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.”

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.”

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?