Can I be honest?

This post may or may not be very long, include multiple, seemingly unrelated topics, and appear somewhat disjointed. You have been forewarned.

I heard a song the other day one Air1. It was incredible, it set a fire in my mind, a chain reaction that lead to the most electrifying, thrilling thoughts about Heaven. Allow me to share with you the gist of the thoughts it inspired within my lil’ head.

We often think of Heaven for what will be there when we arrive. The untouched, pure nature, the animals, the people we miss, and of course, more than any of that, finally being with our Creator. And that is AWESOME. But there’s a part of Heaven I never even considered in depth until hearing this song.

We’ll be there. The real us. Not the sin hampered, war torn version of us that is present currently, but the part of us that is true and perfect. Everything truly good about us, the things that were knit into our being by God, those little glimmers of what we are truly meant to be when fully realized in Jesus will finally be set completely free of temptation, sin, and the weight of the burdens of this world.

Yes, Jesus has already freed us from sin, but how many of us have had those many, many times when we tried to rely on our own strength to fight temptation and failed miserably? *raises hand*  We are free from sin, but sin still has and influence on our lives, whether through our own actions or indirectly through the actions of others. Take a few moments to just sit and imagine being totally yourself, minus every sinful thought you’ve ever had, minus every memory of every failure, every unkind thought that ever crossed your mind. The freedom of no longer having to guard your heart, your eyes, your ears, and your mind from the evils of this world. Total freedom. Totality of redemption. The fullness of perfection. The weightlessness of your soul, no longer oppressed by a hostile world, or poisoned by the unavoidable inundation of crude humor, language and images.

I don’t know about you, but that is extremely exciting to me.

With that in mind, please enjoy the song. 🙂

If, at this point you’ve wondered about the title and warning at the beginning of this post, “Be honest about what?”, here it is.

I haven’t actually sat down and spent time in my Bible in …. I’m not even sure. A while.

I haven’t spent true, quality time praying and talking/listening to God in almost as long. Not counting the three or four times I’ve cried myself to sleep while talking to God recently, or the times I’ve spent maybe 20 minutes in prayer in my car before work.

Related to the above, I’ve cried myself to sleep a lot lately. Actually, I’ve just plan cried a lot.

I have been struggling so hard to be positive, to put effort into my friendships, to even reply to text messages.

Now, I consider myself to be somewhat of a smart cookie. (Is that a phrase? Or is it tough cookie? Because cookies should be soft, tough cookies are gross…) I know that if I solved the first problem (spending time in God’s Word), the other ones would pretty much take care of themselves. I know this. Truly. How can I experience the peace of God when I don’t spend time seeking His face? Answer, I can’t. I must seek His presence if I want to be lifted from this depressive state I’m currently in. But will you, whomever you may be, please pray for me? Even if it’s just a quick little prayer while you’re reading this post, it would be appreciated.

I miss my mom. I miss home cooked food. I miss having time to make my own home cooked food. I miss having someone to talk about “girl stuff” with. That’s what I’m crying over. I miss the life I used to have. Before the loss. I feel crushed under the weight of that loss sometimes.

We finally had her stone engraved and placed. It’s beautiful, but, they only put one “T” in Matthew. Not that big of a deal, you say? No one will notice? That’s true. But I cried about it for almost 30 minutes when I noticed it.

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I wanted it to be perfect. Does she care if there’s a T missing from Matthew? Nooo. But still, it bothered me that much. Less so now, but still… It’s there.

I feel like a total train wreck on the inside lately, and I miss being a child. Being able to just break down and cry whenever and wherever you are when you feel overwhelmed, and it be socially acceptable. Adults aren’t allowed to break down. Adults have to be… “adult” about it. Take it in stride. Keep on keeping on. But I feel like I just need a week to break down, fall apart completely, and start from scratch, much like I did when I was off work for two weeks after my mom died.

But I can’t do that. I have to keep going. Keep smiling. It may be a dark night, but there is a dawn approaching. I can’t see it yet, but through the promises of Christ, I know it’s coming. I have hope.

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

~Isaiah 42:3 (Matthew 12:20 as well.)

I may be a bruised weed, but He will mend me and set me straight and tall again.

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One Good Conversation

All it takes is one good conversation.

Today at work, I found myself in a rarely seen or found place. My comfort zone! Alone in a room with an adult, married, Christian man whilst we both enjoyed our lunch hour. This coworker and I had not previously had an actual conversation, but I have overheard him talk about his wife quite lovingly, and we’re friends on Facebook, which was, combined, enough to make me feel quite comfortable.

Not sure how we got there, but eventually we got to talking about what we had studied in scripture, and he shared what he had been learning about how we are to handle grief and death, which lead to me talking about my mom.

I worked exceptionally hard to keep from crying, and managed, but just barely, as I talked about her and how she passed. But what really struck me what his reaction. He too was working hard not to cry, and I could see the tears welling in his eyes as he just sat and listened. Not many people take time to sit and listen these days. And when they do, it stands out to me. But even more than listen, he was feeling my words as I spoke them. That is a rare and often burdensome gift to bare. I know, because I share it, and it’s one of the reasons I literally can’t get very close with more than a few people at once. I just can’t handle it. I feel what they feel, and I can only feel so much before I burst.

Back to this coworker of mine. Our lunch hour ended, and we both gathered up our emotions and laughed a bit, and went our separate ways to the opposite sides of the building where we work. But the whole thing shed light on a struggle I’ve had just recently as I try to integrate myself into this new church group I’m in.

I’m not actually as bad at communicating as I keep making myself out to be. See, at this last group event I went to, I was the only girl on the speed boat (be jealous. Of the speed boat, not of me being out numbered by attractive guys, because that’s actually just overwhelming and exhausting) and though conversation is not readily required when going 35-60 mph over water dragging people on skis, wake boards or tubes, there are still plenty of moments when it’s really a good idea to say….something…. anything…. like, seriously. And I DID. Several times!! And I did, indeed, speak loud enough to be heard and somewhat acknowledged for having said something. But a conversation is a two way street. I can say as much as I want, but if no one picks up the topic and runs with it, it’s just gunna lay there on the ground and die a slow, awkward death. And my introverted self only has energy for a few well place conversation starters before it’s really up to them to come up with a new one. Don’t get me wrong, in a group setting, I can kill a conversation without even trying! It’s like a super power! I’m speaking of one-on-one conversations here, where I prefer to live.

Now, I did talk to people, and have good conversations. With a girl who later joined the boat, and her husband. I’m noticing that married men seem to be much more capable of conversation… Single guys however… at least, the ones in this group… man.

It only takes one good conversation, just one time when I feel like they are actually interested in talking and listening, and I’ll talk to them pretty easily from that point on. Not totally absent of awkward, but at least halfway capable of forming cohesive sentences. If someone would just take that 10, 15, maybe 20 minutes to get past that initial awkward, I promise, I have something to offer. It may be walled away, but behind the gate is a garden. And the greatest treasure is planted at the very center of that garden– my heart. I don’t mean this just from a romantic standpoint, my heart is who I am, and you don’t really get to see it until you take the time to try. Not saying it’s easy to get to, but it’s totally worth the trouble, and the path through the garden is actually quite nice.

I talked about this to my Dad recently, and he said to me, “The right guy will see that, and he will take the time to get to know you whether you’re awkward or not, he’ll see what’s hidden behind it and want to seek it out.” Man, I sure hope that’s true. Cause right now, it sure doesn’t feel that way.

~TQG

Please also enjoy this: “Introverts and the inner flame“, a very good little article that relates to mine quite well.

The Science Behind the Trials of Introversion

I recently found this website called Introvert, Dear, and they posted this blog post today that helped me understand my brain so much. At risk of “stealing” their audience, please don’t just read the quoted portion here, but also click on the link and visit their site, even for a little while. Thanks!!

A co-worker appears out of the blue and asks me a question. Her eyes and tone of voice say she wants an answer now. Her request is easy, but my mind is momentarily paralyzed.

I start sentences then stop them. I hesitate. I say words that are close to what I mean, but not exactly. I backtrack.

My co-worker — an extrovert who always seems to express herself effortlessly — looks at me like, come on, spit it out. I think, if only my brain would cooperate.

Why introverts struggle with word retrieval

When we’re speaking out loud, we introverts may have trouble with word retrieval, meaning, we struggle to find just the right words we want. We may come off sounding like we don’t know what we’re talking about, even though we do. In social situations, we may have trouble keeping up with fast-talking extroverts.

Our brains use many different areas for speaking and writing, writes Dr. Marti Olsen Laney in her book, The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World, and when talking out loud, information needs to flow between the separate regions. One reason why introverts struggle with speaking is that we process information deeply, which means information moves slowly between areas of our brain.

Another reason has to do with introverts relying more on long-term memory than working memory. Information stored in long-term memory is mostly outside of our conscious awareness. Like the name sounds, long-term memory contains information that is retained for long periods of time — in theory, information is saved indefinitely. Some of this information is fairly easy to access, while other memories are more difficult to recall. Contrast this with working memory (sometimes referred to as short-term or active memory), which is limited and retains information for mere seconds.

Again, like the name sounds, it takes longer to reach into long-term memory and pull out just the right word or piece of information. The right key or association is needed, which is something that reminds us of what we’re trying to recall. This, of course, slows down us introverts when we’re speaking.

If we’re anxious — which is how I felt when my intimidating co-worker approached me — it may be even more difficult to locate and articulate the right words.

Why it’s easier to express ourselves in writing

Introverts “often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation,” writes Susan Cain in her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

Introverts may prefer text messages and emails to phone calls. Many of us keep journals or compose lyrics, poems, or stories, and some of us make careers out of writing.

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The reason for this preference once again has to do with how our brains are wired: written words use different pathways in the brain, which seem to flow fluently for many introverts, writes Laney.

What to do when your mind goes blank

Memory is complex, and it uses many different areas of the brain. Our brains store memories in several locations and create links between them, called associations.

To yank something out of long-term memory, we need to locate an association. The good thing is, most pieces of information in long-term memory were stored with several associations or keys for unlocking them.

“If we find just one key, we can retrieve the whole memory,” writes Laney.

When you struggle to remember a word, a piece of information, or even what you did over the weekend (because that question often comes up in small talk!), try these things:

Be still and relax.
Give yourself permission to be quiet for a few moments. Don’t let the other person rush you.
Buy yourself time to process things by saying something like, “Let me think about that,” or “Hmm, let me see…” Or, give a nonverbal signal that shows you’re thinking, like looking away and furrowing your brow slightly.
Let your mind wander for a moment and go where it wants. One thought may lead to another, and one of those thoughts may hold the “key” to unlocking the words you want from your long-term memory.
If all else fails, and words escape you, don’t feel embarrassed — your brain is doing what comes naturally to it, and that is to pause and reflect. If you’re being quiet, you’re in good company with other deep-thinking introverts: Stephen Hawking once said, “Quiet people have the loudest minds.”

Then, try breezing over any awkwardness in the conversation by using humor to make light of your tongue-tied state, or say you’re a little distracted right now, and you’ll get back to the other person later — by sending an email or text.

When an introvert is quiet, don’t assume he is depressed, snobbish or socially deficient. Laurie Helgoe, Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength
Image credit: Deviant Art (Ezgi Polat)

VISIT THE SOURCE POST HERE!

Disclaimer: I have not read ALL their posts, nor have I read ANY of the books they recommend. Please don’t take this post as an endorsement of the books or of the content on their site, but merely an appreciation of this particular post. Thanks!!

Learning to be Lovely

Just a quick note, God is doing SO MUCH in my life through my church and the Young Professionals group, working on my heart attitudes. Especially on my opinion of myself. He’s using others to help me appreciate who He created me to be. Showing me what it looks like to let your inner beauty show, and how to like what I see in the mirror. I’m learning to love myself for the first time in so long I can’t even remember. And you can’t properly love others until you learn to truly love yourself, seeing yourself as God sees you: perfect and breathtakingly beautiful. Loving the journey He’s taking me on.

Attractions

As I think back over the recent months, I am struck by the superficial nature of our attractions today. In many ways some adults reflect the same level of understanding about relationships as the kids I worked with. The girls are impressed by the boy’s athletic abilities or looks or car, the guys by her physical appearance, her hair or body and all of them seem to value a sarcastic or perverse “wit” or rebellious attitude. As I was thinking back on this Proverbs 31:29-31 came to mind;

“Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

This led to other passages;

Proverbs 11:16 A kind hearted woman gains honor, a ruthless man only wealth

Proverbs 31:31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gates

What struck me was how off kilter we are when evaluating others as men and women, friends and potential spouses and how these verses need to be applied from both the male and female perspectives.

Too often we see the surface appearance, the facade. What we should be looking at is the person on the inside. The beauty will fade, the body will change, gravity will take its toll and age will add lines of character where there was once smooth skin. What will be the same, indeed what will grow is who we are on the inside.

Ladies and gentlemen will you still be happy when you are left with an aging shell of the person you once “loved” and find yourself the focus of the sarcasm you found so amusing when it was aimed at others.

Guys, that girl you think is so hot, is she beautiful on the inside? That guy who is so cool, will his heart be warm and tender to you when your beauty fades and his six pack turns into a keg? If they were struck by debilitating disease or scarred by fire or accident would you still love them? I like this bit of advice given to a young man though I don’t know its origin;

“Marry the most spiritually beautiful woman you can convince to have you”

Good advice but I think it needs a second half, it should continue – Then spend the rest of your life running after Christ so you are able to lead and care for her as Christ loves and cares for us.

Guys spend your time examining the young ladies around you for their inner qualities, kindness, patience, gentleness, tenderness of spirit, a Christ centered heart. One day when you see a woman who possesses these you will be amazed. You’ll blink and when your eyes open you’ll see her for the true beauty that she is, a pearl of great price for which you would give all that you have.

Ladies look to the inside, for a heart that seeks to follow Jesus, a forgiving spirit, a servant’s heart. That strength never fades, it grows.

Fall in love with the inner beauty, the kind and noble heart that follows after God and you will be blessed for life, not just satisfied for a season.

~My Dad 🙂

He wrote this as a post on his Facebook, and it hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention. I see plenty of “hot” guys, and I’m frequently asked why I don’t “go after” them. I’ve even been told “Y’know, if you really wanted a boyfriend it wouldn’t be that hard for you to get one, you’re just too picky.” Well you know what? A guy that is spiritually “hot” will last a lifetime. Being on fire for Christ truly is the sexiest quality a person can have. I’m willing to wait for that.

About a week ago, I brought an apple to work with me. I love apples, and this one was a HUGE, organic, fuji apple. One of my favorites. I was sitting in a park near my work when I took my first bite. I nearly threw up. Though it was bright and firm and gorgeous on the outside, the core had rotted, and the flesh was bitter and blackened. Any thoughts of the sweetness the exterior had implied were totally gone, and all I wanted to do was find something to get the horrible taste out of my mouth.

Why would I seek to marry and become one flesh with someone who’s rotten on the inside? Of the few men that I’ve actually been interested in, rarely was I struck with their looks when I first met them, but their gentleness, kindness,  strength, and desire for God. Their looks grew more and more appealing the longer I knew them, the deeper my knowledge of their faith, until I could see nothing but who they are in their features. And it was beautiful.

And the guys that have caught my eye with their looks, most have shown to be hollow on the inside. Consumed with themselves and their wants….

Not to say all attractive people are selfish, but that looks should be a secondary qualification when evaluating if they’re someone you want to pursue a relationship with. I have indeed met a good number of extremely attractive men who were also awesome, Godly men. But sadly for my sake they’ve so far all been married. ^_^

Anyway… that’s my little mini rant of the evening. It’s 12am and I’m dead tired and very sore, so I’ll be off now. TTFN! 🙂

~TQG

Rough Days, Sleepless Nights

Last night I was kept awake until 5am with nightmares bordering on hallucinations, due to a mild fever. Eventually I managed to fall asleep and slept until 2pm, waking with an insane hunger and being short of oxygen because of the congestion in my lungs.

So, entire holiday weekend taken up by sickness. Yayyyy. Literally nothing I had planned/needed to accomplish has been done. Nothing. Very annoyed by that, but, can’t do anything about it.

Spending several days at home unable to do anything but watch TV and eat things may have been good for me physically, I’m sure I needed the break. But mentally and emotionally hasn’t been good at all. I honestly hadn’t realized how much the business of a full time job, running errands and keeping the house up has kept my mind away from both the continuing grief of being without a mom and the desire for relationship. About four people I know got engaged in the last few months, several people I went to youth groups with or worked with (who are younger than me) are married and about to have their first child. One of my close friends just celebrated her one year anniversary and my cousin’s was today.

Being without my mom has actually made it worse in a way. She was one of the people who never got tired of encouraging me that “my prince will come”, constantly reminding me that I am beautiful and I am desirable. You never realize how valuable that gentle reminder is until it’s gone. God has been so faithful to remind me of these things both through scripture and the kindness of random people I meet. He has not left me through this. If anything, He’s helped me draw closer to Him and learn to long for His word even more. But nothing takes the place of a mother’s love. God designed it that way, and I know He cries with me. He’s holding my heart together when I don’t have the strength to.

Seeing my Dad without his bride is one of the most painful things I’ve experienced. It is not good for man to be alone. (Gen. 2:18) As I’ve written about before, few is the number of people “created for singleness”, God designed us for that intimate relationship. It teaches us to be more selfless, to put their needs above ours, but it also provides companionship in a world where few are trustworthy. “Till death do us part” is a vow that guarantees that even on your worst day, you’ll still have at least one companion by your side. Until death, that is. Marriage is such a beautiful union of two imperfect people learning to love one another with Christlike love. And that makes the loss of a spouse all the more painful. I’ve seen my Dad hurt before, but seeing him lonely is so much worse. He tries to hide it, to smile and be silly and just keep on going. But I can see it in his eyes.

I have no doubt that God has a plan for all of this. I know He’s got a man for me, and I’m certain He won’t leave my Dad lonely forever. He’s already used our testimony in the lives of those around us, people are amazed by the joy we continue to have despite the loss. God has blessed us with a peace that passes understanding and He comforts us in our mourning. We still have our really hard days, but we are making it.

Today just happens to be one of those really hard days…

~TQG

Breakdown

clear my thoughts

 

Today I’ve reached an all time low high. SIX. Six times today (so far!) that I’ve cried about… Something. I cried when the baby beaver on the show I was watching found it’s mommy beaver. I cried when the Vulcan/Human couple on Star Trek finally expressed their feelings for each other and officially became a couple. (Don’t judge me…) I cried while reading old IM conversations I’ve saved and pictures I have on my laptop. I cried before leaving for church because my emotional threshold is like that of a teaspoon right now, and I cried when I was asked if I had any prayer requests while at bible study after church. (Which was in a room full of guys, I loathe crying in front of people, but especially guys.) And lastly, I cried while driving to the store to get veggies because the song on the radio was one that hit me in a very tender spot. Tender as in sore and raw not tender in the positive sense.

At any given time today my hands are shaking slightly. Barely noticeable, but it’s there. One of my good friends after being told all this said “You are not an emotional wreck, you’ve just got too much going on right now. That’s it.” And she’s right. More than the sudden realization of just how bad off my mom is, there’s stress at work as the holiday rush kicks up, and a few other stress areas I prefer not to mention. Any avenues I usually go to for a bit of solace are plagued with stress right now. And the energy it takes to be the happy, bubbly customer service person I have to be at work totally drains the life out of me more than usual.

Desperately in need of hugs. All the time.

 

Anyway… Basically just venting here. Sorry. Carry on with your lives.

 

~TQG

Thoughts from Van Gogh

“One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way.”

-Vincent Van Gogh

This quote, from my favorite painter, embodies exactly how I feel about my singleness. But I know one day God will bring along a man who sees more than merely a wisp of smoke.

Unnerving

I don’t know if I am unique in this, but I have a nerve that runs down my left arm and into the palm of my hand that makes the word “unnerving” very literal.

Whenever I’m nervous, shy, anxious, angry or emotional, I literally get an ache that runs down my arm and throbs at the base of my left thumb. This morning as I was eating breakfast, my folks where away, I was doing way too much thinking and found myself sitting there, massaging my hand, trying to ease that pesky nerve. Today it was so strong I felt it in my whole arm, all the way through my shoulder and into my chest. It’s a phenomenon I’ve had for as long as I can remember.

Once, I was eating lunch in a room by myself during a break at a homeschool group thing, and two guys came in, one of whom was a jerk, but I had a crush on him (I was stupid back then..), and the other who was a just a jerk. They flipped off the lights and shut the door, and I heard one of them say, “I’ll give you $20 bucks if you go kiss her.” There was a moment of silence, I stood up slowly and said “I will break your face.” They turned the light back on and left me alone. The nerve in my arm throbbed intensely for about an hour after that.

I’m not quite that bold these days, I lost that part of me somewhere along the way. I was fairly quick tempered then, now I tend to just retreat. But that nerve still aches!

I don’t particularly understand it. But I’ve always found it interesting. Sometimes if I have a dream that causes me stress, it will actually wake me up.

I went to the grocery store a week or so ago, and was flirted with by the cashier and bagger. At this store, their baggers are supposed to help you to your car if you have a lot of bulky groceries. I came to the register with a gallon of milk, some yogurt, and a loaf of bread on one arm, while I was texting with the other. I really needed no help, but the bagger very enthusiastically said “I’d be happy to carry these out for you!” And to be quite honest, I was enjoying the attention, so I said “Sure, I’d like that.” and we walked out together as he quizzed me on every aspect of working at a home improvement store and lamented the fact that I was working all weekend, and told me how excited he was to have the weekend off. I didn’t realize until he put the stuff in my trunk and walked away that I had been massaging my arm the whole time. I had thought I was pretty relaxed, but only on the surface, and only because I knew that this conversation had a near and obvious end, so I didn’t have to keep it up for long.

Because, you see, generally if I talk to guys in person for long, it’s because I know their girlfriend or wife. Last night the husband of a girl I know gave me a hug and was like “Man, you look good!” and I wasn’t even the slightest bit phased (even though, I’ll be honest, he’s really hot), because he’s married, and usually he asks me where I got certain bits of my outfit, because he really loves shopping for his wife. (He’s got insane fashion sense for a guy… It’s kinda weird how good he is at it.) I really need to fix this though, because if I only talk to married or already taken guys, I’m never going to find one for myself. Ahh, the complexities of being me.

Praise the Lord that He isn’t easily dissuaded, or He would have given up on me by now.

Until next time!

~TQG