cinthia milner transplanted and still blooming God

How to Pick a God

1. Make sure the god is real.

2. Make sure the god is smart.

3. Make sure the god is good.

4. Make sure the god is loving.

5. Make sure the god is not destructive.

6. Make sure the god cares about you, and isn’t just using you.

7. Make sure the god does not want all your money.

8. Make sure the god is not a myth.

9. Make sure the god is not a celebrity.

10. Make sure the god is not yourself.

11. Make sure the god understands you.

12. Make sure the god doesn’t die.

13. Make sure the god doesn’t isolate you.

14. Make sure the god isn’t about the drugs, booze or party.

15. Make sure the god doesn’t look like a friend.

16. Make sure the god doesn’t look like a spouse, lover, child or parent.

17. Make sure the god doesn’t look like your therapist.

18. Make sure the god knows you’ve got to have fun too, and not just work.

19. Make sure the god likes you when no one else does.

20. Make sure the god isn’t being discussed on CNN, MSN, Yahoo, or Fox.

21. Make sure the god can hear and answer your prayers.

22. Make sure the god is the most powerful god in all the world.

23. Make sure the god is creative.

24. Make sure the god is holy.

25. Make sure the god can forgive sins.

Make sure your god is God.

Thoughts? Please comment below with your own “make sure.” Blessings, Cinthia

"pouring rain, brothers with umbrellas"

Pondering the Past in the Pouring Rain

It is pouring rain and I have spent the day pondering the past. I would add that I have spent the day curled up in my bed, pjs on, drifting in and out of sleep, while I reflected and considered. It is good practice. I recommend it.

My backyard is a puddle. The Weather Channel is now calling for flash flood watches, and staying indoors seemed the most profitable thing to do, and so I have. I have given myself the delightful, but unusual for me, rare treat of doing absolutely nothing all day. The animals were thrilled. Their owner was home and rarity of rarities, she was still. The cat, or Little Kitty, as she is called, went as far down under the covers as she could go and wrapped herself around my feet and slept. Aggie, the dog, curled into a tight ball and crammed herself against me, sleeping the day away.

I allowed myself the time to think.

I wondered this: Do I see my life correctly? Can I see my life correctly? Could it be that God, who calls things that were not into being (Romans 4:17), looks down upon my life and sees something I do not, and cannot?

What does God see when he sees me?

  • I see that I did not stay to my budget this month.
  • I see that I did not hold my tongue when I promised myself I would.
  • I see that I forgot to call my perfect grandchildren because I got busy with mundane tasks.
  • I see that I still do not have a successful career.
  • I see that I have not mopped the kitchen floor.
  • I see that I still did not get the car cleaned out.
  • I see that it is Sunday night and Monday looms, and there is still so much to be done, and I am typing away at a blog that has 15 readers. Seriously?

And that is the small stuff. Early this morning, knees bent, head bowed, the question is prayed, “Lord, how could you love someone like me?”

Early to bed. Early to rise. Work like hell: fertilize. (Emily Whaley) is my motto more than not. I look for meaning and comfort, and believe that if I just work hard enough, I can right wrongs. If I figure out a way to get life “right” now, then my past–those places and memories I hate to remember but cannot seem to forget–will be redeemed, by me. Oops. That is the very place my thinking takes a quirky turn. I cannot work that hard. No, I need not work that hard.

Those places, those memories, those very things I want to strangle myself over while somehow setting them right, have been redeemed in Jesus.

How do I keep forgetting that?

What does God see when he sees me? Jesus.

That means, this day spent sleeping in the rain, is exactly okay. The work I tirelessly strive to do is the work Christ has already done. I can put my pjs on, roll over and let it rain.

 

 

Here’s What I Want: To Be Enough

Here’s what I want. To be able to fix the things in my life that I think need fixing. Relationships, employment, writing, health, a plan. Oh my gosh, I need a plan! But there isn’t one. I’m still in transition. But, have I always been? In transition, I mean. Because aren’t we all always trying to discern what is next? What comes next?

Do I move for my job (straight out of school)?

Do I marry this person?

Do I have children?

Do I go it alone?

Do I move to China?

Do I work at the same place forever?

Do I cheat on my spouse?

Do I believe this God stuff (oh, please let the God stuff be true)?

Do I ask for a promotion?

Do I ask for a raise?

Do I look for another job?

Do I stay close to my aging parents?

Do I retire early?

How much money does one need to retire?

Oh dear lord, may we just have a plan? And then, may we be happy with the plan? May we spend our days feeling smug and self-satisfied that it was indeed a good plan? Because a good plan means, somehow, that we succeeded. And, there is great comfort in a plan. Especially one without glitches or things that pop up that you cannot control. Like:

Your lover, your soon-to-be spouse changes their mind and the wedding announcements are replaced with the no-wedding notices.

Or maybe, no one ever asks you to marry them. Why not? Is it me? Is it them? Is it the world? What the heck is it?

Your child is not perfect. They have a few issues.

The roof leaks.

There is no money to fix the roof because your child has issues.

No matter how many budgets you make, and keep, the unexpected always exceeds the category for the unexpected.

You get laid off.

You get fired.

You work with people who are underhanded, manipulative and downright scary. And, they think they’re nice.

Your parents are off on to some spa in Arizona. Weren’t they going to need you?

Your parents are old, and boy do they need you. They desperately need you.

Grandchildren are perfect. Why can’t everyone just have grandchildren?

You’ve saved money. You’ve spent money. You’ve been in debt. You’ve been debt free. But still, you always have the same amount of money. What does your financial planner say about that?

Old age is scary. But aren’t all ages scary?

Your adult kids worry you. You keep silent.

The worst actually does happen, just when you’ve convinced yourself that worry is silly, the worst rears its head, and actually happens. What is up?

You lay awake at night wondering. How do I fix my marriage, my children, my job, my house, my budget, my health, my social life? Do I go to the party? And then, DANG, you remember, I’m supposed to be exercising in the middle of all this. I’m supposed to be skinny, look good, wear great clothes, look professional or cool or sexy or whatever the occasion calls for. Heck, I’m not just supposed to be on top of all this other mess, I’m supposed to be on top of me, too. Don’t I have a physical soon? Geez.

The darkness of night literally mocks you. Did I make the right decisions? Is it too late to make new ones? You pray, God, please be real, and please have a purpose for my life other than just being an organ donor. Not that you don’t want to be an organ donor, you do. You really do. You’re a nice person. You think. You hope.

So, you shake it off. Go play golf. Go for a bike ride. Go shopping. Go walk the dog. Go sit outside in the sunlight for a bit. You forget for a few moments that you’re supposed to fix everything. Nothing needs fixing. The sunlight just feels good. You wonder, why is it I’m not supposed to bury my head in the sand? You like sand.

Abraham did not have a plan. God said, GO to Abraham, and he went. But, for Pete’s sake, that was sort of a plan. God at least said something–Go. You wonder, if God told me to go, would I start walking right now? You’re tempted. Just walk right out that door and keep walking and don’t look back and don’t wonder where you’re going because that would involve a plan, and aside from planning what to eat for supper, you’re rather sick of plans.

But, maybe God said stay. Stay and let him fix the roof, the marriage, the health, the finances, the kids, the crazy co-workers, the dark nights. Even when everyone else is gone, you stay. Can you do that? Can you stay and trust God to fix, in the way only he can fix, what needs fixing? Can you truly trust the God of the universe to care enough about your little universe to fix anything where you’re concerned? Is he really the good shepherd or are you following him straight to the slaughter house? Is he enough? You already know you’re not. I already know that I am not.

The darkness whispers he is. God is enough. Follow him. He’s got a plan. And, in one simple moment of clarity, you realize that’s the plan. Following God. That is really the only possible plan because he’s got the big picture and you only have a slice.You shake your head in the darkness. Lord, you say, I’ll follow your plan. I’ll follow you. And, finally you go to sleep. That’s a plan.

.

/

It is that Day.

So, here I go again. Change.

When I divorced, and CHANGE HAPPENED, I moved to a small house in Brevard. Brevard is a tiny town that borders Pisgah National Forest, a rain forest. My home is downtown, within walking distance of the local coffee cafe and the movie theater. Three things I love to do: walk, drink coffee, and eat movie popcorn while watching movies (nothing scary, though).

I knew in my spirit that I would not be harmed here. This quaint town, and charming house with its azaleas, cherry trees, and Spanish bluebells, was going to be a safe harbor. The Lord knew how bruised and broken I was. I claimed the verse, “A bruised reed he will not break” Matthew 12:20.

I was exhausted.

I’d fought for my marriage for 3 years, and lost that war. I moved from my home of 20 years with no help. I packed, shoved furniture and drove it all an hour and half away, with only my then 18-year-old-son to help. It was raining. It rains a lot in Brevard, something I’ve come to love..

When the last box was unpacked, I collapsed on the bed, and told the Lord, no more. No more trials, no more big things, no more mistresses or divorce attorneys, no more inquiring “friends,” no more pain. Just NO MORE. He heard me. He heard me before I opened my mouth to ask. And, for 2 years (2 years August 1st) I knew I was defended. I knew He had spoken to the universe and said, nothing touches her. Sounds crazy, but it truly was a protected time. A time for healing and quiet and safety in a small house in a small town. But it wasn’t forever. It was for a time.

And, now that time is over, and the time ahead of me is one I have been expecting. I’ve been expecting it my entire life. As in, I always knew this day was coming. No, I’m not dying. At least, not that I’m aware of. This is a different kind of predetermined day.

When my Coastie Son decided to join the military, he went off at 18 scared but excited. About 2 weeks into boot camp, he was reevaluating his choice, and wondering what the heck he’d been thinking. But then, he came to THAT DAY. The day where he could either quit and go home, or get on with the program, and at least try. That day for him was 7 years ago, and his efforts have been rewarded.

That is the kind of day I mean.

It is the day you can no longer avoid yourself.

It is the day you must make a decision.

It is the day you might fail, but you still need to try.

It is the day you’re all in.

It is the day you take a big, scary leap.

It is the day you decide you’re worth it,

It is the day you stop comparing yourself to others, and just do the thing–whatever the thing is.

It is the day your life has been gearing up for.

It is the day you’ve been dreading, but also couldn’t wait for.

It is the day you will find out what you’re made of, but even more, what your God is made of. That’s huge.

It is the day you will need your sword. Your armor. Your will to fight. Your determination. Your courage.

This is not the day for wimps who bury their heads in the sand. This is the day to fight.

I feel I just wrote a bunch of Hallmark slogans.

But slogan or no, it doesn’t change the fact that the day has arrived. I told the Lord this past Sunday, “Let’s do this thing.”

Let’s face the fear that has encapsulated me all my life. Let’s face it together.

So, here I am. A girl with a sword, and a God. Let’s do this thing.

 

(I’ll post updates on my progress. NOW, if it is your day too, go do the thing.)

 

 

 

Small, Medium and Big Christians: Auditing the Faith

One Sunday after church, my oldest son (age 10 at the time) came into my bedroom to announce something.  He wanted me to know that it had come to his attention that there were “small, medium and big Christians.”

This is a mild announcement compared to some of the things my children have sprung on me since, but I could tell he wanted me to take him seriously. So, I did.

I probed a bit to get his meaning, though frankly, it wasn’t too hard to discern.

He said he had noticed that not all Christians were the same. Meaning, of course, that we’re at different places in our faith journeys. I agreed. His concern was that one person he thought of as a small Christian was seen by everyone in our church as big. What had he missed?

Well, imagine the following conversation. Of course, before you even think it or get it out of your mouth (because I know you are thinking it), we had the discussion about judging others. To which, he retorted, “Dad says we can judge if someone has fruit or not.” My ex was always the clever one. Touche.

Honestly though, I wasn’t concerned about my son’s discovery that the church was busy promoting some elder as a stoic in the faith, while my son witnessed a very different person Mon-Saturday. Let’s face it. At some point, all of us church goers figure out that there’s a few loose screws sitting in the pews. My polite way of saying, a few who, for whatever their reason, show up to church, but haven’t a clue whomthey worship. I mean bottom line, for some, church is a social means to a business end. Or a cultural habit that revolves more around friendship than worship. There are plenty of reasons people go to church, not all of them have to do with Jesus. My son was going to figure that out soon or later.

No, this little announcement had a different impact on me. It had me on the edge of my seat of wondering where MOM fit on the small, medium, and large Christian scale.  I mean I talked the talk, that’s for dang sure. Was I walking the walk in his 10 year old eyes?

So, I nonchalantly got him off the elder by quizzing him instead about everyone else he knew. I was hoping to insert my name into the list and catch him off guard, so he’d be honest. After all, he’s 10, he knew who paid for the pool and movies. I started with his Maurme, my mom, his grandmother. “Oh, she’s  HUGE.: She got a huge? Huh. I went on, Aunt Debbie?, Aunt Kathy? Your Father? and so on. When I slid my name into the list, he cut his eyes at me, and said, “Mom, of course you’re big.” Hmmmm…

The child was desperate for a night over at a friend’s house who lived a long way across town, and I had agreed to talk Dad into it. So?? Was I truly a big Christian in his eyes? Or the means to his present end? Who knows? What I do know is that I became acutely aware that a 10 year old had pretty much nailed the faith (from appearances) of each person I listed. It was revealing because I could see how he arrived at his conclusions, and I really couldn’t argue with him. My mom is huge.

He’d done this without a word or a discussion. In his child’s eyes, he had watched each person in his world with a keen observation, and made some rather stern determinations. It was humbling, and life changing for me. I wanted, from that moment on, to be a big Christian in his eyes.

This past Sunday, sitting in an entirely different church than the one my son witnessed,  the Pastor said that as Christians. sometimes we want to “audit the faith.”

You know, like auditing a class. You get to sit in the class and partake of all the good things–lectures, notes, books, learning–but you do not have to take the tests and quizzes, or turn in term papers. Christians want all the blessing of the faith, but none of the testing of the faith. At least, I think we can safely make that assumption about most of us because who on earth wants to be tested in anything?

Here’s the problem with that: tests are what grow our faith.

If I want to grow as a Christian, and become more mature in my faith, then the Lord will test me. Test me to prove his total faithfulness to me. How would I know he would provide if I never needed him too? How would I know he would give comfort, if I only experienced joy?

Lately, I have found myself in a circumstance that proves to have no solution. I can’t think or muscle myself out of this situation–something I can generally do. I was thinking (obsessing ) about it again yesterday, and I said out loud, “I have no backup plan for this.” The Lord whispered in my ear, “You have me.”

When the Lord is the only back up plan we have, we’re facing a test.

When the Lord is our only help, we’re facing a test.

Now, I have two beautiful granddaughters, and one Bonus Daughter. I want them, if ever asked about YaYa”s faith, to respond as my son did about his Maurme, “She’s HUGE.”

Keeping in mind, of course, that our huge is still so very small compared to the greatness and glory of God. Amen.

Spare the Rod Grandma, Spare the Rod!!

So, we’re in church on Christmas Day, and what to my wandering eye did appear–well, not Santa’s reindeer. No, I was treated to domestic violence.  I exaggerate. Somewhat.

Listen I spanked my children. Yes I did. And, not because Scripture speaks to it:

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. Proverbs 13:24

But, because I found it to be the most effective means of discipline for the BIG STUFF. I know, not everyone agrees with spanking. These days, you’d be hard pressed to speak out on the issue if you do use that form of discipline for fear of someone calling DSS, but what I witnessed in church Christmas morning was not a spanking. In fact, it was not discipline at all.

Picture this: 10 a.m. Christmas morning, the church bells have rung, the pews are filled, hymns announcing the Christ child’s birth are joyfully being sung, when whack!, a GRANDMOTHER, not the mother, backhands a 3-4 year old boy for making typical toddler noise. It startled my sons and I, sitting two pews back from her with the in-between pew empty, so much so, that my youngest son instinctively put his arm around me, as if to protect me.

What transpired after that is actually difficult to write, so I won’t elaborate, but I actually wondered if we were secretly on that show, What Would You Do? 

And, as much as you might want to do something, it isn’t always in the best interest of the child for you to do so. Its possible the parent, or grandparent, will take their embarrassment out on the child later at home.

But really, HOW DARE SHE? 

I thought of my own toddler munchkin, who’d stayed at home with mom. What if someone dared backhand my two-year-old granddaughter for making normal two-year-old noise? My heart breaks.

Here’s what I wanted to say to the other grandma in church on Christmas: Spare the rod, Grandma! Spare the Rod! That’s one of the actual rights of a grandmother. We get to spare the rod, and spoil the heck out of the child. My sweetie will yell, “YaYa come get me,” when put down for sleep. And, I go get her. I know, drives the parents nuts, but as the saying goes,  The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they have a common enemy. (Sam Levenson)

But really, what was killing me too, was the fact that this child stands a huge chance of growing up to hate Jesus, hate church, hate her. There’s the sadness. That he won’t remember singing, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” he’ll remember dreading the whole church ordeal for fear of repercussions from Grandma–what big teeth she has!!

That’s what made me want to scream at her. But, I prayed instead, and not because I’m all spiritual, but because when I feel helpless, that’s where I head–to God. He knows what is needed far more than I do–for that sweet, little boy, for the daughter, who could not stand up to her mother, and yes, for the grandmother, who needed his grace all the more. I could only wonder, who had backhanded her? Who did not spare the rod on her? Grace, grace, grace.

When my children were little, I would pray before disciplining them. Lord, I would ask, what do they need? Grace or law? I couldn’t see into their little boy hearts, so I asked my heavenly Father, who loved them even more than I, the rod or the cross? Rarely, rarely was it ever the rod. The Cross, Cinthia. Show them the cross.

Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin. (Julia H. Johnston)

 

 

 

 

Sleeping the Winter Away; Sorting Through Life; Testimonies and Issues

Platypus in Repose

Its that time of year again. I am going to bed. I mean that in the most literal sense. I am two weeks away from putting on the pjs, and curling up under my covers to sleep the winter away. When spring rolls around, well, somebody wake me up. But, not until the last possible cold snap is past.

I actually get to do exactly that because of my job. I don’t work Jan-March. I sleep. Horticultural is a great career, but it’s seasonal, at least where I live. As hard as that is on the finances, its not a bad way to live. Everyone should take the winter off and sleep. No catching up on projects or starting an exercise regime, just sleep. We’re all sleep deprived anyway, according to the Huffington Post. (Seriously, every other article is on sleep deprivation, check it out.)

I will also sort. When not dreaming through the wintry days, I will sort. First, through all the papers that were stacked carelessly on my desk while I worked, and then through boxes of who knows what, and finally my life. Every now and then I have to still myself and put my life in chronological order. I have to place the events of my life into a time-space continuum, or I get lost in my own life. I can only run on auto-pilot for so long, before I start to fear that I am living my life without living my life. Do you know what I mean?

I’ve already started sorting and sleeping (lots of naps of late) though two weeks of work are still ahead of me. Tonight, I ate my wild-rice/chicken soup (made in my new red crock pot, no less) for dinner while reading last November’s journal.

Two things stood out:

1. Everything has changed.

2. Everything has stayed the same.

My surroundings may be very different now, but it seems my issues are still well, my ISSUES, hence point number two. (I realize this is not breaking news for some of you.)

I was very unhappy about point number 2, kicking myself under the table (ha), and wondering when in the heck? But then, I remembered this pastor at my old church. He was young and fresh out of school. He was hired as like an assistant pastor. Nobody liked him because he fumbled over his words, forgot what was next, and generally stumbled through worship services. I thought he was awesome. A kindred spirit. Someone who messed up as much as I did. Anyway, I remember once he talked about how if your testimony about Christ was only about how you’ve changed, i.e. you’re such a better person now, you’re on the right track now, you’re so over all your addictions now, your marriage is awesome now, your kids perfect now, and so forth, that perhaps you’d missed the whole point. The point being Christ, of course, the perfect loveliness and holiness of Christ. No one liked that sermon but it made tremendous sense to me, even though I instantly forgot it until tonight.

So, I’m eating my soup, and wondering, am I trying for perfection? Is that why my issues are still my issues? Am I trying to be that person whose testimony is all so sanctimonious? Am I trying to have a testimony for Cinthia or for Christ? Well, that thought was a spoon stopper.

What if my issues are for the glory of God? Like the guy in John 9 who was born blind and the disciples asked Jesus if was blind because his parents had sinned or he had. Jesus told them he was that way for the glory of God. Now, there’s a thought. What if my issues somehow bring glory to God? My weakness revealing his strength?

This is not a way out of bettering myself, but it might be a way of placing my issues at the cross, where God is free to free me of them, or use them for his purposes. I am getting sort of mystical and hardly understand myself here, but in some far off way, it makes sense to me.

The good thing is, I have the winter to sleep on it and sort it out.

Things My Daddy Said About Dating (What Every Girl Should Know)

My daddy looked like James Dean. Seriously. There is a very old photo of our family at the Outer Banks, taken when I was about 5, so that would have been about 1965. Daddy is standing next to the swimming pool, and he looks just like James Dean. Plus, my Daddy was way cool. Ask anyone who knew him. They’ll tell you. Gerald Milner was way cool. Even with that name.

Daddy loved his girls, though he did want a boy, he had four daughters. The first three of us were 2 1/2 years apart, then came the baby, when I was 13. He taught us how to make a fist the right way–thumb outside of knuckles, knuckles flat for more punch–because he wanted us to level some guy if we needed too. I never needed too, but I did teach my granddaughter the same thing, when I saw her make a “girl fist.”

Daddy was my first date. When I turned ten, he took me to Buck’s Restaurant, the swankiest place in Asheville at the time, on Tunnel Road. It was my birthday present. Just the two of us, no mom and sisters involved. He treated me like a princess. I got to order the biggest dessert. The waiters and waitresses were especially nice to us because they knew it was a big night. Daddy pretended it was a real date. He told me, “How I am treating you tonight is how every man should treat you.” Geez. I cry just typing that. Who on earth could treat me as good as you did, Daddy? I was your favorite princess (as were each of my sisters). He also said that date would be the best date I ever had. He was right. Nothing has ever compared.

He did the same for my sisters on their 10th birthdays (or thereabouts). When he died, the pastor asked us, individually, what we remembered about him most. All of us said, “The night he took me on my first date.”

Every Daddy should do that for his little girl. She’ll never forget it.

Daddy taught me about boys. He was one of 7 boys (and three sisters) and he knew. Boys aren’t always going to treat you like a princess. So, he gave me some tips. I’ll list a few.

It isn’t about whether the boy chooses you or not. Its about whether you choose him. That statement revolutionized my thinking about dating, men and relationships. So many women are trying to be pleasing, beautiful and charming, all so the guy will choose her. Daddy told me to decide if I wanted the guy before the guy ever had the chance to decide anything. That statement has been a game changer on many a guy in my life.

When a guy says, I’m not the marrying type, he just means he doesn’t want to marry you, so don’t waste anymore time on him. Oh my gosh. When the first guy said that to me, while we were discussing our future (or not, as it turned out), I gasped out loud and said, “My Daddy said you would say that.” Of course, Daddy didn’t know that guy would say it, but he knew some guy would, and sure enough he was right, The guy got married six months later to another girl.

If a guy ever tries to hurt you, tell me. and I’ll go kick his ass. Aww, Daddy, you were already in heaven when that guy hurt me. Going through my divorce, I kept telling my ex, if my Daddy were here, he’d kick your ass. My ex knew my dad, and he concurred. An ass whooping is exactly what he would have gotten.

Men can be casual with sex. Women can’t do that, because sex is about feelings and emotion for them. That’s why its the girl’s job to say no. She has something to protect, her heart. Would every girl who is trying to act like a man sexually please read that statement like 20 times? Men aren’t women and women aren’t men, no matter how gender neutral we try to make things these days. The sexes respond differently to many things, and I’d say sex is one of the biggest. Men can be casual about it. Women rarely.

Daddy never let men curse in front of my mother, or his daughters. He would say, “Ladies are present.” Now, it makes me sad that women are worse than men with their foul mouths. When we were little, instead of saying hell, we said h-e-double toothpicks. My how things have changed.

Daddy died when my youngest was 5 but both my boys like the memories of him. He was a golfer, an athlete, a champion of the poor. He loved my mama, and made her feel beautiful. He loved his four girls and made us feel beautiful. He was the first man to tell me I was pretty. I was 14 and awkward, and feeling it. He told me I was going to be the prettiest girl in the school that day. And, you know what? I was.

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.

I

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.