Monday, December 27, 2010

A Year in Reflection

Like almost everyone, as the year winds to a close, I seem to do a lot of reflecting on the previous year.  It is almost funny how circumstantially life is almost identical to the same time last year.

-still live in the same house with the same housemates.
-still long to be on the missions field.
-still work at the same job at the zoo.
-still have two health issues I have not been healed from.
-still long to be married and have kids.
-still watch every cent as it comes in and out of my account.
-still keenly feel the lack of fellowship in my life.
-still continue to lose friends over the course of this year.

However, this year has been surprising as well.

I started last year:
-desperately hoping to leave Tacoma.  Upon having an opportunity to do so, I turned it down.  Who would have guessed that?  I had an opportunity to move to Kansas City to be involved in a ministry there.  I have also had opportunities to join YWAM and have not done so.  Staying in Tacoma was the biggest act of faith I made this year.  Trusting Jesus to move me into missions on HIS timing and not my own has been one of the hugest leaps this year.  I did, however, get to go to Turkey this last year.

-pretty committed to a couple of ministries.  I am now no longer involved in those things.  This is likely just a pause and not permanent, who would have predicted that it would happen at all?  Especially considering how much of my significance I put in what I was doing. 

-searching for friendships with people who weren't reciprocating.  I am now focusing on those people already in my life and reconnecting with some old friends, spending time on people who actually want to be friends with me, and remembering what it means to BE a friend.

-longing to be married.  This year has brought some dating opportunities.  None of these have panned out for lots of different reasons, but the fact that I am "out there" at all feels strange at times, and at times disheartening and frustrating.

-financially sinking.  A great renegotiation with my mortgage company, two raises at work, and getting my budget under control while simultaneously becoming a couponing queen have helped get this area at least manageable. 

-physically hurting.  A little over a year ago, I tore my rotator cuff.  Last year at this time, I was in pretty severe pain with it, and could barely lift my arm over my head.  I also, due to another physical issue, had gained back about 25 of the 50 pounds I lost a few years ago.  Back in June, I started working out with a trainer.  I could barely afford this, but knew it was needed.  Six months later, my rotator cuff, while not healed, is significantly improved by strengthening the muscles around it and I have dropped between 15-20 of the pounds I regained.  My other physical issue has not been addressed, but I am feeling much better physically.

-broken in my relationship with the Lord.  This is an something I didn't even realize at the beginning of the year.  But, as the year draws to a close, this is one area I have to say has become a source of joy and peace I didn't know I was missing.  By doing the exact opposite of what I thought I should be doing and focusing on Him instead of activities about Him....this has made all the difference.  It seems so basic, so elementary, but when I have focused on keeping the first commandment first....the peace and joy flow from that.  When I am NOT at peace with my life or myself...that is a barometer of where I am focused and where I am finding my significance.  The last three to four months of this year have been some of the most peaceful and stable that I can remember in a long time.

Every year I pray about what I am hoping will happen for the upcoming year.  This year I am 6 for 10.  I was praying to get to travel abroad...I got to do this. I was praying about dropping the weight I'd gained back...I got to to do this.  I was praying about getting an opportunity to do some teaching...I got to do this.  There are a few others in the list that I got to check off and a few key ones that I didn't.  I think last year I was 3 or 4 out of 10.  So, I am improving!  Next year, let's hope I am 10 for 10!

Blessings to you and yours in this upcoming year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Strength and Security

It takes a strong, secure woman to be a single woman of a certain age and love Jesus.  And, I love Jesus.  I really, really do. 

It takes strength and security to watch all of your friends walk down the aisle on their wedding day and not be jealous and angry that it's not you.  It takes a lot of strength and security to realize that the only single people available to hang out with are at minimum five years younger than you and that means that the relationships you have with them will be on their terms, not yours.  It takes a lot of strength and security to recognize that your married friends with kids will also be friendships on their terms, not yours.  It takes strength and security to continue to put yourself out there, day after day and remain hopeful and joyful over your circumstances.

It takes strength and security because everything about singleness at later ages in life speaks to every single insecurity that a woman has: is there something wrong with me, am I beautiful, does anyone want to truly know me, will I be loved...etc, etc.  And, yes, Jesus fills these needs.  But, there is a real dimension of the heart that cries out for earthly relationships too.

And, the longer hope is deferred the easier it feels to look everywhere else for those answers.

This is why it takes strength.  It takes strength to stand firm in your convictions and your devotion to Jesus.  It takes strength to fight against the lies that plague you and continue to hold on desperately to the truth.  It takes strength to say that "It is worth it" and mean it.  It takes strength to stay joyful and peaceful and grateful in the face of circumstances.

So, if you know a woman who is single and older....pray for her.  Pray that she would be strengthened and not give up.  Pray that she would cling to Jesus. 

And, if you are so inclined, embrace her, invite her into your life, check in on her and make sure she's OK.  Make sure she knows she's wanted and needed and important.

Those little gestures go a long way.


Monday, December 06, 2010

Adventures in Dating

I have decided that the world of online dating needs its own vocabulary to describe some of the folks one runs across.  These are written as "guys" but probably apply to women too...I just don't have any experience in that arena!  With no futher ado, here's my proposed list of new vocab words:

1.  The creeper.  The guy who sends you an email when you clearly have nothing in common and all he says is "You are a goddess.  You are in my dreams from now on."  And this is supposed to attract me?  Ewwww...  There are lots of these online and wading through the creepers to get to the genuine ones is what makes online dating so tiring.

2.  The professor. The guy who sends you an email picking apart your profile and pointing out all of the grammar mistakes or "awkwardly worded" phrases.  And then he wants to get to know you better.

3.  The ghost.  The guy who has no profile picture and can't seem to a. understand why you'd like to see one and b. keeps writing you, even after you've told him you only respond to people with pictures.

4.  The spammer.  The guy who "winks" at you, but due to your account settings, you can tell he's not actually read your profile.  These guys, I have found out, send out winks to many many women at a time, hoping to get a response.

5.  The Houdini. The guy you have lots of stuff in common with and everything is progressing nicely, and yet when it comes time to actually meet....he disappears.

6.  The slowpoke.  This is the guy who takes for-e-ver to respond to emails or communication.  Just when you've given up, he appears again.

7.  The fudger.  This is the guy who's profile looks great...everything seems to line up, yet when you ask key questions (like "What are your feelings on pre-marital sex?"), or when you meet with him his true colors show ("I believe sex is a normal part of a dating relationship" and he swears like a sailor while talking about drinking and getting fired from all his jobs). 

There might be more.....these are just a few from my more recent dating experiences.