Dear (terrified) future husband…

Actually, anyone’s terrified future husband.

I want to apologize on behalf of the unmarried female populace for all of the “Dear future husband” letters that are multiplying on the internet faster than the fruit flies in your bachelor pad.  I’m sorry because they’re honestly pretty creepy.  I’m sorry because they portray Christian females as an overly mushy and sappy specimen of womanhood who sit around writing letters to you and polishing their purity rings.  I’m mostly sorry because–although most of them have some sort of “but Jesus is better!” caveat  near the end–they really seem to put you in His place, and no human can live up to that pressure.

Yeah, we’re girls.  We’re romantics.  We think about you more than we probably should.  But please please please… do not run in terror from all Christian girls because of creepy blog posts.  Or long pinterest pins conveying extremely unrealistic relationship expectations mainly involving you becoming Prince Charming incarnate.  Or songs like “Dear Future Husband.”  I won’t even get started on that one.

I’m not saying that all expectations are to be tossed out the window.  Please be gentlemen.  Please be kind.  Please be a leader.  What I am saying is we know that you won’t be perfect, and we’re wrong when we paint you as the panacea for our soul’s deepest longings. Please do not accept that burden.  Jesus has already taken that job, and if we won’t accept the satisfaction he offers, we’ll be just as lonely with or without you.

And girls, let’s just stop it.  I personally pledge that this will be the first and last letter to a hypothetical husband that I will ever write and I invite you to join me on this pathway of removing creepy expectations from guys.  Next time you have an urge to write a “Dear Future Husband” letter, maybe you should write a letter to your true future husband, Jesus.

#freetheguys

 

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Rubik’s Cube and Rumble Strips: Summer Travels

This summer, I had the privilege of traveling as part of a singing group representing my college.  Quick stats:  8 students + 1 sponsor/sponsor couple traveling in a 15 passenger van with a trailer for 9 weeks through 17 states to approx. 45 churches/camps/conferences to present our program of sacred vocal and instrumental music and drama and recruit students, prayer warriors, and other contacts for our school.  It was a great, hard, fun summer, and conveniently, all my highlights start with R!  Alliteration fanatics, be proud.

Rubik’s Cube

Gotta do something in the car, right?  12,000 miles is enough time for even ME to learn the Rubik’s cube.  My very patient friend taught me while we were sitting in the van.  One thing I really value from the summer is the time in the van chillaxing.  Essentially every day, we drove between 1 and 7 hours–plenty of down time to learn new things, read, review my Greek, memorize Scripture, cross-stitch, get to know your teammates, and yes, nap. A lot.  When I look at my little Rubik’s cube, it symbolizes to me time.  Time in which I was forced (not unwillingly) to sit and do the things I always say I’ll do “when I have time.”

Roller Coasters

I went on my first roller coaster!  Mondays were our days off, and we were able to enjoy going to a theme park in Branson, the Mall of America, or chilling/swimming in the hotel.  I’m not going to lie–I wasn’t super crazy about hurtling towards the ground at millions of miles per hour and then being whipped around unnatural angles.  Yeah, yeah, it’s “safe.”  In this context.  It’s pretty much letting people feel like they’re going to die without dying.  Huh, fun.

I know, I’m being a party pooper.  The thing I did appreciate about days off was being able enjoy things as a group that I wouldn’t go do on my own.  We got close as a group, and we just enjoyed being together.

Relationships

My teammates, the people that we ministered to, the people that ministered to us by having us in their homes…  people were the best and worst part of the summer.  They pulled out of me what I didn’t know was in me–anger or compassion, self-assertion or submission, problem-solving or “the void.”  You know, where you try to think and there’s literally nothing there.  Mac ‘n Cheese where my brain should be.  Anyway, people are what God used most in my life this summer to show me what I have in me–both good and bad.

Rumble Strips

Some of those people were the staff members from the school who would travel with us for 1-2 weeks at a time to drive the van and serve as an adult presence.  One of our sponsors–we’ll call him “Egbert” to protect the… I hesitate to call him innocent–was an excellent spiritual leader and a very fun addition to our team.  But he loved rumble strips.  Like, would purposely drive on the rumble strip for several miles to ensure that everyone was awake.  As you can imagine, those of us who were sleeping at these times were not too keen on being awakened by Sir Egbert’s little driving tricks.  I guess all of our sponsors had their quirks though–and that’s what made them memorable.  It was one of my favorite things about the summer, to hear your professor scream on a roller coaster, or  wear sandals almost 24/7, or have him pull you aside and ask how you’re holding up, or to observe him graciously drive through Manhattan with a van and trailer (no mean task!).  To see the summer vacation side of teachers–even if that involved rumble strips.

Re

Each member of our team had different responsibilities.  Mine was that of Music Director, which involved leading warm-ups (like do-re-mi?  Get the title? Nevermind.) and rehearsals and rearranging the program schedule when the church wanted less than the full hour and fifteen minutes.  It was one of the most stretching parts of the summer for me.  It forced me to be creative with warm-ups and programming, to analyze what needed to change, to lead musically.  I hated it–I loved it.  I got to the end and gladly renounced my responsibilities, at the same time knowing there is no renouncing what I know God has given to me, so I’m actually just starting.

Right Around the Corner…

I couldn’t help but wonder, as the summer went on, what I’ll be doing next summer after I graduate.  I value so much this summer and the different kinds of churches and ministries I was exposed to, the grad schools I was able to look into, the cities we visited, and even the teaching bug I caught.  Overall, I’m more excited than scared about what lies beyond graduation.

 

So… what did you do this summer?  Can you alliterate it, rhyme it, or acronym it?  [P.S. Acronym can actually be a verb.  Did you know that?  I didn’t know that.]

The anniversary of a watch

“Out of the right fob hung a great silver chain, with a wonderful kind of engine at the bottom.  We directed him to draw out whatever was fastened to that chain; which appeared to be a globe, half silver, and half of some transparent metal: for on the transparent side we saw certain strange figures circularly drawn, and thought we could touch them, till we found our fingers stopped with that lucid substance.  He put this engine to our ears, which made an incessant noise like that of a watermill: and we conjecture it is either some unknown animal, or the god that he worships; but we are more inclined to the latter opinion, because he assures us (if we understood him right, for he expressed himself very imperfectly) that he seldom did any thing without consulting it.  he called it his oracle, and said it pointed out the time for every action of his life.

The Lilliputians’ descriptions of Capt. Gulliver’s pocket watch, from Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.

A year ago, one of my kind and generous brothers who possess excellent taste brought me a lovely, mulberry-colored wristwatch for my birthday.  I love it because it’s from my brother, it’s classy, and it’s extremely practical.  If I forget to put it on in the morning, I soon miss it, because I’m constantly checking it–like Gulliver, it almost becomes a god sometimes.  Other times, I wish I would have paid more attention to its silent, constant admonition.

A year ago, I set the time, pushed in the crown, and watched my pretty little watch count its first seconds.  And whether it was looked to or not, whether or not its silent advice was heeded, the watch ticked faithfully on.  The watch ticked out seconds; minutes; hours; days; weeks; months. Finally, the watch ticked out an entire year.  That first year ended this morning.

The watch was there, and could bear witness to what I did with each minute I was given.  For truly, I was given each minute.  They were granted for my benefit, productivity, and maturation from the hand of God himself.  Five hundred and twenty-five thousand, six-hundred of them.  So many precious little gifts.  Some abused, some lost, some wasted.  Some redeemed into usefulness, treasured to goodness.  One thing is certain–those minutes are all gone.  All have ‘ticked their last.’

Yet the watch ticks on.

 

 

Aside

Saying goodbye

I still remember leaving Brazil.  I’d been there for a scant month, but I sobbed as I boarded my flight for Sao Paulo where I would connect to Dallas.  I treasured my last look through the window at my friends waving on the other side–would it be the last time I would see them?  If I did ever go back, I knew it wouldn’t be the same–not the same time with the same people.  It was gone.

I hugged my sister.  I teared up, knowing this was the last time–in a matter of moments, we would no longer share the same name, the same room.  This was the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one.  I wasn’t saying goodbye to a person, because I still have her.  It was all the years and memories that I had to finally realize belonged to past.  They were over.  They were gone.

I feel the same way every time I say goodbye to my church family in West Virginia before a break, and every time I hug my siblings before I head back to school.  I feel this inner conflict, knowing that to say goodbye to one is to go back to the other.  I wish it weren’t this way–I wish that time and space didn’t operate the way they do, that goodbyes didn’t have to happen.

Until then, every goodbye is a reminder to me of a day when i’ll never say goodbye, and a knowledge that there’s one person I never have to say goodbye to.  His name is Jesus, and he’s all that gets me through saying goodbye.

 

 

the wasteland of my mind

Dry. Parched. Empty.

I admit, having a job has sapped me of energy, motivation, creative juices.  Some nights I get home and don’t even feel like thinking.

The strange thing is this–I’m trying.  I’m still reading.  Right now it’s Blame it on the Brain? by Ed Welch and Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels, and last Saturday, for fun, “The Courtship of Miles Standish” by Henry Wadsworth Longellow, my favorite poet.  It’s always the perfect binge read, because it’s a short story, so it only has 8 (or 7?) short staves; it’s non-rhyming poetry, so it’s literately beautiful, but flowy rather than purely rhythmic; and it has the perfect amount of plot, romance, and historic background for my sentimental heart.  Anyhow, I digress.

I’m trying.  I’m studying [although not as much as I should…].  Biology–gotta CLEP this thing!–and New Testament Greek.  I have concepts to digest, information to analyze and synthesize, charts and lists and definitions to review.  It’s not necessarily my first pick; my hopes for study this summer was what I like to call ‘the psychology of music,’ or how body, brain, and spirit are involved in responding to and producing music.  Still, I like science, especially biology.  I like pseudopods and autotrophs and different cardiovascular systems.  I enjoy vocabulary and word morphology and verb conjugations.

I’m trying.  I have the most consistent spiritual discipline I’ve had in a long time, as far as Bible reading and memorization and prayer are concerned, and I feel close to God in those times I share with him.

But I’m pouring a cup of water onto the Sahara.

I’m reading the thoughts of others, but unable to generate my own.

I’m adding the information to my mental stew, but like oil and water, every time I try to ‘stir it in,’ to integrate it with what’s already there, it won’t mix.  It floats back to the surface.

I’m drawing near to God, and I have a greater awareness of his presence in my life (which I wrote about in a previous post).  His presence is there, but the spiritual insight isn’t.  The fresh observations in the Scriptures, new discoveries about God’s character, they’re missing somehow.

What’s the cause?  Maybe it’s the physical tiredness.  Maybe the dreary weather.  Maybe because it’s mid-June already, and I’m a little down that my summer at home’s already almost half over.  And let’s be honest, my frequent bursts of inactivity (there’s a nice contradictory statement for you…) probably don’t help my brain’s state, which is currently the mental equivalent of a sloth.

Whatever it is, I’m tired of it.  I want to have a thought again, one that stays.  My showers for the past week have been peppered with tantalizing little birds that quickly flit away.  Somewhere between shampoo and conditioner they leave me.

Whatever this midsummer’s meh is that’s come over my thinking, I’m not sure where it came from or if it’s leaving any time soon.  I don’t know why the thoughts go in and won’t come out. But I know for certain that the stupor won’t leave by me resigning myself to it and giving up.

All I can do is keep reading.  Keep studying.  Keep seeking.  Keep trying.

Because I believe–“Ask, and it will be given to you.  Seek, and you will find.  Knock, and the door will be opened to you,” (Matthew 7:7).  I definitely believe Jesus’ words are a spiritual promise, but I think they’re also a general principle for all of life. It’s one of God’s spiritual principles that he put into physics, too.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  Every thought put in results in a thought put out.  I know this synthesis of Scripture, science, and what I’d like to believe about how my brain operates isn’t perfect–I’m still working on it, but, as I might have mentioned, it’s been pretty dry around here lately.

Maybe you’re in the brain-desert too.  Or maybe you’re in a veritable greenhouse, exotic and lush.  I guess we’ll just keep on.  Keep watering the ground–

eventually something will grow.

The sobriety of death

So much death.  I hope you’ll take the time to watch this video–honestly, what would you be doing with those 18 minutes otherwise?  Scrolling news feed?  Don’t do that.  Watch this.  It’s sobering.  It’s thought-provoking.  And I can’t pin-point exactly all the thoughts it’s stirring up in me yet, but I know one.

Death is reality.  These people really died.  Reality is the sphere in which we live–I am only separated from this horrific condensing of death–so many deaths which should not have happened for 60, 70 years–by time and space, and not terribly much of it.

So what?  What sentiments should that thought inspire?  Sobriety [I love this word, by the way.  That’s a post for another day, but I love the picture of thinking in reality and not being ‘drunk’ on alcohol, drugs, fame, delusions…].  It was real, and it was ugly.  Thankfulness.  It could have been me, but it wasn’t.  Sympathy.   There are so many who do undergo the pain, the heartache that I’ve been sheltered from–what’s happening in Congo, the Middle-East, and Syria are the same ugliness, just smaller in scale.  For that matter, what’s happening down the street may be the same ugliness, just smaller yet.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings.  Watch the video.

Pressing sensations: to the summer bums

Smooth rayon/poly blend.

Weighty denim.

Light linen.

Thick, stubborn duck.

Crisp cotton.

Stretch cotton. Ugh.

There’s something about just feeling the smoothness of the fabric under your fingers, seeing the wrinkles magically disappear, sensing the steam rush towards your face and smelling the warm fabric.

 Ironing: it’s such a simple household task, but one filled with a hundred small sensations.

Just one question for you, summer bum [and we know who we are–you have a favorite youtube channel, binge watched/read something after finishing and have probably spent more than 2 consecutive hours in front of a screen, both of which I am guilty, by the way]: did you feel anything today?  There are a dozen better reasons I could give for getting off the couch [please God, serve others, accomplish something, don’t waste your life…], but today this was the one that struck me.

I walked both paths today–laziness and industry.  The hour I sat and watched youtube had nothing on cooking supper, ironing, weeding, cleaning up.  The pressure of my knife on crisp carrots, the slightly raw feeling on my hands after wrenching grass out of the garden, the slippery warmth of dish water.  That… or sitting in front of my laptop.  It was fun.  But not satisfying.

Tomorrow, do something.  Please.  For your own sake, if nothing else.  You’re missing out.

Feel something.