What’s it Like to be Single (again)

So, yeah. I get that question a lot.

What’s it like to be single again?

Well, it is a  heck of a lot  different from the first go round, I can say that. For one, I am not hanging out in bars (praise the Lord). Two, an evening at home alone is a good thing. Three, I no longer feel the need to be attractive to men.


I spent my 20s in and out of relationships. It was exhausting, really. At that age, everyone is dating and everyone wants to be in a relationship. You’re surrounded by men and women who want to date. By the time I did get married at 29, the pickings were getting slimmer. It’s like a friend said, “You slid in under the wire.”

Jump to now. Single at 54 is very different. Everyone is not in the same boat. Some of us are divorced, widowed and single, others are not. The arena is vastly different. The fish in this sea are not as plentiful, and some are swimming mighty slow. Gyms, bars, work, stores, and so forth are not full of single men my age looking for single women my age. Its a bit more like finding a needle in a haystack. And, I’ve already written that I’m really not interested.

But, to answer the question, so, what’s it like?

Its a bit of a self journey, because it can be. I’m not responsible for another person. I can focus on myself, because I’m it. I’ve begun to understand myself better because there isn’t anyone else that needs me to understand them. I’m discovering my personal preferences, dreams and secret aspirations–things I had no time to think about with a family. Hopefully, all this self reflection won’t make me a more difficult person, who is stuck in her ways. Hopefully, it will make me a better, more caring person, who understands her spot in the world better.

One thing is for certain, depending on God becomes crucial because there is no one else to depend on. That second pair of hands isn’t there, so I find myself praying a lot for strength, physical and otherwise. I find myself praying for the ability to take on the new challenges that I face. God has become extremely real. Once, a friend suggested that my Christianity (new then) would peter out somewhat, and not be so intense, after the “phase” of it wore off. She was absolutely correct. It did lose that flame of passion that accompanies newbies in the faith. No more. God is more real now than he has ever been and for that I am thrilled.

There is the very likely realty that I’ll spend the rest of my life alone. I’ve got to be okay with that. I am okay with that. But, being single isn’t a disease. It’s a way of life. One that I must learn after being married for 24 years, but one that is learn-able. It isn’t horrible. Its just different.

I liked being married, but I like being single.

So, I’ll enjoy being single for now. If God brings a man along with a glass of iced tea, well then, we’ll see what happens. But for now, single is a-okay.


A Bit of Random (its hard living in my head)

So, today I stopped at the big, new grocery store about 20 minutes from my house. Same grocery store, Ingles, that I shop at in my small town, but they had a bigger field (old farm) to build this one on, and so they maxed it out. I found it terribly confusing, and I had a hard time deciding whether to ditch the carb diet and go for a sub at the Boar’s Head Subway-like counter, or stick with my Starbucks tea. I went for with tea. It was $4.22.Wanna bet they’d charge me $4.22 every time? Cause they are snazzy? They had tvs everywhere, and families were eating their dinner in the cute cafe-like spot next to the Starbucks. They even had big, coffee shop overstuffed chairs near the Starbucks.

But, they had the produce and the dairy together.

I don’t like that.

So nix on them until I forgo the carb diet, and then I’ll splurge on a Boar’s Head sub, but get my tea at my Starbucks. My Starbucks charged me $3.12 yesterday. Cha-ching.

Then, I spent a ton of time on-line killing time. Or not. Depending on whether you consider it career enhancement. That’s what I’m calling it (as opposed to stalking or laziness, take your pick). Check this place out. Flora Grubb’s Garden Shop in San Francisco. The chick’s name is actually Flora Grubb.

Why did my parent’s not have the foresight to give me a cool name like that? Surely they not knew I’d end up a horticulturalist with a huge passion for anything called a plant. Because you know her stuff is that cool because her name is that cool. She got the design gene the minute her parents said, “Its Flora, Flora Grubb.”

I want to work for her, but what would I say? My name is Cinthia Milner? I can’t bring myself.

I have a friend whose husband did the 50 year old thing on a massive scale. Grew out his hair, hangs with the yogis and changed his name. Changed it to, are you ready for this? LL Peace (the LLs stand for Light and Love). I so wish I was kidding.  Every once in awhile I get on his facebook to see what ole LL Peace is up too. Now, that is simply stalking. I also take it a bit personally because I adore LL Cool J, and I think he stole his moniker. His ex-wife moved to England. Who can blame the woman? I am considering a visit, although I don’t know her all that well, so again, it would be, “Hi, its Cinthia. Cinthia Milner?”

My name gets me no where.

It was 68 and rainy today, and all day I kept thinking, I should be wearing my Wellingtons. Yes, I bought Wellingtons. I work outside in a rain forest. What’d you expect? And, yes, they were a lot of money. (150 if you’re wondering.)

For some reason that last sentence came out with a bold font. I have no idea why.

And, grocery store is highlighted to Wikipedia in the first sentence. Again, not a clue. WordPress just sometimes does its own thing. Which frankly, is disturbing.

My neighbors on one side of me have awesome landscaping.

My neighbors on the other side of me do not.

Since I’m in the middle, I’m waffling.

Today, I went along with this conversation that made me uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable because since I came to know Jesus (almost 30 years ago), everything about me has changed. But now, I am working again for the first time in 20+ years.  And, work is very different now. People feel free to talk about things that, well, are a bit on the vulgar side. I didn’t say anything during the conversation, i.e. I didn’t contribute, but I also didn’t stop it or walk away. I just stood there feeling strange and embarrassed and sad because shouldn’t I be a better Christian by now? 

I think so.

Let’s Talk Tattoos

First, I’ll confess, I’m not a fan of tattoos, but hang on before you click off, I will support said tattoos by the end of this blog post. And, for the bonus, I’ll explain why Leviticus 19:28 doesn’t apply.

First, why I’m not a fan.

Simple. I love the human body as is.  At 19, I really enjoyed my body. Not in an arrogant way. I was still pretty naive, and did not think of myself as sexy or beautiful. I was just me. I just enjoyed my toes, my feet, my legs, my arms. I thought my body was pretty. I thought most people’s bodies were. Even my old aunts with wiggly arms.

I was at an advantage. In the 60s and 70s, celebrities were present but not prevalent  Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (whoever their equivalent was) did not dominate my life. Yes, I swooned over actors at movies, though I can’t remember who now. But, I didn’t take them home with me. They stayed at the theaters. Magazines were fun to look at, but again, they weren’t telling me to get thinner or have my teeth capped. They were telling me how to lighten my hair with lemon juice, something I did regularly.

So, for me. The human body is a work of art. When someone tattoos it, it is like vandalizing to my mind. You just threw paint on something beautiful and frankly, I’ve never seen a tattoo I thought was prettier than the body it adorned. I’ve never seen a tattoo artist make a body prettier with their work. That body, to my thinking, is art. Perfect, beautiful art. To add to it, just messes it up.

So, there, my opinion. Do what you like with it.

But, in this ever-increasing battle of the Christian vs. the non, the subject of tattoos comes up regularly. My son has two (and no, I don’t like either one, but it is his body), and I’m often asked, “I thought he was a Christian?” by believers and non, who assume Christians cannot tattoo themselves. This belief is based on Leviticus 19:28 where it says,

28 You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.

I’m not getting into the discussion of the cuts on your body. I’m just hoping you’re not doing that. But, for the tattoo part, what do I say to my Christian son about that verse? I say God gave that law to the Israelites as they began to make their journey into the land he promised them, Canaan. He gave them their civil laws and their ceremonial laws. He also gave them the 10 commandments which sum up all laws.

These laws are found in the Books of the Law, or the first five books of Scripture. They are called the books of the law because they contain the laws and instruction given by the Lord through Moses to the people of Israel.

Many generations before, God had promised Abraham that he would build a nation through him. Several million people later, and forty years of wandering around in the wilderness, and a lot of discussion going on about what their now-to-be-country would look like, they were ready to enter and take over the land from the Canaanites (if that frustrates you, that is another topic, sorry).

So, God gave them their civil laws and their ceremonial laws. Basically, how they would worship and live. Tattoos were out. Here’s why. They were to stand out. They were to be different from the nations around them. God wanted the pagans to know, there goes an Israelite. A man or a woman who belongs to God. Israel actually started their government with no human king on the throne. God was their king. Everything about their country was different, which made each individual different, which made them stand out like a sore thumb, which made people look at and wonder about them.

They weren’t to fit in or blend. They were to STAND OUT. And, In that culture, not being tattooed or cutting yourself would make you stand out because the Canaanites were heavily tattooed. The Canaanites worshiped their god Baal by burning their babies in fires, and a lot of other not-so-great-things one would hope not to mimic.

Hence, the second reason for not having tattoos.  When one steps a foot into the fire (no pun intended), it is a slippery slope. God wanted his people to stay away from such practices (in the end they did not). And, as I have often asked my children, if someone is sitting in a chair and you’re on the floor in front of them, which is easier? To pull them down, or for them to pull you up? Downward is always easier.

God wanted his people to look upward toward him.

There is so much more to this subject than I’m writing here, but suffice it to say, that law in Leviticus was part of the civil law for the Israelites. It doesn’t apply to us as Christians, primarily because we aren’t living in Israel and even more primarily because Jesus Christ fulfilled the law–all of it–even the 10 commandments. He did not break one law in thought, word or deed. So, we are no longer under the law, though we are compelled by it. Compelled but not judged, because Jesus took our penalty for the laws we break daily.

So, if tattoos are your thing, Christian or not, then go for it. It isn’t Scriptural to say you cannot.

Still, the spirit of law touches my heart. How do I as a Christian stand out as different from the world around me? Do others look at me and say, she is a Christian? She belongs to God? Or do I blend?

At this point, I’m not interested in tattoos for myself, but there are plenty of other ways I likely blend without realizing it. And compromise my beliefs. And, deny Christ so I don’t make waves, or be rejected. Its all something to think about, I suppose.

But, I do hope at 54, I can love my wiggly arms as much as I loved my aunt’s.

Walking the City Dog

I walk Aggie a lot. Which is a new thing for me because when I lived at South Turkey Creek, the dogs lived outside. Except Platypus, who got to live inside and sleep on the bed. Here’s Platy dog.


Look at that face. Who can say no to that face? Still, Platy dog is a country dog. She’d be lost in town.

My country dogs, named in order, were Fruit Loops, Big Dog, Platypus and the last to join the family, Bear, were pets in the pet-ish (not to be confused with fetish) sort of way. They came around for their food. They sometimes wanted you to play with or pet them. They always wanted to accompany me on my walks, but I never used a leash. They preferred sleeping outside, and Big Dog only came into the house when she was in her final days (a sad time for all). At night, if the dogs were inside, they were tossed outside. They were all moochers, so first chore when setting the dinner table was to put the dogs outside. When we were out of town, a neighbor feed them, and checked on them. There was none of this fancy boarding stuff. But mostly, the country dogs roamed through creeks and woods, and did a lot of sleeping under the porch. It was their world and they decided how their days were spent (mostly).

Its a different life for the City Dog.

Agapanthus, Aggie for short, sleeps in a crate (almost the size of a small room). She is always on a leash. Even when she goes out to pee. She is walked four times a day, and if it isn’t a busy day or it isn’t raining, she goes to the Flower Market at night when it is all locked up with no customers, and romps around sans leash for an hour or so.

She travels in the car quite a bit. She gets excited when she realizes she is taking the short trip with me to Ingles, my local grocery store.  An outing for her is truly an outing. It means not being inside a crate, inside a room, inside a house.

For about a week, I was taking Aggie to a very large, enclosed playground at the local elementary school. I can’t brag about the playground. Its just mostly a big open area, but Aggie adored it. She could run from fence to fence, jumping over small rocks, stumps or railroad ties, and actually feel free for an hour. I’d unleash her, and say, “Run Aggie, run.” And boy, did she.

A passing walker stopped one evening to watch her run. An elderly gentleman that, it turned out, was the janitor of the school. We stood together, enjoying the sight of her running with pure abandonment, and he said, “Man, that dog was made to run.”

I agreed. Watching Aggie run is like watching my youngest son play soccer. You know he was made, literally designed, for the purpose of playing soccer, and it is joy to watch. Aggie was made to run. Ears back, legs reaching out in front of her. She looks like a Thoroughbred horse running the track. Then the janitor said, “It kills me to say it, but dogs aren’t allowed in here.”

I thought he was kidding until he pointed out the sign I had walked past every night. I was heart-sick because there is no other place for Aggie to run in my small town. The Flower Market is not the same. Too many things obscure Aggie’s ability to flat out run.

So, instead I walk her, and walk and walk and walk her. Early in the morning, late at night. We know all the roads, side roads, small alleys, shortcuts, where the streetlights are and aren’t. We walk and walk and walk. Its my small way of saying, I’m sorry. I didn’t know that cities have ordinances about dogs on leashes. I didn’t think about the number of cars traveling past my house every day that could pose a danger. I didn’t consider the number of hours I’d be at work and you’d be stuck in a crate. It never occurred to me that you would rely on me to pee. City dogs are a new concept for me.

I want to tell her so she understands, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know you were made to run.

Aggie whimpers a lot in her sleep, jerking this way and that, dreaming like dogs do. I imagine she is dreaming of running. I promise her, as I close the crate door for the night, “We’ll be up early girl. We’ll get up early for a long walk.”


Aggie with her favorite and well-chewed duck.

Exclusion/Inclusion: What to do with the Other Woman?

The new buzz word for families these days is inclusion. Everyone gets to be included in the family. No tossing people out into the wilderness as in days of yore when one (and there is always one) starts acting up. Family is about inclusion, making sure everyone feels welcome at the table. Being a mom, I understand this. It makes for a family that lacks dysfunction.

This concept actually epitomizes Christianity too. All are welcome, and no one has to work for it, or change for it. Christ welcomes us all into his family exactly as we are, and there are no exceptions to this. Being a Christian, I follow this teaching too.

But. There’s always a but.

What about the other woman?

Yeah. Her.

The one who left her husband for my husband.

The one who gave my husband an open invitation to her house whenever her husband was away from the homestead. The one that now sleeps in my house, eats at my dinner table, pets my dog, and enjoys the viburnum the boys gave me for Mother’s Day along with all my other flowers.

For all this to be accomplished (her living in my home) the first thing that had to happen was exclusion. My ex had to exclude me from his life. A wife and a mistress don’t mix. He had to choose. I was out. She was in.

Just that phrase, out and in, brings us right back to the premise of inclusion and exclusion again.

If I listen to the ladies on The View, evidently I am supposed to welcome the other woman with open arms. If I listen to the women who live in the real world, I should chop off her head. I would prefer neither. Can’t we just ignore her, and hope he dies of poor diet and over-drinking at an early age? Then, I get my family all to myself? Not that I’m trying to exclude anyone. It would just be so much easier that way.

Well, for me, obviously. But, it is my blog post, so I can be narcissistic and focus only on me, right?

Family, on its own, without strangers inserting themselves into the middle of it (uninvited) is hard enough. It takes years to work out the dynamics between everyone. It is no easy task to learn the nuances of one another, or figure out the road to take with each family member to reach the most productive end. And trust me when I say, it is the mothers who do all that work. Ain’t no dads out there figuring that stuff out.

So, now there’s this stranger to everyone except the ex, and, she’s to be included, according to the experts, if everyone is going to survive this insanity they call divorce.

So, what are the options?

Go into mom mode? Make everything alright for everyone, and just be so sweet? Or hightail it to the hinterlands, and let the natives sort it out for themselves?

I’m leaning toward the latter because I notice in the buzz words of inclusion and exclusion there’s no mention of abandoning ship. Not sure what the catch-all word for that is, but presently, it sounds pretty darn good. I’m thinking someplace tropical because I love tropical plants and really would love to grow them. I can’t here.

So, inclusion/exclusion, or hit the road Jack and don’t you look back no more, no more, no more, no more. Hit the road Jack and don’t you look back no more?

Drowning Dogs, Hair Drama, Car Dealerships, Golf Magazine, Direct TV and Chocolate Chip Cookies

If the title of this blog doesn’t explain the chocolate chip cookies at the end of it, I don’t know what to tell you. I haven’t eaten a carb in weeks. Here’s why.


Permanent pictures.

My son is getting married to my (already) Bonus Daughter, and I expect to be in a picture or two, hence the forgoing of carbs. Wedding pictures are permanent, even if wedded bliss isn’t, hence the need to look good for generations to come in the photogs.

Say what you like, but I cut out the carbs, and the weight literally peels off. So, I’m a bit grumpy due to the lack of carbs, and then the dog decided to dive right into the deepest part of the Davidson River this morning. With me holding the leash. Guess who found out she couldn’t swim as well as she thought?

No, not me. I’m an awesome swimmer, even at the old age of 50+. The dog discovered she wasn’t the best swimmer. She liked to drown. Guess who got her out?

We were up early to do a two mile hike along the river. A place Aggie gets so excited about that the minute we turn into Pisgah National Forest, she starts whimpering.  I don’t have a picture of her drowning this morning, but here she is in the river.


Not the best picture, but the phone went into the river too.

We were wet, wet. Dirty wet. Icky wet. All the way home in the car wet. Peeling wet clothes off that get stuck on you wet.

But, my hairdresser (the best ever) was coming to my house at 10 to do my highlights, so it was okay. I could live through hiking 2 miles back to the car in dripping wet jeans because I was getting my highlights done. (You women know exactly what I mean.)

It is fortunate that there are no pictures of me with my lack of highlights, because it was sad how sad my hair was looking.

My hairdresser recently had a baby (8 weeks old), and I’ve been working 24/7, so the last highlights were down to the tips of my hair. Finally, today, we were going to get it done. She came to my house with kids in tow. I know what you’re thinking. Geez. Give her a break. She just had a baby. But, need I remind you what it was like with two small children at home? Remember those days? Anything for an outing.

After she left, and I blew out my hair (if you’re a guy you did not understand that comment, if you’re a woman you know what I meant), I freaked.

To quote my son, “Mom you look like Mila Kunis after she turned into the Wicked Witch of the East in the Oz movie.” Or is it the Wicked Witch of the West? Either way, while he exaggerated a bit, I suddenly had gray (or is it grey?) hair. Something I don’t have despite being 54 and blind as a bat (a direct result of aging).

Being the true hairdresser she is, and dealing with hair drama regularly, she came back (I called her slightly, only slightly, panicked), calmed me down, fixed my hair and we had a lovely visit. Whew. Hair drama is serious business.

Okay so by then, it was time to get my car serviced. I know, this day just keeps getting better, right? But, the stupid voice thing says “oil change” every time I start my car, so, off I went. To my appointment. MY APPOINTMENT. I’ll repeat that. MY APPOINTMENT TO GET MY CAR SERVICED AT THE DEALERSHIP.

The dealership did not have my appointment down for today. They did not have my appointment down for any day. I could wait, they suggested. I considered it. I studied their waiting room. Not a single People magazine or US or Better Homes and Garden, nothing but Golf Magazine. Golf. (I live in a retirement city and everyone plays golf. I suppose it is to be expected.) And, the walls of the waiting room were tan. And, they had none of the goodies some dealerships provide, such as free popcorn (yes, I remember the no-carb diet, but I was desperate).

I left. I couldn’t handle tan walls, Golf Magazine, and no popcorn, after a day of drowning dogs and hair drama.

I was going to finish my evening watching tv while working on a plant list for a client. Did I mention that a lightening storm killed the tv, and the new one doesn’t work with Direct TV’s remote, and so I have to get a universal remote? Whatever that is. And, that I just found that out? About 20 minutes ago? About the remote that is? Because the Direct TV girl said, “Your tv is not on our list, you’ll need to get a universal remote.”

I don’t know what that means.

But, for crying out loud they are Direct TV. Every tv that has ever been made or thought of being made should be on their list. Whatever list that is. Call the NSA. They probably have my tv on their list. Perhaps they have the remote I need. (I’m starting to get a little hysterical, I realize.)

It is now 8:28 p.m. There are two choices in front of me. Bake the chocolate chip cookies my son brought home, or go to Walmart in search of a universal remote (again, whatever that is).

Read the last thing in the title of this post, and you’ll know how the day ended.

Cookies and carb-loaded Snapple tea while admiring my new highlights in the bathroom mirror. They do look awesome.

More than Rubies (A Working Girl’s Worth)

Lately, I’ve been having a conversation with two friends. The three of us are on our own now–husbands and children gone–and we are all considering, discussing, praying over and talking to each about one topic. “What is a working girl’s worth?”

One is a landscape designer. One is a counselor. One is me, a flower market manager. With all the discussion of living wages going on (mainly among the liberal quadrant), and what the market will bear for employees, each of us is considering what our personal worth is in our respective market places. It is a heavy question.

Here’s why.

1. We aren’t 20. We’re in our 50s. Does that make us more valuable or less?

2. We spent the last 20 years building families not careers. How does that factor into our marketable worth?

3. Does experience count as much as the degree? Is there a dollar figure on that? Or is the degree worth more regardless of experience?

4. What do we actually need to support ourselves? We don’t live like fresh-out-of-college kids. We’re grown women with families, who sometimes need our support.

5. Have women finally made inroads into the market place, or can we expect to make less than the men simply because we’re women still? (Geez. Someone please tell me this one has changed in 20 years.)

For working girls who are now the financial support of our households, this is the focus of our conversations. What are the true business costs? How do you publish a newsletter, start a facebook page, do twitter and what the heck is pinterest? We read, study, take classes, go to seminars, volunteer at symposiums, work 60-80 hours a week. We’re trying to catch up, but we’re also just plain passionate about what we do.

The same energy that went into building our families is channeled into our careers. We’re nervous. We’re worried. Scared and timid. Are we worth all that? What if we think we are, but no one else does, and we’re left alone, again.

There. That thought loves to creep in around the edges. What are we worth when our husbands up and runnoft? Are living with other women? Didn’t think our contributions to our families was worth one dime? Hmmm. Hard not to let that one wonder in on occasion, and sometimes bleed into the thought process.

But, we’re tough women. We encourage, demand, force each other to hold her head up and keep moving. Forget about that. Forget about him. Forget about the other woman. What is a working girl’s worth? Far more than rubies, far more than rubies, that’s what she is worth.

Apple Gentleness the fruit of surrender

God’s Will in Our Lives

Kindness begins toward God. It is that attitude of the spirit by which we accept God’s dealings with us as good and do not dispute or resist.

In Galatians 5:22, gentleness is listed as one of the 9 characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit. It is from the Greek word, prautes, and is defined in the NIV Key Word Study Bible as “meek…but not in a man’s outward behavior only, nor in his relations to his fellow men, or his mere disposition, but in an in wrought grace of the soul expressed primarily toward God.

How much of life is spent disputing God? Not that he is God, but his dealings with us?

The opposite of resisting is submitting, and who wants to do that? Whether in regard to other people–submitting to their needs first–or to God? Submission is complete surrender. It is letting go of your right to decide and putting your life into God’s hands. Many say, “If I knew God’s will for my life, I would submit to it.” The fact that we’e searching for God’s will is evidenced by the extraordinary number of Bible studies exploring this very topic. Walk into any Christian bookstore and some variant of “Discovering God’s Will for Your Life” is front and center.

Back up a minute. Submit to his will first and then know his will? That’s confusing. 

Before we begin seeking God’s will in our lives, we need to first submit to God’s will in our lives. If we don’t, we’re only playing games with ourselves and with God, because what we’re really saying is, you tell me what you will for my life is first, then I’ll you if I will submit (or resist).

The NIV commentary goes on to say, “Prautes is the acceptance of God’s dealings with us, considering them as good, considering that they enhance the closeness of our relationship with Him.” In other words, God is first seeking a relationship with us, one built on trust and submission, before we get down to any business of what His will is or is not.

Let’s be honest: when we say we’re looking for His will, generally we’re either looking for a way out or a way in. We want into, or out of—a marriage, a job, a ministry, a neighborhood, a house. It’s all about solving our immediate problems, but God’s Word says, “Seek me first and all this will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

There should come a time in every believer’s life when we finally understand that God is good and His dealings with us–even when we cannot understand them and they bring us to our knees sobbing–are good. Disputing this with Him assumes your thought processes are either like His or better than His, and your reasoning skills and understanding are like His.

Isaiah 55:9 clearly states that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than ours. Sometimes you will not understand why He allowed something to happen. You don’t need to understand to submit. You only need to trust.

Trust is a big scary word, especially when it means releasing control. We are fallible, fearful human beings, and we don’t trust easily. The Lord knows that. Our lives are precious and deserving of our best in living them out. Let’s not cast our pearls before swine, instead be cautious in a world where there are so many ways to spend a life. In seeking the Lord and relating to Him and letting Him relate to us through His Word, we begin to trust Him enough to submit to Him. It’s a process. It’s a relationship.

As he designs our circumstances to give us an opportunity to trust him–to show us He is faithful–do we resist him because it is too hard? Too scary? Do we dispute Him? Or do we draw near and submit?

Let us yearn to be like Peter, saying, “Lord, to whom else shall we go?” (John 6:68)

People, to whom else shall we go?

We look for peace, we ask for joy, we desire understanding, and we yearn for purpose. We believe all these things are wrapped up in some mystery called God’s will for our lives. We believe that if we could unravel it, our lives would be good, not understanding that the mystery is in God alone. We find joy, peace, purpose and understanding not in jobs to be done or questions answered, but in the “attitude of spirit by which we accept God’s dealings with us as good and do not dispute or resist.” We will find it in complete surrender and gentle submission to our Lord.


I Got Nothing

Okay, so I’m supposed to make a new life and I am here to tell you, I got nothing.

For the last year, I’ve really just tried to duplicate (somewhat) the old life. I sat up housekeeping across town, so to speak. I didn’t stop to ask myself, what’s next? Partly because I didn’t have the time. It was imperative that I get a job, find a place for myself and my youngest son to live, and then work really hard to ensure I kept a job. Okay, so all that was accomplished (more by God than by me, but that is another post).

The dust has settled and the question looms. What do you want to do with your life now? I know, such a cliche of a question, but there it is. The answer?

Heck, I don’t know. A few things come to mind. Not be poor. Travel to see the kids. Afford my own home one day. I mean, I don’t know. How does one decide that?

I realize that I am already building a new life just by living a new life (I am nothing if not profound), but I wonder if I’m not doing it by default when I should be very deliberate. Let’s face it, default is so much easier because the first thing you need when designing a new life is a plan, and honestly, just thinking of that makes me want to take a nap.

Building a life was easier with the ex. He was so opinionated  The man had thoughts on wallpaper (he was against it) and pedestal sinks (again, against it, don’t you feel sorry for me?). He knew where he wanted to live (the middle of nowhere), what he wanted to be (a forester), what he wanted to do (hunt and retire early), how many children he wanted (none, but would settle for two since that seemed appropriate) and what kind of truck he wanted to drive (Ford F-150, although in a surprise move in the later years of our marriage he switched to a Toyota Tacoma, which was earth shattering to say the least). He knew what he wanted out of life, and there was no changing his mind, hence the lack of wallpaper and pedestal sinks at South Turkey Creek.

If only I were that sure.

My problem is that it all looks good. Like, maybe I’ll be on Dancing with the Stars. That seems fun and a sure-fire way to lose weight. Why not? Or, I’ve got a massive crush on L.L. Cool J (whom I refer to as LL Kool-Aid). Maybe he needs a driver or a maid or just a listening ear? I could go work for him and get to watch NCIS-LA before it hits the airwaves. Or I could continue to manage the flower market for as long as it stays open. Which is good too because I totally “dig plants” and they really are my passion. God made me a gardener, so that’s cool. Not that it pays much, but it is fun.

The choices are limitless. The places to live are well, everywhere. So, what is the process by which a person builds a life? How does one decide what is next? Especially when we live in a world that has so many choices, and might I add, cool outfits to accompany those choices?

I will start with prayer and assume God has a plan. Because me? I got nothing.

Indulge, Repent, Repeat

Indulge, repent, repeat. I saw these three words on a t-shirt today and found it rather humorous, if a bit close to home. It was a t-shirt advertising mustard, of all things. Of course, I want one. And, of course, I want to wear it to church. But, of course, I won’t.  We Christians aren’t very good at laughing at ourselves. I blame Paul. He wrote all those letters and never included even the hint of humor. Come on, Paul. Not even one joke?

Of course, repentance is not a laughing matter, and Biblically speaking, it is not something we can even do ourselves. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit. We cannot drum up repentance no matter how much we flog ourselves. But, the advertisers weren’t talking about that kind of repentance. They were talking about the sort of thing we promise ourselves we will start doing tomorrow but never do, hence the repeat part.

Here’s my list of what I promise myself I will stop indulging in, and repent of beginning tomorrow.

1. Eating.

2. Shopping.

3. Finances (refer to number 2, please)

4. Starbucks (refer to number 3 please).

5. Keeping vampire hours.

6. Rising early to have time for a healthy breakfast (refer to number 1 and 5 please).

7. Exercise. (Who am I kidding?)

8. Call my mother. (There is no reference for this one, I just need to do it.)

And, that is the superficial stuff (except for Mom). If I included a list of major things, well then, true repentance would be needed. For instance, who can take care of my bitter heart, or judgmental thoughts? Will a half-hearted promise to myself before drifting off to sleep change my sharp tongue? Or is determination enough to forgive what I believe is unforgivable?

The clever t-shirt not-withstanding, the dilemma, whether superficial or deep, is that we need Jesus either way. We can’t repent and not indulge without his help. He is the willpower or determination we need. Oh, I know. It is not cool to say that. It is okay to say God, but nobody likes it when you bring Jesus into the dialogue, because honestly, that is where repentance rears its head in the truest definition of the word. That is the place where the conviction of the Holy Spirit shows up, and each time we deny Jesus his rightful place, we feel the dishonesty in that. Repentance is turning away from our rejection of Christ, and acknowledging him as Lord of all, even ourselves.

Repentance over all the little things in life, yes, but repentance over thinking we’re our own god and rejecting Jesus as God, well, start there. The rest will come, including calling your mother. I know because I called mine tonight.