Holding Out For A Hero

I’m not really sure why people put so much stock in the whole Valentine’s Day thing.  It’s just another day of the year.  A day to show appreciation to the person that we love most.  Is that really so terrible?

And yes, I can find mushy couples just as vomit-inducing as the next single girl, but I have to admit that when it comes to being in a relationship on Valentine’s Day, it’s not so bad.  Granted, it’s been years since I’ve actually been in a relationship on what some people call “Single Awareness Day”  but that doesn’t change the fact that being in love has a lot to do with people’s attitudes on this particular day.

That being said, you have to wonder how our society has built so much of an empire on days designed for individual people.  Shouldn’t the people that we care about always feel special and loved?  And I’m not just talking about our significant others.  Mothers Day, Father’s Day, Veteran’s Day.  Why is it that every other day of the year is a day that we can take these people completely for granted, and think we can make up for it with a bouquet of flowers or dinner?

Anyway- little rant over… this post is more about what I’m looking forward to in the future.  The kind of man that I want and the kind of woman I want to be.

Last Saturday we had a “Valentine’s” dinner at my church.  Every year we do a ladies appreciation dinner where the men cook and serve and the women can relax and enjoy each other’s company.  This year, instead of doing a ‘newly wed’ game or something similar, we watched a movie.  It was a movie that I saw with the last b/f in the theaters and cried my eyes out at.  It’s also an amazingly powerful movie and says so much about what Godly, God fearing men should be.

The movie is called Courageous.  Basically it’s a story about 5 men (4 of them cops) and their determination to become better husbands and fathers.  They each take a good long look at their lives, and they sign a resolution to make each day count.  It’s a touching story about hard choices and love.  About life and loss and how we handle each decision we make.  The final scene is a powerful portrayal of one of the men standing before his entire church.  Here is his speech:

   “There are some men who, regardless of the mistakes we’ve made in the past, regardless of what our fathers did not do for us, will give the strength of our arms and the rest of our days to loving God with all that we are and to teach our children to do the same—and whenever possible, to love and mentor others who have no father in their lives but who desperately need help and direction. And we are inviting any man whose heart is willing and courageous to join us in this resolution.

God’s Word shows us that God desires for every father to courageous step up and do whatever it takes to be involved in the lives of his children. More than just being there for them or providing for them, he is to walk with them through their young lives and be a visual representation of the character of God, their Father in heaven. Who will accept the responsibility of providing and protecting my family? Who will ask God to break the chain of destructive patterns in my family? Who will pray for, and bless my children to boldly pursue whatever God calls them to do? 

In my home, the decision has already been made. You don’t have to ask who will guide my family because, by God’s grace, I will. You don’t have to ask who will teach my son to follow Christ because I will.”

So where are you, men of courage? Where are you, fathers who fear the Lord?   It’s time to rise up and answer the call God has given you and say, I will! I will! I will!

I think that quote packs enough punch to knock anyone down a peg or two.  It was enough to cause me to take a look at my own life, and think about what choices I’m making now that could help me become the wife and mother that I want to be some day.

I also think that this movie is a great indication of why I’m waiting.  Of why I’m taking this year off of men.  I always thought that I knew exactly what I wanted in a guy.  How many times over the years have I daydreamed about Gilbert Blythe or Mr. Darcy or Danny Zuko?  Too many to count.

And even though I always thought I knew what I wanted in a guy… this movie made me doubletake with one major line.  During a conversation, Adam (one of the cops) explains that he wants to be a better father.  His partner looks at him and says “You’re being too hard on yourself.  You’re a good enough father.”  Adam’s reply is what really struck a cord with me.  He said “I don’t want to be good enough.”  There’s something very alluring about being ‘good enough’.  Not in the sense that we all want to be ‘good enough’ for something, but in the sense that sometimes we do as little as possible.  We do just enough to get by.  We settle for being ‘good enough’ when we should be specatcular.

I think so often in life, we let our schedules dictate our lives.  We focus on the most demanding, the most pressing matters above anything else.  And sometimes, that’s good.  We all have things that we need to do.  But those things aren’t the only things that matter.  Because work and school and hobbies don’t have souls.  But friends, family, kids- those do.  We need to remember to invest our time in people- because in the end, people are really the only thing that matter.

I just recently started re-reading through the book called Captivating: Unveiling the Mysteries of a Woman’s Soul.  It’s a book about women, why we have the needs and desires that we do, and understanding that having these desires is not wrong.  In fact, God made us to have three big desires in our souls.

1. To be romanced
2. To play an irreplaceable role in a grand adventure
3. To unveil beauty

There are a lot of things about this book that leave me wary.  It paraphrases Scripture more than it actually uses it.  But at the same time, I think it points to some major issues that women deal with, and things that tug at our heart strings over and over again.  It tries to explain the constant longing we feel for the three ‘big desires’ of our hearts and how God specifically made us that way.  It’s not another 12 step “How to be a better woman” book.  It’s more of an encouragement that we are fearfully and wonderfully made just the way we are.  It’s a book that acknowledges how hard women try to be perfect, to be everything.  It explores the feelings that we have of constantly being ‘not enough’ but at the same time feeling like we’re ‘too much’.  We’re not strong enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough.  But we’re too emotional, too careful, too caring.

I think every woman has felt this way before.  And I like that Captivating is a book designed to help us feel secure in the person that we are.  It’s not meant to be a fix-all.  It’s an attempt to identify the places in our hearts that God has made especially for Himself to be like Himself. 

Being single on Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be hard (despite the fact that I work across the street from a florist).  Sure, it may not be my favorite day of the year to be single on… but whose to say I can’t still get flowers and chocolate?  Spend an evening cooking myself a delicious meal and watching a sappy movie.  Maybe today is the perfect day to daydream about Gilbert Blythe and Mr Darcy and Danny Zuko.  So long as I don’t lose sight of what is really important.  Because all three of those guys have something in common.  They’re great stories, but as far as a Courageous, Godly man go… I’m not quite sure how they stack up.

On a better note, I’ve been adding more to my story.  What’s that you say?  You want a sneak peak?  Okay… I suppose I can do that.  But I’m only sharing two paragraphs.

Lia dragged the bag of clothes down the hall to the door at the very end.  She turned the handle and pulled; both the door and frame swollen from the heat refused to budge.  Dropping the bag and gripping the knob with both hands, Lia pulled again, harder until the door yielded to her demands and swung open.  She hadn’t expected it to actually open and the force of her pulling on the knob left her off balance when it finally gave in.

Flipping the light switch on just inside the door, Lia sighed when nothing happened.  She wasn’t all-together surprised.  Who knew when the last time was that anyone was up there?  Backtracking to the linen closet down the hallway, Lia found a flashlight in the emergency kit and clicked it on.  Shining it up the stairs into the attic, Lia began up the stairs, pulling the garbage bag full of her grandfather’s old clothes with her.

So what happens next?  Well… it’s a secret.  But you’re more than welcome to guess if you want.  I finally have momentum with this story again.  I’m really excited to see what happens.  I think it’s going to be good!

To all my single ladies out there…
Be brave,



Somebody To Love

I spent another week mostly treading water.  I got up, went to work and came home.  I made dinner, I ate alone, I went to bed.  I spent another week mostly treading water.  And hiding.

I’m not sure exactly what it is I am hiding from, but the truth is the same.  You know, it’s easy to put on a brave face- to say to the whole world “I don’t need a man to be happy, I’m fine on my own.”  And sometimes, it’s just as easy to fool yourself.

I know in my head that I don’t need a man to be happy, but that doesn’t change the ache in my heart for love.

This week, I was cleaning out my emails and I came across a letter that I wrote to my parents several years ago.  And looking back over it, reading the words that I expressed to them, I could see how lost and broken I was back then.  I could remember the hurt and the pain that I felt, that I caused them to feel.  I can remember how it felt to hide from them.  I remember lying to the two people who never stopped loving me out of fear that they might.

It’s so much different now.  I’m amazed at how much my life has changed.  But in the very deepest part of my soul, I know that I’m still hiding.

I’m hiding from the person that I want to be, and the person that God created me to be.  I get up in the morning, I go to work, I come home.  And all the while, I feel like I’m hiding from the world, from the person that I am supposed to be.

See, the truth is- I know that there are people in this world that love and care for me.  I know that God has a life planned and mapped out for me.  And I know that somewhere down the road, I could do incredible things.  But what about right now?

The last relationship that I was in ended 7 weeks ago today.  And for a while I missed him.  But you know what I realized I miss now, even more than I miss him?  I miss the person that I was when I was with him.  With him I felt brave and beautiful.  I felt adventurous and precious and loved.  With him I felt special- like I could do anything.  He gave me strength and courage and determination and I felt like with him all of my dreams could come true.

And seven weeks ago today, he ended it.

Sometimes I wonder how you can mean so much to a person, and then one day, just stop.  I mean, it’s not like I went anywhere.  He still knows where to find me, and he said he wanted to be friends.  And yes, I understand that ‘being friends’ never really truly happens.  But how do you wake up one morning and just stop caring?

With him, my favorite part of the day was 8:00 a.m.  Because even though we had distance between us, every morning we would text each other just to say I love you.  Just to say ‘have a great day today’.  Every morning those messages set the tone for my entire day, if for no other reason than knowing that someone out there was thinking about me at the exact same time I was thinking about them.

I’ve never been good at letting go.  My life has been characterized by my failure to let go.  My best friend in high school, my life with a controlling boyfriend, friends that I’ve lost touch with.  So, it comes as no surprise to myself that I still hold this close to my heart.  I’m not saying that it will always be this way.  In fact, the days are fewer and further between that my heart aches this way.  But it’s hard knowing that your love for someone wasn’t enough.

This week I had the pleasure of meeting an amazing photographer.  And I think there is a real possibility that working with him could make a lot of my photography dreams come true.  I showed him some of my work, and he seemed thoroughly impressed and has agreed to take me on as a sort of apprentice.  The good news is, I have my first gig with him tomorrow.

The bad news is I have never felt worth it.  I am beginning to realize more and more that my own self worth is almost nil.  In fact, the reason that I even started this journey was to begin to teach myself to find worth in who I am, instead of always identifying myself by the guy that I date.  Because until I can learn to love and respect myself, how can I expect to do the same to anyone else?  And how can I expect anyone to love and respect me?

The first three weeks of my journey haven’t been exactly easy.  They’ve mostly been spent in hiding.  Hiding from the world and hiding from the person that I am.  The truth is there are things about myself that I need to change.  But there are also things about myself that are good, that I like (maybe even things that I love).

Tomorrow, out on this photography gig, I am forcing myself out of hiding.  The witness protection program phase is over.  I am searching out ways to make a difference.  To get out of the house and stop hiding.  If God can love me for who I am, the incredible mess, all of the mistakes (for he sees everything after all) then maybe I should give myself a shot.

Be brave,

Hey, Soul Sister

In my day to day life, I tend to pride myself on being on time.  For job interviews I’m always 15 minutes early.  Doctors appointments are the same way.  I’m consistently in the parking lot at work 3 minutes before I’m supposed to be there.  I hate feeling like I have to rush anywhere to be on time.  And I REALLY hate being late.  I avoid it at all costs.

It should be no wonder then, that watching friends and family grow up, get engaged, married and start families while I am still single, has been difficult for me.  I always thought that my life would follow the same general course of events as my parents.  I would meet a guy in college, get married and have kids by the time I was in my mid twenties.  And now as I’m staring down the barrel of my 26th birthday and have only been in one (short) relationship in the last several years, I am met with mixed feelings.  Because despite being on this journey of finding myself I’ve often felt like I’m running late.  That my life isn’t where it is supposed to be.  And while it may be foolish to think that I am running out of time, my mind inevitably goes there with every wedding invitation or baby announcement that comes in the mail.

And so, my feelings of running behind and missing out on life only add to the boy-crazy inherently in me and cause major problems.  My mind tells me that I’m behind, that my life was supposed to be different, things weren’t supposed to happen this way.  And I get frustrated and impatient and I want to make things happen before their time.

But none of this changes the fact that in 2010 the average age of women getting married was 26 years old.  Obviously there is something in today’s culture that is hinting at (or maybe shoving me towards) my desire to settle down.  And while that is a goal that I have for my future, I have decided that I am taking 2012 off.  I am not worrying about things like that.  My ‘break-up’ with boys is something that needs time to settle into my bones.  I have to learn to be okay with just being me down to the core.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the reaction that I have gotten from people in my life since beginning this journey.  Because even though I officially ‘started’ it only 2 days ago, I have been thinking and praying over it for about a month now.  Everyone I have talked to has been amazingly supportive, but I have to admit- I was nervous about telling my parents.

On Saturday (New Years Eve) I went shopping with my mom.  I got in the car and looked at her and said “I have something I have to tell you.”  She got that nervous ‘uh oh’ look that I’m sure moms everywhere would recognize.  I explained to her (with a little crying) that I was tired of being this girl who measures her worth based on what guys think.  I told her about my reasons for wanting to do this and even though I knew she would support me in it, I was afraid to tell her.  The ‘always waiting’ girl inside me was scared to talk about it.  Because talking about it with Mom meant that it was real.  I could tell anyone else and it would just be an idea, but Mom made it tangible.  It went from being this far away ‘maybe’ of a thought to an actual plan, and that scared the crap out of me.

During the course of my conversation with my mom, she asked me one serious, thought provoking question.  “Why a year?”

I have actually thought long and hard about that question since she and I talked.  And here’s what I’ve come up with. A year is enough time to be a challenge, but also long enough to make it stick.  It would be easy for me to say “I’m taking a month off.”  Or even two months.  But would I really see the changes that I want to see in myself?  Will I really give myself the time I need to heal, to fix the broken pieces inside me and find a way back to the girl I could be?  I don’t think I would.

But a year… 12 months, 366 days.  It’s long enough to keep myself from making excuses (which I’m extremely good at).  It’s long enough to see a change in myself.  My goal isn’t to force myself away from guys.  In fact, my goal has very little to do with men at all.  On the contrary, it’s about learning to love myself.  Learning to BE myself BY myself FOR myself.  Men may come and go… but I’m stuck with myself for life.  If there is anyone in this world I need to learn to love, it’s me.

And so, this is my great unveiling of my ‘bucket list’ for the year.  Below is my list of 25 things that I want to accomplish before Dec 31, 2012.  And the accomplishments are just for me.  Through them, I hope to become the person I’m meant to be.  And I hope to discover just how much that girl can be loved.

  1. Get and stay right with God.  “In all your ways acknowledge Him.”
  2. Lose 25 lbs
  3. Get a tattoo
  4. Take a roadtrip
  5. Take a class (photography/cooking)
  6. Spend a day at the best spa you can afford
  7. Have photos taken of you that you actually like
  8. Evolve your look
  9. Finish story (I’ve been stuck in the middle of it for a year already)
  10. Build and stick to a budget
  11. Learn how to spend TIME wisely
  12. Volunteer
  13. Buy yourself flowers, just because
  14. Invest in a Little Black Dress
  15. Buy something frivolous and expensive that you LOVE wearing.
  16. Host a girls-only night
  17. Purchase a decent piece of furniture not previously owned by a family member
  18. Dress up just because
  19. Plan a summer concert tour- even if it’s just a short one
  20. Be spontaneous (day, weekend, who knows!)
  21. Create.  2 craft projects a month
  22. Purge.  Spring clean every room in the house.
  23. Yard Sale/Flea Markets on weekends.  Give old things new life.
  24. Read. 2-3 books/month
  25. Take pictures. Everywhere.

I’m not claiming it will be easy.  I’m not claiming it will always be fun (okay, the spa thing will be fun), but it is something that is necessary.  There’s a lot of year left and huge list of things to do!

Be brave,