Saturday, February 27, 2016

Singleness Struggles


I am going to be very honest here. I am struggling with my singleness. I was, “fine,” for awhile, happy to make my own schedule, eat oatmeal for dinner, and go on vacation whenever I wanted. Now I have the marriage bug, however. Or maybe I do not even have the marriage bug, but rather the relationship bug. I want a man in my life. I am tired of going to events and sitting by myself. I am tired of looking around to see if there are even any attractive, godly men who might be in my life. I am tired of wondering if I will ever get married. I am tired of wrestling with the variety of opinions people have on the subject of marriage. I want answers, but I do not have any, so I am sharing my struggles as they really are.


Marriage is in the Bible from beginning to end, but some of the messages seem to contradict. In Genesis, God created Eve to be Adam's helpmate (Gen 2:18), but in the New Testament Paul says it is best to remain single, but then one can be “concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord” (1 Cor 7:32, New International Version, [NIV]). In Ephesians 5:23 Paul compares husbands to Christ, as the Savior of the church. Commentator A. R. Fausset (n. d.) writes that this images the husband as the protector or preserver of the wife. Yet Paul says the unmarried are the ones “free from concern” (1 Cor 7:32). There seem to be a variety of views about marriage in the church, from it being a woman's highest calling (most often whereby she bears godly children) to it being an earthly pleasure to give up (e. g. by entering a monastery or a convent) (Evans, 2012). There are tons of Scriptures about marriage imaging God's relationship with the church. Revelation 19 is all about the marriage supper of the lamb. If marriage images Christ and the church, why do not all women marry? Throughout history, I see many godly women who did not marry, yet did great things for God. One of my role models never married, yet brought God's Word to a people on a continent far away through the work of Bible translation. She told me that she never said, “No,” to marriage, until now. Now she senses that it is not God's will for her. I am not sure I have her patience, or her fortitude.


So what do I do with all my wrestling and struggling? I read recently that loneliness should point me to God, and I pray that it will, but right now, it does not feel like it is (Clark, 2006). I “stumbled” across a video called, “The Power of a Praying Wife” (though I do not believe in coincidences, only in divine, God-ordained appointments) (O'Martian, 2013). The speaker, Stormie O'Martian, says to pray about marriage before I get there. To be honest, I do not want to pray about marriage if that it is not in God's plan for me. But I guess I should. Still. I feel bereft, befuddled, a little angry. I guess I have to pray, pray for God to change my heart, pray for God to make my heart open to His plans, pray to care more about the things of Jesus than the things of this world. I need to be content to remain as I am. This is hard. This is a real struggle.


References:

Clark, J. (2006). Every thought captive: Battling the toxic beliefs that separate us from the life we crave. Colorado Springs, CO: TH1NK.

Evans, R. H. (2012). A year of biblical womanhood: How a liberated woman found herself sitting on a roof, covering her head, and calling her husband “Master.” Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Faussett, A. R. (n. d.). The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians. Retrieved from https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/jfb/Eph/Eph_005.cfm?a=1102023.

O'Martian, S. (2013). The power of a praying wife. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTwiv1nF7Co.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Time to Ponder

I came across Psalm 111:2 the other night, and its words really struck me: "Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them" (New International Version, 1984). I am a busy person. Even now that I finished grad school and only have one full-time, 40-hour-per-week job, I find my hours more than full. I take seconds to jot notes of thanksgiving in my journal, but do I really ever take time to dwell on God and his goodness? The unfortunate answer is, "No."


Fausset (n. d.) writes that "pondered" means "sought out," or "carefully studied." I live a life of the tyranny of the urgent. Even when I have time, I am focused on making efficient use of it, not on using my moments to hone in on the truly important matters of life (Crabbe, 2015). I study life and obsess over my future plans, but I do not take much time to study God, much less to truly examine His handiwork in the world.


So what does it look like to ponder God's works? First of all, I think I need to acknowledge the type of lens through which I see the world.  Am I looking out for myself, or looking out for God? Are my eyes on my fears, or are my eyes on my Father? When I choose to approach the world through eyes of faith, I see this world as a place that is full of God's creative designs. This world is not my home, but my Father did create it. When I look for God, I will see Him (cf Job 19:26). Second, I need to take time.  Instead of focusing on efficiency, I need to work on being present. Instead of checking e-mail on my phone or thinking about my to-do list, I need to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of my environment right now. I need to look for the color (Crabbe, 2015), take in the moment. I need to stop rushing and choose to rest. Joy comes in the now, not the yesterday or in the tomorrow. Third, I need to name God's works. There is power in speaking the truth aloud (John 8:32). Finally, I need to pray. I need to ask God for His eyes, for his perspective on the world. James 1:5 says that "if anyone lacks wisdom,  He should ask." If I really want to see change in my life, I need to ask Someone with supernatural power to enact it in my life.


What will be the benefits of pondering God's work? The Psalmist mentions delight. John Piper (2012) writes that, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." The more I meditate on God and His works, the less I focus on the world around me. I believe that pondering God's words will help me find my joy and satisfaction and God. The question is, "Will I take time to do it?"


References:


Crabbe, T. (2015). Tick-tock. Time management is only making our busy lives worse. Retrieved from http://qz.com/447193/time-management-is-only-making-our-busy-lives-worse/.


Fausset, A. R. (n. d.). The Book of Psalms. Retrieved from https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/jfb/Psa/Psa_111.cfm?a=589002.


Piper, J. (2012). God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Retrieved from http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/god-is-most-glorified-in-us-when-we-are-most-satisfied-in-him.



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Lemon Molasses Oatmeal

It is about time that I experimented with oatmeal again. I knocked over the bottle of lemon extract the last time I reached for some spices in my cupboard, so I decided to incorporate it into this somewhat atypical recipe. The combination of tangy lemon and sweet molasses is not too unusual in the cooking realm, as I had it as a dressing over a Greek salad at a local restaurant. As an oatmeal combination, however, it might seem a bit odd. Try it, though, you just may like it.


As usual, I added applesauce to the oatmeal base, but then I amped up the flavor with the lemon and a drizzle of molasses. I topped my oatmeal with peanut butter, as I often do, but you could top yours with almond butter, cooked apples, or eat it bare.


Ingredients:



1/2 c rolled oats
1 c water
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1/4 t lemon extract
Drizzle of molasses


Topping(s) of your choice-peanut butter, almond butter, cooked apples, or other fruit.


Directions:



1. Bring water and oats to a boil and reduce heat to medium. (I find that cooking my oats in the water from the beginning makes them creamier.)
2. When oats reach the desired consistency, stir in the applesauce and lemon extract. Simmer oatmeal on low until some of the liquid from the applesauce absorbs and the oats become thick and rich.
3. Transfer oatmeal to a bowl and drizzle with molasses. Add topping(s) as desired.


Notes:



I recently switched from quick oats to rolled (old-fashioned oats). I ate a few too many bowls of quick oatmeal while sick and became slightly averse to the consistency. I like the hearty, chewy texture of rolled oats, but feel free to use quick oats for a creamier bowl of porridge.

National Collegiate Day of Prayer

I will be joining in the National Collegiate Day of Prayer 2/25/16, so I will not post prayer verses this week. Find out more about what and how to pray by reviewing the prayer outline at http://www.collegiatedayofprayer.org/resources/what-pray.


I will pray for my alma mater tomorrow. For what campus will you pray?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Afghan # 45

I shipped out another baby afghan today. This goes to my cousin's baby boy born just last week.


This afghan is from the ruffle throw pattern on page 56 of the Easy Crocheted Accessories book given to my by a friend. I used Red Heart light blue, white, and delft blue yarn in this pattern. Red Heart yarn is not as soft as baby yarn since it is acrylic, but it is durable and washes and dries regularly, so I use it regularly.

Friday, February 19, 2016

God's Love is Great.

I decided to focus not just on an attribute of God this week, but on an adjective that describes an attribute of God.

God's Love is Great.
“Unusual or considerable in degree, power, intensity, etc.” (Dictionary.com, n.d.).

Psalm 25:6
Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.

Psalm 51:1
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

Psalm 69:13
But I pray to you, Lord, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.

Psalm 89:1
I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.

Psalm 117:2
For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.

Lamentations 3:22
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

Ephesians 2:4-5
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

1 John 3:1
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Reference:
Great. (n.d.). Dictionary.com. Retrieved February 11, 2016 from Dictionary.com website http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/great.

Friday, February 12, 2016

God is the Lion of Judah


Here are my prayer verses for this week, reflecting God's name as Lion of Judah, one who is strong, mighty to save.

Psalm 73:26
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 106:8
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known.

Hosea 11:10
They will follow the Lord; he will roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west.

Amos 3:8
The lion has roared— who will not fear? The Sovereign Lord has spoken— who can but prophesy?

Zephaniah 3:17
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

Revelation 5:5
Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Broiled Orange Oatmeal



Oranges are in season, but sometimes it is hard for me to want to eat them. Therefore, I decided to try something new: putting oranges in my oatmeal. I read on The Oatmeal Artist blog that it is hard to make orange flavor come through, so I went all out for this recipe: zesting orange, and using juice in the actual oatmeal, then topping the oatmeal with broiled orange slices. (I had never broiled oranges before.) I will admit that this recipe was pretty orange-y, but it was still a fun experiment in cooking.

Ingredients:


½ c quick cooking oatmeal
1 c water
1 T ground flax seed
¼ t ground cinnamon
1 orange
1 t brown sugar
Drizzle of honey for topping.

Directions:


1. Wash and dry the orange.
2. Zest the orange on a zester, or a fine grater. (Zesting means grating off the orange part of the skin until only the white pith remains.)
3. Cut the orange in half and juice it. (Use a juicer, or simply squeeze the orange juice into a cup.) Discard the peel.
4. Bring water and oats to a boil. Reduce heat to medium.
5. When oats reach the desired consistency, stir in the flax seed, cinnamon, orange zest, and orange juice.
6. Meanwhile, slice the remaining half of an orange. Spread each slice of orange with approximately 1/4 t of brown sugar. Broil until sugar is crystallized and the edges of the orange peel are slightly dark.
7. When oatmeal has absorbed orange juice, transfer it to a bowl and drizzle the bowl with honey (or sprinkle with more brown sugar-this oatmeal is very tart). Top with the broiled orange slices.

Enjoy.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Thanksgiving: An Expression of Thanks

We can pray all day, but at the end of the day, if we forget to remember how God has answered our prayers, we miss a crucial part of the process. Mom taught me to review my written prayer requests every so often so as to call to mind God's provisions and answers. I try to do this in one of my weekly prayer times to thanksgiving every month or two.


When I review my prayer requests, I focus on a different aspect of thanksgiving, as support by Scripture. Here is my focus for this week:


Thanksgiving as an expression of thanks.
To show, utter, or state thanks.


Leviticus 7:12
If they offer it as an expression of thankfulness, then along with this thank offering they are to offer thick loaves made without yeast and with olive oil mixed in, thin loaves made without yeast and brushed with oil, and thick loaves of the finest flour well-kneaded and with oil mixed in.



2 Chronicles 20:21
After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”


Psalm 50:23
Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me, and to the blameless I will show my salvation.



2 Corinthians 9:12
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.


Revelation 7:12
Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!



Revelation 11:17
We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Silver Lining

Remember my post about struggling to rest? Well after a busy weekend and not enough sleep Saturday night, I got sick. I thought I had a cold, and I tried to power through it. I went to work on Monday, but I woke up feeling awful on Tuesday. I took my temperature and it was 103 degrees. Great! Now I not only had to stay home, but needed to schedule a doctor's appointment to find out what illness I really had. After negative flu and strep tests, the doctor told me I had an up-to-five-day virus. Her prescription: No work. No work-outs. Lots of fluids. Not my preferred modes of living. But as my coworker so kindly reminded me, there is a silver lining.




A year after it came out, I finally got to watch War Room. My roommate went out and got me cough drops to get me through the coughing spells and pizza and baby carrots, the only foods I wanted to eat. She paid for it all herself even though I sent her with my credit card. I am getting caught up on sleep, even if it is at times I would rather be working. I had a relaxing evening last night reading the Conde Nast Traveler magazine, listening to classical music, and working on a baby blanket. (Rest assured that I wash all baby blankets before sending them, sick or not sick when I made them.) It is the second truly relaxing evening I have had all year.

I am not sure when this virus will end and I will be able to return to work. I hope that the end was yesterday, but only God knows. For now, I am trying to take to heart the words of Sarah Young f2004) from this morning's reading in Jesus Calling:

I will get you safely through this day and all your days. But you can find Me only in the present. Each day is a precious gift from My Father. How ridiculous to grasp for future gifts when today's is set before you! Receive today's gift gratefully, unwrapping it tenderly and delving into its depths. As you savor this gift, you find Me.

Reference:

Young, Sarah. (2004). Jesus calling. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Monday, February 1, 2016

January: Progress Not Perfection

To keep myself accountable, I'm going to give a January update on THE LIST. Let's just say I'm progressing, but not getting nearly close to perfection.

1) GO! on a cruise.
I have a date in mind. My friend and I are still talking about this idea. I think we're going to wait until last minute to book our voyage. That might be a good plan, or a bad plan that will lead to not accomplishing this resolution....

2) Stop checking e-mail on my phone while at work.
This is going well, but I find that computer use is still sucking up my time. I'm trying a suggestion from the article "3 Easy Way to Unplug" to limit my computer use to two hours outside work (Asp, 2016). Two hours sounds like a lot until I realized from my Rescue Time reports that I usually average way longer than that each day. Maybe that is why I have no free time.

3) Use more glass storage containers and less plastic.
My mom gave me a new mason jar lid at Christmas time, and it's made using my old mason jars so much fun! I especially like packing my oatmeal breakfasts in them.

4) Find my rambunctious side again.
Umm...well, I'm not sure where it's gone. I'm not really finding it yet.

5) Memorize some new scripture, or at least review the old.
It's almost February, and I've barely gotten through the first chapter of Ephesians that I already memorized. My brain doesn't seem to absorb verses like it used to, but I must keep trying. God's Word is important!

6) Clean out the pantry (fridge, freezer, et. al) and go on a grocery spend fast until it is done.
Done! (For the most part.) I have some leftover frozen jalapenos in the freezer and some condiments in the fridge, but otherwise, I worked through all my leftovers. It was a good experience.

7) Purge excess. Soak up blessing.
I purged the kitchen, closet, and paper files. I have a big pile for our house yard sale and I shredded a lot. I'm still trying to figure out how to appreciate God's blessings without finding pleasure in them, instead of in Him.

8) Run a 5K.
I got on what I call "trots" twice a week. I don't like to run outside in the cold, but I don't like to run inside, or take to the treadmills, which means I don't really want to run (or rather, "trot,") much at all. My housemates are doing the Couch to 5K training, though, and we hope to run a house 5K together in March. Hopefully that keeps me motivated.

9) Embrace the quiet.
Sometimes I fill even the quiet with excessive, obsessive reading. This goes along with number 11). I'm still trying to learn to rest.

10) Pursue counseling licensure.
I mailed off my 14 (??) page application on Friday, complete with notary signature, birth certificate copy, driver's license copy, fingerprints, an official transcript, a self-inquiry into my criminal records, and a hefty sum. Now I wait....

11) Rest.
I had one evening where I really rested. Other times I just find myself in a frenzy, or find myself with no time. Learning to rest is no joke!

12) Trim down the processed. Bulk up the produce.
With the grocery store fast, I got out of the habit of eating lots of produce. And I'm still trying to figure out how to balance eating lots of produce with getting vital nutrients from other food groups (dairy, protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, etc.). More to learn...

13) Bullet journal plan—streamline my to-do list.
This is going well, except when my bullets surpass my planner space and end up back on a traditional messy list. (This especially happens on weekend days when I want to accomplish a lot.)

14) Finish the books I have and read more.
I'm reading, but not enough. A friend made a New Year's Resolution to read a book a month. I'd like to join her, but I don't think I'll make it this month. I just don't have as much time as I thought.

15) Spend time with and love the people around me.
My housemates and I have dinner together every Tuesday night. I have spent special time with other friends, but this is the greatest blessing that has come from resolution 15.

16) Blog. Instagram. Something. (Experiment.) 
Well here you go. I started this blog. It's takes more time than I expected to blog, so I'm debating trying Instagram or something with less of a time commitment, but we'll see.

Reference
Asp, K. (2016). 3 easy ways to unplug. Cooking Light, January/February, pp. 69-70.