Just for fun. Not at all professional quality….but the joy is evident.
For as long as I can remember, I have been a reader. I think one of the side effects is that I often see the world through the eyes of fiction. It’s not really a bad place to be….in fact, I feel sorry for those of you who don’t spend a lot of time in the world of your imagination.
Now, I don’t shirk from reality…I believe in meeting it head on. But I don’t want to spend all of my time there. I have found it is quite easy to combine the two.
My friend Debbie and I have a lot in common. We love hiking, kayaking, ballooning, and volunteering, for starters. At some point in our friendship we started talking about Disney Princess moments. You know the kind…..butterflies floating around your head, birds seemingly singing their songs to you, squirrels stopping dead in their tracks like they know you. When she heard me speak of this, Debbie is one of the few people who just “got it”. She didn’t didn’t roll her eyes at me or think I was totally wacky. We’d be out hiking, and butterflies would be everywhere and we would know….it was just for us. We’d breathe deep and enjoy the special time. An appreciated moment. A time of gratitude. I get calls from Debbie on occasion saying “I just had the best Disney Princess moment….” A sure way to make me smile because I know she is noticing and loving life.
Debbie got married today, to her Prince Charming Tommy. The weekend of their proposal was several months ago. They were in the mountains and well, everything didn’t quite go Disney perfectly. But Debbie said yes, in spite of the missing Disney factor. The next day they were out and about in the mountains…oh, I forget the story exactly. Lots had gone wrong along the way, and for some it could have been a “crash and burn” weekend. But then it happened. The scenery was perfect. Relaxation and peace surrounded them. Nature was at their beckoning and the Disney Princess had her moment where she could almost hear the soundtrack playing in the background. It had just happened on a bit of a delay. But it was confirmation that the engagement was right and marriage was going to be wonderful.
Today at their wedding the Disney Princesses had nothing on Debbie. Debbie was one of the most beautiful brides I have ever seen. She and Tommy both radiated joy. The trees were that gorgeous end of fall color, the sun was shining, the air was invigorating, the water in Lake Norman actually looked blue! At one point afterward we were talking about how we were a bit confused that the butterflies hadn’t swarmed the ceremony. I guess they figured there was enough beauty there, and they were needed to brighten the world elsewhere. We Disney Princesses understand and support that sort of thing.
The other week I went to have lunch with my friend Mandy, and her amazing 3-year old triplets. Mandy is quite the Disney Princess herself. She was at a point where getting pregnant looked like it wasn’t in the cards, and at about the last moment of hope she finds out she is pregnant with Babies A, B and C (also known as Maty, Isla, and Chapel). Now she’s pregnant with their brother….another magical surprise. Fitting for a Disney Princess.
The triplets are going through their own Disney Princess phase and when I was there we dressed them in princess outfit after outfit. They’d try one on, live in it a minute, and try out another one. I loved it. I am glad that they are living in a world where they can be any princess they want to be. Some people may scoff at the whole idea of raising your girls in Disney Princess world…..thinking women should not base their lives on a story where the woman’s life only has value when she is saved by a man. I have never seen those stories that way…I see women who are not just beautiful, but strong and kind and smart. They could rescue themselves from any situation they needed to. The prince saves them, but they save the prince’s world, too. They make a good team.
I wish Mandy’s girls, and all women, would continue to see themselves as a bit of a princess. I wish they would see all of God’s creation dancing in their wake. I wish they would be brave, and resourceful, and smart, and kind….a bit naive, but street wise enough that they notice the wicked witch or the ogres hanging about. I wish they would not wait on their Prince Charming to start their happily ever after, but take responsibility for making it happen for themselves.
And if Prince Charming does come around, I hope they test him a bit…and make sure he is authentic. He should be the kind of Prince that would travel far and wide just to return their shoe. He’s no Prince Charming if he is not kind to his princess and if he is not her biggest defender. He’s not a Prince if he doesn’t see and respect the princess in front of him. But if he is the real deal, I hope she grabs him up and appreciates who he is, too. I hope she doesn’t just let him adore her, but that she also adores, protects and defends him. And together I hope they realize happily ever after is made in the choice of how you live every moment and requires a bit of work.
I love how Tommy looks at my friend Debbie. I know he sees the woman she is and appreciates it. It’s a special kind of joy to see your friend receive that gift. But Debbie was a princess before she ever met Tommy. She endured a lifetime of living, a few big obstacles in her path along the way, and came out strong. The butterflies swarmed her path, the birds sang, the squirrels noticed their friend….because God’s creation is in harmony with those who live their lives well. She is the daughter of a king, a princess worthy of the title.
It’s been a fun day, a time when reality and the storybooks are in one accord. I wish for you, for all of us, a happily ever after. The kind that requires we open our eyes and notice what a wonderful world this is and how blessed we are with the lives we have. Where our fairy godmothers (who may look nothing like the ones we have seen in movies) come out of the woodwork to help us, and our kindness and goodness changes the course of lives…both own and the lives of others. Sometimes you are the Disney Princess, sometimes you are the Prince, and sometimes you’re the Fairy Godmother. Regardless, “impossible” is not a word we have to take seriously. Because we’re read the books. Anything can happen. And the ending is going to be really great!
Day 31 in Proverbs
Proverbs 31:30 “Charm can be deceiving, and beauty fades away, but a woman who honors the Lord deserves to be praised. Show her respect – praise her in public for what she has done.”
The description of the “Proverbs 31 woman” intimidates me. I’m quite certain that if you read the description, I am not who immediately came to your mind! I have friends who I see in the description, though, or who strive to be like her. I definitely do respect them for all that they do. Even if I had the marriage and the children, I am not sure I could live up to the ideals. But I hope I would make the attempt.
In successful relationships, there is work to be done. We need to be willing to do whatever we can to support those who are our family. When people talk about having a 50-50 relationship, I generally roll my eyes. No true relationship is ever that balanced. Someone generally has to give more, and someone needs to receive more. The percentages of who is giving and who is receiving should change from time to time, and should weigh more heavily in each direction on a regular basis. Problems occur when one person is doing almost all of the giving, and one person is doing all of the receiving. Both parties need to be willing to make the sacrifices that will bond them closer. They need to care for each other so much that they don’t feel the sacrifice….they just want to make their partner’s life better.
I was having a conversation with one of my friends the other day and we were talking about marriage. She was celebrating her 28th wedding anniversary. They’ve accomplished a lot in that time. They will continue to do so. As their friend, one of the things that makes me smile is how they work together to build their life. She supports him, and he supports her. Even after all of this time, it is obvious they genuinely and practically care for each other. When we were talking she said “He really is my best friend. There is no one in the world I would rather spend time with.” That hasn’t been built by emotions, which can flounder….it has been built because they both are willing to sacrifice for each other and make each other the primary focus of their lives. I know each looks at each other they say to themselves “You are the best and I am glad I chose you!” I see it every time I am around them.
I have seen a lot of people in relationships who have a need to let everyone know constantly how very much in love they are and often put on public demonstrations of their affection. Those are usually the relationships that fail. It’s more about showing off than anything else….and when you show off in that way, you usually are a bit self centered and trying to get outside affirmation for inside deficiencies. Not a great recipe for a long term relationship. True love generally is quieter than that…..it’s less public. It’s not necessary that others notice how great you are as a couple….it’s right there between you and solid. When you are around other people, you are so confident in the relationship that you both can give others attention and share your focus (while occasionally catching the eye of their partner across the room and smiling.)
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t share the good things about your relationship and praise the other person publicly. You definitely should. Personally I love when I hear my couple friends talk about their spouse like they made a good choice! But your relationship should mostly reside between the two of you. Relationships are never strengthened when you constantly either share the laundry list of your partner’s faults with the world or have the need to constantly brag about how great the two of you are together. Plus, it bores us! (Note….sometimes you do need to talk to friends about what is going on in your relationship to gain perspective. Just be wise about who you choose to talk to…and don’t make it a public topic of conversation.)
A lot of people who focus on this chapter only notice that section about the women. That’s all you ever hear about. There’s something to be said for the “Proverbs 31 man”, too, though. Men who make an effort to be caring and show it. Who notice those with needs and have compassionate hearts to work to provide for them and defend them. Who are involved in their community. Who not only support their partner, but really do put them above all others. Who don’t just see their lives as a playground, or think their world is all about them and their needs, but are looking outside and noticing the needs of others. Especially those they call family. I love seeing that kind of man!
Charm and beauty are wonderful things, but they are very deceptive. They’re not always what they appear to be. They can be illusions. Their allure fades. Those who honor God…..who are willing to do the work and get their hands dirty, who are willing to live sacrificially, those whose pride come from being people of purpose who care for others….those are the people we should aspire to be. I am not the Proverbs 31 woman. But I am surrounded by quite a few of them. So yea to the Proverbs 31 woman….and to the Proverbs 31 man. I am watching you, as are others. May we all see you, and learn from you, and want to become more like you. And may you be the kind of people we most respect.
(I made it through Proverbs blogging!!!! There were times when I wondered if I would. And also completed the 4,000 squat challenge during the month of July. And had my annual physical and went on a cruise with my niece Maggie. It has been a good month! Happy birthday month to me! Thank you Lord for another wonderful year of life….I know it is a gift and I hope you see I am using it well. And if not, poke me!)
Day 5 in Proverbs
Proverbs 5:15-16 “You should be faithful to your wife, just as you take water from your own well. And don’t be like a stream from which just any woman may take a drink.”
Proverbs 5:22-23 “Sinners are trapped and caught by their own evil deeds. They get lost and die because of their foolishness and lack of self-control.”
So my first thought with this chapter is “Yea! I am a single woman! This deals with a guy and his marriage. Nothing for me to do here!” If I approach it like that, it is fun reading….it is so much easier to hear about the problems of others than my own. But OK….I guess if I really look at it I can find a few things that may apply for me and others that aren’t in this particular demographic. And some for those who are. I’ll give it a try.
So Solomon is talking to his son about women…and faithfulness to your wife. Solomon had what….about 1,000 wives? Oh, the irony. How many women were there around that he wasn’t married to? I think maybe this was less of an issue for him than some men. Or maybe not. Maybe the issues are the same regardless of the number. He definitely had plenty of experience with women….and surprisingly enough time to think and develop wisdom, too. I’m sure some of that wisdom came from the day to day struggle to juggle the 1,000 wives. One day maybe I will understand the whole 1,000 wives thing. He did have the means to provide for them materially….but how could he meet their emotional needs? Guess they didn’t worry much about that then. But regardless his advice to his son is good. Wonder what he said to his daughters.
As my friend Steve so eloquently commented, the minds of most men are taken up mostly by sex and amusement. I believe him. So it is no wonder that Solomon is trying to teach his son to engage his brain a bit as he goes through his day. A good conversation for a man to have with his son.
Doing what we aren’t supposed to do….it’s fun. Flattery and someone taking an interest in you….. also fun. Consequences when you take it all too far? Usually not fun at all! But that is reality. And wise people think about the reality instead of just the fantasy. They weigh the potential cost before they make the purchase.
I have never understood starting one relationship when you are in the midst of another one to which you have committed. I know plenty of people who do it….but it adds a layer of complexity that would confuse my ADD mind. That’s when the opportunities seem to happen, though….there is something about being in a relationship that seems to make us more attractive. (Note: I think commitment is the key here. I get a bit annoyed with single friends who get bent out of shape because they go out with someone once or twice and then they find out that person goes out with someone else. If you haven’t had a direct “commitment” conversation…..get over it. Or have that conversation.)
But as I can confess….I tend to end relationships pretty easily and probably too quickly. So…..my issue is just not the one they are speaking to here. (Aside….Reminds me of a conversation I had the other day with a couple of friends about the concept of firing people. I had always thought that would be a difficult thing, until I really started managing people. Then I decided if they were bad at their job or uncommitted to it, it is kinder to everyone to let them go and explore other options. So, while the conversation is not pleasant….the result is the best for all. After this conversation, I immediately realized I feel the same way in relationships. But I don’t rush to decisions with employees, and I think I do with men. I’m going to work on it…..and if anyone ever asks me out again we will see how it goes.)
Still “taking water from someone else’s well” is definitely an issue for many people. I would say that whether it be about relationships or not, it is an issue for most of us. A lot of it has to do with envy. We want what we don’t have. Best definition of envy I have ever heard is “the sign of a measurer.” We have a nice piece of cake, but look at that of our companion and theirs is slightly bigger. It ruins the enjoyment of our cake a bit. Or a lot. Some would even refuse to eat their cake until justice was done. Human nature which is funny when you realize it happening.
It’s easy for anyone to be taken in by the attention of someone with whom you don’t share day to day life issues. You are just having to deal with the gloss. Underneath that gloss we all have “our stuff”, which is made more difficult when we are in an relationship and/or living with someone. I live by myself, and honestly….. there are days when I get on my own nerves. But while basking in the glow of the compliments of the flatterer may provide temporary relieve, it adds layers to your problems. And it takes some of the best of you away from your partner and gives it to someone else. What are they left with? The “stuff.” Yuck. Is that what you would want? The leftover pieces after the best has been given to someone else?
Marriages/relationships take work. Easy for me to say, but yeah….it annoys me sometimes when I see two amazing people who have been blessed to find each other and are now making each other’s life miserable when with a little work it could be really great. People should feel important to their spouse/partner and they need to know they are cherished. (Hey…don’t say “Yeah!” here and mean your spouse….if there is an issue consider maybe it’s you that isn’t doing this enough….or doing it well!) Part of the work that people are talking about is getting to know what the other person needs from you to feel this. It may not be the same as what you need. I have never read Gary Chapman’s love languages book, but have heard enough about it to know that almost across the board it seems that most men need physical touch to show them love (just say yes) while most women need acts of service (maybe empty the dishwasher without prompting or thinking it is her job to do it, because she usually does.) Needs vary….so you just can’t assume (Mr. Chapman says there are five currencies.) Like I said… it takes work to figure this stuff out. And sometimes doing things that aren’t natural, convenient or fun. But the rewards can be a re-vitalized relationship. In the long run, investment in your own property tends to be a better return to you than stealing from your neighbor.
So what does this single girl glean from this passage today?
- We all have issues with foolishness and self-control (Me more than most.);
- We need to know we are all vulnerable to something or someone, learn what our vulnerabilities are (and we can add to them, but usually not subtract) and create a plan to make sure we don’t let them beat us;
- We need to know that the grass is not always greener in the neighbor’s back yard and develop an appreciation for what we have;
- Sometimes we have to look at our life with a fresh perspective;
- We can only change us. We can’t change others. But often the change in ourselves, makes the whole situation better;
- We are responsible for our own happiness….and that happiness is birthed inside out and not outside in; and
- Listen to your father, mother, teachers and others who know you. Sometimes they know of what they speak.
I really didn’t want to write on this subject, though have prayerfully considered it for quite a while. Amendment One to the NC Constitution, scheduled to be voted on through May 8. The arena has been loud, and those I love and respect are supporting each side of the issue. But while I have listened to many of the views of both sides, I think I may look at it a bit differently. So I will share my thoughts. I don’t do this to say that anyone is wrong in how they are voting or that I am right. But this is where I am today. And until the time I place my vote, I will listen and think and pray and remain open to changing and being changed.
(And by the way, I am writing this in spite of my obnoxious friend Al, who said I was “wishy washy” when it comes to politics. I do feel “wishy washy” currently, not because I am a person of few opinions, but because I am a person who has little passion for this election. And while that frustrates me, I also cannot create thoughtful opinions or passion when I have none. And while I love my opinionated friends, I absolutely hate when they demand certain behaviors of me in their time and not respect that I must do things in my own. Because they should know that I try not to be a coward nor someone who lives in a closet, but someone who tries to live her life consistently and truthfully and thoughtfully, in front of the world. And as I feel led by God, not forced by people. And yes Al, you are probably one of the few people I would ever call out publicly in quite this way…so you are still special!)
I really like that we live in a democracy. I love the idea of one citizen, one vote. And I believe we should be seen as equal under the law. As individuals. Our State of NC Constitution seems to support this. It says “We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.”
As part of this line of thinking of equal persons, in a democracy I don’t understand why marriage should matter to our government at all. I think we should all should count as equal citizens. Not as couples. Not as families. But individuals. No more rights to the married, no more responsibility. No fewer rights for the married, no less responsibility.
The amendment itself confuses me. Here is the actual text from the ballot “Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”
I still haven’t received a definition for what a “domestic legal union” is. It’s my understanding that it isn’t currently defined under the law. I know what a “domestic partner” is, I know what a “civil union” is…..just don’t know what they are talking about when they say “domestic legal union.” To know what each word means is important when we are voting for something. Assuming you know what they mean in a legal sense is dangerous. Not having it fully defined means that it is open to being questioned. In court. Many, many times. And while I have more lawyer friends than the average person, I would prefer they not have the extra work. At least not work of this kind. Surely there is a better use of their time….and brilliant minds (well, some of them have brilliant minds)…and our tax dollars.
I am a huge believer in marriage before God. I would love to be married one day. So far the man that I could be married to has been quite elusive and so I am not sure that it will ever happen (and I am quite OK with that. Most days.) But as a Christian if I marry that relationship will be between me and that person and God. I don’t feel that there need to be any other parties involved. Especially our government. I would prefer there not be a legal requirement for marriage. Or domestic unions. Or anything that changes the privileges and rights of people because of who they choose to live in union with. I’d prefer we all remain as individuals under the law. But I do love the concept and the reality of biblical marriage and think perhaps it may mean more if it was faith based and not government based.
I think Amendment One was proposed to be inflammatory. To make a statement. Not to make things better for citizens or change something that needed to be changed. Why do we need this amendment? How many of our tax dollars have gone into this? And for what real purpose? I just don’t understand the need. Or the expenditure of our money.
Will Amendment One change society? Will it lead more people to follow my Lord? Will it lead to people being more open to the voice of the Holy Spirit? Will it lead to stronger marriages, less divorce, more great role models for our children? Will it draw our state closer to God? Will it lead people to sin less? Repent more? Treat each other better? I don’t think so.
I hadn’t read our NC Constitution in a while, but felt like it was necessary since I was going to vote on amending it. I think it says some pretty great stuff. It begins….
“NORTH CAROLINA STATE CONSTITUTION
We, the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for the preservation of the American Union and the existence of our civil, political and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those blessings to us and our posterity, do, for the more certain security thereof and for the better government of this State, ordain and establish this Constitution.
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
That the great, general, and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and established, and that the relations of this State to the Union and government of the United States and those of the people of this State to the rest of the American people may be defined and affirmed, we do declare that:
Section 1. The equality and rights of persons.
We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.”
God chose to give us a choice to follow him. I think the words of our Constitution are words that God approves of. I agree that our world is so very full of sin and many have chosen to go their own way (I look in the mirror.) There are certainly consequences for that …..consequences that will impact us all. My personal plan is to pray for both myself and my friends. To love them, and challenge them, and encourage them to listen to the voice of His Spirit. To see Him work in their lives. I hope they do the same for me. One thing I have found….. the issues I may condemn in other people may not be what God wants to work on in their lives right now. Let that be between them and in tune with God’s perfect sense of timing and priority.
I have not done an extensive personal study on what God says about homosexuality. Quite honestly, I am lazy and since I happen to be heterosexual, other issues seem more important for me to study. Like controlling my tongue. Like gluttony. Like being humble in spirit. I admit avoiding the issue is somewhat purposeful, too. Yeah, possibly a cop-out. A long time ago I told God that I just don’t have the clarity that others seem to have with regard to the issue. I asked him to change my heart or illuminate my mind if necessary. I love my friends who happen to be gay and if asked my opinion of their lifestyle, would encourage them to study scripture to see what God reveals to them. When they approach with open hearts, I trust the Holy Spirit to show them truth. The minute the Spirit changes my heart on that plan of action, I will change my behavior. But until I have that clarity, that’s all I’ve got. My gay friends are treated just like all of my other very sinful friends. I am not known as a “yes man” with my friends. I try to be truthful and honest and not tell people just what they want to hear. And I want my friends to be truthful with me and not hide their sins and/or perceived sins. No need to hide from another big fat sinner! But when any are struggling with any issue, I hope I will always encourage them to seek truth. And if I can help them find it, I will. If I am involved in your life and you are a Christian, I do have the responsibility to gently tap you on the shoulder when I notice things that may be unbecoming to the person you should be. My non-Christian friends will probably point out that I do that to them, too. Hopefully it always comes from love. And truth. And is Holy Spirit directed, not via the mob. The reality is that sometimes it is just more about me than about you. I trust you will see beyond me and look to God to reveal to you His thoughts.
Personally I would rather all of us more distracted by the Spirit than by poorly written amendments to our constitution that are intended to point out sin and yet drive people from God instead of pointing people to Him. Our country needs to change. That’s evident to me. But the biggest way I can make change in our country is to change myself. There’s a lot in me that needs to change. And I will be changed. How about you? It will be a struggle for me, for I am not only a sinner, but a self-centered one.
I see hearts on both sides of the issues with regard to this amendment and I think they are well intentioned. My prayer for us all is that we listen to God, and that we vote our conscience. And regardless of the outcome of that vote that we, the people of North Carolina, be grateful to our Almighty God for our civil, political and religious liberties….and fight to retain them. The good news is that God is bigger than government. And smarter than we are.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly<sup class="footnote" value="[a]”> with your God.” Micah 6:8