“LISTEN, Lady….”

I am fairly convinced, at this point in my life, that Walmart exists for the sole purpose of reminding me that I am not God.  To remind us mortals exactly how broken we are.  To test our patience, and our ability to love and deal with annoying people.

 

The retail giant has developed quite an impressive reputation for its ability to attract the scum of the earth. Sounds harsh, but you know it’s true. So why do I shop there you ask? Well, for all you know I could be the scum of the universe as well. That’s why this anonymous blogging thing is so exciting. Kind of like internet dating. I could be anyone.

 

So I’m in line at Walmart the other day.  A lady walks up to the cashier who’s ringing me up -who is already moving at a glacial pace.  The woman bears a bag full of merchandise.

 

“This was left in one of the buggies,” she says to my cashier.

 

(You see, here in the South, they’re not called “carts,” but rather “buggies,” which I believe is a truer representation of their dixie souls.)

 

My first thought was: how sweet of this lady to bring it back, rather than just run off with the free stuff.  Maybe there is hope for the People of Walmart.

Mad Walmart smiley

 

The cashier, who obviously would rather be in a dentist’s chair than at work that day, replied with attitude, “well, I can’t do anything with it, you’ll have to take it down to Customer Service.”

 

The woman, who appeared very proud of herself for bringing back the lost goods, threw her hands in the air at the suggestion of a greater inconvenience.  She huffed.  She puffed.  She stood there in disbelief that further action had been requested of her.

 

Then, muttering something under her breath about “just trying to be nice and do the right thing…” she stomped over to the trash can, rid herself of the abomination, and stormed out of the store.

 

Come on.  I mean, COME FREAKING ON.  Listen, lady.  I’m sorry that you didn’t get your expected gold stars, but don’t volunteer to “be nice and do the right thing” unless you’re willing to, um, actually do it.

 

Nobody held a gun to your head and forced you to turn in the goods.  You volunteered of your own volition, and heaven forbid you be asked to follow through with it.

 

Why did this outrage me so much?  Was it ridiculous? Yes. Was it selfish? Yes.  Did I feel convicted?   Hmmmm.  Possibly.

 

How many times have I done something like that?  Against people.  Against my God.

My relationship with God is a beautiful mess.  He’s the beauty, I’m the mess.

 

I, too, am inconvenienced at the thought of having to follow through with something that I know and believe is the “right” thing, and perhaps have already volunteered to do.  But how DARE anyone actually hold me to it.  Or the circumstances hold me to it.

 

Don’t you know…  I’M God.  I make my own decisions.  I can’t be bothered with things as troublesome as service, selflessness, or generosity.  And if so, it will be on MY TERMS.  In MY time.

Come on.  I mean, COME FREAKING ON.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The 7-year Itch

THE FOLLOWING IS A REPOST IN HONOR OF MY 7th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY, WHICH IS TODAY.

“We’ve heard tell of the 7 Year Itch, and its nasty effects on unsuspecting marriages everywhere.  But honestly, unsuspecting?  Really?  You’re telling me that when half of marriages end in divorce today, you didn’t EXPECT it to be difficult?  Husbands, wives, expect it.  It’s going to happen.  You’ll be tempted.  You might even indulge.  You’ll get bored.  You’ll get hurt.  You’ll inflict pain.  (And if you disagree with that last one, you’re in deeper doo doo than you think.)

Itching

People, it happened to me.  I’ll spare you the horrid details, but the general outline is this: I’m a sinful person, married to a sinful person.  We both sinned.  It was epic.  We shattered what we had.  It was in a million little tiny shards all over the floor, and now digging into our bare feet.  And at the time, I was shattered along with it.  But now, years later, I see that it was a part of the plan.  God’s plan.  He allowed us to shatter what we had, knowing that if it had only been broken in a few places, we would have tried to fix it ourselves.  Someone get the Krazy glue.  Anyone who has ever been in any relationship with anyone, KNOWS that you can’t fix it.  WE CAN’T FIX IT.  People have been trying for eons.  There are countless books, movies, blogs, and entire religions based on the frustrations of trying to fix it.  I should have received a medal for how hard I tried.

But you can’t fix something that wasn’t designed to be fixed.  We are sinners, married to sinners, children of sinners, shuffling about, bumping elbows with other sinners.  And this makes it oh-so-clear how much we need the wonderful, beautiful Grace of God.  Hear that?  You can stop trying now.  The great hamster wheel.  You’ve haven’t even been going anywhere.

In my marriage, this lesson was YEARS in the making.  It’s still in the making.  But, it’s much more habitual now than it was right after the epic shattering.  Then God created something completely different for us. Isn’t it funny how we were trying to put this thing back together, as if it was the end-all.  But HIS plan was so much better than what we could dream up for our own marriage.

So, back to the 7 Year Itch.  It exists.  The rumors are true.  Be prepared for it.  And you know, there might even be an itch at year one, or two, or three.  Or anytime really.  But instead of allowing the magnetic pull to break something in your marriage (even if it seems harmless, it will break trust) turn the end of that magnet towards your spouse.

My 7 Year Itch has given me a new passion for getting to know my husband.  Something IS unsettled in me.  Something IS bored.  Something IS wondering if there’s more.

THERE IS.  And it’s right in front of me.  Drinking a beer on the couch. There are millions of questions I haven’t ask him yet.  There are millions of things he doesn’t know about me yet.  We’ve never played Truth or Dare in a crowded restaurant.  We’ve never made out in a movie theater.  We’ve never been to the circus together.  There are places we haven’t been, positions we haven’t tried, and things that we still can’t read in each other’s minds. There are spiritual breakthroughs yet to be had, prayers yet to leave our lips for one another, worship songs yet to be sung.  Knowledge of God’s faithfulness yet to be demonstrated through this man.  Through me.  Further evidence to be discovered that God’s ability to love us perfectly is mind-boggling.

There’s so much more.  More intimacy to be found.  And I’m going hunting for it.  My husband is in for it, Lord help him.”

BEING BLIND

When you’re as blind as me, you tend to not feel human without the aid of corrective lenses. Before I knew exactly how blind I was, it was a daily struggle to make eye contact with people. It was unclear to me (pun intended) at the time, that because I couldn’t really SEE anyone, I didn’t want them to see me.  It’s unsettling when people have direct access to your soul-window, and you have no access to theirs.  So, I looked away.

Then I go to the eye doctor, get contacts, and BAM! There are leaves, and clouds, and eyes.  Eyes everywhere. And for some reason, I wanted to look into all of them.

Many of us experience spiritual blindness as well. And we like it that way. Imagine if we were to behold the true weight of our shortcomings. We would get crushed by conviction.

Blindfolded

Jeremiah 16:10 ESV

“And when you tell this people all these words, and they say to you, ‘Why has the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? What is our iniquity? What is the sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?'”

All over the Bible people are asking, (the Israelites especially) “what did WE do against you?  Surely it wasn’t that bad.”

It is that bad.  Anything other than perfection is complete and utter evil.  The opposite of good is evil, so if it’s not good, it’s evil.  For more on that click HERE.

I desperately want my prayer to be “Lord, open my eyes.  Show me what’s in my heart.”  But I’m deathly afraid of what that would mean.  Of what I would see.  Of what He would convict me of.

So, as of right now.  That’s not my prayer.  It’s a prayer that the Holy Spirit inside of me will have to ask for, as I don’t possess the strength yet.

Right now, my prayer is simply, “Lord, give me the strength to ask for my eyes to be opened.”

The 7-Year Itch

On the month-eve of my 7-year wedding anniversary, I’m experiencing a minor freak out.  ONLY A MINOR ONE THOUGH, DON’T WORRY!!

 

We’ve heard tell of the 7 Year Itch, and its nasty effects on unsuspecting marriages everywhere.  But honestly, unsuspecting?  Really?  You’re telling me that when half of marriages end in divorce today, you didn’t EXPECT it to be difficult?  Husbands, wives, expect it.  It’s going to happen.  You’ll be tempted.  You might even indulge.  You’ll get bored.  You’ll get hurt.  You’ll inflict pain.  (And if you disagree with that last one, you’re in deeper doo doo than you think.)

 

7 Year Itch

 

People, it happened to me.  I’ll spare you the horrid details, but the general outline is this: I’m a sinful person, married to a sinful person.  We both sinned.  It was epic.  We shattered what we had.  It was in a million little tiny shards all over the floor, and now digging into our bare feet.  And at the time, I was shattered along with it.  But now, years later, I see that it was a part of the plan.  God’s plan.  He allowed us to shatter what we had, knowing that if it had only been broken in a few places, we would have tried to fix it ourselves.  Someone get the Krazy glue.  Anyone who has ever been in any relationship with anyone, KNOWS that you can’t fix it.  WE CAN’T FIX IT.  People have been trying for eons.  There are countless books, movies, blogs, and entire religions based on the frustrations of trying to fix it.  I should have received a medal for how hard I tried.

 

But you can’t fix something that wasn’t designed to be fixed.  We are sinners, married to sinners, children of sinners, shuffling about, bumping elbows with other sinners.  And this makes it oh-so-clear how much we need the wonderful, beautiful Grace of God.  Hear that?  You can stop trying now.  The great hamster wheel.  You’ve haven’t even been going anywhere.

 

In my marriage, this lesson was YEARS in the making.  It’s still in the making.  But, it’s much more habitual now than it was right after the epic shattering.  Then God created something completely different for us. Isn’t it funny how we were trying to put this thing back together, as if it was the end-all.  But HIS plan was so much better than what we could dream up for our own marriage.

 

So, back to the 7 Year Itch.  It exists.  The rumors are true.  Be prepared for it.  And you know, there might even be an itch at year one, or two, or three.  Or anytime really.  But instead of allowing the magnetic pull to break something in your marriage (even if it seems harmless, it will break trust) turn the end of that magnet towards your spouse.

 

My 7 Year Itch has given me a new passion for getting to know my husband.  Something IS unsettled in me.  Something IS bored.  Something IS wondering if there’s more.

 

THERE IS.  And it’s right in front of me.  Drinking a beer on the couch. There are millions of questions I haven’t ask him yet.  There are millions of things he doesn’t know about me yet.  We’ve never played Truth or Dare in a crowded restaurant.  We’ve never made out in a movie theater.  We’ve never been to the circus together.  There are places we haven’t been, positions we haven’t tried, and things that we still can’t read in each other’s minds. There are spiritual breakthroughs yet to be had, prayers yet to leave our lips for one another, worship songs yet to be sung.  Knowledge of God’s faithfulness yet to be demonstrated through this man.  Through me.  Further evidence to be discovered that God’s ability to love us perfectly is mind-boggling.

There’s so much more.  More intimacy to be found.  And I’m going hunting for it.  My husband is in for it, Lord help him.

The Mythical Soul Mate

Dead cupidI sat at a low-lit table trying not to stare at the friend-of-a-friend across from me, counting the minutes until the buffer (said friend) returned from the bathroom.  There was nothing to do but smile.  The restaurant had decided to increase the awkward intensity by playing music that was just barely too loud to make easy conversation.  I sipped my martini.

As more girls began to arrive at our table for 8, it became clear I was outnumbered.  There were two kinds of women at the watering hole that night: ones that wore wedding rings, and the ones that did not.

It was girls’ night.  In honor of my friend’s birthday.  I had met a few of these women before, but hadn’t gotten involved beyond Facebook status ‘likes’.  They were all single, except me- the youngest of the group, and one other who was a newlywed.  Being well on the other side of newlywed hell, (don’t believe all they say about the honeymoon phase) I was anxious to hear how things were going, and offer any wisdom I could.

Then the bomb dropped.  The only other woman at the table on my “team” announced her upcoming divorce.  (Annulment?  The relationship was still in infancy, so I don’t remember which.)  And more of story began to take shape.  They had known each other for only 2 months before walking down the aisle, and things had begun to fall apart rather quickly after the wedding march.

The girls began to do… what girls do.  The “you don’t deserve that” speech.

“You’ll find someone better.”

“He’s an idiot.  You’re too good for him.”

“Your soul mate is out there somewhere.”

I couldn’t bring myself to join in the pep talk.  At one point, someone asked me how my marriage was going.

“It’s going well,” I replied.  “Much better than in the beginning.  Our first year was the toughest.  But we’ve grown alot, and marriage has been sanding down our rough edges.  I love my husband.  I guess I found my soul mate.”

*Side note, I HATE using that term.  I simply used it because it seemed to be something that these Barbi-doll-wannabe’s could sink their stilettos into.  I was attempting to speak on their terms.

No sooner did the period on my sentence find its landing spot, then my friend whipped around.

“Jordan is your SOUL MATE?!”

The look of surprise on her face was that of a hunter that had encountered proof of a mythical creature in the woods.  As if the “soul mate” had been never before discovered in real life.

Unicorns on beach

“Uuum, yeah.  I mean, he’s my husband.”

“But you REALLY think he’s your REAL soul mate?  I mean, I just can’t believe that you’ve FOUND him.  The one for you, ya know?  It’s amazing.  We’re witnessing it.  You really found him.”

By this time, I had all seven pairs of eyes locked onto my lip gloss, hanging on my every word.

“Well guys,” I said nonchalantly, “let’s hope he’s my soul mate, because it’s ‘til death do us part.  If I treat him as anything other than my soul mate, this marriage is pretty much doomed to fail, don’t you think?”

The soon-to-be-divorcee’ leaned in, eyes wide.  “Oh. My. Gosh.  You know, that is so smart. You’re a really good wife.”

The other girls pitched in their amazement at my treatment of the term.  Again, I’ve never liked using the word.  It seems so… allegorical.  As if the ladies of the world just have to stay sane long enough to stumble upon our one-and-only knight in shining armor.  Then fireworks will spell out our compatibility, we’ll know beyond the shadow of a doubt that he’s the one, the stars will align, “Friends” will come back on TV, someone will cure cellulite, and we’ll live happily ever after.  Always happy to see each other.  ALWAYS.

Bull.  Bull crap.  Bull SHENANIGANS.  There are obviously different levels of compatibility with different people, but when you combine two imperfect people under the same roof, it’s never going to be a piece of the cake the entire time.  Platonic friendships aren’t even that!  And sex really does complicate things, so what makes anyone think that a marriage would be EASIER?  You could have a happy marriage with any number of people.

The term SOUL MATE just gives us permission to be discontent.  Always looking ahead for that magical connection that will make everything okay.  Never satisfied with what’s in front of us, or what the Lord might be using in our lives to teach, strengthen, develop us.

For the record, I love marriage.  Seriously, I was born to be married.  Marriage was what God used to turn me into who I was going to be, and what He’s still using for my sanctification.  And my husband is not perfect by any means, but perfect for me in so many lovely, challenging, steamy, nerve-wracking ways.

What I mean is that marriage is already an up-hill battle.  If he’s NOT my soul-mate, then I have two issues.

1.  Why the heck did I marry the guy?

2. How long do I think this thing- this FOREVER THING- is going to last if I’m entertaining ideas of being tied down to someone who wasn’t meant for me?

20 Things My Dad Taught Me

There seems to be a trend among the 20-somethings of my generation.  Diminishing the positive traits of our parents. To disrespect them, and focus on everything they did wrong.  I’m aware that we are, in many ways, products of our environment as children, but I’m craving something different.  I’m breaking the mold, and I don’t want anyone standing by with super glue.

The first thing you should know before reading this, is that my Dad is a baby boomer.  He grew up in a time where children should be seen, not heard, you always had to clean your plate, and you just “knew” the family loved each other, you didn’t even have to say it out loud.

In my family, all of us kids were homeschooled, and there were 7 of us.  Eventually.  Not all at the beginning of course, but over the span of 13 years, we had enough to form our own baseball team.

Another thing you should know about my Dad, he wasn’t perfect.  We called -and still call him- Papa.  The older I get, the more convinced I am that the design of the parental figure is not to be anything close to perfect.  As children, we wouldn’t learn half of the stuff we know if we had perfect parents acting out life for us.  We would never see someone make a mistake, learn from it, and do it differently next time.  We wouldn’t know how to handle failures, apologies, hurt feelings, or scraped knees.

So, this list is dedicated to all the imperfect shoulders out there that you and I stand on.  20 things my Papa taught me:

1. How to wash dishes.  I loathe this day.  We lived in a 100-year old house on a 20-acre “farm” at the time.  I was eight, and one night my dad said “Sophie, you want to learn how to wash dishes?”  Being blissfully unaware at the time of what a horrible task this was, I couldn’t resist the twinkle in his eye.  To this day, my husband still benefits from his closing line of that lesson, “the kitchen isn’t really clean until you rinse out the sink.”

2.  That my hair is most beautiful when left alone.  In highschool, I became convinced that my cork-screw curls were the bane of my existence, and would never get me any attention.  I was wrong.  And my dad, of course, was right. The true gift that I have been given, (thanks to his DNA) has really been a signature physical trait in my adult years.  It’s just too bad I didn’t realize it in highschool.

3.  What brand of ice cream to buy.  This sounds like a stupid one, but don’t overlook the importance of quality dairy.  And in case you’re wondering which brand that is, always Breyer’s.  Always.

4. How to write a song.  This is something that he didn’t teach me directly.  He wrote a book on the subject, (impressive to me in so many ways) and I read the book.  It’s my experience that one gets even more out of a book when they shared a home with the author for 18 years.

5. To drive a car.  That Target parking lot.  That giant Suburban tank that was the family car.  When I finally got my licence, he helped me buy a car, which was a stick, then taught me how to drive that one too.  I wish every girl’s Dad did this.

6. To laugh at myself.  This is another one whose full potential did not reveal itself until adulthood.  Taking myself too seriously much of my younger years, it was a hard transition into being the butt of the joke. But if you can laugh at yourself, you can make everyone else in the room more comfortable.

7. How much positive words mean to a husband.  It was my Dad who first got me thinking about boys’ feelings in general.  I was a hopeless flirt. It never occurred to me that these budding men were about as sure of themselves as kittens. Again, something I truly wish I had seen much earlier in life, but the past few years have convinced me of this piece of wisdom.  My poor husband has been the subject of my 180, but better late than never.  Behind every strong man, is a kind, encouraging woman.

8. How to run a business.  I have a degree in Business from Papa University.  He founded a Record Label when I was young, and as it was the “family business,” I was put to work early. Most kids never get exposed to customer service, or accounting, or building a business relationship until after college.  This experience sent me on a business-minded trajectory that began at 15 when I started my own version of the Babysitting Club.  It tanked, but in my world, one failure wasn’t anything close to a deterrent.  Which brings me to….

9.  How to stop talking, and DO.  How many people do you know that say they’re going to do something, and never do it? By watching my Dad, I learned how important it is to walk the walk, not just talk.

10. Where babies come from.  Imagine my surprise, as a homeschooler, to grow up and find out that not all kids found out about the birds and the bees from their parents.  “You mean, you never sat around your parents bed with your other age-appropriate siblings and talked about SEX?”  Shocked.  But I really appreciate the fearless way with which this was discussed and explained.  And explained.  And explained….

11. What commitment looks like. My parents have been married for 31 years.  That’s no laughing matter.  Half of my friend’s families were divided early.  This saddens me greatly, but also opens my eyes as to what an amazing thing it is to have a father who stuck around.  In a time where commitments mean nothing, he has been an amazing example. Commitment is important to him, and the family legacy will be eternally the better for it.

12. The reason school work is important.  As kids, we all have that “but Dad!” moment where we try to convince the man many years our senior that school work won’t do us any good later in life.  My Dad just smiled and said, “well, the reason you do school work is not because you’ll necessarily need it later.  You do it because it’s working out your brain now. Building discipline that you will most certainly need later.”  How can you argue with that?

13. When and why to discipline your children.  Discipline was no joke in our house. Time outs were for sissies.  We got either a spanking, (with a tomato-stake switch) or a harder spanking. And as much as I hated them, I’m grateful for them now.  Mostly, I’m grateful for the way my Dad handled the period of time after the spanking.  He would talk with us, explaining what we did, why we were punished, and would sometimes pray for our little dented hearts aloud, as we squeezed every tear drop out of our eyes, hoping it would lessen his resolve to spank us in the future.

14.  That when a pretty girl doesn’t smile, she comes off as unapproachable.  Watching other women, I’m more convinced of this statement’s truth.  When you’re around a woman whose beauty is noticed before either of you exchange a word, her smile is either permission to say hi, or lack thereof as good as a sign on her forehead that says “I’m beautiful, and you’re not good enough to talk to me.”  Hence, I smile alot.  Just in case.

15. The fruits of the Spirit.  My Dad used to initiate these “family worship” sessions.  He would sit us all down, pull out the guitar, and we’d sing praise songs and read the Bible.  He wrote this song that has stuck with me since then, all about the fruits of the spirit.  To this day, if any one of the mass number of siblings sings the first line, we’d all jump in to complete it.

16.  When you’re on stage performing, and you forget your lyrics, smile and pretend nothing happened.  My Dad was an excellent performer, but even excellent performers forget their lines now and again.  I witnessed this on a handful of occasions, and he always handled it with such ease.  I would look around at his oblivious audience members and think, “they have no idea he just screwed up the second verse of that song.”  There are some mistakes that need to be uncovered, and some that just need to be left alone.

17.  How to swing a bat.  Being homeschooled, the siblings and I spent a ridiculous amount of time outside.  We would go through sports phases. Once, during the soccer month, I played goalie and had the wind seriously knocked out of me.  We moved on to baseball after that.

18.  That guys like to see women in casual clothes too.  The deeper I dig into these little nuggets of insight, the more wisdom I see in them.  Overalls, dirty hands, paint on your face, a baseball cap.  These aren’t just “casual clothes,” they’re proof that the woman in his life is real, and not always perfectly and artificially put together.  His woman is strong, but has cracks the same as anyone, and isn’t afraid to show them. Which ironically, gives her more power over him.

19. How to make a gumbo.  We’re Cajun.  And like any good Cajun, you have to know how to make gumbo.  And of course I wouldn’t presume to say that mine is better than his, but MY FRIENDS tell me my roux’s the best in town.

20. To work hard, and play hard.  I’m defined very much by my work ethic – and play ethic- today.  Put everything you’ve got into what you’re doing.  Whether it’s your career, or the game you’re playing, or just the joke you’re telling.  I was fortunate, to have a Dad willing and able to demonstrate all. Fortunate that his joy is in part found by giving wisdom to others.  He’s a teacher by nature.  So it’s no wonder that I have learned, and continue learning things from him.  On this Father’s Day, let it be known that my imperfect Dad, was the perfect fit for me.

[Papa walking me down the aisle in 2006.]

Papa pic

Onions have layers

Shrek and donkey

Shrek:  “Ogres are like onions.”

Donkey: “They stink?”

Shrek: “No.  LAYERS.  Onions have layers…. Ogres have layers.”

Donkey: “You know, not everybody like onions.”

*pause*

Donkey:  “CAKE!  Cake has layers.  And parfaits.  Everybody likes parfaits.”

Friendships have layers too.  Today’s societal tendency is to stay on the surface, because, well, we all know that the friendship could be like an onion, and make you cry the deeper you get into it.  BUT, what if instead of an onion, it’s a parfait?  And you never get to taste the sweetness that’s buried beneath the surface, because you’ve held it at arm’s length?

Peeling back the layers is scary.  Getting real with people is scary.  You’re exposing places of yourself that can cause old wounds to sting, embarrassing traits to be seen, and bad decisions to be judged. But it has only ever been worth it, in my experience.  Even when I got hurt.  That’s usually when I learned the most about myself. Getting to the heart –and hard stuff– is usually how we get to know each other, as well.

And think about it! We feel important when our friends have the guts to open up to us!  The shear joy, honor and esteem makes us feel loved, accepted, and valued by this person, our peer, who had faith to tell us about the REAL stuff that’s going on in their world.  So make THEIR day and spread the love, value and acceptance.  But I have 3 points of warning.

1. Don’t act like your pain is worse than mine.  Everyone’s been through something hurtful.  Obviously, at varying degrees, but the emotions that these varied experiences create are often very comparable.  You can only speak for yourself.

2. Gossip disguised as a prayer request.  “Did you hear, our mutual friend so-and-so is considering divorce, so would you pray for them?”  Listen, I BELIEVE IN THE HEALING POWER OF PRAYER, but I also believe in the destructive power of gossip.  It can destroy the joy in our own hearts, as well as tear down friendships, trust, and love for one another.  If your mutual friend so-and-so has given permission for you to share, then by all means, be my guest. But if not, you must take it up with the Holy Spirit.

3. If you dish it, be willing to take it.  Being a good listener.  It takes practice, people.  And it’s not always fun, but it’s an excellent character-building exercise.  And much like physical exercise, there’s quite a sense of accomplishment that comes with it.  Not to mention, deeper trust, relational intimacy, and you never know, you might just learn something about your friend that you didn’t know.  More blackmail material for later.