Archive | July, 2012

A Letter I Can’t Send…

28 Jul

Dear Mom,

I know your older sister and brother-in-law are visiting now, and I know when you want to impress somebody that you easily blurt out stupid things you don’t mean. 

But…seriously?

When I make a joke about how there will probably be a tornado on my wedding day (in context with a conversation about another wedding being interrupted by a tornado), do you really think it’s even remotely humorous to respond with, “It will be a miracle if you ever get married!”

Mom, you know what the enemy tells me about my single state?

First, he tells me that there’s something wrong with me, that I’m undesirable.  Do you agree with him on that one?  Will it take a “miracle” for someone to actually like me enough to want to live with me for the rest of his life?

And then, he tells me that my standards are too high- that I shouldn’t expect a guy to love the Lord with all his heart (those guys are already taken by the girls who are better Christians than I am), that no guy is willing to save sex for marriage anymore, or that I don’t need to love him, I just need to be able to live with him.  Should I listen to that, Mom?  Should I just go to a bar showing some skin and look for a husband there?

Finally, he tells me that God isn’t good.  Satan tells me that God is just dangling that fruit called marriage in front of me, and won’t let me have it.  He tells me that God forgot about me, or that He’s holding back marriage from me as punishment for some unknown past failure.  Is that true, Mom?  Is all this hype about how, “My day will come in God’s timing,” or “God has plans for me right now as a single woman,” all false cliches?  Because if it is, maybe the ones about “Only marry a man who knows and loves the Lord,” or “Save yourself for marriage,” are just false cliches, too.  Maybe society has it right and the church has it wrong.  Is that what you want me to believe?

No, you intended it as “just a joke,” to impress my aunt and uncle (although they didn’t seem to find it funny).  You think you’re witty and charming and you don’t care how humiliated or hurt I am.  To be perfectly honest, I’m trying to picture my wedding day right now (assuming a “miracle” happens) and I can’t even picture myself wanting you there, if this is the way you’re going to make me feel up until that day.  Maybe that sounds overdramatic, but it’s honestly how I feel right now.

I don’t want it to be this way.  I want to be able to talk to you about my hopes and dreams for the future and know that you aren’t going to make “jokes” that perpetuate Satan’s lies to me.  I want you to tell me that you’re proud of me for not settling, for holding out for a warrior for God’s kingdom, for wearing my true love waits ring, and for making the most of my time as a single woman.  I don’t need to hear how it will take a “miracle” for someone to marry me, to be reminded that I’ve only been on four dates, to be told that I need to hurry up and meet someone before my biological clock ticks out.   Don’t you want that, too?  Didn’t you tell me about how your sister started calling YOU an “old maid” before you married Dad?  You know…the sister who died last year and who’s funeral you almost didn’t attend because you had so many horrible memories of her?  Is that what you want for us?

Because I’m wondering right now…

~Laura

Fruit of the Spirit Challenge: Month 1 Day 27

28 Jul

Who hasn’t heard (and sang along at the top of their lungs) with Journey’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore?”

I won’t lie, it’s well-written song.  But, I can’t help but wonder, if the lyricist married the girl he wrote this song about…how hard would it be to “fight this feeling” when she’s a raging pile of hormones, when she’s too tired from chasing the kids around all day to make dinner or even brush her hair?  Or can she “fight this feeling” when he’s had a bad day at work and comes home and takes it out on her without meaning to?

As I pursued my Love Challenge further this month, I have tried to make a conscious effort to love the unlovable people in my life (I have to say, I have that pretty easy right now) but I have realized that I need I also need to put effort into loving the ones who are easy to love.  I have spent time with Christine and a few other precious women in my life this month, and I have reflected on how much I appreciate them. And I have wondered, do they know how important they are to me? 

I try to remember important events in Christine’s life, like her birthday, Christmas, or when she earned her master’s degree last spring, and I try to mark those occasions with a card and/or a gift- something that she’ll enjoy and get use out of, not just a dollar store trinket.  I try to set aside time to spend with her – not just have her sit next to me while I work on something, but real time where we can talk about our lives together.  Of course my generation is hooked on facebook, and I regularly send her messages or wall posts to encourage her and tell her she is a blessing to me.  I do this for my other girlfriends, my cousin, my dad (minus the facebook and plus some household chores!). 

My point is, love isn’t a feeling.  Yes, there are times when your feelings peak and it is just so clear to you that you love someone- and then there are times when the feelings just aren’t there, or even times when they are adverse.  But that doesn’t mean you stop loving that person.  You keep loving them, and, if you want the relationship to survive, you keep SHOWING them you love them.  I guess it’s easier with my friends- between Christine’s laid-back personality and the gaps between the times when we see each other, even if it’s just a few days, it’s not like we have many opportunities to get on each others’ nerves!  Even living with my dad, it comes pretty naturally (we’ve only had 26 years to get it right…well, minus the five that I was away in college). 

Someday, though, it might not come as easily with my husband.  The first seven years of marriage are statistically the hardest, and even after then, we will fail to meet each others’ expectations, we will disappoint each other, we will miscommunicate, we will hurt each other without meaning too.  If I want our marriage to “stay alive,” then I’m going to have to make a deliberate effort to love him and show him that I love him, even when it’s hardest. 

And that’s assuming that God intends for me to marry someday.  He has already commanded me to love just as He has loved, and the kind of love He is talking about is an act, not a feeling!!

Fruit of the Spirit Challenge: Month 1, Day 2

3 Jul

(I don’t know if I’ll blog every day throughout this, but I’ll try to update as often as possible)

Well, today God stretched me a bit.

I came home from a long day at work and found a message that a friend had attempted to send me earlier saying she had just lost her job that day.

I quickly checked skype, facebook chat, and gchat and didn’t see her online (we normally instant message to stay in touch, since she lives about three hours away).  I finally sent her a facebook message saying I was home from work if she wanted to chat.  Well, that didn’t seem like enough.  My friend was having a freak-out moment, and I needed to be there for her.

I should explain that I hardly ever call anyone- I don’t like talking on the phone, partly because of my own shyness and partly because it means I have to sit down and focus- I can’t multi-task like I could if I were instant messaging on the computer.  But, I knew I needed to call my friend- so I did.  And she appreciated the call.  She had things she needed to talk through.  She wanted my opinion on some things.  She asked me questions and brainstormed outloud to me.  And I had to listen 100%, not just halfheartedly write to her while watching cat videos on youtube.  A small way to show love to a friend in need.

One other way I’m being stretched: I have been wanting to take on praying for every country in the world for a while now, but wasn’t sure where to start.  Tonight, a friend lead me to operationworld.org where I signed up for the 60-day prayer challenge and will be emailed specific ways to pray for every country in the world.  Tonight’s country was India- another way to remember God’s love for the entire world!!

Tomorrow brings day 3!

Fruit of the Spirit Challenge: Month 1, Day 1: LOVE

3 Jul

“The Fruit of the Spirit is LOVE…” (Galations 5:22)

“Love” in this verse translated from the original Greek: ἀγάπη, or “Agape,” meaning: affection, goodwill, benevolence, brotherly love, according to blueletterbible.com.

Of course, with the way our society and the English language casually toss around the word, “Love,” these descriptions seem kind of weak.  According to Blue Letter Bible, this translation of “Love” was used 106 times in the Bible; I’ll highlight a few key verses:

Luke 11:42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. “

The Pharisees had no trouble practicing religion and appearing to be godly, but they did it to impress others and feel good about themselves, NOT out of love for God.  Love for God  needs to be the motive behind my actions; I cannot love others or bear any other fruits if I don’t love Him first and foremost.

John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

If “love” just means “being nice to people,” then this wouldn’t be true- I have many years experience in customer service, and you encounter plenty of rude people, but more often than not people know to be “nice”.  Niceness doesn’t make people stand out as Christ-followers; there must be something more to love.

John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

I don’t know if I will ever be called to lay down my physical life for another human being as Christ did for me, but I may be called to lay down my life as I’ve planned it.  I may need to lay aside my own dreams and desires to serve a brother or sister in need.  Do I have it in me to do this?

Romans 5:8 “And God demonstrated His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Love doesn’t only go to the lovely.  God loved me when I was least deserving of His love; I need to be willing to love others who are unlovable.

I Corinthians 13: 1-11, 13 ” If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b]but do not have love, I gain nothing.Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 ….13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

There is a reason why love is the first fruit listed.  Without love, we are nothing.  We can appear to do great things for God’s kingdom, but first and foremost we must be filled with God’s love.  Love is the foundation of the other fruits- Love IS patient, Love IS kind.  Love is humble, it looks out for others over one’s self.  It doesn’t hold grudges or look for petty reasons to get angry.  All the other “great” things we can accomplish, but faith, hope, and love will remain…and the GREATEST of these, is love.

Lord, this month, I want to focus on learning to love like You loved.  My flesh tells me to love myself first, but by Your power I am not a slave to my flesh anymore.  You alone can love others through me.

I pray that during this month, You will teach me how to love like never before.  I pray for courage to overcome my natural shyness- I don’t want to wait for others to show love to me before I love them.  I pray for sensitivity and perception to KNOW when others need love, and for the courage to take the plunge and offer it to them, and not shrink back for fear of rejection.  There are so many people in my life with situations I can’t relate too- I don’t know what it’s like to be a wife or a mom or so many other things- but You can give me the wisdom to know and understand what they need.

The entire theme of this blog, of course, is the prayer that You will one day call me to become a wife and a mother…but You have called me right now to love You and to love others.  So, this month, I pray You will teach me to love like You love!

Taking On a Challenge

1 Jul

So, with the first day of a new month, I have decided to take on a new challenge for myself.  Or, I should say for myself, for my future husband, for my future children and grandchildren, and, ultimately, for my Maker, Redeemer, and Father.

In my previous entry, I wrote about the terrifying realization that I am “doomed” to take on traits of my mom.  Even as I was writing, though, I realized that I am not doomed to anything- Jesus has already won the victory over sin and temptation!  By God’s grace, I can be transformed into what HE wants me to be, not just a clone of someone who raised me.

Towards the end of my last post, I referenced the Fruits of the Spirit listed in Galations 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  This is exactly what I want others to see in me, especially the man I will one day marry and the children we will raise together.  And, by the power of His Spirit, God can manifest these very things in me.

Now, don’t hear me wrong on what I’m about to say- as I just said, it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that I can overcome my own sinful flesh.  I can put every ounce of strength I have into taking on the Fruits of the Spirit on my own, but the results would only be disastrous.  I’m sure anyone who reads this, Christian or not, has encountered someone who is trying to demonstrate these fruits on their own strength- someone who is trying to “love” by allowing someone else to live in sin and suffer the consequences, or someone who is trying to be “good” by teaching someone else to be helpless and co-dependent.  That’s not what I want, here.  I believe that I can do no good thing apart from God, and I need His Spirit to bear any fruit.  That being said, I also believe that God expects us to take action and not just sit around waiting for a lightning bolt to strike from Heaven and our lives to suddenly overflow with the Fruit of the Spirit.  Just today, my pastor preached out of James 1:23-27, where we are commanded to be doers of the Word and not just hearers.   I know I have heard all my life (having been practically born under a church pew) what the Bible says about these character traits, but have I put them into practice?  When people look at me, do they see a young adult trying to be good and please others, or do they see something that causes them to Glorify my Father in Heaven?

I have read about how Benjamin Franklin kept a list of 13 Virtues, and he would regularly review them and reflect on his own life to see what areas he needed to work on.  He would select a different one off his list each week and work on implementing it into his daily life.

So, here’s the challenge I want to take on: I want to take one of the Fruits of the Spirit each month and really work on making it a part of my daily life.  Today is the first of July, and there are nine fruits total, so that takes me up until March of 2013.  This stands to be exceptionally challenging because I am expecting a big life change within the next few months (details to come…no, I’m not getting married!), but circumstances do not change God’s faithfulness or His transforming power.

I thought about creating a separate blog for this, or recording my experiences in my regular “public” blog (the one where I use my real name and put my entries on facebook) but then I realized, this is a huge part of my journey as a single woman.  I could certainly take on this challenge as a wife and a mother, but it would be much harder to keep my focus than it will be taking this on as a single woman.  Plus, if I am able to really integrate these fruits to the point where they become a part of my character, that sounds like a good way to get marriage and a family off on the right foot, rather than trying to rescue shattered relationships.

So, this won’t be a journey of trying to perfect myself (that won’t happen on this side of eternity!) but it will be a journey of going deeper into God’s Word and understanding what it is that He wants for my life.

So…here goes…