Tuesday, May 14, 2013

no plan B

 Hi guys! I'm back! Hopefully for real...here's the latest...

For as long as I can remember, I have been a planner.  I like to know what to expect. I also like to know what I can do to help keep things on track. There have been a few areas in my life where I have felt completely out of control, and yet I’ve tried my best to do what I could.

In case you couldn’t figure it out, the main area has been marriage.

As you know, I tried online dating...and consistently maintained an interest in someone, just in case, you know, that plan B.  It was as though not being interested in someone meant that I was giving up.  Doors shut, no one allowed to come in.

About two weeks ago, I felt led to let go of my back up plans.  It was time to put everything in God’s hands and stop trying to make something happen.  It doesn’t mean shutting the door or not being open to possibility.  It meant letting go of the responsibility of making my future marriage happen.  It felt freeing and terrifying at the same time.

My biggest fear with not having something to hold onto is that it meant I couldn’t possibly know what to expect...and even worse, I look around and there are no possibilities left.  But God has a funny way of showing me how easily He can open doors or create possibilities.

The other night during a hot tub excursion, a few friends of mine and I were whining  talking about how there was a lack of men our age in our lives.  How we need them and their manliness to balance out our sometimes crazy femininity.  It wasn’t a long discussion, and we moved on fairly quick.  Only a few moments later, we look up to find a very handsome man, our age, coming to join us.  We’ll call him Mr. Fireman.  Yes, one of the many things he does in life is fight fires.  Let’s just say, he fit the manly bill.  And so we talked, for almost an hour, before going our separate ways.

And then there was today.  I had jury duty.  I walked in, and had to be scanned twice because my purse had too much stuff in it to be sure I wasn’t carrying something dangerous (ha! like I am any sort of danger...). As I am putting my belt back on, I see this, yes, guy my age.  He says something to me about how crazy the security guys were, and then we walk together to the jury room.  We don’t say much, but already it’s like we’ve formed a partnership...mission: get through jury duty.  We both walk over to the sign in spot, and finish at about the same time.  We both look for seats.  I see some open ones in the middle and head there.  He follows.  He sits next to me.  Did I mention he’s a good looking guy?  So I ask him what jury duty is getting him out of, and find out he works at a winery.  So Mr. Winery and I spend the rest of the time talking until we delightfully get told we are excused.  We walk out together, and as we each try and figure out where to exit, I realized we split up.  So did he...how do I know? I looked back and saw him looking back.

In about a week’s time, I met two men. Both handsome.  Both easy to talk to.  Both without trying.  I feel like that is more than I’ve met in the last year! Hahaha....I’m pretty sure God is trying to tell me something.  He can bring someone into my life at a moment’s notice.  I don’t have to search high and low, or work hard to make something happen.  It can just happen.  Although neither of these encounters produced anything beyond pleasant company, I know there was a purpose.  God can do more than I can, quicker than I can, better than I can.  And if I can just stay in this place of trusting Him and following His lead, I know I will see great things.  One of those great things will be my husband.  

I think my plan B has always been pretty lousy anyway.  I’ll take God’s way over mine.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012- a year of surprises

Every year, I start out casting vision and hoping certain things will happen.  I write them down.  I ask God what His plan is for the year, and I watch and see what unfolds.  It's funny, my ideas tend to turn out wrong...but when I look at what God presses on my heart each year, He never fails to bring that word to be true.  2012 was woven through this verse-
 "Sing, barren woman,
    you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
    you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
    than of her who has a husband,”
says the Lord. 
 “Enlarge the place of your tent,
    stretch your tent curtains wide,
    do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
    strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
    your descendants will dispossess nations
    and settle in their desolate cities.
 “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
    Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
    and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
For your Maker is your husband—
    the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
    he is called the God of all the earth."

Being a singer, I honed in on that word "sing", and hoped God would bring more opportunities for me to sing.  In a way, He did...but not the way I thought.  I did lead a full song in worship for the first time, and our choir sings every week now.   But that was not the focus.  Instead I should've paid more attention to "stretch".

Little did I know the plans God had for me this year.  Today I was praying and thanking Him for what He brought into my life this year, things I didn't even think to ask for, and I began to tear up.  I wasn't expecting to find myself promoted at the end of 2012.  And I certainly hadn't thought I'd be leading a women's cell group again.  It just goes to show that God opens doors that we think either aren't there OR that are closed.  Both of these things are stretching me.  My life is full to the brim in many ways, but I have found that my tents have stretched...so that I am able to handle it.  At least with God's help.

I've asked God what He has in store for 2013.  So far, I've gotten this phrase "going to the promised land".  I am hopeful for what that means.  I have my own hopes...hopes of meeting my husband, hopes of really getting my finances in order (I am making good strides!), hopes of finally learning what it means to make my health a priority and meet some of those goals tied to it.  Hopes of salvation.  Hopes of singing more and learning to use my voice in a greater way to bless God.  No matter what I hope for, I know when I get to the end of 2013, I will see His word fulfilled.  He hasn't failed me yet.

I don't know how well I will keep up this blog in 2013...I hope to do it more justice in the coming year.  I think I felt like so much was going on inside that I couldn't accurately express it on the outside.  I sometimes felt like I had nothing to say.  As this will likely be the last post of 2012, I hope you all have a wonderful new year celebration...one full of hope and promise.  Thanks for reading, some of you have been quite faithful.  Happy new year!

Friday, October 12, 2012

A little adventure...

In a few days, I will be ending my approximately four month long adventure in the world of online dating.  I have been in a very open season where I was willing to explore some unknown territory in order to hopefully cross paths with my future husband.  After a few people had mentioned it to me, despite vehemently opposing the idea in the past, I was curious.  So I ventured.

It had its upsides and its downsides, and certainly helped me to see things differently.  I tried a few sites, including Eharmony, OkCupid and Christian Cafe.  Here are some of the snapshots of my experiences with each one:

Eharmony: This was my least favorite site.  What I liked about it was its overall presentation.  It was clean and visually appealing.  It did send me some pretty good matches, in my opinion.  But I had no freedom to explore and their intro questions and process felt cheesy.  I almost had a coffee date from a match here...but he dropped off the face of the planet when my month subscription expired.  My favorite thing that happened on this site was getting matched with someone I knew!  He’s an attractive musician I met a few years ago and we are casually acquainted at this point.  I messaged him on Facebook, and we had a good laugh about it.  Nothing of significance has occurred as a result, but I’m keeping that option open....

OkCupid:  I joined this one because it was free.  What I liked about it was that I could explore and search for people on my own terms.  And it was free.  But it tried to match me for the first month or so with guys whose match percentage was ridiculously low...simply because they lived close to me.  And I had several guys message me with “hi” or “hi there” or “hola princesse” who also had a low match percentage.  First off, the lack of creativity was astounding. Second, I am pretty sure they didn’t bother reading my profile or they might not have bothered...however, having guys contact you simply because they find you attractive is flattering...even if it is undesired.

Christian Cafe: I joined this one because a friend recommended it...she’s still with the guy she met here.  I loved the forums, where topics of all sorts but especially dating related were discussed.  I loved being able to search on my own terms, and knowing who viewed you.  I loved that it was a Christian website, and that it regularly works to remove scammers.  That being said...no website is free from scammers.  And not all of them are caught right away.  I had an ongoing conversation (luckily very superficial) with one.  I ended up being contacted a couple of weeks later by the real guy the scammer had mimicked.  Talk about a creepy moment.  It was sad because I was starting to build a friendship when the guy disappeared (removed for being a scammer)...and I had to go through the realization that he wasn’t real and that I could’ve been taken advantage of.  It left me feeling distrustful.  Also, for some reason, men who were old enough to be my dad thought I’d be open to communicating with them....more so here than on the other sites.  After that last experience, I had not been really approached by anyone with potential.  So, I’ve decided to end my membership...at least for now.

Things I’ve learned from this experience:
- I like meeting and talking to people in real life MUCH better than online.  It’s so easy to be deceived online, and I don’t like that feeling.
- Apparently there are men out there who do find me attractive!
- I don’t really like that I had to initiate conversation online. It felt really vulnerable, especially when you wouldn’t get a response.  But even worse than that, I have strongly felt that I am not meant to be the initiator...and in the online world, you kind of need to be sometimes.
- Even though most of the time my attempts to initiate conversation were ignored, there were surprising responses.  One guy wasn’t interested, but kindly responded with “Thought I would write back and tell you how beautiful your eyes are! Don’t think we are a match, but I know you won’t have any problem finding the right person!”  Even though he wasn’t interested, I didn’t feel bad about that.  He’s going to find himself a good one...no doubt about that.  It also taught me to be kind in my responses.  I didn’t want guys to feel bad if I wasn’t interested.
- Although I am totally okay with becoming friends with total strangers online (say because we both like NEEDTOBREATHE), I am really hesitant to put myself out there for something more.
- I realize that online dating does work for people.  That may or may not include me.  And that’s okay.

So, unless Mr. Future comes a knocking via Christian Cafe in the next few days, I am walking away from that for now.  It just doesn’t feel right.  I was really encouraged by the experience though...because there were a few genuine men who were interested, although for the most part it was not mutual.  That argument that had been so loud in my mind has been cast out thanks to these men.  Men do find me attractive.  I just haven’t been pursued by the one who will win my heart yet.  Don’t think I’ve given up hope for that either.  This is not a throw-in-the-towel moment.  In fact, it’s more like the opposite.  I’ve realized that I want a face-to-face encounter, a real date...not just sending words across the Internet.  And I believe that God can do anything to make that happen.  In His timing.  So the adventure continues......

As my senior quote stated,
"Every new beginning comes from some other
beginning's end." -Semisonic

Let's hope so.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

sometimes and always

Sometimes: I develop crushes on musicians I meet.
Always: I wonder if it is ridiculous to do so, but continue to "keep an open mind" because you never know... ;)

Sometimes: I try making things I find on Pinterest and hope it'll turn out perfect.
Always: It doesn't look the same...but it tastes yummy!

Sometimes: I worry that my new job's shoes are too big for me to fill...
Always: I tell myself to put my big boy pants on and get it done.
I thought this shot was fitting...hahaha

Sometimes: I wonder if it bothers my preggo friend when I constant touch her ever growing belly.
Always: I do it anyway...knowing she loves me. It's part of my "auntie" rights.

Sometimes: I think about doing something crazy like skydiving or getting a tattoo.
Always: I talk myself out of it.

Sometimes: I crave chocolate.
Always: I scour the house looking for a way to satisfy that craving. Gotta let yourself have something yummy from time to time...right?!

Monday, August 6, 2012

God answers.

It has been a quiet season here on this blog over the last six months or so.  But it doesn't mean my life has been quiet.  I sometimes felt like I am talking to God about certain topics non-stop, not always sure that He's listening or if He cares.  In the last month, I've seen God answer.  Some of these prayers have been laid over the last few years, and some only the past few months.

Take my brother, for example.  He has been living in Las Vegas for the past 8 or so years.  We have all been hoping that he could return to CA, but jobs and various other circumstances stood in the way.  When he came to visit me in May 2010, I saw him light up.  I saw possibility spring into his mind, and mine.  And I began to pray.  Sometimes I put that prayer away, and other times, my prayers concerning my brother would take up all my thoughts...like they did in May 2012, when he lost his job.  I knew God was going to do something but didn't know what.  So I prayed.  He was applying everywhere for a job, and I encouraged him to apply where I live.  Why not?  Eventually, I felt like he needed to just come and visit.  He could apply to jobs here and be available for interviews.  So, at the beginning of July, we conspired.  And he came.

He arrived on a Friday.  By Monday, he was offered a job.  A week later, he found a place to live within walking distance of where I live.  And this last weekend, he moved here and started his job.  God answered.

One of my prayers and dreams this year was to sing more.  It was a promise given to me by God, and as I started the year, I had some doors opening that I thought were going to fulfill that.  And then by May, they began to shut.  I was so frustrated, but held onto the promise.  I knew that just because a door was shutting, it didn't necessarily mean that door was the door to that dream.  There could be another way.

In late June, I found myself trying out to lead a song, a full song, for worship.  I was so incredibly nervous...feeling like this was my one chance, and it could slip through my fingers, like the other door that had shut.  I didn't sound like myself, and I knew it.  But halfway through, I stopped caring so much and decided to focus on God.  I sang to Him.  It still sounded off, but it was my way of leaving it in His hands. 

To my amazement, I was chosen.  I felt like I didn't deserve it, but I could feel God pushing me to believe.  Thankfully the nerves that made me sound so foreign didn't seize me on the day I was meant to sing.  I was still nervous...it's an incredible call to lead people into worship.  God met me that morning, and began to answer that prayer.

There are other prayers that I am fervently bringing to His attention, and I still, despite seeing these great things unfold, hesitate in my belief sometimes. But I have to proclaim boldly with thanks, God answers.  He hears. He loves.  So thankful.

Monday, July 23, 2012

in other news...

So, yeah...would 2012 slow down a little?! Almost two months have passed since my last post, but I can say I've got some good reasons why I haven't been in the blog world. Here's a short lunch break check in to give you an update!

In the last two months...
I've gone to four more concerts...Green River Ordinance, Citizen, History of Painters, Zac Brown Band
I've gone to local baseball games, trips to the beach and the lake.
I've booked two cruises in the next seven months.
I rescued a dog and got her returned to her home (with the help of my roommate!)
I got a PROMOTION...Program Director, here I come...
I led a full song at church for the first time (only had led parts in the past)
I had a major answer to prayer when my brother came to visit, found a job, and is now moving here!
I helped build a huge indoor blanket fort, because we could.
I've become addicted to the show Big Bang Theory.
I've also started line dancing every week.

Life is good, folks. And busy. It's almost the birthday, and I'm feeling ambivalent about celebrating...but more and more people are telling me that I look like I am in the 21-24 age range instead of (ahem) almost 31. That too is good. :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

keep your distance

This last weekend, I went on a short women's retreat in a lovely place outside of the hustle and bustle of life.  During the retreat, the owner of the place gave us the opportunity to check out their snakes...which included rattlesnakes and an 11 foot python.  The python was in a pretty good mood, so many of us were able to hold him...including me.  At one point, about ten of us stretched him out, and I had the duty of holding the area closest to his head.  I wasn't really freaked out until this moment.  I quickly realized that should he wish to attack me aka bite me, he could.  He didn't, thankfully, but nevertheless, the idea that he could stuck with me.

I was falling asleep that night, and was having vivid thoughts/dreams about snakes biting me.  It filled me with fear so much that I awoke and couldn't stop thinking about it.  I then remembered something that the owner of the snake said, that snakes can only strike a short distance from where they are bent.  Realizing, of course, that I was nowhere near any snakes at that moment helped me to calm down.  I realized though that my fear of being attacked was less of an actual fear of snakes, and more of a spiritual thing.

It's not a coincidence that God chose the snake to represent Satan.  His ability to attack, though fierce, is limited.  He can only attack those close to him.  The thing is, we often allow him to come close...sometimes openly, sometimes without realizing it.  We do it when we choose fear instead of faith.  We do it when we choose doubt because it feels easier than believing for greater things.  We do it when we choose to do something we know isn't right, but we want to anyway.  In those moments, we bring ourselves close to an enemy whose ability to attack increases the closer we get.  Jesus shows us how we ought to respond in those moments that the enemy draws near.

"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him." Matthew 4:1-11
Regardless of whether we have let the enemy close to us or if he's found his way by other means, our response should be the same...lean on the word of God, the TRUTH.  Against that, the enemy has no power.  His attack holds no ground when confronted by the truth.  It's our best weapon.

Anyway, all of that is inspired by my most recent run-in with a few snakes.  I am pretty sure that I'll be avoiding both kinds...physical and spiritual, even though the chance to hold such a large and powerful animal was quite the experience!