famine after being sold into slavery Moses waited 40 years to lead his people from slavery; Esther waited 25 years before she stepped up for her people; Paul waited 10 years after his spiritual encounter with God before he officially started ministry.
  • every choice we make is an investment in a future we cannot see.

TEMPTATIONS

  • hidden years grant us the space to learn to discipline our passions, cravings and desires. God allows us to wrestle with our appetites before our lives are at stake, to struggle with our passions privately rather than when we’re in the public limelight. if we have to deal with them prematurely, we can be crushed. we need the gift of hiddenness before rushing into more than we’re prepared for. we need to be able to grow in quiet anonymity.
  • The author says, “i feel that trials do not prepare us for what’s to come as much as they reveal what we’ve done with our lives up to this point.”
  • God leads us into deserts to: humble us, test us, know what is in our hearts, see if we will keep his commands, teach us to depend on him, discipline us as his children.
  • when tempted, we fall prey to the lie of “just one.” we rationalize this is only about one moment of splurging or one brief gland or one… we disconnect the moment of temptation from all other moments and how they add up and build upon one another.
  • the temptation of vain imaginations: thought patterns that puff us up from the inside out or invite us to escape from reality and experience a more affirming existence in our minds. (tempted in our thoughts by the attention and awe of mankind). these thoughts make us discontent with our current realitie

JESUS’ TEMPTATION

  • Jesus was tempted, in the desert. the devil tries many approaches:
    * dangles a lure (by offering something attractive);
    * exploits a natural longing (appealing to an innately human desire like eating). food in itself is not sinful, and here’s where satan’s lures can be deceptive. it’s not about what jesus would eat as much as about when. would he obey God even when obedience required delayed satisfaction of legitimate needs?
    * identifies the means (suggesting how to get what we want);
    * offers an inviting invitation (mixing truth with his lies).
    * SATAN’S MOST EFFECTIVE LURE: immediate gratification (not having to wait on God’s timing)
  • satan, in this way is predictable. the way he tempted jesus is how he tempted Eve, yet we continue to fall prey to his ways: we continue to crave instant satisfaction, daydream of public admiration, be hypnotized by wordly power/possessions, etc.
  • when devil finished tempting it says “he left him (Jesus) until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13)–meaning that satan would return again to tempt him. satan is going to come and continue to tempt us at strategic times in our lives, at crossroads.

“these are the days that no one sees…” is part of a paul westerberg song. “…they run together for company.”

awhile ago i read a book called “anonymous” that talked about how God puts seasons of anonymity into our lives to prepare us for our seasons of action. she paralleled it to the fact that Jesus was “anonymous” for years until he finally was ready to take the steps that would make him affect the world.

one of the analogies she uses is of trees and how the different seasons affect them: during the summer, their leaves are full and coat the limbs, but when winter comes, the leaves fall off and all you see is the tree’s infrastructure–that’s all that’s left and all that lasts. so it is with us: what the plenty of summer hides, the nakedness of winter reveals: the strength of our infrastructure–our character. but to get to that point, we have to grow to that point. so these seasons of anonymity, when we go unseen and seem unnoticeable, hide us and protect us and prepare us so that we have time to create and forge that infrastructure. when we undergo the winters of our life, our underlying strength will be strong enough and shine through–and sustain us.

a couple notes from the book: “anonymous seasons are sacred spaces, they are formative and to be rested in, not rushed through–and never regretted.” and “we can easily mistake fruitlessness for failure. we naturally grant more weight to the visible than the invisible, so it’s easy for us to underestimate its vital importance. we must not think unseen = unimportant.”

i think that’s a beautiful idea and it resonates with me, as i’ve recently become aware of one such season of anonymity that i’ve been trudging through. looking back, now i can see why my church’s lack of mature christian guys has been good for me, even though it’s something me (and various others) have lamented along the way and wondered where they went. for me, it’s been protective and helped me guard my heart. it forced me to be still and quiet and focus on other things, things that will last longer than any random relationship. it gave God a chance to work and heal and restore what’d been broken and marred by the years of haphazard dating that i was accustomed to during high school and college.

it prepared me for when that season of meeting someone does come to pass, i’ll actually be ready for it–not just in my head, but also in my heart and my spirit. God’s used this “downtime” to root me because growth takes time. it’s only now, after much fertilization and pruning and gardening, that i’m ready to be transplanted into that next phase of my life where this could come to pass. it’s only just now beginning that i’m ready to handle what that  (more specifically: the hearts and faith and community that i see in Grand Rapids) could offer to me. i have been in an “anonymous” place these past few years–but rather than stunting me, they’ve been establishing me for great things!

in the words of tara leigh cobble, “here’s to hindsight.”

Isaiah 55:13
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
which will not be destroyed.”

our little mariemont home is barely even a shell of the cute, brick townhouse it once was. where there used to be pretty pictures on the wall, there are just empty nail holes. where there once was a colorful rug, there are just crumbs on the floor.

tomorrow begins the move that takes me from my and Holly’s little storybook home back to the ‘burbs. part of me loves it and part of me hates it.

i love it because i know that this baby-step move is setting me up for something bigger. i’m in essence trying to “clear the decks”–basically clear every hurdle i possibly can so that God can work and I can follow with ease. i don’t have things like leases getting in the way. and even though I know that God can work around those things and make them work too, I also know I’m responsible for stepping out in faith and that’s what this is. i expect that he’s going to take me where he’s pointed. i just don’t know when. so i’m readying myself for that.

but i hate it because it’s so discouraging to pack everything up and go back to where i started from. part of me wonders why it was even worth it to move in the first place. but i know it was. i know i learned a lot and that it broadened me and positioned me for more. (besides, if i’d never moved to mariemont, then Sally and Robbie would have never met and fallen in love! mariemont dance party, represent.)

i guess now it’s time to collect those lessons and insights and replant them; take them with me as i go “home again” and see where they lead me now.

so until then, everything’s started to get stacked in cardboard boxes, labeled with papers that say things like “fragile! drinking glasses” and “tchotchkes and ceramics.” it’s funny to gather up all you own and fit it into boxes and see it all balanced one atop another. it really makes it all real…

p.s. tonight shane claiborne is in town speaking. come!

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

it’s funny that so often i look to that as one of my favorite (and encouraging/comforting/hope-filled) verses, but how easily i forget the real meaning behind it–how easily i forget to really embrace and trust in it.

today, in the midst of packing up boxes and clearing off shelves, i was getting ready for work. i used to have a big decorative plate that i’d filled will my jewelry and had placed a little card with that verse on it in the middle of the beads and baubles. now, with the jewelry put away, all that remained was that little slip of paper.

and as i’ve been wondering and fretting and going back-and-forth about everything michigan related (timing, and so forth), i read that verse again with new eyes. and a breath of relief. “…in its time.”

it will all be OK. it will all be beautiful.

this is the last “installment” of the breathe book i read. it should be noted that the book is under the imprint of MOPS: Mothers of Pre-Schoolers (which I kind of find to be really funny). anyway, i didn’t know that when i bought it, but even though i don’t have any kids, it’s still a really good book and is full of ideas to keep in mind for the day when i actually do have kids.

she really stressed simplifying for our kids’ sakes so that we have time to invest in them and their development and help grow them into strong, intelligent adults rather than letting them too get hooked in society’s cycle of work-work-overwork. here are some of her ideas for raising kids with an eye to deliberateness:

  • the Bible says “Train up a child in the way he should go.” basically, children are like vines, we have to prune and direct them, but ultimately GOD has a purpose for them–not us–and we have to listen to THAT purpose: how he created them and lovingly direct their growth according to the gifts and abilities GOD placed in them.
  • create space in your calendar for days/times with no obligations, so they have time to play–unstructured activities where no adult is directing them. it’s important for them developmentally because it teaches them to direct themselves. that’s why so many kids say, “i’m bored!” they’re not used to entertaining themselves any more! instead, encourage them to solve their boredom for themselves. kids also gain more from spontaneous, imaginative play than from organized sports.
  • limit television, especially commercial television because ads create discontent.
  • limit the number of toys you buy because what they really want and need are our attention and affection. be generous with your time but be careful with how much stuff you throw at them
  • don’t operate out of fear about your children (comparing them with others’) and how denying them things will hurt them in the long run (that they won’t fit in, etc). so long as you’re providing them good things (time with God, time with the family, time to play and imagine and read and explore and learn), then how can you go wrong?
  • family meals are important because it’s there that you can have real-life (and lasting) conversations with them about things that matter: love, respect, family, the future, etc. it’s also where they learn how to carry on a conversation–something that’s losing practice today.

here are some of my notes from the “breathe” book i read this spring about “sabbath simplicity” and the idea of simplifying so that we can return to a cycle of work and rest, and focus on God

  • sabbath is about honoring and strengthening connections to each other and to God
  • living a life of Sabbath Simplicity is a God-focused life rhythm of work and rest. you can’t add this to a crowded lifestyle; it’s a way of life you build by listening to God’s direction. it’s living from that Center deliberately and almost effortlessly. it’s choosing what you say yes to and what you say no to based not on the demands or example of others but on what God is calling you to.
  • the sabbath command is interesting because it doesn’t just give a directive but also the rationale behind it. it’s the longest command, because God elaborates a lot on what it means and why.
  • simplifying means really examining your motivation for keeping busy and hurried. just vaguely saying you “should” or “ought to” do something won’t make life simpler. will it enrich your life or just clutter it? the spaces in your day are what help you understand the meaning of all your work. it allows you to stop, focus, internalize and admire all that you’ve done/where you’re headed
  • God LIKES being involved in all the decisions you make (what you say yes and no to): “The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. he delights in every detail of their lives.” (Psalm 37:23). just make sure we’re including God in those decisions and it can only be healthy for us: we learn to listen to him and hopefully we’ll be saying no to the things that pull us away from him. whenever you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no to another. make sure that the “yes” is worth more than the “no.” (don’t be afraid to say no
  • what is your personal mission statement? use this to filter out what you commit to and what you can say “no” to
  • The Fruit of the Vine: “…he cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he trims clean so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-4) even if you’re doing all good things, be selective so that the REALLY good can shine through rather than be rushed through. sometimes you  have to cut back in certain places so that you can be really fruitful in other places.
  • frugality means we are to enjoy what we have. waste lies not in the number of possessions but in the failure to enjoy them. your success at being frugal is measured not by your penny-pinching but by your degree of enjoyment of the material world
  • don’t spend too much time reliving the past (feeling guilty, regretting, embarrassed, resentful, etc) because it keeps us (obviously) from being in the moment. spending time thinking about them will only serve to INCREASE the chances of repeating the error and the pain associated with past errors. don’t deny your feelings though, but be sure to acknowledge them and give them to God to heal. when we tell Him, He understands and we don’t have to spew those feelings on others–we get release and he can transform us through our mind. (Rom 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.)

i started writing this blog entry awhile ago but i guess i forgot to post it. it’s still relevant, so here it is:

I’ve started reading the book “Breathe” about simplifying your life and getting rid of hurry and busyness to make room for God (who is a God of rest and the Sabbath). It’s an interesting idea; today I went to the doctor’s appointment and there was a mom with her kid, and she was telling the kid to hit the button to automatically open up the glass door that led from the building outside. Being a kid, he puttered over while me and another patient stood behind the duo waiting for the door to swing open. Admittedly, my urge was just to breeze past them and push open the door myself. How stupid is that? What difference will 30 seconds make?

I believe it was in Stephen Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that he encourages: “Speed up and slow down.” Speed up the tasks that don’t add anything of substance to your life (but things you have to do, like laundry or dishes or checking email, etc) and slow down on the things that do enrich, like hanging out with your friends/family, reading, journaling, spending time outside, resting, spiritual disciplines. There are things we ought to rush through but others that we ought to enjoy and relish.

In this book, she talks about making decisions about what you should say yes to and what you should say no to. Say yes to those obligations that enrich you toward God. (And that might even mean saying no to things at church or when people ask for your help!) It’s nice to hear that, to be given permission that we don’t have to do anything and everything but can dedicate ourselves to a few, meaningful causes which is going to reap a lot more than spreading yourself thin here, there and everywhere. Another thing that she stresses is “Sabbath Simplicity.”

I’m only 1/5 of the way through, but it’s got me thinking already. I haven’t sat down with my schedule yet, but it’s good to keep those perspectives in mind as I continue to make decisions with my time and energies—and build in time for rest.

UPDATE: I’ve since finished reading the book and highly recommend it. this was the book that got me to give up TV and, more recently, fast from reading anything but the Bible. i’ll share some highlights later. but in the meantime, become more aware of your schedule. where can you prune? where can you enrich the time you spend?

Whenever I think about moving, I think of Tara Leigh Cobble’s book Here’s to Hindsight as she contemplates moving from Nashville to NYC. She talks about the importance of moving for community, and how she made sure before she packed up boxes full of all her belongings that she wanted to have a church and some friends in place—make sure she fit there.

So I’ve always held that as advice in my heart, and that’s just what this debut trip to the mitt-shaped state provided: we got to dip our toes into the pool of people there that we could someday be friends with. We hung out with Kevin and Tina and met a few of their friends (who are all really good at playing games! I’d completely forgotten about that pastime and am now dedicated to resurrecting it.) anyway, everyone was the kind of person you could meet and just jump in having a real conversation with. It was encouraging in that aspect, that we could sit around and talk about real-life kind of things and they understood and encouraged and shared their own—it was edifying, the way that relationships and connections ought to be, but are often so rare. But I think that’s a product of the community going on up there, around Mars Hill and all the local colleges that most have graduated from. Which is actually pretty remarkable.

And so I’m encouraged in that aspect and look forward to making even more friends up there when the time comes. Otherwise, the drive wasn’t bad (6 hours with a cooler stocked, courtesy of miz mal) and we blew bubbles and shared music and tried to ignore truck drivers who kept honking as we drove by. Saturday we arrived and Kevin and Tina grilled out for us and invited a friend over who came with us to the beach where we watched a storm start to roll in over the lake as high school kids jumped in off the pier. (Later, Tina’s dad would tell us about how he used to go swimming during storms and the waves would get so big that he could ride them up and they’d drop him right onto the pier landing.) we got ice-cream at a local beach joint and then went home and played a game before going to bed.

Sunday, we woke up and went to Camp Geneva’s morning service then over to Tina’s parents’ to celebrate Father’s Day with good food and a likewise good nap on the deck. (Their house is beautiful; her dad is an architect so the house has multiple decks and gardens and is my childhood dream come-true as it is full of foliage and a pond and overlooks the lake. I think of all the little imaginary stories I could have concocted with that kind of inspiration all around…) Then we wash, rinse, repeated: Wake up. Go to church (this time at Mars Hill). Eat (this time, pizza with our new friends and a healthy game of Catchphrase.)

Monday was good prospects all around (not hypothesizing on that at all, just leaving it in God’s hands, where it belongs!) and we took a tour of a really cute part of town that was full of indie restaurants and shops and the like. Definitely somewhere to check out when/if we end up there.

All that to say: Successful trip. Ready to call it home.

“I would have despaired unless I had
believed that I would see the
goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.”

Pslam 27:13-14

For awhile now, I’ve been trying to make more space in my schedule and be more deliberate about what I say “yes” to and what I say “no” to, so that I’m not overburdening myself and filling up a social calendar without filling up my heart and head first. One thing that went into this was deciding to cut out TV when I’m by myself (though I still watch movies socially). it really wasn’t that hard because if I really wanted to watch a show I’d just have friends update me on what happened. And if you pay attention, “what happened” is usually nothing. That’s the way TV works: you keep dragging it out and dragging it out so that people always tune in. so the whole premise behind the script is to bide time.

And I think that the reason we buy into it and idly hand our time over to television remotes and subscriptions and the like is that we’re afraid of what we’re missing. we’re afraid that something good could be on the next page so let’s keep reading or watching the show—just in case. It’s really a dumb gamble of your time if you think about it; is the investment of one good tip or one good laugh really worth it?

and more recently i realized another reason why i’m glad i cut it out, and that’s because it distorts my reality and makes me fantasize about things that are in God’s hands. essentially: boys and how i want to fall in love. TV is just another outlet that reminds me that i’m still single and don’t have a man and don’t have this amazing, deep, never-awkward, never-boring relationship. and so it makes me long for it all the more. and it makes me start imagining what it could be like.

that’s not healthy. i need to break that habit because that keeps my head clear, it helps me see things as they really are and men’s intentions (or, more appropriately, lack thereof) for what they are (typically, that they’re just friends or absolutely not the kind that’s good for me). and coincidentally i’ve been much better at that (at keeping my head on straight when it comes to the male species) ever since i cut out tv. i think i might even be better suited/healed with my broken heart toward paul.

But the other day I decided to treat myself to some TV: an old re-run of gilmore girls, my favorite show that I have seasons and seasons of on DVD. it was the episode where Dean tells Rory that he loves her and she is caught off guard and can’t tell him she loves him back. and as i was watching the love story on the tv screen unfold, i could feel my heart growing envious–wanting that. of course i do that all the time in real life with real couples, but at least there i can reassure myself that perhaps it isn’t perfect or that if it is, someday God will give me that. but on the TV screen i know it isn’t real so i have nothing to condemn it for. because the fact that it isn’t real doesn’t make me want it any less. i start comparing my lack with an unrealistic fairytale.

there’s that verse about how your eyes impact/feed/nourish your entire being: “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.” (Luke 11:34)

And though I didn’t realize before how true that was, now having gone without I can really see the difference. I really can see how the two are linked. It’s weird how the simplest and most innocent of things really can make an impact—whether for better or worse. Right now I’m listening to a podcast called “the theology of the body” that emphasizes this idea of how the body (what goes into it, what you do with it, etc) and the spirit are linked. Which makes sense….

Joel 2:25-26 (New International Version)

25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm [a]
my great army that I sent among you.

26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.

I was reading an article that referenced this verse and about how he’s watching God bless him and renew him from all the hardship he’s experienced (his locusts)–even when the hardship was his own doing (as it most often is!).

That’s a hard concept for me to wrap my head around, but also oh-so encouraging. Oh-so freeing and forgiving.

That’s Love…

I love the business I’m in: On Friday we’re having a brainstorming meeting…at IKEA. Yep. We’re cool like that.

In other news, I have been free of cicada attacks ever since returning back from Michigan. (in my head I’ve been chanting, “Ding, dong, the cicadas are dead!” with much enthusiasm.) when I left work on Friday I even took the long way around our parking lot so I could stay away from the trees infested with the little buggers and I climbed into my car only to hear a buzzing coming from inside my tote bag. I hit it, and sure enough one of my crunchy little friends popped out and latched onto my door handle. I imagine it was pretty entertaining to my coworkers to watch me open the passenger door and yell, “GET OUT! GET OUT!” as my newfound travel buddy just sat there like a bump on a log. I ended up having to find a stick and make a little bridge so he could climb out of the console in my car door. Perhaps he was so appreciative that he decided it was time to stop tormenting and left over the weekend?

Regardless, I’m glad to be nearing the end of that season.

OK, my apologies for a worthless post. More importantly, last night was mates of state which was AMAZING. I highly encourage everyone to check out the band they’re touring with, Headlights, who couldn’t have been more fun to watch and bop along too (see below). Mal and I totally danced our hearts out. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a Tuesday night!

Michigan recap to come. Thanks for being patient my friends!

in 10 minus about 15 minutes, me and mal will be hitting the road to make our debut trip up to grand rapids to scope the joint out and see how it fits. so if you’re of the praying sort, it’d be much appreciated. one of my old friends lives up there now so we’re staying with him and his wifey and they’ve already prepared to show us around and introduce us to their friends and make it so that we never leave the land-o-the-mitt. we’re going to go to mars hill on sunday night, too, so pumped for that! (although kev did call and say that there was bad news: starting this week, rob bell is taking a hiatus from preaching. ha, go figure! but it’ll still be a swell time, i’m sure.)

and then back in time for the mates of state concert on tuesday. wanna join?!

(and for the record, i will miss you. i promise.)

UPDATE: Here’s what came from the weekend trip to Michigan.

This weekend one of my bestest friends having just tied the knot this past weekend (and I got asked out on a date for the first time in almost a year, but it’s not what you think. Ask because it’s a rather pitiful—but entertaining—story…). So with seeing her get all fancied up for the big day and her text yesterday that said “We saw dolphins in the ocean today…I am having a great time with my husband,” let’s just say falling in love and weddings and marriage has been on the mind of late. (But, really, when is it not?)

Anyway you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that I read an article this week that talked about planning your wedding…alongside your soon-to-be-husband and how important it is to include him in that process, even though most guys say they want whatever you want. She brought up some good points about how it’s the first steps of decision-making together and teaches you about his likes/dislikes even before you start “forever” together. That’s something I’d like to replicate whenever my time comes, too.

Also, we recently wrapped up our latest book in my small group with Mal, Bri and Cathy. We read “Get Married” by Candice Watters which isn’t nearly as bad as the title makes it out to be. In fact, I fell in love with the book because she talks about that marriage is a gift God WANTS to give us (among other things: it models for us the relationship between Christ and the church and also teaches us crucial virtues like selflessness and putting others before our self). And so because God wants to give us, we should be bold to ask Him for it:

Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. . . . If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 7:7–8, Matthew 21:22).

And: “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2)

She talks about not being ashamed of this (although of course with the caveat that to truly reap this gift you should aspire to marry not just anyone but the RIGHT person, which she then details, based on Biblical standards). It was a refreshing and encouraging look at something that people never really talk about. Which is why we are talking about it now. Along with a few other friends, we’ve started a prayer group called “Women Praying Boldly” which is something she suggests in the book, where you just make it a point to be praying for each other as we navigate these waters in our life. (Of course, life is more than just getting married, but that’s one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make so why WOULDN’T it be something that you’d invest a lot of time in and prayer and preparation for? Seriously. It’s a good thing.)

Here are some of the notes I took from this book:

  • if it’s true that God is all we need for fulfillment, no one was in better position to be fully satisfied than Adam, who was closest human to God until Jesus came. but even GOD said it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone–that man should not be alone….and that’s because man is created in God’s image, and God is a relational God. being alone contradicts God’s nature, which is why it “wasn’t good” for Adam to be alone.
  • in Hebrew tradition, God is often described as the great Shadchan or “marriage maker.”
  • many of the longings that are common to our generation (for friendship, wholeness, for a life that is serious and deep, for associations that are trustworthy and lasting) could be largely satisfied by marrying well. (note the imperative to make your choice intentionally–just any marriage won’t do)
  • through our faith we can believe that if we’re following the guidelines for what to pray for, we can ask boldly and believe that our prayers will be answered. it is worth the risk of disappointment to pray boldly.
  • live like you’re planning to marry: cultivate a lifestyle that is consistent with the season of marriage ahead, where you are responsible (your choices with your checkbook, calendar, media consumption and treatment of your own body–because they are not yours but God’s!), concerned with others (not just yourself), and nurturing the men and the community around you to play their roles so that you don’t have to carry it all.
  • to be feminine is to nurture, not merely respond. we can bring healing to the very men who need it so that they can be empowered to take more initiative.
  • The most likely way to find a future marriage partner is through introduction by family, friends or acquaintances. despite the romantic notion that people meet and fall in love through chance or fate, the evidence suggests that social networks (the old-fashioned kind) are important in bringing together individuals of similar interests/backgrounds. almost 60% of married people were introduced by family, friends, co-workers or other acquaintances.
  • do people in your life know you desire marriage? do they know the qualities you’re seeking in a husband? they might be willing accomplices in the search. also by talking about it with others, you can stand in the gap for each other. you can facilitate the courtship process and through self-disclosure, express your beliefs about marriage and courtship with your friends.
  • stop giving away pieces of your heart without being asked. start insisting that to gain intimacy, men must act honorably, state their intentions and initiate official relationships with the goal being marriage = GUARDING YOUR HEART

So it’s official: At the end of this month, I’m going to be moving back in with my parents. But you know, I’m actually psyched about it. For one, the main reason why I wanted to move out in the first place was just so that I could decorate on a large scale all by myself. I also hated all the driving I had to do to and fro for work and church and such. But besides that, my family is pretty great and understanding and if nothing else, quite entertaining. (My sister tells stories about old men returning condoms and KY Jelly to her Walgreens store because they didn’t enjoy “the experience;” my mom shares how she lured our runaway cat back indoors and how the other family cats responded; my dad shows me his latest WWII video…)

And especially if I’m going to be moving hours away in the coming months, I’d like to have this time with them.

But something makes me wonder whether I’ll even get that time. I wonder if I won’t be whisked off earlier than I’d thought? And that really scares me. Now that many of the systems’ kinks are worked out, I want to stay put just a little bit longer, enjoy the downtime just a little longer, save money just a little bit longer, hang out with my friends just a little bit longer.

So the idea of this job option working out does make me nervous that I’m going to have to start over sooner than I’d expected, although I’ve always had a feeling that it was going to happen July-ish. I just don’t feel ready for that now that it’s getting close!

Anyway, I know that’s out of my hands and when the right time comes, it will all work out so long as I stay to the course that God has planned. And I know that when that happens, the course is going to be more amazing and gratifying than I could imagine—look at where it’s taken me thus far?!

On a side note, I read an article the other day about living at home with your family and the (unexpected) benefits it provides, such as keeping you from being too selfishly and independently focused but constantly balancing yourself and your desires against others. (Typically even if you live with roommates, there’s not much accountability or interdependence except to get the bills paid on time.) There are other ideas that the article mentions that were pretty insightful and I’d never considered before.

this has nothing to do with God or relationships or anything whatsoever deep in the least. but still: what could be more perfect than yo gabba gabba + mates of state? really.

that’s all 🙂

p.s. happy birthday miss cathy baker. here’s to cheesecake factory goodness!

last week, my favorite Tara Leigh Cobble posted yet another blog post that i wish i could have dog-eared and highlighted, had it not been on a computer screen. a reader wrote in and asked her how you know what to look for in someone to date? how do you keep your expectations in check?

her reply included a list of characteristics she looks for in a man (and she notes that many of them mirror what she looks for in a friend because that’s what your relationship should mirror first and foremost):

  • Do we like to do the same things? (not all the same things, of course – it’s important for you to have individual interests that you can explore on your own)
  • Do we like to talk about the same things? (Again, not all the same things, but the big ones. For example, it is an absolute deal-breaker for me if a guy can’t expound upon his thoughts about spiritual matters. Being in ministry, this is too much a part of my life to not be able to discuss it with my best friend.)
  • Do I respect this person? Even when he/she fails? And does this person respect me?
  • Do we have fun? Do I enjoy being around this person?
  • Does this feel natural? Is it easy to be around this person or does it require a lot of effort?
  • Do I trust this person with my heart?
  • Does this person make wise decisions? (For marriage, you will be making decisions with this person for the rest of your life. If they don’t execute wise decisions, it will affect you forever.)
  • Am I able to be my true self around this person without fear of rejection?
  • Does this person understand me in a way that even I don’t understand myself? (This is important if you are looking at marriage as a means to become holier and more sanctified, because this person will be able to help you develop your strengths and reduce your weaknesses.)
  • Can I welcome the “hard truths” from this person when they challenge me?
  • Does this person help me become all that God has called me to be? Am I developing into a better version of myself because of his/her presence in my life?
  • Does this person encourage me, lift me up, and make me feel alive? Or tear me down?
  • Could he lead? Would I follow?
  • Am I this person’s biggest fan? Do I think he/she is awesome?
  • Does he/she make me love Jesus more?

Not being a fan of forwards or chain letters, I received this email from one of the girls in our youth group and thought it was a fitting and direct illustration:

A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20.00 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, ‘Who would like this $20 bill?’ Hands started going up. He said, ‘I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this. He proceeded to crumple up the $20 dollar bill. He then asked, ‘Who still wants it?’ Still the hands were up in the air. Well, he replied, ‘What if I do this?’ And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. ‘Now, who still wants it?’ Still the hands went into the air.

My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE and WHOSE WE ARE.

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