Friday, May 18, 2018

May 15, 2018

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." So goes the opening line of the story we've all been so familiar with for generations. (If you're not a woman or haven't made it to certain classics just yet, that's the first sentence in "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen.) For a while now, I've been kicking around some words to make my own opener. 

After my most recent encounters where I comfort myself with the thought that people really do mean well and just forget to actually think sometimes, I've settled on my version of the sentence. It goes like this, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of a beautiful face, must be in want of a husband." I tend to make it a little more modern in my own mind, "It's a known fact that a single woman with a pretty face, must be after one thing, namely a husband." 

The last year has been rough for me in a way I didn't expect. It makes me feel like a jerk to admit it. At 27 years old, I thought the whole getting hit on thing would slow down. Talking about it makes me feel precocious. But, here's the deal...I've got to talk about it. 

The guys I can handle. It doesn't take me long to size them up and figure out what to do with them. What wears me thin is a guy who won't take an obvious no or who seems like serial killer material. If I know he's finagled his way into having a conversation with me, give me 10 minutes and I'll have him shot down and on the hunt for another pretty face to smooth talk. What I can't seem to handle are the well meaning people who are more disturbed by my singleness than I'll ever be. 

After the initial hand shaking and name swapping, people want to know three things: what you do, where you come from, and whether or not you're married. That's alllll well and good. Relationships begin through the discussion of those three topics. Some of the best stories and encounters come when people connect over their answers to those questions and the questions that follow. 

But. I can't tell you how many times people begin the conversation with the assumption that I'm married. When they find out that I'm not, they're dumbfounded and they're always quick to tell me why, "You're beautiful. You're really not married? You don't have any kids?" 

Have you figured out why I feel precocious here? On the one hand...I've never felt like any kind of supermodel. I'm so skinny it grosses my own Mother out and she's always riding my tail about it. On the other hand, my posture is terrible and I'm constantly contorting my body into the weirdest positions. And on yet another hand, I have so many freckles here, there, and everywhere that I'm amazed at my ability to keep track of the ones that have just shown up. Yeah, I've got a great smile. Thanks to spending half my childhood in braces. Yeah, my hair is pretty nice. If you don't look too closely at all the gray. And yes, I'm half leg. But, you guys...They're chicken legs. We're all harder on ourselves than we ever are on each other. Someday, I'll be 67 and men won't check me out or go out of their way to talk to me and women won't be doling out compliments. Someday, these days of graciously accepting well meaning comments and looks that make my skin crawl will be a distant memory. 

I realize that. 

What I'm trying to get at is that it's an actual predicament to be a single girl with a pretty face. 

I know I'm not alone. I know you've had the conversations with the gushing complimentors. I know you've dealt with the guys with the roving eyes. I know you've been questioned and smooth talked. Chances are you're more gracious about the whole thing than I am. 

Yes, I'm single. Yes, I must be some kind of pretty given people's reactions. Yes, I'm a woman of marriageable age. Yes, in the good old days I would have been married and had a house full of kids to my name by now. 

But, can we please not make our conversations about THAT? Please? 

Because here's the thing...I'm not married and I have no children for one reason: God doesn't want me to be. There isn't another reason. It has nothing to do with who I am or who I know or don't know or how I've handled past relationships.

I appreciate your care and your concern. I appreciate your interest. Or, at least, I'm trying to.

Single isn't something I need saving from. Pretty doesn't make good men fall at your feet. Please don't try to save me. Please don't expect me to be flattered. It might disturb you that I'm not in a hurry. It might disgust you that my attitude seems indifferent and rude and put-offish. I really am trying.

I'm trying to be polite. I'm trying to be gracious. I'm trying to smile without bursting into a fit of laughter. I don't want to join a singles group. I don't want to meet that great guy you know in a situation  you arranged that's just going to be weird for everyone involved. I'm not lonely. I'm not waiting on my life to begin. I'm not battling discontentment. I can talk to a guy and smile at him and care about him without expecting him to make me his wife.

If I'm meant to get married, I will. If I'm meant to raise kids of my own, I will. It won't be because I put myself out there. It won't be because I made sure my accomplishments were accentuated. It won't be because I finally managed not to strong arm someone who thought pursuing me was a good idea.  It will be because it was time.

If you need me, I'll be in the parlor with my girl Austen. There will be a cup of tea close by, ink stains on my hand, and a writing callous on my finger. I'll be chuckling to myself as I gaze out the window before lacing up my shoes to go for the long walk I always seem to be looking forward to. Someday, there might be a man sitting in a chair nearby and a stroller full of kids in front of me. If there is, it'll be because God said it was time.

Do me a favor? Join me on waiting on Him.

Finishing Our Courses

Sunday, May 13, 2018

August 9, 2014

I went to a memorial yesterday, the first in a good 10+ years. This particular one was for a friend of mine. Our last talk was a joking banter about learning to play the Banjo. It's strange the things that come to your mind sometimes.

He was only 23 and the whole service was dedicated to talking about his faith, his smile, the way he strove for excellence, and the role relationships played in his life. I've only known him for a few years. Seeing pictures from his childhood and then seeing and hearing the grief firsthand of a family who never got to say goodbye and who will live the rest of their lives missing him made it all more final than it was before. 

They played his voicemail greeting and a clip of him reading Scripture and songs that he sang. Hearing his voice fill the sanctuary one last time was surreal. We all sat looking at the screen, hearing his voice, and we let the tears flow. My tears were for his family and the people who knew him far longer and better than I ever did. For his mom and for his younger brother and sister. My tears were a reflection of the grief I've been carrying with me as my own family seems to be in a state of disintegration.

I know the posts around here have been heavy for quite some time. I know a lot of them have been vague. I've always said my hope for this space is that you will find something here that will brighten your day, encourage your soul, and give you a reason to praise God. That's still my hope. That's been my hope as I've written posts about all sorts of things and covered topics I'd rather not have addressed. 

As I sat with a sanctuary full of people reflecting on the life of one faithful brother in Christ whose life ended far sooner than any of us expected in a way that still seems so impossible, I did what everyone else was doing...I began to ponder the impact his life and death will have. I thought back on what it was like to know him and remembered the fun times we had and laughed over my first impression of him all over again. 

Death is a fact of life. One of my friends keeps saying, "what's done is done." That's all he has to say about the whole thing. For Christians, death is different. We have a hope in Christ that in our living and in our dying we will glorify God. And yet, we're never quite ready to say goodbye. 

What's done is done. He was born. He lived. He finished out his course here. The rest of us have courses of our own to finish. We'll carry his memory and his example and the same hope that was in him with us. It will sting for a while, especially when we look into eyes that are missing him most. 

We don't know what our courses will hold. We don't know how long they'll last. We'll make mistakes. We'll be so happy we'll cry and we'll face times of sadness that runs so deep the tears won't come. The hope we have will spur us on. The Helper granted to us will be there reminding us of the promises of God that are shaping our course. 

I've been making a royal mess of my course lately. Saying I'm sorry won't make it better. I can't will people to care and the fact that I feel like I have to makes me feel even more rotten than being tempted to believe that they don't. One thing I know is that the object of my course is to be made more like Christ. That's the glory of God in us. We can make it confusing and difficult as we struggle between who we were and who we are in Him. 

Song after song talk about how we're on our way to heaven and only passing through life on this earth. It's never been a secret that I'm more excited about what's next than any next this earth holds for me. It's because that next is certain, but you know what...The nexts here are too. 

Every next brings us closer to the God who calls us His own. They may be difficult. They may be a new version of an old struggle that nearly knocked us off our feet the last time around. They may be sweet. They may be our hopes and dreams realized in a way that truly is far better than we ever imagined. Our certainty comes from Him. 

He designs our courses for His glory and for our good so that when what's done is done, we'll be able to join Him in being convinced of that. 

May our hope in Him be strengthened by His grace. May right spirits be renewed in us by the testimony of His Word. May we live as those whose purpose is defined by God Himself. They are, you know. 

Our courses may be ours to finish, but they come from Him. 

What I'm Into Right Now: March 2018

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

March 27, 2018

I'm back with another round of what I've been into lately. This one seems to be the food version. Along with everything on this list, I've been into putting one foot in front of the other with specific goals and intentions in mind. I always have a to-do list or five going, but lately, it's been more than just that one habit that keeps me on track. Those lists have been what have kept me going. 

I'm looking forward to the day when this feeling of just wanting to throw in the towel is over. If I'm honest, I wonder if it ever will be. Hit me with your remedies for those moments when people are getting the best of you, would ya?

Okay, back to what I've been into lately...

* Eggs with salsa and cheese over corn bread. 

* Two scoops cocoa mix, one scoop instant coffee, boiling water. 

* Most of an hour shooting hoops in the afternoon.

* Eating lunch outside.

* Checking off books that I've been meaning to read forever. I've finished The Hobbit and the first three books in the Wrinkle In Time series and I'm working on LOTR and the rest of the WIT series.

* At least doing the Swagbucks poll most days

* Setting up shop in my window seat.

* Adding strawberries to the fresh fruit rotation and asparagus to the veggie one.

*This song by this band and this song and all of the other ones that help me keep my head straight. 

* Reading this book with my friend Shauna (who lives on the other side of the country) and taking one of my long walks while having our book club chat about it over the phone. 

* Being honest about what's going on and not letting myself see giving up as an option. 

What have you been into lately?

Ode To Winter: Ten More Pictures

Monday, March 19, 2018

There are at least ten more pictures I could share from my little winter walk. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. 

Since there are still piles of snow everywhere I normally walk, I was shocked to find so little snow around the lake. When I headed out, I planned on getting lots of shots of the snow and didn't expect to be able to sit on the beach, or really anywhere, at all. 

I found myself watching the geese and the people more than anything else. I overheard snatches of conversation and laughed out loud after being forced to follow a couple of guys who were pushing the rattliest food cart ever to one of the house boats because I couldn't get around them on the dock. 

The world we live in is a beautiful place. There are stories and details that inspire stories everywhere we look. It was fun to go hunting for a few of them with a camera in my hand. 

I guess that'll do it for now. 

When's the last time you took your camera along for a walk just because?

Ordinary Suspense

Sunday, March 18, 2018

For years now, one of my go-to genres has been suspense. The tangled plots that mess with your mind just enough to convince you that you're always on the verge of solving the crime for yourself  make these the kinds of books that I almost always fly through.  "Beneath the Surface" by Lynn H. Blackburn is one of those books that's perfect for times when such a mood strikes.

It's the first book in a brand new series and will be hitting shelves in bookstores and libraries at the end of this month. If you're in the mood for a little suspense that is developed just as much through ordinary people as it is through a horrific string of murders, then this will be a good fit for you! I'll admit, this one seemed to be more about the characters themselves than the actual murderer on the loose angle. As hard as I tried, I didn't have any idea who I was up against or who to suspect and it didn't seem as though Blackburn was concerned with making that possible.

In some ways, it was nice to just sit back while the story happened, but my mind does like the challenge of sorting through all the evidence that suspense writers usually toss out there. There wasn't any one character that I was especially taken with. The romance between two of the main characters that was apparently a LONG TIME coming took center stage and there weren't any real obstacles in the way of things working out between them.

My favorite part by far, as hard as this is for me to admit, were the food references. Blackburn, who lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina, was very generous with details where food was concerned. Since the book happens to take place in Carrington, North Carolina, that meant Southern cooking was basically a well developed character with a role to play. Which...Was fine by me!

I may continue reading the series to get to know the supporting characters (and for more stories filled with awesome food on display against a southern backdrop), but if nothing else, this one was a great way to spend a few days while winter took a little break.

What's something you appreciate in books that might be a little odd?

What's one genre you go to again and again for a quick read?

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own honest opinion.