An Open Letter to My 16-Year Old Self

16 candles

Teenage years.  UGH.  No amount of money could convince me to go back there.

Unless it was over a million dollars….. Which I would promptly invest in Yahoo.  Then go hide under a rock during highschool, become a genius, and emerge a semi-functional billionaire adult.

Let’s face it, there’s no solid ground under your feet when you’re a youngster.  Everything is shifting, constantly. Hourly, daily, weekly.  Friend groups, facial acne patterns, curfew rules, personality traits, and just about everything is a fluid concept at that time in your life.

7 things I would say to my former-awkward self:

1. NOBODY. FREAKIN. CARES.  They’re not looking at you.  They’re not counting the pimples on your face.  They’re just counting their own in the mirror, worried about what everyone else is thinking.  They are, however, gauging a general vibe of confidence.  If they sense a crack, they’re going in for the kill to divert the attention from their own pizza-face.

2.  SHUT YOUR MOUTH.  You don’t know anything.  You hear me?  A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G.  Sorry, but it’s true.  You have guts for days, kid, I’ll give you that, but you don’t know squat about yourself, people, or the relationship between the two.  That’ll change.  Just shut up and listen for… about 5-10 years.

3.  SMILE.  People pay attention to people who smile.  It’s the single most easy way to get noticed, in a good way.

4.  READ YOUR BIBLE.  In order to get to know God better, you must spend time with Him.  There are only 2 ways of doing that.  Prayer is the easiest.  So sit down, and build a habit of uncovering all that He gave us through His Word.  It will never return void.

5. THAT BOY, HE DOESN’T REALLY LOVE YOU. But your Creator does, and He, in fact, invented everything about you that’s cool to begin with.  Don’t waste all that you’ve been given on Captain Cool-Car.

6. SCHOOL IS IMPORTANT.  The purpose of homework is not so much to teach you something specific that you’ll use daily in adult life, but it’s teaching you how to LEARN.  How to absorb information.  And it’s building discipline that you will most certainly need in any area of life.

7. CALM DOWN.  When you’re little, (and I don’t mean just in stature, but also in maturity,) you’re closer to the ground, so small things seem big.  Huge, even.  GINORMOUS!  Don’t freak out.  It’s only huge to you, AND remember that everything is changing hourly anyway, so just wait. It’ll go away. And if it doesn’t, wait another hour.

Happy “Thanksgibing” back….

It’s Thanksgiving day people, not TURKEY DAY.  Yes, many people eat turkey, I get it, I eat plenty of it myself.  But this was a day set aside to give thanks to God for all of his blessings.  A day started by a group of people who had seen the worst kind of heartache, and for a extended period of time.  And still, they had been provided for, and recognized that.  And were deeply thankful to the One who had given them life.

So HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone.

And “Happy Thanksgibing back.”

NO STRINGS ATTACHED

no_strings_attached (2)

What is love?  “Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more.”  Cue head banging.  (If you’re too young to remember this, here:)

 

Some maintain that love is an emotion.  Or that love is an ability.  Or that love is a verb.

 

I belong in the “love is an action” camp.  Think about it, to act in love IS to love. After actors get paid to kiss each other, fake intimacy, and act as though they’re in love, often, it turns into the real thing. They start dating, they get married, they cheat on their current spouse with their co-star. So what’s the difference, I wonder.  Between acting love, and feeling it.

 

I used to be a professional Ballroom Dancer.  Yes, I KNOW.  It’s just as glamorous as it sounds.  And in that industry, it’s extremely commonplace for dance partners to fall in love.  I fell in love with my dance partner, and 2½ years later, he became my husband.  That’s popular too. For dance partners to get married.  (And about 3 years later, to get divorced. Hence why I USED to be a professional dancer.  I’m still married, FYI.)  When playing up the sexuality of the Rumba or Cha Cha, you’re stepping through the actions of a couple in love, or in lust.  Maybe it’s more love -as in the heartfelt affection- when you dance the Waltz.

 

And as if by some sort of pre-meditated inside joke, every movie about one-night-stands or cheap and meaningless sex ends with the characters falling in love. The moral of the story is always that when you ACT in love, the body can’t can’t tell the difference. Two people who behave as though they’re experiencing love, end up experiencing  just that.

 

So there’s this photographer who puts random people together in intimate poses before taking their picture.

 These strangers who get thrown together to pose as couples, fathers, daughters, Aunts, or Grandmothers end up feeling affection for the random person that they’re hugging in the picture.

 

The “Love Dare,” as described in the book and movie “Fireproof” is the concept of acting out love whether or not you receive any in return. Eventually, the giver (and receiver) of this display of affection is powerless against the stream of emotion.  And often, in the beginning, it’s only an ACT of affection, that later morphs into actuality.

 

I’m definitely not the world’s foremost authority on this subject, but I can most certainly tell you one thing: never easier is love received in my heart, than when it’s created in my heart first.  And never easier is it created in my heart, than when it’s created in my hands first.  It’s easy to stop acting, but I want an award nomination.

 

Love is an ACTion.  Better make it an Oscar-worthy performance.

 

Please. Don’t. Leave. Me.

Child crying

When I was 8, we lived on a 20-acre farm.  Not a working farm, more like a wannabe farm.  We had chickens, and a garden, but other than that, the farm served no real purpose except for secluding us from the rest of the world. Not exactly sure why we lived there, I’ll have to ask my parents about that one day.

 

I am the oldest of 7 kids, and we were all homeschooled at the time.  My Dad, a Contemporary Christian singer, built a working recording studio in what used to be the chicken house. He called it “Hen House Productions.”

 

Even at 8, I had major abandonment issues.  Not really sure why, but for whatever reason, there was always this fear that people would forget about me.  Leave me behind.

 

The worst of these moments I remember like it was last week.  This story makes me cry, TO THIS DAY.  I have tissues at the ready as I type.

 

My Dad had invited me on a “date.”  Which, when I was eight, looked more like a trip to McDonald’s or the video store.  BUT, for a homeschooled girl with a phobia of being left out of the loop, it was the epitome of excitement and importance.  Papa wanted to be… WITH ME.  Alone.  Just me.

 

The day finally arrived, I put on my best calico, and presented myself to Papa in the driveway.  He told me to meet him at the bottom of the hill by the mailbox.  He had to drive the half-mile down the hen-house studio to get something.  He would pick me up on the curb.

 

I grabbed my “purse” which was full of quarters -about 5 dollars worth- and strutted down the long gravel driveway, awaiting my Prince Charming at the mailbox.  After what felt like ages (to an 8-year-old) I saw the family vehicle coming down the road from the hen house.  I flashed a smile and waved.  “Here he is!” I thought.

 

My Dad, a talented practical jokester, decided to pretend that he couldn’t see me, keep going, and stop 10 feet down the drive.  To this day, neither him nor I are sure why he thought it would be a good idea, but, nevertheless it was the plan he carried out.

 

As I stood there, striking a pose to impress my date, my worst nightmare unfolded.  The car passed me up, and the driver, looking straight ahead, seemed oblivious to my frantic waving.  He neared closer, and I waved with more desperation.  The car passed me, and I, knowing that I had been forgotten, reacted in utter terror.  Screams escaped my lips, tears began to flow, my hands began beating on the back side of the car as it swept past me.  It was imperative that I get Papa’a attention.  I CANNOT BE LEFT BEHIND.

 

By the time my Dad had caught on to my anguish, it was far too late.  The damage had been done.  He stopped a little short of his originally-planned 10 feet, and I frantically threw open the passenger door and climbed in before he could get away.  By this time, my small 8-year-old frame had been taken over by waves of tears and despair.  I was hysterical.

 

Even now as I write this, I’m affected by the memory.  And today, I’m far more secure in the fact that my Heavenly Father will never leave me behind.  That He will never forget about me, nor forsake me.  That He, too, desires time with me, just me.

Today, my fear of abandonment manifests itself very differently. There are less tears, less desperation.  But if I text you, and you don’t text back… heaven help you.

 

 

“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.

 

 

 

 

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.”

ON DREAMS….and Miley Cyrus

I dream.  Alot.  Every night.  And often -a little too often- my dreams come true.  Once, I met a guy in my dream the night before I ACTUALLY met him.  Another time, I dreamed that a co-worker was going to receive flowers from her boyfriend…for the first time ever.  It totally happened.

Miley Cyrus

Miley. Freakin. Cyrus.  I’m overwhelmed by sadness for this girl.  It’s reminiscent of something I felt years ago after waking up from a dream I had about Hayley Williams.  (Lead singer for the Rock band Paramore.)

I spent some time with Hayley personally, right as the band was getting big.  She was sweet, genuine, level-headed, and eccentric. Still a teenager.  This dream occurred years before half the band left, claiming that the fun-but-quirky Christian kid they knew, had changed.  Irreconcilable differences.  I had no idea of the relational difficulties she would end up having, or that topless pictures of her would end up online.

To me, she was just the creative, Christian girl trying to make it in the big, bad world of Rock music.

So in my dream one night, I went to a party at Hayley’s house.  And I brought my dog.  You know how in dreams, things are never as they would be in real life.  Things that would be strange in reality, are normal in a dream, and vice versa.

Well, in the dream, her house was a sort of multi-level wigwam.  Strange right?  But I had my dog with me, at a party.  Not weird to my dream-consciousness.

As it became clear that people didn’t like the presence of my dog, (she’s not purse-sized) I stepped outside for some air.  On the front lawn, I saw an incredibly large, majestic, white bird flying in circles over Hayley’s house.  Curious.

Don’t know why THAT was curious, but me bringing the dog wasn’t.

Not 5 minutes later Hayley came storming out, her finger in my face.  “Get your bird away from my house.”

I was stunned, and sought desperately to clear up the misunderstanding.  “Hayley, it’s not my bird.  I swear!”

“Just get it out of here,” she insisted.  “It’s not welcome here.”  She turned and went back inside, slamming the door. (Do wigwams have doors?)

I awoke from this dream, and was immediately overcome with sadness for Hayley.  I began praying for her, without even knowing why, or what I was asking for.

In the months after, she began popping up more and more in the media.  Drugs, bad boyfriends, topless photo scandal… then: two of the band members left, stating that Hayley never saw them as equals, but viewed the band as the “Hayley show.”

Had my dream outlined the spiritually decent of a starlet?  The white bird.  Did it represent the Holy Spirit?  Why was I convicted to pray for her after waking up from this awkward-party dream?

It’s the same thing with Miley.  Although I didn’t dream about her, I feel the same type of sadness, or disturbance, if you will.  In my spirit.  This girl is hurting beyond belief.  And I find it interesting that most of Pop culture experienced sadness at her behavior as well.  People who are, for the most part, pro-”twerking” and not against public grinding during a musical performance.  We are disheartened, seeing much of ourselves in her, albeit a younger version. In our own ways, we too stripped down to our skivvies and pranced around, wearing a neon sign that said “look at me!  Love me!  Take me seriously!”

Even those of us who remained fully clothed did that, in some way or another.  We’re all sad for her.  Because deep down we know that in effort to prove that she is an adult, she did nothing but act like a child.  Lost and hurt.