Monday, December 30, 2013
I received an email saying, "You're Rebekah. Emily's sister."
That was all that the email said.
I read the guy's profile, I looked through all of his pictures but nothing rang a bell.
Though my sister and I share similarities, I really don't think we look alike. We both have large personalities and people usually notice when we walk in the same room, but over the past few years, we really haven't run in the same circles. I was very confused.
I responded with a simple yes and was hoping that would be the end of it. He replied, "I thought so! How are you?"
It's one thing to start a conversation with a clean slate and get to know someone via online messaging; it's a completely different ball game when they've got an upper hand on you and you have no idea how.
"Before I answer that, who are you?" I replied.
"I went through school with Emily."
"Yeah, I figured that. Who are you? Have we met?"
"No. We've never met. I was a few years younger than Emily so you and I never went to school together. I remember you coming around, though."
I found it (still do) interesting that this guy is probably within months of my brother's age but for some reason it seems thinks he only went to school with my sister. It's even more interesting when one considers that my brother and sister basically did everything together my brother's freshman year -- you really couldn't know one without the other. But, I digress.
As he was replying to me, I was reading through his profile. He's currently spending his time as a pizza delivery guy. He had hopes of either getting into a well-known music program or joining the military next year. He loves his family. Apparently one of the things he "can't live without" is a mint mojito.
If he's "a few years younger" than my sister, he's not legally old enough to drink.
I asked him about his drink of choice and he responded, "Oh, yeah! Love those!"
"But you're not old enough to drink," I emailed back.
"Well, no, but the ladies don't have to know that." He inserted a winky face for good measure.
"It says your age on your profile."
"Right. I had forgotten about that."
We had a few more one sentence emails back and forth which all consisted of me calling him out on different things on his profile. He eventually stopped responding. I still don't know his name or recognize his face.
This reminds me of my first year of teaching. A few friends and I went out to a bar in downtown to go dancing. I spotted a student of mine (he was a junior in high school) across the dance floor. Thankfully, I knew the bouncer from an environmental science class in college and got the situation taken care of. The kid was still talking about "finding whoever ratted him out" when he returned to school on Monday.
Some people. They're just simple. Bless their hearts.
Friday, December 27, 2013
Monday, December 23, 2013
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Monday, December 2, 2013
Two years ago, I woke up in my aunt and uncle's house in Georgia. My uncle was going to be honored at a changing of command ceremony, where he turned his battalion over to another commanding officer. His time at Fort Gordon was up, and my parents and I had headed down to Georgia to be with him during this special time.
I watched Uncle Doug be honored and go through the ceremony -- the likes of which I had never seen anywhere else -- and afterwards we headed out for a family meal at Logan's Roadhouse. Those rolls were so good.
I was wearing a green sweater with a new purple scarf that I just bought the week before especially for this occasion. I dropped some barbeque sauce on the right arm of the sweater during lunch. The stain is still there. I was wearing some high heels that day, too.
As we were walking out of the restaurant, my phone rang -- I was still rockin' the purple BlackBerry -- and my caller ID told me that my CBSP sister Holly was calling me. I figured she was probably raising support for her job with Campus Crusade, so I figured I would pick up the phone, tell her I was busy, and call back later.
"Hey, Miss Holly! How's it -- "
"Bekah." Holly is one of the most upbeat people you'll ever meet. She doesn't end sentences with periods. It's usually an exclamation point.
"What. What's wrong?"
"Bekah. Travis is dead."
I know that my hip bone is connected to my leg bone and my leg bone is connected to my foot bone, but I couldn't remember where my feet were at that moment. I took a step forward to try to balance myself and I chastised myself once again for how bad of an idea my heels were that day.
"HE'S WHAT!" I yelled into the phone.
Travis was overseas. Travis was telling people about Jesus. Travis was having an adventure. Travis isn't dead.
"Travis is dead."
Holly kept talking and saying things. She explained to me how he was found in his bedroom and she said other words, too. I don't remember any of them. The sun was really bright, I do remember that. My family was hollering for me to get in the car; they didn't know that I was trying to process the most life-altering information I had ever been given.
Travis is dead. Travis is dead. Travis is dead. Travis is dead. Travis is dead.
The next thing I remember is being in the car with my grandparents and cousins. My mom was in the other car and was texting me if I had anymore information on my friend who had been injured.
No, Mom. I typed. He's not injured. Travis is dead.
My phone started ringing. Julia. Kerianne. My phone kept ringing. My sister. Jessica. Will.
I started calling people and asking what they knew. Information gets jumbled when we're relaying it across the ocean and then multiple state lines.
I called numbers I hadn't called in years -- Jill, Kelsey, Makenly -- and relayed the news over and over again: Travis is dead. Our brother has died. Our family won't be whole again.
Over the next few days, I didn't cry. I didn't want to feel anything, so I just turned into a robot. I went to work, gave my kids worksheets, sat at my desk, and stared out the window. I began to search for places in Travis' hometown to rent so we could all be together for the funeral and I looked up who had the cheapest flights for last-minute bookings to fly in our friends from outside driving distance.
A newspaper article from Travis' hometown made it public knowledge that he was dead. More than that, the article made it public knowledge that someone had killed Travis. What we had heard was an accident, a malfunction of his heater to cause an overdose of carbon monoxide, was actually murder.
Kerianne sent me a text saying "Julia says Travis's death wasn't an accident." I called her and she read me the article -- Travis was suffocated, found with a plastic bag over his head. I was driving down 440 heading back to The Manor. Wanna talk about distracted driving? I'll take your fighting six-year-olds in the backseat any day. She read me the article, and I held in my emotions. I went to The Manor, let out the dog, called My Kelsey and sped the two miles to her house.
I screamed. I cried. I screamed. I pulled out a few strands of hair. I said a lot of four-letter words. I screamed. I'm pretty sure I terrified My Lauren. I pounded my fists in her couch and on her floor. I felt everything for the first time in two weeks. It hurt like hell. I know what evil feels like, smells like. What the bile of it tastes like.
Someone murdered Travis.
I know someone else who was murdered.
They put nails in His hands, and stuck needles and thorns into His head. They whipped Him with chains made of broken glass and animal teeth. They raised His body up for all to see. They spit on Him, called Him names. Made fun of Him. They stripped Him of His clothes and humiliated Him. He is their Savior, and they crucified him like a criminal.
Travis didn't have to die. Someone else made that decision for him.
Jesus did have to die. He made that decision for Himself according to the will of His Father.
Jesus died so that Travis' death could mean something. Jesus died so that Travis' life could mean even more.
I am a public school teacher. I'm not supposed to talk about Jesus. However, when my kids see a picture of their Mama Sandy and some guy, they get curious. I answer their questions and I tell them about how Travis was the good one -- I swear he never got angry or frustrated. He had the patience of a saint. I tell them that the picture was taken my sophomore year of college at a dance that Travis and I went to together. We laughed a lot that night. The reason the picture is so old is because Travis died before we could take anymore. I tell them that he died because he loved Someone more than himself: Jesus.
Thanks to Travis' story I've told more of my kids about Jesus than I ever could before.
One of my most vivid memories of Travis is during the weekend we were all up in Kentucky for that dance. We were talking about when the next time all of us would get together and that we were sad to have to leave. We knew it was going to be a while before we could reconvene. Travis said, "Don't worry, you guys. Eventually everyone will start getting married and those can be our reunions!"
Weddings did bring us together a time or two, but our biggest reunion to date was for Travis' funeral.
Travis' entire existence had purpose. In life, his purpose was to make Jesus known. In death, his purpose is to leave a legacy that helps me make Jesus known.
Travis' life didn't end in death. He is more alive in this moment than I will ever feel on this earth. Travis' story isn't over. When life is in Jesus, it's eternal. I celebrate that Travis' death on this earth was simply a stepping stone to Glory. I celebrate that he ran the race well and finished to hear, "Well done, My good and faithful servant." I celebrate knowing that my Clearwater family is only separated here in this world, but will soon be reunited on streets of gold.
Hallelujah. Thank You, Jesus.
Friday, November 29, 2013
When my family was announcing our Thanksgiving Day plans, I put them on my calendar and I never questioned them. After I ate my fill of dressing and dumplins (each of my grandmothers' respective Thanksgiving delicacies), I returned to my Cute Little House and curled up with the book of the moment and had a peaceful evening.
I like this life, this life of mine; it's a good one.
While I was reading said book, the narrator switched over to the wife of the main character and she was analyzing her relationship in contrast to the relationships of her two best friends and their husbands. She and her two friends had met at a bar in Soho for cocktail hour and by the end of it, the two husbands had shown up to pay their respects, but not hers.
After receiving pitiful glances from the four pairs of eyes looking across at her, she begins a monologue about the dancing monkeys.
The dancing monkeys are the men whose women make them prove their love on a daily basis: do this chore; don't wear that, wear this instead; show up to cocktail hour so I can show you off to my friends; make sacrifices for the life that I want.
Before the specific list was given, the wife referenced "the pointless tasks, myriad sacrifices, the endless small surrenders" that women make men do to prove their love. I found myself making a note in the margin -- English major, remember? Don't judge too quickly, please -- saying: "What does it say about my life that I don't know what these are?"
Have my "semi-serious" relationships, as I like to call them, not been as serious as I thought they were because I hadn't encountered them? Am I too selfish a person to realize that I've done these in the past? Was I too independent in my relationship to ever ask/expect a man to do anything for me, much less prove his love?
The wife continues on explaining how she doesn't make a dancing monkey out of her husband. She, instead, greets him enthusiastically when they both get home from their respective outings (cocktail hour for her, impromptu poker night for him) and they both talk about their days. They speak of the dancing monkeys they encountered separately -- the husbands who would have paid to be anywhere but cocktail hour, the boyfriend who wanted to play poker but whose girlfriend desperately needed him to make an appearance at her dinner with friends -- and giggle, tongue-in-cheek, at those relationships.
The wife later sighs in the fact that her husband isn't more of a dancing monkey. Their relationship is a tough one to figure out: I'm not sure if she wants a dancing monkey, or if she wants him to want to be a dancing monkey, or if that was a sigh of relief that she doesn't have a dancing monkey for a husband.
I don't think I want a dancing monkey. Is that a bad thing?
Yes, I want a guy whom I can introduce to my friends and who will pick up my favorite bottle of wine because he wants to. Yes, I believe that couples should split the household chores and to show a bit of respect for the other's busy schedule, maybe even pick up one or two of the chores not on their personal list. Does this mean my boyfriend/husband is "whipped" or that he respects me?
I associate the term "whipped" or "dancing monkey" with a robot of some sort, a being who can't think for themselves. I think of the guy in my future as a respectful gentleman who finds pride in making me smile and in making my day.
Where I'm getting confused here is what makes the two different? The man's intention behind it? My expectation for it?
I cook asparagus and broccoli on a weekly basis. I'm beyond snobbish about what kind of pasta goes with each dish I make. I only vacuum when company comes over.
If I started cooking asparagus and broccoli on alternating weeks, does that mean I'm respecting his opinion, or chiseling away at my personality and my wants in order for someone else to take over? If I vacuum once a week because I want him to take pride in my home and the home that we will build together, am I single-handedly taking the feminist movement one gigantic step backwards?
I've been surrounded by enough good and healthy and long-lasting relationships in my life to be 98% sure of the answer. The problem is that the 2% left over is currently very strong and making me question a few things.
If I have to have a passive man in order to have one who takes pleasure in my smile, then I don't want it. If I have to nag in order to feel appreciated, I'll keep my weekly broccoli and asparagus. If I can't watch football loudly because he wants me to be seen and not heard, my windows will go on being dirty without anyone saying a blessed word. I have will sleepovers with friends during the week, I'll read books on Thanksgiving, I will spend every Christmas morning with my parents, and I will book a flight to South Korea to see my aunt and uncle and tell the travel agent, "Yes, ma'am, one ticket. Just one."
When did respect and kindness leave our society and become something to poke and joke about? When did sacrificing oneself for the good of the whole make someone an idiot or less of a human being? When did settling become something not only permitted, but advocated for?
This journey through online dating was supposed to be something fun. It was supposed to be light and breezy and full of interesting conversations that would lead to stories I would tell my girlfriends about during our own cocktail hour. I've noticed how it's made me go political on many levels. Maybe it's because I'm "meeting" people who aren't in my normal social circle. Maybe it's because I've had to defend my ideals more than once. Regardless of the reason, I'm not sorry for it and I'm certainly not apologizing for it either.
As we wrap up our turkey and we move on from a time of gratitude into the most selfish season of the year, I'm going to be thankful for just a moment longer: thankful for parents who love each other. Thankful for parents who will never stop loving each other. Thankful for grandparents who always have and always will love each other and show their grandchildren just how worth it is to never, ever settle. Thankful that I'm blessed enough to have the knowledge of true love in my mind, heart, and soul.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Guy #1 lives in Charlotte, about a three-hour drive from me. I've said this before and I'll say it again: I don't do long-distance relationships. There has to be something there worth fighting for in order to get me to agree to that. I've done it before; we had been dating for about two months when he moved across state lines for a summer internship. I knew he was coming back and social media made communication easier. The whole thing ended soon after he returned, but I am thankful for an experience that taught me so much.
This guy, however, doesn't stand a chance at getting me to agree to something long-distance.
His profile says that our religious views are completely different, he thinks it would be a great social experiment for a Democrat to date a Republican, he lives three hours away, and he's already mentioned "hooking up." But I have to give him this: he's a persistent little booger.
Every time I say "no, thanks, but thanks anyway," he returns the email with another reason why he thinks we would be good together.
"We both want to get married one day!" "Think of all of the philosophical discussions we could have with our opposing viewpoints!" "I've always wanted to date a teacher -- I had a thing or two for most of my teachers in high school."
That last one is the edited version of what he sent, but it still get the creepy effect across.
I usually look forward to my phone beeping with an alert from my dating website app, but not recently. Bless his heart.
Guy #2 actually had some potential...until he opened his mouth.
His pictures have him surrounded by friends on different adventures without a beer can in sight. I don't mind drinking responsibly, but I think there is a typically-true stereotype that goes along with guys who post pictures of themselves getting schwasted.
His profile says he loves Jesus, is a civil engineer, has traveled to a few countries besides his own, and loves the Wolfpack.
Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!
He sent me a message asking what I was doing for this Thanksgiving holiday. We shared a few emails back and forth about our respective Thanksgiving plans and then he asked me what brought me to the dating site.
My go-to answer is that I work too much and my hours are different from the rest of the grown-up world's, so this is just easier and more efficient for a finding a guy.
"Yeah, I'm kind of a workaholic. I love my job, so it's hard to say no when they want to give me overtime. But this cuts out the bar scene. This also means that I don't have time for a relationship so just dating and maybe a little fun."
(Grammar and spelling edited for your pleasure and comfort.)
I'm all about dating: free meal, interesting conversation, expanding the pool of people I know. But "a little fun" in this context is not up my alley.
Again, bless his heart. He was so close.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Consequently, Question 5 is on the blog today.
I know you're thinking, "Uh, Reba, you forget Question 4...."
Yes. I'm aware. I'll come back to it, I swear.
Question 5: Favorite movie of all time? Why so?
Picking favorites isn't easy for me. Without a doubt, the only favorites I truly know are
My favorite person in history: Jesus.
My favorite color: purple.
My favorite college: North Carolina State University.
Any other favorites...I just don't know.
However, I will bend my must-please-everybody brain and pick out a winner.
You've Got Mail.
Have you seen it? If not, you should.
It came out in 1998, right at the beginning of the internet's takeover of the world. AOL was all the rage and the words "You've Got Mail" had a whole new meaning. I was only nine years old at the time, so it was a few years until I watched it, but, I swear to you, it was love at first viewing.
The film tells of Kathleen Kelly, who owns a children's bookstore in New York. It is a small but profitable labor of love -- until Foxbooks, a mega-chain of super-sized bookstores, begins building across the street. Joe Fox, an executive with the family-owned firm, is directly responsible for this particular branch. Kathleen despises Joe and everything he seems to stand for. The future of her very livelihood is in doubt. When Kathleen and Joe are not working, they are logged onto their respective computers, where they've each met a wonderful friend. No one else has shared-or is even aware of-their intimate, anonymous electronic conversations that begin with the magic words "you've got mail." --IMDB
I couldn't have said it better myself.
The film is loosely based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. When I found this out, it took the movie to a whole new level. I've always loved reading and books, even when I was a kid and it wasn't cool. The fact that someone could take a piece of literature, put a modern spin on it, and then market it to the masses for the world to drool over fascinated me.
A few reasons why this wins as my favorite movie:
1. Kathleen has gumption. I love female characters who tell it like it is while still being a lady. She is a successful career woman with a close group of friends. She stands up for what she believes in and fights for what she wants. I love that she has an open heart and a soul of steel.
2. The central setting is a bookstore in New York City. I have had an unending love affair with NYC my whole life -- the city that never sleeps, where stars are born and dreams come to life. And it's a bookstore. Need I say more?
3. Watching it now in 2013, the screech of the dial-up internet makes my heart very, very happy.
4. I love the evolution of the love story. I'm a romantic at heart and to see the tumultuous, volatile relationship ebb and flow into happily ever after... *sigh*
"You've Got Mail" is my go-to movie for a sick day. Or a rainy day in need of warm blankets and hot chocolate.
I'm pretty sure I've just talked myself into putting this on the calendar over Thanksgiving break.
Friday, November 22, 2013
When other people don't feel the same, it kind of shocks me.
Some guys and the things they're willing to say just shocks me, too.
I received a message last week from this guy. We sent a few messages back and forth. He has a steady job that he likes, he's educated, and he has a brother. These things I know. I don't recall his name, though.
He works and lives about 45 minutes outside of Raleigh and he told me that I shouldn't worry about doing a long-distance kind of thing because he's in Raleigh all the time. I kind of rolled my eyes at his presumptuousness that I would even give him a chance. But, then again, I guess confidence is good-looking on a guy.
He messaged me while on his way to Raleigh for a business conference. He said that he was having to entertain clients all day but he would be open to entertaining a date that night. I did a little crooked smile at the idea of having a drink or two with a guy.
Not three messages later, I stopped smiling.
"I just got to my hotel. Damn, this is too big for one person. You should come keep me company."
ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME.
This guy was nice, y'all. He seemed to have a good family and I thought he had decent raising. He could carry on a conversation and he allegedly loved sushi and said he would compromise on what movies to watch. He was kinda cute and he had this witty sense of humor that made me giggle.
What homeboy doesn't have is a clue.
It is my personal belief that women have been watered down to be just a few things: easy, shallow, make-up wearing, cosmopolitan drinking Top Guns with a mouth like a sailor. We're supposed to be that all while wearing stilettos.
Women are absolutely allowed to be those things. That's our choice. But that's not what we're made for. We're made to be strong and to be talented. We're made to be smart and to be multi-taskers who take on the day without fear.
The need to compare ourselves to one another has robbed us, slowly but surely, of our identities and our credit scores. We, as a society, are so buried in debt and that we can't laugh at the days to come because we're so busy making that next dollar to rob Peter to pay Paul. We're counting calories, not because we want to be healthy, but because we need to be skinniest woman in the bar to pick up a man. Excuse me, a male.
Women are made to want security. We are made to crave the care and attention it takes for us to feel secure and wanted. We've abandoned true security and taken on pseudo security: if I can feel good for one minute, that will get me through a rough patch. Once I break up with this guy, I can find another one and he'll make me feel pretty.
Sorry, people. That's not what I'm looking for. I want the real thing. I want the be-all end-all that I've watched growing up. I want to be dancing on the screened-in porch when I'm 70. I want to make-out in the kitchen and make my kids get really grossed out. I want to have a guy bring me lunch at work and learn all of my teammates' names.
I had this vision when I started this experience that I would eventually go on a date with a guy from this whole shenanigan. I would be super excited and giddy about it and I would probably buy a new outfit. You would wait by your computer screens the next day, waiting for the full re-cap on a blog post. I would tell you about the awkward jokes he made and how I spilled something.
I still want that. I think I'll always want that.
But that isn't going to stop me from wanting more.
Sorry, homeboy. Your bed is going to stay too big for one person. Until you have the whole world to offer me, I want nothing to do with your sheets.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Since online dating is currently boring, for lack of a better word, I figured now was as good of a time as any to do questions two and three!
Question 2: What sorts of things really make you laugh?
I laugh at almost anything. Just because I'm laughing doesn't mean that I'm having a good time. I could just as easily be uncomfortable or on the verge of tears. Laughing is my escape from all other emotions.
I think the things that really make me laugh are real life stories. Lord knows I have my fair share of interesting life stories, and connecting with someone in that way is good for my soul.
Question 3: What's your favorite place in the entire world?
I have many of these. They have changed as my life has changed and I have adventured more over this world. Beirut, Lebanon and Clearwater Beach, Florida will always be in my Top 5, but those places are just the containers of the love that I have -- the people that shared love with me in those places are what truly matters. North Carolina State University campus is also, most definitely, in that Top 5. Both of my grandparents' houses round out the Top 5.
However, I think that my favorite place in the world is a bit more abstract than an address.
My favorite place would be the lake house where my dad's side of the family spends a week out of every summer together. The actual lake house that has housed all of us has changed from year to year, mind you, but the idea of all coming together is what gets me really excited. We laugh, play, swim, read, sleep, and tan for one entire week, Saturday to Saturday, every summer. This is the week that all of the cousins and aunts and uncles work the hardest to be together. Now that my generation is older and we have real life jobs and that sort of thing, it's getting harder. I think it was Christmas of 2012 the last time that all eleven of us were in the same room together.
I love that we have all of these memories together. Tell any of my cousins that Aunt Sheri is cooking tacos and the groan of sudden hunger will shock you. Or that Aunt Beth Ann has decided to cook something other than chicken and rice -- that protest could be heard across state lines. If you call for a game of cards, move out of the way: the pitter patter of feet is about to get louder as we all charge up the stairs to pick the best partner.
I grew up in a fairyland surrounded by people who love me more than words can express. The lake house is the castle of the fairyland.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Friday, November 15, 2013
Current Mood: Perplexed.
Recent Online Activity: About two weeks ago, a guy named Carsen emailed me. He stated that based on our respective profiles, he didn't think that we would be a match, but he wanted to email me anyways. Apparently he works with a bunch of transplanted Yankees (preaching to the choir on that one!) and wanted someone with whom to talk ACC football. Despite the fact that my Wolfpack is currently breaking my heart, they're still my Wolfpack.
Carsen and I exchanged a few emails and he seemed like a decent guy.
He eventually got my number and we've been texting.
While I was at the Duke game last weekend, he was texting me through almost every other play. It was nice to have someone on the red side while I was surrounded by that other color.
Carsen is constantly reminding me that he isn't interested in having a relationship with me (and I agree that it wouldn't work), yet he has called me every night this week as soon as he's gotten off of work. On Tuesday, I was answering all of his questions with one word answers. I had had an off day and I was also cooking supper while I was on the phone. After the third or fourth "yep" he said, "Okay, what's wrong? Tell me everything. I can tell you're in a mood."
I tried to shrug it off and move the conversation on, but he wouldn't take no for an answer.
I talked it all out and he listened. He encouraged me after I word-vomited and then we talked about his day.
This happened -- minus the crappy mood on my end -- again Wednesday and Thursday night.
Call me crazy but I'm seeing a pattern here.
He calls on his way home from work, we talk about our days, we tell each other tomorrow will be better, we get excited over each other's weekend plans, and then we hang up. Thirty seconds after the hang up, he texts me something goofy to make me laugh. Right before lunch he sends me a text "just to make me smile" and that launches into a lunchtime text session.
I know this pattern because it was the same one that I had with both of my ex-boyfriends.
So here's my question to you, Blogger World: Do I remind this guy that we will never (and I mean never) be more than friends? Do I soak up the attention and just let it be? Do I casually yet suddenly call him out one night for flirting with me and see if that's enough to get him to stop?
It's one thing to talk sports and hate on Duke during our football game. It's another thing to remind me of the story I told about one of my kids the day before and how that "proves [I am] truly a great teacher and [I] should just focus on my kids," as he said.
I'm all about guys and girls being friends. I'm very thankful for my guy friends. But this is just getting to be more than friends, ya know? I want to do right by him and I certainly don't want to play with his emotions.
Where do I go from here?
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
My whole world was turned upside down the first time that I truly heard the words "Jesus wants you." I had heard the concept before, but my soul had never heard it. Jesus wants me -- my flaws, my freckles, the few extra pounds around the middle. He wants my split ends and all of the snorts I produce when I laugh too hard. He wants my pseudo OCD and my barely-organized chaos.
I was already a believer when I heard this phrase, but I was still struggling deep with insecurities and attempting to find my place in this world. When my Bible Study leader, Shelly, said those three words, it was like everything clicked together. I have seriously contemplated getting those three words tattooed on myself as a constant reminder of the truth in them.
I was stopped dead a few weeks ago when a friend said to me: "Don't pray for marriage."
I went to a cookout the other night and was greeted immediately by a friend. Ma Ella, as I like to call her, was a former co-worker of mine and I truly believe that the Lord used her and her prayers to get me through that semester. We chatted about life and her kids and eventually she asked if I had a boy. I told her no and used my go-to joke of "no one can afford me" to move the conversation right along.
"Well, darling, as long as you're praying for him, he'll be along shortly," was her response. I promised her I was praying for him and praying as specifically as I could.
"Good girl. Pray for that man. Pray that he loves Jesus more than you, pray that he's learning how to be the man of your relationship and learning how to be a good father to y'all's children. Whatever you do, young lady, don't you dare pray for marriage."
"Excuse me? I'm not supposed to pray for my marriage?"
"Oh, you can pray for your marriage. You can pray for the adjectives you want to describe your marriage, you can pray that the Lord makes you the person He wants you to be for your marriage, but don't pray for marriage. Don't pray for marriage because that's all you're gonna get."
Don't pray for marriage because that's all you're gonna get.
Don't pray to find someone because then he'll just be anybody.
I had Ma Ella repeat that sentence to me a few times to make sure that it really sunk in deep.
"Don't pray for marriage because then you'll just get married. Then what? Who is this person? Is this the person that you're supposed to be with? Are you the person that's most right for them? Do your dreams align and can the two of you as one work together to glorify Him?" she continued.
The wheels in my brain were spinning so quickly I was about to fall over. This blog post began to write itself!
Don't pray for marriage because that's all you're going to get.
Pray for a marriage where each of you is sacrificing yourself daily for the other person (I guess this means I may have to learn to cook --and deal with the smell of -- cauliflower). Pray for a man who is so invested in what is best for The Kingdom and for your family that when he comes to you and says, "I've made a decision," it doesn't terrify you. Pray for a man who gives thanks daily -- gratitude is the foundation of a happy heart, a happy life, a happy home. Pray for a man who understand his mission and purpose in life.
Pray for a man who can accept my independence and the fact that I've functioned extremely well by myself for the past however many years. And a man who will appreciate my passion for sequins and giggling and all the little orphan babies in the whole wide world.
But, wait, sorry, that's just my prayer.
Gentlemen, pray for a woman who loves Jesus with everything -- her money, her clothing, her body. Pray for a woman with a career and a head on her shoulders. If she has the ability to balance a career and a social life before you, she can easily balance one with and for you. Pray for a woman with passion. Women multiply everything -- we, as a species, nurture children to become adults, we take a little flour and make a loaf of bread, we take a vase and fill it with flowers to fill an entire room with color and scent. If a woman makes your life together her passion, the church that you two invest in together her passion, the community in which the two of you live her passion, just think of the possibilities for her and for you! Pray for a woman whose dreams can become your own -- as Christ laid down his life for her, so should you. Make sure that you know whose life you are taking on for your own.
Don't pray for marriage because that's all you'll get.
Pray for everything, and then pray a little bit more.
Monday, November 4, 2013
You've been dating someone for a while and you've hit the wall where you need to move forward: you either need to break up or you need to get married.
Maybe that last one is just a girl thing, but regardless, it exists.
There's a wall to hit in online dating as well. You've been sending emails with some guy and he never asks for your number. You know that you really can't learn much more about him over the internet. It's time for more. You need to either hand over your number or ask for hers.
Gentlemen, this is not the girl's job to ask for your number. Be the man and either ask or hand over. It's your job as the man to steer the conversation, to guide the relationship through its proverbial waters.
It's really hard to be the girl in the "hitting the wall" scenario. You're at this impasse of Do I put myself out there and give him the cop out? or Do I stand around and twiddle my thumbs, hoping this guy will step up? Well, first off, ladies, if he's not man enough to ask/give his number, he's not man enough to lead a relationship. Keep that in mind.
Before you make the leap and hand over your number uninvited, remember that confidence can sometimes scare a guy. You might lose him (which is probably a good thing -- just sayin'!).
Men, women are attracted to confidence. I know that I've said this before, but I'm saying it again because it's never going to stop being true. Women are very, very attracted to confidence. Put yourself out there. Do something she's not expecting. If she's reacts immaturely, then she's not ready for a relationship and count this as a good thing in your life.
Even if she isn't interested, hopefully she's mature enough to handle it and you both can laugh about it later.
If she's interested, I cannot begin to describe the number of brownie points that are now in your column. Way to go!
Once you've exchanged numbers, then there's the wall where you need to meet in person. Texting/phone conversation is getting only but so far and there's a critical need for more.
I've hit this wall a handful of times. The need for a number and a need for a face-to-face meet-and-greet.
I'm currently sitting on this impasse. He has my number and we've been texting. To say that we are loooooonng overdue for a date would be an understatement. From the character that has been shown via text message, I don't think that I would date this guy long-term, but I've been given encouragement to wait and see in person. Sometimes guys don't know how to react via text message, but they have a darling little personality in person.
I'm hoping for the chance to give this guy a chance.
I was, however, asked out by a guy who I chatted with the last time I was online. He messaged me earlier this week and abruptly said, "How about that date?" We talked about possible times that we're both available but nothing has been set in stone yet -- guys, it doesn't really count until there's a plan. You always need a plan -- so we'll see if he can complete the task.
The bottom line: Don't be a wuss. If you like her, do something about it. And then continue to do something about it until you don't like her anymore.
Friday, November 1, 2013
You throw a half of a Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser into a dirty toilet bowl overnight, and in the morning, all of the gunk in the toilet is easily scraped away. Yeah, I know that I could sprinkle toilet bowl cleaner in and then scrub it with the brush using a good amount of elbow grease, but sometimes you just have to let things sit in order to get the best result.
Sometimes silence speaks louder than words.
After a long day with my kids, I look forward to coming to my house with the only stimulation being my ceiling fan.
That's kind of where I am with online dating right now. There's a lot of negative energy coming from the dating site currently, and with school being crazy as always and the holiday season starting to gear up, I'm taking some time off. I'm still putting in my fifteen minutes a day, but I'm not responding to every single email. I'm not jumping every time my phone beeps.
This weekend I will click through a few pictures to fulfill my obligations, but I'm not going to return any emails or make any new contacts. I need a weekend off. I need to rejuvenate.
This weekend, I am going to be thankful. I am going to be thankful for the best job I could ask for. I'm going to be thankful for kiddos who say, "Miss Sandy, one of your lovelies is hurting. Can you help?" I love that they know that they're my lovelies.
I'm putting some positivity into my life and I'm being thankful this weekend.
Next weekend I'm fully planning to dive back into the project and hopefully start talking to some decent men. But for now, I'm going to let the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser pull all of the gunk and the negativity out that is crowding my soul right now.
Adventures will resume next week.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Monday, October 28, 2013
Current Mood for Online Dating: A little bit disgusted.
Interactions with Online Dating: I have had more propositions to get into a guy's bed this weekend than I ever had in my entire life. The really sad thing is that I don't even know most of these guys' names.
They would send a "hey" email and per the rules of this experience, I would send one back, despite the "this guy is weird and creepy, avert your eyes" vibe that I was getting from his profile.
His next message would be, "How you doin? U so fine. U wanna hook up tonight?" Or something even more explicit that I won't haunt your dreams with. One of us is more than enough.
It's creepy guys like this that give online dating the reputation that it currently has.
The worst proposition that I've received was from a seemingly nice guy named Carter, as we shall call him. His profile was completely blank -- this is either an orange flag, or he's new to online dating -- but his first message was intelligent, and I respond to all emails, so I sent one back.
We sent back a few bantering emails back and forth. By about his tenth email, he told me I had a beautiful smile and said that we probably shouldn't keep chatting. I, being completely confused and caught off-guard, asked why. His next email apologized, stating that the previous email was meant for someone else. We continued to chat and eventually he messaged me his number. I waited an hour (can't seem too anxious, right?) and texted him.
The banter continued via text message. He mentioned that he didn't live in Raleigh, but about half an hour outside of it, but because of a work thing, he was going to be in Downtown Raleigh tonight. He asked if I wanted to meet him for a drink after his work thing.
I pondered, and figured, "Hey, why not? Might as well figure it out early if I like him or not."
I said I would meet him and told me which establishment he wanted to meet, and asked him the time.
A few minutes later, my phone beeped.
"Meet me in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel at North Hills at 9:00 p.m. If you can earn your keep upstairs, I'll take you out for dinner later."
After a few "you're joking, right?" text messages, he revealed that he didn't think I was a "one night stand" kind of girl, and was trying to cut off communication with the email he claimed was for another girl. When I call his hand on the abrupt email, he figured he might as well give me a shot to see my reaction.
I have since called Sprint and had his number blocked.
This is typically where I would start giving advice for the gentlemen. All of the advice that I would like to give at the moment would probably end some friendships.
Recent Interactions in Real Life: My mom's side of the family got together on Sunday to celebrate my Granny and my Uncle Barry's birthdays. It was also my sister Chloe's birthday, but she is with the NCSU Marching Band in Virginia being awesome. We feasted, as we do at all family gatherings, and I got to cuddle with my sweet nieces and play outside. Family time is the best time :)
Friday, October 25, 2013
It's the last week of the quarter which means that us teachers have been swamped with make-up work from students who didn't care until the last minute. My team teachers and I have also had at least one meeting of some sort every day this week. This stressful week has led me to this reaction:
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
We started this thing we called "The Hot Seat" early on in our travels. One of us would sit on our little yellow loveseat and would have to answer any question that one of our teammates threw at us.
I, personally, loved it. I love talking about myself (shocker!) and I love to be the center of attention; The Hot Seat was right up my alley.
Dating is mighty close to The Hot Seat. This person keeps looking at you (assuming they have decent interpersonal communicational skills) and they are asking you all these questions.
The problem is, a lot of people seem lost on appropriate first-date conversation topics.
Never fear. eHarmony is here!
eHarmony (which is not the dating site on that I'm on) has posted the fifteen best questions to ask on a date to get to know the other person (Don't believe, go here).
1. Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
2. What kinds of things really make you laugh?
3. What's your favorite place in the entire world?
4. Who is your best friend? What do you like about him/her?
5. Favorite movie of all time? Why so?
6. What's your biggest goal in life right now?
7. What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday?
8. Do you have any pet peeves?
9. What was your family like growing up?
10. What were you like as a kid?
11. What should I know about you that I'd never think to ask about?
12. Did you -- or do you -- have a nickname? What is it and what's the story behind it?
13. Who was your favorite schoolteacher or college professor? Why?
14. Have you figured out your calling in life? What is it?
15. What do you hate most about the dating process? (Tell me so that I may avoid it!)
As you're all pondering over these, I figured I might would take a stab at them. The online process is currently slow and nothing to waste your time over. Now, as the eHarmony advice states, one must peel back the layers and not stab the onion, so I'm only going to do #1 today. We'll save the rest for a rainy day.
1. Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
The "who" in this question is not singular, but plural. I would have to save that my family as a unit has been the biggest influence on me. When I was growing up, I didn't think much of the blessing that is my family -- many of my friends had siblings they were close to and a good number of my friends also had nearby aunts and uncles. Whenever I heard from a friend that they only saw their cousin at Christmas, it would shock me: that's not how families work! Families should be all up in each other's business. The kids should be playing outside while the adults are gossiping and catching up on the screened-in porch.
I didn't realize how much of a fairyland I was growing up in.
The closeness of my family hardwired me to be a part of unit. I consequently think in "we" instead of "I". This has enabled me to work well with many close friendships and even be able to maintain friendships across state lines. Because of the constant interaction of people, I feel that I can handle a myriad of personalities; I'm probably related to an identical one like any new one that I come across. I know that I am never alone and I know that someone always has my back, and somewhere, even if I have to shuffle past a family member or two, I can find support and a shoulder to lean on.
I took the closeness of my family for granted for years. Now that we're older and we're starting to scatter a bit (the cousins in particular), I look forward to holidays even more for a higher chance of us all being in the same room. My soul feels depleted when I haven't seen my cousins in a while.
My family, all of us, immediate and distant, has shaped the person I am today.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Here is my philosophy on dating: There is no such thing as going on too many dates.
When my siblings and I were growing up, my parents demanded that we had a summer job every year from the time we turned fifteen. It gave us purpose, helped us learned financial responsibility, and we were never bored in the summertime. While we were going through the application/interview process, they told us often that there was no such thing as too many interviews. Interview experience is great! Many interviews ask the same questions, and the more you go through, the easier it becomes to answer the questions asked of you. By the time we started looking for Big Kid jobs, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into.
Dating is kind of like this. As you go on more dates, you figure out which anecdote to tell and what keeps your audience captivated. You learn which foods are okay to order (spaghetti is a no!) and how to expertly check your teeth for residue while still sitting at the table using the pocket mirror you stashed in your purse so you never have to leave the table.
You also begin to learn how to phrase certain questions and the answers that you expect from your date. Just a heads up, I found that the question, “Tell me about your religious beliefs,” should never be answered with, “Jesus is a great guy.” That’s an orange flag if I ever saw one.
Good dates lead to second dates.
Bad dates lead to great stories for friends later.
I’ve been asked on a few dates recently. I’m still deciding if I want to say yes or not. None of these guys really strike me with the potential of something long-term. However, a few of them may be worth a shot just to tune up my dating skills. Either way, I’ll let you know what happens!
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Mood: Surprised. Is that a good word? It’s the word I’m going to go with.
Online Interaction of the Day: I deeply offended a 21-year-old. Let me tell you about it.
I don’t even know his real name to make a fake name for him, so I’m going to call him The 21-Year-Old.
The 21-Year-Old messaged me. His message was simple: you’re pretty and I would like to get to know you.
What struck me as really funny was that he sent me a message at 11:30 a.m.and said that I was probably still asleep. I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t sleep past 9:00 a.m. I’m usually up by8:00 a.m. and it really depresses me. The fact that he thought that 11:30 a.m.was still time to be sleeping was a bigger red flag than his age.
As I have promised myself that I would reply to every message, I thanked him for the compliment and explained that I couldn’t sleep in.
His reply back: “Yeah, I know how you feel. Your schedule is not so different from mine. In fact, it’s quite similar. I generally work 9-5 on the weekdays and I’m off on the weekends.”
Even now, typing this, I’m feeling some grumpiness creeping up in my heart. I’m going to apologize in advance if the next paragraph savors of bitterness.
No, 9-5 is not my schedule. 6:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. is my schedule five days a week. I’m typically in bed by 9:00 p.m.so that I can wake up by 5:00 a.m. and be ready to take on the kiddos for another day. I’ve only had a handful of “weekends off” the in last few years (excluding summer time) because teachers bring home their work because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. If you’re a teacher, you understand the bitterness. If you’re not, I beg you to never compare your life to that of a teacher’s. You will probably lose a friend.
Also, dear, if you have to try to convince someone that you’re in the same stage of life as they are, then you’re really not.
Okay. Rant over. I’m going to try to allow the grumpiness to seep out of my heart now.
A little fact about me: I’m a romantic. I love the candlelight and the moonlight and walks through the gardens and whatever else romance novelist can spin on a girl. I’m all about it. However, I believe as Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice does: “Of a fine stout love, [poetry may be the food]. But if it is only a vague inclination I’m convinced one poor sonnet will kill it stone dead.” Well, friends, I only had but a vague inclination and his poor sonnet killed even that stone dead.
The 21-Year-Old tried to feed me some line about “my eyes sparkling in the moonlight” and how they’re “protruding my beauty for all to see.” Bless his heart, he couldn’t have known this, but the word “protruding” really freaks me out. However, these words would have made me happy if I had been attracted to him at all and if I didn’t think this was a play to get on my good side because of my “English teacher” status.
I wrote back to him that I appreciate his poetry, but it just wasn’t working for me. I told him that the world protruding freaks me out (I literally shudder every time I write it here) and that since none of my pictures were taken at night that I had a really hard time believing him about the whole moonlight thing.
His response: You may be a teacher, but you need a lesson on romance. My words were meant as a compliment, not for you to critique them.
My response: No offense, dear.
His response: I’m not one of your students; so please don’t try and give me a lecture. And it wasnt a poem . It was like 2 sentences. I can write poetry. I don’t need you to tell me how
No, dear, you don’t, but apparently you do need me to teach you how to use a semi-colon.
In my return email, I told him that no, he wasn’t one of my students, and I apologize if he felt treated like such, though I do have students older than him. I thanked him for his kindness and wished him a good day.
Reflection: Does this interlude make me sound snarky? Probably. There’s a whole lot of adjectives that it probably makes me sound. This guy was doomed from the very beginning: younger than me, a kiss up with the whole poetry thing, shorter than me. Baby couldn’t win.
I’m tired of not having a winner. It makes me sigh.
On Friday, I get to tell you about the 18-year-old who messaged me. I know you’re excited.