Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year, A New Change

Dear Friends,

     I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful, blessing-filled New Year! I hope you all have some great plans, a great evening, a great year.

     The New Year is marked by most of us making New Year's Resolutions. I, like many others, tend to want to make about 1500 and seldom keep many of them. I think this year I will make a list of all the ones I'd like to make and narrow it down.

     But, apart from Resolutions, the New Year can bring some positive changes that are not necessarily "resolutions." With that, I'd like to announce a revision of my blog. I will now be hosting it through WordPress, which I believe has more beneficial features than for me at this time.

     You will still find me at, however, what this means for you is that if you are currently following my blog through Google, you will have to resubscribe on my new website. The easiest way to do it is through the email subscription option, on the top righthand side of the site. I will be looking for other options as well to make it as easy as pie!

     I have truly enjoyed sharing my life, my thoughts, and my lessons with you over the course of this year. Many of you have followed me the entire length of this year-long journey which has included many joys and miracles, though some hard days too. All in all, it has been a record breaking year, and I truly thank every single person who has followed me and supported me on this ride. Thank you to every single person who has sent me encouraging feedback about my posts. I am beyond touched and grateful that my words have impacted you in some way - that is one of the greatest gifts to me and always my goal when I write.

      I truly hope you will continue to walk with me on this journey, which will continue to be record-breaking this year, as I launch my business, Ink Box, LLC.

      I hope this year has been just as good to you, and I would love to hear about it! Feel free to continue sending feedback. I love reading your comments and emails!

      A Happy New Year to you and yours! I love you guys :)

      Don't forget to visit me at the same address,, starting tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Excess

For Christmas, I received my first Beth Moore Bible study. I was ecstatic. I've been wanting to do one for months - ever since I found out how good they are.

As I sat down to begin, I started by journaling a prayer. Completely unrelated thoughts started pouring through my mind. They went a little like this (taken from my journal):

"Our society tells us to focus on us and our happiness, our comfort, our contentment. Look at our blog posts, our businesses, our hobbies - they're all about the things we love, the things we enjoy... even I have been obsessed with those things. When I don't have them, I crave them desperately. It's almost like my soul dies. I go crazy, it pains me. I mean, heck. Aside from it being Your will, I moved to Colorado because of the spiritual connection and comfort I get from the mountains. I moved 2,000 miles away from home!

The minute something disrupts our comfort, we cry out. I even hold onto certain desires because...I don't dare risk the possibility of not obtaining them. Of course, the possibility is always there, but I don't dare entertain the thoughts because a future without them is too dismal. When I think about my future, I always include the condition of making enough money to afford these comforts, because I have placed such a high priority on them.

(Living for our comfort)... is what everyone does. It's "The American Dream." Its why X (name withheld) buys a 65 inch TV when he's upset, and why the majority of Americans have credit card debt (myself included). It's why we all have to drive nice cars and live in big houses when there are people in our own country who are starving. And then we turn our eyes aways when we are asked to give money to the poor."

Ok, so I was on my "soap box" when I was journaling - but it's a valid point.

And I feel that way very strongly. As I was writing that, the idea came to me to "give away the excess." 
Not to give away so much that you can't pay your mortgage or feed your family.... but give away the excess. Give away the extra that you would spend on going to a movie, going out to eat, or buying a 50th sweater. Now, I don't own close to 50 sweaters, so please forgive me if I buy one more. I'm not suggesting anyone give away so much so as to withhold from themselves the provision God has blessed them with for the purpose of provision. What I'm suggesting is that we give away the excess.

Because, hey - do you know what America is filled with? Excess. And even those of us living from paycheck to paycheck and classified as middle class have more than some people will ever see in a lifetime. And we are still filthy rich compared to the millions living in Third World countries. 

So, do you remember in the previous post when I said I had an idea for a nonprofit ministry brewing? This is it. Because I firmly believe that this needs to be a movement (if it's not already - maybe I'm not aware of somebody else trying to do the same thing, which is altogether possible).

Have you ever read the book "Crazy Love"? This kind of builds on that concept. Have you read the book "Radical"?  It's going to be my next book when I finish Love and War, but I think it's the same kind of concept. When you think about the the way Americans live, the standards of American society - consistently giving away the excess would truly be radical.

So this is it - my first of what I hope to be a continuous call to Give Away The Excess.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Getting Down to Business

As the new year quickly comes upon us, I am resuming preparations to embark on a grand adventure starting in 2011 - launching my freelancing writing and consulting business, Ink Box, LLC.

I am super excited for this, as I have been wanting to launch my own business for three years now. I am an entrepreneur at heart - even dreaming up new businesses as I write this ;) There's an idea for a new ministry brewing in my mind as well these days! But more about that later.

Even though this is the fulfillment of a dream, I of course have the typical doubts any new entrepreneur would have. I worry about how I'm going to take a daytime meeting while I'm still moonlighting, how I'm going to drive the client relationship once someone wants to work with me, how I'm going to manage my time in order to stay on top of everything, and most importantly - what am I going to wear to networking events?

I am sure these are things many entrepreneurs worry about. I am sure I'm not alone in this. This is not a singular experience. And YOU can be sure that I'll be freely blogging about my experiences here on

Get ready to learn about the entrepreneurial experience from a first hand point of view!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Back to the Schedule!

Hey ya'll!

I hope you all had the most wonderful Christmas possible. Mine was quite fantastic. It was the first family Christmas I've had in 3 years, even if it wasn't my family by blood. Ever since my parents started going through rough times, I developed the habit of adopting families everywhere I go. It started with a family named the Austins in Virginia, and continues today with the Starkeys, the Aukers, the Semroskas.... :) I truly adore every family and every "parent" that has gone out of their way to make me feel like their own!

But, that's a tangent ;)

Today we continue our exploration of "Love and War," by John and Stasi Eldredge. I haven't listened to much lately, because I took a break to enjoy Christmas music instead. I love Christmas music. It just has a way of feeling so much more magical than regular music... and not just because it coincides with lights shining everywhere and snow on the ground. Well, snow on the ground for the East Coast, maybe. Denver has yet to see any of that =p

Another tangent!

The latest ingredient in the recipe for marital success that John and Stasi Eldredge have concocted through experience and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit is a shared adventure. This is a term they use a lot. They believe that it is a part of men and women's DNA - the desire for a shared adventure. They claim that if a husband and wife don't have a shared sense of purpose, a shared mission - something they are working towards together OUTSIDE of raising children and making a happy home, then their marital relationship will suffer.

I find myself agreeing with this. The couples that I have seen partnering together in an endeavor (especially ministry) are also, coincidentally, quite strong couples. Additionally, a man who shares major dreams and goals in common with me is something I strongly desire in a future husband. I want a husband who shares in my mission and my life passions. A husband and wife whose callings complement each other or match, I believe - and so do Stasi and John - have higher chances of marital success.

Just add it to the long and ever growing list of qualities I'm looking for in that lucky man ;) Ok, it's not truly "ever growing." But sometimes I feel that the core items that mean the most to me are quite a few! And I know that God's the only one who can put them all together in one package... that's why God's supposed to be the one to write your love story.

If you're not currently betrothed, and even if you are - I believe you can still let God write your love story into a happy ending.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Dog Days of Summer - er - Christmas.

It's almost Christmas!
This Christmas season has definitely been an interesting one for me so far. At first, I thought the main issue I would have is the "first Christmas post ex" stuff, but that hasn't been an issue at all. Instead, my health has been the issue at the forefront, and I definitely wasn't expecting that.
I've discussed my health struggles on my blog a bit in previous posts. Basically, I have been getting frequent bouts of fatigue, dizzyness, and have had a nonstop headache (that no med I have tried takes away). These have been affecting me for about two months now, but I am finally getting to my breaking point - the point at which I can't take it anymore and I'm ready to do something about it. I'm not quite sure why I wasn't before - probably because tiredness and headaches don't seem like anything major. Until they bother you for two months!
Currently, I am exploring two possible causes: food allergies, which my dietition roommate specializes in, and type 2 diabetes.
Last spring, I endured two months of chronic dizzyness. At that time, they tested my blood sugar, and it came back a "little high," but that's all they said. It turns out that fatigue and headaches are also symptoms of diabetes. The pieces didn't really click for me until this past Saturday night, when I was at a Christmas party. My roommates and I prayed over ourselves before going to the party, because we all have our food issues - things we're allergic to and shouldn't eat. But, those can be hard to manage at events like Christmas parties. So, we prayed, and I trusted God. Well, since I was trusting, I allowed myself to have some sugar. In retrospect, not such a great idea, but the experience did benefit me later. I had a big sugar cookie, and no more than 5 minutes after finishing it, became dizzy and felt like passing out. I went upstairs and climbed in one of the beds, and I could have slept there all night from that moment on. That's when the connection happened!
So, Christmas parties are dangerous territory for me this year! And that's definitely making this Christmas different. I have been a sugar addict my entire life, and it's one of the hardest things for me to give up. I love my sugar. But it clearly doesn't love me just as much anymore.
I have not enjoyed the decreased functionality I have had to suffer as a result of these food struggles. And speaking from experience, nonstop headaches are NOT conducive to happiness. I'm at the point where I beg God for relief, beg him for a good day. There are days the headache is better than others, but it's still there. This past Sunday, the day after the sugar cookie, my headache went (mostly) away, and I felt the best I had all week - probably two or three weeks. I consider it a miracle of God, because I had a lot of church related events that day that I didn't want to miss (I've missed about every third week of church this fall due to my health). Monday went right back to the same old.
I am trying to modify my food habits and eat as healthfully as I can. I'm working with my dietician (roomie). I'm not perfect, but I'm improving. I'm starting to watch my total carbohydrate intake, since that is what diabetics need to monitor. I might be more in the practice of reading food labels than I ever have been before! And, I do have a doctor's appointment scheduled. However, I have something else that might conflict that day - so prayers that it wouldn't would be greatly appreciated.
I've heard and I've experienced that people don't really like listening to your food/health struggles all the time. I certainly hope I don't talk about it all the time. But the reality is that this is the "major event" in my life right now. I've never experienced long term health struggles before. I love Christmas, I am excited for Christmas, and this year will be wonderful. I've enjoyed all the Christmas parties, of which I've had many more this year than in previous years. But my current state of health has definitely made it harder. I would just love to feel good on Christmas and be able to eat whatever I want. It's Christmas!
Tonight I have another Christmas party that I will be carefully navigating, in terms of food and drinks. I can't withold from the good stuff entirely - this is Christmas and that's part of the enjoyment. If I did, I would only make myself more miserable, emotionally, than my health is already making me. But, I do plan on using caution.
I know I have eaten unhealthfully most of my life, and I look at this as at least a wake up call from God that I need to change my ways. I'm not sure what else God is trying to teach me - although I could list all the lessons one COULD get out of this type of experience, they might not be the ones God specifically has for me, though all probably very worthwhile.
I've had many people reach out to say they are praying for me, and I am so so appreciative. Thank you. It means a lot to me, because of how much this is a burden on me right now. But God has a purpose, and I believe that I will get to the bottom of the issue and start feeling better. Everything will be ok :)
Thanks again, guys. Sorry for the decreased bloggage over the last couple of weeks, but I plan to keep up as much as I can!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Off My Blogging Game!

I have been off my blogging game this week my friends! And after I had made myself so proud by updating almost every day. This week has been kind of a whirlwind. I feel like I've been off my game with everything this week.

On Monday, I had my 90 day review at work. The main problem with my job thusfar has been that I have not had enough to do. Now, I like my downtime at work. Wrong as it may be, I like having the opportunity to accomplish things on my own agenda. I just don't like entire days of nothing to do. As fate would have it, the minute the problem was finally aired into the open, I have had to scrap for downtime. Which, in terms of my job satisfaction, is great. In terms of my life organization, it's terrible!

Top that off with the health struggles I have been having these past few weeks and I feel even more disorganized and not "on top of my life." My health problems have given me daily headaches (whether I'm trying to eat healthy or not), and they have also caused me to sleep in more - meaning my schedule is off, I'm missing my quiet times...

Needless to say, I don't enjoy feeling like I'm not "on top of my life." I'm sure the spiritual lesson, now that I think about it, is that I should let God be on top of my life instead of me having to work so hard to do so.

The other way that this has been affecting me spiritually is that I've been crying out to God for relief from these health struggles, but the reality is that A) I don't know what it is that is bothering me and will not until I do the LEAP test (food allergies and sensitivities) that my roomie specializes in, and B) I need to make big lifestyle changes in the way that I eat if I want to see changes in the way that I feel. And, at 26 years of life, that is very hard because those habits are engrained in me. I eat everything I see that I want. I have no self-restraint. I have been a sugar addict since I was a child. And I'm an emotional eater. When I'm upset, I go for comfort food - which, coincidentally, usually involves sweets.

I told my roomie the other day that I almost went on a Facebook rant about how skinny people have food problems too, so "don't judge us." And it's true. I have had my skinny size commented on my entire life, and it is no less as uncomfortable as having one's obesity commented on. People don't seem to understand that though. They seem to think it doesn't affect us because we are blessed with the gift of slimness. Well, let me state for the record, that is just not true. I have often made note of this to people I trust after having my weight commented on, but it comes to light for me even more now as I struggle with legitimate food and diet related health issues. Skinnyness does not preclude a person from struggling with food.

My food struggles are far from over, but I hope they start to improve soon. I am praying and hoping that I can do the LEAP test as soon as possible and start to get things under control. Then hopefully the headaches, fatigues, and nausea will stop, and I will be able to return to my normal routine.

This is a blessing in the long run. I have long wanted to give up my unhealthy habits... this is just God saying, "It's time."

If you think of me, please pray for me.

Life is not all dandelions and roses, but I am still immensely blessed. It's the trials in life that draw us near to God, keep us humble, and transform us into the people we were meant to be for His glory. I think I'd rather be humbled than spoiled.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Health - You Don't Really Think About It Until You Don't Have It

This year has brought a few really frustrating health issues for me. I'm usually a pretty healthy person, so, now that I think about just how many issues have affected me for more than one week, or somethings more than a month this year, I feel a little stumped. They have really brought me down emotionally. Feeling bad days in a row can really affect you!
First, I struggled with dizzyness for two months. It debilitated me to the point that I needed to lie down at least twice during the middle of the day. Conveniently, I was unemployed during most of that time and had the luxury of being able to do so. By the time I finally had a doctor's appointment with a specialist, it had ended, but it was one of the most frustrating health issues I've ever faced.
Earlier this fall, I struggled with chronic fatigue for at least a month. I was thrilled when I finally found the cause and eliminated it, only to now be struggling with headaches almost daily and a little more fatigue.
All this to say that I feel terrible for the multiple obligations and activities these issues have caused me to miss. We clearly don't truly appreciate our health until we don't have it at 100% for days on end! These struggles have definitely had me crying out to God quite a lot. I'm just holding on and trusting that He will reveal the cause and bring relief in His perfect timing.
Don't take your health for granted, ya'll! If you know there are changes you can and should make to be healthier, I encourage you to make them now, instead of later. We are never promised tomorrow - tomorrow may be too late.

Friday, December 10, 2010

To Everything There Is A Season

"To everything, turn, turn, turn."
~ I think it's the beatles, but I have no idea =p

Since my separation, I have been living in pure bliss. Yes, there have been rough times. There have been nightmares about the ex, times of being so broke I couldn't afford food, job hunts, working through issues of living with (beautiful) roommates... it hasn't been perfect, per say. But to me, it's been the happiest time of my life. I have NEVER been happier. I've had miracles happen and dreams come true. I've been given a second chance at the life I've dreamed of. I've made progress on pursuing my career dreams. I've had amazing experiences, I've served in ministry, I've made a boat load of new, wonderful friends... really, I couldn't ask for anything more. Well, ok, I have a wishlist, but it's in progress, and many of those things I could technically live without :)

The point is - I've been HAPPY.

And while I've been living in this bliss, I've thought a lot about how I never want it to end. When you're happy, blissfully happy - especially after a season of deep pain - you give in to all of those niave "Why does there have to be pain and hard times?" thoughts. I've definitely succumbed.

And then this week, I was given a life-changing announcement. One that interrupts my happily unwedded bliss. It's not definite yet... but the implications and possibilities have already hit my heart somewhat hard. These changes will have an emotional toll, but it will also have a financial toll, a stress toll... and I've been freaking out more, I realize now, than I should be.

Because if these changes happen, it will be because they are God's will, not just the person's will. And therefore, I can trust him with the consequences that might have some effects on my own life that I don't like very much at the time. I am having to remind myself that God is in control. That, if this is His will for this person's life, it is His will for MY life too - and He will take care of the consequences. And finally, that all things work together for the good of those that love Him.

I've thought a lot about suffering since I've been back in CO. Actually, moreso just these past few months. Mostly, because I after having gone through much, I was petrified of the thought of going through more (knowing it is inevitable), and was hoping to push it as far away as possible, ward it off. I thought about the two different kinds of suffering - the kind that you inflict on yourself through sin, and the kind that God allows to happen to you through no fault of your own. When the suffering you experience is the latter kind, you can trust God's intentions and trust Him to bring you through it no matter what. You can trust Romans 8:28. When it's the first kind, you need to repent before that is true.

This kind of (possible) change, and any sadness or stress or pain it might cause me, is the latter kind. So I've had to remind myself that I can trust God.

The phrase that God has always whispered in the bad times that I haven't been able to control (the latter kind of suffering or after repentance for the first kind), knowing when I've needed comfort is, "It will be o.k."

And He still whispers that to me now.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Love and War, Part 5: Agreements and Lies

"Love is not a fight, but it's something worth fighting for."
~ Warren Barfield

John and Stasi Eldredge would wholeheartedly agree with that statment. Although, I'm not sure they'd say it's not a fight: Based on the sound of chapter 5, they make it sound like love is one hell of fight. Excuse my double hockey sticks.

They officially start the discourse on all the ways the devil attacks marriages - but not before letting us know that most Christians are still niave to the fact that our marraiges are constantly under attack. If we're not living in defense mode with our spiritual armor on, we're going to fall for the "boobie traps" as they call them.

It starts with our thoughts, and the agreements we make with the thoughts that the devil feeds us. They told the story of a man getting into his car to leave for work and how even giving into the thought "She is such a nag," was an open doorway into the boobie trap. Giving into those thoughts create cracks, and the cracks create deep fissures.

But they went on to say that the devil doesn't just stop there and reminded us that he comes to "Kill, steal, and destroy." They told stories of a woman who had nightmares everytime her husband wanted to be intimate, and A woman who got a mysterious illness the doctors couldn't figure out everytime her husband traveled.

The summary: we have an enemy, and it is essential to stand against him, unified, if we want to see our marriages survive.

Their recommendation for a happy marriage was this: 1) Each person have a living relationship with the living God. 2) Each person deal with their own personal issues. 3) Stand continuously unified against the attacks of the Enemy. They guaranteed that doing these three things alone would make our marriage a freeing and joyous experience and relationship.

I believe them.

On another note, It made me think about the agreements I myself have made with the devil through my divorce experience. John said he had made the agreement that "it was just too hard." I confess, I've made the same agreement this past year. I agreed that being single is just plain easier. I get to do things my way, all the time, and have no one permanently disturb that. I made the agreement that marriage isn't worth it. That I'm better off alone. That it's only going to hurt me. That a man is only going to hurt me. I made an agreement many years ago that because I hadn't maintained my purity, I am "tainted." I agreed that divorce only made me more tainted. I made the agreement that any man who wants my heart is going to have to climb Mt. Everest to get it. I made an agreement against romantic love.

Those kind of suck, right? lol. I'm really guaranteeing myself some miserable loneliness if I stick to those, lol. Truth is, deep down, I know I want love - a Godly husband and a family. So I will wholeheartedly renounce those agreements. I'm just not ready for love QUITE yet. But I'm thankful for having those agreements pointed out... I really wouldn't want to live with those my whole life!

What agreements have YOU made about love?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Love and War - Part 4

It's been a few days since I've continued the "Love and War" series, for a few different reasons. First, I need a mental break. Practically every paragraph or page of the book is chock full of valuable information, and it's hard to wrap my mind around even just 45 minutes of it enough to produce a blog. Also, because I wanted to break to write about some other issues I was thinking about.

However, we are back to Love and War today! Today I finished up chapter 4 and moved on to chapter 5. The main theme was basically "How we can avoid screwing up our marriage by taking care of our personal needs elsewhere," lol.

They said the greatest gift we can give to our spouse is to have a real relationship with God. Through our relationship with Him, we have someone we can always go to for unconditional love, support, comfort, strength, and help. Their message was that this frees up our spouses from having to carry an unnecessary emotional burden - that of being our all in all. No human can ever be your all in all, and it's unfair to expect that of even our spouses.

They also spoke of having activities that you each do apart, either alone or with other friends, as well as the importance of having other friends. They said that no matter what, a wife cannot provide what a guy gets in relationships with other guys, and a husband cannot provide what a woman gets in relationships with other women. This is simply due to the fact that we are wired differently (and if that's news to you, please go read "Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus").

This also goes back to the point of working on our own personal issues. A lot of those personal issues that have nothing to do with our spouse result in us expecting things from our spouse that they either A) cannot provide or B) shouldn't have to be responsible for providing.

All in all, I agree on each of those three points. I agree based on my marriage experience, not just in opinion only. This portion of the book started to make me think that maybe with the right formula and fair and realistic expectations, marriage CAN work and be wonderful.

But, I still haven't been full re-won over to the idea just yet ;) All I have to say is that if any man ever wants to marry me in the future, he's going to have to read this book first! And agree with it! In fact, if he just wants to go get mentored by John Eldredge, that would be ok too :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Different Kind of Friendship

This evening has me thinking about friendships, rather than marital relationships. Time to switch up the pace.

I was discouraged by a friend this morning. It put a big downer on my day, which sucked. It made me think of other comments of hers that had discouraged me earlier in the week. I've been praying about it all day, asking God why I was so upset (I felt like I was a little OVER emotional about it), why I am more emotional over issues with some friends and not with others, how it might relate to past wounds caused by people I thought were true friends...

I keep reminding myself that the old adage about not being able to make someone love you is just as true with "just friends" as it is with lovers. Some people just don't love you the way you want them to and you can't make them. You just have to let them go. Some people do genuinely love you, they're just so busy and consumed with other things that they don't stop to think about how their actions are affecting you.

So that fills me with questions.

How and where do you find the kind of friends that go with you through anything and everything - the ones who endure the nitty gritty with you, the ones who endure your bad days just as willingly as the good days? Why are they so rare? How do you cultivate those friendships? What is it about a person that makes a friend WANT to be that kind of friend to them?

It seems to me that more often than not, "friends" just run away when things get too uncomfortable for them. The ones that stay through thick and thin are hard to find.

Also: If I want to be that kind of a friend, what do you do on days like today? Do you forgive and forget - or is that being dishonest? Is forgiving and forgetting really true love if you're not being honest about what hurt you - whether it's over-emotional or not? Do you take the risk that they will reject you if you put your feelings out on the line, or do you just let it go in order to not risk rocking the boat (i.e. the relationship)?

Relationships are complicated, romantic or not.

When I was a little kid (before I was saved), I used to lie ALL the time. I was a terrible kid. I stole cookies, I stole money out of my mother's purse, I snuck clothes my mother wouldn't let me wear to school in my bookbag and changed in the bathroom...and I lied all the time (of course - to avoid getting in trouble - which didn't work anyway!). But I came to a point in my childhood - I believe it was when I was 10 - that I decided lying wasn't worth it, and I stopped. I came to a different point, sometime in my teen or college years, when I decided that honesty was always the best policy - no matter how much it might hurt to hear it sometimes. And I still believe that wholeheartedly. Honesty is the BEST policy.

So, with the risk of hurting feelings or hurting a relationship, I'm going to have to choose honesty anyway. Because a relationship without any honesty isn't a real friendship, anyway. And I WANT the friendship in which we would do anything for each other, sink or swim, do or die - including going through the nitty gritty, enduring the good days and the bad - the days when I'm not the most awesome person and you kinda feel like punching me in the face. Knowing me, I can guarantee there will be some.

And I'm willing to take the risk of being honest in order to find it.

Update: We talked, and it was easy :) She is such a beautiful woman of God. Sweet, sweet soul, that girl. And definitely a true friend :) BUT, I still think those questions are ones worth pondering, and do-or-die friends are always worth it when you find them. I hope you have a do-or-die friend... and if you don't right now, I hope you will have the blessing of one in your lifetime... if not, I hope you meet the best do-or-die friend of all in Heaven.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Perks of a Party of 1

So, I've been writing about my thoughts, feelings, and reflections as I've been reading through "Love and War," John and Stasi Eldredge's latest and greatest. It's been incredibly insightful, and I recommend it to everyone, married or single.

BUT - for as much as I may be trying to work on having a heart that is open to the idea of a new relationship (in the future), I climbed into my bed last night - my incredibly comfortable bed - and thought to myself "I LOVE that this bed only fits one."

I believe that comes from the fact that I'm not just coming out of a marriage, but an abusive one. When the person who is supposed to treat you the best starts to treat you the worst, you begin to appreciate your safety a whole bunch more. So sleeping in a twin bed makes me feel safe. No one else can get in it and violate my safety. My room is MY room... no unwanted visitors! It may sound silly. But it means a whole dang lot to me.

Sometimes, the person you need to look after the most is you.

And I realized after I thought that, that even though I am working on my healing and desire to get to the place where I am able to open my heart again, I am still in a place where I have no desire for that right now - I'm working for it so that it will happen SOMEDAY, not right now. For the first time in my life (since blossoming into a teenager and having those desires for a relationship awakened), I LOVE being single. Might've taken a bad marriage to get here, but I am happy that I'm here! I'm content being single. I LOVE it. There's something about realizing the realities of living with a romantic partner that make you forever grateful for the blessings that come with NOT!

So, cheers to being single - my worth is not defined by being in a relationship, except the one I have with Jesus!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Love and War Part 3: It's Not them... It's Us. Individual Issues Affecting Your Marriage.

Today I finished chapter 3 and began 4 of "Love and War," by John and Stasi Eldredge, about which I am writing this blog series.

Like they had started discussing yesterday, the latter half of chapter three continued to talk about our "way of relating," or "our relating style." They attribute each individual's way of relating as derived from our "life story," our wounds, and our sin. They've also referred to it as our "way of dealing with life."

They gave examples of how a man and woman's individual style of relating is inherently different from one another's (each of ours is somewhat unique), and that these can cause a number of conflicts in a marriage - often conflicts that deep down have nothing to do with the other person or the marriage. Often they are inner conflicts whose roots lie in experiences and wounds from our pasts.

They spoke of how John and Stasi have both sought individual counseling at different times and what a benefit that brought to their marriage. It made me think that if each married individual did that, we'd all be better off! I think the success rates of marriages would go way up! In fact, I am of the opinion that everyone would benefit from some counseling. No one in this world is unwounded. But more than that, I think everyone who hopes or plans to get married someday should seek individual counseling, whether your currently dating the person you hope to marry or still single. Why not work on healing as many of those wounds as possible NOW, instead of waiting for them to blow up into a problem that hurts your marriage down the line? Letting that happen just seems stupid to me. I know I would benefit from further counseling, and after hearing it discussed from John and Stasi's perspective, I fully intend on getting some before I get remarried someday. I mean, after what I've been through with my first husband, my second will be thanking his lucky stars that I was that smart, lol. Which doesn't mean he won't still need to walk with me through different parts of my healing. I think there are still going to be certain things in which he will actually be integral to my healing - like providing a feeling of safety, exercising calm strength, and being a spiritual leader. All of those things will contribute to my healing process, and they're all very high on my list of what I'm looking for in my future hubby.

I think everyone would be wise to seek individual counseling before they get married, especially if they're currently dating the person they think they will marry. Even more so, I think it's doubly wise to get counseling when you're having a marital struggle that is really not about the marriage or your husband, but about you. When God shows you that something you're struggling with is something to do with you and not your husband, it's your responsibility to address that instead of taking it out on him - although he should certainly walk with you through it. A spouse should always be there for you and walk with you through your personal struggles, but they shouldn't have to suffer unfairly because of them.

That was only one half of what they talked about in the portion that I listened to today, but it's so chock full of things to think about that the second half will have to wait!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Love and War - Part 2

Marriage is God's divine conspiracy.

That basically sums up chapter three of "Love and War," By John and Stasi Eldredge. Doesn't quite sound like God to create conspiracys, right? Let's explain.

John and Stasi Eldredge use chapter three to dive deeper into why marriage is so hard. They start by explaining what it is about the other person that absolutely drives them crazy. After hearing the lists from each of them, I wondered how they even live with each other!

They then went on to describe the wounds they each brought with them into their marriage, and how those played out in their first few years of marriage, which led to their first close call with the D word. Stasi felt like nothing she did was good enough, everything was a failure. She would never be able to please John. If she ironed a shirt, he would re-iron it, for example. As I listened to that (I listen to books on mp3, by the way), I thought to myself, with an ache in my heart, "That sounds familiar."

Then John spoke, and he said that the theme of the wounds he brought into the marriage was "abandonment." He said he was almost a "violent" perfectionist. Now, my ex was NOT a perfectionist, but he was violent. And abandonment is DEFINITELY the theme of his wounds. I saw a similarity there. It was a little scary, but I feel like it helped me to understand him a little more, although it makes no excuse for his behavior. I was at least comforted by the fact that someone else has gone through that too (Stasi).

They went on to describe the natural conflict that arises in marriage. First, they noted that the old adage "opposites attract" is absolutely true. The kicker is that God does that on purpose. It is by putting two different people together that He is able to refine us. If we were exactly the same as our spouses, life would be A) boring, and B) too easy. But he puts opposites together purposely to make us more like Him. The spouse he picks for us is the exact person that is best equipped to help us become the person God has planned for us to be, and vice versa.

Part of what makes marriage God's refining process for us is that we all, as individuals, create a way of coping with life that best works for us that is a result of both our wounds and our sin. The problem is that even going into marriage, we never intend to give "our way" up. We all casually say, "Oh, of course I know we'll have to compromise," but when it starts to become uncomfortable, we have a problem with it. So, as part of the refining process that God has created within marriage, he created it to be a dynamic in which we HAVE to give it up if we want to succeed. John and Stasi noted that true love and intimacy is often lost or hidden through refusing to give up "our way." I thought that was a significant point to consider and in my opinion, definitely one of the factors that creates big problems within marriages.

I listen to this book on mp3 for about 30-40 minutes in my car every morning, and that covers about a half to a whole chapter. Regardless of how little that seems to be, I am gaining valuable insight from that mere 40 minutes a day. Each paragraph gives me insight either to my failed marraige, my misconceptions of marriage, or the realities of marraige. In addition, it reveals some of the areas most susceptible to leading to big problems in a marriage and ways to try to avoid them. In 3 chapters, I feel that I'm gaining information that will give my next (and final) marriage much higher chances of success.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Love and War - The Start of a Series?

"It CAN be done."

That's the opening message of John and Stasi Eldredge's latest book, "Love and War." It is largely addressed to those who have been married before or for some time, and it is addressing their skepticism. Their weariness from having tried and reached the point of wanting to give up.

Being a product of divorce and a soon to be divorcee, I have experienced my fair share of skepticism over the institution of marriage - especially within the last year of going through my own divorce. Books like "Love and War" and "Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage," by Elizabeth Gilbert (of "Eat Pray Love" fame) appeal to me, because I can relate.

I want to know why we should even attempt marriage if it's so hard and how we can make it work. I want to know why it's worth it. I want to know why I should want to try it again. I want something to make me want it again, because I don't want to remain so scarred and bitter against it. I am starting to slowly soften and warm up to it again. One of the reasons this matters to me is because I feel a conviction in my gut that God doesn't plan for me to remain single for the rest of my life, nor does He want me to WANT to be single for the rest of my life and remain bitter. I truly believe He has a plan for me to get married again (to the right guy) and make a family. So I want to get to the point where I am open to that and have peace with it.

So, I am thinking that I will blog about that journey. My journey of studying the topic of marriage more deeply and how that helps me to become ready to try again.

And we start with "Love and War."

One of the main messages in the early portion of the book emphasises how marriage is a depiction of Christ's relationship with the church. They talk about how much God LOVES marriage. They point out something which many Christians don't necessarily notice - that the Bible begins AND ends with marriage.

It really made me think about how, just like every other aspect of our lives as Christians, life is not about us! So it only makes sense that neither is marriage! It's about God. It's about representing God's love for us, Christ's love for the church. It's about glorifying God. That's the point I really took home: It's not about us.

Yet, that's what most people, even Christians, tend to think - that it's about us and our happiness. That's why, when our happiness within a marriage starts to fade, many are so quick to give up. I've heard a handful of Christians talk about marriage being a representation of Christ's relationship with the church, but I'm not sure of how many actually live that way. And I've never heard of that being on anyone's list of criteria for what they're looking for in a mate - "Is this person the one best suited to represent the kingdom of God with me?" How would our standards and our relationships drastically change, if this truly was how we measured them? How would we handle conflicts in our romantic relationships if we were consciously thinking about how we, as a couple, could best glorify God and represent His kingdom on a daily basis? How would we treat each other differently?

This truly puts an entirely new perspective on my standards for a future husband and my mindset for when I'm evaluating someone against them someday. Something tells me that if more couples operated like this, we'd see a declining rate of divorce in our country.

Until next time - stay tuned :)