Don’t be a Con-Man… And kill your own bugs.

Last week was a week of firsts for me.

First Snow Patrol Concert.

First time getting scammed.

First time ever mowing the lawn.

First time feeling ashamed of being a girlie girl.

OK. So let me just say, that Snow Patrol is completely amazing.  And they are for sure my favorite band ever.  They were just as spectacular live as I expected them to be, and I got to enjoy them with my bestest friend, K!!  We both took a half day of work on Thursday and drove out to Boston.  I was so giddy I could barely control myself.

And on the way there, I double and triple checked to make sure that I had my tickets.  We got into the theater and seated and everything was fine.  And I think at one point, I mentioned to her something about wondering why there aren’t more scammers out there.  I mean, come on people, I know how the world works.  Anyone who can get something for nothing usually will at least try.  So these tickets that I purchased for the concert, I got on StubHub, which a friend of mine recommended.  I bought the tickets back in like February.  But the tickets explicitly say on them “don’t worry if there’s someone elses name” since you’re basically buying them from a third-party.  But at one point, I asked K “How many times do you think people double sell their tickets?”

For some reason, questions like that never end well for me.  I don’t typically believe in jinxes, but for some reason, it seems like any time I have a thought like that… it’s exactly what happens.  “Wow, you know it’s been forever since I’ve seen a cop on this road” and then the sirens are wailing in your rear view mirror.  (which happened to me several years ago).  Like I said, I don’t typically believe in jinxes, but I’m officially making a point of never saying things like this out loud anymore.

Which brings us to the second ‘first’ for me.  Being scammed.  So… Ed Sheeran, the guy opening for Snow Patrol (who by the way…. is also PHENOMINAL) had just finished and an usher came over with some people to show them to their seats.  There was a couple sitting a few seats down from us, and basically what happened was, the man looked at their tickets and said “Oh, you’re supposed to be down there” so he looked at our tickets… and don’t you know… we had the same tickets.  Turns out, the seller sold them to ME on StubHub, and also sold them to this couple through eBay.

Can I even explain to you how upset I was?  I mean, SNOW PATROL was about to be live in front of my face, and these people were telling me that we had double tickets.

Okay. So, I forced myself to stay calm.  Apparently the other guy had purchased his tickets first- so they got to stay in the seats.  The gentleman in charge was very nice and ended up moving us to some handicap seats that were closer to the stage.  I was closer to the stage.  They weren’t kicking me out for not actually having a valid ticket.  I wasn’t about to complain.

The concert was completely amazing.  I couldn’t hear for like an hour afterwards, and I didn’t get home until almost 3 in the morning (and still had to be at work at 8 the next day) but seriously, I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. They’ve been my favorite band for as long as I can remember.

I think it’s because of the ballads.  I love ballads.  And the lyrics.  They have such smart, witty lyrics that you don’t even realize half the time.

Like this:

I tried to tell you before I left
But I was screaming under my breath
You are the only thing that makes sense
Just ignore all this present tense

It’s sad and witty at the same time.  I don’t know maybe I’m just crazy.

But my absolute favorite favorite song by them is Run.  And it was so amazing hearing him explain why he wrote it.  Back when they were poor and struggling.  It’s a song about always being there for the people that you love.  It is so my favorite.

Ok.  So no more gushing, ok? OK.

Let’s talk about the girlie girl thing.  Because it’s really something I’ve been struggling with for a while now.  Not so much the fact that I’m a girlie girl…. more so the fact that I so often don’t feel like I am self-sufficient enough.

A couple of weeks ago- actually it was April 1 because I accused my dad of playing a prank on me.  Anyway- I came home to find this MASSIVE centipede in my bathroom.  It was high up on the wall, and I was a total wuss about it. (And I was going to insert a picture…. but it completely grossed me out just to type it into google and hit images…. so no photo of the nasty bug that wanted to eat me.)

I called my dad, freaking out, asking if it was some sort of April Fools Day prank- because I REALLY don’t like bugs.  He assured me, that no- it was definitely not a prank.  And he did what any normal dad would do- he told me to kill it.

Now- I am by no means a bug smusher.  I think it’s gross.  If I didn’t get so creeped out by them, I’d probably just let them go on their merry way.  Usually I’d much prefer to swipe them into the sink or toilet or bathtub and just drown them.

But this thing…. it was high up on the wall and I was pretty sure if I tried to go near it it was going to eat my hand off.  Ok- maybe a slight overestimate as far as what it would actually do- but if there’s one thing that girlie girls are good at- it’s making things seem WAY scarier than they are.

Speaking of- I just watched an episode of How I Met Your Mother the other night that completely proves my point and kind of makes me worried all at the same time.  But I’ll get to that.

So- my dad says “If you’re not going to kill it, then what are you going to do?”  My great suggestion was to get the broom but my dad insisted that it would fall and scurry away somewhere and that a paper towel was the best method of making sure that you got it the first time.

And then, in the background, I hear my mom tell my dad to just come over and kill it for me.  Now, it’s not like we live next door to each other.  It’s probably a 6-9 minute drive depending on lights.  And to my dad’s credit (He IS an amazing dad, after all) he came over and killed it.  I stood guard and made sure the thing didn’t move while my dad drove over, and that night I had creepy dreams about things crawling all over me.

But I got to thinking- what would happen if another one came along and my dad wasn’t around?  Well… 2:36 a.m. the night I got home from the concert, that’s exactly what happened.  Another one of those gross things with a bazillion legs was hiding in my bathroom…. and I killed it….. (with a pair of scissors)

But listen- the truth of the matter is, all my life I’ve been squeamish and grossed out and scared by things.  Rodents, insects… all those little gross things that boys find exciting.  It was during this episode of How I Met Your Mother that I realized that I am afraid to be independent.

There’s one exchange in particular between Robin and Ted that brought me to this conclusion.

Robin: I don’t get it, the Ted that I went out with was attracted to the kind of woman who could use a steak knife without supervision.

Ted: For your information, Becky doesn’t like steak.  She likes pasketi… spaghetti.  And more importantly, she makes me feel needed.

Robin: Needed?  She makes training wheels feel needed.

Ted: Hey, it’s nice to feel needed.  And you know what, it’s not a feeling guys get when they’re with you.

Robin: When we were dating, I didn’t make you feel needed?

Ted: Come on, you always took charge of everything.

(Cut to a bunch of scenes where Robin interrupts Ted by saying “I got this”…. paying for pizza, pulling out a gun when it sounded like someone was trying to break into the apartment)

Robin: Did that really bother you?

Ted: Well yeah… it’s nice to be needed.  Look, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to upset you. (his phone beeps) It’s Becky…. Ohhh… she’s trapped in a revolving door.

Okay… so humorous? Yes.  Realistic…. maybe it’s a little far-fetched.  But here’s the point of that whole thing… I am afraid of NOT making someone feel needed.

Now, the episode goes on to show Robin asking Barney about whether or not she made HIM feel needed when THEY dated- to which he also said no.  But he made a point of proving to her that it was a good thing.  Because he always knew that she could take care of herself.

I guess I’m stuck somewhere in the in-between.  I don’t want to ever to get to a point in my life where I make people feel like they’re not needed.  I don’t think it’s ever good to be THAT self-sufficient.  But at the same time, it’s a little silly that I made my dad drive all the way to my house just so he could kill a bug.  Maybe I need to be a little more self-sufficient than that.

So, after this huge self sufficiency revelation, I decided that I was going to start doing more things for myself.  And so, on Saturday, I mowed my lawn for the very first time.  There’s a lot of land at my house, and I have both a riding mower and a push mower.  And interestingly enough, on Saturday when I went to mow, I could NOT for the life of me, start the riding mower.  The engine wouldn’t turn over or whatever.  So, I mowed the massive lawn with the push mower.  And geez, if I do that every Saturday, by the end of the summer I have a feeling I’ll be in MUCH better shape than I am now.  That’s hard work, yo.  Especially going uphill.

In conclusion- StubHub is investigating the guy who sold me my tickets and refunded my money 100%.  Also- when I was getting the lawn mower out of the garage, I saw a mouse.  And I didn’t run away screaming…. I think I’m making progress. 

Be brave,

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Bad Boys, Writing and Poison Ivy

This week has been a strange mix of highs and lows. It seems like they all kind of balance out in the end… but still it’s been somewhat exhausting.

 Monday was incredibly hectic at work.  With just one other person in the office, we had about 6 customers between 10-11 Monday morning, all of whom demanded some special attention (usually all at once).  Generally it’s not an issue.  But being so short staffed, and since we’re supposed to always have someone available to answer the phones, it got a little crazy.  And by special attention, I don’t just mean they asked for a price or two.  Usually working in an antique shop is fun.  And rather easy.  The people that come in are generally content to walk around and see all of the amazing pieces that we have.  But Monday was a different story.  Everyone needed to have something moved or opened or lifted or have photos taken of something.  We were measuring and opening tables and searching for keys for cabinets and digging out sconces.  It was insane.  (And also the first Low on the scale)

BUT I got to see my favorite one of our shippers (who I may or may not have a crush on).  When I first met him 8 months ago he made a joke about us going on a date.  I don’t know… I’ve kind of liked him ever since.  Plus, he’s sweet… and you can tell just a major teddy bear kinda guy.  And in a place where no one calls me by my preferred first name (really long story), the fact that he does is kind of a breath of fresh air. (Definite high)

HOWEVER… Monday, I also discovered that I have poison ivy.  BADLY.  It’s disgusting and oozing and last night I got so fed up with how DEFORMED I look, I broke down and cried.  Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so emotional about things.  But I choose to blame the prednisone. (MAJOR LOW).

OK, so maybe they didn’t exactly even out… I feel like there were more lows than highs…. but I’ll live.  I got to spend time with one of my bestest friends over the weekend.  We went with a group of friends to see Hunger Games (which was definitely amazing).  I made some new friends and have a great new source for book recommendations.  The hour and a half drive to MA really isn’t that bad, but I admittedly don’t make the trip as often as I’d like to.  Sometimes I wish things weren’t so busy all the time.

Anyway- enough wallowing.  What I really want to talk about today is characters.  Well, one type of character in particular.  I know I’ve touched on this before- but now that I’m back into writing my story, I really want to explore this a little more.

You see, for as long as I can remember, my literary boy dreams have been about one particular type of guy-  The bad boy.

Well, more like bad boys that are really good.  (Because really, bad boys with no redemptive qualities are just… bad.)

When I was younger, it was as innocent as Mr. Darcy- with his brooding ways and perceived pride by Elizabeth.  He was never actually a bad boy, but he and Elizabeth always had that opposites attract thing going on that really just stuck with me.

And then there was Gilbert Blythe.  *sigh* 

He may not have really been a bad boy either-  but you could always tell that he enjoyed the mischief he caused.  I mean look at that picture.  You’re picturing him whispering “Hey Carrots!” right now, aren’t you?  I know I am.  Anyway…. Gilbert had that innate quality that made you want to scream at him and run to his arms all at the same time.  At least- that’s what I always wanted to do thought Anne should have done.

Through the years, my interest shifted from good boys that act bad: Michael from Grease 2… (stop laughing.  It’s a guilty pleasure movie), Sam from Supernatural (the early years), to bad boys that have something redemptive in them.  Jess from Gilmore girls, Damon from Vampire Diaries.

 

Michael from Grease 2

For some reason, I’ve always had a thing for Michael.  He’s like the geek of all geeks because he finds a way to get the pretty, popular girl.  I think there’s something in me that relates to him and his struggle.  The one person he really wants is looking for something so completely opposite of who he is.  He’s the smart, studious Teacher’s Pet.  And as Stephanie so oddly sings about…. she wants a bad boy, a ‘cool rider’.  I like that song.  I know, there’s something so wrong and cheesy it’s not even funny.  But she says “if he’s cool enough he can burn me through and through.”  So Michael decides to become a bad boy for her… and in the end, she realizes that she really likes both aspects of Michael when she finds out who he really is. Blah- I’m admitting way too much about the absolute geek that I am here. ha.

Sam from Supernatural (the early years). 

Before Sam got himself hooked on demon blood steroids (let’s just make this a don’t ask/don’t tell type deal, K? K.), he had so much potential. In college studying law- no one would have known that he spent the first 18 years of his life learning how to hunt all of the things that go bump in the night.  His easy smile and quirky, geeky ways were so charming.  And then he’d turn around and kill some nasty urban legend baddie (like Bloody Mary or the Wendigo) and turn into a completely different person.  I was in love.

Jess from Gilmore girls

Despite being messed up by both his absent father and his jumping from one bad relationship to the next mother, Jess turned his tortured childhood into the ultimate snarky, bad boy with a good heart.  It always amused me how strikingly different he was around Rory than anyone else.  Granted, it made it difficult for anyone but her to see the good in him, but eventually most people came around. 

Damon from Vampire Diaries– (insert swoon here). 

There’s something about Damon… He’s snarky and sarcastic.  He’s passionate even though he doesn’t always let it show.  He’s conflicted and flawed.  So often characters on TV are portrayed as someone that’s unattainable.  And despite the fact that the whole vampire thing IS unattainable, there’s something about the humanity of Damon that is intriguing.  He hides his true feelings.  He buries them and pushes them down because even though he’s in love with this girl, he knows that she can do better than him.  But at the same point, he’s dark and dangerous and you never know what he’s going to do.  (Can you tell I have a thing for him? haha)

 I could probably go on for days listing all of these amazing characters.  There’s just something about them.  They’re conflicted and unpredictable.  It’s almost like being drawn to the beauty of a flame.  You know if you get too close, you’ll run the risk of getting burned.  But sometimes you just want to see how close you can get.

So, it should probably come as no surprise that my main character, Dallas, has a lot of these characteristics.  In my head, I can see the way he acts- the way he keeps everyone at arms length.  I can see the snarky attitude and the dark and dangerous unpredictability.  He’s actually gotten a lot clearer in my head recently.  I’ve been going back over my 50,000 or so words that I’ve already written.  And I can see so many places where I’ve boxed him in.  I’ve made Dallas someone that I want him to be instead of letting his character just be.  I’m reminded of the quote that goes something like “people who follow the rules rarely make history.”  Dallas and Lia and their friends… they become history makers in this story.  And in so many instances, I’m making them follow the rules.  I’m keeping them tied up in a nice neat little box and just letting them out when I want to.

Hopefully this all doesn’t make me sound too incredibly crazy.  It’s hard to say “I want to let my characters be their own person” when they’re not really people.  But they kind of are… all stuck up there in my head.

But regardless of all of that, I want this story to ring true.  I want it to be authentic and not fall flat.  And in so many of the scenes that I’ve written, I feel like it’s falling flat.  The characters don’t have the depth that they should.  And I’m finding myself more and more discouraged that I won’t get it right.  I want someone to be able to picture and envision my characters the way I have with books since I was little.  Before Jonathan Crombie, Gilbert Blythe was in my head.  I could see him.  I knew who he was.

And I just want my characters to have that same ability.

I know that writing takes time.  I know it won’t happen over night.  And I want to be the best writer that I can.  I don’t write to become published.  I write because I love words and the effect that they can have.  I just want my writing to matter.

Maybe I need to work on taking my own advice and
Be Brave,

When Alligators Attack, and some thoughts on The Hunger Games

There were some interesting things that happened on vacation last week.  We went to Daytona Beach during Bike week.  We were followed by some psycho driver in Savannah at night (I think he wanted to challenge my mom to a drag race in her HHR).  But probably the most crazy, insane, terrifying thing happened the day before we left Florida.  We were attacked by an alligator.

Okay… so the alligator didn’t really attack us.  Per se.  But let me tell you, this has been my major talking point of the vacation, because it was just so ridiculous.

Basically what happened was this:  On this vacation, my brother and his girlfriend also drove down to Florida and all 5 of us (them and my mom, sister and I) stayed at our grandparents house for the week.  Someone found this kayaking trip down a river where you could see wildlife… including alligators.  To be honest, I really wasn’t that worried.  Surely if someone collected money by sending unsuspecting victims down a river where alligators snacked on humans, Chris Hansen would have done a report about it by now.  But I digress…

So, the 5 of us decide to go on this kayaking trip.  My mom and sister were in a tandem kayak.  My brother was in a single, and his girlfriend and I were in the other tandem kayak.  We all took turns in the lead of the group.  And we did actually see a lot of alligators in the water, near the water, on the banks, on fallen trees.  It was a very meandering river and there were a ton of down trees in the water.

Anyway… at one point in the trip, my brother’s girlfriend and I are out front, making our way down the river.  We’re not really paying close attention to the banks anymore.  We’ve seen our fill of alligators.  And then…. BAM

Image

THIS guy shows up.  Terrified is not even the right word for what I felt.  And no, it wasn’t that guy in particular.  No one got a picture of the alligator that came after Jenna and I.  But let me tell you, we screamed our heads off and 15 minutes later I could still feel my heart pounding in my chest.

I’m 85% sure he didn’t really want to snack on us.  I’m guessing we probably just scared him and he went rushing into the water.  But he COVERED us in mud and water and scum and dirt.  It was kind of jarring.

Cross THAT off my list of things to ever do again.  I mean, I love kayaking and all…. but no more predator infested waters please.

The rest of the week was kind of tame by comparison.  No one managed to get sunburned too terribly badly.  I don’t think anyone got enough sleep.  And by the end of the week the drive home was filled with punchy jokes and lots of laughing for no reason.  Ah, to be in a car for 9 hours straight two days in a row.  On the plus side, we listened to all of Hunger Games, all of Catching Fire and the first part of Mockingjay.

And just as an aside… I read a blog yesterday about a woman who didn’t want her 17 year old daughter to go see the Hunger Games movie because it condoned violence.  And she claims to have read the book.  Ummm…. just because Romeo and Juliet ends the way it does doesn’t mean the entire story is about teen suicide.  I am kind of at a loss because the Hunger Games books are so amazing (insert mad Peeta love here) and so ANTI “sit by and cheer for anything including death matches” that I’m pretty sure this lady has no idea what she’s talking about.

Okay.  Rant over.

To all my friends out there in the blogosphere,
May the odds be EVER in your favor!
And also…

Be brave,

Blurring the Lines

Day Count- 79 down 287 to go.

So, I’m back from the road trip with my mom and sister.  And let me just say, there are some major stories to tell.  And I will get to those later.  But for some reason I feel like this takes precedence today.  I’m not sure why… just something that’s been weighing on my mind for a few days.

A couple of years ago, when I had just moved home and had pretty much given up on a ‘good guy’ ever being interested in me, I signed up for a Christian dating site.  I figured it would be a good way to get back out there without much room for major disappointment.  Boy was I wrong.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  So here goes-  I signed up for this dating site just to kind of see what was out there.  I was kind of leery about the whole thing to begin with.  I had been majorly burned by men in the past, most of them taking advantage of my vulnerability after my relationship with Voldemort (he-who-must-not-be-named… i.e. really bad ex).  The problem was, even the ‘Christian’ guys that I knew were playing on my emotions to get what they wanted.  I was in a pretty bad place, but I resolved to see what else was out there.  Living in a small town, it’s hard to meet good people that I didn’t know in high school and I thought that a dating site might be the answer.

This particular dating site had chat rooms for different age groups.  And despite the 20-somethings being filled with people that acted more like highschool cliques than anything else, I managed to make some friends.  And then Texas Boy came along.  He was a major flirt- especially with me- and we really hit it off.

And he lived in Texas.

That might not be so bad…. if I didn’t live in New York.

Despite the distance, we became fast friends.  We chatted most nights, we played games online together, we texted during the day.  To be honest, it was more than a friendship.  But it was also less than a relationship.

You see, Texas Boy made it very clear that he didn’t want a long distance relationship.  But that didn’t stop him from flirting with me, from spending most evenings chatting and having fun and growing into a deeper friendship.  This went on for a good eight or nine months.  We really got each other, in a way that I hadn’t felt a connection in a long time.  He was a ‘Southern Gentleman’ and an all around good guy.  I was convinced that somehow, some way, we could make things work.

He told me about how if we lived closer together he would ask me out on a date in a heartbeat.  I thought that maybe our circumstances would change.  After all, I had other friends that lived in Texas and surrounding areas.  Friends that had told me on numerous occasions that I should move down there.  I didn’t have much holding me in New York.  My family was there- but I had lived away from them before.

I visited my friend Courtney in July of that year.  Texas Boy and I had been texting and chatting online for about 6 months.  I was there, in Texas.  I was a mere 8 hours from where he lived.  My skin tingled as the airplane touched down on the runway in Houston.  “This is it,” I kept thinking to myself.  “He’s going to want to get together.”

And there were a few nights where we talked about it.  But when he told me that he had to work and couldn’t get out of it, I knew that it was never going to happen.  I tried to resolve myself to just be his friend.  To stop thinking of him as a potential boyfriend.  But it wasn’t easy.

You see, by the time I made that resolve, we had already blurred the lines.

I’m reminded now of a song by Jeff LeBlanc.  Ironically enough, the song is called “Can’t Love You“.

The bridge says:

 Ready to run, still holding on, we just blurred the lines.  Gave all we could, took all we need, we just wasted time.

Man, oh man, how I wish Texas Boy could have heard this song.  And before any of you yell at me that he told me he didn’t want a long distance relationship, trust me… I already know.  Because 2 months later when he stopped texting me, and then his relationship status on Facebook changed to ‘in a relationship’, the fact that he didn’t want a long distance relationship became abundantly clear.

And even though I knew that he was never mine, I still felt a pang of loss.  Because it was then that even the potential became null and void.

Throughout my life, there have been several other instances of blurring the lines.  Friendship, relationship, right and wrong, it doesn’t matter what it is.   Blurring the lines always seems like a good idea at the time.  But when you give all you can, and take all you need, Jeff LeBlanc is right that all you do is waste time.  Texas Boy and I both wasted our time.  I wasted my time with what I thought could be.  We both needed to feel special to someone.  We both took that emotional intimacy when we needed it most.  And the end result was a feeling of loss and a pang of regret.  It left me with the persistent and unanswered question of what could have been.

It’s so hard to think that for the better part of a year, he was one of my closest friends.  And then he got a girlfriend and dropped me from his life, further solidifying the fact that we blurred the lines to more than friends.

The sermon series in church over the last few weeks has been about guard rails.  What they are tangibly and how we can insert them into our own lives to protect us from dangerous situations.  I think I’m starting to realize more and more that doing what I’ve always done- especially in blurring the lines with friendships- does way more harm than good.

I think that’s another reason why this year means so much to me.  It’s a guard rail of sorts- keeping me away from potentially dangerous situations.  And while this ‘guard rail’ of no dating isn’t something that is especially Biblical, it IS something that I need in my own life to keep me on track.  I could live my life blurring the emotional lines between friendship and relationship.  But what good would it do?  Why would I want to continually put my heart through that?  It’s no better than jumping from one relationship to the next.  And if I’m blurring the lines that way, what’s to stop me from doing it in other areas?  Once you start saying yes to something, saying no to the next thing becomes that much harder.  It’s like a snowball on a downhill slope.  As the situation gets bigger, so does the consequence.

Ok.  So, that’s my story of Texas Boy.

I’ve still got lots of writing to do about my roadtrip. 

Stay tuned
and
Be Brave,

 

 

What is it, sweetheart? More boy trouble?

 
The ‘dating site’.  For some reason, it’s the one place that I feel drawn back to in order to explore potential mates.  And for some reason (probably NOT because another friend just got engaged or that I was kind of asked out by a guy who is completely wrong for me- but we’re not ruling those out yet) despite my pact, I have this itch to join back in.  To test the waters, to explore my options.
 
Terrible clichés aside, being content in being single is still a somewhat daunting task.  And I’ve realized that it’s not because I feel unloved.  I know that I have amazing family and friends that love me.  The lack of content comes more from the emotional response that being in love elicits.  It’s having someone you can count on.  Someone you can buy a second concert ticket for, because you know that if you are going then they wouldn’t be anywhere else.  It’s having someone to cook for, someone to tell you that everything is going to be alright.  It’s having that one person that you can always count on to answer the phone, no matter what time of day.  It’s feeling needed.
 
And those feelings aren’t easy to come by when you’re single.  But more importantly, those feelings rarely occur with friends of the same-sex.  I’m not saying that you should use your opposite sex friends to fill the dating void, I’m just saying sometimes it happens.  I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have a lot of guy friends.  And I know just how tempting it can be to become close to guy friends.  Sometimes friendships with the opposite sex are just as co-dependant as relationships.  They fill a ‘dating void’ that you never knew was there.  It’s having that constant companion, the person that will tell you how you look, someone to see a movie or go bowling with on a weekend.  I’ve been there- in the middle of it, and I know the absence you feel when it’s not there anymore.
 
I’m not exactly sure why dating sites are the one thing that I feel drawn back to.  Maybe it’s because I feel more comfortable behind a computer screen than face to face with someone new?  Maybe because on the whole I just don’t meet that many people my age.  Or maybe there is still that defiant part of me struggling with the idea that single now doesn’t necessarily mean lonely forever.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I hate being single.  On the contrary, I like being able to visit friends on the weekends without having someone to check in with.  I like not being glued to my phone in case he calls, which I never had to do, but so often felt compelled to do anyway.  I like resting in the quiet assurance that God as a plan— but every once in a while it hits you.
 
You hear that song on the radio that makes you remember how happy you were with him.  Or you see a couple deliriously in love and you wonder if it will ever really be that way for you.  The doubt  enemy sneaks in little by little until it floods your mind and overwhelms your heart.  And you find yourself stuck in this limbo of singlehood and you suddenly feel the thought roll through your head…
 
“When is it my turn?”
 
Sometimes I get so caught up in hearing people tell me “It just wasn’t the right time,” that I can’t help but wonder if the right time exists.  And just when my ‘singleness limbo’ seemed to be creeping up again, the sermon this week was about physical relationships.  God always has a way of knowing exactly what I need to hear when I need to hear it.  And it makes saying things like ‘no’ to a free trial on a dating site a little bit easier.
 
The sermon wasn’t necessarily about not dating- although one of the bullet points in our notes was that if ‘dating’ has become synonymous with ‘sex’ then you need to take a year off of relationships.  And while that is not my reasoning for taking a year off- it’s kind of interesting that the weekly sermons and I are kind of on the same page when it comes to things like that.
 
I can understand that a year seems like a long time for some people.  However, it kind of amazes me how quickly some people jump from relationship to relationship.  My boss, for example, whose wife just filed for divorce three weeks ago has already informed me that he’s on a dating site.
 
I’m sorry, but if you’re 50 with 2 kids and 2 ex wives (well, one ex and one soon to be)  then maybe you need to think about what you’re doing wrong in relationships before jumping into another one.
 
He actually said something to me a few days ago that really stuck with me.  He said, “I’m 51 and I need to find myself.”
 
I think sometimes I take for granted the fact that I’m still young.  Sometimes you see friends and family getting married and having kids and you think you’re losing time.  I know I feel that way a lot.
 
And I know that comparing yourself with someone else is silly to begin with- because everyone’s life is different.  We’ve all faced different things, struggled with different things and learned different things.  But in the grand scheme of things- I’m half my boss’s age, and I feel like we’re both facing the same thing.
 
I can’t help but think of how lucky I am that I figured out now at twenty-six, that I need to do something different in my life.  That I need a change.  I can’t help but think that I’m lucky I’m not 51 and having the same realization.
 
And now, for the big news.  I’m so excited for next week, when I will get to cross something BIG off the list.  I’ve been keeping up with my 2 books a month deal (in February I read all three of the Hunger Games books… more on that later).  I have concert tickets to see Snow Patrol (One of my all time favorites and I couldn’t be more excited about it!!) And I’ve been finding some awesome craft projects to keep me busy.  But none of those are the ‘big one’.  Next week, my mom, sister and I are going on a road trip to Florida.
 
So far, we’ve got our stops mapped out.  We leave in 3 days and we will be gone for a week.  My sister and I are hoping for a day at Universal Studios to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but we’ll have to see if it works out.  (I’ve also downloaded all the Hunger Games audio books so I can make my mom obsessed too. shhh don’t tell)
 
Be prepared for some pictures of the trip!  I’m hoping to have a ton of them by the time I get back.
 
As always friends,
Be Brave,

Dare You To Move

I’m almost two months through this year challenge.  I’ve greatly enjoyed focusing my time and attention on spending more time with God, my family and my friends.  But I think it’s time to stop focusing on the inward, and start turning my attention to others.

As I mentioned before, during this year, I’ve also decided to read the Bible through in a  year, which is something I have never done before.  Our entire church received a “Life Journal” at the end of the year last year as a way to keep track of our reading, journaling and prayers throughout the year.  So far, I’ve read through Genesis and Luke.  I’ve also gone through part of Exodus and Acts.  A lot of the stories are familiar to me, in both the Old and New Testaments, but I’m also finding a lot of passages and stories that are new.  It’s been so interesting to me, reading back over the verses that have stuck out to me.  So many of them that I’ve journaled about concern God’s faithfulness and his love for His people.

After my Valentine’s rant, post last week, I read two different passages about God fighting for us.

Exodus 14:14
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Acts 5:38-39

38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
 
Sometimes it is incredibly difficult to remember that God fights for us.  As humans we constantly try to do everything ourselves.  We don’t care enough to give our troubles to God, or we think “I’ll save him the trouble of this one.”
 
God’s will is greater than us.  He has a will for each and every one of our lives, and we like to ignore it or run from it or think we have a better plan in mind.  I spent so much time living like I had a plan that was better than God’s.  I spent years running from what I knew was right because I wanted something different.  And I’ve found that it is so much easier to live in the center of God’s will, rather than fighting against it.
 
God has proven time and time again that he has my best interests in mind.  I know that they say that hindsight is 20/20 and that is something that I have seen in my life over and over again.  I don’t always understand why something is happening at the time it happens, but sometime down the road, I’ll look back and see how God used that experience or trial to prepare me for something.  I feel like all of my experiences are culminating for something, and even though I’m not sure why, I know that it’s for God’s glory.
 
The last guy that I dated was kind of amazing.  And the relationship for me was kind of a big deal.  He was the first guy that I dated that I really felt was an amazing Christian and a man that feared God.  I don’t really want to do the whole name thing, so let’s call him Handy Man.  So, on our very first date, HM and I went to this sweet little restaurant and can I tell you I was nervous?  My goodness, I’ve never been so nervous in all my life.  And I don’t think it was because I was nervous about meeting him… I think I was nervous about the kind of guy he was.  Good, strong Christian.  And I was so new to it all.  Because even though I had grown up in the church and had always had the ‘right’ answers, I’m not sure I really let the faith be my own.  I was one of those kids that knew right from wrong and went to Church every Sunday.  I believed, but I didn’t have the life experience to back up my beliefs.
 
My three year hiatus from the church and the life that God set forth for me did a lot of damage.  On my life, my friends, my family.  It did a lot of damage on my head and my heart and I finally understood what it meant to be saved by grace.
 
Anyway- back to the story.  So HM and I are on our first date.  The conversation is kind of awkward and nervous at first, but then- somewhere between the coffee and root beer floats, it just felt right.  It felt natural.  It felt like I had known this guy my entire life and I couldn’t imagine how I could have ever not known him.  Our experiences with church and straying were so similar.  Our hearts longed for the same things.  (And I don’t just mean a meaningful relationship.)  We both had a heart for young adults and wanted to start new ministries to reach out to people in our age group who were like us- who strayed or who never knew the saving Grace that we can have.  We each had this picture in our mind of this ministry and it was so similar, so focused and exact- that I knew it was from God.
 
All the nervous energy I felt when HM and I first met wasn’t simply because I was meeting someone new.  It was because I was finally yeilding to God and what he wanted for my life.  HM was a good Christian.  Strong in faith.  He had a good heart and a strong family and I saw a future with him.  I saw a God centered future with him.  And that thought both thrilled and terrified me.
 
Anyway- I do have a point for explaining all of this.  You see- that very first conversation HM and I had, the one about the young adult ministry?  Well, that played a bigger role than I expected.  HM and I continued talking about it, and I had conversations with my dad about it, who was also beginning to feel that same yearning for this ministry.
 
The difference between HM and I and my dad was, my dad was in a position to do something about it.  And he began talking to young adults about what they were looking for.  Turns out- there are a lot of people out there searching.  There are so many young adults looking for a place to belong, a place to meet people, a place to make friends.
 
There’s a quote in this article by Chuck Swindoll that I think says a lot about church and community and what people are looking for.  From the article, I’m not sure if he wrote it or came across it.  But anyway, here’s the quote and where it’s from.

“The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit that there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give his church. It’s an imitation, dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality-but it is a permissive, accepting, and inclusive fellowship. It is unshockable. It is democratic. You can tell people secrets, and they usually don’t tell others or even want to. The bar flourishes not because most people are alcoholics, but because God has put into the human heart the desire to know and be known, to love and be loved, and so many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers. With all my heart,” this writer concludes, “I believe that Christ wants his church to be unshockable, a fellowship where people can come in and say, ‘I’m sunk, I’m beat, I’ve had it.’ Alcoholics Anonymous has this quality-our churches too often miss it.”

 
Because where can you go to church and feel confident telling someone your deepest darkest secret and feel secure in them keeping it?  What church opens their doors, their seats and their lives to the broken-hearted, the beaten, the bruised, the unemployed, the addicts, the depressed?
 
 
Unfortunately, I noted some differences where I wished our churches were more like bars.
  • People went because they wanted to be there, not out of duty or obligation
  • The singing was celebratory and sometimes therapeutic
  • Greetings were heartfelt and welcoming
  • Everybody had a seat waiting for them, if there wasn’t room, someone gave up their seat
  • Everybody got a chance to play, but you didn’t have to play if you didn’t want to
  • People notice when you stop showing up
  • Nobody puts on “airs” and when they do, they get called on it
  • Thus, nobody expected anybody to be perfect, and nobody pretended otherwise
  • If you make a mistake, you get called on it
  • If you admit your mistake, you get forgiven
  • It was a great place to go when feeling lonely
  • It was a great place to go when feeling sociable
  • It was a great place to go when feeling down
  • It was a great place to go when feeling up

This young adult group that we’re starting, I’m PRAYING is more like a bar in these areas.  Is that a weird thing to pray?  It probably is.  But regardless- we’re designing it to be a place where people can gather and feel accepted, because we’ve known rejection.  A place where people can feel loved because they’ve known anger, hate, lonliness.  A place where people can be forgiven because they themselves have been wronged and done wrong.  A place where people don’t expect or pretend to be perfect, because we’ve all messed up.

God is still fighting for his people.  And it’s time we start joining in the fight for the lost.  It’s time we reach out to the broken hearted, the hurt, the bruised, the addicted, the wronged.  Because we’ve all been there, and pretending otherwise is just putting more fuel on the fire of those that call us liars and hyporcites and out of touch, holier-than-thou Christians who put salt in wounds instead of healing.

I’ve known those Christians, and truth be told, I’ve probably been those Christians.  But the trend stops here.  It stops now.  It stops with me.  I don’t want to be an out of touch Christian who does nothing in the fight to bring souls to Christ.  I want to be an instrument in the fight against evil.  I want to stop being the problem, and start being a part of the solution.

I know that this young adult group is what all of my past experiences are culminating for.  I know that God is going to give me opportunities to share my experiences with people in this new group.  I just hope that I rely on His strength to take the chances.

Be Brave,

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,