Thursday, December 13, 2012

Deep Blue China

Have you ever experienced something in life that just made you back up from God?

Not run. Not turn away. Not even get mad at Him. Just back up.

Keep Him at arm's length.

I recently walked through something that caused me to do this. And the most frustrating part? I did it knowingly! As each day began and ended, I was aware of God's presence, I knew His truths, I even continued to listen to worship music and believe the words I was singing.

But something in me held back. I functioned knowing He was right there, at a distance. It took me months to figure out why...

I had opened myself up to God in some deeper ways. I had spent intense time with Him and thought I was hearing Him clearly. And then He surprised me with something different, something other than what I was expecting. ("In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps" Proverbs 16:9...)

It a little bit left me reeling. I had been on my knees in prayer and it left me hurting. Instead of pressing in deeper pushing through the fire, I backed up. I told myself the pain was too great. I know God refines us through fire, but man, this hurt.

So I allowed my heart to numb itself. Just a little. Enough to carry on with life in a fairly rich way, but confused about how to move forward. I found myself wanting to want to read Scripture. Wanting to know what to say to my Father. But words and feelings weren't there.

Then one day I saw Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love on the bookshelf. It was one of those divine movements, you know? When you're sitting on the couch...stuck. Stuck in a circular pattern of thought. Frozen in the numbness.

The mind is its own place, 
and in itself can make a heav'n of hell, a hell of heaven. 
- Milton

But Something flickered inside when my eyes grazed the binding of the book. I found my body moving, my hand reaching for the worn pages.

And I began to read. The story inspired by the book of Hosea from the Bible. The account of God's redemptive love for sinners. Words familiar to me from previous readings, yet the depth of the story was fresh and new. I was connecting with the characters in new and deeper ways. I saw myself in Angel, the prostitute who spent years numbing herself to everything. Hope was continually crushed in her life until there was no sign of it left. I saw myself in Michael, the farmer who, after hearing God's prompt to rescue Angel, loves her back to life. Only to be broken and confused when she runs.

What Angel felt with him was too real. She thought you can't get hurt if you don't feel. You can't lose hope if you keep yourself from having any at all. And as Michael carefully and patiently took her defenses down, she backed up. The risk was too great. Life was easier on her own.

I can endure my own despair, but not another's hope. 
- William Walsh

Until one day she realized something. Life without hope is no life at all. Life is movement and motion and love. A numb heart is dead to these.

I am dying of thirst by the side of the fountain. 
- Charles D'Orleans

I felt my heart slowly dripping as it thawed. Blood began to return to places I allowed to become numb.  I found myself in a new place of insecurity with God's love. And (per usual) God used a song to reveal this to me. Mariah McManus' "Say It Again"...

Lose my mind
Trying to get in your line of sight
Everything is quiet when I close my eyes,
Here we go again

So it seems, I'm fighting harder for you than I ever did for anything,
Caught in a daydream
So I'm just gonna let myself fall into this one

Here we go again, it's all happening,
or is it all in my head, who says this daydream has to end.
My heart's caving in, it's all happening
Do you remember when you told me you loved me,
I told you to say it again?

I listened to the song over and over again. The line "Do You remember when You told me you loved me, I told You to say it again" pierced my heart every time. I kept thinking about the line, wondering why it impacted me that way. What I found was a hunger for God's love...the consistency...the reassurance that no matter what I did, His love was still there...the repetitiveness, knowing He would say it again and again and again. Until I believed Him. Until I felt it.

And He did.

The words have been on repeat in my soul. I believe Him, I feel Him. 

And I'm walking toward Him again. Admittedly, with some hesitation. But also with more guidance. Seeking wisdom from outside resources as I walk, stepping deeper with more care than before. "Now I'll be bold, as well as strong, and use my head alongside my heart." (Mumford and Sons' "I Will Wait")

Walking through life numb is like walking up to a feast with a paper plate. God is inviting us to sit with Him, at a table set with the finest china. 

Put down your paper plate
Come to the table made
Deep blue china 
Found on the table by the wine
So fine
It brings out flavor like
He brings out color in life

As I read the final paragraph of Rivers' epic novel, I knew I must move forward again. And something in those words gave me the courage...

Love the Lord your God, and love one another. Love one another as he loves. Love with strength and purpose and passion and no matter what comes against you. Don't weaken. Stand against the darkness, and love. That's the way back into Eden. That's the way back to life.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I'll Feel The Toil

Yesterday was another one of those days when words are not enough. One of those days where joy is devoid in that room of the labor and delivery unit. The baby is no longer alive. Now the parents must deliver the baby and say their goodbyes.

Looking back I can see how God prepared me to care for them. He had me in the Word the night before, reading in bed before I fell asleep earlier than usual. Then on the way to work I listened to some new music: "Slow Your Breath Down" by Future of Forestry. It was one of those songs that had me at the first few words, then solidified my attention as the music grew and swelled. I listened to it over and over. These lyrics were running through my head as I turned off my car and walked into the hospital:

Slow your breath down
Just take it slow
Find your heart now, oh
You can trust and love again...
You're not alone
You're now a part of Me
You feel the cure
I'll feel the toil that brought you

Unbeknownst to me, it was courage and strength heading into a tragic day. 12 hours flew by as I lost myself caring for the family. I couldn't eat. I didn't laugh. The tears shed weren't ones of joy. I dressed, photographed, and held the little body that just a day before was alive inside her mom. There isn't a way to explain loss like this to a couple. There is only reassurance that grieving in many forms is normal. And reassurance that I am walking it with them. With every hug I was willing divine strength and healing.

I gave all I had.

I'd love to say that I left it at work, but that would be a lie. Instead I sat on my couch dazed and couldn't make any decisions on what to eat, so I finally just went to bed. I didn't lose an unborn child, but I felt her emptiness every time I rolled over. I spent the morning in bed watching episode after episode of Parenthood, letting the tears (and sobs) flow freely.

I needed to be fully present for work again on Friday, so I spent the day in self-care mode. I read. I listened to music. I went for a drive. I spent hours in a coffee shop drinking my new guilty pleasure (an iced coffee drink called the "Shaker" flavored with hazelnut...I shamelessly downed with a chicken salad sandwich, one with a slice of chocolate peanut butter layer cake). And I went for a walk on the prayer trail behind church. This was the best part. My feet on the dirt, the smell of autumn in the crisp air, the trees standing tall and powerful as the leaves rustled in the wind. As I walked I wanted nothing except to be in the presence of my God. I didn't have anything to say. He knew my pain, after all, He'd caught all my tears (Psalm 56:8). I just wanted to be with Him. Words like Healer and Redeemer and Restorer were pounding in my heart.

Then I looked up and saw the wooden cross on the path. I've never looked at the cross and felt such a rush of comfort and relief. It felt like home. I took a deep breath as I let every emotion wash into the outstretched arms of my Savior.

I didn't have to bear it, because He already did.

Thoughts of my patient swirled in my head as I listened to a few songs on my iPod.

"Let It Be" by Kinfolk 9:

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
There will be an answer
Let it be

 And Brooke Fraser's "Flags":

You who mourn will be comforted
You who hunger will hunger no more
Yes, the last shall be first, of this I am sure
You who weep now will laugh again
All you lonely be lonely no more
Yes, the last will be first, of this I am sure

And Big and Rich's "Holy Water":

She wants someone to call her angel
Someone to put the light back in her eyes
She's looking through the faces
And unfamiliar places
She needs someone to hear her when she cries
And she says take me away
then take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me like holy water

I was standing at the foot of the cross, laying the hurt at His feet.

The One with the answer.

The One who comforts.

The One who hears our cries and holds us.

He feels the toil that brings us to Him.

I couldn't help thinking how I want everyone to experience this Love. How can I walk through life and not shout it from the mountains? How could I be so selfish to keep Him to myself? He is more than enough. And Jesus died for all.


I am so grateful. And I pray to God I live with a renewed passion and outpouring of love.

Isaiah 44:23, NLT
Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done this wondrous thing. 
Shout for joy, O depths of the earth!
Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree!
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob and is glorified in Israel.

I will not be silent.
I will not be quiet anymore.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Our Father's Reponse (XII/XII)

Maybe that's it. Maybe he does want to give her the pony (see previous post). But maybe there are more important things for her to do than have a pony right now. It still hurts. It still makes her wonder if she matters. And she must daily seek out His will as she continues to ask the question. God speaks through His son in Matthew:

Matthew 6:25-26, NIV
Do not worry about your life...Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

And again...

Matthew 7:7-11, NIV
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

I think this is where God invites us to open our eyes to the good gifts He is giving us.

Is it a man to walk by our side?  No.

Is it a husband to kneel with us and pray?  No.

Is it a baby crying in our arms?  No.

Is it a son or daughter calling us "Mommy"?  No.

It is a child we get to mentor. It is a community we get to help build. It is a trip we get to go on. It is a friendship tied together by the lack of the very things you find yourselves wanting. And for right now, God has us right where we are for a reason. We get to see Him in the singleness. To know Him intimately. To see Him fill our lives with good things and know on a deeper level how only He can fill us. He created us after all. Out of man, to be man's helpmate, in His image.

Is it hard?  Yes.

Is it lonely at times?  Yes.

Does it make you feel like you're crazy sometimes?  Heck yes. (Or maybe that's just me?!)

But He is good. And faithful. He has a plan for us. And whether or not we feel like it's our Plan B for our lives, it's actually God's Plan A. (Thank you to Cross Point Church's Pete Wilson for this!) Check out what God says here...

Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

And He promises to give us hope and a future...if but we would call upon him, come and pray to him. He promises to be found if we seek Him with all our heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13, emphasis mine)

So that, dear sisters (and brothers), is what we are to do. Seek Him with all our hearts. 

In the tearful moments as you hold your sister's bouncing baby. Seek Him.

As you embark on yet another trip with no one in the passenger seat. Seek Him.

As you hold your best friend's bouquet of flowers while she says her wedding vows. Seek Him.

As you bake another batch of muffins for your coworkers or small group girls. Seek Him.

As you watch your nephew's baseball game and cheer louder than anyone there. Seek Him.

Own it for what it is. Don't wallow in it. Don't be in denial about it. Just own it. And if you begin to doubt how you matter to Him. Seek Him harder. He will tell you. It's written all over His Word and His creation...

Did you know He gave His Son just to be with you? Our sin separates us from God in His perfect holiness. Receiving His mercy and grace through Christ to cover our sin, giving Him our lives, this is where we receive Sonship. We are co-heirs with with our Savior!

It is a beautiful inheritance. A relationship with God alone is beauty to last a lifetime. Knowing Him is enough, and yet there is so much more. But with our inheritance also comes suffering. Matt Chandler expounds in saying, "It is not unloving of God to wound you now so that you might have everlasting joy in eternity. God is going to do surgery and then plant us where He needs us so that we can live as sons and daughters. Be faithful where you are."

And as He continues to love you - daily, hourly, minutely - all we have to do is...

just seek Him.

Songs that have met me on this stage of the journey:
A Living Prayer - Alison Krauss
The Light - Sara Bareilles
More Of You - Miriam Tyson
While I'm Waiting - John Waller

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I Know Who I Am, But Do I Matter? (XI/XII)

So we know what singleness is. We know who we are created to be, male and female.

But there's still a question I found looming in the depths of my heart. I didn't want to acknowledge it. It was deep. And maybe a little embarrassing, given my background in the Church.

But it was there, nonetheless, so I dug. Here's what I uncovered.

At the same time I started reading The Gospel of Ruth, I began reading Angie Smith's book What Women Fear. (Ladies, this is a must-read too!) I was in the midst of a chapter on fearing death. Not something I struggle with exactly. Sure, I fear safety sometimes. I'm always relieved after arriving home at the end of a long trip or after hearing that a family member has arrived safely. But in general, death is not something I fear - and for that I am incredibly grateful. So I was reading through this chapter a little bit disengaged and happy there was finally a chapter that didn't completely resonate with me.

Then, I read this sentence.

"At the heart of my fear is the burning question of whether or not I really matter to Him the way I want to believe I do."

Oh crap. I read it again. And again.

There was something deep inside that was stirring. But I didn't know what, or why. I mean, do I doubt that I matter to God? I don't think I do. On a head level. But in my heart do I? I had to press deep to get to the bottom of this. And I wasn't exactly excited about what I was finding. But I was becoming aware of this feeling of wondering how I really matter to God. I know He sent His only Son to die for me. I know He loves me more than anything I could ever fathom. The things that break my heart, the things that burden me. Do they matter to Him?

And then my mind engaged in full on war.

Erin, this life isn't about you anyway. It's all for Him. So no, you really don't matter. It's all about bringing your Redeemer glory, reflecting His love and grace. Living a life sacrificed to Him.

I've been pouring over this verse for several months:

Philippians 1:21, NIV
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

So. Do I matter? 

He is my Father. He created me and loves me.

But still.

It feels a little bit like this: Imagine a family. There's a little girl who has several siblings. She and her siblings are loved and cared for by their father. They are provided for and have all their needs met, oftentimes without even realizing it. But this little girl wants a pony. One day she goes to her Father and says, "Daddy, Daddy! I really want a pony. May I have one?" And she hears nothing. So the next day she goes to him and asks the same thing, "Daddy, Daddy, I really want a pony. May I have one?"

Still no response. No pony.

So she continues, "Daddy, Daddy, I have seen some great ponies. You've trained me with a heart to love and care for one. May I have a pony?"

Silence. Years go by. She continues to ask the question. Her siblings are asking too. They get ponies. She has joy seeing their joy, yet she still wants a pony of her own. Meanwhile she continues to train herself to be a good caregiver, filling her head with knowledge of caring for a pony. She gleans wisdom from those around her who have them, continuing to seek and grow in the time of waiting.

And so she continues, "Daddy, Daddy, I see that you've provided a pony for my other siblings, but I still don't have one. Are you hearing me? I am waiting. I see so many great ponies. May I have one?"

No answer.

And eventually, in the silence she beings to wonder if she really matters. If she mattered wouldn't she have one? If she really mattered, wouldn't her daddy want to give her a pony?

Songs that have met me on this stage of the journey:
Surrender - Barlow Girl
This Road - Ginny Owen

I sort out this question soon in "Our Father's Response" - the final post in the Singlehood series...coming soon...!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Interjection: Colombia

So I have to make an interjection before the last two posts in the Singlehood series. I've been wanting to share this with you, my blog readers, and I can't wait any longer. In four short weeks from this coming Saturday, I get to go on a medical mission trip to Colombia!

I was given this incredible opportunity to help lead a team from 12Stone Church for a week as we travel to two villages outside Barranquilla. We'll be setting up medical clinics in each of these villages, providing medical care and connecting with the villagers as we share the good news of Christ's death and resurrection. We're working with e3 Partners, a ministry organization that exists to share the Gospel through equipping nationals to evangelize and establish churches throughout their own countries. Their mission and vision is incredible. I am so excited to be working with an incredible ministry in a country where God is at work doing amazing things (some good friends were there with e3 Partners in June)! 

The two villages we'll be traveling to are new to e3. For some reason this excites me to the extreme. I think maybe because it's an opportunity to rise to a challenge - working where e3 hasn't been before. Yay! We're there to help pave a way for new ministry opportunities, new churches, ultimately new eternal life. 

Our team consists of doctors, nurses, paramedics, and nursing students, coming together from South Carolina and Georgia. I am eager to get there, eager to see a new place, eager to get to work, but most importantly I'm eager to follow God's lead in conversations, actions, and prayer. I have a high expectation for God moving through our team. That is my prayer. That He would move and speak and bring life and encouragement. Restoration of lives through His redemption. 

Ugh...can we just leave already?!

I would love for you to join me in this. Two ways you can do this: prayer and/or money - they don't have to be mutually exclusive. :) 

Prayer and my team as we prepare our hearts, our minds, our bodies for the week we'll be there....for God to prepare a way for us to move and build relationships...for safety...for boldness in sharing the Gospel...for wisdom in medical care...for increased submission to God's will and leading and guidance...the list goes on and on, but there's a start.

And finances. The cost of the trip is $2600 and I've got $900 left. Would you pray and give as God leads? I am fully confident in His provision and am trusting Him to provide the remaining funds in two weeks. 

Here's the link to donate:

Thank you, thank you!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Living As A Single Guy in God's Kingdom (X/XII)

Don't worry, I am not about to tackle this one. I can give my thoughts on what we ladies might like you guys to hear, but when it comes to living as a single guy, well, that's where I plead the 5th. It's about time this blog had a break from my thoughts and words, anyway.

Enter: Matt Snyder. A friend of mine, a male, a fellow writer and believer. And up until recently a fellow journeyman in the life of singlehood. I am grateful for his willingness to share his thoughts. Thank you, Matt! 

Gentleman (and ladies), Erin Flew the Coop is honored to present you his writings on living as a single guy in God's Kingdom...

When I was a boy, I remember dreaming about my wedding day. I’m a grown man now, so I’m not afraid to admit it, but I would oftentimes fall asleep at night daydreaming about what my wife would look like, where we would live, what we would do for a living, and more. This happened well into my mid-twenties.

Sometimes I felt like my life paralleled the Genesis account of creation: God made Adam, gave him some specific instructions about living in the Garden, and then gave him the enormous task of naming all of the animals… by himself.

Replace the “Garden” with “my parents’ house” and “naming all of the animals” with “trying to determine the will of God” and you have my life.

It was hard as a geeky twenty-something, seeing my friends get married, and wondering wedding after wedding when it would be my turn. I always thought I’d be married by the time I was 23. Instead, I was 25, single and always on the prowl. Why, yes, I was a wife-hunter.

I dated some pretty amazing girls in the interim but despite all of my attempts to honor them and pursue them with character and integrity, none of them saw me fit to perform that task for a lifetime. I had a gaping hole in my side made just for my wife and it seemed like nobody wanted to fill that void.

I finally gave up. It’s probably not the most charming thing female readers want to hear, but it’s true.

I heeded Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:12 and sought contentment in the midst of my self-perceived “circumstance” of not having a wife. I decided that I’d use my time without a significant other pursuing His peace and more of His Presence.  Even more, I used my singleness as an opportunity to greater pursue the things that the Lord was putting on my heart (fighting human trafficking at home and abroad) and encouraging those around me.

It was amazing how alive I became. I no longer was thinking about “who” I didn’t have beside me, and Who I really did. The Lord encouraged and grew me into a bigger man during that season and I will never regret it. 

And you know what happened when I stopped looking? She came.

At the time of writing this, I’ve been married for seven weeks to the day. Five years after I thought I would get married, I finally did. 

And you know how I found her? I found her through pursuing the Lord’s heart first and chasing the passion that He placed inside of me. There’s nothing more fulfilling than knowing the one you were made for has your same passions. But you’ll only find her if you actually pursue them.

I think if I had any advice for the single guys (and gals) out there, it would be to stop pursuing the relationship you don’t have and pursue the relationship with the One that you do. What better place to unlock your heart and unearth another’s than in the hands of the One who fashioned them? 

If you have the desire for marriage, the Lord will not allow it to go unfulfilled. Men, the time will come when He’ll petition you to pursue her. Women, the time will come when He’ll encourage you to receive the pursuit. Until then, chase your dreams.

-Matt Snyder

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Guys, What We Want You to Hear (IX/XII)

Well, it's what I want you to hear, anyway. I can't speak for every woman. Read and let me know your thoughts...I welcome them. Man or woman. Married or single. goes, guys.

We might be strong, we might be independent. But we still want you to fight for us. That doesn't mean we will roll over and play the victim. We have our own battles as women to fight (we wouldn't expect you to fight those for us) and we certainly can't fight them while playing the victim lying on the ground.  But we will respond to your pursuing. And we will joyfully and gladly step in beside you and support you in battle.

It's what we were created to do. 

We are your help-mate. This shouldn't be scary. Not as scary as we make it out to be.

Does it involve risk?


Does it involve trust?


Does it require stepping out of your comfort zone?

Probably. But it does for us too. We're wading through the unknown just like you are.

But we ask you to recognize that we are ezer-kenegdos. Adam's helpmate. Scripture clearly spells this out in Genesis 2. Adam was living in the garden of Eden amongst all the other living things, which did not include a human. And God deemed it was not good for him to be alone. So he put him to sleep, and from man He created woman. A helper suitable for him. She wasn't to take charge of the relationship and remove his masculinity. She wasn't to fall into a puddle at his feet and be just one more thing he had to take care of. She was to live life with his helper. She is her own person, created in the image of God. Hear that. She is an image-bearer. Just like man. But she is woman. A way for man to not be alone. So why are we living life alone? Is it really easier that way? Is it really better?

Sometime in college, I remember having another conversation with my mom (years after the kissing dating goodbye one) where I was trying to explain to her what kind of man I was looking for. I couldn't describe his looks or even his personality. But I could describe his character.

A spiritual man of God.

One who seeks after Him with his whole heart and longs to serve Him all the days of his life. Also a man who knows he is complete in Him. Him alone. One who knows that he could live his life completely on his own and be OK. That God has equipped Him with what he needs to accomplish His will. Fully independent and capable.

But He also gave him a choice.

He can choose to live life with the woman who aligns with him. The woman of God placed on his help. To stand beside him and serve with him. A woman who knows she's secure and covered with strength and dignity (Proverbs 31:25-26). A woman who seeks God all the days of her life. A woman who is bold and strong, but gentle. A woman who knows she will be completely OK if God never provides a husband, but will gladly accept the opportunity to choose this man's offer of living life with him.

That is the man that I want. My mom's words? "Good luck with that." Well, I'm betting on that luck because I'm not willing to budge.

I recently went on a mission trip to Guatemala. I had the unique blessing and burden of co-leading the trip. I got to lead with one of my good friends, and he and I felt from the beginning that God clearly orchestrated circumstances for us to be co-leaders on that trip. It was an incredibly humbling experience. On the bus ride home back in Atlanta, he and I were debriefing about the trip. I told him how the experience of leading with him felt a little bit like a marriage.  (Don't get any bright ideas...he and I are friends...and both on the same page with that.) But in the months leading up to the trip, he and I were faced with prepping 12 other people to serve the Lord doing whatever He wanted us to do down there. There were meetings, handouts, prayers, logistics, icebreakers, intense conversations. It required leadership, support, submission, strength. And that was even before we left the country! All these things were magnified in our time there. The weight we each felt was heavy. The support hugely significant. Never a hands off, acquiescent approach. Always seeking God first, then each other's input. There were times he took the reins and led, me supporting and encouraging. There were times he stepped back and supported me as I led.

We had each others' backs. And neither of us could imagine leading without the other.

Isn't that what a marriage is supposed to be like? Sharing the burden? Lifting each other up when the other is weak.

I realized on this trip how crucial a woman's role in a marriage can be. As I said in my previous post, you guys don't have it so easy in this world either. Your security is attacked just as ours is. Pressures put on you in the workplace are intense at best, and oftentimes unreasonable. Society begs you to be better, faster, stronger, in all areas of life. As women, we get to step into life with you and encourage you. The task is mighty, but who else will be that for you if we are not? When you come home at the end of the day and you've fought a hard battle, it is no small task to be the one who gets you...really gets you. The one who helps relieve the tension, the one who can challenge and uplift, respect and love you. The one who is let into those private places no one else gets to see, and we accept you there.

That is weighty.

That is no job description that beckons a woman to roll over and play dead. It requires her to stand up, be strong, boldly support her husband. Affirm where he needs affirming. Speak truth where he needs to hear truth. Be the softness he needs to his rough exterior. Pray her little heart out each day as he enters battle.

That, dear men, is what we want to be for you. And in return, you are to love us like Christ loved the church. Striving to guide, lead, provide.

More on that in the next post! We'll hear from a guest blogger, a male friend of mine who's spent some years in singleness himself. We'll hear his words on living as a single man in God's Kingdom.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NAS

Two heads are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.

Thoughts? Post 'em below...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Little Demolition Does a Body Good (VIII/XII)

I like war movies with the best of 'em, but I also like Hallmark movies. I love hiking and backpacking and kayaking, but I also love to bake and decorate and crotchet. I love football and hockey, but I also love eclectic coffee shops and good books. I have a dream of mud-wrestling one day, but I also have a dream of receiving a beautiful bouquet of English roses. It's who I am. Tough, but soft.

But one would have to look hard to see the softness sometimes.

Ladies, does this resonate with you?

Living alone in this world will put some callouses on you, for sure. It will tell you you've always gotta be tough. And when no one is fighting for you, no one is telling you the answer to that fundamental question of "Am I beautiful?" sometimes the softness fades. Now don't get me wrong, man isn't supposed to be the one to answer that question. God is. We are completely and entirely whole in Him alone. I firmly believe that. And I've experienced that in my life. But He also created us with desires and hormones...and ears that love to hear, "You're beautiful." There's something about knowing and believing that in your heart of hearts. It's something else altogether to have that answer reflected back to you. And when it isn't being reflected back, it can be a challenge to remain in that soft place.

Let me remind us: we are warriors. So, let's fight.

Fight to remain in that place of softness. We (I) tend to build up walls as time goes by, even without a specific hurt. I can feel...well...useless. Unnoticed. And so I'll build up my defenses and prove to myself and anyone else that I'm fine. That I can do all things on my own and don't need anyone to do them for me or with me. I have been told that I, inadvertently, send this message to guys. If one might happen to actually be interested, I pretty easily send him the signal that I'm not. Because I've got my world of walls and defenses and "I don't need anyone to do anything for me" attitude.

Sure, that's exactly the kind of woman a wounded man wants to fight for. A woman who is sure she can do all things on her own. That'll be a sure set up for success. And let's pause for a second on the idea of wounded man. I don't mean those words as any disrespect. Far from it. I believe that for as hard as this world can be on a woman, it can be even harder on a man. A man who's lived life with battle scars to his security, to his manhood, to the very core of who he was created to be.

Beth Moore expounds on this little discussed truth in her book, So Long, Insecurities: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us, after conducting a survey on men and insecurities. She writes, "Fear of failing as a provider was the first of two potential failures that floated to the top in the survey with the guys. The second was failure to prove himself a man...Without minimizing the minefield of women's insecurities, our gender could stand to have our eyes pried open to the fierce battlefield men occupy in the fight for their own souls. In all these years, I can't remember ever hearing a female say that she feels the need to prove that she's a woman. We tend to consider it a fact that was settled at conception. We may want to prove that we are desirable women, capable women, intelligent women, or even real women, but there's still a subtle difference. Men aren't tagging their gender with an adjective. They want to prove to be men. And that's when it really occurred to me. They feel a truckload of pressure to be what we would consider them to already be. Girls become women when they reach a certain age. Boys become men when they attain and conquer. A male doesn't become a man just by growing up. Apparently most guys feel like they have to prove something in order to be men...[a]nd it's not just about being manly. It's about being what they consider to be a man." (1)

Do we think it is easy for a man to fight for a calloused woman who has built up wall after wall? What would possess him to shakily step forward and pursue a girl who is proving to the world that she doesn't need him or anyone?

It's time for me to soften myself, ladies. Take a step back. Allow men to be men. And be...woman. The one who was created in response to God's assessment of it not being good for man to be alone. We were created for him...but also in God's image. Remember that we are still God's image-bearers, whether we have a husband or not.

Know that you are clothed with strength and dignity, you can laugh at the days to come (Proverbs 31:25-26).

Let that sink in.


No one can take that from you. Your Jehovah-Sabaoth (the Lord Almighty, the Lord of Hosts, the One who holds sway of all things) will see to that. He is our Protector. Fight with Him to protect your security, your strength and dignity.

Where do you find yourself on the scale of tough and tender? Are you caught up in a solitary world where the edges of your soul are sharp enough to cause wounds? Are you living in complacency and/or apathy, having lost hope in being pursued by a man?

Join me in some self-assessment. Demolish some walls if you need to. Reinforce other ones, the ones guarding truths God has placed deep in your soul. I firmly believe we can bolster up our security and regain a healthy balance of tough and tender.

1. Beth Moore, So Long, Insecurities: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2010), pp 188-89.

Friday, August 24, 2012

What It Doesn't Mean (VII/XII)

This spot in life might not be where you want to be. The day in day out might look so far from what you imagined 5, 10, 15 years ago. But that doesn't change the fact that you are woman. With an identity and a mission. It just might not be the mission you dreamed of.


But it's still your mission.

If this is you, you're not the only one who's doing something they didn't think they would. I'm working 12-hour shifts as a staff nurse in Labor and Delivery at a Level II hospital. (Whoever thought delivering babies well into your 20's as a single woman was a good idea? Is it sadistic or just plain sad to be helping everybody else welcome their new little bundles of joy into the world?) Oftentimes I still wonder why I'm not pulling organic hand-kneaded buns out of the oven instead of the wriggling crying ones I see every day. Oh, working in a bakery would be so much less stressful (and the fulfillment of a about it here and here). And yet God made it clear this was my assignment (more on that decision here).

As you can tell, my current place in life isn't exactly where I imagined I would be. In my head, it actually looked very different. In fact, there are almost daily experiences that make me want to throw a temper tantrum on the floor like a spoiled child. But I don't. It won't do me any good. It would undoubtedly be a humorous scene for those around me, but in reality I would be quite foolish. Can you imagine? A grown adult, screaming and kicking her legs, writhing mad at the truth that she isn't getting her way and she isn't the only thing existing on the earth? What a sight! It's a sight I've pondered making into a reality all too often. But instead of that victim mentality, I am asked to step up into the full weight of my identity (defined in this previous post). This looks nothing like a temper tantrum. Instead it is a call to arms, an invitation to stand and live in the reality that there is more to life than me. Let's be honest, the women of the Bible are anything but selfish, sinful sure, but far from selfish. Far from acquiescent female creatures who do what the world tells them. (If you need proof and even if you don't, read about these incredible women: Ruth, Leah and Rachel, Esther, Tamar, Sarah, Anna, Mary...)

Another woman in history stands out as unselfish. Sojourner Truth, the African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist, "wasn't protesting chivalry toward women because she scorned gentility or disparaged the finer things in life. She was, however, challenging popular notions of what it means to be a woman. Her objectives were borne from a deep inner conviction that in this broken world being a woman often means doing hard things, straining your muscles, and tackling messy problems that aren't listed in books about true femininity and may actually be repudiated by them. Sometimes God even calls us to do things that violate our personal list of what we consider 'appropriate activities' for ourselves as women, but which are nevertheless a woman's calling. Sojourner Truth was an ezer...she unflinchingly entered any battle Jesus summoned her to fight and did so with every ounce of womanly strength she possessed. She believed embracing the challenges God presents can never diminish our womanhood or femininity, no matter what others (or our own inner voice) may tell us." (1)

So, apparently, our identity doesn't mean we can throw temper tantrums.

"Sometimes the battles before us aren't what we expected to be doing with our lives, much less what we expected to be doing as women. The backbreaking work Ruth did all day was hardly the feminine occupation she envisioned for herself. But she was doing God's work - preparation, dirty and broken fingernails, rough surrounding, and all - and she did it with all of her might, her resources, and her wit. Ultimately, her bold initiatives bless God's people, challenging them to contemplate what it means to live as Yahweh's people, and Ruth herself becomes a powerful catalyst for change." (2)

Blessing God's people? A catalyst for change? Those are certainly things worthy of my striving.

"God gave us Ruth and Sojourner Truth to remind us that courage, boldness, and godly leadership are important feminine attributes when it comes to living for God. When we swim upstream against culture; use our voices to speak the truth; advocate stubbornly for others; and sweat, toil, and strategize to advance God's kingdom on earth, we are doing woman's work." (3)

Here's to a life of sweat, toil, and strategizing. Take the focus off myself. Serve others. This life isn't about me anyway. And one of the best parts? We never have to do it alone. If there's anything I've learned in community, it is the joy of living life together, striving to seek His will in our lives, together. It's a beautiful thing.

Songs that have met me on this stage of the journey:
My Desire - Jeremy Camp
Marchin On - OneRepublic

1. Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel of Ruth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), p.91-2.
2. Ibid., 105.
3. Ibid., 105-106.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What It Means (VI/XII)

In my first post, I mention that singlehood has brought me the closest to God and yet challenged my knowing Him as my Father and Lover of my soul. There are many times in my life I've wanted to ask the question "Why?" Why not now? Why not this one? Why am I the only one who's missing out?

It's time to get real honest again here. In the wake of the tears accompanying those questions, I found something. Or rather SomeOne. I never know when the moment will hit. Sometimes I'll feel it coming on for a few days. Other times it hits me faster than you can say "I do." It could be a silly love song. It could be that romantic comedy I've seen a million times. It could be the couple I see a few feet in front of me, walking hand in hand. It could be that decision of where to take my car to get it fixed. Do I move here or there? It could be the moment I crawl in bed, weary from a long day, with no one to debrief, no on helping to warm up the sheets. And in these moments "[w]e want the Bible to tell us that God loves us so dearly he cannot bear to see us suffer; we want him to stand between us and adversity. When we're in trouble, we want to know he's on his way at warp speed - a divine paramedic laden with soothing balm for our aching souls and the healing power to fix what's wrong...It's quite a shock to discover God is here already..." (1)

Nicholas Wolterstorff, after the death of his son wrote, "I am at an impasse, and you, O God, have brought me here...From my earliest days, I believed in you. I shared in the life of your people; in their prayers, in their work, in their songs...For me your yoke was easy. On me your presence smiled. Noon has darkened...And where are you in this darkness?...Or is it not your absence in which I dwell but your elusive troubling presence?" (2)

James (again from The Gospel of Ruth) elaborates on the unique opportunity in suffering. She says, "Suffering is a sacred meeting place between God and his child, where faith is fighting to survive and God's goodness comes into question. Throughout biblical history, God used infertility to pull his distressed daughters aside and engage them at a deeper level. Through suffering, God led them on a descent into darkness, doubt, and despair - foreboding, mysterious places we would never go by choice, but where God inevitably leads us. In the darkness we strain our eyes, searching for signs of him. We listen intently for the slightest movement that will tell us he is near. The barren women tell us he is here - in this dark place, in the middle of the mess, and in the depths of our despair. This is where childless women discovered things about God they would not have seen 'dry-eyed' and where they came to acknowledge a staggering level of dependence on him that was informed by their barrenness. Perhaps the biggest (and most unexpected) gift these barren women give us is a glimpse in their mirror to see our own faces reflected back. Their barrenness is not just a connecting point with other women who happen to be infertile too. At a fundamental level, their barrenness relates to all of us." (3)

It's in those moments, the moments of pain, suffering, or sadness, sometimes lying in fetal position in my bed, crying out to my God, that I have come to know Him in the most intimate of ways. I have literally felt His arms around me. I have heard his Words, speaking truth into my soul. No one else can experience this for me. It's not something someone else could go through and teach me or tell me about. It has to be my own. This is personal, and our God is relational. That means He and I are connected, in a relationship unique to any other, by His amazing grace through the death of His Son. No one can make it exist or nurture it for me. It is His and mine. And so these moments, painful as they are, reveal more of God to me. They bring me to Him and beckon me to know Him in deeper ways.

"The isolating nature of her sufferings meant a woman could no longer lean on someone else's theology." (4)

So press in. Learn more about Him.

Proverbs 2:1-8, NIV

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just, and protects the way of his faithful ones. 

Proverbs 3:13-18, NIV

Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed. 

He created you, gave you a magnificent identity, and has plans - unique and perfect plans - for you. He's not going to just remove the hurt, but walk with you through it. Allow God to reveal Himself to you. Trust me, I know from experience that He will. It will make you smile, often through the tears. Sometimes you might laugh at the surprise of how well He knows you. (Read about it in Psalm 139.) He will send you love messages no one else could have ever created. Messages specific to you. He'll show you things no friend, book, song, or sermon could tell you. That kind of knowledge is priceless.

Then, in future moments you will have your own knowledge of Him to lean on.

And He will never let you down.

~Musical selections that have met me in this stage of the journey:
     Blessings - Laura Story
     When The Tears Fall - Tim Hughes

1. Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel of Ruth (Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 2008), p. 83. 
2. Ibid, 83-83.
3. Ibid, 85.
4. Ibid, 82.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ladies: Our Identity (V/XII)

Genesis 2:18-23, NIV

The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper (ezer kenegdo) suitable for him." Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man."

This, dear women, is the beginning of our identity. We were created as a suitable helpmate for man. And man's response to woman? Poetry! He speaks the first words of poetry in the Bible. After seeing and naming all the animals, his eyes landed on something that resonated deeply with him.


Created by God. Defined by God.

Carolyn Custis James says in her book, The Gospel of Ruth, "God created women to be his image-bearers - to know him, to become like him, and to represent him in their interactions with others. As theologians, Naomi and Ruth understood that the world revolves around God. Their mission is to center themselves on him - to trust him and to advance his kingdom. They do that as ezer-warriors, fighting battles he places in their path. God has created women to be warriors, and he stations us on all sorts of battlefronts every day of our lives...Furthermore (and this is where Boaz comes in), the Blessed Alliance - God's design from creation that men and women join forces in serving him together - is alive and well in the book of Ruth." (1)

What's an ezer? It's a Hebrew word used to describe a warrior. It's the word God uses to describe woman in the aforementioned passage from Genesis. A warrior. Strength. Might. And all those good things. Women are...ezer-warriors.

But what happens when that man isn't a part of our lives yet? What then? We were created to be his helpmate, but we can't very well help him if he isn't a part of our lives. What becomes of our identity then?

The answer again is found in Scripture, if but we would look a bit closer. James sheds light on this again, "When widowhood or anything else alters a woman's life, the center of her identity doesn't disintegrate, for she is not defined or redefined by circumstances, relationship, her resume, or public opinion. God defines her. If you looked up 'woman' in God's dictionary, you'd find the definition he set down as he drew up plans for the very first woman. He defined the woman as follows: 'Image-bearer: created in God's image and likeness; called to be fruitful and multiply, to rule and subdue.' It is the same kingdom definition that he gave to the man. It ascribes to them the highest value imaginable. God does not have a separate definition for widows or a widow footnote outlining an image bearer hierarchy, where the widow drops to the bottom. According to God's definition, she is right up there with everyone else. Widowhood does not downsize her God-given responsibilities or demote her from her exalted image bearer calling. There's a kingdom to build, vast enemy territory to reclaim. With a task this size, God is not about to sign off on any ezer-warrior's retirement or leave of absence...She remains on active duty for him." (2, boldface/emphasis added)

Now, go back and read that excerpt again, this time replacing "singlehood" and "single woman" with every reference to "widowhood" and "widow."

Just as the widow remains on active duty, I believe the single woman enters active duty before she enters a marriage. There is a kingdom to build. God is equipping and using His daughters - single, married, or widowed - now. He doesn't create us, fashion us in our mother's womb, know the number of hairs on our head, perceive our thoughts, and love us unconditionally just to set us aside. Until. Until we meet the man of our dreams. Until we become mothers. He has a plan, a purpose, a mission for us right here, right now.

"A woman's high calling as God's image bearer renders her incapable of insignificance, no matter what has gone wrong in her life or how much she has lost." (3)

You are significant. Did you catch that? You are an image-bearer of God, set apart from the beginning of Creation to bring Him glory. What a magnificent identity!

~Musical selection(s) that have met me in this stage of the journey:
     Beautiful Things - Gungor
     I Will Show You Love - Kendall Payne

1. Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel of Ruth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 31.
2. Ibid, 64-65.
3. Ibid, 66.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Owning It (IV/XII)

A few months ago, I wrote a friend after reading her blog where she shared her and her husband's journey through infertility and adoption. I sensed the weight of emotion and heartache and wanted to encourage her somehow. In that message I explained that I wasn't married or trying to have children, but heard her struggle and understood part of it in some way. She responded back with "Any deferred hope makes the heart sick! I think the pain of infertility transcends babies and relates to any unmet desire."

I pondered her words. Did I agree?

After mulling it over, I finally rested on a yes. But part of me wanted to minimize singlehood. Minimize what I was feeling. Surely it isn't the pain of infertility. But in some way, there are ties. Again, from The Gospel of Ruth, Carolyn Custis James breaks down the main players in the book of Ruth: Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. At the heart of the women's burden is widowhood and barrenness. Two things I don't directly struggle with. But I found myself connecting with just about every sentence as she described the significance of the battles facing these women, and women today. And I kept thinking, I know she's talking about widowhood, but this resonates with me! I have not lost a husband, but I have never found one either. There is something similar in that. I don't have a child, and although I am not trying to have one and don't find myself in the place of discovering I can't have one, at the end of the day...both woman's arms are empty. I understand this could be touchy territory here. I don't claim to know what it feels like to lose a husband or to hear the words "You can't bear children," but I do know what it feels like to never have experienced life with a husband and to never have carried a child inside my belly. There are aches that some things just can't fill. And so when I read my friend's words, I paused. She was giving me the freedom to feel this. To acknowledge this is real. 

Those who know me know I don't like drama. I may be female, but I loathe any amount of it. It feels irrational, emotional, out of control even.

I like even keel. I like composure. I like to keep myself in control. So in acknowledging singlehood for what it is, I feel I'm embracing drama as I wave the handkerchief to my forehead and sigh in a Scarlett O'Hara-esque sort of way (who by the way, may be uber dramatic but is also one tough cookie!).

But it is real. It is emotional. And it is out of my control. Denying that, and trying to bury it in the ground, doesn't do me any good.

Name it. Own it. And then deal with it.

~Musical selection(s) that have met me in this stage of the journey:
     Black Roses Red - Alana Grace
     Barren Land - Shane & Shane (I couldn't find anything more than just the lyrics)

Look for the next installment at the end of this week - the real meat and potatoes as we'll get to the heart of who we are as women...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Defining It (III/XII)

Spinster. Old maid. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Sometimes Singlehood feels like a disease. Maybe we should call it Singlitis instead of Singlehood? And isn't it funny how compliments can often feel like daggers? One of my favorites: "I bet you have guys knocking down your door!" Well...I don't. Either they can't find it, they don't want to, or they walk up to it and read the invisible sign that says "buzz off." Somehow when someone makes that exclamation, I walk away wondering what's wrong with me instead of the guys. Go figure. Or how about the "Soooo, what's new?" And after me rambling on about work and family and mundane things in life, they go "Soooooooo, what else is new?" with a gleam in their eye, at which point I get to enlighten them about the lack of any news or changes in the boy department. Que: scarlet letter burning on my chest. So is it a disease? A season? A time? A calling? A lifestyle?

What. is. Singlehood?

Books I've read will describe it as the time to wholeheartedly and undistractedly serve our Lord and grow all you can. And while I don't disagree one bit, Singlehood has also been other things.

Part of me feels like Singlehood is a scarlet letter. Sometimes I feel a bit like Hester Prynne with a big letter "S" on my chest when I talk about how being single affects me. It comes out just about every time someone mentions their fabulous boyfriend, references their family, or discusses their experiences with parenting. I can't tell you how many sermons I have heard about marriage and family. How many weddings I've been to with no dancing partner.

I guess I was cursed after a particular conversation from high school. It was senior year and we were all sitting around the lunch table, several of my friends and I were discussing who we thought would be the first to be married with kids. Guess who it was? Yours truly. Welp, my 10 year high school reunion was a month ago. Most of those friends who once sat around the lunch table are married with kids. In fact, the one who said she never wanted to have children is expecting her first little one in just a few short weeks. Irony.

I think being single can often feel like a fragment. I only recently connected this word to what I was feeling. In Carolyn Custis James' fabulous (must read!!) book The Gospel of Ruth, I read these words about the way a widowed woman can often feel:

"Without a husband, she is half of a conversation. A fragment. The Ying without the Yang...But the messages that inform her of her diminished place in the world don't just come from inside. The outside world is sending signals that the world stops turning for the woman traveling through life alone." (1)

Ever felt that way? Like a fragment?

To be honest (and I promised I would be), when I see married couples interacting together, I feel like I'm missing out on something. Like there's this special language and I can't speak it. Like there's some fabulous undercurrent that I know is there, but no matter what I do, I can't reach it...because I'm single. I guess I feel like I'm missing out on something. Like I was created for more, and I can't tap into it yet. (Cheese warning here...) Like I'm a flower and part of me has started to open, but I won't fully bloom until I have this love. This hope that there is someone who will enter into the most intimate relationship on earth that I will ever know. When that hope becomes a reality, then and only then will I be in full bloom. Until then, my growth feels stunted. And that makes me a little bit sad. There's a song by The Wilkinson's called "The Only Rose." Every time I hear it, it brings tears to my eyes. It talks about a little redheaded, freckled girl who would give anything to look differently. Her mother says to her:

There's a million stars 
In the summer sky
And each one has its name
There's a million snowflakes 
In the wintertime
But no two are quite the same
And there's something 
You can't see right now
But one day girl you'll know
In a field that's full of daisies
You're the only rose

It's just that this rose, in Singlehood, feels more like a scarlet letter than a rose of the same color.

1. Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel of Ruth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 58.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Years That Keep on Giving (II/XII)

First, a little bit about me and my story, my years of Singlehood...

I read Joshua Harris' I Kissed Dating Goodbye as a 13-year-old. Some might argue that's when my problems began. Whether that's true or not, I will never know. What it did do was solidify in me a commitment I wasn't willing to budge on. (I was also in a Bible study at the time: Kay Arthur's Someday, A Marriage Without Regrets...interesting start to my teen years...) Harris' book helped shape my standards and gave me confidence to keep them. Is it the end all be all book for dating? Most likely not (and believe me, I've read more than a few). But for me at that age, it was certainly beneficial. Although, it did prompt my mom to ask the question, "How are you going to get married if you kiss dating goodbye?" If I had to be honest, I think she still blames that book for me being single today. This series is not a dating guide - I think you might want to consult someone who has successfully navigated those not me! I have spent all of my life (save 9 months) as a single person. Several dates. One 9-month relationship. And no, it wasn't horrible - it didn't scar me from ever being in a relationship again. It was good. I learned a lot from it. And I'm grateful for it. I'm just saying I'm not the one to seek advice from on dating.

One of my mentors actually said to me, in those early years of processing what this would look like, "Erin, you'd better get a cat." Upon my inquiry as to why, she responded with, "Because you've got years of loneliness ahead of you and you're gonna need a companion on those lonely Friday nights." It was a humorous way of encouraging me. She wasn't trying to tell me which way was right or wrong. But she did affirm what God was speaking to me. She encouraged my best friend and me by showing us the silver goblets from her wedding. Shiny beautiful pure silver goblets. She said we were the goblets. Precious women that were worth waiting and fighting for. I cannot tell you how many times over the years I have remembered those stinking goblets and wanted them to maybe be a little less precious. Only because it's been a long wait. And continues to be. Yet, I find myself continually grateful for those words of encouragement spoken so many years ago that are still written on my heart.

Fast forward to high school. I remember listening to Rebecca St. James' "Wait For Me" and declaring it my anthem (anyone else???). I've kept up with her a bit through the years and respected her vocal stance on abstinence and her commitment to prayerfully wait on the right one. I had the joy of belting that anthem at her concert one Valentine's Day in college. (I was probably also thinking something along the lines of Wouldn't it be cool if my future-husband was here right now in this very same arena belting this song and thinking about me? Wow, I really was a dork. And if you're a guy who's claimed this as your anthem, I salute you. But you might want to instead consider a few songs with a bit more testosterone in their lyrical prose: Bebo Norman's "Perhaps She'll Wait" or Michael Buble's "Haven't Met You Yet" or even Daniel Bedingfield's "Right Girl" - this one in particular would win you serious props.) But I've always thought Man, I really want Rebecca - yes, we're on a first name basis - to find her husband. I mean, I waited years. But she's waited yeeeears. The other day, I googled it - I joyfully discovered that her years of waiting are over - she joined the ranks of matrimonious living in 2011! Read about it here. Whew, now I can finally get married - I could hardly justify getting hitched before Rebecca St. James.

You'll be happy to know I never did buy a cat so I could sit at home and stroke its back. And if you, too, read about kissing dating goodbye and are curious about its jinxing power, fear not. My good friend who read it with me is now married and expecting her second child. So what did I do instead of mindless cat-stroking? I dove headfirst into friendship, community, fellowship, serving, and traveling. Let me tell you, it has been one mighty fun road. I have memories and stories galore. It has been lonely as heck at times. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. Seriously, I am grateful for each step of the way. They have helped refine me by teaching me more about myself, more about the way the world works, more about my mission here in this world. And yes, it has also taught me about Singlehood. More than I ever wanted to know.

Friday, August 3, 2012

My Scarlet Letter (I/XII)

Ok, so in the next several posts I’m going to embark on a journey. I’d love for you to walk with me. It is a journey that has been weighing on my heart for a few months, maybe even years. I hesitate to be completely open about it. You’ll see why. It’s a huge area of vulnerability for me. And admittedly, a huge source of pain as well. It is something that has brought me the closest to God and at the same time challenged me in knowing Him as my Father and Lover of my soul. It has been something that has plagued me for years. My family knows about it. My friends know about it. My coworkers know about it. 
“It” Singlehood.
It’s about time I took it to the blog (is this anything like going to the mattresses?) and put it out there for everyone. Because if it’s something I could learn from, I hope and pray it’s something that you can as well. Maybe that’s why it’s still a reality in my life. Maybe it’s not supposed to be a private battle for me, as much as I would like it to be. So, here goes. I will be as honest as I possibly can, but this is huge for me. Like vulnerability to the extreme. 
I’ll tie in wisdom from outside sources where I can. I will pray each step of this journey. Undoubtedly, I will belabor every word. It’s in my very DNA to do so. I will also covet your encouragement and appreciate your honest feedback. I ask that you please be kind in your comments. I am not out to debate feminism. And I certainly can’t speak for all women. But I will share my heart. And how God has shaped and molded it throughout the years. It hasn’t always been an easy process (is it really ever?), but it is good. Because He is good. And He is still molding me - I pray He never finishes. So I welcome your feedback. If this journey resonates with you in any way, please share it. Post it on your Facebook walls, tweet it, email it to your friends, heck, print it out and tack it on any bulletin board you can find. I long for wounds to be healed. Aches to be lessoned. And God to be glorified. He created me, after all, and gave me a heart to share. I trust in His guidance, as much as I want to fight it. 
Having said that, I struggle with my credentials to even attempt to tackle something like this. I’m not a writer, well, only a self-proclaimed one. But, for what it’s worth, I did love my writing classes in college. And I have been single for just about all my life. I think that gives me some sort of credibility. 
And know that I won’t be able to address it all in one post (hence the series). I will be posting every few days. I may pose a question in one post that won’t be answered until a later one. So hold tight. Comment. Share your stories. Create dialogue. But know it’s not finished until the last one is up. I also don’t claim to have all the answers. Or the right ones. But I have my heart. I have God’s Word. Tons of resources. And basically a lifetime of being single. Literally.
So let’s tackle it: 

What it means to be a Daughter of God, living as a Single Woman in His Kingdom. 
Psalm 144:12 “May our daughters be like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace.