Brothers

Spending time with Jesus and really needing a brother’s affirmation, I had a flashback of my own brother and his friend (who definitely treated me like his sister).

Nearly ten years ago I was interested in this guy who they thought was bad news. At first, I was uninterested. But he kept “pursuing” (insert *annoying) me until I started responding. Though slightly romantically involved, there was very little substance. All along, my brother and his friend Brian were saying “end it, now.” This really peeved me as I felt they were not trusting my judgement. One time I was chatting with this dude on the phone and Brian came into the room and jokingly pointed to his watch as if to say “you’ve been on the phone too long.” That made my blood boil. He later apologized and stated that his intentions were to protect me, not get in my business.  My own brother confronted me one morning and said that he and Brian were staying up at night praying for me. And I better end this relationship soon so they could start sleeping again. Wow! This is true “brothering” in action.

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my little brother and me, the best of playmates

After I recalled this story, many other examples of brothering were remembered. And ways my brothers (you) have enhanced my life. Here are just a few:

You say things to the point when I get lost in confusion.

You’ve spoken truth when I’ve gone down paths of deception.

You’ve told me I’m worth being pursued and even told me at times to flee unhealthy relationships. I wouldn’t have listened to a sister as readily, but when you’ve spoken? I listen.

You’ve been the brother I could call when my car died and I had a line of cars held up behind me. You found other guys to help me push the car to a nearby parking lot.

One day when you said “you look hot!” (this was my biological brother) I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Your words carry weight.

Pranks. You love to hide in closets and scare the heck out of me when I enter my room (thanks little bro). Or stand outside my window and make scary noises (Costa Rican brother in law). Your playful heart reminds me that you may be grown up but you are still a boy at heart. And I love this about you.

When you’ve listened to me and have had time for my heart, something in me expands.

When I called you in a panic because of a huge crisis, I remember you outside—pacing back and forth in intercession for me.

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with my big brother

You told me “you can’t wear that!” (biological brother) and I got really mad. But you didn’t want any guy lusting after your sister.

A bunch of us were hanging out while you made pancakes. You suddenly looked over at me with tears in your eyes and said “you are my sister.”

You drove me to my job one day when there was an ice storm and I was terrified of driving.

I didn’t know the depth of kindness men can display to women until I saw your example.

Much of my spiritual growth has taken place through the teachings and writings of my brothers.

God has used your prayers and your prophetic words to bring life and change in my heart.

When you took me out for dinner and we were only friends, you esteemed me and insisted on paying. You never asked me for anything in return. It was unthinkable in your eyes  for a woman to pay when a man takes her somewhere. The honor I felt–amazing.

You told me after I spoke up in a group setting, “never stop speaking. You have something to say.”

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On the Ferris Wheel with my brother in law. (Who treats me as the sister he never had =)

My heart is once again thankful to my brothers. All of you. Older, younger, and same age. I honor and esteem your place in the family. Your sisters haven’t always verbalized our gratitude, but hear me now. We cannot be who God created us to be if we’ve cut you out of the family. You are so important. Irreplaceable. And life without you would be dull indeed!

Thank you Jesus-the best brother of all–thank you for reminding me!

 

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Instant crappy; how I survived three months of coffee purgatory on the island

I asked Michael if he’d consider sharing his experience, and to my delight he acquiesced!  You are in for a treat. The topic he shares on is dear to my heart, partly because I had the same experience on the same island a few years before.  Enjoy =)

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By Michael Ehrenberg

I’m going to share with you something deep, something from the heart- one of the most difficult and traumatic periods of my life. In fact it’s only now, years after the event, that I feel able to talk about it.

In the summer of 2012, I embarked on what I thought would be the most exciting 3 months of my life to date. I was going to live on a remote island off the coast of Auckland, New Zealand to spend some time growing in relationship with God. I thought I was mentally prepared for the challenges of island life, but there was one thing I could not have prepared myself for.

Instant Coffee.

I’ve heard it described as hell in a cup, and frankly this is apt. This foul brown sewage runoff shouldn’t really be considered coffee at all in my opinion. But for those 3 months, this was all that was available to me without making a 2 hour walk. Some might suggest that I would have been better off to abstain completely, but unfortunately that was not an option. I was given a choice between horrific withdrawal symptoms and drinking a daily dose of poison, and I chose the poison.

Every morning I would wake up, and enjoy a few brief seconds of happiness before I remembered where I was, and the sadness and depression set in. I would trudge down the stairs and pour myself a cup of the foul brown liquid, the only hope I had of meeting my daily caffeine intake requirements.

It wasn’t until I was put on breakfast duty that I discovered the true cause of this horrific situation. Nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed in the kitchen. I walked in the door to find the coffee pots from the previous day being emptied into a large saucepan and heated over a flame. 10621789_10152375030342875_2117375117_nCoffee which had been left sitting out overnight. Coffee which may have been literally weeks old, reheated and left to sit again and again. Occasionally they would add more water and “coffee” powder to this ungodly brew to give an illusion of freshness. I could barely choke back the vomit.

I staggered out of the room in a daze, my head was spinning. In shock I passed through the dining area, fellow students asked me if I was ok, but their voices were but distant echoes.

I sat alone for what must have been hours, contemplating what events in my life had led me to this point. And then I got up, walked to the serving table, and poured myself another cup 😉

Note from the thesingleside:

Michael is an excellent writer and his tastes involve more  than his experiences of bad coffee =) To read a wider range of his musings, check out: http://www.revelatrium.com

We are family: Thesingleside road trips it

There are road trips and then there are ROAD TRIPS.  This was the second. Three stops. Three families that really are family to me. With some surprises thrown in. Read on and enjoy the photos and videos!  (I have an announcement via video towards the last third  portion of this post!!!)

Stop # 1:

South Carolina with good friends Linda and David and their 3 children who I claim as my nieces and nephew.

 

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Coffeeshopping it with Linda and her gorgeous 2 year old.

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Keeping it chill with Aunt Lizzy’s shades

This was a fun few days with Linda. Her husband and son went on an overnight camping trip so it was just the girls for part of the time. Coffee. Heart time. And a full day of Duck Dynasty season 3. Getting in touch with our inner redneck and laughing our heads off in the process.

Last morning there, Aunt Lizzy watches the three kiddos (baby asleep and not photographed) so Mom and Dad can have a date.

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Don’t worry. It’s dry erase marker. My genius plan to occupy her while I blow-dried my hair.

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Are you guys preparing for the end of the world?

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Helpful (and adorable) little guy showing off that he just emptied the trash. Also, his idea to model with a toothbrush.

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In less than the minute it took to snap big brother’s photo, she decided to style her hair with a handful of my gel.

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Not super excited about getting her hair washed, but I tried to make it into a beauty salon.

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Beautiful mama (Linda) with me (her heart friend) after her morning date with hubby.

Linda is one of those friends that always speak truth. I’m thankful to have her voice speaking into my life. We laugh, we connect, and we challenge each other on deep levels. She is one of God’s most beautiful gifts. A sister.

 

In Greenville, SC: (road trip diversion)

Last night I spent at the Dayton’s house, I drove over to Greenville, SC for a few hours.  Connection time with some amazing people who live community with intentionality. (Check out http://www.fascinatedts.com). After a wonderful barbecue, we played whiffle ball the way I like it- no pressure or competition. Though my teammate,Daniel, kept score and was quite competitive (causing great laughter on both sides).

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Jesse points the way.

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Helping the little people.

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Main pitcher,Matt, for opposing team

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My team

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These people are so intentional about speaking life, that Jesse had us take turns encouraging our whiffle ball opponents. Quite humorous.

Tom and Jesse get hip-moving lessons from Karina. A fun time for all. (Of course I had to join in!)

Stop #2:

North Carolina with the Barton family (Gerry, Cathie and their 3 kids). I met this lovely family in 2008 in New Zealand where we did a three month Father Heart school. They truly are family to me.

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Lovely walk with Cathie.

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One of my photographers 

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I’d say he surpasses my tech skills.

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Even a foot massage? I am deeply loved.

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Duck attempts to steal my coffee. When I get around these kids, there’s no end to the creative flow.

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Bartons, Taylors (who also attended same NZ school) and Brown join up for dinner and family time.

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Truly.

While at stop #2, I made my big announcement to the Bartons and Taylors over a delicious meal.

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Brother bonding. Gerry and JT.

It’s always a family reunion when we get together. So much laughter, love, and a deep sense of home and belonging. I love these guys.

Stop #3:

Taylor home. We laughed, ate, and Dawn and I spent an afternoon walking down Main Street. Ofcourse, coffee and heart sharing were in order.

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Girl time would be incomplete with dropping by a coffee shop.

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Dawn spotted this on Jongo Java’s wall of local artists. It is now in my care.

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Coffee at Dawn and JT’s is not your ordinary experience. JT was a barista. And he still has standards.

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I drink coffee for your protection!

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At the library to find the movie “Hitch”. While trying to get the perfect selfie, a man walked by and said “you are beautiful”. The only downside is he was over 70. Girl, we HOT!

This was quite the road trip. I laughed hard. Played hard. Was reminded that family is one of Father’s most precious gifts. His family is big and extends to the four corners of the world. Hope you’ve enjoyed a sample from one of those corners.

What woke me up in the middle of the night: Finding freedom in the path of life

 

I awoke in the middle of the night, completely alert. Lying there, an overwhelming sense of jealousy flooded over me as I thought of a friend who had just entered into a relationship. Oddly, the feeling was external and not from within my heart. Next, I saw a picture in my mind’s eye. The Lord showed me two paths. I thought of the poem “The Road not Taken” by Robert Frost.  At that moment, He began to speak to my heart.

“These two roads look the same.  Let me tell you about the first.  This is the path of bitterness. When someone goes through a door you have been desiring to walk through, you will have the opportunity for bitterness to make it’s home in you. You can attempt to hide the fact that you are carrying offense. People may look at you and even tell you how humble you are to trust God and how proud they are of you for how you celebrate others’ joy. But don’t think you can nurse this and it won’t have results.  It will eat you like a cancer. Killing your heart, your dreams, joy, and even your ability to receive good things from me.

Watch out that no bitter root of unbelief rises up among you, for wherever it springs up, many are corrupted by its poison. (Hebrews 12:15b)

Liz, here’s the second path. This is a much more vulnerable path. Many avoid it because it costs something. This is the path of life. I cannot guarantee that it won’t hurt when you watch another enter into the promise you wait for. Everytime you feel that ache, don’t deny it. But give it to me. You will learn on this path how to celebrate the goodness of God in others’ lives. Therefore, increasing your own ability to receive every gift I offer you.”

I dared not move, because it was a sobering moment. Strangely, I felt like this warning was wrapped in kindness. God was loving me and revealed the trap that the enemy had laid out. This is a good Father who gives a “heads up” before the fact.

Few speak of bitterness, but many of us battle it more than we admit or even realize. A few indicators of bitterness festering inside (fun stuff here ;):

  1. a certain person or event evokes feelings of cynicism or offense
  2. an area of life is captive to unbelief
  3. when someone has good news, you want to roll your eyes or even avoid hearing about it
  4. loss of childlike wonder in any area, replaced by “let’s just get real”
  5. Where is my joy? Why is hope not vibrant in me?

We know the “big” sins but rarely think about infectious ones that kill our hearts.

Where does bitterness spring from?

Brokenness.

Here’s the reality. We will never be able to avoid pain. Just like a broken hand hurts. So do broken promises. Broken trust. Broken dreams. Broken hearts. In a world of broken things, there’s no avoiding this pain. Sorry.

You’ve entered into a broken situation. The heart starts hurting. Bitterness now tries to seize the day. How easy to take hold of it and enter into the lies that God is withholding something good or that He caused this pain.

Take heart! He always provides the alternative to bitterness. COMFORT!  I have experienced comfort many times. The Father has many ways of comforting our hearts. Just as there is a “promise” (more like a warning) attached to bitterness, so there is with comfort.  Look what the Lord can do with a comforted heart:

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Cor. 1:4)

How I’d love to never struggle with the temptation to be bitter. But I do! Some days it’s especially intense. This is why I wanted to bring this to the light. Let’s help each other in this battle. Fight for each other’s hearts. Refuse it’s poison masquerading as turkish delight.

Spit it out, don’t swallow it!

If this is something you’ve battled with (basically, if you’re human), let’s pray! We really can win this battle!

Father, I thank you that you do not withhold any good thing in my life. I trust your timing. I believe that I will see your goodness in the land of the living. As I wait on you, I do this with hope. I renounce (repent) of any agreement with bitterness that I’ve made.  By your Spirit, would you show me now any areas where I’ve been bound by bitterness (events, thought life, relationships,etc).  As I bring those to you, would you take them from me? Would you break the chains that have weighed my heart down? I surrender. I chose trust. I need you. I open my heart to receive from you right now. Pour your love into these broken places. Thank you for making everything beautiful in your time. I choose another way. Amen.

 

DUDE, WHERE’S MY HAIR?

(Note from thesingleside):

When I first read Brent’s post I was gripped with how courageous it was of him to write on a subject many men struggle with. In silence. And as a female, I want to say that his vulnerability is not only courageous, but desirable.  Many struggle with shame over something they wish they could change about themselves. I hope that his honesty breaks shame and encourages you. Thank you so much Brent!

Many people have written about this topic, but they have failed to capture and express the devastating effects this disease has on the psyche of young men.  Although I usually write about Korea and travel related topics, I feel this is a topic that needs to be addressed.  People who suffer from early hair loss need to know that they are not alone and everyone else needs to understand how emotionally crippling this disease is for young men.  In fact, there is nothing in the world that makes young men feel more helpless, deficient, shameful, embarrassed, unattractive, unwanted, angry, or afraid.  By an unfortunate lottery, these men feel like natural failures and often withdraw to being shells of their former selves because their external appearance no longer represents how they internally know they should feel about themselves.

 

The two biggest signs of early aging for men are weight-gain and hair loss.  To a large extent, they can improve their bodies through proper nutrition and exercise.  Perhaps they are not genetically disposed to have six-packs(even if under 12% body fat), but they can improve their appearance.  On the other hand, very little can be done about hair loss.  In essence, this is why it is so debilitating.  Young men know they are strong and full of vitality, yet they are powerless in the face of hair loss.  They find their appearance reflects a version of themselves that is five to fifteen years older than their actual age.  The perception people form of them is drastically altered due to the few measly inches of recession in the front of their hairline.

 

Hair loss cannot be ignored.  We look at our face and hair every morning as we get ready for work or school.   Those who suffer from early hair loss watch a gradual recession of their hairline or watch in horror as 50 to 100 hairs fall off of their head every time they take a shower or brush their hair.  Other people can try to tell hair loss sufferers to remain positive, but they’ve never experienced what it feels like to watch years of their youth vanish in sheer moments.  When hair loss sufferers run their hands through their hair, their confidence is not affirmed by enjoying the feel of a full grasp of hair and vitality.   Instead, it is replaced by the shock of grasping for thin strands of hair or the feel of smooth bald spots that Hollywood led them to believe only existed for villains and old men.

 

Imagine the horror these young men feel when a woman they care about tries to rub her hand through his vulnerable hair or removes a hat she thinks he’s wearing to be stylish.  Imagine the horror of being invited to go to the beach with friends and knowing the addition of water to your head will reveal bald spots and thinning areas that are hidden when your hair is dry.  Imagine avoiding nicer clubs, restaurants and upscale venues in favor of casual establishments because you know you are more attractive in places that allow you to wear a hat.   These men try to remain positive, but hair loss is not something they can ignore or escape.  Every time they look in the mirror or touch their hair, their hair loss reminds them that their most beautiful and attractive days are already forgotten in the past.  They become obsessed  and look at their hair every day to try to judge if their condition is worsening, improving, or staying the same.  I believe this is acceptable for a thirty year old.  However, a nineteen year old should not endure being emasculated before his time.

 

The hopelessness for these men is only exacerbated because there are no role models or positive examples in our culture for premature hair loss.   Sure, there are people like Bruce Willis, the Rock, and Jason Statham.  However, their hair loss occurred later in life.  We have all witnessed the exploitative Hair Loss for Men commercials.  However, instead of sending a message of how to be comfortable with who you are, these commercials show grown men crying to their mothers about being follicly challenged.  What makes it worse is most of these men are in their thirties or forties.  How does that make a seventeen year old feel about himself before he leaves for college or has to take pictures for his senior prom?

The one hope this author directed his attention to was Wayne Rooney.  Rooney is a star football player for Manchester United who suffered from an advanced stage of male pattern baldness at an early age.  Despite his vulnerable hairline, he succeeded in football, became a popular celebrity, and married a beautiful woman.  He weathered criticism about his athleticism, attitude, work ethic, social life and physical appearance for years.  Despite all the criticism he overcame, this tough, gritty English football star succumbed to the psychological trauma and social stigma of hair loss.  He underwent an expensive hair transplant surgery (25,000 pounds) last summer.  His example does not illustrate how a young man should deal with hair loss; it illustrates how difficult it is for young men to deal with hair loss.  Most young men are not wealthy, famous football stars with a beautiful wife.   Most are poor and searching for someone to love them for who they are.  However, just like Wayne Rooney, their confidence is shaken by what they see.  No matter what opinion a woman has about a man’s hairline, a man with declining confidence will be universally unattractive.

 

Wayne Rooney before and After hair transplant.

 

With a few short paragraphs, I hope I’ve painted a picture of how damaging hair loss can be to the self esteem and confidence of men.  There hasn’t been a day in the last ten years where I have not thought about my own hair loss.  I often get angry at men who are unattractive because they are too lazy to eat right, exercise, purchase matching clothes, or develop likeable and honest personalities.  I get angry and jealous when I look at my 65 year old father who has a much better head of hair than I do.  I get upset because I can’t style my hair or make it look nice.  I can’t embrace my baldness because my family and friends tell me I look horrible when I shave my head.  Unfortunately, they don’t understand that I feel fake by growing and styling my hair in such a way to minimize the appearance of my hair loss.  Did I mention my forehead is ridiculously big and I’m fairly short.  The worst part is, I often can’t pursue the women I love because I feel inadequate.  A lot of people will tell me hair loss should never cause these feelings, but I’m just being honest with you… it does.

 

I’ve been fortunate to have a few beautiful and wonderful woman love me and find me attractive despite my shiny head.  Life is not over because you lose hair early and it should not revolve around how you look.  Additionally, young men now have good options for preventing hair loss.  The key is to be proactive.  I visited a dermatologist when I was 17 and he provided me with awful information and told me my only hope was a hair transplant.  I would be in a much better position had I received proper information about hair loss and available treatments.  In part two, I will provide useful information on hair loss treatments and share the best sites and forums for both information and support.  For now, if you suffer from hair loss please know that you’re not alone and I understand exactly how you feel.  For everyone else, I hope you are a little more aware of how these courageous men are every time they do simple things like jump in a pool or rock their receding hairlines with pride to the best bars in town on a Friday night.  There are no clothes, make up, or tricks to hide their insecurity.  They embrace their insecurities simply by introducing themselves and saying “hello.”

To read more of Brent’s writings:

http://kimchibytes.com

 

Jumping off the cliff, surrendering it all

Fictional scenario: The pastor announces in advance that he will be preaching on surrender. I suddenly find myself with a prior commitment, most likely Starbucks, and I exit the back doors in a hurry. Proceed out the doors if you must, or buckle up and let’s go for a ride.

The last couple of months I’ve been in the fast lane. How I got here I have no clue. Best way to describe it is that I’ve been driving along and suddenly Father puts his foot on the accelerator of my life and I’m holding on to the dashboard. We are crazily going places that I’ve not been and at speeds I normally avoid.

I am in an accelerated season of surrender. Faced continually with opportunities to “play it safe” and “play it cool”, I could hide behind cleverness and nonchalance. But I can’t. These are vulnerable days for me. But who likes vulnerability? I mean, we love when OTHERS are vulnerable (as long as it doesn’t make us TOO uncomfortable), but heaven forbid WE be the ones to expose vulnerability.

 

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“Strength found in weakness”

The artwork of David Costello

I am utterly weak. God is doing something in me. Over the last few weeks I’ve been laying lots of things at His feet. (Deep breath). Bitterness over being single. Judgements against men and every guy who ever pursued and couldn’t follow through. (I love men, by the way. But it’s easy to carry baggage that you aren’t aware of until the Holy Spirit starts shining His light on it). Control.  That’s the big one.

I had a personal head on collision with control five years ago. Devastating. What I had told the Lord I wanted did not work out for me. I prayed. I begged. I controlled. I wept. I shook my fist in the air and blamed God for my pain. I blamed the unnamed guy for my pain. But now, I see it differently. What I had tried to grasp as my “rights”, ended up taking hold of me. And I was going to have this relationship no matter what, thank you very much. (Oh, and yes God, you can block the doors if it’s not your best.)

He blocked the doors. The tornado had passed through, and I picked through the pieces of a demolished building. My heart. Humbled, I finally could see clearly. Where I had gone wrong? Surrender had taken the back seat. I had forgotten that the One who owes me nothing, freely gives me all things. Father, you have the keys to my life. Give. Remove. Because when you remove, you have something better in mind.

After the guy left, I felt like I had nothing to look forward to. I had put my expectations into this relationship. A couple of months later, a very humbled and broken me was starting to tentatively put my toes back into the waters of dreaming with God again. Life indeed was a beautiful thing when you can enjoy it and not choke the living daylights out of it. He suddenly opened up an “impossible” door–something I had only dreamed I could do.  Now THAT is a good Dad.

Surrender takes many forms and I cannot give you the formula, my friends. I can only give you a couple of examples.

Yesterday, for me surrender was standing tall as a daughter of the King and declaring that He is good and His promises are going to come to pass. It was the unshakeable conviction that I WILL see the goodness of the Lord in this life.

Today, surrender has a different face. It is weighty weakness. It is tears. It is laying myself before Him (literally) and refusing to despair. Refusing the lying taunts that God will never answer.  Or He will wait until I’m 60. It’s refusing to close my heart up and hide in my safe tower of isolation. Where nobody can hurt me. It is refusing to lose heart. Thank God that the many times I have “lost” heart, He always helped me to find it again. And again.

Surrendering does not = kill your desires. It is holding them with an open hand. It’s laying down entitlements. Picking up hope. Choosing risk, when playing it safe is more comfortable. Jumping off the cliff of the familiar, when Father is asking for all of your heart. Arming yourself with courage because His strength (not yours) will fight the battles.

Somewhere in the Bible (I’m horrible with references) it says that His promises are backed up by the honor of His name. That means that because He is honorable and trustworthy I can and will trust Him to not dangle a desire in front of me for the rest of my life and fail to deliver.

All this surrender feels a bit like dying; maybe what’s dying is my ability to control anything. Liz is going to ride the river of the unknown and see her Papa God bring her safely (WITH A FULL HEART) to the place of living waters.

(Best song I know of jumping into the arms of our good Father, surrendering it all to Him).

Looking good (for your age)

My niece and her little five year old friend play dress up for hours. Of course this entails trying to look older with makeup and heels.

Well,enjoy it.  Before long you will be trying to go back to those days before forehead lines and cellulite.  When did it happen that I noticed these things?  I think in their 20’s most women are at their prime physically.  So I guess it has been in the last few years I started seeing the signs of aging. Terrifying!  What used to not matter, now REALLY matters.  A friend said to me, “I feel like it just takes more to maintain what I have these days.”  How right she is.  It’s like at age 30+ suddenly the revelation that the clock isn’t going backwards hits you like a truck on the interstate. I’m not really that interested in looking like road kill.  Discussions amongst friends revolve around retinol and always having spf for your face, or a hat if you go outside. Don’t forget to color your roots and exercise your butt off.

I visited a friend recently that I hadn’t seen for 9 years.  Funny, but even though I obviously don’t have a crush on her I was nervous.  Nervous because I hoped she wouldn’t think I had aged.  There is something in every woman that wonders if she still “has it”.  Let’s get really honest here.  We feel better if we think we look better than another woman.  We feel worse if we feel uglier than another woman. I don’t know if guys realize how bombarded we are multiple times a day by an unachievable standard set by our culture. At times I feel so much pressure I want to rebel.

Forget the makeup!  Wear the frump clothes and boycott hair dye!  That’ll show ’em! And after a day of doing that (and skipping public places too), I’ll feel much better about being a liberated woman.

Do you look at photos and say “wow, I look so much younger 10 years ago”? And then proceed to analyze all the fresh signs of age on your face with your magnifying mirror? I tell you what, it’s not going to help you feel better unless you have money in hand for botox.  (Though I comfort myself sometimes that if I really age I can just go somewhere and get a new face).

Redneck Beauty Salon

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Contemplating the art of beautifying the nations

So, why obsess about what I can’t control?  It all boils down to this.  Whether we like it or not, in the very fabric of our being is the desire for beauty. We crave beauty.  See beauty.  Desire to make things beautiful around us, whether in decorating our house or just by creating a beautiful hospitable atmosphere for others.  Having our own ideas of what is beautiful, it varies in expression.  God made us this way. To carry this and enhance every environment we are in. And what better way to beautify than with our very selves?

Problem is, our vision is skewed.  We get a glimpse at times into our true beauty, but not often enough to satisfy our hearts. Brainwashed by the culture, we feel helplessly less than what we know we want to be. We (singles) then have the chance to panic a BIT (like, a LOT) more and go ‘what if I’m not beautiful enough to attract someone (especially after the age of 30)? When I step outside of myself for a moment, I actually have compassion on Liz and want to tell her that she is so much more than that. That her outward frame has the privilege of containing the most important part of her. Her heart.  And I want to tell every woman (even you marrieds) that this is true of them as well.

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. (Song of songs 4:7)

I have a friend who was trying to explain to her boyfriend what cellulite was.  Having all brothers, he didn’t understand what she meant. She paused a moment and then said “it’s like cottage cheese.”  His eyes lit up and he responded with, “Delicious!”

And so it is.

 

 

Am I not enough? Pandora’s box flung open

I am officially breaking my own rules about blogging.  “One per week, I promised myself.  More than that would be overload for readers.” So I thought of writing this today as a draft and releasing it soon. I just can’t do it. Some things cannot be placed on hold.

I have written some pretty vulnerable posts. This in my opinion surpasses them all. But I sense that I’m not just writing this to share my heart. This is for the hearts of many women I know. Ladies, you aren’t alone in this fight.

Liz Brown officially overreacted today. Something wasn’t said that I felt should be said in a conversation and my response was disproportionate to the issue at hand. For several hours I have been fuming and trying to get to the root beneath it all.

I am asking this question:

AM I ENOUGH?

Or maybe the better question is Am I NOT enough?

Sometimes circumstances in life just don’t add up.

So, the doubts pour into our hearts.  Here are some examples (some personal, some from those I know):

If I were enough, why is my husband an addict? (Addictions come in many forms.)

If I were enough, why did my dad not shower affection on me in my childhood years?

If I were enough, why do I have a hard time connecting with other ladies?

If I were enough, why did the father of my child decide not to marry me?

If I am really that amazing, how can I be 5 years away from 40 and still single?

If I had been enough, why did he tell me that he was coming to pursue me wholeheartedly– and then when some issues arose, he left?  Never giving an explanation.  Unable to fight for my heart.

If I were enough, how could he have had the affair?

What if my hair looks like photo when I was really going for: IMG_0234_2

My personal checklist to be the perfect woman goes something like this:

  1. Interesting
  2. Able to keep his attention
  3. Beautiful, but not plastic
  4. Humorous
  5. Always full of mercy and grace
  6. Able to know when to be quiet and when to speak
  7. Desirable above the other competition…for it seems he has many women he could choose
  8. Secure, for who wants to see any insecurity?  Don’t want to scare you away.

It’s endless.  And it is a deep arrow to the heart. I’m tired. I can’t do it anymore.

And I’m angry.  I’m angry for every friend I know who is SINGLE and AMAZING.  The men should be beating the doors down just for the chance to win her heart.  Unless, she’s not worth winning, right?  For this is the lie that comes with the lack of pursuit.

I used to ask the “am I not enough” question so that I would like myself.  Now I really really like who I am.  I’m comfortable with my massive head of fro hair.  Introverted, yet deeply relational to the core? Love it. Deep feeler who can at times seem unfeeling when I am passionate on a subject? Yep. I embrace that too.

I think the core of my anger comes from something deeper. Perhaps my spirit is groaning for the day where both the sons and daughters rise up. Where my brothers fight for their sisters’ hearts.  Where the sisters value their brothers and build them up. The day that my beautiful friends who I pray for all the time, finally are pursued and their hearts are won.  Not because a husband will give them value.  But because he will SEE the value that is already there.

So the truth is, ladies, that you ARE enough! If we don’t let that reality bring us into rest, we will be in bondage to the lie that there is something hopelessly flawed in us. Tragic. And simply untrue.

By the way, I feel 80% better after writing this. My hope is set on the King of Kings. I am His daughter.  He holds my heart with great value. Whether another ever sees my value enough to pursue, I am saying:

I AM ENOUGH.

(Ok, so I have to say this or I will probably panic. If there happens to be a guy or two who stumbles on this post—PUH-LEASE. I am not writing out my phone number.  This was not intended as a “hey, handsome…I am single and advertising.” ha ha….girl’s gotta cover her bases when she is authoring a blog called thesingleside!!!)

 

 

 

I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful: Lessons from the low places

Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up. Proverbs 12:25 (NLT)

I didn’t see the adrenal fatigue coming, because it was accumulative.   Stress over issues out of my control was wearing my body down. Decisions made that were wounding people I cared deeply for had begun to take its toll on my physical and emotional health.I admit I’ve perfected the “art” of carrying other peoples’ problems. It is hard for my mercy heart to do otherwise, which creates a ripe environment for codependency.  My working definition of codependency is this:  I care about your problems more than you do.

It is impossible to give the exact day I hit my wall. But over a year ago, I began to see the signs of the adrenal fatigue. Almost zero stress filter, meaning I had to eliminate any activity that promoted anxiety.  No evening news, which is filled with war and tragedy. Prayer requests burdened me. These are just a couple of examples. My antennae was up and I was making a bee-line for the door, so to speak, if I saw stress approaching me. Increasing pain in my abdominal area paralyzed me with dread, because I had lost a good friend to stomach cancer the previous year. At times I’d tremble uncontrollably when something felt stressful. I felt powerless to stop my reactions when triggered. Feeling guilty before the Lord, I wondered where my faith had gone. The role of the adrenal glands is to manage stress in our bodies and when one hits adrenal fatigue it is a real thing. Insomnia, fatigue, and even symptoms of depression (which I now understand is adrenal related) reduced my life to a fraction of what I desired.

I had nothing to give for many months.  Moody and edgy, I missed the old me that loves to laugh and connect with others. I felt like I didn’t even know who I was anymore. Shame and failure taunted me, causing me to hide from most what I was walking through.

My passion is for others to come into their true identity as sons and daughters and I couldn’t even find Father’s love.  It was a dark place and I didn’t know how to get out. And yet…

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24,b (NIV)

Through all of this, the One who knows and loves me most showed me His faithfulness. I believe He held me many times, though I was unaware. Hindsight shows me many ways He was “ever present”.  Trusted friends encouraged me and held onto hope when I couldn’t. They saw firsthand what was happening and their deep compassion and loyalty was a lifeline on a stormy sea. Family prayed me through it and extended great patience when I was all but pleasant to be around.

Father has been kindly showing me over the past couple of years that shouldering false responsibility produces no good thing. Playing the role of the Holy Spirit in trying to fix people, cripples my ability to walk in peace and trust. And in his loving way, He let me see the effects that stress has on the human body. He carried the burdens of the world on the cross. Only one savior was needed, so I could step down from that position.

Father’s steady love in my lowest place demonstrated that I am still lovable and worth the air I breathe. My comfort was that my Father promised never to leave me; this sustained me giving me courage to make steps toward health. I didn’t need to prove or promise anything to him. He would bring me out of this fog and I would learn much through it.

Sometimes the darkest places in our lives hold the greatest revelations. I treat myself much more kindly these days. If I feel stress coming on, I recognize it. On this road to health (not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually), I listen to myself more.  I pay attention to the warning signs. Sometimes I wish I could wave the wand and never struggle, but I’m oh so human. Desperately in need of my Father’s strength. But what a Father! And what a friend He has been to me.

To read an excellent post concerning boundaries and false responsibility amongst Christians, click here:  http://www.revelatrium.com/freedom-through-boundaries/

 

For more info on adrenal fatigue, click here: