Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Sum Up: Weekend Trip Highlights

I got back from my trip to KY less than an hour ago.  I'm tired.  I have to unpack--or at least get what I need out of my suitcase in order to function tonight and tomorrow.  I'm not the only one who does that, right?  So anyway, here's a list of the highlights of my trip.  I might go into more detail later, or I might get caught up in work and life and forget to blog again.  Who knows? 

-Got to watch the Cards win game six of the World Series.  I listened to the game on the way up in my schmancy rental car, and I got home just in time (as I thought) to see the Cards lose.  But they didn't lose.  They came back and beat the Rangers in an exciting turn of events that can only be described as extremely well-played baseball.  And I got to share that with my family!

-Got to see my extended family and celebrate the marriage of my grandfather, as well as welcome new people into my family.  ...and I thought my family was big before.  I loved my grandmother.  She was one of the most loving people in my life.  She taught me the importance of family; she taught me that there's always room for more people to love.  And I miss my grandmother and think about how she and my grandfather were married for 60 years, but I can't be sad that my grandfather chose to remarry.  The lady who is now his wife is beautiful and precious.  She's not my grandmother and she doesn't have to be.  She's who she is, and my grandfather loves her, and so do I.

-Got to see about six of my younger cousins who have recently had, are about to have, or are currently having birthdays.  Three have turned seven, one is about to turn nine, one is about to turn twelve (I remember visiting the hospital when she was BORN...what happened?), and one is about to turn ONE.  I love being part of a large extended family with lots of kids.  They're all so wonderful.  And I loved seeing their parents and grown up siblings, too.  I even got to see one of my aunts who I rarely ever see, so that was an unexpected blessing.

-As the wedding reception died down, I saw that my dad was sitting on the couch watching the last game of the World Series.  I sat with him a bit, then got up to be social, but I went back later when I realized it was the last inning.  And I sat there with my daddy and watched the Cards win the 2011 World Series.  I know this sounds weird, but that was worth the whole trip to me.  I'm not a "daddy's girl," but I love my dad.  He's the one that got me interested in baseball, in the St. Louis Cardinals.  So sharing that moment was just special.  That brief experience is something I'm going to remember always. 

-My sister and her family couldn't make it to the wedding reception, and they live 4 hours away from my parents.  So my wonderful mom offered to drive me up those 4 hours (and back) in one day so I could see my nieces and nephew (the birthday boy).  It was a quick trip, but so worth it.  The kids were so excited to see me, and I enjoyed spending a few hours with them and their awesome parents.  I'll remember that always, too.

-I really remember very little from the drive up to KY (I drove about half of it in the dark and I just kind of went on auto-pilot), but today's drive down was beautiful.  The sunshine was golden and the leaves were beautiful.  Autumn is here.  Change is coming.

And life is good.

I'm glad to be back, though it feels sort of surreal.  I'm thankful I got to go.  This very short trip will live in my memories for a long time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We Interrupt The Regularly Scheduled Life to Bring You an Announcement

I'm going out of town tomorrow.  This means that not only will I probably NOT be doing a Friday or Sunday blog this week, but it also means that my Wednesday blog (this very blog you are reading) is not going to be anything brilliant.

I've been packing and trying to finish a really lame video for my nephew's birthday and watching the Cardinals get their butts kicked (Pull it together, guys.  My nephew's birthday is today and you losing the World Series would be a horrible present!  On the other hand, if you win tonight and tomorrow, I might get home just in time to witness and celebrate your victory with my family), I haven't had time to think about blogging.  Which might explain why I've not updated my socially awkward blog in over two weeks.

So hopefully I will start to get my blogging act together (and all of my other acts together) when I get back from my trip Sunday night.  But...don't hold your breath.

EDIT: So the game for 10/26/11 was postponed b/c of rain, so no matter what, the Cards will NOT be losing the World Series on my nephew's birthday.  They'd still better step it up, cuz I'd like to celebrate their victory with my family!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Sum-Up: Asking

"I'm sure Aslan would have, if you'd asked him," said Fledge. 
"Wouldn't he know without being asked," said Polly.
"I've no doubt he would," said the Horse....  "But I've sort of an idea he likes to be asked."
   -From The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis

My nephew's fifth birthday is this week.  Also, three of my cousins are turning seven.  This week.  And that's first cousins, mind you.  I also have a first cousin that's about to turn one next month, which means that he is more than thirty years younger than I am.  Which is awesome.  Also, next weekend, my grandfather is getting married, which is also awesome. 

My financial state is always precarious, so I reasoned that I would not be able to make a trip to Kentucky next weekend for these multiple celebrations.  But I really wanted to be there.  I really felt like I should be there.  And if something like this had happened a few months ago, I'm not sure I would have been prepared to handle it in the way that I'm handling it.

I started praying, asking God to make it possible for me to go to Kentucky next weekend.  In the past, a few things would have prevented me from making such a request of the Lord.  I would have reasoned that this was a selfish request.  I would have doubted that God would be willing to grant me a selfish request.  I would have concluded that it was pointless for me to even ask God for something selfish.  I would have concluded that God already knew what I wanted, so if He wanted to give it to me, He would. 

And while I still believe that when God blesses us, it's so that we can be a blessing to others, I don't know that my past attitudes were right.  Selfish requests aren't always impure.  I mean, I find myself praying, "Dear Lord, please let the Cardinals win the World Series."  While I wish that my motives for such a prayer were, "I want the Cardinals to win so that Albert Pujols will have an even greater testimony of Your faithfulness so that he can continue to spread Your fame with renewed vigor," I really just kinda sorta want the Cards to win because I want the Cards to win.  And maybe that kind of request isn't too pure.

But going home next weekend will mean a lot to me.  I haven't seen my nephew or nieces, my mom and dad, my sister, brother, and brother-in-law, or my grandfather since May.  I haven't seen most of my extended family since last Christmas.  These are important celebrations that I want to experience, celebrate, remember.  My family means a lot to me, and I don't want to wait until this Christmas to see them--when I will only hear about the celebrations I missed.  I want to be there. 

And with the work that God has been doing in my life over the past several months, I was able to say, "You know what, I have absolutely nothing to lose by asking for this."  And I started praying, asking that God would enable me to go see my family this upcoming weekend.  He knew I wanted to go.  He knew I couldn't afford it on my own.  He knew all of these things, but He wanted to be asked.

I am reading in Luke right now, and in Luke 11, the disciples ask Jesus how to pray.  Jesus' immediate response is to give them the Lord's prayer.  I guess in my mind, that's always where the cut off was.  "Okay.  Check.  Got it.  The Lord's prayer is how we should pray.  "Father, Hallowed be Thy Name....'"  That's not where Jesus really ends, though.  After saying what we now know as "The Lord's Prayer," Jesus went into a parable about a man who went to his neighbor at midnight and asked for bread so that he could feed a visitor.  Jesus concluded that the neighbor wouldn't give the man anything because of their friendship, but he would give him all he needed because of the man's persistence. 

And then Jesus tells us to ask.  "Ask, and it will be given.  Seek, and you will find.  Knock, and the door will be opened."  I don't think Jesus was at all commanding us to treat God like Santa Claus.  He wasn't saying, "When you pray, just bring God your 'Christmas list' and He'll get you a shiny new fire truck that lights up, makes noise, and squirts real water."  Prayer isn't about asking for stuff as much as it's a means to align our own hearts with God's heart.  But I think I'd forgotten that God really does want us to bring the desires of our heart to Him.  That doesn't mean He'll always say yes, but if we don't ask, how can we ever expect to receive?  It takes faith to ask, which is probably why God wants us to ask.

And after I started praying for God to provide a way home, a wonderful, generous family offered to pay for a rental car for my trip. 

And then the day after I reserved the rental car, I had to take my own car into the shop (it's in no condition to make a trip to KY and back) to get my brakes fixed.  This is going to sound weird, but God told me to get my brakes fixed.  I was going to wait on it until after this trip, but apparently it was time to do it now.  So I did it.  And getting my brakes fixed (along w/ an oil change and new wiper blades) cost me about what I pay in rent.  So I'm not sure how I'm going to pay my rent next month.  And maybe going on a trip to KY doesn't seem like a really great idea all of the sudden, but I have already reserved the rental car.  I've already made plans.  I'm going...even if I'm not sure how I'm going to pay for everything.

God knows my situation.  God knows everything that's going on around it.  While I'm thoughtful and aware of the situation, I'm really not at all worried about it.  I'm just asking Him to provide, and I am confident that He will.  In the meantime, I'm having my faith stretched, which is an added benefit to everything.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fill-in-the-Blank Friday...wait...this is Friday, right?

"I never could get the hang of Thursdays." -- Arthur Dent, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

I almost forgot I was supposed to blog today; that's because I almost forgot today is Friday.  Again.

Yesterday was Thursday, but I went practically the whole day thinking it was Friday.  I somehow managed to remember that I was supposed to go to my "Thursday morning job" instead of my "Friday morning job," but I'm not sure what happened after that.

I blame part of it on the fact that I don't have a normal routine.  Most of the time, I like my crazy schedule.  I think of the poor saps who sit in the same little cubicle prisons 40 hours a week, and a little piece of my heart dies (either that or I have indigestion).  But part of me really likes the idea of routine, of knowing where I'm supposed to be without having to think, "Okay, what day is it?  Thursday?  Am I sure?  No.  I'd better check my cell phone/calendar/calculator/back-up brain." 

And yesterday I spent 2-3 hours sitting in the auto shop getting my brakes fixed, which is not something I typically do on a Thursday.  I had to shell out most of my rent money to pay for them, and now I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to pay my rent next month, but that's a problem to deal with on another Thursday...

And last night, the Cardinals lost to the Rangers in Game two of the World Series, which just put me all out of sorts.  Thursdays are not days I tend to think of as good days to watch the Cards lose a game in the World Series, not that any day would be a good day for the Cards to lose a game in the World Series, but I just don't think of Thursdays as days to watch televised sports at all.  But then, the only time I watch televised sports (unless you count the Olympics, and for some reason I never do seem to count them--they always seem more like a world-wide talent show than a sporting event) is when the Cards are playing in the World Series.  So what do I know about televised sports? 

And right now I'm sitting at work (don't judge me; there aren't any kids here yet), and I'm actually at my Saturday place of work even though it's Friday morning.  And I'm supposed to be here right now (always exceptions to my normal schedule), but it's giving me this weird feeling that today is Saturday instead of Friday. 

So when I show up at church tomorrow and find the parking lot empty, I'm probably going to think that the Rapture has occurred and I've been left behind. 

The impardonable sin is not being able to remember my schedule? 

Who knew?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


God: Hosea.

Hosea: Yes, Lord?

God: You know that prostitute Gomer?

Hosea: Yes.  I mean, no.  I mean, I've heard of her, but I don't know her, know her.  She's not really my type.  I mean, she's beautiful and all, um, not that I've really been looking at her or anything.  But she's not exactly what I'd call "prophet's wife material."  I mean, she's a...wait.  Why exactly are you asking me about a prostitute?

God: Oh, I want you to marry her.

Hosea: Say what?

God: Marry her, Hosea. 

Hosea: You...want me to marry Gomer?  You want me to marry a prostitute.

God: Yes. 

Hosea: Um, all right, but I don't understand.  Sounds kind of ridiculous.

God: Just trust me, kid.


God: Jonah.

Jonah: Yes, Lord?

God: You know Nineveh?

Jonah: Oh, boy, do I ever.  Those people are wicked.  And not in the Ron Weasley way.

God: Don't be cute.  Harry Potter hasn't been invented yet, but if it were, you'd be one of the ones who thinks it's evil without ever having read it.  Oh, and I want you to go preach to Nineveh.

Jonah: Oh, yes, Lord!  I've been warming up my FIRE AND BRIMSTONE VOICE!  MUWAHAHAHA!  Do you like?

God: I've heard better.  Actually, I want you to call Nineveh to repentance. 

Jonah: Say what?

God: Tell them I'm willing to forgive them if they repent.

Jonah: Are we talking about the same Nineveh, because that's ridiculous.  Ridonkulous even.

God: Just trust me, kid.

Jonah: How 'bout I go the other way and hop a ship for Tarshish instead and get eaten by a ginormous fish, because that sounds like loads of fun.  After I throw myself a pity party and pray, you can have that fish spit me out right on Nineveh's doorstep.  Yeah, that would be great.  Then I'll preach to Nineveh,throw a fit over a worm and a vine, and never have my own personal story resolved.

God: I love you, kid, but you have issues. 

God: Son?

Jesus: Yes, Father?

God: You know what I'm going to say.

Jesus: Yes, I do.  This whole Trinity thing is pretty awesome.

God: It is, isn't it.  Anyway, You know what has to be done.

Jesus: Yes.  I do.  I know You will not take this cup from me.

God: And You understand why.

Jesus: I've always understood why.  Love.  We love these rebellious, sinful, stiff-necked people.

God: Oh, yes, we love them so, my Son.

Jesus: I trust you, but it doesn't make sense, does it, Father?  It doesn't make sense for the Holy God to love the people in this fallen world so much that we would die for them.  Yet I know that we do.  I know that we will do whatever it takes to redeem them.

God: Love is ridiculous, Son. 

Jesus:  I know, Father.  I know.

God: Trust me.

Jesus: I do, Father.  And I will obey.


God: Ruth.

Me: Yes, Lord.

God: Why are you crying?

Me: The past is coming to haunt me again.  I'm reminded of the years of trusting and waiting.  I'm reminded of those well-meaning friends who deeply hurt me when they called me ridiculous.  I can't stop listening to these reminders.

God: Well, remind yourself of what is true.

Me: True or False: I'm worthless.  True.

God: Yes, but always remember that my worth confounds your worthlessness.  I love you, I want you, I have a purpose for you, and that's far better than vainly trying to attain worth in your own effort.

Me: True or False: I take myself too seriously. Also true.

God: You care too much about what others think of you, and they don't truly have any power over you.  I'm the One who is defending you.  Trust me.

Me: True or False: I'm ridiculous.  It's true, isn't it?

God: Yes, my dear child, you are absolutely crazy ridiculous.  It doesn't make any worldly sense for you to keep waiting and trusting, doing what I've given you to do, when you have seen no results and been hurt in the effort.  But if you were striving in your own power instead of Mine, you wouldn't have the strength to keep going.  Take courage in that.  And remember, I love you ridiculously.  If anyone hates you, remember that they hated me first.

Me: True or False: Satan is behind this attack on me right now.  I think that's false.

God: You're right.  He's just in the forefront.  He planned this attack on you and carried it out, but he didn't suspect that I've been behind it all along, working to bring good out of what he intended for evil.  He really should suspect it, too.  I've been bringing good out of what he intended for evil ever since he got Eve to eat the fruit.  I'm in control.  That's why you can trust me, even if what you're doing seems ridiculous.

Me: Thank you, Father.

God: Rest now.  Wait.  And just trust me, kid.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Update: While We're Waiting

"I want my daddy to come back!"

In my line of work, I hear something similar to this phrase about 100 times a week.  My knee jerk response is, "Believe me, kid, I want your daddy to come back, too!" 

But when the kid is old enough to be reasoned with, I eventually try to explain the situation to the child.  "Your daddy always comes back.  Your daddy loves you.  Why don't you find something to do while you're waiting for your daddy to come back, and that will make the time go by faster.  Plus, you might have some fun."

The kid doesn't always get it.  That's because kids want what they want when they want it.  And adults are pretty much exactly the same way.

I've shared on here before that when I was a teenager, I spent a lot of sleepless nights staring up at the ceiling, pleading with God to show me His will for my life.  I wanted a "holy lightning bolt" showing me some career path to take.  I was willing to do anything, but I just wanted to know what it was.  But I really wasn't willing to do anything.  I wasn't willing to wait.  And God knew that.  And God knows that I still struggle with wanting to know every detail of everything I do before I do it.  That's why He still makes me wait.  That's why He only lets me know what He wants me to do one step at a time.  He wants me to trust Him.

And I wish I had figured this out in my teenage years, but God's already shown us what He expects from us.  We don't need a "holy lightning bolt.  God's already told us what He expects from us.  My favorite example of ths is: "He has shown you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you? But to act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." --Micah 6:8. 

There's a great song I'm hearing on the radio these days.  "While I'm Waiting" by John Waller.  The song is honest, talking about the pain of waiting for God to move.  But it's also hopeful.  While we're waiting, we can worship.  We can serve where we are in what we're doing.

Sometimes we're in such a hurry to get on to the next thing.  We're always preparing for something, and sometimes we miss the moment we're living in.  It's even more of a temptation to do that when what we're going through is painful.  I don't think most people like to try to figure out why God's allowing us to go through a painful situation or what He wants to teach us through it.  We're always too busy trying to get away from the pain.

I went through over five years of a season of Spiritual winter.  There was little growth; I mainly just stayed in a period of frozen cold, waiting for spring to thaw me out again.  I spent a lot of time whining for my Father to come and get me out of it.  I even spent some part of that wondering if God was ever going to get me out of it.  But even in the midst of it all, I knew God had a reason for it.  I knew there was a purpose for the waiting.  I don't know how well I worshipped in the waiting or served in the waiting, but I knew God was holding on to me.  I rarely doubted that.

And there's another great song I'm hearing a lot.  It's by a band called "For King and Country" and it's called "Busted Heart."  The song speaks of a winter season, of our helplessness and brokenness, of knowing God is holding on to us, that in His time He's going to meet us right where we are.  And I can sing that from the other side of the winter season, knowing that God did hold on to me, knowing that He did love me, that He did come back to get me, knowing there was a reason for the winter.

The pride.  The anger.  The believing that I could somehow save myself.  These things started to fade away in the midst of my helplessness.  I still have a lot of pride.  I still have a lot of anger.  I still have to be reminded a lot that I am needy.  But when spring came again, I started growing again.  And I realized a lot of what I went through was preparing me for this time in my life.  I needed to realize the depths of my depravity before I could move on in the full grace of God. 

I still have a little bit of waiting to do, but everything seems to be screaming at me NOW!  Now is the time to step out in faith and see what happens.  Now is the time to realize that when we're faithful to do the little things we know we're supposed to do (act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with our God, etc.), God will reveal more to us.  And I've got a lot of work to do. 

I still fail sometimes.  I did this week.  Remember David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba?  Remember when she became pregnant?  Remember when he tried to deceive her husband by trying to get him to come home and sleep with her so that he'd think the child was his?  Remember when the anointed King, the man after God's own heart resorted to murder to cover his own tracks?  What was his first sin?  He was supposed to be at war, and instead, he stayed home in Jerusalem.  He wasn't doing what he was supposed to be doing, and part of the consequences for that inaction was a deeper path of sin.  While I've not committed adultery or killed anyone, I'm still just as guilty.  I can understand how one sin of inaction can lead to a path of sin.  And I've had to seek forgiveness this week for being prideful, for seeking my own ways instead of serving and worshipping and working while I'm waiting for God to move.

But when we confess our sin, God really is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  It's hard to understand that in the midst of a winter season, when sometimes we're caught in cycles of sin and confession, of addiction and confusion, of wondering if God is ever going to come save us from ourselves.  But because of what I went through in the dark times, it was relatively easy to humble myself, to come to God and seek the forgiveness He is faithful to give.  It's because I know He loves me.  I know He's coming to get me.  Even when I'm a brat. 

He's holding on to us because His grasp is greater than our attempts to free ourselves from His grasp.  I don't know exactly what's going to happen in the next few weeks, but I'm excited.  I'm hopeful.  I'm expectant.  I don't need to know everything that's going to happen.  I just trust.  I just obey. 

It's because I know my Daddy loves me, and He's going to come through. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fill-in-the-Blank Friday: The Other (New) Project(s) I'm Working On

The more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that the main reason God gave me a decent singing voice was because I sing all the time.  I sing in the choir at church.  I sing in the car.  I sing in the shower.  I sing while working with the kids.  I sing in my apartment for no apparent reason.  I sing when I'm walking down the aisle in the grocery store.  I even sing when I run sometimes--though that sounds a lot more like loosely organized wheezing and panting.  Seriously, the seven-year-old I watch told me that all my singing was starting to annoy her, and when the seven-year-old says stuff like that, it means there's a problem.  Or that she just likes to be rude.  Or both.

So anyway, I sing a lot, and if I couldn't carry a tune, it would be even more annoying.  So God decided to do the world a favor and give me a voice that doesn't suck too much most of the time.

However, since my voice doesn't suck too much most of the time, and since the poetry I've written is only good enough to be modified into sappy song lyrics, I tried writing some songs.  This required the ability to play an instrument.  Or at least the ability to pretend I can play an instrument.

Marching Band wasn't my thing (sorry, Mom).  The flute wasn't my instrument (sorry again, Mom).  The guitar is my instrument!  Actually, the guitar isn't really my instrument either, but I don't let little things like a lack of mad guitar skills keep me from pretending I can play.  My sister and brother did marching band; I took guitar lessons.  My brother and sister were band geeks; I was a wannabe hippy geek.  Only, most awesome guitar players teach themselves guitar, and most bad guitar players take lessons.  I am no exception.  I took lessons.  For maybe like a year when I was sixteen/seventeen.  I haven't improved much since then.  I might have even gotten worse.

I tried taking a piano class for a semester.  We shall not speak of it.


So with my horrible poetry skills, my mastery of 7 guitar chords, and voice that doesn't suck too much most of the time (and about 15 years of bad song writing), I've managed to write about 20 decent songs.  I've written more than that, of course, but some of them are so bad that I want to forget about them--like that semester of piano class.

I've been meaning to do something with them for a while now, but the time hasn't worked out.  So I really need to get my act together and contact the nice dude to actually set up a time to actually record some of these songs.  I was considering donating all proceeds of sales from these cds, and I'd still like to do that, but there's something that bothers me.  All Most Some of the songs I want to record are, well, dreadful.  And I don't really think most people would want to pay a set fee for songs that are, well, dreadful.  Unless you're just a glutton for punishment.  Or my mom.  Who payed $200 for a flute I can't remember how to play, not that I could ever really play to begin with.  Sorry, Mom.

One of my friends recently told me about a site called, which enables artists (after I record something, can I consider myself a recording artist?  Oh yeah!) to offer their music for download, and it enables listeners to name their own price for that download.   I'd love to be able to get my music out there for a "suggested donation" type deal.  And that "suggested donation" would go to "The Creative Ministries of Ruth Campbell."  Which is a fancy way of saying I'd be getting the "suggested donations."

But that's just with the first cd.  I'd like to record a second one, which will hopefully be more awesome because I'd hopefully be getting lots of donations from the first cd to help me make the second cd more awesome (like with liner notes and stuff).  Because the second cd is actually going to have some of my more awesome songs on it.  And it's going to have an awesome theme.  It's actually going to be serious--because I'm awesome enough to be able to be serious sometimes.  And I really would like to donate all the proceeds from the second cd, because I think that would be an awesome thing to do.  And I really do like the word awesome, don't you?

So stay tuned.  And if you feel as though you've been staying tuned long enough and I'm still dragging my feet, feel free to poke me. 

And I might write a song about it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Single Question?

I haven't been blogging about it as much here, but just because I haven't been blogging about it doesn't mean I'm not thinking/talking about it.

A few weeks ago I started writing a little about a blog project I'd like to start.  I still haven't started it, but I've talked to a few people, and I'm hoping to talk to a few more.  I'd like to see this project start fairly soon--at least by the end of the year, but hopefully much sooner.

My original idea for a name for this blog/project/experiment/whatever was "Singled In," but I got to looking around the interwebz and realized that "Singled In" wasn't really that original after all.  I'm still thinking of possible names for this, but the name I keep coming back to is "Single Question."

I'm pretty sure this name is lame, but I can't think of anything better.  And it's descriptive of my project for two reasons:  1) What I want to do with this blog is ask questions about singlehood, marriage, God, unity, the Church, parenting, etc.  As a single person, I'd like to see how other people (married, single, divorced, widowed, etc.) would answer these questions.  2) Most of my blogs would consist of a single question.

I haven't yet gotten the response I've hoped for regarding this blog idea, and I'm guessing there are several reasons for that.  People just haven't heard about it.  People aren't sure what to say in response to it.  People are waiting until I follow through with it until they decide whether they want to get on board or not. 

Another reason I've considered is that perhaps people just aren't sure exactly WHAT I'm doing or WHY I'm doing it.  I will hope to answer this question in the first few blogs when I get that up and running, but here's a brief answer to those questions.  Since I hope to ask a lot of questions of others, it is only right that I start by answering a few questions.

A few years ago, someone asked me about the singles ministry at my church.  And well, we don't really have one.  But my friend's question made me start thinking about the purpose of singles ministries, about whether or not some churches seem to create invisible (and, in my opinion and experience, unnecessary) barriers between married people/families and single adults.  Over the past couple of years, I've even toyed with writing a book on the subject.  But I soon realized that all I have is my own experiences, and that's not enough to write a book.  Eventually, God led me to the idea of this blog project, and I really think it's time to get started on it.

So what is this blog idea?

I have hopes that "Single Question" or whatever I end up calling it (suggestions welcome, please!) will be a place where I can ask questions about singlehood, marriage, parenthood, divorce, single parenting, widowhood, Church unity, etc., in the hopes that people from many different backgrounds will respond with their thoughts, experiences, and even other questions.  I will also (perhaps once a week) blog about some of my own thoughts and experiences as a single adult in the church, including some of the more humorous aspects of singlehood. 

Why do I want to start this blog?

This is a question I have asked myself more than once, and it's a very important question.  There isn't just one purpose of this blog, and yet there is.  Some of the reasons I have for wanting to do this include the desire to accumulate information (through asking questions and hopefully getting a variety of answers from a variety of sources), the desire to help others understand a different point of view than their own, the desire to share my own thoughts and experiences, the desire to help foster unity among people from different marital, etc. backgrounds, and the desire to help single people see areas where they can serve in the church.  The main purpose in all of this, however, is to glorify God.  I truly believe this is a vision the Lord has given to me, and I believe He's going to complete it through me.  I just have to have faith as it gets started up and keep an open mind as He takes it where He wants to take it.

What it is NOT: "Single Question" (or whatever I call it) is NOT a blog that will include rants about the assumed unfairness of being single in today's society/church (I might include humorous and even sarcastic bits about misunderstandings that some married people have expressed towards single adults, but I hope these will be used sparingly--and will be taken lightly and not seriously).  It will NOT include pointless dating or relationship advice (though sometimes a particular question might come up that will involve meaningful conversation about dating/marital relationships). It will (hopefully) NOT include bashing of ideas that I don't personally understand (such as organized singles ministries)--in fact, part of the reason I want to ask questions is so that I might gain understanding.

And one more question: Who is this blog for? Answer: Everyone.  Answer: You.  I hope you'll consider reading it, once it gets up and running.  If it's going to work, it will have to be a group effort.

If you have any questions, leave a comment here, on Twitter, or on facebook.  Please please please be in prayer for this!  Let me know your thoughts, and spread the word!  (If you scroll near the top of this page and look at the left side bar, you'll see "Like it? Share it!" which allows you to easily share this blog with others on facebook and/or Twitter.  It's that easy.)

And seriously, if you have any comments/suggestions about a name for this project (or if you actually like the name I've been considering), I'd be happy to hear them. 


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday Sum Up: Day of Awesome

"Let me 'splain.  No, there is too much.  Let me sum up."  -Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

What happened this week?  I don't know.  All I remember was yesterday, which was probably somewhere in the top 25 of the best days of my life.  Here's how it went:

-Woke up. 6:30. Ate a protein bar.  That doesn't sound exciting, but woo boy!  Those Zone Perfect Dark Chocolate Strawberry bars are in-freakin-credible. 

-Read some chapters of Isaiah.  Mainly prophetic ones.  About Jesus.  And how it was too small a thing for our BIG God to redeem only Israel.  Good stuff.

-Met with my running group.  I didn't have to go to work yesterday, so I stayed longer than usual and ran five miles, and probably could have gone longer if I really wanted to.  I'm feeling much more comfortable with the idea of that 10K now.

-Didn't go to work.  I love Saturdays at RTK, but seriously, getting a Saturday off every once in a while is nice, too.

-Got ready for PenNate's wedding.  My hair refused to cooperate, so I put it in the "bun of shame."

-Went to PenNate's wedding.  Penny and Nate have been my good friends for about 5 years, give or take a few months.  I've seen them grow in godliness as God has brought them together.  It was such a joy to be able to experience their wedding with them.

-Served cake (not wedding cake, but the other cakes at the dessert table) at PenNate's reception.  Okay, so I butchered cakes at PenNate's wedding reception.  This (among other reasons) is why people shouldn't let me play with knives.

-Watched PenNate drive away!  Yay bubbles!

-Helped take down stuff from PenNate's wedding.

-Started thinking WAY too much about what I want to do with/for/at my wedding/reception if I ever get married.  Seriously...I've been in enough weddings and helped with enough weddings to know that they're so much work, but I kinda want to be a bride.  They make it look so much fun  So yeah.  I've decided.  I'm getting married.  Any takers?  I'm accepting applications.  As previously noted, any man close to the age of 30 with mad guitar skills, a love of fuzzy kitty cats, a well-paying job and/or a rich uncle who's about to die, and a Scottish and/or Australian accent will get special consideration.  Anyone?  Anyone? Bueller?

-Stood around talking to two guy friends after the wedding and ended up going to Taco Bell with them.  We drove separately, and I ended up getting there at the same time as one of my friends.  We entered the restaurant together and he commented that it looked like we were on a date.  Which became a running joke I'll probably write about on my Socially Awkward Adventures blog.

-Had "THE WORST DATE EVER."  Which was actually a lot of fun.

-Went home and crashed.

-Realized I'd left tons of stuff in the car.  Uncrashed.  Got stuff out of my car.  Went inside.  Recrashed.

This week, I really need to do some work on my various creative projects.  Please, if you see me, ask me if I've asked people to help me with my projects, because that's really what I think I need to do this week.  I hate asking people for stuff, but lately lots of people have wanted to help me.  I think God's teaching me humility as He teaches me trust.  Overwhelmed by the love of my friends and the love of my God!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fill-in-the-Blank Friday: Like a Child

I still haven't figured out what I want to do with Friday blogs, so for now it's kind of like "whatever I want to write about Wednesday."  I'm open to suggestions if you have any...unless your suggestion is Fish Stick Friday, because I kind of hate fish sticks, and a blog series on them would stink more than they do.

So last night I was looking over a Bible lesson I'm supposed to be teaching to kids today.  I must admit, I'm just a little bit nervous about teaching this lesson.  It's not that I don't teach kids stories from the Bible.  It's not that I don't teach kids about God.  I like teaching small kids about God, Jesus, the Bible.  Sometimes I'm even good at it.  But this situation is a little different.

I'm going to be teaching school aged kids, not preschoolers. 

Some people don't see that there's a lot of difference in younger kids and just a little bit older kids.  But there is.  Especially for someone like me, who isn't technically a teacher.  I don't really have good teaching skills.  I had a professor in college who, for some reason, thought I was a natural teacher, and it always frustrated our relationship because I knew that deep down (and also on the surface), teaching just isn't one of my very special gifts.  I'm reminded of this every time I try to help one of the kids I watch with her homework.  Just this week I was looking at a very simple math problem (a story problem) that was stumping the 7th grader.  I knew how to solve it.  I even knew the answer.  But when I tried to explain it to her, I had no idea how.  I stumbled over words for a few minutes, and then I just said, "You're supposed to divide."  She said, "But I need to write an algebraic equation."  I said, "Well, I have no idea how they want you to do that, but just divide, because that will get you the right answer."  And I think I would have liked math a lot better and done a lot better in math if they had simplified it.  It seems to me that they make it as complicated as possible in order to try to explain the theories behind it.  I don't need the theories to know how to do it.  I just need to know how to solve it as simply as possible.  And now that my brain has developed a little more, I'm actually seeing some things that my math teachers were trying to explain to me, only as a kid it all confused me.  I'm wondering if I would have grasped stuff earlier if they hadn't made it complicated.

And I think the reason I am able to teach and actually like teaching preschoolers is because it's easier for me to talk to them.  Maybe I'm just more on their level or something.  And maybe that's not a bad thing.

When I teach preschoolers, I teach things I have a solid grip on, like colors, or numbers, or letters, or what a kitty cat says.  When I teach preschoolers about God and the Bible, it's also about things I have (or should have) a solid grip on, like "Jesus loves us," and "We don't have to be afraid.  We can trust God because He is strong and He loves us," and "God wants us to be kind and love one another."  I've never really attempted to teach anything much deeper than some basic principles and truths.

But the more I started thinking about it, the more I realize that it's the preschoolers that actually understand those basic truths.  They might have a little trouble putting those truths into practice (don't we all?), but most of the preschoolers I know have a lot to say when I ask them about Jesus.  They can recite Bible stories, but they also know that God is good, that God loves them.  Sometimes, on rare, blessed occasions, preschoolers can even apply some of the truths they've learned--by sharing a toy because they know it's what Jesus would want them to do, by singing a song about how big God is when they feel afraid.  These are the moments I just cherish.

More often than not, though, young kids have trouble looking beyond themselves.  They're not necessarily selfish; they're self-centered.  They are still figuring out that the world is made up of other people who have feelings that are just as valid as theirs.  So it's hard to share; it's hard to remember to be kind; it's even harder to rise above such base emotions as fear and anger.  Let's face it--it's hard for adults to do those things.  But I think it might be harder for adults to do other things, too.

Most small children aren't going to question it when they hear that God loves them.  They might not be able to grasp the fullness that is God's love, and they're definitely not going to have any idea about how His love balances with His holiness (how many of us have more than just an inkling of a clue about that, anyway?).  Adults question.  Older kids question.  And questions aren't bad at all; they're a sign of maturity and growth.  I'd have issues with an adult "Christian" who never questioned their faith, because I firmly believe that one can't come to a firm faith without first questioning it.  And preschoolers question sometimes, too, but their questions are different. 

Preschoolers' questions are based on their understanding of the world as it applies to them.  If I told preschoolers a story about David and Goliath, they would probably get the idea that God protected David (and maybe even Israel), but their questions would be focused on the cool giant Goliath (How big was he?  How big was his sword?  Why did David cut off his head? Are there giants around today?  How come Mommy doesn't let me play with MY slingshot?).  They're honest questions from their little brains that have no idea how NOT to blurt out the first thing that comes into their minds.  But I've never heard a preschool aged child say, "Does Jesus really love me? Is God as strong as you said?"  Nope.  They get it.  They get that there's someone looking out for them.  They know that there's a God who is strong, who loves them. 

It's the grown-ups I know (including myself) that say or think things like, "How can God possibly get me through this situation? Does God even care? Is God even real?"  I get it that preschoolers pretty much believe what we tell them, but the Bible is full of stories that reveal a loving, strong God--preschoolers haven't learned how to doubt the Word of God yet.  So when I tell them a truth from the Bible, they take God at His Word.
In some ways, preschoolers grasp deeper truths than adults do.  These deeper truths are something some people try to make way too complicated.  But the deepest truths of Christianity aren't that complicated.  They're simple.  Most adults miss them, probably because we expect things to be complicated and like to make things complicated.  Grace, mercy, love, power, goodness, holiness--God isn't as complicated as we sometimes make Him out to be.  He's beyond our understanding, but little children don't worry about that.  They just know the simple things that elude the wise and learned.  It's enough for them.

And I'm very grateful God's given me opportunities to teach them...and learn from them.  He really is good.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Filtered Through Grace

You may remember the birthday par-tay I wrote about in my last post.  I needed that particular birthday par-tay to be over in time for me to be out the door at 4:15 so I could make it to my church choir practice at 4:30.  I discussed this with Miss Stefanie before agreeing to take the birthday par-tay gig.  She assured me they knew they were supposed to be completely done at 4:15, and that I would be able to leave on time. 

The birthday party (sorry, I couldn't pull of the par-tay thing anymore) didn't end until 4:25.  I practically pushed the family out the door at 4:30. 

And I was ticked off.  Not at Miss Stefanie, but at the situation.  And I'm making a public apology to Miss Stefanie right now, because while I didn't blame her for the incident, I did send her a not-nice text right after the party assuring her that I would NOT be doing any more birthday parties.  Basically, I was a jerk.

Sorry, Miss Stefanie.  You rock.  ...and I'm still not doing anymore birthday parties, but this time I'm not saying it in my "angry voice." 

But Sunday afternoon, as I was driving, already late for choir practice, I remember seething about the whole situation.  "I'm late!" I told myself.  "The people having the party made me late!  I agreed to be somewhere else right now, and I had to break a commitment!"  Really, it wasn't that big of a deal at all that I showed up 15 minutes late to choir practice, but I felt I had to be justifiably angry about something.  So I picked the whole "breaking a commitment thing" because it sounded nice and righteous.  Never you mind that I'm often about 5 minutes late just because I have trouble leaving my apartment on time....

Then yesterday, I really wanted to go running.  My foot was hurting over the weekend, and so I had decided to rest it until last night.  Then last night I was going to start training for my 10K (which is a month from today--yikes!).  It was all gonna work out.  I wasn't supposed to work last night--I was just "on call" because the mom I work for was "on call."  And she hardly ever gets called in.  But she did.  So I did, too.

And the dad was supposed to be home in time for me to meet with my running group, but then he wasn't.  That wasn't his fault and I didn't blame him.  It was just that by the time I got off it was too late to meet my running group, and in fact, it was too dark to go run at all.

So I went home with full intentions to get on my elliptical and at least get some exercise.  Instead, I threw myself a minor cranky-pants party and ate a few handfuls of candy corn. 

I was pouting.  I was pouting because things didn't go my way again.  And, once again, it was something good that I wanted to do that another obligation prevented me from doing. 

And after several minutes of being a cranky-pants, I finally started talking to God.  Only I wasn't being very nice about the whole thing.  The gist of my prayer was, "God, the stuff I'm wanting to do is good stuff.  I wanted to run and start training for that 10K, and I need to do it.  You know I need to do it.  Why would You allow that to be prevented from happening?  This is like the other night when I wanted to be on time for choir practice, and You allowed that to be prevented, too.  What's up with that?"

God  responded, "Oh, so you're asking me now?  I was wondering if you were ever going to get around to that.  Yes, I allowed this.  I allowed it because you obviously have something to learn from it."


It's been a slow, sometimes painful lesson, but God is gradually teaching me that every single thing that comes my way is filtered through grace.  I've said that before on here, and I'll probably say it again.  I'm repetitive because that's how I learn.  Through repetition.  As God's repeating these lessons and themes in my life, they're bound to come up again and again in my blogging. 

Everything that comes my way is something God allows.  As hard as it is for me to trust, this is a difficult concept to wrap my brain around.  If everything seems to be going well, God allows that.  If a kid gets snot all over my sweater, while I'm pleading, "Let's not snot Miss Ruth's sweater, please," God allows that.  If my brakes start making squeaky noises that lead me to assume I've got even MORE work that needs to be done on my car, God allows that.  If hectic life situations prevent me from doing something noble that I really want to do, God allows that.  And if God allows it, then God will provide grace to get through it, one way or another. 

Please don't think I'm making light of life.  I know the examples I listed above might seem really trite and unimportant.  Getting snot on my sweater isn't a huge deal.  Needing new brakes on my car is a little bit bigger of a deal.  But I have no idea what my readers are going through.  You might be experiencing a tremendous heartache that doesn't make sense.  You might have lost a loved one.  You might have found out someone you love has cancer.  You might be suffering through another month of unemployment and financial difficulty.  You might be struggling with addictions, with anger, with rejection, with fear.

I don't know what you're going through.  But I know that God is near to the brokenhearted.  And I know that His grace is sufficient.  God may or may not have caused whatever issues you're dealing with.  Sometimes our pain is the result of our own sin; sometimes it's the result of someone else's sin.  Sometimes life just stinks.  Whether or not God has caused our pain and problems, He has allowed these things in our lives.  Sometimes that's to teach us something; sometimes that's just to bring us closer to what we really need in Him.  Honestly, I don't know all the reasons why we have to struggle.

But I firmly believe there is mercy in those struggles.  If He's allowed them, He will provide what we need to get through them.  It might not be what we expect or desire, but provision will be there.

Everything we encounter is filtered through grace.  And lately, the small inconveniences in my life have been opportunities to trust God.  They've also been opportunities to love others.  And sometimes I fail and sometimes I succeed, but God is faithful to keep teaching me in the midst of all of it. 

And I still have no clue where He's leading me, but I know He's changing me.  He's preparing me for something that's probably going to take a little bit of flexibility on my part.  These little tests He's allowing are preparing me for greater challenges that I'm going to face further down the road.  I'm learning.  I'm learning to love others even when they've inconvenienced me or even drastically hurt me.  I'm learning to trust God even when I can't see rhyme or reason for what's going on in my life.  I know I'm not there yet, but right now I'm just overwhelmed that God would love me enough to work on me, to make me more into the person He wants me to be. 

Sweater snot happens.  Flat tires and bum brakes happen.  Heartbreaks happen.  Deaths happen.  Pain and problems and annoyances and outbursts and bills and illnesses and stress and struggles happen. 

There is mercy in the struggle.

Everything is filtered through grace.

Everything is an opportunity to trust God and to love others.

We can't control what other people do to us, but we can choose to love.  We can choose to trust and obey.  It's not easy, but there's grace for that, too.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday Update: Quick Version

I have to keep this quick because I have to go to work in a few minutes.  I typically do NOT work on Sundays, but there's a birthday par-tay at one of the places where I work, and no one else wanted to do it.  Neither did I, really, but somebody had to.  So, Miss Stefanie, if you're reading this, yes, you do owe me big time.  And I love you.  And you're awesome.  And I had better get out of there by 4:15, or I'm coming to get you in your sleep.

1. I got to talk to friends this week.  Actual friends.  That was nice.  In the world of multiple jobs and sometimes multiple personalities, it's nice to be able to find time to just grab a cup of coffee with a friend.  While I haven't done anything official towards my new project/experiment thing, I was able to get some good encouragement and some good ideas from those conversations.  I'm very grateful God gives us friends.

2. I signed up for a 10K (6.2 miles) which will take place on Nov. 5, which, in case you're keeping track of the passage of time, is just a little over a month from now.  Most days, I'm able to comfortably run 3 miles.  Sometimes I can do 4.  I haven't attempted more than that, and lately, my running has been increasingly difficult.  Last week I got sick on Saturday while trying to run.  I also got sick on Tuesday, partly because it was humid, something really humid.  Thursday, however, I ran a really good 3 miles and would have run more if it wasn't already too dark for personal comfort.  Then Friday, my left ankle (which I badly sprained like 7-8 years ago) started hurting like the dickens.  Like the dickens, I tell you.  I don't even know what that phrase really means, but my ankle hurt.  So I'm hoping it's just being mean because it doesn't like the colder weather we've been having, because I really need my ankle to start being nice again.  A nice ankle or two are kind of important to training for and running a 10K.

3) I broke a rule and checked out a library book.  I"m not supposed to be reading right now--not for fun anyway.  But see, I was at the library with the kids I watch, and the almost 13 yr old recommended this book, so I HAD to check it out.  I haven't read it yet, so there's a possibility I might just take it back without getting caught up, but...yeah, I'll probably read it.  And the two books that follow it in the series. 

4) I need to start editing one of my books.  I was supposed to start that this week.  I did not.  Feel free to poke me with sharp objects until I start doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

5) Please keep praying for me for wisdom, courage, and a good kick in the pants.  And also that my ankle starts liking me again.  And that I don't die on November 5.