Ever Faithful


Okay. So I squelched in my New Year’s resolution to blog at least once a week. I’m only human. And for once, it had nothing to do with the lack of material or the desire to remain private over lame or negative life situations to post. Truth be told, I have been so abundantly blessed in the last two weeks that my head can’t even keep it all straight. The provisions of my needs and wants are practically immeasurable and yet to do service to what I stand for, I must share with all of you.

My last blog post was an explanation as to why my birthday and Valentine’s Day is typically ignored on my end. It wasn’t to sound negative, but to give a background as to why I have been so negative toward them for so long. In my defense, I admitted that despite all of my so-called failures and unhappiness in the past year, I was vigilantly faithful that God was about to turn it all around for me… naturally after a few small moments of “why me?!” every now and again. Like I said, I’m only human. I was “coming out of my desert”, nearing a final breakthrough. Almost immediately upon posting that blog, my breakthrough began and I haven’t really had time to stop and catch my breath, or process the extraordinary turn of events in my life. Continue reading

Advertisements

Dear 16-year-old ‘Me’…


Recently, I came across a video that moved me, called “Dear 16-Year-old Me“. It was a video about Melanoma and how “we” (as a general use) would like to warn ourselves of the dangers of even one bad sunburn before the age of 18. It’s starts out with a bit of humor, warning about perms and that you actually have to practice to get better at the guitar, but quickly transforms into a collection of people communicating to their 16 year-old-self  about the fears and trials they are going to face with this skin cancer. Each one – a personal flare to it. Really, it’s moving and I  encourage every one to check this video out, pass it on to a 16 year-old.

However, I do not have melanoma and this is not about skin cancer. The video inspired me in other ways.

As the people in the video begin speaking to their 16-year-old self, I wondered, “What would I warn my 16 year-old self?”

Wow. Where do I freakin’ begin?

Dear 16 year-old ‘Me’,

Stop coloring your hair blonde; it looks funny with your thick, dark eyebrows and doesn’t complement your skin tone in the least. It just isn’t natural and it won’t at all make you more popular.Enjoy the size you are now in spite of the ridicule you’ve been enduring from others. Your mom is right, they really are jealous. And by the time you are in your 30’s your metabolism will drop and gravity will be working against you. Your jean size willsee double digits, so learn how to excercise and eat healthy now. It’s harder to convert a lifestyle as you get older.
But remember, your size will in no way change your beauty.

Don’t play with the radio when you’re driving. You are not invincible and neither is your car and you risk the chance of getting into a one-car accident that will break your sister’s collarbone as well as her trust in your driving. Your 1979 Chevy Malibu will be totaled and that’s a heavy financial burden on your family.

So what if you’re a virgin? By the time you reach college you will no longer hear derision over the matter and instead admiration from mature friends. Hang on to it as long as possible, because it really is more than just a physical act. It’s the sharing of one’s soul and people can be fickle with your heart. It’s not an easy recovery when they change their mind after the deed is done.

Spend quality time with your family. By the time you’re 20, you will lose the grandmother you’re closest to. She’ll be diagnosed with cancer during Christmas of your sophomore year of college and will not see even Thanksgiving of the following year.

You will move out on your own at 21 and begin to see how the lives of your family members are beginning to branch out on their own as well. Embrace it, but don’t take the time you have with them now for granted.

Don’t judge others so quickly for the mistakes they make and circumstances they’ve been given in life; let your soapbox rest. You may know better, but you’re only flesh – you’re not perfect either. That girl who got pregnant out-of-wedlock? The boy who can’t afford a winter jacket? It could easily be you at any given time.

Please stop gossiping. It makes you look untrustworthy and ignorant and it is no way to keep or make friends.

Singing loudly does not constitute as singing better. You’re hurting yourself and you should treat your vocal cords like gold. By the time you’re 18, you will develop nodules. This will be one time you will not pass off a hoarse voice as an allergy infection and you will catch the problem early to correct it.

And accept the fact that you aren’t going to sing in the same key as an original artist. Just because Barbara Streisand sings  “My Man” in A-flat doesn’t mean it won’t sound just as wonderful if you do it in G. Besides, why are even singing Streisand? In 7 years, you will resign from theatre work. Believe or not, you will study jazz in college and when you are 29, you’ll play bluegrass and then move to acoustic pop. That’s right, I said play. You’re more than just a vocalist; you can be a musician. And you will be a good one. Don’t sell yourself short. Why don’t you try writing music as well? I think you’d be great at it.

And while we’re on the subject of music: You can hide all you want from that still small voice that speaks to your heart, but eventually you’ll give in and it will fulfill you beyond your imagination. Don’t allow your mother’s opinion of Worship music deflect you from what you were called to do. She is only human and wants what’s best for you – what she is comfortable with. But you are you’re own person.

Hold fast to your faith in Christ. In college, your faith will become shaky, even to the point you will be considered agnostic for a short period of time. Remember that your mom and dad raised you with a strong foundation of belief and would never lead you astray. And no matter how far your think you’ve gone, Christ is always in front of you with His arms wide open; always ready to take you back, because you can’t really run from Him if He is yours and you are His.

Worship how you are led, though. That is between you and God; let no judgement affect you. Who are you to judge how the Spirit of God looks and how to praise Him? You will eventual step out of that mold you were raised in – and it will be bittersweet and scary – but you’re doing right by you and your children.

Yes, you will have children.

That doctor you went to in college was wrong. You are fertile. Very fertile. Be prepared.

Jealousy will get you nowhere. It’ll simply eat you from within. Stop comparing yourself to other vocalists you know. You are all amazing in your own right. Amazing and different – there is no comparison so don’t let others feed that idea into your head.

Do NOT date that guy, even though you will anyway. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. He really is cheating on you and he will dump you by the end of the year so he can marry the other girl. Try not to let it get you down or break you. Trust me, you didn’t want that kind of future. You deserve so much better.

And try to forget the other guy. Well, don’t forget; just move on. You will continue to be involved on and off for the next few years, but if you look hard enough, you’ll see that it was truly all done and over with when he moved. You will put too much effort into something that won’t last. It may be a learning experience, but you’re also closing your eyes to other possibilities because of him – though no fault of his. And what’s wrong with being single?

You do not have the makings to be a cheerleader so don’t waste a summer trying to learn when your mother comes up with the brilliant idea that you can get scholarships that way. Being a cheerleader is your sisters’ thing. You will not spend a dime for school anyway. You’re talented.

For goodness’ sake, Do your homework. Changing a report card every 6 weeks is exhausting and that last stretch before you graduate will practically give you a nervous breakdown when it becomes questionable that you’ll graduate. This is what happens when you are dishonest with your parents. It isn’t worth it unless you consider the experience as book-worthy.

Yes, you will write a book. Writing will become a big focus of yours.

Be thankful that your parents are still married and love each other deeply. Show empathy to those whose parents have divorced. It’s hard on them, even when they don’t show it. Someday, you will be a part the statistics and your children will experience a hurt that you’ve never fully grasped. Be patient with them and show them love. Don’t feel guilty for your decision though. You did what you thought was best for everyone involved.

Dear 16 year-old ‘Me’:

Relax. It’s just a breakup; it wasn’t in God’s plan and He wants you happy. You will be happy. It’s just money. It can’t buy happiness. It’s just a transition; you will adapt and overcome.

It’s just a diagnosis; not the end of the world. Over 17 million people suffer from it. A doctor will tell you at 19 that you too have a chemical imbalance called clinical depression. Try not to wallow in that, though it may seem impossible at times not to. At 21 you’ll consider suicide. Don’t. It’s a selfish way out and in spite of what your brain tells you, many will be devastated by your loss. You have so much potential. Tune in to CBS the night you sit at your dorm room window before Christmas break. Linus Van Pelt will remind you that Jesus came to the Earth to give peace. In that instant you will find that peace and go home to collect yourself. It will be a struggle, but you’re a fighter.

And God gave us two P’s to help us. Prayer and Prozac.

Slow down. Walking fast everywhere you go and driving in a hurry doesn’t increase your time for other things, it only increases you chances of an accident or make you miss the sweeter & simpler things in life. Besides, I don’t think a few more seconds is going to make that much of a difference in time management.

Don’t act unappreciative over the birthday parties your mother throws for you. Eventually, the parties will stop. And when you’re 30, in battle to embrace a milestone you so desperately want to reject, you will have to throw your own party, because your husband at the time forgot your birthday altogether.

I know you’re bored with horror movies right now. They haven’t been the same since the early 80’s. But in a few years Wes Craven will put out a movie called Scream and will revamp your enjoyment of this genre. A few years after that, a new breed of horror will take the genre by an independent film called the Blair Witch Project. Some will hate it. You will love it…but it will also make you motion sick.

Avoid Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween. Only bathing yourself in acid can make the tainting of that film go away.

Go to your senior prom stag or you will be miserable with the date you choose.

In two years your family will finally buy a computer and you will be introduced to the internet. It will literally be information at your fingertips and you will never research in a library again. High school will be over, so this will piss you off, but at least you can still utilize it in college.

And you will be mind-blown with its possibilities when you become an adult.

Being 20 does not make you an adult and you don’t have the all the answers at 25. You sound dumb when you act as if you do.

Crossville is your hometown. I know you hate it. But every time life kicks you down, you’re only able to get on your feet and dust yourself on when you’re back home. It’s much like Scarlett O’Hara and her beloved Tara Plantation…just less dramatic and sensational.

Don’t ever try a Starbucks’ latte. It’ll be like crack to you. Not only will you spend a ton of money on this habit, but your butt and thighs will reap what you sow. But it will taste so darn good.

Relying on someone to support you financially is a mistake. You will leave your job behind and when you divorce at 34, you will not only be broke but have a large employment gap during a bad time in America’s economy. Being hired somewhere will be difficult, but it will happen. Keep faith during this struggle.

Be selfish. Enjoy that, because when you are 26 your life will center around a beautiful baby boy instead and selfishness will have to be a thing of the past. Don’t laugh too hard at your parents’ stories about you as a child. Your second child will give you a run for your money. Be patient with him and guide him the best you can. He has a good heart, he’s just mischievous and stubborn – like you.

Your marching shoes are in no way to be worn off the field. They provide no traction in the halls of your school and you will fall and break your elbow during Homecoming week. Like a nerd, you will be wearing a poodle skirt for 50’s day and your underwear will make an appearance. (This is why they tell you not to run in the hallways.) Some people will not forget this incident, but don’t worry. Eventually, you’ll find it humorous too.

If you don’t taste banana in the punch then you can go ahead and stop drinking the punch because 99 Bananas is not part of a fruity recipe. It will all reappear that evening with the frozen pizza you ate earlier. You will never eat frozen pizza again. But the lesson will be learned.

You’re still listening to Debbie Gibson religiously though she is gone from the public eye already. It’s okay that you enjoy her music, but know that she does not make a come back. And don’t buy the playboy issue with her spread in it. She does this to show people how she’s grown up. It’s stupid. And you look like a lesbian even if you are just buying it for the article.

That guy who lied about sleeping with you? Don’t worry about it. You weren’t even dating him so no one really believes him. You have a good reputation, too. He’ll continue lying about things as an adult and behind his back will be a group of your mutual adult friends laughing at him. Chances are that if he’s still lying at 35, he’s sick.

Continue taking piano lessons and don’t let your husband give your piano away for free just because you’re moving to an upstairs apartment.

Be bold.

Be brave.

If you change your mind about something, then change it and don’t be ashamed.

Dear 16-year-old ‘Me’:

Love yourself. It seems to be the hardest thing for you to do sometimes.

Life is short so try as many things as possible while you are still breathing and young enough to enjoy it.

35 is still very young.

Take care of your skin. Wash it regularly and moisturize it.

Sleep. If you’re tired, sleep. It keeps you healthy and young-looking. And I promise you won’t miss much during your down time.

Cut back on Mello-Yellos…well, sodas, in general. They’re bad for your teeth. No matter how tired you are before you go to bed, brush them. Every night. No exceptions.

Spend your money wisely. Start making good financial habits for yourself.

Don’t wear orange. It may be your favorite color, but it’s not appealing on you. Get the charcoal colored sweater instead.

Don’t sell your banjo. Your best friend may want to learn to play someday – or at least toy with the idea of learning.

Finish college. Don’t major in music or theater. Major in a Plan B.

Avoid Myspace and Facebook if you can. Sure, you will be able to catch up with friends and family better than way, but it will consume too much of your valuable time with no benefit in return. It will also make you look as if you have no life.

Follow your instincts. $6,000 is a lot of money to invest on a business you really have no faith in – so don’t. You’ll lose it all within a month.

And lastly, 16-year-old ‘Me’, know that you are not alone. You never have been and you never will be. You have friends and family that will stick by you even in your lowest of times.

And a Father who holds a boundless love for you even when you don’t believe in Him.

He will bring you back and you’ll be better than ever.

You will not peak at 16 and be done with like so many others. You will stay on top as long as you desire. It’s always your choice.

Love,

34-year-old  ‘Me’

P.S. You can do this! I believe in you.

A Father’s Protection


Let me start by saying this:

Personal Blogs are NOT for the weak.

With every post, I subject myself to possible judgement and scrutiny. I show my vulnerability. It’s much like songwriting, but scarier. With songwriting, I can tell you a story and bare my soul, but phrase it in such beautiful poetry that it can lead you away from the heart of the matter… or you can interpret it to your own personal need. With blogging, you lay it out for the world to see and there is no second guessing of what is meant. It’s there in black and white. Or in my blog’s case, dark grey and white with a touch of blue.

And my blog is much like a Simpsons’ episode. It starts with one plot and midway becomes a completely different story – and you wind up forgetting what the original story-line was. Which brings me to this statement…

After 34 years of life and a shallow way of thinking, I finally broke through last night thanks to a dear friend of mine – God does not set “rules” for us because He’s a bully; He does it to protect us. Not just from Satan, but from our own flesh.

You’ve just been Simpson-ized!

My friend and I were talking about the temptation of premarital sex . I voiced my concerns about a private issue of mine with her (yes, I said “private” – so don’t expect to read about it on here) and what my expectations were in finding truth in love and in a relationship (something I will be covering in a bit here, so hold your horses). Her response was that she believed that God asks us not to have premarital sex because He wants to protect our hearts and minds for the person He has made special for us as a partner/help-mate.

It wrecked me completely!

This may be old news to most of you, but I sincerely had this idea that God said “No premarital sex because it’s wrong.”  – “Why?” – “Because I said so.”

So not only is this blog to declare my new knowledge and with you or to share with you His (now my) desire for a future in love, but maybe to open someone else’s eyes from this imprisoned way of thinking!

He wants to protect us! I finally get it! *smacks self on the head* And to think it only took 34 years.

I’m guilty of this particular sin. Yeah, yeah… go ahead and cast that first stone. I dare you. I’ve been through so much heartbreak in the last year and a half that it’s only made me stronger, so you better believe I’d just get up and kick your ass. (Please, please imagine me wearing the same wedding gown in the left picture of my blog in the middle of a dirt road after being stoned, brushing myself off and stomping after the perpetrator! haha!)

Why do we have premarital sex? I can’t answer for all of you, but I can tell you why I have. Because not only did God equip our bodies to enjoy sex and it’s my own fault for allowing things to go too far when my physical makeup cannot cut-off after a certain point is reached, but because it gives us a false sense of love. Yup, I said it. FALSE SENSE. This is not to say that those of us who have partaken in this “forbidden pleasure” doesn’t love the other person. I do very much. Muchly. But the love He wants us to share first is the kind of love He gave us already and too often we’re missing the point. More than hugs and kisses, words and doting. It’s the unexplainable love of looking at someone and seeing them as God sees them. Seeing God IN them. Seeing God in yourself!

A breakdown: Sex is not a commitment and it’s selfish when a commitment is not established beforehand. It can break your heart and break your spirit. It can tarnish a healthy relationship. It can get you pregnant. It can make you sick – permanently. It makes you regret. It gives you a bad reputation. It makes you insecure. It makes you jealous.

I am not only a victim of this, but I am a criminal of this as well.

God’s plan for sex: An extra-curricular activity to be enjoyed and shared till your little heart’s content after you are COMMITTED (married). To warm your heart and make your spirit joyful. To get you pregnant. To make you healthy. To make you thankful. Only His goodness should come from it.

I’m married to Facebook. One way or another, I’m on it at least four times a day, even if only to check messages or be nosy and read statuses from my phone. (Being nosy is a family trait. Just ask my dad.) One – and probably the only one – positive thing Facebook has shown me is the difference in how people love one another! I have friends who boast of their love on each other’s walls or post happy pictures together. I think these are awesome, but I’ve seen another love shared as well… The one where the woman is spoken about as a gift and a personal promise from God. The man declares his honorable intentions for their life on her wall as well as friends’ walls, making no shame about it. Pride – but not the sinful kind. He places her on a high pedestal and yet beside him and still puts God before her – and she, him – because they know that with God in the front and center, their love will only grow stronger… because it’s growing from God!! They see God in one another and want to serve Him together and serve each other in the same light.

I’ve seen the way I’ve loved and been loved and I have decided – I want the latter. I have been a slave to the physical for so long, that when someone has shown me the honor – for not only me but himself – to make the commitment to set boundaries to protect our relationship and my heart I feel rejected. Rejected!? But that is love!! And it’s the love I want! Why are we so blind to this?! Do I think one love is greater than the other kind? Heck yeah, I do. And I want it! How do I get it? By loving my Father and allowing Him to love me in return. I need to love me in that same way that He does. Will it be sufficient in my life? Won’t I get lonely? No. Faithfully, I know He won’t allow it.

I need to fix me and He’s the only one who can do that. I have to be sincere in my pursuit of Him, just as He has been with me.

I used to want a man who would go to the ends of the earth for me – walk through fire for me… and it still probably wouldn’t be too bad if he did. A man would who shout from the mountain tops about how much he loved me. Someone who would take care of me when I’m sick and hold me when I’m scared or sad. I still wouldn’t mind any of this, but I now understand that I need and deserve more and that’s what was missing before my “do over”.

Our idea of love is so distorted and selfish. I want a man who loves God more than life itself – more than me – and sees me as a gift from God to him. A man who sees me as pure – though I am not – because he’s looking at me through God’s eyes! I want someone who can give me freedom without jealousy and distrust and I can return the same. Someone who is going to forego our physical “needs” in intimacy to protect my heart as God wanted – even when I swear up and down the halls that I’ll be “okay with it”. Someone who can fill that need of intimacy in an honorable and spiritual fashion without shame attached to it. Someone I can grow as a servant of God with – even if we may serve in different arenas, the support would be there. Only a man who truly knows God can fill this need and I am not going to settle for someone who “sorta knows” what I’m talking about so I can push and pull them through their walk with Him to get them to keep up with me.

Today, I declare that God will bring this man to me because He wants that for me and feels that I deserve that! And today I am satisfied because that love is already being filled by my Father… I’ve just been too blind to see it until this morning.

“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19