Sand Dollars

I spent my anniversary at Heceda Beach on the Oregon Coast.  It was a lovely wind whipped day that made me feel brand new.  I had such a lovely time walking silently on the beach looking for sand dollars with my love.  The ocean did all the talking, as it tends to do.

The first time we went to the coast together, Ian found me a tiny sand dollar.  I just wanted to find one to echo that moment… instead a rubber tide came in and we found ten of them,  surrounded by hundreds of little tiny jellyfish.

I had been feeling gutted lately.  Stressed and spiritually drained and physically tapped out.  But being at the edge of the ocean is like touching eternity a little bit, and somehow it just smoothed my rumpled soul and said “everything can be okay”.

I think about Anne of Green Gables talking about “feeling a prayer”, and that’s what it was like.  I don’t think I prayed much, although I had songs going through my head.  Glenn Kaiser, and Hymns.  My life has been Trout Heart Replica lately.  But now It is Well.

I needed to get out of the city, away from everyone and every thing, and to spend time with the person who knows and loves me most on earth.  I’m so grateful for my husbear, he sees me and loves me anyway.

 

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Unsolicited Christian Dating Advice.

So a good male friend of mine, who is single, posted this on their Facebook:  “Thought on finding “the one”: every married person becomes like their spouse, so in looking for him/her, choose one you want to become like.”

I thought that was pretty good,  so I said ” Look for the one that you can fulfill your calling better with than without. 😉 The ideal mate list is mostly hooey to me… unless the LORD has revealed to you what you need, no one really understands what they need from a spouse until they have one, unless they receive revelation! Pray for revelation!!!”

And then I started thinking about it deeper, because this friend is one of the terribly marriageable people that seems to get looked over quite a bit, and I have quite a few male AND female friends that are unmarried who are unhappy with the unmarried bit (my friends who are happy with it are good to go).  I started to think about marriage and what I thought before or after I got married, and especially how “dating” and “courting” in Christian culture happens…

So here’s my unsolicited and very young wife advice for my Christian single, dating and engaged friends (I promise I’ll do marrieds later).

1. Never say to a girl (or boy, really) that you would like to find someone “like them”.  This is so baffling. Every single woman I know (EVERY SINGLE ONE, think about that)  has told me that at some point either a guy they were interested in, or one of their best friends of the opposite sex who were not ruled out in their heads as a potential spouse has told them this.  You may mean this to be complimentary, but the truth is it is so derogatory… because everyone hears the “except” in their head.  “I need to find someone like you…” and “Because you’re awesome” is what you are implying… but what they hear is “I need to find someone like you…

… except not fat”

… except maybe blonde”

… except you’re too honest and available so it’s no fun.”

Trust me on this people.  Especially if the person you are saying this to is a girl, because girls are trained by society and the way their brains work to analyze and break down crap like this to the tiniest molecule. No matter how intentioned that is, unless the phrase immediately after “I need to find someone like you…”  is “.. and then I realized you were right here…”  THEN YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY THAT.

2. Pay attention to how the person you are interested treats their pets, their family, people they don’t know, and people that don’t garner respect.

I was very privileged to know some truly amazing men, who set the bar high for what people could be.  A common pitfall I observed happened across a wide selection of people at every ministry I’ve ever been involved in.  It would be that the guy or girl would be an awesome teacher, worship leader, preacher or intercessor (though this happens less with intercessors) and during times of ministry would gravitate toward the exciting, popular, interesting, most desperate appearing people to hang out with or minister to or associate with.  This is human nature, but it’s so very important for people in ministry not to fall into this.

For instance, I have a very charismatic friend who is super obviously anointed and gifted.  He’s one of my favorite people on earth. I watched while every older guy in a 100 mile radius really vied to be this friend’s mentor and guide.  And yes, he needed one or many of these.  However, I have another friend who is not so charismatic,  very gifted and anointed, but in a less showy way.  He worked at the same ministry as me and my other friend, and was often frustrated at the lack of response from people he approached for mentoring, etc.  The guys in the ministry would go out, and forget to take this guy.  Finally, someone started to pay attention to him, and foster his gifts… and that person was a truly amazing individual.  It doesn’t mean that the people wanting to help the super charismatic guy were bad people or anything,  but it revealed something about the character of the person who took the time to get to know the less ostentatious young man and invest time and love.

It can be very telling.

One of the ways I knew my now husband was a little more than met the eye is because of how he treats his cats.  It seems silly maybe, but he believes his cats are part of his family, and he took the responsibility when he adopted him, and they have to be treated well.  He feeds them and cleans up after them and worries about them, and doesn’t torment them.  It showed me something about his character.

I think that families are difficult and in laws are an adventure… but if they did not have an abusive childhood, watch how someone interacts with their family… if possible before you date them.  Watch how they talk about their family.

And good grief… watch how they treat your mother.  It’s easy to be nice and get along… but does the person you took home to mom and dad treat them with respect and display boundaries?  And now bowing scraping respect, but as people they can talk to and trust.   At some point as a couple you are going to have to set boundaries, interact with each other’s parents in a conflict… do they have the character to develop those skills?  Because you don’t come born with them.  Because parents push every button.

Dave Barry once said “Someone who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person”.  And that’s a motto I kept pretty close to my chest while I was dating.

3.  This one is kind of hard to put into words. It’s really about getting over the flesh and that’s really hard when you’re single (well, or married or whatever).  There are easy people to love.  People who understand their personal potential, who speak up during testimony time, who share constantly about the wonderful things God is doing in their life. They put things in the positive, they have really well phrased ways of describing their feelings, they are attractive and lovely.  This does not make them bad or less worthy or anything… I want that to be really clear.

There are people who are not so much harder to love, because maybe they’re messier or seem boring.  They seem a little uncomfortable during testimony time.  They talk really frankly about where they’re at and what’s going on in their lives.  They’re a little quirky.  They don’t seem to have it all figured out.  PAY ATTENTION TO THESE PEOPLE. They are amazing.

I was, for a very long time, only looking at people in the first group, because I tended to be someone in the first group, and I thought that was who I was supposed to like.  (I’ll get into that weird “supposed to like” thing later).  I would hear the guys in that group talk about how they couldn’t wait to meet their future spouse who was also confident, outspoken, a great worship leader and “on top of all that she’ll be hot!”  That is how it was and that is what they deserved, it seemed.  I thought similar things, if I’m honest… I had  a list.

Ugh, the list.

On my list was that of COURSE I absolutely NEEDED someone who played an instrument, could sing and write worship music, led bible studies and maybe also painted.  Because those are things that I do and am called to do.

I dated those guys.  I argued with those guys.  I threw a lamp at one of their heads.  They said horrible things to me without meaning to and I treated them badly without realizing it.

My husband doesn’t play guitar, and sings mostly in the car.  He appreciates art but his is writing.  He will think long and hard during bible study and speak up when he really thinks he has something different to contribute or has a question to ask.  He has taught me that I can’t and shouldn’t take on everything, encouraged me without competing with me,  had my back, and generally been the best kind of balance I could ever ask for.  He says exactly what he means… there is no hunting for double meanings, you know where he stands.  I ignored guys like him for a long time.

3. For goodness sake, spend some time preparing.  And I am not talking about reading material, necessarily.  Although, if you’re a woman the “Created to be his Helpmeet” book by Debi Pearl is a book I can’t recommend enough (I don’t agree with everything in it, but the concepts are solid).

There are practical things that you should know… how to get along with a roommate (if you have never had a roommate, have one at least a year before getting married),  cooking and cleaning,  being respectful of someone else,  how to manage money,  how to make someone feel special,  how to be romantic and when.  How to disagree.  Tithing.

There are other things that help out a lot.  Volunteering… helping other people and doing something for the community that you don’t actually want to do.  And guess what?  The less people you tell about this the better.  It’s not about recognition, it’s about building your own character, and learning to care for someone when you don’t want to even look at them.

Working on your looks, being sexy, finding a fascinating hobby… meh.  Those aren’t bad things, but they’re not going to really equip you as much as learning and growing will.

4.  So after I’ve spent a thousand words saying “look for this, do this”  my best advice is HAVE COMPASSION.  It’s so hard to meet someone, and once you’ve met someone we’re trained not just by tv and movies but by the church to look for this perfect package, instead of a person.

You should be able to look for and be a person of the Spirit and a person of character.  You should look for those things.  But people are in progress… you’re looking for someone to share your life journey with and get in your corner.  You are looking for someone who shares your values and can laugh.

Laughing is important.

You need someone who can show you where you lack and whom you can take rebuke from. You don’t need someone who never makes mistakes, you need someone who can be shown their mistakes and acknowledge them, repent and grow.

5. Put down the stupid ungodly list.

Seriously, throw that crap away.

I think that list was popularized by Elizabeth Elliot, a woman who has some good things to say, and has some destructive things to say.  One of the destructive things is to make a list of your ideal spouse and marry the person who fits the most or all of those things.

This is really an arrogant thing, thinking that you know what characteristics are best for you.

If you are a Christian, you serve a Divine God who knows you have been, who you are, and all the yous you have the potential to be.  Pray for revelation, not just of some list, but just to see those around you with His perspective.

I know that I didn’t find anyone near what I needed until I put down the stupid list and started looking for the Fruit of the Spirit.  Well, that’s a little untrue.  I got hit over the head with the fact that the guy in my list doesn’t really reflect the fruits of the spirit, and surprised by the person who did.

What if you did this list instead… make a list of the married couples you know and pray for them.  Make a list of the single people you know and pray for them.  This praying for your future husband thing is great, don’t stop it, but I remember how self focused that made me sometimes.

Anyway, that’s just a few observations… take anything useful from it and throw the rest away.  To my single, dating, engaged and married friends… it’s a difficult world, and I pray for all of you all the time.

Much love,

A.C.

Simplicity is sometimes complex at first

So first update, I lost 2 pants sizes in the last couple months!  Makes me super happy, and worth the lifestyle change… I’m keeping it up!

Also, been on a massive simplifying process at my house,  trimming down my householding expenses while making things more eco friendly. So far, I’ve made:

Laundry Soap

Dishsoap

Shaving Lotion

“Febreeze” like stuff

“Soft Scrub”

Window Cleaner

General Disinfectant Cleaner

Carpet Powder

It’s a lot of initial work, but the keep-up is totally easy, and it’s worth it.  Most of these items use the same four or five ingredients, and I like that I can scent them however I like.  My house smells like Rosemary Lavender Lime whenever I clean.  It’s AMAZING, and makes it feel like my home.

I hung up my “inspiration collage” up in my bedroom.  It’s pinker than I’d think something that inspires me would be.  It makes me calm and happy at the end of my day,  with either rainforest incense burning, or lavender vanilla oil in the candle heater thingy all snuggled down in quilts… it’s a good time for refection.

Today I harvested some lemon balm from my little herb garden and did some folk method tincture which is soaking up in the cupboard. I can’t wait to do more, and hopefully it won’t be folk method (actually it wouldn’t have been today, except my scale is out of batteries).  I don’t think most of those herbs will come from my garden this year, as I didn’t quite think big enough and the rain/cold has kept it from getting as prolific as it has in the past.  Half my garden isn’t even really planted/potted yet… hopefully tomorrow.

Herbalism class is starting to pick up a bit, really enjoying the energetics and botany of it all.  Next week is farm week and I’m looking forward to it.

I know I need to do a post with recipes/photos… so maybe tomorrow!  Or, er… later today as it’s one a.m. and I need to turn off the tv and get to sleep.

What a weekend,

 

A.C.

Dr. Oz and the Fatty

I’m a fatty, and generally I’m okay with that.  I have PCOS, and it makes it hard to keep from gaining weight, and I’m a foodie, so it’s kind of a given.

A couple of my bffs have had gastric bypass surgery.  They were PCOS girls who really for their health needed to take it to the next level, after doing everything they could do to lose weight.  Both had more than PCOS going on, and both had been battling the added weight for years. But that isn’t an option for me yet, and I’ll tell you why.

The truth is, that since I moved to Eugene I have not made an all out effort to lose weight.  Sure I’ve changed what I eat a bit, sporadically.  I started working out when some generous friends bought me a Wii for my birthday, but after working out and losing 5 lbs I utterly crashed (I found out later that it’s because the hormones stored in my fat released as I burned the fat and threw me waaay off kilter).

The fact of the matter though, is that I need to lose the weight to do the things I want to do in life.

So, since my friend Nancy was super successful going by Dr. Oz’s guidelines (which after reading them seems like a very reasonable and enjoyable lifestyle change), I thought I’d follow her example there.  She went from a size 20 to a size 2 in less than a year, because she stuck with it.

So today I went and did my grocery shopping.  I even found a BPA free thermos thing to take my smoothies to work with me in the morning.  I found stuff Ian would eat along the guidelines.

Then I cleaned out my fridge/cupboards.  That wasn’t so hard because I’ve been doing pretty well at home already, it’s just being consistent that I’ve struggled with, because I’m lazy.  (like not packing lunch and grabbing nasty fast food)

I have to figure out when I can do my Wii Active.  I either have to get up earlier (which is not the most awesome idea I can think of) or I need to do it first thing when I get home (which is not possible on Wednesdays and Thursdays).  I really don’t feel like getting up earlier, maybe if I do it gradually it won’t be such a big deal.  I’m thinking that while my tattoo is healing I’ll just start practicing getting up a little earlier every day, so when I get down to it, it won’t be such a big deal.

As far as keeping the hormones in check, I’m working with my friend Shale at the Midnight Garden Apothocary in town to see what we can do herbally to minimize those effects.  We’re going to experiment with different ways to cleanse during the weight loss phase.

I geared up to do this last year, but it never happened.  Mostly because a lot in my life came apart all at once and I just didn’t care.  I was all psyched up, but between the hormone crash, personal life drama, and just change in general, it wasn’t a good time.

This time I have the support of my husband, and my friend Jose, and I’m blogging/journaling again, which is always helpful.

So, that’s what’s new in my life.  I think it’s lovely.

peace, love and lots of leafy greens and flax,

 

A.C.

O God, Hear My Heart

It’s time to look at other options.

I live in a beautiful city, but it is not employing my husband.   I’m employed at a wonderful job, but I really want to be in school, and I can do that pretty much anywhere.

I work very hard every day to be positive and upbeat.  I thank God for my wonderful life, with my more than big enough apartment, my happy healthy pets, and my good job.  I ask Him for strength to get through my day to day struggles.  I’m constantly asking for help.

I don’t think I’m getting it anymore.

All roads lead away from here.  At least for a time.  We need to move, I know we need to move,  we need direction and we need more faith.

How do you convince someone else to Trust and Believe?

The thing in my life right now that keeps me going is my herbalism class.  It’s amazing and headed in the direction I want to be headed in… traditional intuitive healing.  I want to dedicate my life to healing and to birthing and to releasing people from some of the shackles of illness and the modern medical system.

The problem with my herbalism class is that it throws into sharp light how much the rest of my life is not lining up with that goal.  I am working, but with only me working we will never get ahead.  If we’re not getting ahead anyway, why don’t I just go back to school?  If husband can’t find work here, why not go to school somewhere else, while we have money to move?  If not now, when?

It occurs to me that I have no idea how to care for another grown up.  I know how to love him, but I can’t really give him the things he needs to find and pursue his own dream.  I start to question why I’m working to support his lack of dream… doesn’t it make sense to pursue mine while he’s figuring that out?  Is that an utterly selfish proposal?  I don’t know.

How can I ask someone to risk everything to realize my dream?  How can I not?

I feel like I’m risking everything good in my self by not pursuing my calling with all my heart.

 

Seeking His Face and direction,

 

A.C.

 

The Nearing of the Dawn

Unfortunately, I can’t post my latest crafts and art projects, because they are Christmas gifts.  But I’m getting pictures to post later on.

My head is a whirl.  I’m leaving The Job and getting a new job, that promises to be way more fulfilling.  I’m excited at the change, and at the fact that this job is a lot more intellectually and artistically challenging.  Hubby is worried about the money, because the job works on commission, but I have faith.  Plus also I am awesome.

Today my favorite thing on the internet is Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer having a flash mob wedding, sort of.  The cup of tea is the best part.

Lately I’ve been watching Hubby struggle with the injustice of the world.  The hoops you have to jump through to be employed,  the fact that survival isn’t possible with our current system, but no one is willing to put in the work to go back to the kind of country that can support itself… people who try are persecuted.  I think he’s finally understanding the kind of anarchy I espouse… the thoughtful “everything that can be shaken, will be shaken” kind.  It’s difficult to watch him go through it and decide how to respond, but it’s not the kind of thing you can do FOR your spouse.  They have to do it themselves.

Exhaustion is just where I’m living right now.  This stupid schedule is kicking my butt.  I don’t start the new job until after Thanksgiving, and that four day weekend is going to be used to get my sleep schedule somewhere resembling normal.

Oh, and I need to get a driver’s license, lose weight, and apply for a passport soonish.

It’s always darkest,

A.C.

On British Comedy, tea, and the remedy for the in between times…

So I’m in horrible limbo right now, in between a lot of opportunities for both the hubby and myself.  We both tend toward depression, so it’s been so important to keep our heads up.

Television is never enough of a diversion.  I’ve been reading Anathem by Neal Stephenson, Focault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco, and just finished “Go Ask Alice”.  Go Ask Alice was a trifle disappointing,  if you want to read about dissipated youth, anything by Phoebe Gloeckner is way more authentic feeling.  Eco, as usual, is causing me to look up every few words… great for my vocabulary, slow going in general.  Anathem is slowly picking up and is a worthy read thus far.

I’m fiending to get my hands on Stephen Fry’s new book.

I’ve been watching A Bit of Fry and Laurie,  some Keeping Up Appearances and other sundry BritComs.  It’s about the time of year where I bust out Spaced.  Also watched Believe: The Eddie Izzard story on Netflix… SO GOOD.  I  ❤ Eddie Izzard. Yes.  Something is beautiful about drinking tea, eating marmolade on toast and watching British comedy. The world is better for it.

I have also been crafting.

Fun with a glue gun

Nena came over and I figured out what to do with all the trimmed selvages.  Also, we had previously thrift shopped and found a beautiful brocade table runner, now almost two purses:

Table runners to purses... glamour!

Other than that there are situations afoot that I can’t talk about yet.   I’m hoping to be able to announce them soon.

Also, I really need to begin to consider Christmas cards and my Channukah party…

A.C.

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