Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Annal 118: Tale from my Breakfast Musings

I have a wee bit of a tradition that I stick to.  At some point after waking up (sometimes before showering, sometimes after) I make myself breakfast.  This is usually a rather large cup of coffee and half a bagel (the flavour of the bagel varies depending on my mood).  Once I have my breakfast ready I sit at the kitchen table and do my devotions while eating.  Consistency in reading my Bible has always been something I have struggled with, and so setting aside the time to do this has been a pretty big deal for me.  And I love my mornings. 

The point is, I was doing my devotions this morning and came across some interesting tidbits.  First of all, a few Sundays ago my pastor shared something in his sermon that has really stuck with me.  Throughout the Old Testament God is often referred to either as God or else as LORD.  He was showing how in Genesis 1 He is referred to as God, and how this is talking about God as creator.  When He is creating man He is talked of as LORD which refers to the covenant relationship He has.  So God is more of a title, describing a role of God, while LORD is a more personal name.  Our pastor mentioned this because he said it really changes the way you read some passages in the Old Testament once you realize this.  So this has been in my head for the last week and a half.

Yesterday I was reading in Exodus where Moses first appears to pharoah and tells him to let the Israelites go because the LORD God has commanded this.  Pharoah's response is "Dude, I don't know this LORD, so I'm not going to let your people go."  And it was true.  Pharaoh didn't know God as LORD because he didn't have a relationship with him.  Today I was reading in Exodus 6 and came across a passage I had never noticed before.  Here it is:

"God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment" (6:2-6).
God is revealing Himself to the Israelites as their LORD.  He isn't just this distant, all-powerful Creator.  He is also their LORD who wants a relationship with His people, who is honouring His convenantal relationship.

A few verses later it talks about how the Israelites couldn't accept this because of the hardship and suffering they were going through.

God is my God.  He is my Creator and it is because of Him that I am even in existence.

But He is also my LORD.  He desires a personal relationship with me.  He hears me and sees me and knows exactly what I go through.  He knows how to make me smile and knows when my heart breaks.  When others can't see the tears that are threatening to overflow my eyes, He does.  When others don't hear my sigh of contentment as I drive to the university and watch the sun rising, painting the sky in the most brilliant of hues, He does. 

Sometimes, like the Israelites, our pain is so great that we can't see God around us.  We can't acknowledge Him as our LORD, as caring for us beyond the care of a Creator.

But that doesn't mean He will give up on us.

He could've thrown His hands up in frustration that the Israelites wouldn't see Him as their LORD and gone of in search of another people group.

But He didn't.

He wooed them.  He sought after them.  He saw them, and heard them, and knew them. 

Sometimes I have moments of complete and utter peace.  Like when I enter the stairwells at the university.  As soon as the door shuts behind me I enter a space of complete silence.  No matter how stressed I am that quiet calms me.  No one else can see or know that.  God knows that.

Sometimes I am overcome by immense loneliness.  I can be in a group of people and feel like I am all alone.  I can smile and put my facade in place so that no one knows.  But God knows.

I want to learn how to apply this to my life.  I want to know God as my God and as my LORD.  I want to pursue this relationship that He is pursuing.

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Annal 117: Tale from an Alien Possession

I have made an interesting discovery today.  For whatever reason, everytime I have tried to call my parents to wish them a happy anniversary (they have been married for 35 years) my phone will cut out and their voices are replaced with a rather obnoxious hissing and scratching sound. 


Either my phone is possessed or else my phone provider has been infiltrated by aliens.

Logical conclusion, right?

So here's hoping that the my server is just screwed up today and will be back to normal tomorrow.  If not, then I am having to go on a little trip downtown to get this figured out, and it is really a hassle I don't want to have to deal with.  Maybe Mulder or the Winchester brothers will show up and solve this phone mystery for me?

Or maybe I have just been watching WAY too much television.

Speaking of television, I learned an interesting tidbit in that class last week. Apparently glasses onscreen = zero sex appeal.  My prof informed us that if a woman is wearing glasses on tv, it is generally accepted that she is not sexy.  The moment she removes her glasses though... WATCH OUT!

So I put this to the test last night.  I had had an hour and a half long nap after dinner and was drinking coffee shortly after midnight (maybe not my brightest move ever).  I was sitting in bed working on my story and thinking of this bit of information.  So I whipped off my glasses to see if my "sexy factor" would increase by 10 points or so.

Only thing that increased was my inability to see.

Of course, my plaid, flannel pajama bottoms probably didn't help the image either.

Then I remember that my prof said this concept only applies on tv--maybe he felt like he had to say this since the majority of women in my class wear glasses.

Regardless, there I was last night taking my glasses off and on.

My coolness is really impressing you right about now, isn't it?

Is this part of the charm I have inherited from my father?  Heaven help me!

This weekend has been incredibly relaxing for me.  My sister was out Friday night for school and I had to wait around until she was off so I could go pick her up.  So I spent that evening reading a Victorian novel for class about a white, female dictator in Africa who liked to cast spells on British men.  I also watched some Battlestar Galactica. 

Yesterday she and I went to the gym and I then headed over to the mall to go shopping with a friend.  We are attending a SnowBall in two weeks and she needed a dress.

Side note: a perk of having been in a vast assortment of weddings is that I pretty much never have to go shopping for formal events.  I can wear the floor-length red gown, the blue and silver dress, or the blue one.  I can choose between the black halter dress or the strapless black one.  I even have the hot pink little number I could wear.  Then there is the red velvet... of course, I wore this for my first wedding when I was five so it may be a little difficult to fit into.

I spent last night in as well.  I did some more reading, watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and caught myself choking up when Cedric died... and I don't even like Robert Pattinson!

And then you have today.  My phone is going crazy but I finished reading about the beautiful dictator.

I wish I had something deep to share with you, but this seemed like a weekend where my mind was able to just relax--and I needed that.  I am going to be doing a lot of work this week, planning a paper and a presentation while preparing for some other assignments as well, and it seemed like the opportunity provided over these last few days was exactly what I needed.

I did have a moment yesterday evening, just before my nap, where I was slightly overcome by a feeling of inadequacy.  I felt unattractive, somewhat unintelligent, and a little lonely (duh... I spent every evening at home of my own volition).

But even with that I found after a little sleep I was better able to deal with those feelings.

And so overall it was a splended weekend and one where this woman was able to get her bearings and at least mildly prepare herself for the coming week.  A week where I shall be haunted by the image of me taking my glasses off and on!

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Annal 116: Tale from the British National Identity

What's that?

I should be working on my paper about the forging of the British national identity?

Oh, and then I should continue reading the novel I have to do a presentation on in a few weeks while researching the other two presentations that are coming up?

And I would want to do that why?


Yeah, it looks like it is going to be one of those days.  A day where I actually feel pretty good about school (possibly because I wrote one paragraph for my paper and have planned out the theses for a few other papers) and life in general (woke up early, went to a women's Bible study, hit the gym, and am having a movie night tonight).  After the way this semester has been going with stress and drama, this peace and, dare I say joy, that I am currently feeling are most welcome.

Have I mentioned that I have had to watch way too much television for my Television Studies course?  I have watched the first seasons of X-Files, Supernatural, and Sanctuary while watching bits and pieces of Smallville.  Tomorrow I begin with Battlestar Galactica.

Have I mentioned that I have been watching so much tv that it has started to penetrate into my dream world?  Last night I was battling the supernatural with Mulder and the Winchester brothers (which, let's be honest, there are definitely worse people I could be battling the supernatural with).  I woke up a few times in the middle of the night, and would say "Am I really dreaming this?  Yes, yes I am.  And it is kind of fun.  Continue, Dream," at which point I would fall back asleep and the dream would begin again.

Could I give you details?  No, because I don't remember any of them.  I just know it was a good dream.

I have been continuing writing as well.  I edited the first seven pages I mentioned writing before, bumping it up to ten pages, and then wrote another three last night.

I guess it just feels like in the midst of so much turmoil that has been going on, God has given me ways of coping, ways to enjoy myself and feel like maybe life isn't falling apart around me.

Heck, to top it all off, I was studying with a friend this morning and all of a sudden she asked if she could take my picture for her phone (so that my number would also have a picture) and then told me how lovely I looked today.

I even figured out the REAL reason I am still single!  My father informed me the other night that all of the charming aspects of my personality are inherited from him.  Suddenly my singleness makes sense!!!

I know this all seems random and like there is no theme, but the fact is that I am really happy right now.

This morning we were reading Genesis 50 where Jacob dies and Joseph's brothers are freaked out that Joseph is going to do away with them now that their dad is gone.  When Joseph hears this he responds with (and this is my paraphrase): "Guys, I'm not God.  Sure you screwed me around, but God was able to turn it for good."

I'm not God.

This is a good thing.

Now Joseph is not favourite guy--that is a post for another day--but what he said here struck something with me.  Crap happens.  Sometimes we are betrayed by those closest to us.  Sometimes people unintentionally or intentionally hurt us.  Sometimes we lose someone or something of great value.

But God is God and He can work things around for good.  Sometimes it takes years (Joseph was Egypt for quite a while before he was restored to his family and before he was placed as second-in-command), and sometimes we don't ever get to see it (while dealing with being the unloved wife Leah didn't know that it would be from one of her sons, Judah, that Jesus would come).  But that doesn't mean that He isn't in control.

Joseph was in a position to judge his brothers and to make them pay for the hardship and pain that they caused him.  But he didn't.  He was able to say, "I'm not God."

There is something very refreshing about relinquishing control to God, about trusting Him and believing that He knows better than you do.

Which means I will write my papers, prepare my presentations, and dream my dreams, all while resting in the assurance that God is God and that He is much better suited for the job than I am.  I will rest in the knowledge that He loves me, even when it doesn't feel that way and it seems like He is allowing things to happen just to spite me. 

I will rest... and maybe dream ;)

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Annal 115: Tale from my Supernatural Inspiration

Mmmm... sometimes there is something so comforting about a cup of tea.  Especially in my Ireland mug (it is blue, has sheep all over it, and says "I survived the weather in Ireland!).  And drinking that cup of tea while sitting beneath two blankets just seems to increase that feeling of comfort.

It has been strange, but it has been harder for me to write entries over the last couple of weeks.  I'm not quite sure, because plenty has been going on.  Not events necessarily, but I feel as if I have traversed around the world.  I'm exhausted.  Part of that is because I have had two late nights (stayed up talking with a friend on Friday night, and then had another friend drop in around midnight last night), and part of it is simply due to the emotions that come with life.

My mother got her cancer screening tests back on Friday.  She is four years cancer-free!  I have spent the last 36 hours thinking back to when we first found out about her cancer.  I had moved out and was living on my own, I was co-leading my church's young adults group, playing piano almost every Sunday, volunteering as a youth leader, dealing with drama in both groups I was involved with, trying to juggle my feelings for someone I was interested in, and then our family got hit with cancer.

It was a really hard time.

One of those times when your faith is shaken up and almost shattered.  If you want to get my back up, talk to me about the "Prosperity Gospel."  It's the idea that if you are serving God then He will bless you and everything will go wonderfully for you.  My family has never been fans of this idea, and while churches will claim to not buy into this, there are still many pastors who will make out that if you are following God everything will just fall into place.

The problem is that sometimes you are following God and things fall apart.  Sometimes your mom gets cancer.

I think you can see where the crisis of faith came into play.

God brought us through this without my mom having to go through chemo or anything like that.  I believe it was a miracle.

And now, four years later, the cancer hasn't come back.

But I have been thinking about that time in my life a lot this weekend.  And I have been thinking about other things.  Like one relationship I have taken steps to fix but that it doesn't appear is going to be fixed.  And that is really hard too.

Yet despite these emotions and the exhaustion I have been feeling, I have had a peace today.

Last night I got a chance to write.  Not blogging write, but a chance to sit and work on a story.  I have been mulling ideas around for a while and found that once I finished season 1 of Supernatural last night (one of my television studies shows), I could open my computer and write.  I only got about seven pages done, but I cannot begin to describe how wonderful it felt.

I felt whole.

Maybe that sounds strange, but when I am writing everything feels like it begins to fall into place.  That's one of the reasons I keep a blog.

And so despite all of the emotions of the weekend, God gave me the inspiration to write, which is an inspiration I haven't felt in a long time.  And so despite the exhaustion, I felt at peace.  I felt whole. 

Following God doesn't mean your life falls into place.  It means you have Someone to follow and cling to when life falls apart.

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Annal 114: Tale from Falling Apart

Let me just start out by saying this has been a weepy morning for me.  It isn't even noon and I have broken out crying numerous times.  And I can't even blame it on PMS.

I few entries before this one I mentioned how God has been showing me the part that I played in the hurt and rejection I have experienced this last year and a half to two years.  I don't know if I told you all I was taking steps toward working through that or not, but I have been.  That is a hard thing to do, admitting what you did wrong and seeking forgiveness.  Especially when it is from people who have hurt you.

But what is really cool about doing that, is that God does bring healing.

And that has been the cause of my tears today (and the cause of the tears that are making their way down my cheeks at this moment).

Sometimes I forget just how good God is.  Sometimes I forget that when I ask Him to bring healing He will do it--this may take time, but He will do it.  Sometimes I forget that when it seems like everything is falling apart, He will still hold onto me.

The followinig is my favourite song by a group called Fee.  I have been listening to it over and over again this morning, but I think it best sums up my life right now.


You said
you'd never leave or forsake me
when you said,
this life is gonna shake me
and you said
this world is gonna bring trouble on my soul
this I know

when everything falls apart
your arms hold me together
when everything falls apart
you're the only hope for this heart
when everything falls apart
and my strength is gone
I find you mighty and strong
you keep holding on
you keep holding on

when I see
darkness all around me
when I see
that tragedy has found me
I still believe
your faithful arms will never let me go
and still I know

when everything falls apart
your arms hold me together
when everything falls apart
you're the only hope for this heart
when everything falls apart
and my strength is gone
I find you mighty and strong
you keep holding on
you keep holding on

Sorrow will last for the night
but hope is rising with the sun
(it’s rising with the sun)
and there will be storms in this life
but I know you have overcome
You have overcome

when everything falls apart
your arms hold me together
when everything falls apart
you're the only hope for this heart
when everything falls apart
and my strength is gone
I find you mighty and strong
you keep holding on
you keep holding on

The truth is, life falls apart.  Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we can't stop everything around us from shattering.  And yet in those times, there are arms that will hold us.  There is hope.  When our strength is gone, there is Someone who is strong and mighty and who will keep holding onto us.  Times abound when I want to blame Him for letting everything fall apart, but the fact is, God doesn't force us or those around us to do things we don't want to.  God doesn't make people hurt you, people hurt you.  I guess that's the pitfall of the free choice He gave us all.  Sometimes I want to blame Him for not solving things sooner or in a manner that I think is befitting.  But He knows best. 

In the times when I am falling apart and where I feel like a wreck, He is holding on.  When I am weak and can't go another step, He is the strong arms that pick me up and carry me.  When everything else seems to be slipping out of my control, He is the hand that won't let go.

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Annal 113: Tale from the Space Heater


No other word can begin to describe the feeling that is slowly making its way to my inner being.


A friend of mine celebrated her birthday today, and so she had me and my sister over for supper.  First of all, dinner was FANTASTIC!  I'm talking steak (probably the only people in the city who had barbequed steak for dinner in -40 degrees Celsius weather), baked yams with rosemary, and an amazing spinach salad.  I haven't been this full since Christmas time... so yummy!

See, my sister and I are still trying to adjust to our new school schedules, like the fact that I am have class during our typical supper period.  So last week we had tacos on Wednesday night.  That was the last time we ate meat.  It's not as bad as it sounds though.  We weren't feeling particularly good over the weekend, and I know I ate a lot of toast and drank a lot of tea because they were the only things that didn't leave my stomach wanting to bail on me.  So the taste of meat, and not just meat but steak, has pretty much made my life complete.

Except just when I thought it couldn't get any better... it did!  Turns out my friend has a few space heaters that her family isn't using.  Which means my sister and I came home with two extra heaters... and these heaters WORK!!!  At this moment in time one is directed at me and for the first time since our cold weather struck over the weekend I can actually feel my hands.  And my nose isn't frozen.

So not only is my stomach full but my body is nearing a state it hasn't been in for a long time.  Warmth.

But the day got even better.  Because it ended off with some good ole Footloose.  And I am referring to some Kevin-Bacon-eighties-dance-moves-awesomeness Footloose.  Which means that not only am I warm and full, but I will probably spend the next few days dancing while humming "Holding out for a Hero."

Because obviously I wasn't cool enough as it already was!

I wish I could draw some depth out of this for you, but the truth of the matter is that my brain has been feeling pretty fried lately.  It took me a good hour and a half to fall asleep last night because I was battling stress over this semester.  I have three presentations, two papers, and two midterms all coming up within the next four weeks and I have been feeling somewhat overwhelmed because I am also trying to get ahead on other things that will be due right after my reading week in February.  I got some things accomplished today, which definitely lessened the stress, but the truth is I really needed a fun evening like the one that I had tonight.  I ate popcorn, drank hot chocolate, and danced around my friend's kitchen while we sung songs from the movie.  I was carefree and it felt fantastic.  Every once in a while pulling out my geeky side just makes life seem so much more bearable!

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Annal 112: Tale from the Seven Blankets

So I am currently cuddled up under seven blankets, a scarf is wrapped around my neck, and I have a cup of tea and some toast beside me.  I haven't been sleeping very well since coming back to school this semester, and last night was perhaps the worst night of it.  The result was me not feeling so hot (headache, nausea... all that good stuff).  So that is why I am currently in bed.  After this entry I shall continue reading The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins for Victorian Literature, and hopefully catch a nap before I have to head out this evening.

In other news, I was flirted with last night.

Pretty exciting, right?

My one brother coaches a high school boys basketball team and they were in town for a tournament this weekend. So my sister and I went to watch them play last night and today.  Said flirting began when a gentleman in the bleachers decided to make his way over to me continually throughout last night's game.  He would pet me, talk to me, and smile at me.  He was also about two.

Yeah, that's about the only kind of flirting I get.  Awesome, isn't it?

On the upside, my brother's team lost yesterday's game by only two points, and won both of their games today!  YAY!!!!

So people always talk about the stages of grief, right?  I feel like the last two months have been spent going through almost every stage.  I feel as if the seven blankets I am currently huddled under represent all the different stages God has been taking me through.  You have heard me talk of denial, anger, hurt, forgiveness, and learning to extend grace.

I was thinking about it yesterday, and thinking about how wonderful it is that it seems God has really brought me through this.  How I don't seem to be struggling with the whole situation all that much anymore.  Then God showed me something else.

My head has been allowed to clear of much of the emotion surrounding the whole church and friend situation in my hometown.  As a result of this, I have started to become a wee bit more introspective about the whole thing.  I began to notice over Christmas some very real, and very thick, tension between myself and one friend.  I had no idea where it came from, so I have started thinking back over the last year a half.

Now that God has been helping me through my pain and hurts, He is urging me to look back and see the part that I played in much of what went on.  This is never easy because no one ever wants to admit they were in the wrong.  But as I think of lost relationships, I am realizing that they were not lost strictly because of other's actions.

God is having me take responsibility for what I have done.

I was hurt and I felt rejected.  Rather than work through this and talk to my friends about what I was experiencing, I walled myself off from people.  I was so tired and scared of being hurt, that I decided to retreat within myself.  I was tired of married people wanting nothing to do with me because I was single so I looked for people who accept me as a single and neglected those I felt had rejected me.

Hindsight is 20/20 and I realize now that if I had've addressed the problem instead of burrowing it deep within my heart, my pain would have been far less, and so would the pain other's have experienced.

I think of some of what Keller talked about in his book on marriage.  He talks in depth about the need for a spiritual friendship in marriage, a need for both spouses to be able to repent and forgive.  I believe this applies to all relationships.

God has been teaching me to forgive.

Now He is teaching me to repent.

This is not easy, but I know it is necessary.

One of my favourite C.S. Lewis quotations is:

"Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation."

This is what I did.  I locked my heart up because I was scared of it being broken more than it already had.  I thank God that He showed me this before it became impenetrable.

Such is the life of a Christian Single

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Annal 111: Tale from Overlooking Sodom

Has it really been five days since my last post?  I feel like this semester is already shaping into a whirlwind that I am barely standing upright in... I don't think I have ever had to read as much as what I have to for my English and History courses this time around.  I hit moments where I feel like I'm not going to make it and then I have to stop and say, "Hey, after April you are done.  You graduate.  Finish strong."  As mentioned numerous times before I do talk to myself, so trust me, this conversation does take place!

My sister and I have joined a Bible study that meets Wednesday mornings at 6:30 at one of the McDonald's in town.  We spend twenty minutes reading our Bibles (all the same passage), twenty minutes journaling, and twenty minutes discussing what we learned and how it is going to affect/change our lives.

So at 6:15 we are heading to the car only to discover the temperature had dropped overnight and our vehicle was rather frosty.  So my sister starts scraping, I start the car, and then I run to the trunk to drop my bags off.  All of a sudden Cher singing "Walking in Memphis" starts blasting through the stereo.  We both dash back to turn the music down.  My sister was successful in this endeavor.  Me?  I apparently forgot the driveway was pure ice, so I was spending adequate time on my butt (I have a pretty sweet bump on my knee too).  Awesome, right?

Nerdy experience aside, I wanted to share with you what I learned at the study today.  We were reading Genesis 18, where the Lord shows up, tells Abraham he will have a son a year from then, and then shares about what is going to happen to Sodom and Gomorrah.  I have heard this story more times than I can count, but something new about Abraham petitioning God to spare Sodom caught my attention.

Abraham had a pretty amazing relationship with God.  He knew God could work miracles, and He knew that God knew his heart.  When he starts asking God to spare the city if there are 50, 45, 40, 30, 20, or even 10 righteous people in there, you know he is getting at not wanting Lot and his family to be destroyed.

But why didn't Abraham just ask God to rescue Lot?  He could have.

Why did he ask God to spare the WHOLE city, despite the outcry against it, if there were only 10 righteous people in it?

I don't think I have ever read this story and been so struck by Abraham's compassion.

How many of us, when we see something that seems so wrong, ask God to spare everyone if there are even just a few people who are trying to do what is right?

How many of us have been hurt or wronged and asked God to show compassion on those who have done it for the sake of a few who didn't?

What struck me was first of all Abraham's compassion.  The fact that he was willing to beg God to spare all of Sodom.  What struck me secondly was God's compassion.  Every time Abraham lowered the number God agreed.  He agreed to spare Sodom if there were only 10 righteous people in it.

I know that I have been slowly regaining the compassion I seemed to have lost, but it is nowhere near that which I read about today.

So how is what I read going to change me?  I want to make a conscientous effort to grow and develop compassion.  I want to pray that God will have mercy even when all I want to do is pray for justice.  I want to see with His eyes and love with His heart.  I know that means that my heart will be wrung and very likely broken, but if Abraham could stand before God petitioning for a city, and if God could be willing to grant his petitions, then who am I to think I don't have to?

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Annal 110: Tale from Grace

I was told the most wonderful piece of news yesterday, and while most of you will laugh there will be some out there who will understand the excitement.  Ready for it?

I was told I was hot.

Like I said, might not seem like much to most people but my self-esteem has taken quite a boost and it is a boost that will probably last me for a very long time!

Alright, back to why I am writing today's post although it is not entirely unrelated to the above :)

I just finished a chapter in Keller's book and what I read today made me want to cry.  Since I am not married I have been taking some of what I have been learning and have been trying to think of how to apply it to other relationships.  Yesterday I read about the kinds of power love has in marriage and Keller talked about "love currencies" or "love languages."  At the start of last semester my sister and I had actually been discussing this and I discovered that her love language is the complete opposite of what I thought it was.  So I have been trying to show her I love her according to what speaks to her.  She, in turn, has done the same with me.  Words are incredibly important to me (which is why being told I am "hot" meant so much) and so she goes out of her way to tell me if something I cook tastes good, or if an outfit looks particularly good on me or to just let me know she appreciates me.

Today I read about the power of grace in marriage.  I want to share with you a paragraph.

"Here is why you can say to your spouse who has wronged you, 'I see your sin, but I can cover it with forgiveness, because Jesus saw my sin and covered it.'  It is because the Lord of the universe came into the world in disguise, in the person of Jesus Christ, and he looked into our hearts and saw the worst.  And it wasn't an abstract exercise for Jesus--our sins put him to death.  When Jesus was up there, nailed to the cross, he looked down and saw us, some denying him, some betraying him, and all forsaking him.  He saw our sin and covered it."

In case you haven't noticed, any time I think of forgiveness I think of my old church back home.  Just before Christmas God challenged me to start praying for the leadership and I didn't want to.  So He placed it in the perspective of His glory.  Would the church failing and falling apart because I want justice glorify God?  Or would a church growing in wisdom and discernment bring glory to Him?  I found I could pray for Him to be glorified and as a result I could pray for the leadership to grow in wisdom and discernment.  Because God's glory far outweighs my own personal sense of justice.

Grace is unmerited favour.  It's Jesus dying for us when we didn't deserve it.  It's being forgiven when we don't deserve it.

In a marriage, grace is what unites truth and love.  It is what keeps the truth from shattering spouses and the love from becoming shallow.  It is what makes repentance and forgiveness possible.  Grace helps you realize that you don't deserve to be forgiven, that you have screwed up, and thus helps you to extend forgiveness as you realize that others are just like you.

I am not the only one in need of grace.  We all are.

Today it seems like God is telling me to extend grace, to give up on my longing for justice because I feel the leadership of the church "deserves" it, and to recognize that they, like me, are screw-ups who need to be forgiven.

This doesn't mean I act like everything is okay.

But it means I let it go.

And this is hard because there is a lot of pain tied up in this.  Not just because of things the church has said and done to my family, but because of friendships that were lost as a result of it.

But I need to let it go.

Over Christmas friends from the church stopped by my parents' house with gifts of baking and a Christmas card.  I have been eating the soup mix from it all week and have been loving it!  Through them God has reminded me that despite lost relationships and hurt feelings not everything has been destroyed. 

But if I want these friendships to flourish I need to do my part.

I need to extend grace.

I need to let it go.

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Annal 109: Tale from a Shadow

So the new year is now underway and I have returned to life as a student.  No more lazy days for me where all I do is read by the light of the Christmas tree while looking at the woods behind my parents' home.  No more sitting and reading fiction that has positively nothing to do with academic studies.  No more eating more food than anyone should have a right to eat.

Actually, that is not entirely true.

Take one of my English courses, for example.  It is a television studies course about series produced in Canada for the US.  Which means that while watching the first four episodes of season one of X-Files I was actually doing homework.  Which means that while re-watching Battlestar Galactica I will be completing my assigned course work.

Does a class really get any better?

Not that everything is sunshine and roses.  My sister and I celebrated our new year with a phone call from our landlords telling us that due to a most unusual amount of rain our basement suite had flooded.  Awesome, right?  Luckily they caught it in time and replaced the floors while we were gone.  None of our stuff was wrecked either.

At least it makes a story to tell!

Life just feels sort of strange for me right now and I can't put my finger on why that is.  I finally finish my Bachelor's degree in April.  Next year I can start working on my Education degree.  If all goes according to plan, within a year and eight months I will FINALLY be done school and working.

I should be ecstatic, right?

And I am.

But I also feel as if I am a shadow walking this world.  I am watching things going on around be and yet I feel strangely separate from it all.

Maybe it's just post-Christmas blues.

For the last week I have been wanting to write more than I could ever begin to describe to you all.  Snippets of scenes play out before my eyes yet my mind seems unable to connect them into any cohesive whole. 

I don't want you to think I am sad or depressed or even melancholy because I am not.  I just feel strange.  I think strange is the only way I can really describe it.

Although I have been feeling contemplative as well.  I have been working my way through Timothy Keller's The Meaning of Marriage and have found so much in there to think on.  Perhaps I am the only one but it seemed as if my adolescence was filled with romantic visions of what marriage would be like.  Youth leaders told me to wait for my "Prince Charming."  Fiction told me that once I met "Mr. Right" everything would fall into place.

Keller talks of marriage as a spiritual friendship.  A friendship where husband and wife can be completely vulnerable with each other, can remove their masks and stand bare-faced before the other.  He mentions how flaws become more pronounced in marriage and that is why such a friendship is needed.  A spouse is to draw attention to these flaws, not out of spite, but out of love.  Together they challenge each other.  They see the gold and also the dross.  Instead of throwing out the gold because of the impurities, the help to remove the impurities.

Which makes me think of an Emma-Knightley relationship.  This is why their relationship is my favourite out of all of Austen's stories.  That is what they do for each other.

I still crave romance, but more than that I crave a best friend who is willing to work alongside me.  Someone who will love me enough to point out my impurities and then help me work through them.  Someone who will accept it when I do the same.  I don't want someone who think I'm perfect because I know I am not.  Besides, they will only be disappointed.

I realize that these seem to be ramblings with no apparent theme, but they are what is on my heart and my mind.

Such is the life of a Christian single.