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Saturday, September 29, 2012

31 Days Of Good Books!

Welcome to 31 Days of Good Books at Pentriloquist. Part of the 31 days project at

I'll begin on Monday, October 1st and each day post a book recommendation, and on Fridays... Oh, those Fabulous Free Fridays!!  On Friday you'll be able to find Kindle books that are free to download on Friday, or possibly all weekend!

On the 31st of October there will be a giveaway.  The prize will be a surprise gift, and anyone who has commented during the month on a 31 Days of Good Books post will be eligible.  So, be sure to check back on the 31st and see if you have a prize to claim.

Friday, September 28, 2012

'Tis The Season of Excess & Stress - STOP!

I love Christmas. Everything about it - the Holy meaning of it, as well as the tree, lights, food, traditions, songs, baking, and smell of it.  My daughter's middle name is Noelle.  I got engaged on Christmas Eve.  Seriously... I love Christmas.

My mom was a single parent, and I longed for those traditional Christmases with both my parents, a real tree, a big house, sleigh rides (yes, in my 1970's childhood - sleigh rides were in all perfect families' Christmas memories) and everything absolutely Perfect.  So, I wanted to arrange perfect Christmases for my girls as they were growing up. BUT...

We didn't live in the perfect house for Christmas. The perfect Christmas house was featured on a Folgers commercial years and years ago when the college aged son came home for Christmas just in time – in the still dark hours of Christmas morning. There was a gorgeous staircase, a garland covered railing, and a huge window in the living room so the entire neighborhood could see they were having a perfect Christmas, now complete with their perfectly smart son.

We didn't have the perfect kitchen for Christmas. Ours was small and L shaped. The perfect Christmas kitchen was in the Walton's house. They also had the perfect Christmas horses to pull the perfect Christmas sleigh. They did NOT have the perfect Christmas grandmother, though. Wasn't she a cranky one?

We also didn't have the perfect Christmas budget. I can remember one especially tough Christmas. I had $20 to spend on each girl. It was the year of my divorce. They went to their dad's on Christmas eve and received a ton of gifts. I waited for them at home and cried.  After they were in bed I blew up a bunch of little balloons left over from birthday parties and summer water balloon battles, and scattered them across the floor to bring a festive illusion to our tiny Christmas.

So, those were my limitations... but we still had plenty of wonderful Christmas memories.  Collecting blankets for the homeless and distributing them on Christmas Eve morning.  Baking cookies and decorating them. Rooms full of gifts, even if they weren't very expensive ones. Candlelight church services. Opening gifts when the first child woke up and I was able to drag my husband out of bed, whispering, "It's Christmas... Be nice, be happy or be quiet." (Apparently his family got a decent night's sleep after wrapping gifts until 3 a.m. Then they ate breakfast before touching presents.  Weird weird family. And he's not a morning person anyway.)

My husband doesn't “do” Christmas. He typically watches me “DO” Christmas and occasionally assists with an extra pair of hands. We pick out our tree together, he gets it ready for the house and carries it in for me, and helps with the garland over the kitchen cabinets. 

Since we've moved, we now host a huge family Christmas party. We spend more money than we say we will... Every. Year. I always find some small early purchase a few months after Christmas because I forgot where I put it by the time Christmas gets here. It's a season of trying to fit our festivities around the festivities of every other person in the family – which is sort of like trying to pick a wedding date available for every single person on your guest list. With a growing family of in-laws and kids, people with work parties, friends that throw holiday parties, as well as everyone's Christmas To Do list, it's a complicated land mine of expectation and disillusionment. The space between that and the Perfect Christmas is vast and a place of sadness for this Christmas Girl.

So, to simplify and reclaim Christmas as something meaningful, not just months of build up, followed by an exhausted collapse onto the couch after we'd “done” Christmas – I started to look around at what other people did. Well, everyone in my circle was doing what I was doing, or it was such a nonevent that I couldn't possibly “go there.” I found a book. “Unplug the Christmas Machine” by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli. 

As we drove to Florida to visit my in-laws last December, I pulled the book from my tote and began to read portions to my husband. (Living with me must be similar to carrying your Kindergarten teacher around in your pocket. I'm always reading my husband a good book. No, he doesn't get to pick the story – did your kindergarten teacher let you pick the story? No! And it doesn't matter if she did, that isn't how we operate here.) I read to him this chapter “Men: The Christmas Stagehands.” For the first time we reminisced about his childhood Christmases and what a meaningful Christmas looked like to him. For years, he'd been doing Christmas in response to the one imagined in my head. He'd been living with a woman who wanted to make Christmas magical, but in reality she was exhausted, cranky, disappointed in the absence of “magic,” and irritated that no one was helping enough. (There are only 2 of us living in my house. My husband is an intelligent man, so when I roam the rooms ranting about “no one” helping me, he knows who “no one” is.) I don't understand why he never seems to have the Christmas spirit...

Last year, my husband put out the Christmas Village, which I'd given up on because I was too tired.  He also set up his Christmas Pyramid (Google these, they are darling.)  In fact, he participated in all sorts of things last year.  Turns out he wasn't a Scrooge, he was just married to the Ghost of Christmas Nightmares.

A couple weeks ago, I purchased my first gift. It's a farm set for my youngest grandson, Conner. A week later, I realized I was on Christmas autopilot again. It's early enough to chart a different course. 

What are your Christmases like? What are your most treasured memories and traditions? I'd love to hear about them. Do you have any pictures I could link to? I love to look at Christmas pictures!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Mission - To Eat Our Food!

I promised to share a little of what Jen Hatmaker's book "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" has done to me inspired me to think about. I realized there are a few areas where I don't just have belongings, I have inventory!

Here are areas I thought of, off the top of my head, where I've acquired an inventory. Some I can donate, some I can use, and some is quite frankly... JUNK. 

Food – I grocery shop almost every week. I can barely fit anything into my canned foods cupboard. Yet, I bring home a little something for that cupboard every single week. My baking cupboard is equally full, though I only purchase stuff to shove in there between October and December 20th. Except last week, when I bought a variety pack of orange sprinkles for Halloween cookies to bake with my grandchildren. I have a freezer in my basement. I “needed” this freezer to hold the large portion of beef I would buy - of better quality and price than supermarket beef. I also needed to store my garden harvests in there. Well, I've had the freezer for at least 4 years. I haven't bought that beef, and my garden harvest has been nil since 2010. However, my refrigerator broke down 3 times and this was my bestest friend on those days. So... this is revolutionary people... we are going to eat our food! REALLY? Yes, that's my first goal – to eat the food we have. Then, I'm going to unplug the basement freezer until I need it. I love to garden, so that may be next summer. Everything we need will have to fit into my refrigerator freezer.

Crafts & Sewing Items – I have drawers of good quality craft paint. Numerous boxes of plain glass Christmas ornaments. Yards of fabric. Several packages of quilt batting. I'm also behind on family quilt gifts. Three of the six grandchildren received a hand made quilt from me. This means, I still have 3 to make. An apology goes out to Luke, Grace & Conner for my malingering. I'd also like to give one to each of my daughters for couch snuggling. I could make at least 2 just from my stash of fabric. (more, if they'd like them made with Christmas fabric.) I have enough batting to make all of them. Plus I have ribbons, terracotta pots, candles to paint, various wood items to decorate and a HUGE bag of rice to make those snaky things that block drafts under the door. I have little pieces to make angel Christmas ornaments complete with long ringlet blonde, red or black hair. Christmas will have handmade gifts this year. I'll start now so I'm not shelving projects on December 20th that are half done and running to the store to shop for gifts. I'm also going to make Kindle covers for upcoming giveaways on this blog. I mean... who wouldn't love a Kindle cover made with little snowman fabric?

The Attic – I moved from 840 sq. ft. plus 100 sq. ft. storage to 1780 sq. ft. on the first floor, plus 900 sq. ft. of attic storage and 1780 sq. ft. of basement space. There were 4-5 of us living in 840 sq. ft. 2 of us live in this new space. We also now have a shed and a garage. I have stuff in all those spaces and we've only lived here 8 years. We've stored baby toys, pieces of a crib that will never make a whole bed - but they're pretty and maybe I'll “do something with them,” decorations, furniture with sentimental value, boxes of china I bought at an auction, boxes of video games in languages my current computer doesn't even speak, the old computers that could speak that language, (and may have a component we could use one day – who throws away a computer, for crying out loud? – all said in my husband's voice) and a couple sets of encyclopedias because I always wanted a set and they are a STEAL on the last day of a yard sale. I'm a little sick when I think of what I have in the attic. I hate to throw away things that might have a use, (Yes, you've heard this a hundred times on Hoarders.) but right now its only use is as an obstacle course for the mice, and framework for spider webs. 

My husband's tools – Nope, not allowed to touch those!

Books – Oh, my beloved books. I have some that I don't even want to read, but I sold used books online for a few years and I know they have a value. I have a box of romance novels (not a fan) that I was hoping to make box lots from but I don't have enough of any one author to make them salable. One doesn't throw away old computers or old books around here, apparently.

I have 3 rolling pins. They are all the same, no special uses. One is sentimental. Yes, I have sentimental kitchen ware. I realize rolling pins don't actually deserve an entire paragraph of their own, so I'll add in.... a like-new electric griddle I haven't used in 10 years because I hate how it works, disposable mini bread pans I planned to bake some goodies in to give away, and cookbooks for foods I don't even like... OK, that's a paragraph.

So, I'm in the mood to simplify, reduce, not just reuse but USE, and share. I'm embarrassed about so many things in this article.. not just because I've laid it out there for everyone to examine with disapproval, but because I've allowed myself to look at the bits and pieces and not this entire excessive stash of MY stuff.

If you were to list one area that you have a stash of things... what would it be? What would it take to change that? Share, as it's impolite to let me dangle out here in my embarrassment all alone.

Come back Friday for my post – 'Tis The Season Of Excess and Stress

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Voices In My Head and YOURS!

Friday morning, I was up at 5:30! I haven't even seen 5:30 in years and years - except when I had the flu and was recovering from surgery.

By 6:15 I'd had breakfast, packed my car, filled my coffee cup - making 5:30 almost civilized – and was heading for Nashville.

Over the weekend, I was 'discovered' and will be singing duets with country stars by next week. HA! No, I was heading to Jon Acuff's Quitter conference. Jon writes the blog He's written a book of the same title as well as one titled “Quitter.”

The overall message of the conference, as I experienced it, was don't be ashamed of the dreams you hold that bring you joy. Pursue them, develop them, and understand that your dreams aren't only for you. You are the caretaker of your dreams. (By dreams, I don't mean when you're a ninja conquering the bad guys at the court house in your sleep. At least, for most of us that isn't what I mean – who am I to judge your dream?)

All that was wonderful. I took notes, networked and bought a poster. I go to every conference with a prayer for God to reveal His plan for my next step. Most times it's a glaring spotlight impossible to miss.

This conference had some solid information and direction for me. And then there was the “reveal”. It wasn't shiny and bright, but more a warm glow of companionship in those places of our hearts that we don't talk about. The party we throw then fear that no one will show up and they don't, or the voices we hear in our heads that remind us of who we “really” are. (This would be the kind that no medication c an help.)

Each of us have this cruel inner voice intent on speaking a message of doubts, accusations and hurtful memories until we sit down and shut up. Until we quit. Each of us. All of us. When we do, the voice becomes softer – just a whisper that keeps us in our seat. This weekend, we shared the message of our voice in public. Around the room of about 400 people, voices raised and we heard...

       “That's selfish!”
       “You aren’t smart enough.”
       “It didn't work last time.”
       “You're too old.”
       “You're too young.”

 laughter - we began to see the reliability of this "voice"

       “Who are you to think you have something to offer?”
       “That's already been done.”
       “Something that obvious doesn't need to be shared.”

If more people listened to that voice and responded by sitting down and shutting up – we wouldn't even be getting water at the well in the yard, reading by candlelight or riding to town in a horse drawn cart. All the dreams that brought us indoor plumbing, lighting and motorized transportation were fulfilled by people willing to be caretakers of their dreams. Willing to share their dreams with the world. They refused to be neutralized by that voice. Because of that, we're aware of need and injustice in our world and able to help people half a world away.

I believe we serve an outward enemy when we allow ourselves to entertain that inner voice. An enemy who wants our feet trapped and slowed by deep mud, hands tied behind our back, mouths covered with sticky duct tape. He promises us no rewards except the drudgery of nothing unexpected, no adventure, no risk, no faith and yet with that horrible voice speaking to us we sign on as accomplices.

I believe it's the opposition of the One wanting you to step onto a path he lights as you go. He has gifts for you and you must hold out your hands to receive them. He's placed a song in your heart and expects you to not only sing it, but live it.

My voice tells me, “You should've started 20 years ago. You'll never get past the learning stage. No one will take you seriously. Just look for ways to enjoy your life.”

So, what is the voice saying that threatens to make you sit down and shut up? 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Making Him Think It's His Idea

“Less of me and my junk. More of you and your kingdom.” Jen Hatmaker

So, I've been following my husband around the house, reading him a “story.” No, he didn’t ask me to. No, it isn't a book that's required reading. It's a book that threatens to inspire me to change in ways my husband may see as radical, extreme or even worse – annoying.

Here's the background story -

This is our new patio, with our new patio furniture, and the new trellises. New new new.

This is the new mulch on the new landscaping fabric on the new dirt. Most is old and hand-shoveled but my shoulders were very very sore... so I paid money for one scoop of dirt at the landscaping store. Then I only had to rake it off the tailgate of my husband's pickup. Easier and hours faster! The old dirt was free, the new dirt was $35.

This was how we spent most of our income tax refund check. I wanted it, dreamed of it, longed for a civilized place to sit outside. A place that earwigs, spiders and bugs with names I don't know would look at and say, “Did you see that contemporary eyesore (everything's a contemporary eyesore to bugs that live in the woods) the neighbors put in?  Hideous!  I wouldn't be caught dead in that place!”

This is our 15 month old pool. We bought it at Last year the top ring inflated with air as it was designed. This year it had a leak we couldn't find for a week. We finally sliced the ring open, jammed a bunch of pool noodles in there and enjoyed it all summer. It has to be drained each fall. It isn't matchy matchy with the patio. It doesn't have a deck. One with both those features would cost about 10 times as much.

We planned to use next year's tax refund for a new pool. One with a deck and steps that led from the beautiful patio to the new pool.
Now, Enter the book I just finished. 7:An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. OMGoodness!

I was a poor kid, and a poor adult for many years. I've not only gone without health insurance, I've gone without car insurance. In some ways you can't tell.  I'm "passing” with people of stable financial histories. In other ways, I'm oddly frugal, and I'm sure those people think I just have no taste. My home came with curtains when we moved in 8 years ago. Other than the bathroom and kitchen, it has those same curtains up today. My husband has even remarked about getting new ones. I've tried, but have you seen how much curtains cost!? 

Actually, this is my living room.
Sometimes they have great sales, but they look like they've been ripped off a belly dancer. My house doesn't have the personality of jeweled and tasseled drapes. She just couldn't pull that off. Apparently many homes can, as those sparkling drapes are in every store. Mine is more like this: 

So... excess... too much... waste not want not. I'm sort of sensitive to the notion I have that and do that. In the past couple years, "The Hole in our Gospel" by Richard E. Stearns, "Wrecked" by Jeff Goins, and this new book I fondly refer to as "7" have reminded me of the difference between wants, needs and American Needs.

The patio is a fantastic place to read, eat, study, entertain, write, and enjoy a bit of less buggy outdoors. It's so comfortable and I'll absolutely use it – a lot. But it cost a pile of money.

Patio – Be still my beating heart.            Pool – Be still my husband's beating heart. 
     ME: “Do you think we really need to get a new pool next year?” 
     ED: “Why?” 
     ME: “Well, do we really NEEED it?  It's soooo much money!” 
     ED: “I knew this was coming when you read that book.”

So, I'm reading the book to him. When someone tries to take something from us, we tend to hold on tighter as it's pulled away. When eyes are opened and a heart is changed, the hands open up and offer it.  I think the patio is permanent, but there are other things.... (Expect pictures in the upcoming days.)

I do still have issues with peer pressure. I've started a book club so my girlfriends will read this book with me. I'm exposing my husband and my friends because I don't want them to think I'm weird without a reason. 

Stay tuned for updates on my response to “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.”

What book has impacted your daily life choices?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Are We Trying to Communicate? Or Audition for a Reality Show?

Nothing can hinder change of heart more than being personally attacked. When our thoughts are attacked and our character slandered, everything our attacker says is suspect. If they are so wrong about who I am, they don't have much credibility. After all, I'm not an expert on much, but I've lived with me longer than anyone else has. 

When we're attacked and misunderstood, we dig in our heels, get our hackles up, stick to our guns, our story, our plan. We grow our backbone, stiffen our resolve, close our minds, put up walls and a million other clich├ęs to say we protect our beliefs in a determined and stubborn way.

It isn't always because we hate to be wrong. Sometimes it's very exciting to discover I've been wrong. It means I've learned something and grown. I have a hard time admitting I've been wrong when I feel someone is out to destroy me, though. As though they don't really have an interest in sharing information, but solely in proving they are right and I'm not, making sure I cannot leave the conversation with any sense of dignity. They want me to know I've been pwned lost.

It would be easy to say those people are just jerks. And sometimes I've said just that. Sometimes I've used stronger language, rolled my eyes and wholly helped them to continue and actually expand on this obnoxious behavior by pushing back – hard! But this lack of civility is childish and immature.

Instead of valuing the possibility of sharing insight and knowledge, our culture values the opportunity to humiliate other people in order to puff ourselves up. Look at reality television and you'll see our culture actually considers this horrible trait entertaining!

It's been very difficult to find people to learn from. I'm on this journey to understand and get a personal grasp on what's important to people ideologically different from myself. It takes plenty of humility (yeah, this is a place where I'm growing – and I started as a tiny mustard seed, so I may be only the size of an acorn about now). I remind myself I want to get past the frustration, anger and hard protective shells to the REAL man or woman. 

Unless we're going to become a country of sequestered cliques, only talking to the people deemed worthy to be in our circle, thinking exactly like we think, stroking our egos with their agreement and never putting ourselves in the other girl's shoes... we have to grow up. We have to get in there and open ourselves up to the criticism and show a different way of communicating... by practicing the “listening” part – not just to twist a sound bite, but to grasp a deeper understanding.

Racism is born and raised in ignorance. One would hope we've learned this, but our continued attachment to believing people are just subsets of groups, instead of individuals, reveals we've just shifted our target to a different group. We insult, humiliate, and slander one another. We stereotype and blame entire groups of people for the actions of one or just a few. We're too lazy to get to know people, instead assigning a label and saving ourselves the time and effort of making our own decisions.

“Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.” - Lord Byron

Nothing proves this point more than when someone comes face to face with someone who defies all their prejudices... one of two things happens. They either ridiculously try to reveal that this is all a ploy and deep down they really do fit the stereotype though there is no evidence of it, or they stand slack jawed and silent... because they never really considered this to be a possibility.

Last minute addition to this post - I'm not alone... look what I found Bullies, Politicians, Me. Same same?

Monday, September 17, 2012

I'm a Nut That Fell from the Republican Tree

I vote. It's difficult to imagine ever reaching a point where I won't, however I've come a long way from my earlier political identity – so who knows? Talk radio was an addiction. I wrote numerous opinion pieces online and to the local paper's editor. I've discussed political points of view with my dad until my mother revoked my freedom of speech and said we were done. Dad's face was beet red and she was worried one day he'd have a heart attack from the frustration. (Dad and I don't vote for the same people.) 

Though I'm not a democrat, I no longer consider myself a republican either. My dad isn't quite sure what's wrong with me these days. Truth is, I see the enemy at work in the political scene, through Christians, distracting us with our passionate political ideology.

All those words wasted with no reward for Christ. Political spin and the lie of harmless “passionate political discourse” do not glorify God. It isn't harmless. It's perpetrated upon the American people as a thief of the “peace that passes understanding.” It's very design is to make you afraid of the “others”, and suspicious of their intentions. And too many of my brothers and sisters are still in the fog, boxing shadows and confusing patriotism with fighting “the good fight.”

Long ago the conversation about caring for and about our poor was distorted into a debate. Now, two groups of politicians use the poor as pawns to gain political leverage against their opponent. The poor are simultaneously pitied and vilified, but make NO mistake. The poor are NOT loved.

As never before, I support the separation of Church and state – because if ever there was an unholy union – this is certainly it. Unequally yoked, pulling for different purposes and endgame, undermining all that God is by distracting God's people from doing God's work.  Instead, involving them in a pointless fight with one side fearing cold greed can rob the needy and the other side fearing the state can somehow get rid of Him.

God has called us to love, serve, feed, clothe and house the poor and destitute. He has called us to defend those treated unjustly. If Christians will be known by our love, how do we reveal that love in our political discourse? Aren't we confusing our calling with patriotism? They aren't the same. The U.S. Treasury is limited in what it can provide by the resources at it's disposal. Our God has endless resources, as everything is His. Why would we try to limit God's grace by filtering it through a government? If our conversation says that those who are responsible should be rewarded... if that's what we shout loudest into the world... where is the grace? How do you align that with faith in a God who loved us while we were dirty sinners and provided a place for us at His table though we did nothing to deserve it? 

As politicians woo the Christian community by speaking Christianese in the midst of huge public prayer meetings, we seem to forget Jesus' words, “You are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the streets in order to be seen by men.” (Matthew 6:5) Many of us are NOT hypocrites, but we have been swindled into believing we're represented in the political arena. We aren't – not in any significant numbers. We are pressed into battle by a misguided sense of defending the faith via the vote, instead of fighting the good fight of living the faith.

“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” Matthew 6:6

Jesus never called us to sign petitions, hold rallies, or protest the government to get it to do what is Godly and right.  We need to back out of this unholy battle on shifting sands of partisan platforms.

Our calling is to the lost, lonely, poor, widowed, orphaned, hungry, imprisoned, and thirsty. Personally. Not through government, but through our hands and our means. We must get ourselves into the work... not coldly hire it out to a government agency.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hmmm, Delivered Safely by Being Murdered ?!

It's impossible to watch national news without being inundated with political news.  It's a presidential election fall.

I love the beginning of autumn.  Back to school sales help me stock my paper products, I'm ready for some cooler weather, making soup is beckoning me, the looming stack of firewood reminds me of coming into my warm home from the cold.  And the temptation to listen to the election stuff is strong.

I was a political news junkie and that's no exaggeration.  I was exhilarated by a well spoken presentation by my candidate of choice.  I'd swell with excitement and hope for my nation in the hands of a candidate I truly believed was a noble person.  I enjoyed the political banter and debate with my dad.  My sister and I were the source of much confusion for my poor dad, who just couldn't understand how we couldn't vote for his candidate.  But, I don't believe I can impact my world through political affiliation, and with a limited amount of time and energy, I can't afford to waste either on politics.

Last night my husband expressed his concerns about his business for the first time.  By spring of this year, orders and profits had shrunk to less than half of what they were in 2009.  The last few months have been worse, as there are always slowdowns in his industry before a national election.  It's as though they all hold their collective breath... and wait.

I have been poor and I have had more than enough - so I can make it through whatever we face in the future.  But last night, I was troubled when I went to bed.  The old habit of making mental contingency plans for financial disaster was niggling at the edge of my mind, tempting me to come up with solutions to all the "what ifs."  I thought about the election, then pushed it from my mind.

This morning as I started Bible study, I couldn't concentrate.  I needed to give this to God and get it out of my way.  I think for the first time ever, I let the Holy Spirit say to God what I had no words for.  I took a deep breath and relaxed. I closed my eyes and bowed my head and just placed myself in God's presence.

I said nothing, but could feel His spirit repair, soothe and calm me.  I'm still his daughter - regardless of what happens to our finances, my husband's business or the election.  Drawing close to God this morning, in this quiet way, I felt relieved and unburdened.

In 2 Timothy, Paul is writing just before his murder. He knew it was coming, "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure." (vs. 6) What was his state of mind?  "The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (verse 18).

Paul remembered that his only valuable possession was his soul.  As long as that was preserved, he was safe.  He had no retirement plans, vacation dreams or car repairs that burdened him.  It was simple.  It is simple.

The election is a temptation for the old way of doing things.  The times when I thought it was essential that I monitored the things in my control and believed they were truly in my control.  I held so tightly to things I didn't want to lose, my hands were too full to receive what God wished to give me.

It's truly exhausting to think you're in charge of everything, that with enough force you can stop storms from touching you. We live on a stormy planet.  The rain falls on the just and the unjust, as it says in the Bible.  But there is an eye to the storm, a place of peace within it, that is beyond the imagination, and you've been invited to find rest there.

When have you felt that unimaginable peace while enduring a storm?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hands Off! That's Someone Else's Guy!

If you look across the table at Olive Garden and you're annoyed by all the things that guy is... you may be on someone else's dream date. But it isn't yours. Now, you can complain, nag, and try to mold him into someone else – all the while hating that he doesn't love you “for yourself.” - or you can wake up and realize... You're dating someone else's guy. Your guy is out there looking for you, and you're wasting time with Becky's guy, and wasting Becky's guy's time. 

A man isn't something you construct like Build-A-Bear or Mr. Potato Head. Just as you have been encouraged to “be yourself,” by people you love – his people told him the same thing. He won't turn into an animal lover just because you drag home 4 cats and 2 dogs – so if that's a deal breaker for you, be a big girl and break the deal.

Some of us have married someone else's guy. Years of feeling unaccepted and unaccepting, unloved and unloving inside a marriage isn't worth the time you saved by not waiting for YOUR guy and running down the aisle with someone else's guy. I wonder if we think he'll fit better when we break him in... like cute shoes that are made for someone else's feet. 

Many marriages are unhappy because the wrong two people are in them, not because there's something wrong with one spouse or the other. 

So, how do you not marry someone else's guy? 

Don't date him once you realize that at least one of you doesn't really like the other. Sometimes dating feels like a stock market investment. You hate to call it a loss and pull out for fear that the next day incredible riches, or in this case a complete personality change, would fall your way. People don't change into other people. They may learn something, improve some bad habits.. but someone's identity isn't a bad habit. 

If you are already whining (even if only in your head) that he is selfish and won't do what you like to do... perhaps he doesn't like doing what you like to do. Sometimes women can be happy as long “as we're together.” I've learned many many MANY men do NOT share that quality. It isn't that you aren't irresistible enough and you aren't going to win this one in time. You will never have more power in being irresistible than while you're dating. In 5 years he will do LESS of what he doesn't want to do, not more.

If you feel as though you're suffocating or more lonely than when you're single – examine your needs for intimacy. If you have commitment issues – see a therapist. If commitment isn't an issue for you – get out. People with vastly different needs for emotional intimacy should not marry one another. The tendency will be for one will feel suffocated and the other intense loneliness.

If you're a Christian and he's an atheist, agnostic or follows another religion, you date at your own peril. Intimate relationships impact the people in them. Winning a man and losing your faith is foolish. It isn't something to play around with. If you think you've been brokenhearted over a man, it's nothing when compared to being brokenhearted over losing who God is to you. I've been there and you truly need to trust me on this.

He stands you up, you stand him up, you text him so often he has to take his phone with him to pee, he gets a little crazy because you didn't take his call and you happened to be “in the stirrups.” Move along. Nothing good is happening here. 

So, what if you're already married to someone else's guy. Well, it isn't going to be a Cinderella story, but that doesn't mean you have to abandon your commitment. You will need to grow up and rise to the occasion if you don't want a life of constant bickering and disrespect – unless you'd rather sulk and feel sorry for yourself.
  • If you need help coming to terms with this, see a therapist. If you're emotionally unfulfilled, dig deeper into your relationship with God. I mean REALLY deep. 
  • Develop close relationships with other women. Don't play the martyr and waste away – do the things you like to do and allow him the freedom to do the same with friends of the same sex. Don't play around with platonic relationships with the opposite sex. For your situation, it's unwise. 
  • Put some effort into finding common interests rather than sulk that he hates the ballet, hates NCIS, and hates folk music. 
  • Accept him for who he is. Be kind. Be honest about seeking to find common ground and ways for you to find contentment as a couple. I have news for you – he isn't as oblivious as you think. Chances are pretty good you've been blaming him for “being himself” for quite awhile and this new approach could be a breath of fresh air.
If you have words of wisdom – or a funny story about dating someone else's guy - to add to this topic, please share them in the comments.