Thursday, December 19, 2013

On Marriage (& Singleness)

I am a single girl in her early thirties. I have many friends in each demographic, though admittedly, most are in the realm of a decade more or less than myself in terms of age. Lately, I have been thinking about singleness and "the Singles" quite a bit; how (the royal) we are treated in the church vs. in the world, how we think about one another, how we think about marriage. I have been through many emotions - anger, fear, jealousy, loneliness, relief, apathy, and yes, happiness - in the past few months with regards to this area of my life.

I started writing about it as far as it relates to the church, but haven't had time to really flesh out my thoughts. The general overview is that most people, married and single alike, tend to view church as a large dating pool for singles. Once you have a husband or, especially, kids, church becomes a different, purposeful place (usually). But for the single male or female, it's where you hunt for an acceptable spouse. This is damaging in so many ways. I have had mental, emotional, and even spiritual anguish in the past few years because of the way I've been spoken to, the off-handed comments to the deeper discussions, that assume I'm not a whole person because I'm not a wife.

I am whole. God loves me, Jesus saved me, the Spirit guides me. I. Am. Whole.

Don't get me wrong. I would love to be married, to be a mom. I pray for my future husband (oops, see that? I'm doing it to myself...) and (here we go again) children. I sincerely hope that those people are in my future, and believe that it is good to pray for them - even if I never meet them. I have a desire for them that I can't explain. But I know people I love who had (or still have, possibly) that desire, and yet it has never happened for them. I hesitate to just drop my desire in the misquoted "God will grant you the desires of your heart" we're all so fond of in the church (in general). That isn't even the actual meaning of that verse - do your research (it's Psalm 37:4). Still, why do I feel so strongly if it is never going to happen?

I spend more time than I'd like to admit wondering about these things, but it has dropped off lately. Then today, I came across a video from someone I sometimes watch on YouTube: Michael Aranda. He's not a Christian (as far as I know or can tell), he's 27 years old, and a lot of what he (very honestly) says resonated with me strongly. It struck me because he's much the opposite of me (a non-Christian guy) but I expect things much the way he does.

This made me think, once again, about my own thoughts, my own dreams, my own expectations; how have I set myself up to ruin potential relationships - or even the friendships I have had? How have I set myself up for unrealistic expectations and what impact could that have on any future relationship I might have? It's a little fairly daunting.

The thing is, I don't know if I have a right to even ask myself some of those questions. My life is full. I have family I love and get along with well - even extended family, and even if I see them once every 5 years or so. I have friends to geek out with over Doctor Who and Sherlock and Psych and NCIS. I have other friends who are so close that they are my "chosen" family - they are the ones who see me the most raw and the most honest, the most often. I have prayer warriors. I have encouragers. I even have kids in my life! A niece and 3 nephews who are adorable, hilarious, crazy little people - and they love me right back, even if it's been a while since I've seen them. These are huge blessings.

The pressure of society to be married doesn't really start the same time as the church. At church, it feels weird (in my experience) once you're 23-24 and not married, or at least in a serious enough relationship to expect engagement. Society doesn't seem to have an issue as much until you're hitting your thirties or so, but it's the same force weighing down unless you can really convince someone that it's not something you want. People say all kinds of stuff to help make you feel better or give advice. You get "oh, it'll happen, don't worry," and "stop looking, he'll show up," and "you just haven't been out enough yet." At church it's, "Maybe God's still working on him," and "I'll be praying for you." I've also often heard "Be glad you're still single," and "enjoy your singleness, because marriage is so hard, you have no idea." All of these things are said most often with the deepest level of sincerity, helpfulness and kindness, and I don't discount that. But it implies that I'm missing something, or that I am not good enough ... even if it's not yet. For someone who struggles with self-esteem already (thanks again, society and sin), this is so far from helpful.

I am good enough - but only because God made me. And it's not "good enough for a husband" but just good enough as a person. Because at the end of the day, I'm the only me, and I'm His.

Also, I feel like I have to say this, to be very clear: I know marriage isn't a fix-all for the single life. But marriage isn't the only hard life either. We all have struggles and temptations and relationships to deal with and live through together. We can certainly talk with each other - but KNOW the person you're talking with well enough to know when to stop, and how to say it, and even if you should.

I have so many more thoughts rolling around, but this post has already gotten much longer than I initially intended, and the rest is even less cohesive. So for now, if you're single, check where your worth and your thoughts lie, gauge your motivation and your expectations, and don't set up the perfect marriage as the goal of your life. If you're married, be very careful how you say what you say, because we know you love us, and want us to be happy like you are (or happier than you are), but it is very easy to say hurtful things when they aren't meant that way. For all of us: we ought to be excited with and for each other in each step through life, supporting one another fully, and not putting our own expectations onto anyone else.

My prayer is that God will grant us the graciousness and wisdom to deal with each other, and trust Him in every circumstance and relationship. ;)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Weird Number Thoughts

Most people have a favorite  number, right? What's that about? Weird. And yes, I have one: 8. (Isn't it pretty?)

People often seem to also have an affinity with evens or odds, or primes, or whatever. In general,  I like evens. But 5's are usually ok too (15, 35, 185). Folks'll eat M&Ms or Skittles in even numbers (or odd ones, though that doesn't sit right with me), and some are so committed, they'll toss the extras (or give them away) to keep things in balance. (Don't waste the chocolate! I do not do this, I just eat the offenders first and then happily end the process with my evens.) Sometimes I do it by color, or by color groups - but when a color group is, say, 7 colors, then i have to have an even number of each color. I really don't like it when there's only one yellow (or whatever) in the package. AH! Disorganization! At least it doesn't throw off my whole day.

The funny thing is, I'm not overly fond of 4's. I like 4, itself, and 24 is ok too, but 14? Ew. No. 34 is pretty bad too. 74 drives me nuts. I mean, 4 is half of 8, so it should be fine, right? I think it's because I like those 5's better. Strangely the 6s present no issue. It really makes no sense. It's a strange sensation.

Why do we identify with numbers? Why do we seem to have preferences for one or a group of them? Why evens and odds? (Is there anyone who prefers odds?) Why do we care?

{I feel a strong need to insert a cheeky "the world may never know" and leave it there.} ;)

It's just weird.... or maybe it's one way we're all weird together, but separate.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What do you do?

What do you do when you don't know what step to take next?

No, really. What do you do?
I worry. Then I realize I missed something vitally important, and I pray. Then I worry some more. And then pray some more. Then I find myself wondering what logistical or physical step I could take to move forward, but I (more often than not) have no idea where to start. So then the worrying starts anew.

I hate it.
So, in the interest of pushing myself into a good next step, I'd like to hear yours.
Would you share it with me?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A Major Op 92. Allegretto

This piece of music moves me in a way I cannot really explain.
Press play and then read on as I try...

It thrills my heart, my mind with the very first chord. It starts with an announcement, then, softly, slowly, it begins gathering strength...

There is a melancholy edge to it. And yet, there is something triumphant there as well. It tells a story, but that story seems to change every time I listen. It can be exciting, comforting, soothing, romantic, encouraging, or commiserative. I see sweeping landscapes, slow-motion glances from one to another, beautiful ballet across a stage. I see children laughing and dancing. I see Disney's Fantasia.. I see friends grinning at me across a room. I see loved ones sitting next to me sobbing into pillows.

As the dynamics swell and diminish, the scene changes, the emotion shifts.

Sometimes it depends on my mood, sometimes it enhances or changes it.

It swells in and out and around your heart, and then it drifts off into the stillness... but not without one last statement on it's way out.

This is the best I can do.
There is nothing quite like music.
And nothing quite like this piece.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


What do you do when everything crumbles around you?

I have a tendency to crumble with it. Not right away, not quickly, but I do indeed crumble. There have been a few times that things were built back up fast enough that I did not fall before it was resurrected. Usually, though, even if it's briefly, I crack. I find myself in a real struggle mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually - though I don't always recognize that part of it.

So what do you do? How do you keep going and not just sit at home moping or crying or hiding from everything and everyone? Well, for me, it's often found in music. Which then leads me to Scripture, which is the spoken Word from God to me. (!) And of course, the best place to go is God - so even though I pray a lot through whatever circumstance I find myself in, the
music --> Scripture --> God's heart 
is the path that takes me outside my own head and realigns me with the One who can not only sort it out, but make it worth it.

Today, the song thankfully stuck in my head is Everything Falls by Fee. Specifically repeating:
You said You'd never leave or forsake me
When you said, this life is gonna shake me
There will be storms in this life
But I know You will overcome, you have overcome
When everything falls apart Your arms hold me together
When everything falls apart You're the only hope for this heart
When everything falls apart and my strength is gone
I find You mighty and strong, You keep holding on
God is, indeed, good.  And the best place to begin rebuilding is worship.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Twelve Years

Today, I don't have much to say that hasn't been said. That may change in the future, but September 11th, 2001 is forever branded in my mind - what I saw, thought, felt, experienced. And I was safe in the midwest (though throughout the day(s)/weeks following Chicago was under a potential threat warning). I still pray for them whenever I think of those who still deal with the loss of loved ones because of that tragic day. Twelve years is plenty of time for healing and renewal (and yet not nearly enough). This morning I read this poem, posted by an author I admire, and it seemed to suffice for today. His original post can be found at

Were I not frail and half broken inside,
I wouldn’t be thinking of them, who are, like me, half broken inside.
I would not climb the cemetery hill by the church
To get rid of my self pity.
Crazy Sophies,
Michaels who lost every battle,
Self-destructive Agathas
Lie under crosses with their dates of birth and death. And who
Is going to express them? Their mumblings, weepings, hopes, tears of humiliation?
In hospital muck and the smell of urine,
With their weak and contorted limbs,
And eternity close by. Improper. Indecent.
Like a dollhouse crushed by wheels, like
An elephant trampling a beetle, an ocean drowning an island.
Our stupidity and childishness do nothing to fit us
For this variety of last things.
They had no time to grasp anything of their individual lives,
Any principium individuationis.
Nor do I grasp it, yet what can I do?
Enclosed all my life in a nutshell,
Trying in vain to become something
Completely different from what I was.

Thus we go down into the earth, my fellow parishioners,
With the hope that the trumpet of judgment will call us by our names.
Instead of eternity, greenness and the movement of clouds.
They rise then, thousands of Sophies, Michaels, Matthews,
Marias, Agathas, Bartholomews.
So at last they know why
And for what reason?

–Czeslaw Milosz

(John first heard this poem read by Robert Hass on the NPR program Fresh Air, on September 21st, 2001.)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

on being creative

i have a very creative mind.
but you'd (probably) never know it.

i have a very detailed, organized mind too.
now you're nodding your head. you know that version of me.

sometimes i worry... strike that. sometimes i am terrified that if i let my creativity out someone will see it. "What!?!?" you ask. "Isn't that what you're supposed to do with creativity? Let it out?"

well, yes.
but i am also an introvert. which means the inner workings of my mind are very intense, very detailed, and very private. it also means that letting anyone in (or anything out) is a very scary venture.

i have done it a few times.
i shared a short story, the beginning of a... book(?), and a poem. i love these things. i got wonderful feedback - not all positive, but none that was mean or overly harsh - critical to help me improve. it was amazing.

and i like the organized me. i love new pens, sharpened pencils, paper, lists to check off, lines to draw on. my favorite paper right now (yes, i have a favorite paper) is the graphed moleskein ones. to write in one of those is absolute JOY. i am not kidding. (some of you know exactly what i mean.)

i like that i can spot or think of details to make something happen that doesn't cross another's mind (though admittedly sometimes that is annoying as well).

there have been so many days lately when i have longed to write. the only way i can describe it is that i feel an itch to write. like i can't stand/sit still because i feel like i need to work on one of my writing projects. thinking over them gets me excited. but then i get home after work, when i have time, and just stare at the screen. and the idea of ever finishing, and beyond that, sharing it with anyone outside my own head... YIKES.

like i said, terrifying.
i even think, having written this much, that part of that is why there's been a FOUR month (!) lag on this blog. today, i decided enough was enough, and something had to give. get the itch out.

i have a very creative, yet detailed, organized, and introverted mind.
this post is the next step to making it work itself out.   ;)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

on a day like this

i warn you, this is a little... stream-of-consciousness. and a little raw. proceed with caution and grace.
a day that is not different, not special, not really that crazy, but not exciting either...

i feel... unmotivated. almost lethargic. a bit lonely. a bit productive. a bit creative. tired. emotionally worn out. cold. sad. my heart is aching for some people i love, and they don't know it, and they probably wouldn't understand why.


this is the second time i've been in tears today.  the first time was so personal, i won't describe it here. this time its because i love those people. so. much. Jesus, hold them and help them know You are.

there's a ... thing... in my office that says "FAITH" and it is right across from my desk today. and i'm alone in here and while that has aided in the "get stuff accomplished" bit of the day (thank the Lord), it means i have a lot of quiet for my thoughts to roll around in my head. very few distractions (which i really do love on days like this). but FAITH. maybe that's it. maybe it's feeling a little shaken.

i've been reading a chapter of john's gospel each day since Feb. 4, and since Feb. 10 i've been reading a psalm and a proverb. it's been good. i've been reminded of things that God has done and will do and is doing, and how i can come to Him with literally everything i'm feeling. i love that He gave us people falling apart, people failing, and showed us how He used and completed them.

i want to be used. i want to be part of the creation that is glorifying Him. i know i'm not good enough alone. thankfully He is with me, in me. but it's still scary, and i'm not feeling very sure. i sort of wish He'd tell me more of the plan. but i realize that then i'd probably be even more frightened and i'd become one of those pillar statues, stuck and stone and unmoving. even so, it's frustrating.

and in so many ways, for so many reasons, for so many things, i don't want to wait anymore. 


i cling to faith, by His grace.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Five Years

Today. Today, five years ago, I started work at The Compass Church (which was then known as EFCN). It has not necessarily been an easy 5 years, but I would say they have been good overall.

In that time I have deepened friendships that were just beginning, as well as made some even in the past 7-8 months that I never saw coming (isn't God good?). I have learned a lot - about myself, about my faith, about my stubbornness (or perhaps diligence), about my job and my abilities. I have some regrets, of course, but often those things I neglected or mistook or screwed up have been the motivation that has pushed me onward and upward.

I have gotten excited too about what I can imagine for the future. Some of these things seem so far out of reach, or out of my "zone of ability" (whatever that is). Others just seem like the type of thing you daydream about but never actually have the time or money to do (travel, film and edit things, etc.). But some of these things seem... within reach. Sort of.

I mean, there are many obstacles no matter what we do in life. When I started my job, I hoped I'd still be there, still like it in 5 years, but I honestly just wasn't sure. Now that I've reached that milestone, I have no idea what the next 5 will hold. I may still be here, doing what I'm doing, making what tiny difference I can with what I've been given. I may live somewhere else. I may not know any of my close friends in the same way anymore (woah, just got a bit depressing, let's move it along quickly, ok?) and I may have a few (or many) new ones I've yet to meet. But I see possibilities, and that's exciting.

While today is a milestone of sorts, and one I haven't crossed before, it is also just another day. Another day in the life God has given me to use my gifts to the best of my ability to glorify Him. And in the end, that's the whole point to anything I ever do. The future, whatever it holds, can come as it may.