Posts Tagged With: love

For Mom

First things first–Mom, grab tissues. I got teary-eyed thinking of writing this, so I can guarantee that you will cry.

Now, onto the important part.
I don’t even know where to begin or how to thank you for everything that you have done for me–whether I have realized it or not. I know that Leeann and I have done many things in the past to show you the love we have for you. This is the first time my love and gratitude will be spelled out in public, for all to see.

Mom,
I know that you have never sought out to be famous, but I can assure you that you are very famous. Sure, Hollywood might have forgotten again to come make a major-motion picture about you. I know that the New York Times keeps running stories other than the story of you. You are not a YouTube sensation, and no talk shows are competing for your presence. Action News has never interviewed you. The media’s forgetfulness has not made you less famous. You see, you are famous simply because of how you have loved me–and continue to love me.

mothersday

Whenever someone asks me what I am reading, it is because you have given me your love of reading. You taught me to love words, to love reading, and to love books.

Whenever someone says that I have taken a good photograph, it all comes back to you. You were always snapping pictures of our family, recording history and capturing memories. As a photographer, I can never say thank you enough for photographing our family as the years have gone by. You have forever recorded some of my most treasured and important memories. You gave me my first camera when I was a lot younger, and I fell in love with taking my own photos right away. The rest is history.

Whenever someone compliments me for being creative, they are really complimenting you. I still remember sitting next to you in church and asking you week after week how to draw different things as I drew in my bulletin. Even though you didn’t always know, you never let that stop you. You took a hold of my pencil and showed me which lines went where.
Thank you for loving me well enough to put up with my constant requests of, “Mom, can you help me with my hair?” even though I am twenty-six and should be able to pull off an amazing hairstyle on my own without help. Pinterest makes everything look easy, but a photo from someone else’s life does not help my heart to feel loved. You sitting there, taking the time to learn and try your hardest as you brush, comb, control, and attempt to style my hair shows me your love. When people compliment the hairstyles you have done, you become more famous. I never take credit for what you have done.

You have taught me that dreaming is something we should constantly engage in. Sometimes, we dream big. Sometimes, though, we dream together just by walking through the kitchen appliances in Target, yet again.

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You show your love in a variety of ways and always have: dancing with me in the supermarket, having the patience to deal with me the many times I have been sick and miserable, taking me to the playground after school just because, coming to all of my (home) soccer games and track meets, snuggling with me on the couch, throwing me a princess birthday party even though I am an adult, buying me gifts that you knew I would love yet would never ask for, chaperoning countless field trips, handwriting letters for me when I was working at camp and living at college, praying for me, teaching me responsibility at a young age, cooking and baking with me, supporting my dreams (even the crazy ones), listening to me (no matter what), making way too many jokes to even count, speaking truth over me, protecting me, becoming friends with my friends, trusting me enough to allow me to spread my wings, allowing me to keep living at home (even though I am sure that you never imagined I would still be living here now), cooking meals for me, doing laundry load after laundry load, cleaning the house, hugging me and kissing me, allowing me the time and space to be creative, de-licing my hair when I was in 4th grade, driving me ALL over the place (even the one block to school when I twisted my ankle in junior high)—I could list example after example of your love, but there is no way I could be finished in time for Mother’s Day. No matter what the specific example of love looks like, they all share one common connection. You have shown me your love simply by sharing your heart with me. We always joke that we share a brain, but I think we also share a heart. There is no other way to explain our similarities in our personality and viewpoints. There is no other way to explain the depth of the love we have for each other. A few years ago, you bought a birthday card for me that referred to me as a “fraughter”—a friend who is also a daughter. It is an honor to be considered a close friend of yours, in addition to being one of only two people on the face of the planet who can call you “Mom.”

mothersday3

 

I know that sharing your heart with someone is not always an easy decision to make. It’s a choice to be vulnerable and selfless. I thank you for trusting me enough to share your heart with me. When I was growing up, I only knew you as Mom—and that’s how it is supposed to me. Now that I am older, I have been allowed the joy of getting to know you not just as Mom (because that relationship is always growing and changing), but also as Val. I know that your life has not always been easy, but the strength of your heart and your faith in Jesus are such clear indicators of who you are. You possess and radiate beauty, strength, faith, love, grace, humor, understanding, compassion, mercy, and a heart that is always thinking of others first.

mothersday4

 

I know that living with two adult children isn’t the easiest of situations. I know that tensions sometimes flare up. I know that my room is rarely as clean as you want it to be. I know that I sometimes scare you when I come home late or leave early for work. I know that sometimes it seems as if we do not listen to you. If this letter is any indication, we are listening to you, more than you ever realize. Your job as mom has made you famous—not because your name is a household name—but because your heart touches and transforms the world every time Leeann and I leave home.

I love you and can’t wait to celebrate Mothers’ Day and your birthday with you!

Love,
Susan

PS. I would ask you for your autograph, since you are famous, but I already have it in multiple places—written on papers and also written on my heart!

mothersday5

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dating Is Not A Formula (And God Is Not A Genie)

This is the second post in a series my sister and I are writing together. We are taking on common misconceptions in Christian circles about dating and trying to reconcile them with real life situations. Whatever your relationship status–be it happily married, engaged, in a serious relationship, divorced, single and loving it, single and hating it, a complicated relationship–we hope and pray that our words are able to encourage you.

I’m convinced that Christians who give dating advice almost all love math.

Math was never a favorite subject of mine. When I was little, math didn’t seem that bad–I’m really good at basic math. I can wrap my head around those concepts. As I grew older, math became more complicated. Algebraic formulas and geometric proofs frazzled my brain as I worked to understand them. Algebraic formulas made (somewhat) sense to me because there was a structure, a defined procedure to follow in order to find the value of x.

One thing that I have noticed among the Christian relationship/dating advice that I have come across is that almost all of it involves some type of formula.

“If you want to find your future spouse, you must do this, add this, subtract this from your life, add this in two steps later, divide it, find the square root of it, and multiply all of this by the level of patience that you have.”

It is almost like they are telling me to complete the Quadratic Equation, with “x” symbolizing my future husband.

quadratic_formula

“If you want to find your future spouse, you must pray about it as often as you can.” “If you want to find your future spouse, you must be obedient; you must read Scripture daily; you must do everything else that makes you a “good” Christian–give money to the poor, fast, evangelize, disciple, worship, attend church….” “If you want to find your future spouse, you have to be fully content being single.” “If you want to find your future spouse, you must not actively desire a relationship.” And of course, we can’t forget the two most commonly quoted Scriptures given as dating advice—“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).” “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23).”

If finding your future spouse is as easy as plugging some life circumstances into a formula and waiting for it to work itself out, there is an obvious answer to the question of, “Well, why am I still single?”–it is because you haven’t done the formula. In other words, being single becomes a result of not fully living out the Christian life.

If formulas based on “good Christian behaviors” were the end-all to attain your future spouse, I should have been married before I graduated high school. The truth is, I am nowhere near entering into a dating relationship, let alone marriage. Just the other day, an older guy joked with me, “You should be married off by now.” The truth is, I can count on one hand the number of guys who have shown a romantic interest in me. The truth is, I have friends who in complete honesty have told me, “I don’t understand why you don’t have a guy pursuing you. You have so many good qualities.” The truth is, I have no answer for the question, “Why aren’t any guys lining up at the door to date you?”
guy_knocking(image credit: Reidsville Baptist Church)

God is not Genie in Aladdin. You can’t just rub a magic lamp (or complete a formula) and have God grant you three wishes. “Poof! What do you need?” “Poof! What do you need?” “Poof! What do you need?” is not how God works. God also does not work in formulas. Jesus consistently called out the Pharisees for their insistence that religious duties and full obedience of the Law were your one-way ticket to salvation. If following specific rules and structure doesn’t give me eternal life, why would I want a specific, cookie-cutter plan so that I could “find” the value of x—I mean, my future spouse?

My life is not a scavenger hunt from God. I do not get any brownie points from Jesus for handing Him a list of things that I have found. “Look Jesus! I found my husband! I had to look all over for him! You sure made that difficult, Jesus.” God is my Provider in all things—including my future husband. Let’s leave the formulas where they belong—back in Algebra class—and live our lives leaning into the adventure God has for us, trusting Him as Provider.

Categories: Love & Dating, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Single Is Not Second-Class

This is part one of a short series that I am writing with my sister. We are taking on common misconceptions in Christian circles about dating and trying to reconcile them with real life situations. Whatever your relationship status–be it happily married, engaged, in a serious relationship, divorced, single and loving it, single and hating it, a complicated relationship–we hope and pray that our words are able to encourage you.

I’ve heard it all. As a single woman in her mid-twenties who has grown up in the Church, I’ve come across every possible opinion of what dating looks like for a believer in Jesus. I’ve read the books. I’ve heard the sermons. “You should date.” “Don’t date at all.” “Courting is the way to go.” “No missionary dating.” “If you do X, Y, and Z, God will reward you with your future spouse.” “A relationship will happen when you least expect it.” If you attend a Christian college or work at a Christian summer camp, you know that you are expected to walk away from it, hand in hand with your future spouse. The mentality of “ring by spring” is serious business.

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I know the intentions behind every one of those statements are to give young adults guidance and direction, yet I can’t help but wonder–why is so much emphasis placed on being in a dating relationship? Why is there an unspoken mentality that being single in your mid-twenties signifies that there is something wrong with you?

I hate when people, upon learning that I am single, respond with pity in their voice. “Aww, I’m sorry to hear that.” There is always a part of me that wants to respond: “Why are you sorry that I am single?” Before I have a chance to respond, they are almost always giving me advice that I didn’t ask for, advice that I’ve heard before time and time again. “Enjoy this season of singleness while it lasts, but don’t worry, it will be your turn soon.”

Marriage with my earthly husband is not the end goal of my life.

Marriage will be part of my life, yes, but not the end goal. The end goal of my life is to live fully for Jesus, to do what He asks me to, in preparation for the glorious day of His marriage to the Church. My relationship status should not define or limit me in the context of following after Jesus. I am not any less significant because I do not have a significant other.

For many years, I prayed for my future husband to be brought into my life as soon as possible. I had bought into the lie that if I wasn’t dating “by my age,” that there was something wrong with me. I felt pressure all around me to enter into a dating relationship as soon as possible, because “time is a-tickin’.” I am no longer praying for my future husband to come RIGHT NOW, simply because I don’t want my impatience to cloud my vision of what is before me in this moment. Serving and loving Jesus is the best adventure possible, whether you are single or married. Right now, I am single—and in love with Jesus. When I am dating, I will still be in love with Jesus. When I am married, I will still be in love with Jesus. I do not have to wait until marriage to experience the full life that Jesus promised. It is available for the taking, so today I will grab hold of it with all that I have. I will do the same tomorrow and each day until I see Jesus face to face.

andthatswhoiam_single_free

(image credit: and that’s who I am)
Categories: Love & Dating | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know (Valentine’s Edition)

Valentine’s Day and I have a love-hate relationship. I love love. I love celebrating the fullness, depth, and variety of love that this world has to offer. I love getting cards and candies. I hate how Valentine’s Day has come to be a day of exalting romantic relationships, while disparaging singleness. I know I am single and do not need extra reminders–20% off Something Sweet For Your Sweetheart, Top Ten Ways To Know He’s Your Man, Half Off Dinner With Your Other Half–everywhere I look.

Earlier this week, I stopped by Kohl’s after work. I went in to just have a jewelry associate measure my fingers so that I could finally know what ring size I am. I had found a couple of beautiful rings online, but didn’t want to buy the wrong size. Before I got to the jewelry department, sales racks caught my attention. 60, 70, and 80% off are the prices that I can afford at Kohl’s. I looked through a few sales racks, and then found myself meandering through the departments. After awhile, I did make it over to the jewelry section. I was in no rush, and continued to take my time as I looked over the many beautiful items. I did get my fingers sized for rings as I chatted with a sales associate.

I was about to leave the store and run a few more errands before I went home, but a couple of sales racks that I had not looked through before grabbed my attention. It couldn’t hurt to look through a few more racks. I looked through the clothing, not looking for anything in particular, and not even expecting to find anything that I wanted to buy. I knew that I was going to be buying myself a ring online soon, and didn’t have extra money to buy clothes that I didn’t really need.

In my relationship with Jesus, I have found out, through many experiences, that Jesus loves to surprise my heart in very intimate ways. He knows my heart and knows what it takes to make me smile, to fill me with joy, and what it takes for me to feel–and know–that I am loved by Him.

* * *

Months ago, my sister and I were at Kohl’s. I saw an adorable pair of jeans by Lauren Conrad. Up until last year, I had never even heard of Lauren Conrad. When I went Easter dress shopping and a beautiful dress from Lauren Conrad fit me like a glove, I became a fan of her clothing line. The day I was with my sister, I tried on a pair of Lauren Conrad jeans. Finding jeans that fit me is a huge challenge, as I am small and short. Most times, I end up buying short jeans and have to have them hemmed. The Lauren Conrad jeans fit me perfectly. I showed my sister and was beaming with joy. Unfortunately, Lauren Conrad clothing is a bit out of my price range, and her jeans are no exception. I left the store without the jeans, and soon forgot about the experience.

But Jesus had not forgotten.

* * *

I passed hanger after hanger on the sales rack, unimpressed with the selection before me. I saw a pair of Lauren Conrad jeans among the articles of clothing. I recognized them instantly as the ones I had loved many months prior–light blue with small white hearts printed on the denim. My heart started to beat faster with excitement as my fingers worked faster to get to the jeans. I’ve learned from almost every past shopping experience to not get my hopes up, especially in regards to jeans, especially in regards to jeans on the clearance rack.  My heart couldn’t help but to be excited–could they really be my size?! I pulled them off of the rack and looked at the tag.

The jeans were my size–a size that rarely makes it to the clearance rack, because of its popularity. This one pair in my hands was the only pair of this design left in the entire store–and online–and it was my size.

I turned the price tag over, to see if they really were on clearance, or if another customer placed them on the 80% off rack out of convenience. They were on clearance, and within my price range.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Some people might say that my finding a pair of jeans is not God at work–it’s simply that I was lucky that day. Some people might say that there are more important things for God to be taking care of than giving me a pair of jeans as a gift from His heart. To me, these jeans–jeans that I would never have considered buying a couple of years ago because of their delicate beauty–are a visible sign of God’s faithfulness. Between the time that I found the jeans and ended up buying them, I did not pray, asking God to bless me with those jeans. I didn’t save up money for them. I simply continued to delight myself in the Lord and follow His leading in this adventure called life.  Even when we cannot see it, God is at work in our lives. Sometimes, He is quiet, simply because He is working on preparing a surprise for you.  The Bible speaks multiple times of our Heavenly Father giving good gifts to His children. Sometimes, the good gifts He gives come in the form of designer blue jeans, on the 80% off clearance rack at Kohl’s, with an additional coupon that I used from my e-mail, as an early Valentine’s Day present.

I have not forgotten you. Happy Valentine’s Day, my beloved.

valentines_jeans

He is our Portion, and we are His prize

Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes

If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking

So Heaven meets Earth like a sloppy wet kiss

My heart turns violently inside my chest

I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us

Categories: Simple Joys | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Dear Writer’s Block (WB),

I’ve never written a break-up letter before, thanks to you. I’ve had these feelings and thoughts in my head for some time now, but whenever I wanted to write them down, you wouldn’t let me. You have strived so hard to become first in my life, and now you have finally earned it. You are the inspiration and the reason for my first break-up letter.

I don’t appreciate your visits or your rudeness. Yes, for awhile we were friends. I knew you were around as much as you could, but I never understood why. I couldn’t figure you out. You showed up at inopportune times and made yourself at home–even when I didn’t want you around or when I told you to leave. Your arrival was always announced from the top of your lungs. If I ignored you, you hovered around me until I was forced to acknowledge you.  Once I acknowledged you, I had given you what you had desired the most–my attention.  You then started up a conversation with me–the same idea every time, disguised by fancy words and a convincing tone.

WB, I’m on to you. I can now see you for what you really are.

You are insecure.

You are anxious.

You are afraid.

You are a liar.

You are a thief.

You are selfish.

 

How did I come to see all of these things after an extended period of time of hanging around you and not seeing them?

Well, for as long as I’ve known you, there has been someone who I have known longer. They recently came back into my life. The relationship that I have with them has never been a secret. In fact, my friendship with them is why you act the way you do around me.  It’s why you are so overprotective of me. It’s why you are jealous.  I never should have allowed myself to walk away from the deep friendship and relationship that Creativity and I have.

I am breaking up with you, Writer’s Block, because Creativity has won my heart.

Remember, WB, in The Little Mermaid, how Ariel gave up her voice so that she could be transformed into a human by Ursula? Unbeknownst to me, you have led me down the same path. I may not have signed a glowing contract, but you tricked me into giving up my voice. You knew that you are insecure, so you convinced me to believe lies about myself, just so you wouldn’t be alone. You told me that I have no room for Creativity in my life anymore. You told me that Creativity and I have no future together. You told me that Creativity has nothing to offer me. You were afraid of the power of the voice that Creativity has given me, because you knew that in Creativity was the one thing that you could never be–fruitful. WB, you are the king of laziness and excuses. You can’t be part of my life anymore. My voice will no longer be silenced by your theft, for your selfish gain.

Creativity is one of the best things that has ever come into my life. I’m not going to make the mistake of letting go of Creativity again. Creativity reminds me not only that I have a voice, I have a voice that is valuable. Creativity gives me opportunities to share my voice with the world. I have a voice so that through it, I can share my  heart and my viewpoint with the world. Creativity has given me courage, and will give me more courage in the future. That’s more than you ever offered me, WB. You gave me fear, doubt, and way too many wasted hours.  You are not welcome in my life anymore. Don’t stop by, announced or unannounced. Don’t call me, text me, e-mail me, or try to contact me in any way.  I’m sure you’ll see me around though–I’ll be walking hand in hand with Creativity.

magnetic poetry

 

Categories: Creativity, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Photo Challenge Days 14 and 16

I’m combining two days because the categories overlap, at least in my mind.

Day 14 challenge: A picture of someone you could never imagine your life without

Day 16 challenge:  A picture of someone who inspires you

The result:

Around my door and on a wall next to my door, I have pictures of friends and family–people whom I love, have experienced amazing things with, people who encourage me, people who inspire me, and people who I could never imagine my life without.

Categories: 30 Day Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Photo Challenge Day 12

The challenge:A picture of something you love.

The result:







Soccer. Devos outside on a warm day. Being barefoot. Music. My Bible. Penguins. My dSLR. My tripod! Writing. Sunsets and palm trees in one of my favorite places on earth.

Categories: 30 Day Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2010, summarized

I’m going to be writing about 2010 using some prompts from Reverb 10. I’m not going to use every single prompt, and I’m not going to use them in order.

That being said….

Soul Food What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

I would have to say that the most memorable meal of 2010 would have to be the dinner at Sean and Jade’s wedding. Sean and Jade had their reception at a place called Ram’s Head Inn. To those who do not live in South Jersey, Ram’s Head Inn is quite fancy. It was far above the price range of a college student, especially considering most of my meals were eaten on campus and paid for with my meal plan. Sean and Jade’s wedding was probably the only chance that I’ll ever have to eat at Ram’s Head Inn. Before we ate, they had appetizers and drinks. Marcelle and I had to constantly remind ourselves to not fill up on appetizers.
Once it was time to eat, we were seated. Charger plates, different courses, waiters with white gloves who carried themselves in a very proper manner and said, “Pardon my reach” instead of “Excuse me”—I knew that I was out of my element. I was seated with friends, and we all admired and giggled about the prestige. We started with a soup course, which was followed by salad, and then the main course. After the main course was cake and coffee. Everything that I ate was prepared perfectly and was quite simply, delicious. I did not finish my entire plate. Of the courses, I remember the main course the most. I had Filet Mignon, vegetables, and a potato dish that I do not know the name of. I gave Kate my fish, if I remember correctly, since she doesn’t eat a lot of red meat (and I wasn’t going to eat it anyway).
The food by itself was memorable, but the day will also not be forgotten. It was a day celebrating the love that Sean and Jade have for each other. It was a day celebrating with friends. It was a day when Marcelle and I sang to Sean and Jade for their video, cracking up the entire time. It was the first wedding that I’ve been to that hasn’t involved family. It was a day that reminded me of the power, beauty, and permanence of love.

March 6, 2010

Categories: 2010 in review, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Weddings and other girly stuff

Right now, my mom and sister are watching “Say Yes to the Dress,” and I’m in the next room listening.

The tomboy part of myself (the part that doesn’t even like wearing dresses or makeup or doing my hair) is cringing, knowing that I’m publicly writing about something that is so typically girly.

I have many friends who are either engaged or in a serious relationship that will most likely lead to an engagement. I also have friends my age who are already married (and some have kids). I, on the other hand, am very single. “Very single” meaning that there isn’t even anyone who I LIKE like (resorting back to elementary school language). Most days, I am completely content being single. There are some days when being single gets to me and I find myself wishing for someone to come sweep me off of my feet, etc.

It is on the days when I don’t want to be single that the meaning of this ring really plays out in my heart:
ani ledodi vedodi li

The ring, for those not familiar with Hebrew, says “ani ledodi vedodi li,” which translated means “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

“Woah, woah woah. Aren’t you single!?! What’s all of this ‘beloved’ talk?”

Yes, I am single. The reason that I wear the ring is not because of the love that any guy has in his heart for me. This ring is a reminder that while I don’t have the loving arms of a guy around me, I have the loving arms of God around me, and that is far better than any earthly love. God’s love is a love that is extravagant, never-ending, sacrificial, breath-taking, inspiring, and so much more. His love gives me joy, even in the midst of pain. I can come to Him at anytime and tell Him anything. Nothing on this earth can or will satisfy me as much as He does. His love never changes, even when I try to live for myself.

I still am waiting for God to bring a man into my life to fall deeply in love with. Like most of the girls on the planet (even tomboys), I have ideas and dreams about my wedding. It won’t be a frilly wedding, but when it comes, I know that it will come at the right time. Until that happens, I’m going to keep living in the love relationship that I’m already in.

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Love.

I love the way that Jesus is winning my heart to Him. I love Him more and more each day.

Time alone with God changes everything. =]

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