I just took a step.

A small one, maybe, but a step nonetheless.

I just went in my kitchen and collected all the “leftover” Halloween candy (which I had actually amassed for myself), put it in a walmart bag, and tied it up with a tight double knot. Then I got a sharpie and wrote on the outside, “Jesus is BETTER.”

Then I went to my ribbon box and pulled out a thin white ribbon. I tried to write “temple” on it with a sharpie, but that didn’t work. So I just tied it around my wrist as a reminder to myself that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and I am to care for it as such. I am only a steward.

I am ready.

As of Late

Things I’m Loving

Things I’m Not Loving:

  • Cleaning house
  • Especially bathrooms
  • Lonely moments
  • Trying to stick to a budget
  • Having to wait a whole ‘nother MONTH for the Civil Wars’ new album to come out
  • Mounds of laundry
  • Wondering what someone else is thinking
  • Confusing dreams
  • Not knowing what the future holds
  • Having no real food in the fridge
  • Also, grocery shopping
  • Waiting

Journals

A few weekends ago, I pulled out a dusty box from the top shelf of my closet and opened it to find it full of my diaries (or journals, which I called them when I decided “diary” sounded juvenile). I started writing a diary somewhere around 6 or 7 years of age. I don’t really know exactly how old I was, because the earliest entries don’t include a year with the date. I suppose when you’re that young and it’s August 28th, it seems like it will be an eternity before another August 28th comes around. Plus, I probably wasn’t too concerned with posterity.

I took the box of journals into my room, settled myself into my favorite reading spot on the floor next to my bed, and began reading my life, page by page, one day at a time.

Reading the earliest ones, I can’t help but laugh at myself. Many of the entries read like, “Today was a good day. We did ____. It was fun. And then we ate ___ for supper. Now I’m going to bed. Goodnight!” The ones that don’t sound like an activity log are mostly passionate one-liners. “First day of school!” “I’m mad at mom!” “So-and-so is mean, I’m not her friend anymore!” I kept reading page after page, because nestled in the mounds of what-we-did-todays and short exclamations were small nuggets of beauty, sweetness, heartbreak. One sweet moment reads, “Me and [my sister] Sus are sitting here on my bed while I am writing. She is sitting here singing. She sounds silly. I am going to get Dad to tuck us in tonight.” Oh, to have the life of a ten year old again! Then, just before my family moved to Louisiana from Georgia, I wrote, “This is my last week at my school. I will miss all my friends and family. Especially Granny. She has been my best friend for all of my life.” My New Year’s Resolutions for that year were, “1) To pray more, 2) to be nicer to sis, 3) to write to Granny every week, 4) to be brave about my new school.”

As I got older, though, things changed. Entries became more emotional. I wrote more descriptions of my teenage feelings – joy, heartache, compassion, fear, love, self-loathing. I wrote of friendships that didn’t last, boys that never liked me, and the anger I felt towards my parents for punishing me for things that I’m 100% certain I deserved to be punished for.

As I sat reading these journal entries from a girl who seemed worlds away from me, I cried for her. I cried because I remember the pain that she felt. I remember the hopelessness and heartache. I cried for that girl who so often felt ugly, unloved, and rejected. And I cried because in some ways, I still am that girl. Many of the fears and frustrations I had then were the precursors to the ones I have now. At one point I said, “Because I don’t want to be that girl who ____ when she’s an adult.” And I have become that girl. I AM THAT GIRL.

But there is a difference now. The difference now is that God has revealed his Great Love to me. His grace is very real to me, and as I look back over my life, I see how he has provided for me in every sense. When I feel rejected, he reminds me that Jesus, God in the flesh, was rejected here on this earth. When I feel unloved, he reminds me of his ultimate love – sending his Son Jesus to take my sins upon his shoulders and die a cruel death in my place, so that I can spend eternity with him. And when I feel ugly, he reminds me that when Christ died, he took his own righteousness and gave it to me, so that when God looks at me, he no longer sees an ugly, depraved, broken soul. Instead, he sees the beauty and righteousness of Christ. That is not to say that I am perfect by any means, but I have been covered by grace, and God has separated my sins from me, as far as the east is from the west.

Because of Jesus, I am pure. I am holy. I am righteous and beautiful.

I don’t journal as much as I used to. Since high school, my journal entries are pretty few and far between. They are almost all prayers which have been written at pivotal times in my life – when I have had a big decision to make, or when something is weighing heavily on my heart and I need to hash it out with the Father. God has given me a brand new focus, and new priorities. His mercies are new every morning.

Y’ALL.

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I’m learning how to knit. Finally!

A couple of days ago, I learned how to knit, and I made the cute square you see in the above picture.

Tonight I learned how to purl, and I made a small something with alternating knitted and purled rows. It was coming out nicely until I dropped a loop and couldn’t figure out how to put it back the right way. So I just unraveled the whole thing and rolled the yarn back up. No worries- I’ll try again tomorrow!

Y’all. I’m a knitter!

A Few Random Thoughts on Singleness.

girlatbeach jpgI am tired of being pitied for my singleness. Anyone else? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Recently, there have been several different times when different people have said things like, “You know, you and so-and-so would make a great couple!” or, “Did you notice so-and-so flirting with you? HMMM???” And I just think, Why is this your business?  Because here’s the thing – I believe in God drawing hearts together, not so much married people setting up single people with other single people just because they’re single and would look good together.

Recently, I was with a friend whom we’ll call Emily. Emily is a few years older than I, and I know that she very strongly desires a marriage relationship. She aches for a family of her own. She knows that God is in control of her relationships, but she’s often downright lonely. So, recently Emily and I were at a place where we go often, with the same people who are always there. An old man (whom we both know) walked by my friend Emily and – somewhat jokingly, mostly seriously – asked her, “Do you have any news for me yet?” I looked at her, puzzled, and after she told him “No, not yet!” she had a frown on her face. When she noticed my puzzled expression, she informed me that he often asked her if she was getting married yet. This is a small place. News travels quickly, and he would definitely KNOW if she were getting married. I could see that his questions were very hurtful to her, and I just don’t understand why people feel like it’s okay to ask single people questions like that.

Okay, so sure, I would like to one day be married. I do often get lonely for companionship. I have some great friends, but I want someone to really talk about life with, who will listen to my ridiculous thoughts and not think I’m crazy. (And I mean ridiculous, goofy stuff like when it suddenly strikes me as very strange that water falls out of the sky on a regular basis, yet almost everything we own is intended to stay dry. Nobody seems to think that’s strange.) Someone who will talk about deeper things like theology and social issues. Who I can sit around with while we each do our own thing – just being together. Who is really interested in truly knowing who I am, and who loves me deeply. But that doesn’t mean I have to get married immediately. It doesn’t mean I’m broken or half of something, or that I need a husband to complete me. I am whole.

The other day, when I watched the Downton Abbey Christmas Special (I know, right?), something Lady Mary said caught my attention. She was in the hospital, minutes before her baby was to be born, and her husband Matthew wasn’t there with her yet. She said, “I wish Matthew were here. It’s funny, I feel as if I’m only half myself without him.”

And I get it. I do. But just a day before, I had read a post from Mandisa on her Facebook page, where she wrote a letter to her future husband. She isn’t married or even seeing anyone, but she’s praying for her future spouse. Here’s what she said:

“I hope you’ll pardon me for not believing you are my better half. I was made whole when Jesus became the Lord of my life 20 years ago. But that’s a good thing, because I don’t need you to complete me. Our love and marriage will be based on the will of God, not my neediness.”

That struck me, because married people always joke about their spouse being their better half. And that’s okay – it’s cute, and it’s sort of a compliment to the other person. And, true, scripture tells us that “a man shall leave his mother and be joined with his wife, and the two shall become one.” But that doesn’t have to make each of them half of something or a broken piece of a whole. They are each whole if they are in Christ Jesus, and they are a different sort of whole when they are together. Neither of them is broken or not enough.

So, World, I want you to know that I am okay just like I am – single. Maybe God will bring a man into my life one day, in HIS time. And I will be delighted if and when that day comes. But I’m not going to sit around and have a pity party, nor am I going to chase after any man (as I believe men are made to be pursuers, not the pursued. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog post). I’m not going to let myself feel like I’m broken or half of a whole. I’m going to keep on going. Keep on living. I’m going to enjoy my family and my friendships. I’m going to grow closer to God and allow Him to continue making me into the woman He wants me to be. And if the married people around me don’t like it, well, that’s tough.

Why the ‘Downton Abbey’ theme song makes us drool

This is NOT my article. Source link can be found at the bottom of the post. I just loved the article!

PBS

By Diane Mapes

The characters, the costumes and the sumptuous trappings of post-Edwardian England have millions of viewers hooked on Downton Abbey. But equally addictive, it seems, is the British drama’s theme song by British composer John Lunn.

“Hearing that theme song makes me react like the ‘Desperado’ guy Elaine dated on Seinfeld,” says Gina Lindblad, a 34-year-old public relations rep from Seattle. “I just stop what I’m doing, take it all in and accept the fact that I’m going to be there a while. Watching ‘Downton Abbey’ is like drinking a really good pinot noir, eating amazing chocolate and getting a massage all at the same time.”

Rolling Stone calls the melody a “rapturous theme song that makes fans of Edwardian romance drool like Pavlov’s dogs.” And according to Shara Sand, a New York psychologist with a masters in music, the comparison’s not far off.

“What’s grabbing is there’s this constant pulsing rhythm,” she says. “The rhythm is really what’s driving the melody and people respond to that. There’s a momentum.”

They also respond to the “minor tonality” of the piece, which she says helps create an anticipatory reaction.

 

“Musically, it sets the listener on edge,” she says. “They’re waiting for it to resolve. In ‘Downton Abbey’s’ theme, the rhythm is driving and the melody comes in and there’s a soaring sense. It wants to take off and course when things take off, they have to land. That’s what people are waiting for – the resolution of the theme. The music gets you excited.”

So excited, she says, that we actually do respond like Pavlov’s dogs, psychologically drooling at the thought of more unexpected plot twists or witty barbs from Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess.

“It’s an associative marker,” she says. “The music gets you revved up. You hear it from the kitchen you’re like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to watch!’ The music gets associated with the enjoyment of the series and that’s the Pavlovian response. It’s signaling that there’s good stuff to come.”

Sand notes that part of our positive response also has to do with the fact the theme has a good beat – something that we respond to both physically and psychologically.

“As I was listening to it, I found my head bopping to the beat, my toe tapping,” she says. “Not all music does that. Our heart pumps blood, we have a pulse, we walk at a certain pace. There’s a rhythm and a pulse all around us. We’re not necessarily aware of it, but it consciously impacts us when we hear it. That’s why people like high energy music when they’re running or at the gym. Their body goes with it.”

As it turns out, viewers may have James Brown, the godfather of soul, to thank for the show’s driving beat.

In an interview with the UK’s Daily Record last September, “Downton’s” music composer Lunn revealed his love of funk from the late 1960s, citing James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone as inspirations. Bartok, Stravinsky and Bach are also influences, he said.

Sand, an associate professor of psychology at LaGuardia Community College, says composers, particularly those who write music for TV and movies, are often able to tap into universal feelings.

“There are instruments you can use that will create certain sounds, certain tempos, certain keys,” she says. “Elements of the musical structure can be used to create a psychological framework.”

The theme song for “Game of Thrones,” for instance, is “much more martial and militaristic” but she says it has a similarly strong underlying beat as ‘Downton’s’ theme.

“It’s a more tonal piece, it’s more aggressive in some ways, but it does a similar thing to people,” she says. “The beat creates an anticipatory quality. It makes you move forward. You’re wondering, ‘Where is this going to go?’”

Juan Alonso-Rodriguez, a 56-year-old visual artist from Seattle, says he has the same kind of anticipatory reaction whenever he hears the theme to “True Blood,” an ongoing HBO vampires series set in Louisiana.

“It sets up this weird Cajun southern vibe and ‘allows’ you to want to be bad even if vicariously for an hour,” he says. “It takes me there to the heat, humidity, hunger and lust.”

A fan of “Downton Abbey,” as well, he says he definitely relates to the Pavlovian response. But adds the music also makes him yearn for a quiet country picnic with friends.

“It makes me want to take a drive in the country, to relax,” he says. “And of course, wear white summery attire.”

Sadly, this Sunday marks the end of the third season of the popular British show, which may make some fans feel as depressed as middle sister Edith Crawley after being jilted at the altar.

“People may find themselves missing the song and the excitement and anticipation they associate with hearing it,” says Sand. “Sunday night will come around and maybe the theme will pop into your mind. You’ll hum it and then realize with disappointment you aren’t going to hear it. You’ll feel let down and perhaps an even greater desire to hear it.”

Not to worry, though. There’s always the soundtrack.

 

Source: http://todayhealth.today.com/_news/2013/02/17/16976524-why-the-downton-abbey-theme-song-makes-us-drool?lite

Making You Blush

 

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This is one of my favorite songs to listen to on days like today. It reminds me that my worth is not defined by whether or not I have a sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, but by the love shown to me by my great Heavenly Father, who sent His Son, Jesus – fully God and fully man – to suffer and die for MY sins, that I might take on the righteousness of Christ. This is the love that never fails.

I’m not making you blush;
I’m not the one you speak of.
I’ve not won the prize of your love, your love.
I’m not turning your head;
I don’t make you short of breath.
I’m not stopping you in your steps.

But I am the one He picked out of the crowd.
I am the one – He called my name out loud.
He wrote me on His hand the day He drew me from the sand.
I am the one, I’m the one He loves.

You’re not looking my way;you’re not asking me to stay.
You don’t stop when you hear my name, my name.
I’ve not captured your hand;
I’ve not gained your sentiment,
And I would not be called your favorite, your favorite.

But I am the one He picked out of the crowd.
I am the one – He called my name out loud.
He wrote me on His hand the day He drew me from the sand.
I am the one, I’m the one He loves.

I don’t dazzle your eye,
I don’t make you feel alive
We both know I can’t change your mind, your mind.

He wrote me on His hand, He wrote me on His hand.

I am the one He picked out of the crowd.
I am the one He called my name out loud.
He wrote me on His hand the day He drew me from the sand.
I am the one, I’m the one He loves.

by Faith Gilmore

A Few Thoughts on “The Bachelor”

Whether you have or haven’t been watching The Bachelor this season, let me tell you a little bit about why I’m writing this post. I have never watched a season of The Bachelor before this one. Last Fall, I went to a Beth Moore simulcast, and during one of the breaks, they showed a video of Priscilla Shirer. She was interviewing Sean Lowe, who had been on The Bachelorette and was known by TV watchers nationwide as this awesome Christian guy who stuck to his morals on the show. From what I hear, he proved himself to be drastically different from every other guy on The Bachelorette that season.

Priscilla began talking to Sean about his experiences on The Bachelorette and how he stuck to his beliefs and values while on the show. Then the conversation moved to how a Christian relationship should look, and Sean talked about how a Christian man should treat a woman with respect and guard her heart and her emotions. I was impressed by this seemingly awesome guy. So when I heard that Sean would be The Bachelor, I knew I had to watch and see how things would unfold.

The season is halfway over, and so far, I have mixed emotions. It’s not going the way I thought it would, and I’m not convinced that I agree with a real Christian using this show to look for a spouse. I’m not here to judge anyone, and I know the show wasn’t made just to please me, but I’ve had lots of thoughts along the way, and I’d just sort of like to organize them in one place and see what some other people are thinking about the show, too. I don’t think I have any readers, but if you’re reading this, please feel free to share your thoughts!

Here goes, in no particular order:

  • I worry so much about the girls on the show. I know a lot of them might be actors who signed up because they were looking for work, but some of them are legitimately falling for this guy. And Sean tells all the girls things like, “I’m crazy about you,” “I can’t get enough to you,” “I would rather be here with you than anyone else,” “You and I have something very special,” and “I love being with you.” It makes each one of the girls think they are the only one that has any sort of connection with him. I think this is completely unfair to these girls’ hearts and emotions, since he’s going to send all but one of them home. All but one of them are going to have their hearts broken.
  • Sean KISSES ALL THE GIRLS. First of all, ew. He has one-on-one time with them one after another, and by kissing all of them, they’re all basically kissing each other, too, right? I think it’s gross. Secondly, I feel like kissing is something sweet and intimate to be shared by people in love, and he is so nonchalant about kissing all of them within minutes of one another. I don’t like it.
  • Each one of these girls has opened up to him in some seriously deep ways. Each has bared her soul and shared things with him that she probably wouldn’t share with anyone until months into a regular dating relationship. It must be massively painful to bare the depths of your soul to someone, only to be the last one standing without a rose. I don’t think I could handle knowing that someone who doesn’t love me is carrying around the deepest truths about me.
  • I’m completely aware that these girls signed up for this, but I feel bad for them. Can you imagine living in a house with 10-20 other women who are going after the same guy as you are? It’s got to be hard to know where friendship ends and competition begins. Because you know they all have their limits. How painful must it be to watch the guy you’re falling for kissing several other women, right before he tells you how special you are? I just can’t imagine going through that by choice.
  • When a woman has truly started giving your heart to someone and she’s blindsided by suddenly being rejected and sent home, it must break down a piece of her self-worth. I don’t like how Sean can sit with these girls at the cocktail party and tell them how much he likes them and kiss them, then leave them the last one standing without a rose when they had NO CLUE that it was coming. On Monday night’s episode when Robin left, she said, “Every time someone says they don’t want you, you kind of don’t understand why. It hurts.” I think she probably speaks for many of these women, and I wonder how hard it might be for them to have real, normal, open, trusting relationships with other men in the near future.
  • On Tuesday’s episode, Sean sent home an awesome girl named Sarah. She shared photos of her family with him that evening, and told him how much she wanted him to meet her family someday. She bared her soul to him. Later that night, he came and got her from her room and sat down with her to tell her that he just never felt a connection after the first week or so. He felt like he was forcing the relationship. The feeling obviously wasn’t mutual, and Sarah was devastated. I credit him for telling her sooner rather than surprising her with it at the rose ceremony later, but it truly broke my heart to see her break down and sob over the lost hope of real, true love. Through an outpouring of tears in the limo leaving the house, these were her the final words we heard from Sarah:
    “Right now I’m completely blindsided. I’m just embarrassed. I’m embarrassed about the whole thing. I just want to fall in love, and I thought 100% I could fall in love with this guy. I don’t know what happened.. I don’t know if it’s me. I don’t know why this always happens to me, and I wanted to stop him before he even started because I knew what he was going to say. But I wanted to hear his explanation because… because it’s always the same. [They say,] ‘You’re an amazing girl. I know how special you are, and I want to connect with you so bad, but I don’t. And.. someone is going to be so lucky to have you, and I don’t want to put you through this.’ It’s not my first time. I just don’t want to be told forever how great I am and what I deserve. I just don’t want to be told that forever. And it’s just sad to think about, like, how did Sean see it and feel it in the beginning?”

Okay, so those are some of my thoughts right now… I know it’s a lot, and that I’ve probably said some of the same things over and over. But, as funny as it sounds, watching The Bachelor has really made me think a LOT. I hope these girls are okay. I hope they’re not forever scarred by this experience. I actually hope there is more acting going on – and less heart breakage going on – than it seems.

Are you watching The Bachelor, or have you watched it before? What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree? (Please be nice!)

Neither, nor

I want to be neither a mopey, depressed, desperate single girl, nor a woman-power, I-don’t-need-a-man-or-a-bra single girl.

But sometimes I wish that after a girls weekend away, there was someone who wanted to know what time I’d be home.

le sigh.

If I could rewind my life…

Things I would tell my younger self if I could go back:

  • It’s a bad idea to wear a ponytail and glue your hair to your scalp with too much hairspray and a fine-toothed comb. Not cute.
  • Don’t try the “punk” look. It’s not your style.
  • Friends A, B, C, and D are not really your friends. Pray for them, and help them where you can, but know that they will hurt you in the end if you’re not careful.
  • Don’t waste your time on that crush of yours. And DON’T have the conversation with him that you think you want to have.
  • Your sister will be your best friend. Be nicer to her. She’s a good kid, and only does most of what she does because she wants to be like you. Embrace that. Love on her.
  • Your poems are terrible.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things. Embrace every opportunity.
  • Take piano lessons, and PRACTICE.
  • Enjoy the time you have with the people in your life. They won’t all be there forever.
  • Appreciate your awesome teachers and leaders a little more. You will wish you had thanked them.
  • When you go to Georgia to visit Granny, get off the computer and VISIT WITH GRANNY. When you are working full time, you will wish you could still take a month in the summer to go stay with her.
  • Don’t worry about what people think of you. You are lovely.
  • Hang on to that keychain from Gatlinburg that you like so much. If you’re not careful, you will lose it and NEVER FIND IT. (ugh.)
  • On the day when you think you lost your opal ring in the soccer field — go home before you spend all afternoon searching for it, because it’s sitting on your bed.
  • Don’t worry. Even in the moments when you can’t see it, God is still on your side. He hasn’t forgotten you. He is leading you down a wonderful path. Just follow His lead.
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