Archives for August 2012

So Long Sailor…

“What are we going to quit this Thursday?” I posed to my girlfriends as we lingered over a late lunch after church at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

The speaker on Sunday morning, Bob Goff, ignited the church with his infectious love and zeal for people, and had us all thinking about the lack of margin in our lives. We sat and reflected on what we needed to be let go of so we could more available to engage in loving relationships.

My dear friend leaned back in her chair and said, “I need to stop swearing. It’s not what I want to model for my kids.”

And her words startled me because I realized how not that long ago this was a HUGE issue for me.

But without even realizing it, my desire to verbally scrape the filth off the bathroom floor has disappeared.

How did that happen?

It’s certainly not because I’m more Christ-like, although I give it my best shot every day. I look in the mirror and the same old redeemed sinner stares back at me.

But In a moment of clarity I grasped why I’m now different in this area and how I inadvertently gained victory over my covert potty mouth.

I think it’s because I’ve made a HUGE effort to cut out the life draining activities and toxic relationships which perpetually keep me on the edge of an F-bomb leaking out.

If I’m honest, I was so overwhelmed with life (for a time) with the third baby, church plant, being the pastor’s wife, and juggling three jobs that resentment and bitterness were slowly brewing in my belly into a pity party of vulgarity.

Even if I didn’t say the bad word (good pastor’s wife that I am), I was probably thinking it.

But when I made some major life overhauls, thanks to my cranky heart –contentment and MARGIN started to fill in the cess-pool of obscenities. I still don’t know whether to laugh or cry at my heart condition, but more often than not, lately it seems like it might be a hidden blessing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, some people will always be jackholes and I have no qualms about calling them out, but there has been a massive shift in my verbal paradigm and for that I am eternally grateful.

At least my kids won’t remember me as Sailor Sam.

As for me, the thing I want to quit is being afraid. I have a laundry list of fears swirling around finances, my parent’s health, and my kid’s growing up able-bodied and sound; all of which give me chest pain if I dwell on them too long.

So, in light of the magnanimous Bob Goff (author of Love Does), I want to ask you…

What do you need to quit doing to make room in your life for love?

Taking the Honey out of Honeymoon. Why Buddymoon’s are the New Trend.

My husband and I always have the same conversation at weddings.

“Purity or shacking up?” my husband whispers.

I carefully examine the bride.  If she scowls or looks grumpy, it’s a no brainer-“they’ve slept together.”  If she cries walking down the aisle, I know immediately –“sex.” But if she floats down on cloud nine, gallops down with a goofy grin, or smiles like a Cheshire cat it’s just as obvious –“no sex” I exclaim.

It’s a gift I have, this radar for purity and wantonness (possibly because I’ve worn both pairs of shoes).

I can always tell at weddings if the couple has already consummated the relationship.  In marriages where sex is as common as brushing teeth, or better yet –flossing, the wedding is the denouement or the culmination of the relationship. 

These are the “bridezillas” who display a freakish sense of control over every tiny detail.  And it has to be perfect because the big day is about as good as it gets for her.

But for the bride who has a honeymoon to look forward to, a real honeymoon with a slow deliberate unveiling, a full vacation of exploring her beloved’s body, and a once in a lifetime retreat to connect physically with a man she has yearned and waited for, the wedding is just a step towards a new life together.

All things are fresh and new to the couple who has waited to have sex. But I remember all too well, waking up the day after I married my first husband. 

My exorbitantly overpriced bridal frock was crumpled on the chair, the carriage carted off and the ice sculptures melted along with my enthusiasm.  I thought I would feel differently once married, and I did, somewhat, but the disparity was more of an anticlimactic disappointment.  

Just to clarify, It had nothing to do with love or committment to the marriage.  I had both, but by acting married before I was married, I stole my own joy before it’s time, like a kid waking up on Christmas morning and knowing what’s under the tree because they snuck a peek when mom wasn’t looking.

It’s what so many couples do when they play house before the ring is on the finger, forgetting the repercussions which inevitably follow namely a boring honeymoon.

Been there…done that…BIG YAWN.

To compensate for the lack of awesomeness a honeymoon used to symbolize, the new trend according to the New York Times, is to take a “buddymoon “and bring the family and friends along.

W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist and the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia notes…

“Today, when about 65 percent of couple’s cohabitate prior to marriage, the honeymoon is less likely to be a major turning point in their relationship,” said Professor Wilcox.  “For them, I think having friends come along is less of a big deal and in some ways makes it more of a special and exceptional occasion.”

By taking the “honey” out of honeymoon, couples enter marriage already disenchanted enough with each other to need outside entertainment.  Thus they need “buddies” to get them through the hump of spending one week alone with the person they have just chosen to spend the rest of their lives with.

And this new trend makes me sad.

I think we –as a culture are losing a precious rite of passage by robbing OURSELVES of a once in a lifetime opportunity to revel in our spouse. 

Tim and I treasured our three-week honeymoon to the Mediterranean.  We loved, we laughed and we made new and amazing friends, who as fellow honeymooners shared our fledgling memories.

I believe in my heart that part of the reason my first relationship didn’t work out is because we didn’t hold our purity in high regard.  Because we had sex prior to marriage, it clearly made it easier for my ex-husband to have sex with someone else while we were married.  With God’s grace, I got a second chance to do it right and chose purity for my relationship with Tim…and it changed everything.

The second time around, I practically ran down the aisle (dragging my dad) to join my groom.  People commented they had never seen a smile as big and bright as my beam.  I didn’t notice the flower arch met an untimely crack, or the misplaced name cards or any of the other minor details that were far from perfect. 

All I saw was my honey.  And no offense to my buddies, but we did just fine without you.

Would you consider a buddymoon?

 

Modified from an article first posted on Kellerdating

An Experiment in Motives

I’m not very good at fasting.  Only once, did I manage three days without food, and it was traumatic enough to avoid repeating –ever.

But I recently came across an idea –or motto really, I thought was worthy of emulating.  It was a line in a mediocre movie that somehow made the film memorable because it stuck in my head and won’t go away, lodged in like a piece of sticky gum to the indent of a shoe. 

The depressed male protagonist reaches for a drink and offers one to the lovely lady he desires.  She admonishes him, pushes away the cocktail and states, “I don’t drink to feel better, I only drink to feel EVEN better.”

What a line!  A string of words so powerful I’m still thinking about it six months later.

Hmmmm? 

Do I drink to feel better or do I drink to feel EVEN better?

So, after much contemplation, I decided to try a little self-examination and take a month off of drinking alcohol, noting my motives and becoming self-aware of the moments I might be inclined to reach for a glass of wine or order up a frothy margarita to feel better. 

Now, I’m not a big drinker.  Some of my friends call me neurotic regarding my self-imposed limitations.  I almost never have more than two drinks unless its vacation and the effects are extended far throughout the day.  It’s a control thing, and a Jesus thing, and an issue with idiot’s thing –namely I don’t want to act like one.

But that being said, I’m no teetotaler.  I do like the mommy sippy cup on a Friday night, the skinny margarita on a Saturday afternoon, and the soothing mimosa of a Sunday brunch.  When I check off the box at the doctor I fess up to three drinks a week –maybe four.

It’s been ten days now of my self-imposed drinking fast and this is what I’ve discovered.

When it’s been a tough week of work, I feel entitled to a drink.  Stress, fatigue, kids…these all make me long for release, for the languid relaxation a good Cabernet has to offer.  If the wine accompanies chocolate…it’s even better.

On Saturdays when I am with my family and friends I want to celebrate.  I think my motives are the most appropriate here.  I’m happy, content and genuinely desire to enjoy relationships, a good meal and rejoice in my blessings.

But the toughest one to admit is I how much I long for a drink at brunch on Sunday following church.  And this one could go either way regarding the “feel better or EVEN better scale”.  Certain Sundays I feel encouraged and buoyant with joy and determination, but there are other days I feel exposed and prickly. Maybe the pastor hit a little too close to home and my emotions are in a tangled turmoil.

But out of rote habit I order a drink because it’s just what I do on Sunday –not a very good reason.

I also noticed when we cut out the drinks how I reached for sugar instead.  I wanted to stop and get a mocha coconut frappachino after church if I couldn’t have a glass of wine –darn it!

This little experiment has made me inordinately aware of my coping mechanisms and the emotions behind them.

I want to be the kind of person who takes every hurt and tension to the Lord.  But the truth is, I sprinkle a few burdens at the gym, drop off some more on a good run, hand a few over to chocolate and release the last voluntary dregs to a margarita. 

Then, and only then, do I hand over all the stuff I can’t control to God.  I can imagine him watching me carrying around my big pile of junk and chuckling at my woebegone state…just waiting for me to come and lay it at his feet.

We have about twenty more days of our drinking fast (I roped my husband into doing it as well) and it’s been deeply revealing about the state of my heart and where I turn to cope with the beautiful chaos of life.

How about you?  Do you drink to feel better, or to feel EVEN better?

 

What 20% of Successful Daters Know

Ever wonder if those commercials for Match.com are true? Match boldly claims one in five people currently meet online.

Really, come on?

They make it sound like everyone along with their pooch and second cousin from Arkansas met online, and if you don’t surf the web for a date you are clearly missing out on all the Appalachian hotties.

So, is it a bunch of advertising schmooze to get singles to flock to their site or is their truth behind their ostentatious assertion?

As I was doing research for the book Tim and I are writing on dating, I stumbled upon the study Match used for their statistics. And it was an eye-opener!

Current dating statistics now reveal almost 20% of relationships start online (17% to be exact).

As Pete the Cat from Mickey Mouse likes to say… “Well, pinch my papayas!” I had no idea internet dating was that big of a phenomenon? And that was two years ago, I bet the stats are even higher now!

In 2009 and 2010, Match.com engaged research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey to conduct three studies to provide insights into America’s dating behavior: a survey of recently married people, a survey of people who have used internet dating, and a survey of single people and people in new committed relationships.

Another shocker I didn’t expect to uncover is that more than twice as many marriages occurred between people who met at an online singles site than those who met in bars, at clubs and other social events combined.

So, just to make this crystal clear –your chances of getting married are better if you meet someone online, than say… in Hooters.

This makes sense, but what about church or work or all the other “social events” people meet at. If 83% of singles meet somewhere else, but their odds of getting married are lower, than the smart Christian dater might want to consider signing up for one of these sites in addition to their other networking methods.

Are you still reluctant? I was too after some bad bouts with the internet.

Mainly because as a former Match.com user myself, all the “Christian” guys I encountered were just as sex crazed and into hooking up as the rest. People check off the Christian box like the ethnicity box.

I live in America, I celebrate Christmas…therefore I am a Christian. (NOT)

(I really think they need to add a “Do you kiss on the first date?” hint, hint…box)

So, from personal and painful experience, I might suggest EHarmony or Christian Mingle.com, just to be safe, or even some of the new Christian sites out there, though I’m not familiar with all of them. It makes sense to avoid the sites that cater to the one-night stand crowd, unless it’s what you’re looking for. (In which case I recommend my husband’s dating boot camp)

I used to feel guilty telling people I went out with someone I met online, but times are a changing! And even though I didn’t meet my hubby there, I know a bunch of people in the church who did and are in great relationships moving towards marriage.

So go online. Don’t feel guilty, feel empowered! Just date smart!

Because you really don’t want to miss out on the Jesus loving hottie from Wisconsin your best friend just connected with while you were trying out your new moves at Hooters.

Burritos and Grace

Del Taco saved my life.

(And no, I wasn’t dying of hunger or thirst or anything remotely stomach related.)

But I was sitting at a red light in my Nissan Xterra, snarfing down a chicken burrito before I turned onto Juanipero Serra to help feed the hordes of J Serra football player’s lunch during hell week.

My car was perched on the freeway off-ramp and visibility limited to the left by the large stone structure of the overpass.

The light turned green and I started to pull out, but just as I hit the gas a large chunk of chicken accompanied by gooey sauce and lettuce launched into my lap. I checked my mirror, realized no one was behind me and paused to scrape sour cream off my thigh.

Defining Moments

And in that split second of hesitation I heard a roar.

A heavy-duty pick-up truck came barreling through the intersection running two back to back red lights and screeched by in front of me.

I gulped and whispered a prayer of thanks –tears and adrenaline spilling out of me.

I would have been a sitting duck and the truck would have hit me dead on the driver’s side of my vehicle.

I like to think Jesus, or a big awesome angel, flicked my chunk of chicken at just the right moment.

Annoyance or Mercy?

And it reminds me that sometimes those little annoying moments are really God’s grace and lavish love.

How often do we get in such a frenzy of emotion that we don’t recognize the financial hardship, or health issue, or even tension in our relationships as a red-flag from the one above?

Instead, we go barreling into the intersection to certain doom and fail to stop, pause, and address the spilled burrito of our life lying in pieces in our lap.

I’m so grateful today for that messy burrito and the hot sauce I squirted all over my wheel.

Where do you need to pause and let God speak to you?

Stretching

Flexibility

Every morning my son Kyle wakes up at the crack of dawn and stretches for thirty minutes. He also puts in another thirty before bedtime. He does this on top of six to eight hours of daily football practice. So why is my thirteen year-old such a masochist?

It’s might be because my studly boy is determined to play college ball and he knows that in football being inflexible is a deal-breaker.

Now my son takes after my side of the family, the non-Gumby side. My husband jokes I am about as flexible as a two-by-four. So, Kyle doesn’t come by this naturally, it’s a painful and labororious process.

Gumby or Two-By-Four?

I too am getting stretched metaphorically. In the last week, Tim and I submitted a book proposal, which means Tim talks and I write my behind off to catch his brilliance…and then add some thoughts of my own. I also built a website to go along with our book.

(more details to come)

So the writing part wasn’t a big stretch for me, but writing with my husband was! We had to listen and listen some more, and compromise and get endlessly edited and it was hard and wonderful and a true growing experience for our marriage.

There were moments I wanted to punch him and better moments where I was floored at his insight.

And then there was the website construction itself. If you look deep inside my eyes today you might see HTML. Yes, I’ve been that obsessed.

I, Sam, book smart and wordy but often totally clueless, I actually built a website! Are you as astonished as I am?

When I initially set up my blog Scrappy Sam, I blundered through the free WordPress mumbo-jumbo and then when I eventually had to move to a self-hosted version, I paid a web expert to set me up.

This time I paid me.

It feels like I put the big girl panties on, developed some brain muscle and even grew a few inches.

Me. Wow. I can’t believe it. I set up a stinking website with e-commerce, bought and transfered a domain, with video capability, widgets, plug-ins, customized a theme, header and logo.

I’ve been obsessed with both these projects to the detriment of my home, floor, figure and fridge -but gosh darn it I did it!

(I did manage to feed my family and take baby to the pool most days, though we might have watched a lot of Mickey Mouse this week)

Sometimes it feels so good to do something new and big and challenging. And even though my yoga mat was neglected, Kyle and I are on on the same wave-length. God is bending and stretching our muscles and we are growing and developing into the people we long to be.

What area is God stretching you in?

Pretty Girl Syndrome

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my daughter Faith and I am afraid for her. Faith is arresting in her beauty. While little Kolby is pretty and toddler cute, Faith has an exotic look to her and though she is only eleven years old, the child turns heads.

I worry she will become spoiled, entitled or a diva. People already do things for her and occasionally instead of pitching in to get work done, she stands there helplessly looking too cute to get her hands dirty.

The story of the lady in Britain made me cringe. Here was a lovely woman (at least by British standards) who claimed she was treated differently by her peers. The world retaliated with venom. How dare she claim to be beautiful?

(Apparently, you are only gorgeous if the world tells you so)

I think she had a serious case of “Pretty Girl Syndrome” and it’s the one disease I will move mountains to make sure my girls don’t get.

But I don’t think the British chick was loony –maybe just too arrogant for our liking. I think she was probably on to something.

Treating Pretty Little Girls Differently

From the very beginning, a pretty girl is more sheltered, statistically buckled in to her seat more often, and overly pampered. She will make significantly more money than her less attractive friends and will be perceived as easier to get along with, more loyal, and more intelligent. She will serve less jail time, if any, than those with an ugly mug (i.e. Lindsey Lohan). She will be given more opportunities, from job interviews to sorority memberships and find cooperative people to engage with. In a world obsessed with image, attractive children are both blessed and cursed with expectations.

Dave from New Mexico, has some strong thoughts on this research.

“Like this is a surprise. Beautiful people get more of what they want handed to them, and never have to work as hard for what they do get. They’re more likely to be manipulative, and less likely to be caring, compassionate people. Yes, I’m homely, and I see this every day.”

Underdevelopment of Pretty Little Girls

Because the pretty child is used to excessive attention and extreme complimenting, there may be little incentive to exercise normal social skills of engagement; i.e.-empathy and interest in others. Shallowness may be a result.

Constantly affirmed for beauty, fawned over and coddled, the child may also lose interest in more intellectual pursuits. Over time, she may begin to lack developmental skills in common social situations. Entitlement and a true lack of common sense may be seen in cases where the parents do not intervene and de-emphasize the role of beauty, contradicting the messages of the world.

This is where the Pretty Girl Syndrome can mutate into:

Pretty Dumb Girl Syndrome.

If the attractive little girl happens to be blond and voluptuous, then she will be lumped into the paradigm of a sexual object and men and women will both desire and hate her. Before she opens her mouth, the assumption will be that nothing of any relevance will come out. Now, the pretty girl’s beauty will be used against her. She will face a wall of opposition with people who will refuse to take her seriously. Because she is affirmed for her beauty she may retreat into the role she knows she will be accepted in, and thus ensues a vicious cycle of disengagement in one realm and overcompensation in another. It’s the Marilyn Monroe phenomena or the likes of Paris Hilton; who exploit their own beauty while downplaying their obvious intellect.

My daughter Faith came home the other day with an Abercrombie bikini that looked like a band-aid. My ex-husband and I watched as she tried it on for us and we almost passed out. I don’t want my girl to be affirmed for just her body –I want her to know how much God treasures her heart, how smart and kind she is, how talented and lovely both inside and out.

My husband reminded me I wore a bikini at my fortieth birthday weekend in Palm Springs. I worked out super hard and I wanted to see if I had it in me one last time to rock a two-piece.

“Is it possible your daughter is modeling you in wearing a bikini” Tim suggested.

Ouch! I guess its back to the one piece and her suit will be returned back to the store because the last thing I want is for my girls to define their worth solely on their beauty.

Why is it always the bikini that takes me out? It’s like some last remnant of my youth I hold onto.

What do you think?

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