Hope Harbor


Do you like books about sweet romance, fresh starts, second chances, and healing?  If so, then Hope Harbor is for you.

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I’ll be honest, I was really really excited to read this book.  It was on back order for a bit so I didn’t get it until about 5 weeks after I ordered it, and let me tell you, the excitement built during the time that I waited.

Here’s what the back of the book jacket had to say:

Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life–and love–altered her plans. When tragedy strikes and changes her plans yet again, she finds herself back in her hometown with a floundering farm to run and a heartbreaking secret. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter’s. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help save a struggling charitable organization, the winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives–including their own.

Though I found the book rather slow to start, and didn’t like that we weren’t getting all the details about each of the characters’ stories up front, I quickly realized that the point of the slow reveal was to leave me as the reader wondering why Tracy and Michael needed healing and what had hurt them so badly.  I think if all that information had been front-end-loaded like I found myself wishing it had been, I’d have been disappointed because there’d have been no element of surprise to it.

Once the book got going, I loved the character development, and found that I couldn’t wait to keep reading… I did devour this book quite quickly, actually.  I loved Anna, and I loooooved Charley.  What great characters!  Irene Hannon did an excellent job of drawing me in with lovable and relate-able personalities.  I understand why she’s won awards, as the front cover says she has.

Anyway, in the end I do recommend this book.  It’s very sweet, and I loved how it all resolved in the end.

I received this book free from Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review, in association with Graf-Martin Communications.

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Every Bride Needs a Groom


I just finished reading Every Bride Needs a Groom by Janice Thompson.  I have to admit, when I read the premise of the book I was quite excited.  (Check out the book here for the full book jacket teaser.)  The main character, Katie Fisher — she sounds like a girl after my own heart — one with her entire wedding planned before it’s a good idea at all.  (I try to play it out like I haven’t done that, haha, but… um… don’t look at my Pinterest boards?)

As I started reading the book though, I was struck by how easily I felt I could predict the ending.  I admit though, while I thought that fact would make me want to stop reading the book, it didn’t at all.  Instead, it made me want to race to the finish to see if I was right.  I found at the beginning of the book I was annoyed with Katie, perhaps because I see in myself a tendency to jump the gun a bit and we tend to be annoyed by what we are.  But I digress.

I fell in love with the characters, and the story was well crafted.  I really enjoyed that the book was narrated in first-person, and Janice Thompson’s writing style so perfectly portrayed a Southern girl that I read the entire thing with a Southern accent in my head (not that I claim to be an expert or anything, being Canadian and only ever having spent 1 week in Savannah…. but oh well).

I will likely be interested in reading book 2 of the Brides with Style series when it comes out in October 2015, because I find I really want to know what happens to the characters.  Aunt Alva and Queenie were my favourite, but you’ll have to read the book to find out why 🙂

 

Have you read it?  What did you think?

When we don’t realize what we’re saying


I am single.

That’s not a secret.

At this point, it’s not my choice.  At most points, it hasn’t been my choice.

As a result, I don’t have kids.

Again, not my choice, because I’m not married and while I admire single parents and hold them in high esteem, it’s not something I see myself entering into by choice.

There are a bunch of articles floating around the interwebz about “the things that single people are tired of hearing” and normally, I don’t share them, but since I’m writing this out of a place of genuine emotion, I’m doing it now, on account of …. I’ve dealt with every single one of those.

Disclaimer:  I want to tread lightly here.  Before I go further, I should point out that I’m quite sure that there are things that married people and parents are tired of hearing, too.  I’m certain of it.  I don’t know what they are… I do my best not to gripe about this to my married friends.  We don’t talk about this.  But I’m sure there are things.  In fact, some of you might be annoyed with what I’m about to say.

But…

Here it is.

“Just wait til you have kids.”

This is how the conversations go:

“What’d you do last night?

“Ordered a pizza and watched Netflix for 6 hours.”

“Ugh, I wish!  Just wait til you have kids.  I never watch TV anymore.”

The one that stung the most was “I don’t think we’re really the best teachers we can be until we have kids.”  While that one wasn’t said to me or directed at me, it happened.  I said nothing, because I know your intent wasn’t to hurt me.  I know that.  I know I was just in the room while you were reflecting on how being a parent has made you a better teacher…. but it still hurt a little bit.  Because I may never get that.

And you know what?  Fair.  You’re busy.  I get that.  Kids are busy.  I watch you guys parent your kids and I think you’re superstars.  There’s a big part of me that has considered in a very real way whether I’m selfless enough for kids.  It’s a lot to give up.  It’s a lot of freedom that you no longer have, and I see that.  I don’t know how you do it coming home from working all day long to parenting your kids with everything you have in you.  Especially my teacher friends…. you spend all day with little kids, and then go home to kids of your own.  I know it’s not the same kind of care, but trust me when I tell you I legit think you’re superstars.  Also, if I’ve met your kids, please know that there’s a pretty good chance that I love them to death.  If you’re important to me, so are your kids.  I love your children because I love you.

But when your answer to asking what I did the night before, or what I did on the weekend, or what I like to do with my free time is to shake your head and say “just wait til you have kids,” I don’t think you realize how much that hurts…. because I’d give my left arm to be able to have kids right now… but it just hasn’t worked out yet.  It might never work out, and I have to be ok with the possibility of that reality or I’m going to be miserable until I die.  I’m only not-even-30-yet so if I never get married, that’s a long time to not be married and not have kids.  It’s also enough time for it to still happen, and I totally understand that, but I have to be ok with the possibility of it not going the way I’d like.

I understand that I could do other things.  I do enjoy Netflix though, especially since I just discovered it on Monday (oh my gosh, do you watch Suits!?).  But while I am single, and while I have no children, I have chosen that instead of sitting home and wallowing, I will do what I’d like with my free time.  If that means that I watch Netflix for 6 hours, then sometimes, that’s what it means.  Sometimes it means I take my dog on nice, long walks.  Sometimes I play my violin for hours until my fingers are numb.  Sometimes I go to Bible Study.

I can’t have kids right now.  At this moment, where at 10 pm on Saturday I’m sitting on my couch alone watching TV, I wish that I had a baby monitor on and that I was listening to make sure kids were still sleeping.  I wish I was hanging out with my husband.  But… that’s not my reality.  When you’re putting your kids to bed, please know that I would rather be putting mine to bed than watching TV at most times.

So when I tell you that I watched Netflix for six hours straight, and you wish you could go back in time to that, it would probably do us both a lot of good to remember that there are plenty of times that I’d like a time machine to propel me forwards.

Can we all just be happy with what we have, instead?

No one gets hurt that way.

Thanks.

On Mentorship


I’m not sure when I got old…. but somewhere along the way I guess I sort of did.

It doesn’t feel like it was THAT long ago that I was in teacher’s college, trying to get my feet underneath of me in a pretty challenging world.  I was trying to learn how to teach.  I was trying to learn how to take the stuff that I knew — mostly a compilation of useless random facts that have been filed and categorized into something somewhat mildly useful — and impart it to rooms full of young, mostly only semi-interested minds.

It doesn’t feel like it’s been THAT long since I sat down at my kitchen table in a small little farming community in the Niagara Region, poring over applications to teacher’s college and wondering where I was headed.  Would I be accepted to Western, and move to London?  It was what I wanted.  Would I be accepted to Nipissing, and move to North Bay?  Would I be accepted to Trent, and move to Peterborough?  Would I be accepted at all??  It became this kind of existential crisis where my entire future (or at least, what I thought I knew of it) started to hinge on the essays, the grades (which weren’t great, hence the existential crisis), and the shoddy list of volunteer experiences.  I was afraid I’d end up moving to New Zealand to get my education (because Christmas on a beach), and my Momma was afraid I’d leave and meet a guy at the beach, never to return.  Luckily (for my Momma I suppose), this was not the case, and to Peterborough I traipsed off… flung very quickly into placements where all of a sudden, I was responsible for the learning of teenagers.  Once upon a time, I thought I wanted to teach 14-18 year olds… my how times have changed — My most popular Facebook posts are quotes from my Kinders and my Grade 1s.

Because I went to teacher’s college in what’s called the Consecutive route, I just did one year of schooling focused solely on teaching.  There’s also this deal called concurrent education, where students take education courses interspersed through their undergraduate work, and do placements on Mondays until the end of their time in school, when they start to do multiple week blocks instead.

My first placement was a tutoring block where I spent 3 weeks working daily with a few different kids, pulled out of their classes, to focus on reading skills and help them with writing.  I was privileged enough to work under an amazing mentor.  She was my first associate teacher, and she and I developed a solid mentor/mentee relationship in just under a week.  It was Cindy who I felt was the only one I could go to to ask questions like “how do you be a Christian and work in public schools?” when all my professors were making it sound like it would be impossible.

My next was teaching Grade 9 Core French.  My associate teacher in that one helped me SO MUCH in understanding that there’s more to teaching French than being able to speak it.  She gave me the skills I needed in three short weeks to help translate more than the language — she showed me how to translate the passion I had for kids to learn it, both in how she taught and in the feedback she gave me.  I truly valued her mentorship.

Being in a consecutive program, we had “extended blocks.”  I had 10 weeks in one placement.  Over an hour from my house in Peterborough.  My associate teacher and I clashed in nearly everything we talked about.  Her ideas about how I should be teaching were not mine, but I assumed I just didn’t know better.  After all, my knowledge base in Grade 11 Anthropology and Travel & Tourism was non-existent, so I assumed I just didn’t know what I was doing.  I felt like I tried to be what I was being asked to be, and it wasn’t working.  I was miserable, and I almost dropped out of teacher’s college during that 10 week placement.  It took many, many tearful conversations with my Mom on the phone to convince me to just stick it out and if it wasn’t what I wanted after all, I’d at least have my expensive piece of paper.

I didn’t realize it then… in fact, I didn’t realize it until last year… but our mentorship relationship was not well suited.  We didn’t fit.  While she was a fantastic teacher, she wasn’t the teacher that I saw myself being, or that I thought I even could be because our personalities were so different, and so I had a difficult time learning from her.  I had the feeling that she expected me to teach like her.  That may not have been her intention, but I felt intimidated.

Fast forward a few (*cough* 6) years, and now all of a sudden, somebody somewhere considers me old enough, experienced enough, and mature enough to mentor others.  I started last year with my first student teacher, and it took me a while to feel comfortable in that role.  Mentoring someone else… teaching someone how to teach…. when did I become responsible enough to pull this off?

At 3:30 this afternoon, I said goodbye to two more student teachers.  I took on a 3rd year student teacher in October, and then when the opportunity arose to take on a first year student who would be mentored by the third year (and by me), I signed up.  It was an incredible opportunity for me, and, judging by the difficult goodbye the three of us experienced this afternoon, I suspect it was meaningful for them as well.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on the value of a solid mentor in the last few weeks, but particularly in the last week as they finished up a solid week block (instead of just being in on Mondays).  It just hadn’t occurred to me that I could be seen as a solid mentor.

I don’t feel old enough, responsible enough, mature enough, or experienced enough for this to have happened…. but somewhere along the line it seems to have.

What about you?  Have you ever found yourself in a spot where you were mentoring someone?  Have you been mentored?  How was that experience for you?

photo 3(5)I nearly wept…. couldn’t even handle it… I’m gonna miss those girls.

 

 

“I’m Sexy But No One Knows It” — Thoughts From a 29 Year Old Virgin


What a topic.  My friend Darcie over at Darcie The Kindred Spirit is doing her blog on a theme called “The Sessions on Sex” for the month of February.

She’s asked me to guest post for her on singleness and celibacy.

I’ve posted on singleness many times.  I’ve been single for the better part of my 29 years on this planet.  There was a brief stint in high school (like 11 days brief) where I technically had a boyfriend, though I’m not even sure at this point that I count that.  I’ve dated a bit, but haven’t been out on more than two dates with anyone since then.

And this is the shocking part.

I’m OK with that.

But I’ve never once talked about celibacy in this platform before.  I’ll be honest when I admit that I’m a little nervous to write this.  And I’ll also admit that it’s one thing to write it with the intention of handing it over to Darcie, but I’m nervous to post it on my own blog …. to my own readers.

I’m single.  I’m also a virgin.  I have a few reasons for having made that choice, and for having maintained it all these years.  And this may be surprising, but the reasons for still being single and a virgin run deeper than “because the Bible tells me so,” although that’s a completely valid reason.

Firstly, I’m single mostly by choice.  I haven’t found anyone yet for whom I’m willing to give up the independence I’ve grown to love deeply.  But I also have a lot of experience in watching absolutely broken relationships, as well as phenomenal ones.  As a result of the combinations of those, I’ve made a conscious decision not to settle.  If it means I’m single until the day that I die, I’m ok with that.

Before I came to grips with this for myself, before I was really ok with that (even though I’ve been saying it for a long time), I had many people tell me that it’s better to be single than in a bad relationship.  I knew deep down that they were right… I did.  But it was very hard to internalize that.  When you look at a good relationship though… a really good relationship… you see the things that are worth waiting for.  They respect each other.  They have each others’ best interests at heart.  They share a common love of Jesus (when they’re Christians — I’m not at all saying that healthy relationships don’t exist outside of Christ, they do… I just don’t want to be in one of those).  They know how to disagree with each other.  They share common values and aren’t completely opposed to each other on really key things like how they raise their kids.  They’re friends — they know how to relate to each other in all circumstances because they do life together.  They share a sense of humour.  They’re equally committed to the success of their relationship.

I am holding out for a relationship with a man who can share that kind of relationship with me…. even if it never happens.  In the meantime, I have incredible friends – I’m so blessed.  I have a family who loves me dearly.  I have a church community that I love.  I have great interests and things that I invest my time in while I continue to become the best version of myself I can be in Christ.  I’ve waited this long, I don’t intend to settle for less than wonderful.

Now… something that goes hand in hand with this is that I’ve never had sex before.  Absolutely, it’s something I’d like to do at some point… and I won’t talk about that any more 🙂 …. but I made a decision really early on in my young years that just like the Bible instructed me to do, this was something I’d like kept for my husband.  It’s my sincere hope that when I do find a husband, he’s done the same for me, though I hope if that’s not the case that I can be full of grace and understanding.

But for me it’s more than just a “because the Bible tells me so” kind of commitment.  I’m a product of the youth group era where we glued paper together and showed the damaging effect sleeping around can have … we get all torn up and we’re damaged.  And then I grew up and realized how terrible of a message that is without the other half of it — we’re covered by grace and there is beautiful redemption in the arms of Jesus if we didn’t make it to marriage.  I have an issue with the amount of shame that was pushed on me while I was a teenager, and it pains me to know that we’re still preaching the same rhetoric without the love and grace.

Anyway — beyond the Biblical reasoning, beyond the possible diseases, beyond all of those typical reasons… my biggest reason for keeping sex inside of marriage (if I ever get there) has come in the last couple of years, when I would say I’ve really owned this decision and made it for myself and really thought it through.  My biggest reason has come from something really profound that a couple of friends of mine (who are married to amazing men) have expressed to me.  The type of relationship you have with your partner outside of the bedroom will impact the type of relationship you have with your partner inside the bedroom.  It would stand to reason then that it’ll be better if I wait until I’m in an awesome relationship… and if I’m holding out for a God-glorifying relationship before I commit to giving up my singleness, why wouldn’t I hold out for the God-glorifying sex that goes along with that?

I think that the people who claim that you can’t really know someone until you’ve slept with them (I had a guy try to pull that one on me after we’d spoken on the phone once… ick!), are wrong.  Because while I know that this isn’t a popular stance in the culture I’m in, God’s designs for us aren’t meant to be culturally popular.  In fact, normally they’re counter-cultural…. and I’ll trust the designs of my Creator who knows best for me before I’ll take the advice of my culture.

This post first appeared at darciethekindredspirit.com.

Are YOU my husband?


When I was younger, this book came out called Are You My Mother?  I thought it came out much earlier than it did… my experience reading it must have been to groups of young children… because it came out when I was in Grade 8 so I guess it’s not something that my Mom would have read to me.

Anyway, if you haven’t read it, the premise of the book is this:  This baby bird starts to hatch, and its mother decides it’s going to need something to eat when it comes out.  Well wouldn’t you know it, after the mother bird has flown off to get ready to feed her baby, the egg hatches, and this poor baby bird wonders where its mother is.  He winds up out of the nest, hopping around like the precious, lost little baby bird that he is, and he hops up to many things, asking “Are you my Mother?”  The dog says no, the construction equipment says no… pretty much everything says no.

To be truthful, I honestly can’t even remember how the story ends… so you’ll have to watch it yourself…

I was talking to someone yesterday, and we were talking about being single and online dating a little bit.  I asked her if she ever feels like every time she goes somewhere new, she’s sizing up who’s in the room, wondering if she might meet her husband there.

I’ll confess I’ve done it.  I don’t do it all the time, thankfully… I think that’d drive me over the edge… but I’ve done it.

I compared it while talking with her to that little baby bird… I sometimes feel like I hop from new setting to new setting, and like maybe I’m sending off this “Are you my husband??” vibe to every single man in the room.  I don’t mean to, but it’s hard sometimes not to be thinking ‘maybe I’ll meet my husband here!’

It’s funny though, because I have actually never been more content with being single than I am right now (we’ll see how I feel in ten months when I turn 30, haha), but those habits are so engrained that it’s hard to convince my brain that we’re not on the lookout for the first man with no ring.

And… to end this post on kind of a bummed out note… I thought that this analogy — my comparison of myself to the baby bird in Are You My Mother? — was really original.  I found it extremely humorous… and I had a brief moment this afternoon while thinking through this post in my head where I thought it’d be kind of neat to write a book in the same style as Are You My Mother? but change it to Are You My Husband? and kind of make fun of myself in the process in a children’s-book style.

I went to Amazon though to find Are You My Mother? to link into this post…. and I found this brilliant, yet terribly disappointing gem called Are You My Boyfriend?

Not gonna lie…. I might buy it.

There’s No Place Like Home


I went home this weekend.  Like… home home.  Home to the town I lived in for 17 years with more cows than people, one stop light, and fields as far as the eyes can see.  I’m from the country, and I like it that way.  Sometimes, part of me yearns to go back.  The school board I work in extends just far enough that I could move back home and only have a 15 minute commute to a town in my board.  But, I own my house here and I love my friends and I like my church, and so as much as I miss home right now for the reasons I’m about to tell you, I am staying where I am…. and I have reasons for that, too.

So here we are:  Reasons I miss home:

1.  If I could live at or near enough to home that I’d be around for dinners with the fam jam and such, the fam jam would likely tend to know what’s up in life, and I therefore wouldn’t have to explain that no, I’m not teaching French anymore; No, I don’t actually live in Sault Ste. Marie (even though I never have and that question was confuuuusing); Yes, I love my job (the switch out of French was voluntary AND welcomed!); Yes, I love owning my own home; No, no, no, no… I’m still not seeing anyone…. Yes, I know I’ll be 29 on Tuesday.  Yup, believe it or not, I’m content.  My family would know me, ideally, or at least better than most of them do now, so I would be able to go beyond small talk at family gatherings and enter into meaningful relationships with the people who are supposed to be close to me.  (I did two Christmas parties in two days with two different sides of the family while I was home this weekend — it’s why I made the trip.  Lots of small talk.)  Now don’t misunderstand me.  I know that only being an hour and a half away, I could make the trip down more often.  Life seems to get in the way and I turn around and my good intentions have made way for “oh, it’s Christmas again already?!  How did that happen!?”

2.  When I moved, I left a lot of solid friends behind.  This is not to say that I don’t dearly love the ones I’ve made since I’ve settled, but it’s hard not to miss the ones you left behind.  They’re great.  I went to the church I grew up in on Sunday morning, and was bombarded with hugs and “I’m so glad to see you!”  I sat between two girls I literally grew up with, and the best part is that it feels like nothing changes.  But there were a few girls who weren’t there… a few who I really wish I’d have been able to see.  If I lived at home, I’d see them all the time.

3.  I miss there being acres between me and the house beside me.  I miss hearing coyotes and crickets at night… though admittedly the coyotes freaked me right out.  They always sounded so close.  I miss being a country kid.  I miss gravel roads.  I miss fields.

4.  Like I said in number 2, I went to the church I grew up in.  And I love that church.  I always have.  And if I lived even half as close… I’d probably make the drive.  An hour and a half is too far when I have community here.  I do like my church here, I really do.  It’s not home, though.  Even though the pastoral staff has changed, it still felt like going home.

Don’t get me wrong, I had reasons for leaving home, too.  Mostly, home couldn’t be home anymore.  My parents sold the house I grew up in and moved up North, and the people who bought it put up uuuuugly fences.  It doesn’t look like home anymore.  Not the home I remember.  You know how your childhood home always holds those memories… and when someone changes the outside, even though they haven’t changed any of the actual memories in my head, it’s hard to look at it the same way.

I love where I am.  I love my community.  I looooove my job.  I mentioned above that I could switch and could move home.  I don’t want to.  I really don’t.  I miss what I left, but what I have is fantastic.  I won’t trade it now.  But after a weekend at home, it’s hard not to wonder what if… ya know?

Dodged Bullets — My Relationship Kevlar


Truth be told, this prompt actually really hits home.

Tell us about a bullet you’re glad you dodged — when something awful almost happened, but didn’t.

I honestly consider every single failed attempt at a relationship to be a bullet dodged.

Do I want to get married?  Yes, of course I do, I’m a nearly 29 year old single woman who’s never really technically been in a relationship at all… of course I want that.

But do I want it at the expense of it actually being good?  Nah, I cherish my independence and freedom too much to give it up for one who’s not worth it.  I’m sure there will be one who is, but until then….

Until then, I’m thankful for every hurt God has spared me from by never allowing anything to take off in the first place.  I’m thankful that every time I’ve earnestly prayed, ‘Lord please help me guard my heart,’ He’s listened.

I’m thankful that I don’t have a string of failed relationships behind me, leaving me with awkward baggage I have to explain when I do find a good one.  I’d so much rather explain why I haven’t been in a relationship than why I’ve been in a series of bad ones.  Truly.

So have I dodged a bullet?  Yup, every time I’ve had the wisdom to walk away from a guy I knew I wouldn’t be good with, I’ve dodged a bullet.  At the same time, every guy who knew we wouldn’t be good together and so he didn’t pursue anything — he dodged a bullet for himself, and let me dodge them too.

It’s like I’ve been wearing Relationship Kevlar.

Does that mean I’ve never been hurt?  Absolutely not.  I’ve been disappointed and let down, my heart has hurt for sure.  But has it been saved in the process from a lot of unnecessary damage?  Yes, I do believe it has.

On Giving Advice


I was reading through Blogs tonight – something I haven’t had a ton of time to do in the last few days, so I had 22 new post notification emails to sift through when I got home tonight. One of them referenced Word Press’s Weekly Writing Challenge, which I’d stumbled upon in August, bookmarked, and promptly forgotten. This week’s is on advice. Mrs. Roberson over at Finding Neverland, in keeping with this week’s theme, wrote some advice on How to Make a Good First Impression on a Room Full of Teenagers.

I’ve decided to summarize both the best and worst pieces of advice I’ve ever received.

I’ve struggled with being single off and on for a while now. Sometimes I’m completely content being single (where I’m sitting right now, mere days after a wretched date – see the story about George* here – this is especially true). You see, I’ve had expectations of where I’d be by now many times, and every time I was disappointed because reality didn’t match my expectations, I’d go through a bit of a discouraged stint and wallow – until I reset the goal time for “getting married” back a little bit, and convinced myself I was regrouping and refocusing. I’ve realized now that the ‘when’ is irrelevant.

The best advice I’ve received to this in my life has come from people whose opinions and advice I truly value. They also happen to be people either in crappy marriages or those who escaped them. I mean, it sounds cliché… “it’s better to be single and happy than stuck in a bad relationship and miserable.” It sounds like the easiest answer to give anyone who suggests they’re lonely because they can’t find a ‘special friend,’ as my Grandmother loves to call them. But it’s the best piece of advice anyone could ever have given me. The first time I heard it, I’m pretty sure I shrugged it off, and thought “that’s rich, coming from someone who married their high school sweetheart…” You know what, though? Those people who got married young or who didn’t find dating all that difficult… they’re still married…. and being married is hard. Maybe they had regrets when they gave me this advice, or maybe they were just wise enough to see that being married would be so much more difficult if it wasn’t to the right person. Either way, why argue that?

It comes up during “would you rather?” games late at girls’ nights. It comes up when I’m trying to honestly reassure people that I’m fine not being in a relationship at nearly 29 years old. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be in one, trust me, I do… but I don’t want to be in one just to be in one. I’ve seen FAR TOO MANY crappy ones to be alright with settling. From where I stand, I’ve been single for 29 years… and for 10 of those I’ve been keenly aware of it. I can see the temptation to give up and settle just because of the fear that no one else may come along… but I can also (and more so) get behind the idea that given how settled into the path I’m on, and how great my life is and my friends are, why would I give all of this up for less than great?

This brings me to the worst piece of advice I’ve ever received.

It was the middle of summer. I’d been talking to a guy I found on eharmony for about four months. We hadn’t met in person yet, with him being on the East Coast and having a job that made travelling rather difficult. It had been a while since I’d heard from him, and this is something I’m a touch insecure about. It seems to happen to me a lot – I talk to someone for a while, then for whatever reason (I never get to find out), they decide they’re not interested in me anymore, but they don’t tell me – they just stop talking. Maybe they think they’re going easy on me, by not coming right out and saying it… but if you’re reading this and would ever consider doing that – please know I’ve never met anyone who found it better to wonder for a week or two while waiting to hear from the guy. At any rate, I was upset, because we’d been talking for months and then he just stopped talking … it was at two weeks and counting.

A long-time friend, whose advice I’d valued until this point, gave me advice that left me in a puddle of confused, angry, insecure, tears. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I sobbed myself to sleep after this conversation, and it took hours to get there..

He expressed to me that perhaps the reason I was still single and was having limited success with my attempts at not still being single was a direct result of my attitude that makes me unwilling to settle. Perhaps if I stopped saying “if he can’t accept that part of me, he can shove off” to parts of my personality, and molded myself into a more acceptable person in the eyes of those I’m trying to attract, I wouldn’t still find myself unfortunately boyfriend-less. Perhaps if I stopped saying that some of my evidently inherent character flaws were part of my personality that need to be accepted, and were more in tune with what others find attractive, I’d BE more attractive to those I’m trying to attract. Because apparently my shape and my face are plenty attractive enough, but the essence of who I am needs a bit of work. To be fair, he didn’t really have concrete examples – other than like… I’m intense. Yes, I am. I’m intense. And somewhere out there is a guy who will love that about me. Oh, also, I’m boisterous. Yup. I’ll own that. I’m that, too. Yet another thing I’m not going to give up just to find a guy… because I will be miserable. Those two things are a very big part of who I am, and I know many people who love both of those things about me. SO essentially… the advice giver got a ‘shove-off’ for a long time. We’re talking again, but not like we have in years past. Even if any of it were true, he didn’t have the right to speak over me in that way, especially not with the justification “I felt if I didn’t tell you, no one would.”

The advice given to me by a very trusted friend the next morning was like a breath of fresh air as I struggled with my own sense of self because of the words spoken to me. I was told that, in fact, those things WERE endearing qualities of mine, and that those aren’t things I should need to change in order to make myself attractive.

Long story short: There’s someone out there. He’s going to love my passion and moments of high intensity. He’s going to love my high energy, and my bouncy boisterousness. And between the super wise advice of my amazing, trusted friends… paired with some dangerous untruths, I have fully embraced my quirks, and hold true to the idea that since they are not in fact flaws, and are in fact personality traits, I will not settle for anyone who doesn’t love me for them, along with the rest of me.

Oh, and ps — if this is too serious for you, please stay tuned for a Red Flags (like the good old days!) post scheduled to release on November 6, 2013 — my two year blog-iversary.

The grass is greener where you water it.


The grass is not greener on the other side.

That’s a lie.

It’s a lie the Devil and his mixed up, evil bunch of angels/minions/followers… whatever… tell us.  They tell us this so we’ll constantly strive, long, hope, wish, reach, try, clamber, grasp, claw …. insert desperate verb of your choice here… for something ‘better’ than what we have.

The grass is not greener on the other side.  It’s greener where you water it.

I should not still be awake.  I should be sleeping.  But I learned something today that I wish I could unlearn, and yet I think as I lay here trying to process (which is why I’m still awake), I’m finding that I’m glad I know it, because it’s teaching me a lot of things, and giving me my first opportunity to be thankful in a hard thing.  I’ll share that further down.

The grass is greener where you water it.  This doesn’t just apply to grass.  Go figure, right?  And here you thought I was laying awake at 12:30 am processing that grass is greener when you water it….  It applies to our relationships, but also to our careers.  To our hobbies.  To our spending habits.  Relationships is the biggest one I want to drive at right now, but allow me to digress for just a moment and set up my idea with an illustration with careers.

“The grass is always greener on the other side.”  So in my case, as a teacher, the grass would be greener at a different school, with different kids.  Wrong.  Kids will be kids.  There will always be people I don’t necessarily get along with.  In fact, the grass may not be greener at another school… it could be worse.  I find I have to admit that most days, I have it pretty good.  I haven’t had anything thrown at me in nearly 4 years, so I can count that as a plus.  Though that first year sure was tough…. The point here is that the grass is greener where I water it.  When I cultivate relationships with my coworkers, when I do my absolute best to reach every kid and see each kid succeed, no matter what, that’s where the grass is greener.  That’s when it’s good.  That doesn’t mean it’ll always be sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows.  I am not naive.  But when I am trusting on God for the strength to do my best at what He’s given me the opportunity to do, it has to be better than when I’m relying solely on myself.

Now I’d like to talk about marriage.

Allow me to be clear.  I am not married.  Those of you who’ve been following this blog since I started it in November are very well aware of this fact, because I have typically not been very pleased with this single state of mine.  The grass seems much greener over there in ‘married-people-land.’  So with my not being married, I understand, and want you to understand, that I am not writing this with any assumption of expertise.  This is all viewed through the lens of someone completely single, who’s never been in a real relationship of any sort.

I think the evil forces at work around us are attacking our marriages with a simple phrase:  the grass is greener on the other side.  It’s cliche, I know, and it is likely not that cliche in our minds when we think it, but the “I’d like someone prettier” or “I wish I had someone who understands me”… whatever your excuse for not being happy in your marriage (this is a proverbial you… I am not speaking to anyone in specific here) is that ‘grass on the other side.’  I saw an illustration during Family Camp’s Chapel services where the Pastor showed 4 different places — China, India, Africa, and North America.  We talked about the things that pull attention away from God and make it hard to defeat “The Beast” in each place.  In China, it’s things like Communism, poverty, gender discrimination in that no one wants girls because of the one child policy, religious persecution… the list goes on.  India – Hinduism, Buddhism, poverty, caste systems, major differences in class distinction.  Africa – corruption, civil war, AIDS, poverty, traditional religions.  The lists go on.  I’m certainly not remembering everything.  North America is different though.  We have lots of stuff.  The Devil doesn’t need to convince us that God isn’t there for us by showing us our poverty, our disease, etc.  And I know, there are people in North America who suffer from these things as well, but you have to admit with me that especially in the US and Canada, we are quite well off.  If you can read this, and own the computer that you’re reading it from, you’re better off than most of the world.  The way we’re attacked in North America to detract our focus from God is through materialism, busyness, stress, workaholism, divorce… the lists are very different.

I’ve digressed a little bit.  But so you see, what I’m seeing all around me lately is marriages that just don’t work.  And that scares me.  It scares me to think that this thing that I want (in God’s timing, when it’s right, so that it lasts), is statistically more likely to fail than to succeed in the place where I live.  I won’t ever go hungry, I’ll be able to make my mortgage payments, I’ll be able to buy things that I want… but my marriage may not last.

Marriages crumble because people give up on them.  Because we live in this disposable society where it’s almost cheaper to buy a new printer when you run out of ink.  We live in this disposable society where if something is cheaper in bulk, we’ll buy it in bulk, even if it means we throw out what we don’t use.  We live in this disposable society where when marriages get boring, lose their spark, get annoying, get hard…. we walk away.  It’ll be better next time.  This one just wasn’t right.

Good marriages are hard.  They take work.  And I’m SO SO thankful for the many people around me who’ve shown me fantastic examples of what good, Godly marriages should look like, so that if/when I ever get there, I have seen the benefits, but I’ve also seen that it takes work.

Good marriages require God to be at their centre.  I refuse…. flat out refuse to enter into a relationship with a man whose centre is not God.  I cannot fill that role for someone else.  I can’t be someone’s rock, I can’t be leaned on… I’ll fall over.  Ask my brother.  It’s too much to ask.  And by the same token, it’s too much for me to ask of someone else that he support me all the time, that he be my everything.  I cannot be someone’s everything, nor can anyone but God be that for me.  It’s not fair to ask it of anyone.

But like I said, I am not an expert.  These are merely the observations of someone who is chronically single.  But you know what?  I’m presently quite content in my singleness.  When I look back at what I thought I wanted, when I thought I had good examples around me to go by, I cringe.  If God had allowed those relationships that I thought I wanted so badly to happen, I can’t imagine the pain I’d have suffered when they ended.  I’m sure I’d have gone farther than I wanted to go in order to keep them.  I know what I was like as a teenager… it wouldn’t have been good.  God, in His wisdom, has kept me single to keep me sane, I think.  I haven’t been ready.  Where I sit now, I am very much looking forward to being in a relationship with a guy whose desire is to love me the way Christ loves the Church, and whose desire is to enter into a partnership with me, using God as our support beam.  I am looking forward to what that looks like.  But if that never happens, that’s OK.  God is enough for me.  Way more than enough.

But this feeling has prompted me to start praying for my husband in the last week or so.  I’ve been praying over him, asking God to keep him safe, to keep him pure, and to keep him close until we can meet.  Asking God to keep drawing him into Him, so that we’re in the same place when we do meet.  And so I’m excited to meet him.  Some day.  When it’s right.  Not before.

So I ask of any of you who are married… please put and keep God at the centre of your relationships.  Don’t look elsewhere for your happiness.  The grass is greener where you water it.  You need to work at your relationship for it to be good.  It doesn’t happen naturally because we’re all sinners and we all do and say stupid things, and we’re all different.  Work at your relationships – know the person, trust the person, invest in the person.  This is God’s model for marriage, and relationships in general.  Whether you’re married or not.  I know I can certainly find application there to my relationships with my friends, and with my coworkers, and I see it and embrace it as a good opportunity for practice.

I think that’s it.  I think I’m done.  Thank you for bearing with me through yet another long and rambly post.

Here are my additions to ‘the list’ since yesterday.

152.  Long, deep, piping hot baths.

153.  My singleness — God has kept me safe from some of the terrible decisions I could have… and likely would have made if I’d dated/been in relationships with guys before strengthening my relationship with God.

154. Seeing and finding joy in the first ‘hard thing.’

155.  Stellar examples of Godly marriages in place in my life that can be mentors when that time comes.