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Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Unless you still live with your family (or a family of some kind), as a single woman you have, at some point, dealt with the issue of cooking for one. Although it can be a fun time to explore options and creativity and try new recipes with only your own health and taste buds to worry about, it can also get tiresome. Of course, you could eat out and get take-out for every. single. meal, but that gets quickly, ridiculously expensive.

I was doing some research to find ways to save on groceries that wasn’t the already-heard-fifty-times “Use coupons,” “Buy generic/on sale/in season,” and “Don’t shop when you’re hungry.” I found one great post on the site Wise Bread (which I had admittedly never read before) called, “Grocery Shopping for the Cheap and Lazy.” Despite its (honest) title, the advice is also good for singles, even if they are neither cheap nor lazy.

The article includes such gems as:

Sure, maybe I use too much salt and vinegar, but hey, it’s my palate, and if I want everything to taste like dill pickles, so be it. I’ll worry about someone else’s palate when the time comes.

Also, “Do not fear butter. It makes everything better.” I’m pretty sure I want that on a bumper sticker for my car someday.

Some of the advice is common sense: don’t buy things in bulk if you won’t use it all, and cook foods that will taste good as leftovers. Some of it is less conventional, but still makes sense: be sure to try ethnic foods and shop at ethnic stores, allow yourself one indulgent item that will make you happy to cook, and if you must drink, booze it up at home for cheaper.

Be sure to check out the entertaining article, and many of the links from it. You’ll learn something.

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Disclaimer: I discuss my political beliefs in this post more than usual. I’m not trying to argue any of them, I’m just using them as examples and illustrations and, as always, you are all totally free to disagree with me.

This is one of the few posts that I wrote for my personal blog that, after it was published, I thought, “Hey, I should share this with more people.”

If you’ve read my sometimes-sensical ramblings for a significant length of time, you know that I’ve waffled over the will-I-won’t-I get married, or do-I-don’t-I-even-want-to. After several church sermons, some prayer, and reading How to Avoid Falling in Love With a Jerk, I’ve decided that I do want to get married … eventually. Not next week, obviously. Not even next year. But definitely some day in the however-distant future.

This has had an interesting effect on my prayer life, how I see guys, how I see myself, my spiritual desires, and what I think I’m looking for in a life partner.

For one thing, after mentally rejecting a guy who is my polar opposite when it comes to politics (and economics), I began to wonder, Am I being too picky if I reject guys who significantly differ from me when it comes to politics?

I’ve casually mentioned before that I am really into politics and economics (especially the theoretical/principle side), and I have always been especially attracted to guys who share my libertarian ideas. And if they’re libertarian Christians, then hooooo boy—instant chemistry!

Now, I am particularly extreme in my libertarian ideas, and many of my beliefs are rare in general, and especially so for a Christ-follower. So if a guy who is extremely different from me when it comes to economics is still interested in me, should I just shrug off such differences and say “Well, we can agree to disagree?”

After thinking about this for a while, I came to several conclusions.

First of all, let it be known that I do not expect to marry someone who is as extreme as I am. I know that such people are relatively rare, and I’m completely reconciled to the idea that I’m not going to marry someone who agrees with me 100% when it comes to politics/economics. I’m not saying it’s impossible, I just know it’s improbable enough not to expect it. (Also, I’m not trying to be like, LOOK AT ME AND WHAT A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE I AM! I HAVE NO EQUAL! BWA HA HA! Well, I mean, in a way that’s true, but … look, I’m just not trying to brag about it.)

I also know that a lot of people aren’t that interested in politics and/or economics. Which is also fine. And there are people who ARE interested, but not in a way that affects how they see the world. I am perfectly willing to concede that two people with vastly different political beliefs could create a very happy marriage, depending on how deeply those beliefs run.

However, my political and economic beliefs are right up there with my faith in shaping how I view the world and how I live.  Therefore, I can’t imagine being happy with someone who significantly differs from me when it comes to those things, because it affects so much about me—how I take in the news, how I perceive society, what I consider a social right/wrong, how I like to spend my time. This is one of those things where a little difference is well and good, but a lot of difference makes for complete incompatibility.

Allow me to excessively drive my point home by creating a secular, hypothetical example. Let’s say we have a casual vegetarian—maybe for her health or simply for taste preferences. That person is more likely to tolerate a common omnivore than, say, a strict vegan who is so because of her beliefs regarding animal rights. The strict vegan may cultivate a lasting relationship with someone who is a casual vegetarian, but she probably wouldn’t be able to marry, say, a hunter. They could say that they’ll “agree to disagree,” but ultimately these differing beliefs affect so much of their lives—not only what they eat, but what they wear, how they see the world around them, and how they spend their time. It’s unlikely that they can be easily reconciled. The more casual vegetarian, however, may be perfectly willing to accept hunting and meat-eating, because their “brand” of vegetarianism is not a deep-seated part of who they are.

Let’s say, metaphorically speaking, that I’m the meat-eating hunter—I may be able to forge a lasting relationship with a casual vegetarian, but any further differences beyond that is probably just not going to work, based on my set of values.

Maybe Hypothetical Future Husband Guy believes that government should be tiny, but should still have more powers than I think it should. Maybe he likes Sarah Palin way more than I do (read: at all). Maybe he believes in a Fair Tax, or that certain people should be restricted from owning firearms, or that some drugs should not be legalized. As long as we can agree on major things—smaller government = better, and free-market capitalism is the best economic system available—even if he’s not as enthusiastic as I am, that’s a better recipe for success than someone who subscribes to Keynesian economics and believes in high corporate taxes and strict gun control.

My conclusion: While “agreeing to disagree” on politics is the best approach when it comes to coworkers, friends, and family members, I don’t think it’s the proper stance for me when seeking a future life partner.

So no, I’m not being too picky. Well, I am, but reasonably so.

So what about you? Are there any non-negotiables or barely-negotiables that sound superficial but may actually be fundamental for a future relationship? Think about what’s really important to you—in a godly way.

I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who have real-life examples that would shoot down my inexperienced theories. I’m just waiting to hear someone comment with, “Actually, my uncle is a meat-eating hunter who runs down roadkill for fun and his wife is a raw-food vegan who doesn’t wear leather and they’ve been happily married for 30 years.” If you know of a couple like that, please share. I would love to hear that story.

Additional disclaimer: Just so we’re clear, I’m only talking about non-salvation related issues that truly are a matter of opinion, biblically speaking. Obviously there are things that the Bible makes perfectly clear are non-negotiable, such as the Christ-follower’s calling to marry only another believer and not be “unequally yoked.” I’m not talking about anything quite that serious and deep-seated. This is just good, clean, hypothetical fun.

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My Monday-night small group, not to be confused with my Sunday-night small group (I know, I know, you are just overwhelmed by my blinding holiness — i’m so spiritual, I get to use the carpool lane when I’m on my way to heaven) is currently discussing the idea of “true beauty” and the world’s view compared to the Lord’s view. One of the Scripture passages we read was:

1 Peter 3:3-4: Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

This got me thinking how the world’s recommendation—magazines, websites, TV, etc.—says to work on the outside first. Get fit, get the right makeup, wear clothes that comple/iment your body, act sexy, and then you’ll feel better inside—confident, radiant, motivated!

The problem with that is that it’s so unstable. Even if you’re totally put-together, if you step outside into one sudden rainstorm, the whole package of well-done hair/makeup/outfit is literally washed away.

But when you work on the inside first—focusing on the gentle and quiet spirit and putting emphasis on outward appearance last—then not even the heaviest rainstorm can wash that away. And of course, “gentle and quiet spirit” doesn’t mean being weak, a pushover, and never speaking (fortunately for me), but having peace in the Lord and resting in Him.

And although inner peace and the love of Christ can shine out of us even on our worst-looking days, not even the most professional makeup or trendiest clothes can completely hide a harsh tongue or a broken spirit.

Proverbs 31:30: Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

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Several weeks after joining an 11-week Bible study, and I have had my first “aha!” moment.

I love those moments.

I wasn’t sure if I would have one, truth be told. It seemed that the class would be very interesting, but would build on my preexisting knowledge rather than provide brilliant new insights. I should have been more patient, but the Spirit finally flipped that illuminating switch in my brain.

As I said before, we have been studying Abraham, starting from Genesis mid-12 and so far reaching chapter 18. This covers about 25 years of Abraham’s life, and guess what we haven’t even gotten to yet? The birth of Isaac, the child God promised to Abraham and Sarah.

When studying patience, learning to wait on God, and searching our hearts to decide if we really think anything is too difficult for God, Bible studies and leaders often refer to Abraham. After all, he waited about 25 years before he began to see God’s promises fulfilled in the birth of Isaac, not counting the 75 years he had lived before God made His first promise to Abraham. But there’s another part of the story that I had never seen until today.

I never considered how gradual the Lord was in revealing His plans to Abraham.

The Lord didn’t just appear to Abraham one day and say, “Look, here’s what’s going down and what I’m gonna do for you. You’re going to the land of Canaan, which I’ll give to you and your descendants and all the nations that will come out of them. In a few years, say about 25, your wife, Sarah, is going to have a son by you at an insanely old age, say 90 or 91, and you’ll name him Isaac. Several generations from then my Son will be born of your descendants and He will redeem all of mankind forever and ever.”

That’s what was promised, but that’s not how God announced it.

First He says, “Leave your family and go to this place that I’ll show you.”

Once that was complete: “OK, see this land? You and your descendants will possess it all.”

Then, in the face of doubt: “Don’t worry, your descendants will come from your own body.”

Then: “OK, ‘wife’ should have been implied, but yes, it is your wife Sarah who will have your promised child. Oh, Ishmael? No, it’s okay, he’s taken care of.”

A little later: “All right, next year is when it’s all happening—you’ll have a son, and name him Isaac, and he will live under My covenant and all his descendants. Sarah, stop laughing. Just you wait. Trust Me, I’m God. I can do this.”

And guess what happened? All of it.

I can’t tell you what Abraham was thinking for those 25 years, but I can imagine. Maybe he was hoping that God would be a little more specific a little sooner. Maybe he wondered if he had misheard God in the first place, or that God hadn’t given him all the information he needed. Perhaps he wondered if God had deliberately left out information that Abraham had to figure out on his own.

God gave Abraham the information that he needed, as he needed it. God took the time to build a relationship with Abraham, who was living in a pagan land and probably was not entirely familiar with El Roi when He called him elsewhere. God did not overwhelm Abraham with a barrage of details regarding what would happen in his life. God led Abraham step by step, working through his human mistakes, assuring his human concerns, and finally bringing an answer to his wife’s doubtful laughter.

It all came together, but only the Lord knew every step and how they would all match up. And in several thousand years, I can’t see how that’s changed much.

What will happen in our lives? If we truly live by faith, if we really trust the Lord, and if we truly believe that nothing is too difficult for him, then all we can do is take everything one day at a time, working with the information that He provides, and having faith that He knows what’s going on. Because God’s got a plan, and it will work out somehow, even if it’s not exactly how we might have preferred, and even if we don’t have all the details.

As usual, the breakthrough is the easy part. The hard part is 1. Remembering the lesson, and 2. Applying it to the rest of my life.

Romans 4:18-22 is a relevant passage in Scripture, and one that was part of my Bible study homework this week:

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”

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I deserve to marry Josh Groban more than his average fan.

Why?

Because I find him unattractive.

Huh?

Yes. And yet I adore him. Because I love his music and his voice. (Cheesy? Indeed, sometimes, but I’m rather fond of certain cheeses.) And his Twitter account is absolutely hilarious. Therefore, my love is not based on something shallow like appearance. … Plus, he has a doofy charm about him.

(Please, no one email/comment to tell me what a jerk he is in real life. I don’t want to know.)

It’s kind of like a mild version of Phantom of the Opera — physically unattractive with a beautiful singing voice. Though I hope that Josh Groban doesn’t kill people with magical lassos and trap them in torture chambers. That is, I’m assuming he doesn’t, but you never know with these celebrity types.

But if I may be serious for a moment, listening to his music actually does makes me think, “I should keep Josh Groban in mind when I think of my future husband.” Not that I’m going to marry Josh Groban — just that I should remember that I’m probably going to marry a man who is not 100% my ideal, physically. But, just like my job, and Josh Groban, he will have a number of qualities that will more than make up for it.

There. That’s my not-entirely-sober thought for the day. Tomorrow’s Friday Frivolity will actually make more sense.

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According to Bethany, my spiritual gift is Ranting. Hence, this letter.

Dear Valentine’s Day:

There is no sense in denying that, for years, we have lived with a powerful mutual loathing. Although I have been long resigned to this state of existence, I am aware that it was not always so. In my childhood, you were simply a random day in the middle of winter reserved for wearing pink or red, eating chalk-flavored candies with “Fax Me” printed on them, and cutting out hearts with red construction paper. Maybe there were cupcakes or cards from Grandma, but that was the general gist of it.

Upon entering middle school, however, these relatively pleasant memories were corrected, to be replaced with memories of adding to the usual 12-year-old angst reminders that I was an unpopular outcast, when I witnessed my classmates pair up to “go out” with one another (to where? McDonald’s?) and send the pretty, more popular girls carnations—with the number received clearly illustrating one’s middle-school social caste.

Sadly, this tradition was carried on into high school, though we were mature enough to at least pretend to laugh it off, and perhaps send carnations to our most beloved, still-single friends in an act of solidarity and mutual comfort. This comfort was particularly critical for the high-school spinsters who clutched the carnations to their bosoms as they rushed between Spanish class and choir practice, dodging through the obstacle course that featured more than a few couples engaged in the infamous hallway-make-out sessions.

With the progression to college, it was hoped that such unseemly acts of immaturity would be left behind in an environment of education and openness. However, the act of Flower-Based Social Stratification remained, especially perpetuated by young women whose eyes glinted like Tiffany diamonds and whose fangs dripped with brownie batter, hoping to impress the guy in the dorm across the street so that the lyrical vow of “Ring By Spring” would be honored. Such women sneered and taunted those who dared to defy the spirits and deities of Valentine’s Day by wearing any color that was not red or pink (with mercy given to those who wore white, but particular woe upon those who dared to wear black!), and rolled their eyes at those who postponed a day of celebration to take advantage of candy sales on Feb. 15.

Unfortunately, my dear Valentine’s Day, even in the “real world” after the bubble of college, I cannot escape your hatred, and you continue to cultivate mine. Although I am known as a staunch libertarian and defender of free-market capitalism, you are, with very little doubt, the one result of true capitalism that I despise over every other.

I hate everything you stand for: overpriced greeting cards, low-quality chocolate, candy message hearts (which STILL taste like chalk), shallow sentiment felt only because society has told us that it MUST be felt, pointless traditions (as no one really knows which St. Valentine is being honored on 2/14), the color pink, obligations to celebrate (much like New Year’s Eve, Mardis Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, and the U.S. Fourth of July), the societal requirement either to feel bad about being single or to celebrate singleness as a way to overcompensate, bad romantic comedies, and disrespect for the (possible) death of a martyr—especially one who (may have) died in defiance of one of history’s greatest tyrannies.

This year, I was about to declare a truce and say that perhaps this year it will not be bad after all, since a dear friend will be in town to visit, and another dear friend who already lives here will be around. But now this dear friend is sick, and the flight has been canceled, as we are currently buried in several unprecedented feet of snow, and I am unable to even see ANYone, but must remain in my small and drafty apartment, without even the comfort of booze or chocolate to sustain me.

I wanted to think better of you this time, Valentine’s Day. I was ready to offer the olive branch, the white flag, but then you decided to pull this charming little stunt. And for that, I feel obligated to keep on hating you, until I am a shriveled old spinster living with my hypoallergenic cats and throwing chalky candy hearts at passersby.

With All Sincerity,

Me.

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I was going to publish a “love letter” to Valentine’s Day that I had already written and published on my personal blog and on Facebook. I may still do that on Sunday.

BUT when I came to sign in to WordPress.com, I found this lovely post on WP’s homepage: 10 Anti-Valentine’s Day Cards. Even if you like Valentine’s Day *coughbethanycough* do check it out. This one, for example, struck just the right chord with me. I may employ the unethical use of office resources and print them out to distribute to my coworkers. (Though it may be inappropriate for my married-with-three-kids boss.)

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