Uncategorized

What I’ve Learned From “True Love Dates”

I’ve shared on my blog before how I’ve loved helping out behind-the-scenes on truelovedates.com for a few months now. In addition, I’ve been reading through the book True Loves Dates by Debra Fileta. It’s such a joy to communicate via email with her to start with, but this book is SO GOOD.

Seriously, if you’re single (or if you even KNOW a single person, AKA everyone), stop what you’re doing and start reading this book.

It’s really been eye-opening (I’m almost done with it!). The book is divided into three portions: Dating Inward (all about getting to know yourself and figuring out who you are as a human being before you decide to get involved with another human being), Dating Outward (this section covers basically everything you’ve ever wondered about relationships in general), and Dating Upward (focusing on your relationship with God and how it pertains to your relationships).

Just a few quotes from the book that have really jumped out at me:

  • “God wants you to get to know him with at least the same passion with which you desire to get to know your future mate.” (page 165)
  • “Something has gone terribly wrong when young Christians believe that their main purpose in life is to find marital love. This dangerous belief robs us of joy and true purpose.” (page 136)
  • “As we learn to love God, it’s crucial to remember that love is more than a feeling. It’s a choice.” (page 139)
  • “When your heart is focused on the eternal, the temporal world takes on new shape and meaning. Your relationship status and your desire to be married may never disappear, but they stop controlling your life.” (page 128)

And this is probably my favorite:

“You will never feel whole in the presence of your mate if you don’t feel whole standing alone.” (page 135)

I’ve chronicled on here frequently how being single for all these years has made me the person I am today. Between all God has taught me personally during this time and reading Debra’s book, I totally feel like I am much more prepared for a future relationship now than I would have been a few years or even months ago. 

So, seriously, go check it out, no matter your relationship status!

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Uncategorized

…When You’ve Never Been Asked Out

I had a wonderful opportunity recently to write a guest post for TrueLoveDates.com. I’ve been helping with behind-the-scenes work on the site for the last few months, but I was really grateful for the chance to write and have a published author look over my work.

I’ve written posts on my personal blog (this one) similar to this post, but none of them have been quite this…painful…to write. I went really raw and decided to reveal the entire world something that I’ve purposefully kept on the DL for awhile now. I wasn’t sure what the response would be or whether I would be looked at differently for writing it, but the response so far to the post has been so supportive, and a lot of people have mentioned how they have similar stories. I’ve been incredibly touched by all the comments.

My big secret? I’ve never been asked out.

But I wanted to share how good God has been to me during this time. And I’m so glad to know that God is using the post to speak to others. 

 

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Dedication, Soul-bearing

The story of Peru, a little girl named Noris, and unconditional love

I haven’t really shared this story. Until now.

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I pulled this photo out yesterday for a Throwback Thursday photo on Instagram. But the photo flooded me with so many emotions and memories I hadn’t really tapped into for a long time. And I decided it was time to share the story. The story of Noris.

In 2005, I went to the outskirts of Lima, Peru, on a missions trip with my church youth group. (When searching for the specific portion we were in, La Tablada, I stumbled upon this YouTube video. I got a big lump in my throat when I saw the cross at the 1:36 mark–we repainted that cross when we were there because it was covered with graffiti.) I had gone on a trip the year before to the Dominican Republic, which had definitely made a lasting impression on my life.

But I was unprepared for what Peru would teach me. All because of a little girl named Noris.

During the course of our week there, we helped with construction at a church, served at an orphanage, and walked door-to-door to tell people about Jesus. But we also ran a VBS every afternoon in the town square that was a few blocks away from the church.

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Kids from all around would fill the square every afternoon. It was so beautiful–we shared with them about salvation through Jesus, and they shared joy and pure love with us in return.

I loved every minute of it. But there was one little girl who made a lasting impression on me.

I don’t remember exactly how we found each other. Whether she was next to me during song time, in my group for crafts, or some other circumstance, I don’t remember. But all I remember is that she was there.

We didn’t speak the same language. The interpreters were all always busy with other conversations around the square, so I don’t think the two of us ever had a fluent conversation. I asked her, “Como te llamas?” “Noris,” she whispered back. She hugged me.

It wasn’t like any hug I had ever had before. It was a no-holds-barred, I-don’t-know-you-but-it-doesn’t-matter hug. It touched something deep inside me. She didn’t know me. She didn’t know my story, my history, my failures.

All she knew is that I was there. In that moment. And she hugged me.

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For the next few days, I spent the majority of my time in VBS with her. Letting her play with my hair. Helping her watch her tiny sister. Giggling together about things around us, not needing to speak a word to share a laugh.

On the last day we sat together, just holding each other. She was curled up in my lap. I stroked her glossy black hair, which was always messily done in two braids. When it was time to say goodbye, I cried.

She whispered, “Te amo.” Choking back more tears, I whispered it back to her. I told her in my broken Spanish that Jesus loves her, too, and she nodded and smiled. Then she grabbed her little sister’s hand and walked away.

Noris

Noris showed me what unconditional love looks like. Growing up in the church setting, I had often struggled with that concept. I had heard so many sermons and talks about it but couldn’t wrap my mind completely around it.

Jesus died for me? Me? And everyone else? Even the people I don’t like? I believed it, I had asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, but it was just something I struggled with on the daily level.

Because there’s no reason a perfect God should love someone like me. I sin. All the time. I hurt people, I lie, I worry, I say cruel things. I don’t deserve a perfect Love.

But God sent me Noris to show me what it looked like on an earthly level. To trust without boundaries. To love in purity. To not overanalyze things. To just accept His love, even if my finite mind can never truly fully comprehend it.

paintingThis painting hangs in my bedroom now. I bought it at a market in Lima at the end of our trip. It reminded me of Noris, and it still brings a smile to my face every time I see it.

Every day, I’m thankful for what she showed me. And I can only hope I show that love to others.

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Dedication

My love letter to Wisconsin

As many of you know, my heart is always, and always be, very loyal to my home state of Wisconsin. In the almost six years that I’ve been away (four for college, two for my current job), I’ve come to realize homesickness is something that will never go away. Wisconsin is too much a part of who I am for it to ever leave. It sounds so beyond corny, I know, but I truly believe part of my heart is constantly in Wisconsin and with my family.

What follows is my list of things I love about Wisconsin. My hope is that it A) allows people who haven’t visited it to understand a bit of why I love it and B) gives my fellow Wisconsinites a chance to smile and nod.

1) The green. Living in deep South Texas now, I miss vivid green vegetation. When I went home for my sister’s college graduation in May, I was completely overwhelmed when I woke up my first morning back, walked downstairs and saw this.

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Honestly, it took my breath away. I never realized how beautiful it was when I grew up there. And the air! I swear I’m not exaggerating when I saw the air is so FRESH there. Maybe it’s just because the around-the-clock heat in Texas makes it extremely muggy here, but I literally just walked around outside taking deep breaths when home. It was magical.

2) The camping. Some of my best childhood memories come from our annual family camping trips. Devil’s Lake State Park is probably my all-time favorite.

Funny story about Devil’s Lake: I don’t remember how old we were, but my sister Amanda and I had a pup tent at some point. We were SO excited about it. But the sad reality was that the pup tent was really only meant for a single Cub Scout, and not two young girls. We woke up early the next morning SOAKED because we had touched the sides of the tent when sleeping, letting all the dew and moisture in. We were cold and shivering, but didn’t wake up our parents (our mom takes mornings very seriously, something I take after her), so somehow our next best option was apparently to climb up a tree together and huddle for heat? I still don’t know how that made sense, but that’s what we did. And then we were stuck. Our dad rescued us an hour or two later (who knows) and warmed us up with a campfire. Good times.

3) The food. If there’s one thing I’m good at when it comes to being an ambassador for Wisconsin, it’s getting people to love good cheese and summer sausage as much as I do.

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Now I’m hungry. Ugh, but the food is all seriously so good. And if you’ve never been to a Culver’s before, you have truly never lived. No joke. The way Texans feel about Whataburger is the way the Midwest feels about Culver’s. But (and I know I’m getting dangerously controversial now), I say it’s better because Whataburger has burgers. Culver’s has burgers, cheese curds AND custard. Everything you could ever possibly want, right there. I don’t know why I’m torturing myself by talking about this, so moving on…

4) The festivals. I am always thankful I grew up just outside Milwaukee, because basically everything in the state happens there. The summer is the best time to be there with a festival every weekend basically, all starting with the ginormous music party that is SummerFest. From there, there’s German Fest, Irish Fest, Polish Fest, Festa Italiana, Bastille Days, etc. I loved living in an area that celebrates all the cultures there. And then it all wraps up with the Wisconsin State Fair, which is just a wonderland of all that is great about Wisconsin.

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Mmmmmmm, sweet, delicious corn.

5) The sports. Anyone who knows me knows this was coming. I adore Wisconsin sports, particularly the Packers, Badgers and Brewers. In one way or another, those teams helped make up my childhood. The first time I ever remember being completely overcome with joy was when the Packers won the 1996 Super Bowl. As a 10-year-old, I wrote in my diary that I wanted to go to college and be a Badgers cheerleader (which didn’t happen, but it’s cute). One of the most peaceful things in the world to me is a Saturday afternoon at home with Bob Uecker announcing the Brewers on the radio playing in the background.

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Our 2011 Thanksgiving photo.

Due to Paul Ryan’s recent upgrade to vice presidential candidate, I’ve noticed nearly every photo of him with his family is all of them completely decked out in Packers and Badgers gear. Let me assure you: This is completely normal. We’re proud of our teams beyond what others understand.

6) The location. When people ask what has been the biggest adjustment about moving to south Texas, my answer takes some by surprise. It’s the distance between here and a “large” city, which is either three hours away in Corpus Christi or four hours away in San Antonio, depending on your personal definition. I never realized how fortunate I was to live where I did in Wisconsin, since Milwaukee always has something happening, Madison is only an hour away, and Chicago is only an hour and a half away. It’s just different living separated from a metropolitan area.

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what I got for now. Of course, I can’t mention home and Wisconsin (I still haven’t stopped referring to Wisconsin as “home,” even after my move) without saying my family is a huge part of it. I’d be happy being anywhere they are, but them + Wisconsin = the best.

Wisconsin, I’m missing you, but thanks for always making coming home sweet.

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