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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Consent and Respect: We're confusing issues here

In an effort to teach children about consent, we are creating a society of people that believes that they always get exactly what they want and never have to do anything they aren't comfortable with. I believe this is because we are meshing issues that were never meant to be meshed.

In this video, the idea is brought up that parents are accidentally teaching kids that their consent to sexual activity doesn't matter by forcing them to shake hands/hug relatives, by teaching them to respect their elders and so on. The lady in the video expresses that by doing these things, we are telling our kids that they don't have a choice and what they feel doesn't matter, so when it comes time for them to start being sexually active (apparently sometime in their teens), they will be hesitant to ever say no to someone because it will appear rude.

While I totally agree that children need to be taught that no one is allowed to forcibly touch them in an inappropriate way, I believe that these issues are not the same and should not be lumped together into one lesson.

My parents made me shake hands with people and I was told on many occasions to hug my relatives. I was taught to be respectful to my elders and obey adults that were placed in authority over me. And when it came time for me to be in a romantic relationship, I never felt that I could not tell my boyfriend/fiancee that I was uncomfortable with something, no matter how simple or complicated it was. I never felt that I had to keep being in an uncomfortable situation because i might appear rude if I got up and left.

But here is the difference. My parents also taught me something that overruled any idea that my consent wasn't important. They taught me to protect my body. They taught me to respect myself and that my body was special. I knew that I needed to save my body for one special person, and that person should be the one I have committed to spend the rest of my life with.

This is not a popular teaching anymore. We now live in a word of sexual carelessness, preached in the name of expressing yourself. Everything is based on how you feel, and boundaries are yours to choose, even if they are non-existent.

We are creating a generation of selfish, whiny, feelings-driven, promiscuous, irresponsible, wanna-be adults.

I may not have any children of my own, but I have been around them long enough to know a few things (I figured I should get that out there before the thunder of comments began about how a childless woman has no knowledge of raising children). I know that children, especially small ones, do not have the maturity to make proper decisions most of the time. That's why they have parents, and why parents are told to "train up a child in the way that he should go" (Prov. 22:6). Children have small minds, and need guidance to learn how to make proper decisions.

In the video mentioned, the woman talks about how parents don't listen to their children's requests or comments, and end up just telling them what they should think instead of inviting a conversation about what the child does think. She used examples like the child saying "I'm cold", and parent responding "No, you're not, it's hot in here!" Or child: "I'm hungry", and parent: "No, you're not...you just ate dinner!"
She suggested turning it into a conversation and asking the child why they are cold or hungry, instead of just telling them what they should think. In doing so, we are telling them that their opinion does matter.

Now, I see the point, but the problem with this is that in doing so, we are not teaching our children how to have self-control. There are situations sometimes that are beyond your control, such as standing in a funeral home, or sitting in the cart while mommy does grocery shopping. It's uncomfortable, sure. But that fact is that if the parent is constantly catering to the child's every whim and desire, they are not learning that sometimes you just have to suck it up, shut up, stand still and be patient. You are hungry? Ok, but you aren't starving to death. You can wait. You are bored/tired? You'll be ok for a few more minutes. You are not in danger, you are not sick or hurt. The world does not revolve around you. 

And yet there is the logic that was used to create the idea that we are teaching kids that their voice doesn't matter. See? You're telling kids that what they feel isn't important, so now when someone tries to push sex on them, they are going to think that their feelings about it aren't important!

You are comparing apples to oranges. Teaching a child self-control by making them wait patiently in a checkout line or in the car or at a place where they are just clearly not interested has nothing to do with teaching them how to respect their body and protect it.

I knew as a kid that no one was allowed to touch me down there. I knew that if ever I felt uncomfortable with someone, I needed to leave the situation and tell my mom. My mom also was very aware of my surroundings when I was a young, dumb kid whose brain hadn't matured yet and knew what situations not to place me in. I knew that I wanted to save my body for someone special, and that someone special was going to be the man I married. I knew that sex was God's gift to married men and women, and it was not some thing to be played around with by irresponsible young adults that had no intention of getting married.

So you see, I was taught about consent, but my parents didn't mix it with learning how to be a patient, well-behaved child in public. The issues are separate, and mixing them just creates the multitudes of out-of-control kids I see running all over their parents and creating embarrassing spectacles in grocery stores. Parents have become so afraid to harm their tender little personalities or to make them feel like their choices don't matter. Guess what, kid....until you no longer need to be reminded to brush your teeth in the morning, don't need help bathing, can make your own food and take care of yourself when you get the flu...you are an immature child that needs the help of a mature adult to make good decisions. And until you have sufficiently learned how to be a responsible part of society, you are just an immature teenager that needs guidance from a mature adult.

Teaching a child self-control and patience seems to be a lost art today. I grew up in a circle where children were expected to behave themselves and sit in less-than-exciting situations for extended periods of time. We grew up knowing to keep our hands to ourselves and to not let other people touch us inappropriately. We were brought to respect ourselves and to respect others. We never felt like our opinions didn't matter and we knew that our parents would talk to us and guide us in the way that we should go.

We weren't raised perfect, but we weren't raised sissies.

Quit making issues out of things that aren't meant to be that way. Stop making excuses and trying to come up with reasons why kids are being sexually abused. It happens because we live in a fallen, sinful creation. Its never right, and never the kids' fault. How about we try teaching the adults to respect children and know their own boundaries? Oh yeah...its probably cause they were taught as kids to do whatever made them FEEL good and do whatever they thought was right.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Our Parents Suffered Too: Thoughts on Modesty, Purity, and the Culture That Shaped Us


I recently shared an article I came across on Facebook. The writer jumped into the issue of modesty, and gave some interesting points. She built on the idea that it should not be the responsibility of a women to try to control a man's thoughts by dressing (or not dressing) a certain way, and in many ways I agree with that. We cannot seek to dress in such a way that will prevent a man from noticing and admiring the natural curves of our body, because its unrealistic. We can, however, strive to adorn ourselves in a way that lets our character and personality shine. There are parts of our body that should be honored by keeping them covered, but not because we are ashamed of them. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. That doesn't mean flaunt it if you've got it. But I think we have gotten so wrapped up in our ideas of what modest dress should be that we have forgotten to dress with class and dignity.

Its not our responsibility to keep men from lusting after us. We can't control it, not matter how conservatively we dress. However, we do have the opportunity to suggest through our dress what we do want people to think of us. Like it or not, we live in a world where we are judged and given labels based on what we wear. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked if I am or was Amish, just because I wear a lot of skirts and like my hair up in a bun.

Your clothing can say a lot about you. Therefore, your goal should not be trying to prevent people from thinking the wrong thing, but instead, focusing on encouraging them to think the right thing. Be comfortable, be yourself, let your God-given personality be defined, and let the Holy Spirit shine through you.


While thinking of all these thoughts on modesty, a friend sparked a conversation about how to teach our kids about sex when the time comes. I'll admit, its always a daunting thought to me. But it occurred to me...why should it be such a scary idea? Sex is beautiful and fun and why shouldn't I be excited to tell them about it? Sex is sacred and special, and something to be enjoyed to the fullest between a man and his wife. I hope and pray that we can give our kids a good enough example in life and communicate to them how wonderful these things are, so that when its their turn, they can face it with joy and with grateful hearts.

The kids of my generation and circles like to talk about how the purity movement damaged our thinking about sex. How most of us were so burdened by trying to keep ourselves physically and emotionally pure that, most of the time, we were simply plagued with the guilt of thinking we may have been impure by noticing someone of the opposite sex. And when we came to actually doing the deed, we were frightened. Really, sincerely frightened. Now, some will say that these were worst case scenarios, but I think there are a great number of us that experienced this to some degree.


We were extreme. We kissed dating goodbye and fell in love with courtship. We swung the pendulum so far in one direction that we forgot what the middle ground was like. So what is happening next? We swing it the opposite way. We hear the words---.modesty.purity.courtship.---even homeschool---and we run.

And then...we blame our parents.

They were controlling. They were possessive and crazy. They just wanted to shelter us and never let us out in the real world. They just feared the world and all in it, and wanted to keep us from it.

Those bad parents.

Seriously?

I have to say...we are messing this up even worse than it already is. Do we even realize what we are doing?

I realize that there are people who have taken the modesty/purity/homeschool culture way too far. And then you have the Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard scandals. I know many parents have cause irreversible damage and suffering in their children because of the standards and rules they enforced. They really did take it an unhealthy level. I'll never dispute that.

But I will point out one very important thing: they suffered too.

We have lost sight of what came before us and why we ended up where we did. We think its all about us. We were the ones jaded by legalism and tormented by the patriarchal system. But I'll say it again: our parents suffered too.

Most of our parents were not raised the way we were. Many of them were first generation Christians, first generation homeschoolers, first generation couples-that-actually-stayed-married, and so on. Most of them had no idea what they were doing. All they knew was that what they went through as kids/young adults didn't work and they wanted something different for their kids. So the pendulum got swung as far from what they knew as they could get, and the modesty/purity/homeschool culture was born.

They saw that traditional American dating-with-no-goal-of-marriage didn't work very well, and so Courtship was born (or should I say reborn?).

They saw that the public school system was full of crap (still is...), and so Homeschooling was born.

They saw that casual, premarital sex was causing damage, and so Purity was born (or should I say redifined?).

They knew the pain in their own hearts from the lives they had lived, and wanted to protect us from the same pain. They wanted to give us different opportunities and wanted to raise us as Biblically as they knew how.

They saw what didn't work, and went the opposite way. Hey...aren't we trying to do the same thing?

Let us not be so swift to judge the choices our parents made. Their choices were born out of their own pain, and so are our choices. We are making choices based on the same emotions that spurred our parents on, but this is where we have to be careful not to be so anxious to get away from what hurt us that we swing that pendulum so far the other direction and end up in the same hell hole our parents crawled out of.

Let's take what we now know, and turn it into something beautiful. Let's not just focus on "not doing what our parents did", but instead focus on why. We can do better than our parents, because they did better than theirs. And our kids will do better than us. But not if we are stuck in bitterness and self-pity. We had a rough past...ok, so let's get over it and move into the future. Modesty, purity, homeschooling, biblical manhood and womanhood, courtship-also-known-as-dating-with-a-purpose, saving sex for marriage...these are all still good things! Let's bring them out of their extremist past and give them freedom to work they way God intended!

We have a chance to find the happy medium. Let us not waste it nursing our wounds with our hatred of the culture that shaped us into the people we are today. We are who we are because of where we came from. We can't stay there, but we can take what we have learned and let the pendulum settle gracefully in the middle.




Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another...
Romans 12:9-10 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Lydia

While we were in Missouri, I had one of the most epic moments of my life. Because of the epicness of it, I felt it deserved its own post.

I met Lydia.

In real-life, flesh-and-blood, huggable reality.

Zuriel, Lydia, Me, and Grace


Most people may not understand the immense importance of this, so I will elaborate.

I have known Lydia for Fifteen Years. Fifteen Years. I first came to know her through her penpal ad in her friends' christian girls' magazine. There were several ads, but Lydia's attracted me specially. All the others advertised for penpals of certain ages, limiting the amount of people that could get a chance to reply. But Lydia's was different. She wanted penpals of any age---"from 1 to 100!"

So I wrote to her. And she wrote back. And so it continued in sweet, sometimes sporadic letters over the course of several years. Soon technology entered our lives and we kept in contact through emails and Facebook.

We wished for many years to be able to meet in person, but sadly, Oklahoma is a long way from Pennsylvania. So when Missouri became the closest we have ever been to each other, Lydia made the trip up with her darling mother, sister Abigail and adorable baby girl Zuriel.

The face I've seen in photos, and the voice I've heard over the phone. She's real. I got to hug her.


We looked through all our old letters. Zuriel was thrilled as much as we were, I think! Our visit was short, but beautiful. And it happened. 

To God be the glory! 

We went to Missouri...

680 plus miles.

14 hours in the car.

Driving past what felt like every single "blink-and-you'll-miss-it" small town in the Midwest.

Winding up in a middle-of-nowhere camp with zip cell reception.

Why?

"...to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery..." (Eph. 3:9)



I spent the week prior to arriving at this beautiful place fretting and freaking out. All the planning and prep work that had gone into this event had me running in circles. I mean, how on earth does one truly prepare for a weekend of ministry in which you have to cook meals for 45-50 people, make sure everyone has what they need and is happy, all in a place you have never been to before and have very little idea of what to expect?

So I fretted.

Then we arrived.

And my mind was blown.


My soul was completely refreshed, and there were several moments over the weekend where I found my self near tears of joy. Everyone brought food, which was my biggest worry, and we had a beautiful abundance! I had so much help in the kitchen that everything ran like a well-oiled machine.


We spent much time centered around God's Word, listening to grand messages and testimonies, and singing our hearts out to the best music we've ever had.


My sweet husband gave a great message!

Got a photo with all the speakers!
Barney Monroe, Me, Diana & Neil Schnaath, Lee Homoki, Ted Fellows,
Curt, Kyle, Luke Miller, Cody Stead and Billy Elmquist.


We played. We ate. We sang. We hugged. We talked. We smiled till it hurt and laughed till we cried.






And we're going back next year. 

This is my love. My life. This is where my heart thrives and becomes so alive. Friendship centered around the Word of God rightly divided is the most precious thing anyone could ever ask for. 

We are the next generation. We are the heartbeat of the movement.

If not us, then who? 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Observations at a Bible Conference

So I spent the weekend at the Great Lakes Grace Bible Conference in Wilmot, Ohio. It has become as very special place to me, since it was the exact weekend event where I met my husband three years ago, and the location where we decided to get married almost one year ago. Its always such a great experience, with wonderful preachers sharing their knowledge, meeting friends new and old, and seeing the beautiful landscape that is Ohio's Amish Country.


I really think that this was one of the best conferences I've been to, mostly because I focused on being relaxed, soaking in the messages, and simply enjoying it. I didn't have any pressures of wedding planning, or being so newly twitterpatted that I couldn't focus. I got to go, relax, enjoy every second, and go home afterwards with my sweet husband.

And that is where my first observation comes from.

I notice that I am so much more at ease now. I come with my guy and then I leave with him. Before being married, I thrived on staying up late, being in every part of everything and getting as much interaction with people as I possibly could. I cried when I left events and it always felt like there was a big hole left in my heart. The days after a get-together were hard and sad. Now...I simply enjoy the time that I have, I go to bed at a decent hour and at the end, I go home with my favorite person of all time. I like it better this way. :)

I really enjoyed watching people. I have always been the quieter person that listens more than talks and occasionally interjects when I feel I have something significant to say. That is, unless you get me on a subject I like...then I will talk your ear off. But I find it very interesting to just watch people and observe how they behave.

This is observation Number Two.

I saw that some people have an attitude that, because they are at a Bible Conference, they must behave differently than they would normally.

Yeah, this is a Bible conference, so I have to wear this instead of that.
We probably shouldn't watch that movie, or talk about that subject, since we are at a Bible conference.
Oops, I shouldn't say that word, since I'm at a Bible Conference.

You get the idea. And all I am going to say on that note is this...why do we live in a way that forces us to have to act differently in front of our Bible Conference Friends than we would when we are at home?

These are just my observations.

I also noticed that there are people that come to places like this, sit down to listen to speaker, and then get offended by something the speaker says. Bottom line...don't come to something like that and expect to only hear what you want to hear. The speaker merely gave his opinion, and he stated that it was thus several times. There is no reason to have a fit over something he clearly wasn't aiming at you personally.

Again. Just my observation.

On a happier note, I observed a mother deal with something sensitive in a most gracious manner. Her teenage son was spending a lot of time enjoying the company of a young lady whom she was not acquainted with. She wanted to know who the girl was, so she quietly asked around and eventually became good friends with the girl's mom. Now that, I thought, is a great way to keep an eye out on your children and who they are hanging out with. She found out what she wanted to know in a calm and rational manner. She didn't make a big fuss or become defensive. But she was looking out for her son, and she did it with respect and grace.
I admired that a lot. And its little things like that that I put in the back of mind, in a file marked "See that? Remember that when you have kids."

I also observed that when you do something different in your life, you have to expect people to not understand. And you have to try to find a gracious way to explain to them why you do what you do, because they will ask. You can get upset, because often people ask about your differences in ways that are not always the most gracious. They will be blunt and brash. But the bottom line is that they just don't have a clue. And at times, depending on what it is, you intimidate them, and their nervousness cause them to not really think about the question they are asking. Just keep calm and try to avoid beating them about the head. :)

One last thing. We may not be the largest group in the world. We may not be the most well-loved. We may not be the most talented or have the most advertising. But there is a passion here uncommon in many circles. There is a depth of love, grace and wisdom that you don't find just anywhere. And while so many people are trying to get filled up on some watered-down version of Christianity, something very special goes on here. This is real. This is empowering. And I'm not letting go.


Monday, May 19, 2014

What happens at Grandma's...

Every once in a while, I will see a picture pop up with a quip about grandmas. Sometimes they are really sweet, but very often they are kind of---well, irritating.

Now, I love my grandmas. I just got a new one by getting married last year, and she is such a darling. But there is an attitude surrounding grandmothers in general that is not what it should be.

"I can at Grandma's!"

"The world needs grandmas cause those kids aren't going to spoil themselves!"

"What happens at Grandma's...stays at Grandma's."

"Being Grandma means never having to say no."

Ok, so its meant to be funny. But behind ever word of sarcasm, there is a bit of truth. And the truth is that there is this idea that grandmothers are supposed to spoil grandkids. They say yes when mom says no, and nothing is off limits at Grandma's house.

WHY??

Maybe I'm the oddball, but that mindset seems totally backwards to me. Unless grandparents are trying to exact some sort of revenge on their kids for giving them such a hard time growing up, shouldn't they be supporting these young parents in their endeavors?

And maybe I'm just ridiculously lucky to know that I have a mom and a mother-in-law that would respect my wishes with my kids, support me and help me instead of hinder my child-raising plans. If mom says no, then grandma says no too. And my kids will know that.

Yeah...I know...I don't have kids yet, so what am I even talking about? Well, I know that I have seen what I don't like. And I like knowing that my kids grandparents will be the kind I can trust and enjoy and not dread them being with. I know they will be good examples and that my kids will have a heritage they can look up to and grandparents that can be a happy part of their lives.

The end.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I love you, but I don't have to love what you do...

I recently watched TLC's "Breaking Amish" series on Netflix. I'm not sure why it intrigued me. Most of it kind of irritated me...way too much drama and bad attitudes. But it spurred on some interesting thoughts, hence this blog post.

"Breaking Amish" chronicles the story of five young Amish/Mennonite people that leave their communities and set off into the outside world. Their journey takes them to New York City as a start, where they get a huge culture shock and dive head first into all that the "English" lifestyle has to offer.

The series is not without plenty of drama, and I found myself fast forwarding a lot. But I think the thing that intrigued me most was the interactions with their families before and after their escapades.

Before they left for the big city, each one was spoken to by one or more family members. They were all told that if they went out and did the things they were planning to, that they would be shunned. When they returned, they were shocked to find that their families would no longer speak to them. One girl's friends even ran from her with their hands on their faces like blinders when they saw her approach in her English clothing. She was heartbroken.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not in any way saying that the Amish lifestyle is right. I disagree with their biblical beliefs entirely, and if I ever had the chance to become friends with someone from that community, I would greatly encourage them to leave.

But the attitudes of  those kids with their families had me shaking my head.

Dude...what did you think was going to happen?

They told you they were not okay with what you were doing. You knew it was against everything they believed in, and you still went on your merry way and did whatever the heck you wanted. Sure, you should be able to make a life for yourself and make decisions on your own. But then to come home and demand that the people who gave you a good and fair warning be tolerant of your new lifestyle? Sorry. It doesn't work that way.

Here is where I believe we have the biggest problem in society today. Everyone wants acceptance and believes that it shouldn't matter what anyone does, you should love and accept them anyways. Maybe some people are okay with this sort of mindset. Heaven knows the media and all the liberal/feminist/feel good junkies of the country are all about just accepting people for "who they are" (aka what they decide to do with their lives). But for me, that's not how it works.

May this be a declaration to my friends and family.

I love you. I will always love you.

But I do not have to love what you do.

I do not have to accept the lifestyles, habits, addictions, choices, or sexual partners you choose to associate with.
I do not have to be okay with the words you use, the friends you hang out with, or your lack of Biblical influence and devotion.
I don't have to tolerate your attitude.
I don't have to act like everything is okay when you are blatantly being disrespectful, partaking in things I don't agree with or living in a way that is opposite of everything I hold dear and important to me.

Love does not equal acceptance. I can love you, the person I have always loved and will continue to. But that doesn't mean I have to accept that you are doing all the things I am against.

Where does grace fit in, you ask? Grace does not gloss over wrong. Grace loves and encourages to do the right thing. Grace does not just leave a person in their pit, afraid to say anything contrary because that person might be offended. Grace loves in spite of wrong, but is not tolerant of it. Grace encourages change and restoration.

So while you are out there finding yourself, remember that I am here with a willing ear and warm hug. I will always love you, but I will never stop praying for you, encouraging you to do the right thing, and hating all the horrid things that are trapping you and keeping you from a rich, fulfilling life in Christ.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Undue Dislike of the Duggar Family

I'll admit. I haven't really been fair to the Duggar family. My friend Janet knows this better than anyone. She knows that whenever she mentions the Duggar family, or any "big-christian-homeschool-family-especially-ones-that-sing-together"...I get an attitude. A bitterness, as it were, rises up in my heart and I try to change the subject. She has put up with many of my rants about the Patriarchal system, betrothal, courtship, the having-as-many-kids-as-you-can thing...all of it.

(Off topic plug: Janet is the best friend I have ever had. For nearly 13 years, she has stuck by me through thick and thin. We have grown up together while separated by many miles. She has put up with my rantings and ravings like no one else. No matter what, even if she doesn't agree with me, we still get along. She has never huffed off all offended by anything I've said, and is the most faithful friend I have ever known. <3 )

This morning I read an article about the latest Duggar romance. Actually there are posts all over the place about Jill's courtship with her missionary man and how she met him via Skype and started their relationship before they met. Google anything about Duggar courtships and you get an onslaught of post and interviews and videos talking about their courtship rules and whatnot. Needless to say...they're pretty popular.

But this morning's post made me realize something.

I've been bitter against these people unjustly.

I'm not being sarcastic here. I'm truly honest. I've disliked them unfairly. Am I still kind of weirded out by how famous they have become? Yeah, it still irritates me, but whatever...its their life.

But this is what has made me realize how unfair I have been: they are raising good kids.

One son married with three kids and very successful. Two daughters in relationships with good, strong Christian men. The others well on their way.

They are doing something right!

So what I've realized is that maybe instead of being resentful against them for being so famous for their over-sized family and strict conservative rules...maybe instead of watching and waiting for one of them to mess up...maybe I should be cheering them on!

Sure I don't agree with their biblical doctrine, but that's not the issue here. The issue is that they are raising, good, pure, successful, happy, polite, drug-free people that value marriage, family and God. What is so wrong with that?

There is nothing wrong with a couple "dating with the intent of marriage" (aka courting), saving sex for marriage, saving 99% of physical contact for marriage and focusing on their spiritual and emotional growth together first. What a foundation to have! Maybe if more people valued marriage like that, there would be less heartache and divorce in this world.

There is nothing wrong with the family being involved in that process. People young and in love need good counsel and eyes other than their own to see the red flags that we miss through our rose-colored-glasses.Yes, of course, they are adults, and not every couple is blessed with Godly, reasonable, understanding parents. But there is always someone out there, even if its just your friends, that can give counsel, wisdom and accountability.

I could go on and on, but the point is this. There is nothing wrong with the way the Duggar family, or any of these families live. They aren't perfect...but then again they never make that claim. They do the best that they know how and strive to raise their families to be honorable in the sight of God and man. Some may fall, yes. But so far the odds are for them. They are doing alright here! So why hate them for raising the bar and releasing some beautiful, God-fearing people into the world?

In closing, I'm sorry, Duggars. And everyone else. Keep doing what you are doing. Thank you for valuing marriage and family and giving your kids an amazing foundation.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Friendship Lasts...Forever?


I've been pondering the words on this Facebook ad for the last few days. The video shows a girl crying and texting her friend, saying she and (presumably) her boyfriend just broke up. The next scene shows the two friends hugging and crying together, wiping each others' tears. Aww.

So the video is cute and touching and all, but its the caption that got me. Love can be tough, but friendship lasts forever. The first part is ok, even true, because love is tough sometimes.

But "friendship lasts forever." What? 

Clearly whoever wrote that is about ten years old and did so while having a sleepover and making friendship bracelets. Actually, I take that back. Most kids I've known have a far better handle on what it means to be a friend than some adults.

People take friendships for granted, as if they are just always going to be there. If you have a friend that you honestly, without putting any thought into it, can know that they will always and forever be there, then lucky you. But most of the time it just doesn't work that way.

Friendships take work. Sure you can hit it off and be best of friends right off the bat. But at one point or another, you are going to hit a rough point. You are going to be at odds about something, argue, get frustrated, not understand each other. Its what people do. And it takes effort and work to get through those points.

But guess what? That's life.

Things hurt. People say things they don't think about. Arguments happen. So do we just pack up our toys and run home crying? I guess some people do. But where do we get this "friendship lasts forever" fantasy?

The simple fact is this: friendship doesn't last forever unless you want it to, and unless you put the work into it. Just like a marriage isn't going to last unless you value it, work at it, and keep it alive, so friendship is the same. It takes time and effort, forgiveness and having the courage to pick things up when they fall apart.

I admit I'm not always the best friend I could be. I say the wrong things. I forget about writing to you, and then just pop up out of the blue. I will probably offend you, and I will say hard things. But I will be honest with you. I will try my hardest to fix things that break. I will be open and real. And if its my honesty, openness and realness that causes you not to be able to trust me...then we've got bigger problems.

Everyone wants a friend that will be there forever.

But not everyone wants to do what it takes to make that possible.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Again

And again. And again.

When will this circle end?

I keep trying. I keep putting myself out there for you. Giving you chance after chance to break my heart all over again. Why?

You've pushed me away again. How many more times do I let myself get disappointed and hurt?

My initial fighting response wants to rise up in my heart.

Fine. Be that way. Whatever.

I want to be angry at you. I want to give up and forever delete you from life somehow. I feel like that is exactly the attitude you have towards me.

But that's not who I am. 

Believe what you like about me. Form your own conclusions of my life, my choices, my thoughts, because your assumptions will be all you have of me since you care not to find out who I really am.

Funny...I thought you already knew.

I keep trying. I will keep putting myself out there, hoping maybe someday you'll reach back.

Why? Because some part of me still believes you're worth it.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Happy Medium

Everything is an extreme.
Black and white.
There are no grey areas. And if you think its a grey area, its probably sin.
You can't walk the fence. You're either all in or all out.

Or at least that's what we've believed.

We had good intentions. We started out well. We saw what we didn't want and decided that the best thing to do was to run in the opposite direction. Logically, biblically, morally...that's what you're supposed to do, right?
Because who would ever think that extreme goo could in any was be wrong? That's like saying that extreme wrong can in some way be good. Right?

Oh yes. We had good intentions. But how did we get so messed up along the way?

We just went too far.

We took beautiful things and pushed them to a limit that made them sickening. We took things that should have been admirable and made them in to something people scoff at and are disgusted by.

We made a heart into something that could be given away in bits, never to be restored, and we were warned to avoid any emotional romantic attachments until we found "the one".

We turned homeschooling into something that sheltered and cloistered our children from the world, in an attempt to protect them from the world instead of a way to teach them how to deal with it.

We took sex and made it scary. We took any type of physical contact with the opposite sex and made it so forbidden that many of us were pretty freaked out when our wedding night rolled around.

We took "honor thy father and mother" and made it into "thou shalt not make any big decisions, especially concerning relationships, without our permission until you are married, at which point you will suddenly be forced to make all big decisions."

We turned modesty into an obnoxious declaration of holiness.

These are just a few examples.

We made things into sin that never should have been, and turned our lives into one big guilt trip.

This is what we did.
Now look at where we are.

Articles are popping up all over the internet, refuting the practices and beliefs we worked so long to define. Whole websites have been devoted to telling the stories of the young men and women who now bear the scars inflicted by the extremes of the homeschool/conservative/quiverful/ATI/etc., movements. Kids that grew up in our little worlds are now adults, facing a whole new set of extremes. We are either falling apart, washing away our guilt with various addictions and/or turning so far in the opposite direction that we are nearly unrecognizable. Or we are standing as if frozen, wondering what to do with ourselves. As I recently related to a friend, we know that we can't repeat the past, but we aren't sure what to do with our futures.

We need a happy medium.

We need a way to go back to our original intentions without screwing them up. We need to find a place in our hearts that views homeschooling as a better education option, not a cult lifestyle...a place that is comfortable talking about sex and communicating it as the beautiful marriage thing it really is...a place where modesty really is a heart issue...a place where there are grey areas, and where grace is applied. 

We must learn to be real.
Normal.
Comfortable.
Gracious.

We have to stop freaking out, calm down, give ourselves a break and see if we can make these things beautiful again.

For the sake of future generations, its worth a shot.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dear World

Dear Music, Magazines, Celebrities, Advertisements, Movies, and anything having to do with American culture...

Dear World-as-we-know-it...

Please stop.

Please stop telling people, especially the young ones, that drugs, tobacco and alcohol are okay. Because they aren't. I'm so tired of seeing the lives of the people I love ruined, or at the very least, damaged by these addictive substances. You keep playing it all up as the cool thing to do. You give them a sparkling fantasy, a fun way to bond with friends, something to numb whatever feelings they don't want at the moment. You give them an answer, but you don't even know the question.

Please stop telling people that its okay to have sex with whomever suits your fancy. Stop saying that its okay to do it casually, that its just a natural part of life and should be treated with no more reverence than a handshake. You are ruining the real beauty, and leaving people even more heartbroken than they were. Quit making beautiful things like sex so common.

Why do you hurt everything that is good? You take something good and innocent, and you twist it into a dark, perverted mass that can no longer enjoy the real beauty.

All you do is lie. You tell them that its all okay, its all good, enjoy, have fun. And then they tell me that I have to be okay with their choices. I'm not. I will never stop loving them, but I will never be okay with your lies which they have accepted as truth.

My heart is breaking. And its all your fault.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fudgy No-Bakes {my version}

One of my favorite things is Almond Flour. Thankfully its not hard to make if you have some sort of food processor, because the already processed stuff tends to be super expensive. 

Recently, though, I wondered how other nuts would work, since I had seen Hazelnut flour someplace. What about Cashews? Usually I'm too too protective over my Cashews to want to pulverize them, unless they are for some thing I really want to make. So I decided to try Peanuts.


It didn't take more a few pulses in my Magic Bullet...


...and it worked perfectly!!


Pretty coarse, but perfect for what I wanted it for.


Fudgy No-Bakes!

No-Bake cookies are pretty ingenious in general, so I was very pleased to come up with these. I took my freshly pulverized Peanut Flour (about 1-1/2 cups), added about 1/2-3/4 cup of coconut oil (not melted, just soft), sweetened with stevia and added enough carob powder to thicken it and make it a gloppy consistency. I then dropped spoonfuls on a plate (note to self: put a sheet of parchment paper on the plate first.) and froze for about an hour or so. YUMMY! Perfect little treat.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

While I'm Waiting

To my friend.

I'm waiting.

Remember that scene in Fireproof when all he can do is wait? He's done everything, and now all he can do is pray, hope and wait for some kind of a response from his wife. He knows he may never get one. But still he waits. Patient. Aching. Hopeful.

I know how that feels.

I remember doing a lot of waiting during my single years. Waiting to meet someone. Waiting and hoping to see if that person reciprocated interest. Waiting to see if this was the right person. Getting let down when it wasn't. I cannot explain the relief I felt on my wedding day. That's right. I was relieved. I had found my love, and he was truly and completely mine. I didn't have to wait to have him anymore.

But that's not the kind of waiting I'm doing right now.

I'm waiting for you.

I've reached out again, attempting to reenter your world. Inviting you back into mine.

Perhaps its just my personality. But I am having a hard time letting you go. I've been told I should. People come and go in our lives all the time, and we have to learn to let people go. But I'm not ready to do that with you. I thought I was. But the ache in my heart won't go away, no matter how hard I try to convince myself that I'm over it.

You were my friend. My sister. We shared such a sweet bond. How can I just let that go?

If you tell me that this is futile, that you can never and will never forgive me, then I will let go once and for all. But I need something. Anything.

So for now...

...I'm waiting.