Back in Black

Back in Black

Well hello there, gentle readers!

It’s been far too long since I wrote on here, but the truth is, I have a lot to say. A lot of questions to answer?

Like, what should one do with the garlic parsley escargot in oil from Whole Foods?

Why is my Williams-Sonoma quarter-sheet pan the #1 kitchen item I wish I had more of?

Is the complementarianism vs. egalitarianism debate actually a false dilemma?

Is Breckenridge Brewery really that great?

Why did I not remember that Mama Day mostly takes place in New York City, and why does it always make me cry?

What are the three most beautiful places I’ve been, and why are they not the same as my three favorite places?

What is the enneagram teaching me?

Stay tuned, friends.

One Day More (Till the Election)

One Day More (Till the Election)

adapted from “One Day More” from the musical Les Miserables

[Random American Citizen]
One day more!
Another day, another destiny.
This never-ending stream of baloney;
I can’t believe it’s come to this;
It makes previous elections feel like bliss!
One day more!

[Hillary Clinton]
The Feds exonerated me today.
Will American voters even listen?

[RAC]
One day more.

[Hillary & Huma]
Tomorrow America decides,
And then we’ll know if we have blown it!

[Donald Trump]
One more day left to campaign –

[Hillary & Huma]
I’m pretty sure we have a shot.

[Donald]
– One more day to be a jerkface –

[Hillary & Huma]
I was born for this career.

[Donald]
– On an international stage –

[Hillary]
And I swear I’m Presidential!

[Donald]
– This is going to be yuge!

[Evan McMullin]
One more day before the storm!

[Paul Ryan]
This is so embarrassing.

[Evan]
At the barricades of freedom!

[Paul]
Can this please be over soon?

[Evan]
We’ll save the country from disaster.

[Paul]
What am I going to do now?

[Evan]
Will you take your place with me?

[ALL]
The time is now, the day is here.

[RAC]
One day more!

[Third-Party Voters]
One day more till the election,
We will never be ashamed!
We watch an unfolding crisis;
The parties have themselves to blame!

[RAC]
One day more!

[Gary Johnson & Jill Stein]
Watch ’em run amuck,
Catch ’em as they fall,
Never know your luck
When there’s a free for all,
We may get a blip
We may get a bunch
You never know with voters
And their brains are mush !

[Political Commentators(2 Groups)]
[1:] One day till Trump’s people riot

[2:] Perhaps the GOP will split!

[1:] Everyone will be at odds

[2:] Everyone will be at odds

[1:] There’s the old way for the losing

[2:] It is going down in flames

[ALL]
Do you hear the ballot box ca-ching?

[Hillary]
My place is here, please vote for me!

[RAC]
One day more!

[Hillary & Huma]
The Feds exonerated me today.

[Donald]
One day left to campaign!

[Hillary & Huma]
Will the voters even listen?

[Evan (overlapping)]
#NeverTrump and #NeverClinton!
We will not give up the fight;
We’ll be sure to cause an upset,
It won’t be over tomorrow night.

[RAC]
One day more!

[Hillary & Huma]
I was born to this career.

[Donald]
I can’t wait to be the Big Boss!

[Hillary & Huma]
And I swear I’m Presidential!

[Third Party Voters (overlapping)]
One more day till the election;
Will we finally be heard?
Couldn’t vote for Trump or Clinton

[Jill & Gary (overlapping)]
Watch ’em run amok
Catch ’em as they fall
Never know your luck
When there’s a free-for-all!

[RAC]
Tomorrow night we’ll finally know
Which way our country’s fall will go

[ALL]
Tomorrow we’ll discover
What our God in Heaven has in store!
One more dawn
One more day
One day more!

A Few Thoughts on Internet Dating

A Few Thoughts on Internet Dating

As you may well know, gentle reader, I met my favorite person on okCupid. Before our fateful first date that Friday in September 2014, though, I did quite a bit of internet dating. There were four main phases in my internet dating history: several months 2007-2008 (one meet-up in person, which led to my own first panic attack – and not remotely because the guy wasn’t great; it turns out I was a wreck); spring of 2012, which led to a few dates (then I got horribly, horribly sick for a year, which cut that short); fall 2013 (kind of a lot of dates); and then late spring 2014-September 2014 (a LOT of dates). Even the one-off dates (of which there were many) were a pretty positive experiences. Internet dating did me well – obviously.

This is not a post about whether or why you should be online dating. It’s not about what I think of all the sites I was on at one time or another (in addition to okCupid, I did Christian Cafe, eHarmony, Christian Mingle, and Match). It’s not about the cultural impact of this new way of forming romantic connections (check out this article if you’re curious about that). It’s also not about my stories (although I have some good ones).

What I want to talk about is how to do this thing. I learned a couple of lessons I think are worth passing along – maybe you will find something I learned useful.

When you’re on a date that isn’t going anywhere, be charitable. One of my friends used to talk back in her single days about helping awkward guys learn some dating skills if she found herself on a date with them, just by being a good date herself. She didn’t do this over multiple dates – she wasn’t leading them on or anything – but she chose to see each dead-end date as a different kind of possibility than romance, not a waste of her time or energy. I found that sometimes that chemistry just wouldn’t be there face-to-face, or something would come up in discussion that made it clear we weren’t a great match, and it was tempting to abruptly end the date, be a bitch, or regard the fellow with animosity. But not once was he actually a bad dude with nefarious intent; he just wasn’t the right guy for me. And that is not his fault. Not once would my antagonism have been warranted. I really think kindness is clutch here.*

Another way to think of it is this: especially with the way you end things, whether you’re just chatting online or have been dating for awhile, try to be a positive experience that will encourage good men and women to go out and try again. Putting oneself out there is tough and scary work; be the kind of person who makes others feel it’s worth their effort – and that they have something to offer – even if you didn’t turn out to be “the one.”

Don’t lie. I never struggled with lying until I started getting “maybe we could do this again sometime” from men I didn’t want to go out with again. I am totally ashamed to say I had a terrible habit for awhile of saying, “sure,” and then emailing or texting “Actually, I’m so sorry, I was nervous and I lied; you’re great but I’m not interested.” It was a huge step for me to learn to be honest to men’s faces. Just being frank without being mean is plenty for most people – you don’t need to “make a statement” with your “no thank you.”

When you get super-judgy and cynical, you might need a break. I felt my heart hardening in the spring of 2008. I noticed I was trending toward this nasty attitude when I caught myself looking at profiles and thinking, “Not cute enough for me…Not godly enough for me…Not smart enough for me.” That is not the person I wanted to be, so I quit online dating for 4 years. And when I came back, it was completely different. For me, a big part of guarding my heart was keeping myself from becoming mean and cold and hard.


* I do want to note that having boundaries is important, and you might be justifiably “rude” by putting your foot down and insisting on being left alone, etc., when you’re being pursued past the point at which you said “no thanks.”

Book Review: The Envy of Eve

Book Review: The Envy of Eve

I ran this review on my old blog over four years ago, but since it became relevant again this past weekend at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conferences 2016 in Indianapolis (which was awesome, by the way), I thought I would repost it here. 

When I started seminary, I was in a bit of a unique position – I was the only full-time female student in the entire school. My professors were rather fantastic about the gender-thing (as well as everything else), but obviously, there are just some things women need other women for. As it happens, one of the women who really shaped my seminary years is married to my favorite seminary professor (who also happened to be a pastor at my church). Right about the time I left Charlotte, Melissa was hired as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator at our church.

I’m sure the wisdom of Melissa Kruger will come out in various and sundry contexts on this blog, but today I just want to flog her new/first book.

The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World is a convicting, challenging book. Melissa guides us to look unflinchingly at the sin in our hearts, unwaveringly at the Savior Who redeems our hearts, and hopefully to the Spirit Who heals and sanctifies our hearts.

The Envy of Eve argues that there is a consistent pattern in the way that coveting affects people: we see, we covet, we take, we hide. Sounds like Eve, right? She sees the fruit, she wants it, she takes it, and then girlfriend is sewing up fig leaves and ducking behind bushes. This pattern is all over the book, and I’m pretty sure it’s all over my life too. Melissa spends the first half of the book discussing the pattern – what it looks like, where it comes from, and how it meets its end – and the second half demonstrating how this pattern works itself out in our coveting of different things. This “see-covet-take-hide” thing is not Eve-specific, and Melissa makes sure we can’t deny its effect in the men and women of the Bible and in our own lives. I, for one, would not have done such careful self-examination if I had not been led through it; thankfully, I can flog this book with a metaphorical steak over my metaphorical black eye and tell you gleefully that the beating is totally worth it.

One particularly helpful point for me was that we can “take” because of our coveting in a way that has nothing to do with obtaining the actual thing we are coveting. In other words, coveting rarely will goad someone like me to steal the thing I want, but boy, I sure can steal from what I owe or am called to give others when I am under its influence. Here’s a snippet from the chapter entitled “Coveting Seasons and Circumstances” that really kicked my butt:

…[We] take because we are unable to love our neighbor as Christ loved us. When we simply view our neighbor as a means of measuring ourselves, we will never care for him or her well. We will fixate on what is easier in that person’s life and fail to sympathize or support what may be difficult for him or her. Our prayers will be centered on our own cares, instead of on those around us. (210)

Though this book is easily applicable to all kinds of Christians, Melissa specifically is writing for an adult female audience. The only way you can really tell this is her examples – her exegesis, analysis, and systematic theology are top-notch, and her frank, straightforward tone is refreshing. I feel like I have to say this, because the assumption is often that books written for women are “theology-lite.” Maybe some of them fit that category, but this book is not one of them.

One of the best things about this book is that Melissa does not aim it at single women, or married women, or married stay-at-home moms with kids, or empty nesters, or any particular subset of women who belong to Christ – I was made to feel the communion of the saints in a new way, because women 50 years older than me and 6 life-stages away were addressed alongside women like me. We really do all have the same problems, and in the same Savior we find the redemption and restoration for us all.

 

Mercy!

Mercy!

I’ve just finished reading Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.  To give you an extremely brief introduction that really doesn’t do the book – or the man – justice, Stevenson is a lawyer who has dedicated his life to representing men and women on death row, people who were sentenced to very severe punishments as children, poor folks whose court-appointed counsel completely dropped the ball. This book centers on one particular case but also incorporates many other cases Stevenson has worked.

I don’t unreservedly commend to you all of Stevenson’s ideas, but I think the book is powerful and compelling. The most significant, eye-opening thing here is the histories. If you don’t know about these injustices, it’s easy to think they don’t happen. But when you learn about ways that justice has been miscarried and perverted, you start to appreciate that maybe there’s a lot you still don’t know. Maybe just because I am don’t know about something doesn’t indicate that it’s fictional. Knowing real stories about injustice should both soften our hearts toward one another and galvanize us to pursue justice through the law – to make the law an agent of true justice.

All that said, this quote is not about someone’s history – I don’t want to spoil  any of the stories for you. This is a powerful concept – the concept of where grace comes from between people.

[I want you to know I’m not spoiling any of the stories in this book by sharing this great quote with you. Read on without fear.]

Whenever things got really bad, and [my clients] were questioning the value of their lives, I would remind them that each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. I told them that if someone tells a lie, that person is not just a liar. If you take something that doesn’t belong to you, you are not just a thief. Even if you kill someone, you’re not just a killer. I told myself that evening what I had been telling my clients for years. I am more than broken. In fact, there is a strength, a power even, in understanding brokenness, because embracing our brokenness creates a need and desire for mercy. When you experience mercy, you learn things that are hard to learn otherwise. You see things you can’t otherwise see; you hear things you can’t otherwise hear. You begin to recognize the humanity that resides in each of us….

[…E]ven as we are caught in a web of hurt and brokenness, we’re also in a web of healing and mercy…. The power of just mercy is that it belongs to the undeserving. It’s when mercy is least expected that it is most potent – strong enough to break the cycle of victimization and victimhood, retribution and suffering.

This mercy to the undeserving that Stevenson is describing is a miniature of Gospel mercy. It’s no surprise, given the way he talks about it, that he is very aware of this fact, that he is a recipient of Gospel mercy himself. We who have been shown mercy are marked by mercy toward others – if we aren’t merciful toward others, we have a disconnect that may indicate that we haven’t received that mercy. And, as my pastor said in his sermon on Sunday morning, for believers, as recipients of such great big Gospel mercy, caring about justice and extending ourselves towards others in mercy are not optional hobbies. It is our business when injustice is done – not to take justice into our own hands, but to pursue justice as best we can through the system and to treat everyone, not just whichever victim we perceive more clearly, with mercy.

Being merciful must include seeing and respecting the personhood of every human (including ourselves) – which includes what Stevenson talks about above, refusing to identify a person solely with one act, or, taking it a step further, one characteristic. We must see the dignity in others and ourselves; brokenness and wickedness cannot completely shatter the imago Dei, the image of God stamped on each human being by our Creator.

Seeing people this way is a challenging thing for most of us, I think – perhaps it’s harder for me to think of myself that way, and harder for someone else to think of others that way. But as people who are solidly loved and whose eternity is guaranteed, we are free to pursue this way of seeing. “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal” – no brokenness either. Our job is to bring that healing into the future.

This is not something I am proposing we adopt as some sort of legal policy; instead, I think it is supposed to be the defining characteristic of the way we as individual Christians as well as the church interact with other humans. If other folks think it sounds good too, that’s great, but the call is specifically on us. If we really are just beggars telling other beggars where we found bread and where they can too, this kind of mercy should be dripping off of us.

What Is Even Happening Here?

What Is Even Happening Here?

Warning: This post is one of them “awareness raising” posts. It’s about “women’s issues.” Endometriosis, PCOS, periods, ovulation kits, sonograms, all that stuff. It’s not gonna be that gross, but there will be a fair amount of gross. So if you’re easily queasy on account of good ole Aunt Flo, you might want to pass on this one. 

You want to know something crazy? Last Sunday was the seventh Sunday in a row I’ve made it to church. I’m pretty sure that hasn’t happened since I hit puberty.

So you would think that means I’m doing well, right? But unfortunately, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

The trend of late has been fewer days in debilitating pain, always a good development. (My normal the past few years has been about 8 days down, and recently I’ve gone from 11 bad days down to 3! This month has been worse though.) But my cycles are all over the place – the last three have been 37 days, 44 days, and 26 days. I’m on Day 24 of my current cycle, but I’ve been in horrible pain for several days and spotted from Days 17-21. This premenstrual spotting thing is new, as of last month. As in, it’s never happened before.

I’m not ovulating, and according to the vaginal sonogram I had done on CD* 14, my body isn’t even really trying that hard.

This is so freaking confusing and frustrating. I used to be able to reasonably predict my bad days. I used to be able to prepare. The apple cart may have had some sketchy looking apples in it, but at least it was upright. Now the dang thing has flipped over and I don’t know how to do life like this. I barely sorta knew what I was doing before; now I’m all at sea again.

The next step involves something I didn’t know existed: meds to force my body to do what it’s supposed to do. We’ll force a period, force ovulation, and find out whether, once my body is doing what it should be doing, life isn’t less painful.

But – and here’s the really fun part – it looks like we may not have much time to work this out. The parent organization of the hospital where my doctors work is in negotiations with my insurance company, and if an agreement is not reached by May 1, I’m gonna be back at Go without collecting $200 when it comes to Houston doctors.

“Normal is just a setting on the dryer” indeed.


*that’s Cycle Day, for you normal people