Wednesday, August 29, 2012

a post about boys (and girls, too)

Ever since October of 2011, I have been praying steadily for God to provide for me. And I'm not talking about providing me with food, a home or material things like that. I'm talking about a guy. 

Every day, I ask God to prepare me to be a great girlfriend, and eventually a great wife. Every single day, I ask God to prepare "my boy" to be a great boyfriend, and eventually a great husband. I pray that he will have his eyes focused on Christ and that he'll be the most God-honoring, loving person I've ever met. 

Since October of 2011, not one day has gone by that I haven't wondered who that guy is. Or if that guy even exists. What do I mean by that? Let me explain.

I think that deep down, we are all looking for "the perfect guy." Someone who knows exactly how to compliment us, someone who loves Jesus with his whole heart, someone who will be a leader, someone who will notice when we buy a new shirt, someone who will let us be emotional and just hold us and never say anything, someone who will never get angry, someone with a brilliant sense of humor, who will make us laugh and forget all our problems, and you know what? I've never met anyone like that. 

My dad and my older brothers are my heroes.. But they get angry. They argue. They have yelled. In other words, they aren't perfect. 

So I have come to this conclusion:

There is not one single guy out there that is perfect. (Sorry to burst your bubble like that.)

I've met several guys over the past few years/months. I've talked to a lot of them. I've laughed at their jokes, and let them hold the door for me. I've let them be gentleman and I've let them just be boys. But it's just as simple as this: they aren't perfect and they never will be.

A lot of the guys I know are immature and don't have that great of a relationship with Jesus. Some of them are mature and some are arrogant. Some of them fake the relationship with Christ just to get a girl. That is sickening.

But here's a question: do we ever do that? When we meet a guy who apparently really loves Christ and works hard on his relationship with Christ, do we start carrying around our Bible with us everywhere and quoting scripture and start reading books by John Piper or J.I. Packer or David Platt and be all holy? Am I guilty of that? 

I like to call it the "church suit" or the "company suit" or the "oh-there's-a-really-cute-godly-guy suit". It's this "suit" that we put on when we're around certain people. It's not the real us. It's not the real you or me. 

I've found out that you can get anything you want by being fake. But think about it this way: do you want to be in a relationship with a guy who cusses like a sailor when he's not in church? Or someone who lies constantly? Someone who really doesn't love Jesus as much as you thought he did? Of course we don't want that!

So...why do we fake it sometimes? Why do we pretend to be all spiritual? Or why do we act a certain way, or do a certain things or talk differently? 

If we want guys to be real with us, then girls, let's be real with them. 

No there is no perfect guy out there, but there is someone who is just right for you. He will be the most amazing guy you've ever met, and he'll be perfect for you. He won't be perfect when you meet him and he won't be perfect when you're 60 years old, but he'll be perfect for you!  

And that, my friend, is exciting. 
Let's not be worried about having to be different "in order to get a guy" and let's not worry about finding the perfect guy. God will provide! He always has, He always will. Trust Him. He'll never let you down. I promise. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Desires of My Heart

"Do not fret because of evildoers, 
 Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
 For they will wither quickly like the grass
 And fade like the green herb.
 Trust in the Lord and do good;
 Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
 Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will 
 give you the desires of your heart.
 Commit your way to the Lord,
 Trust also in Him, and He will do it. 
 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
 And your judgment as the noonday.

 Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
 Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
 Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
 Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
 Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
 For evildoers will be cut off,
 But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.
 Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
 And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. 
 But the humble will inherit the land
 And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity."
        Psalm 37:1-11

Lately I've been thinking a lot about this passage. 

I find myself thinking it about sometimes when I want things, maybe things that I think I need, and I really don't, or things that I do need. It really doesn't matter what the situation is: these verses always apply. 

The most common situation in which I think of these verses is this: when I think about getting married. 

As I've said many times: the desire of my heart is to get married and have kids. I want that more than just about anything else in this world. And it is not wrong for me to want that, and those are good things. There is no higher calling than that of a wife and mother. 

But is wanting those things replacing my want for Jesus? Do I constantly want to know Him more, and do I find myself thinking about Him more each day and just wondering what He's really like?? Because I catch myself doing that when I'm thinking about the guy I'm going to marry. (Whoever he might be!) I wonder what he's like, and just wish I knew him right now, and want to know everything there is to know about him.

What is the true desire of my heart?

I just finished reading Radical by David Platt. It was a truly amazing book. I see myself reading it again in the near future. But one of the things he talks about is how Jesus said that whoever would follow Him must hate their father and their mother.

Now Jesus wasn't saying for us to literally hate our family, but He was saying that we should love Him so much that, in comparison to our relationship with Him, it would be like we hated our family. 

Do I love Jesus that much? 

To be honest and up-front with y'all, I have a hard time with this. I have a hard time with delighting myself in the Lord. I have a hard time with giving my entire life to Him and just saying, "okay God, You know what's best, go for it!" 

It's not easy. 

But it seems that when I'm thinking about what I want (like a guy, or a new iPod, or a car, or whatever) I always remember this verse: Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

The verse doesn't say that if you delight yourself in the Lord, you'll get a new iPod, or a boyfriend, or a car, fill-in-the-blank. It says He will give you the desires of your heart. 

When you are delighting yourself in the Lord, your desire is for Him. 

I don't know about you, but I want to be delighting myself in the Lord; and I want Him to give me the desire of my heart: more of Him!

Today is the first day of my 12th grade year. I could want a lot of things for this year. I could wish for an easy schedule, or for me not to flunk math, or for history to be as exciting as I'm hoping it will be. But this year I have one hope:

 that by this time next year, I will know Jesus so much better. That I will love Him so much that people will be able to see it. That the desire of my heart will be for Him. 

"May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ."  2 Thessalonians 3:5

Friday, August 24, 2012

1 Thessalonian 5:12-24

"But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.

 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Young Ones

For as long as I can remember I have had younger siblings. I don't really remember Jamie or Jessie coming into the world, but I remember Lauren and the rest. I remember the nights when Mom and Dad would tell us that Mom was pregnant, and I remember the doctor's appointments in Columbia, and I remember finding out whether the baby was a boy or a girl.

Babies are fun. I love babies. I cannot wait to have my own. But somewhere along the line, my siblings grew up and became kids and not just cute little babies. And somehow they started getting on my nerves.

I get along with most of my siblings, for the most part. As a matter of fact, I get along with the majority of my siblings. But I have two siblings who I feel like I constantly knock heads with. These two siblings are the ones who are most like me. Makes sense. I get easily irritated when I'm around them and will almost always say something that I regret later.

Up until I was 15, my relationship with one of my brothers (who is younger than me) was in a pretty bad state. We despised each other to say the very least. We argued constantly, yelled, fussed and drove our poor mother to distraction. We were always at each others throats. It was bad. Really bad.

The reason behind me being so mean to my brother was this: I was jealous. Thomas and my brother were really close, and they would go on boy adventures and play the GameCube and I felt left out. It made it even worse that I thought Thomas was my best friend. I didn't wan tot share him with anyone, especially not my kid brother.

If you know anything at all about me, you know that I'm a super proud person. My reasoning with my brother was, "Why be nice to him when he isn't nice to me?" I really just didn't want to admit that I was wrong. I really hated thinking about our relationship. Mom would say to us, "Are y'all still going to be treating each other this way when you're adults. Cause that's going to be a terrible family reunion if y'all are still gonna be at each other's throats." I really didn't care. Or at least I thought I didn't.

When I was 15 years old, I was really good friends with a guy at church. He was the same age as my brother. I viewed the guy at church as mature, funny and enjoyed his company. I viewed my brother as immature, annoying and tried to avoid him.

One day I was sitting on my bed, thinking about the guy friend of mine and wondering why my brother wasn’t like him. As I sat there, I thought: "Do I encourage my brother like I do my friend? Do I say good things about my brother like I do my friend?" The answer was always no. I knew that I never had anything good to say about my brother, especially to his face. I felt God saying, "Maybe if you treated your brother like you do your friend, things would be different."

I argued. "This is not my fault. He's just immature. He wouldn't change no matter how nice I am to him!" God just kept nudging me. I tried my best to ignore God. It doesn't work.

That Sunday night, during Bible time, I said that I wanted to say something. (Cue the water works…) In between crying and wiping my eyes and sniffing, I told my brother that I was sorry. I told him why I had been so mean to him, because I was jealous. I told him that I wanted us to be friends. I told him that I really did love him.

My brother was really forgiving. We both started being nicer to each other. We had to watch what we said, and sometimes we just had to walk away from each other to avoid saying something we would later regret.

We still haven't obtained a perfect "brother-sister" relationship. We still fight. We still argue. We still get on each other's nerves. Some days we yell at each other. Some days we wish we didn't live in the same house.

I wrote a post for Mom's blog about how she made a decision to not yell. Mom used to yell a lot. Now she hardly ever yells and if she does, she apologizes for it. My relationship with my brother is like that. We still fight, but we both apologize. We both know that we love each other.

Having a good relationship with your younger siblings is not easy. It's hard. There are days when I just want to give up and just say, "Oh well, I tried." You can't quit though. Quitting with only make the situation worse. Don't be a quitter. A relationship with your sibling will last you a lifetime. You will have a built-in best friend, who will never give up on you no matter what stupid things you do. And trust me, it's worth it to let go of your pride and simply apologize.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Here's What You Missed

(Note to the reader: the pictures in this post are all old. None of them were actually taken this week. I just love them and decided to use them today Because #1-I love pictures. #2-you love seeing pictures)  :)

I apologize for being AWOL (absent without leave) for the past few days. I usually post on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays…but some crazy stuff happened here this week, so I was absent from the world of blogging. But hey, I only missed one day, so I'm doing good, right??

Here's a quick review of my week up until Thursday when all the crazy stuff happened.

Monday: I watched my siblings while my younger brother went to the orthodontist. He gets his braces off in February! And he's super excited!! Although it'll be strange seeing him without braces. 

Oh yeah and this past Thursday, the 9th, one of my best friends got her braces off. She is soooo happy!
stole this pic off her sister's blog
That there's. Madeline. Or Bubble as I call her. That picture doesn't portray the real her. She doesn't always look like a model. :)

There. Now that's more like it. (I'm wearing the grey, she's wearing yellow, if you wondered. The girl you hear laughing in the background is my friend, Abby, and the girl who talks at the end is Victoria, Bubble's sister. She was our camera lady! :)

I don’t know exactly what we were trying to accomplish in that video. Just making complete fools of ourselves basically. For the record that was years ago. We were both 15 years old. So yeah, two years ago. :) Oh well, you'll do anything after you've been downtown all day, and worn several strapless dresses and had frozen coffee and laughed way too much.(Hopefully she won't kill me for posting that!)

Tuesday: Stayed home most of the day. Cleaned my room. Practiced piano and worked on Wednesday's blog post.

Wednesday: I loved pretty much everything about Wednesday! It was a fun day. I got up fairly early, like 6:45. I ate breakfast, worked out (oooohhh the pain!) took a quick shower, did my hair and makeup (doing my hair means I glanced in the mirror and ran my hand through it and said, "oh yeah it's fine." Haha)

 I went into town with Mom and John-boy, my younger brother, who had a speech therapy appointment. He officially graduated and can now say his r's better than anyone else in our house!! 

After that we got lunch from Chick-fil-a and ate at my grandma's office. We then headed to Becca's parents house for a bridesmaid dress fitting. It's a beauty but a little too big on the top, so Mrs. Norman is gonna fix it up good! I was really so amazed at her work, and the dress is everything I hoped it would be and so much more!! Plus it has pockets!! 
Why does this baby have to be so stinkin' cute?? Zeke, you're awesome!! :)

After the dress fitting, I got to hang out all afternoon with one of my favorite people. Ms. Kathy and I have known each other since I was a kid, and her husband, Mr. Bryan taught my Sunday school class when I was in 4th, 5th and 5th grade. No, you read that right. I went through 5th grade twice. Anyways, over the past several months, Ms. Kathy and I have grown really close and have shared many long talks, lots of emails and a love for Jesus. So that was awesome. She has a sweet, funny personality and I love being with her. (we have yet to get a picture of us together. We need to fix that soon!) 

 After coffee and laughing and talking to three of her four sons, we headed to church. We're both involved in orchestra (along with two of her four sons!) and it worked out that we were all playing on the same night.
Orchestra was fun as always! I'm loving being back in and playing and just being so happy to sit at a keyboard and do something I love. Everyone has been so friendly and welcoming and I have loved every single minute of it! 

So basically that's my life up until Thursday morning. But once Thursday came...boy! Well, that's a whole 'nother story for another blog post. It wasn't anything too huge, just a brother in the hospital and an appendix being removed and all that good stuff. But now he's much better and will be coming home today. So I'll write his whole story sometime soon. 

Oh and today is my Mimi's birthday! She's probably the best maternal grandmother anyone ever had. She gives me money, candy and lets me play her awesome piano. Happy Birthday, Mimi! Hope you have many more! :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Older Siblings: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Once upon a time there was this girl named Jennifer, and one day Jennifer was riding her bike in the front yard, enjoying the weather and wondering what the family would be having for supper.

Her two older brothers were throwing the football back and forth in the side yard, and Jennifer rode by them several times, making sure not to get in the way. She knew if she got in the way, she would probably get pegged with the football, and trust me, she knew that footballs could cause serious damage.

So she just rode along, minding her own business. She is still not sure how it happened, but at one point while riding past her brothers, the football suddenly came flying towards her bicycle, slammed into the front tire and sent her flying over the handlebars.

 Well, Jennifer was a little stunned at first, but then being the normal girl that she was, she burst into angry tears, and ran inside to tell her mother. The brother was called inside, and Jennifer, after wiping away her tears, went back to her bike riding.

 The other brother was still outside, but without a football buddy. Said brother was sitting on the ground fooling around with a nice sized stick. When Jennifer passed, this brother took aim, threw the stick and it lodged in between the spokes of her front tire.

 Once again, Jennifer was brought to a quick halt and ended up on the ground, again. Again, there were tears involved and again, brother was called inside. But once the brothers were inside, Jennifer realized that it wasn't any fun being outside all alone, so she went inside as well.

The above is a true story.

 I can't remember which brother (Michael or Thomas) threw the football and which one threw the stick, but both were thrown and I flew in the air both times. I did cry and they were both punished.

 It's funny. I am 17 years old now, and my older brothers are 24 and 21, and yet, I remember our childhood so clearly. I remember playing in the woods with Thomas and killing wolves and Indians, and I remember Michael asking me one time: "Jennifer, do you know what the Civil War was really all about?" (Yes, that's the kinds of questions you get asked when you're the sister of a history freak!)

 I remember when Michael graduated from high school and I remember when Thomas first brought his girlfriend to our house; I remember the night that Michael called to tell us that he knew who he was going to marry, and I remember the day Thomas got engaged.

So many memories…some good, some bad and some downright ugly. Yes, we've had our lighter moments. We had good times when we were younger and our times are even more fun now. I miss them every single day, because we are super close (thank goodness for cell phones and email, right?) and our relationship is not normal, from what I hear.

 So I wanted to write a post about having a good relationship with our older siblings; because yes, it takes hard work. Blood, sweat and tears are involved. I can vouch for that. :) 

  We weren't always as close as we are now. As a matter of fact, Michael and I weren't close at all until Michael was about 17, 18 years old.  So I was 10, 11 years old before we actually started liking each other. Today, Michael is my man. (Well, technically, he's Heather's…but you know what I mean…) I can tell him anything and count on getting expert advice.

Seriously y'all, when y'all are telling your girlfriends about the guys you are interested in, I'm telling Michael. It sounds crazy, but it's true. I have cried more tears in front of Michael than in front of any other person I know besides my parents. He has seen me at my absolute worst and can always make me feel better.

 But like I said, we weren't always tight like we are now. I didn't always look at him as worshippingly (spell correct says that worshippingly isn't a word. for another option they gave me horsewhipping. hahaha!) as I am in the above picture. In fact we used to hate each other…okay, not hate each other, but we didn't get along…at all.

You see, Michael and I are a lot alike. Basically because he is the firstborn, and I have a lot of firstborn qualities because I’m the first girl and also because there was four years in between Thomas and I. I love it that I'm like Michael in some ways, but it didn't help our relationship when we were younger. As a matter of fact, I don't remember really spending time with Michael or just talking to him until he started driving. Which was around 17 years old.

So yeah, basically his whole growing life, we didn't really get along. It wasn't Michael's fault either. I was stubborn and annoying and I'm sure I made his life pretty miserable. To be totally honest, I'm not the one who got our relationship headed in the right direction either. It was all Michael. He just decided one day that he was going to be nice to me. (Best day of my life! :) I am so very glad that he made that decision, because honestly I don't know what my life would be like without Michael being involved. Plus, I'd be out of a job. :) (If you didn't know, I'm Michael's personal assistant, which basically means I get paid now when he tells me what to do. Pretty good job!)

All that to say…if you have an older sibling that you just don't get along with, make the decision to just be nice to them. Serve them. Make them laugh. Tell them randomly that you love them. Give them a big glass of iced sweet tea. (trust me, it works every time!) You can't wait around forever for your older sibling to decide to be nice, because they might not ever make that decision. So you pick up the reigns. It's totally worth it, I promise.

Now about Thomas, well we've always been friends.

 Well, almost always.

We were super close as kids. I mean, we did everything together.

But then, Thomas grew up. And around the time he turned 14 (I don’t know what happens to guys when they turn 14) he discovered that I wasn't cool enough for him. Talk about a let-down. The funny thing is: just when Michael had decided to be nice to me, Thomas totally dumped me.

Now I'm not downing Thomas here. He just went through this time period where I was just annoying. The good thing was that he started dating this really awesome girl who started praying for him to be nicer to me. (I love Becca for this!) Her prayers worked! I remember one night when I told Thomas good night and said "I love you," like I always did. Typical Thomas response was just a cold goodnight and no I love you, too. I had grown accustomed to it.

 But this specific night when I said it, Thomas looked at me and said, "Goodnight, I love you, too."

I just about fell over.

 And then I was like, 'well, heck, if he said he loves me, he must want to hug me, too.' So I gave him a big hug, and he didn't resist. Yes, it was the most amazing night ever.

 From then on, Thomas and I were really close again. That's not to say that we haven't had our ugly moments, trust me, we've had 'em, plenty of them. But our relationship is stronger because of them. We share a love of music, and rarely does Thomas come home that he doesn’t have a new song to show me. Our relationship is super important to me, and he is my absolute best friend.

Now that I've made you all jealous about my amazing older brothers…let me tell you that you have the opportunity to build a relationship like that with your older siblings.

 It takes work. It's not easy. I shed a lot of tears over those years, and there were lots of arguments. I am so thankful that my brothers worked hard on maintaining a relationship with me. They didn't just forget about me when they grew up. Michael calls or emails me frequently and we talk about deep stuff.

Before Thomas moved out, I used to go in his room at night and we would just sit and listen to music and hang out. Now that he has moved out, we talk when he comes home and we still listen to music, lots of it.

 Trust me, you will not have a good relationship with your older sibling simply by not arguing with them. You can have arguments all day long and have a better relationship with your sibling than the person who never argues.

The big deal is communication. Find out what your sibling's love language is, and then work on showing them love in that way. Hang out with them. Involve them in your life. Call them and just ask how they're doing. If you can't have an hour long conversation with your sibling without awkward pauses, you're missing out. And you can fix that by just making one simple decision: I'm going to be nice to my older brother/sister; and I'm going to work hard to build a good relationship with him/her. It'll be the best decision you ever make!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Questions I Ask Myself When I Meet a Guy

People have asked me what I am looking for in the guy I marry.

 I usually respond with this:

"someone who works as hard as my daddy, someone who is as on fire for Jesus as Michael, and someone who can make me laugh as hard as Thomas can." 

I guess lately God's been giving me lessons on what to look for in guys, and how to view them. I think that now I am not just looking for a walking combination of Dad, Michael and Thomas, but a whole lot more than that. 

So anyways, I'm going to use this post to bullet point some of the things I'm looking for in guys that I meet, and the questions I ask myself when I do meet a guy that interests me.

Is he saved?

 Not just, is he going to Heaven, either. But more, does he love God with his whole heart, and is God the most important person in his life?

 Is he willing to move around the world for the gospel to be shared, and will he push me towards God? A lot of guys out there are "Christians" and they come to church on Sunday and they carry the Bible and they say all the right things, but their heart isn't in the right place. I have met so many of those guys, and only a few "real guys" as I call them.

Does he work hard? Honestly, some guys are just lazy! 

I really don't understand that, because in all my growing up years, my dad worked hard. I mean, get up early, work all day, come home and crash. My brothers grew up and did the exact same thing. I have grown up around hard-working men. Real men who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty and who don't mind being sweaty. It's not just my brothers and dad, it's my grandpas, my uncles and my guy cousins. Where I live, you work hard. That's what I want in my man, someone who will provide for me and our kids because he works hard and gets dirty and sweaty.

Does he have a good solid relationship with his parents and siblings? 

Does he love them and love to spend time with them? 

This is huge for me, because family is a big deal. I love my family more than anything else in this world, and I want him to love them, too, and I want him to have a great relationship with my siblings and parents; but he can't have a great relationship with my family unless he has one with his family. I have met very few guys over my 17 years that really respect and honor their parents and have fantastic relationships with their siblings. It's like a breath of fresh air when I am standing somewhere talking to a guy friend and all his siblings are crowded around him, but it doesn't phase him a bit and he includes them in our conversation. 
That's the kind of guy I want to be in a relationship with.

What are his interests? What makes him smile? Does he enjoy any of the same things I do? How does he spend his free time? How does he spend his money? Does he invest in worthwhile things? All good questions to ask if you meet a guy and you are interested in him!

Is he compassionate? Does he have a tender, understanding heart? I want to marry a man who will be caring and understanding and who will just be there for me when I need him. I think the main reason for this is because I have always had that with Michael and Thomas. They have always been there, no matter what was going on, no matter how busy they were, they were always just a phone call away. And they always had a hug ready to give me when I needed it.

Will he make me laugh? 

Will he take me on crazy adventures?

 I ask myself questions like this all the time. My best friend right now (Thomas) is my best friend because he knows me so well, and can make me laugh like no one else can. He doesn't even have to say anything anymore, all he has to do is make a face and I roll. 

Another question is: will he be as much my best friend as Thomas? Will he make my day just by smiling at me?

Just a few random things that I think about when I meet a guy.