November 19, 2015

The 12 Days of Thanksgiving

My blogging friend and email-pal, S.F. from On Solid Ground has nominated me to participate in the 12 Days of Thanksgiving project.  Thank you, S. F.!  

Happy Thanksgiving!!

1. Jesus - my Hope, my Anchor, My Lover, my God.  Without Jesus, I would be nothing, or even dead.  He has given me a reason to live, to sing, to love, and to help others.  I try to live my life each day with Him in mind. 

2. My family - not just my parents, siblings, and niece, but my extended family including Poppy, Grams, Grandma, uncles, aunts, and loads of cousins. You all make my life brighter and I love you dearly.

3. Books - a true gateway to greater knowledge and understanding on a host of topics.  Right now I am studying to become a Nouthetic counselor, so books are my best friends.  But I enjoy reading for a whole lot of other reasons, and I am so thankful I know how to read. 

4. Music - which is a large part of my life and always has been.  I am especially grateful for the Christ exalting tunes created by All Sons & Daughters, my favorite band.  I am also humbled and grateful that each week I get to help lead worship.  

5. A comfortable house which keeps me safe and sound from the weather and scary things in our world.  I feel rich just thinking about all the things which are a part of my life, and how blessed I am to have been given them.  I hope and pray that I never take them for granted. 

6. My job - I work as a nanny for the sweetest little boy (soon to be two sweet little boys), and I love my job so much!  It is not something I dread, or hate at all.  I get to work from my home which has allowed me to not only care for baby B., but also continue to pursue my education, and sharpen my life skills.  

7. Friends - God has blessed me with a host of strong friends who help me to continue in my growth as a Christian.  I want to say how especially thankful I am for: Lizzy, Bekah, Chris Beth, Adrean, Sina, Brenda, Jessie and S.F.).  Each of these relationships have blessed me this year as I have gotten to know them better. 

8. One Thousand Gifts - I didn't include this in my 3rd reason, even though it is a book, because it is way more than just a book.  It is really a movement, a way of life, an unfolding story as I choose to practice gratitude daily, and thank God for my countless gifts.  

9. Hurt - this has been a year full of new things for me, some of them (especially recently) have been deeply hurtful and painful to go through, but God always has a reason for our pain, and in my case it had to do with breaking me of pride and bitterness I was holding onto. 

10. Food - in all its lovely, wonderful forms.  Whether sweet or sour, hot or cold, new or old, food is such a gift, but also such a necessity.  I have been blessed every day of my life to have 3 square meals + snacks and plenty of clean drinking water.  There are a lot of people out there who don't have that, so I am thankful for God's provision through these means. 

11. The ocean - even though I have only experienced the Gulf of Mexico, which may or may not count as the ocean, there is something so calming, and yet so powerful about the great bodies of water we call oceans.  One day it is my dream to visit both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and behold their vast beauty. 

12. Last but not least by any means - The Holy Scriptures, the very words of God almighty revealed to humanity.  My appreciation and understanding of them grows each year as I devote myself to their study.  One verse which has meant a lot to me of late is 1 John 2:2 and I will leave you with its powerful message:   He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

November 4, 2015

Why would anyone want to marry me?

For the last 8 years I have had an intense desire to get married, settle down, and start a family.  All with a good, kind man.

As I left my teen years behind, my ideals and expectations shifted, or completely changed.  What was once a long list of desired qualities in a "future husband" became shorter and shorter as I realized there are really only a few REALLY important deciding factors when it comes time to find a mate.

Those things which have not changed are:
  1. Godly, Jesus follower 
  2. Able to provide / mature
  3. Hard worker / responsible 
  4. Kind, compassionate, caring, generous
  5. Has a good relationship with his family
And that's about it.  In those "five things" his faith, character, relationships, and manhood are all affirmed; and not in some superficial manner. 

All this "future hubby" stuff got me thinking, and as I approached my 21st birthday, still single, and with no apparent prospects on my radar, it made me aware of this thought: "what type of guy does my lifestyle attract?"  

So, my early twenties passed as I tried my best to be kind, caring, mature, friendly, responsible, hard-working, etc.  To build a stronger relationship with my family, and with God, all the while keeping my "ideal" in the back of my mind.

It was seemingly all for naught as year after year, nothing changed on the "relationship front." 

Next March I'll be 26, the beginning of the downward slope towards 30.  And I am still single; and feel generally unnoticed by the good male population.  There was a nice young man who showed interest in me, but for several reasons I didn't go ahead with being more than just friends.  Because, deep down I already liked a nice young man (who I've liked for 3 years, but who is apparently unavailable).  So, I'm trying to mend a broken heart, because, yes, I gave some of it to him.  As the quote says, "sometimes, pain is all that lets you know you're alive."  

But that's not why I'm writing this.  It's not a sad lament to unrequited love, or to my single years, to lonely years, or the fear I'll grow old, alone.  No, the real reason I'm writing is to expound on why someone wouldn't want to marry me.

Let me explain. 

When a couple goes on a date, they get cleaned up, shower, shave, slick back their hair, apply make-up, wear something fancy and fashionable.  Basically, they put on a certain 'look' to be more attractive to the other person. 

And then the conversation, over the meal, or walk, or drink is all about their respective accomplishments, goals, and aspirations.  Rarely, if ever, will you hear them say, "now let me tell you about my biggest failure, my flaws, or my faults."  Why not?  Because we want to present to the world, to them, the best version of ourselves.  The version you see in the carefully selected, creatively edited profile picture on Facebook.  Of the flawless, airbrushed content provided on Twitter, SnapChat, or Instagram.  

But is that an accurate portrayal of our real lives?  Will we have to keep hiding all the mess, the broken dreams, the unhappiness, or disappointment, or (gasp) our failures?  When did we become OK with only accepting "perfect" people? 

So, "why would I not want to marry you?" you might wonder.

Here's why. 

For one thing, I have wrestled with anger and bitterness for well over a decade, and even though I have been victorious in both areas, I still deal with periods where I'm not much fun to be around, due to these problems. 

Trust is another biggie I deal with.  Trusting God to provide for my needs, trusting my family will still love me despite all my screw-ups, trusting friends won't betray or abuse me, and the things I have shared with them.  

Another hurdle I'm trying to overcome is all the lies I've told myself (and believed) since age 15.  Lies such as: "you're not smart enough to be in this family," or "you're just a failure," or "everything I touch, dies," or "why don't you just do yourself a favor and end it all.  I mean, c'mon, who are you kidding.?"  Some of these thoughts, and self brands are demons I fight regularly.  The failure one especially.  There are still times I feel as if I'm walking around with a big red F stamped on my forehead. 

And last, but not least, my extremes.  I was just considering this aspect of who I am, and why I hate it so much.  I'm a fairly cautious person, but when I find something I like, look out world!  As I almost tweeted recently, I'm either totally distracted, or totally committed.  This is bad because it has negatively effected my walk with God, my family relationships, friendships, education, and work.  When I'm 'in' I'm all in, and when I'm not, well, you get the picture.

I'm also no good at math, unkind, selfish, loud, I don't love God enough, stingy, not the greatest baker, and oh yeah - I still live at home, don't own my own car, and have a job which pays about $400 a month.

So why did I want to put this "all out there?"  For the sake of honesty.  I've sometimes portrayed myself as one with all the right answers, who has it all together.  But that's simply not true.  I have some dark struggles which I deal with every day.  And although I may not marry soon, or ever, I'm glad to know that God loves me and is more than willing to help me solve my problems.