whether or not Your lips move

You speak to me

life fermatas August 20, 2013

fer·ma·ta noun \fer-ˈmä-tə\: a prolongation at the discretion of the performer of a musical note, chord, or rest beyond its given time value; also: the sign denoting such a prolongation —called also hold

In the musical world, fermatas designate to hold the note or rest longer than usual. The definition above says that it is at the performer’s discretion, which is often true. But in a chorus the length the fermata is held is up to the director. The chorus singers watch the director for that moment when he or she releases them from holding the note or rest and signals that it is time to move on.

Life is full of fermatas, isn’t it?

There are times when we are watching God… just holding on… waiting for Him to signal that it is time to move on. What do we do during those prolongations?

We keep singing the last thing we knew to sing. It can be tempting to move on to the next part of the music when it feels right or when we just get too tired of holding the same note. But if we do that, we will miss out on the beauty of experiencing the music the way it was meant to be sung. If we take things into our own hands instead of being faithful in the most recent thing to which we were called, we could miss out on experiencing the fullness of what God had planned.

We keep our eyes on the Director. Contrary to popular opinion, sometimes God does give us more than we can handle. There are many reasons for this but I believe the primary reason is to reveal to us that He is an endless supply of strength from which we can draw. So when you think you’re out of breath from holding that note, know that He is there offering for you to breathe in deep from His Spirit. (Cool fact: in the New Testament, the Greek word for spirit and breath is the same.)

We trust that whatever comes next will be worth the wait. Sometimes in choruses we sight-read, meaning we perform without having previously rehearsed or sometimes without having even seen the music beforehand. We watch the director even more closely in those times. The same is true during life fermatas–even though we don’t always know what the next part looks or sounds like, we can trust God that it will be magnificent and what is best for us.

So… hang on. Keep breathing. Keep leaning on Him. And know that whatever is coming, one way or another it is going to end up beautiful.

 

what to do when you’re 30, married, and not a mom February 19, 2011

First of all, let me start off by saying I LOVE my friends who are moms. They are amazing. Nearly all of my closest friends are moms. I admire them and I am glad there are special groups, Bible studies, events, and blogs for them. Most of them probably feel lonely and stressed at times, and I totally understand that. They have a LOT on their plates. So, none of what this post is about is meant to be hurtful to any mommies out there. Some may struggle enough as it is with feeling inadequate (even though they are totally amazing parents).

Like I just said, there is a lot out there for moms. Especially for Christian moms. But at a certain point, especially in Christian circles, you start to get weird looks if you don’t have kids. You’re the odd one out, kind of like it was when you were single and all your girlfriends were getting married. If you’re lucky you might know of some books about infertility that someone told you about. But other than that, being an “older” young married woman in the church (and in the south no less) can be downright depressing.

The Mommy Clubbers. I know the women who do this probably don’t mean to, but some have a major Mommy Club mentality. These are those girls who ask you if you’re pregnant and tease you every time you have a stomach ache (or sneeze). They are the ones who totally ignore you unless they need a baby sitter. They are the ones who never talk to you anymore because they spend their time only with other mommies. They are the ones you thought were good friends, until they got pregnant and began to talk, blog, and tweet about nothing else but their pregnancies and children. These are the Mommy Clubbers.

The Condescenders. Then you have the older women who ask if there is something wrong with you since you don’t have kids yet. They seem to think you exist for little else and that your life must be dreadfully empty without the pitter patter of little feet running through your house. They tell you that if you would just “stop trying” you’d get pregnant, just like so-and-so that they know. Again, I’m fairly certain these ladies mean well. But they are the Condescenders.

The Concerned. Then there are the people you work with and for. They range in their feelings. Some hope you never get pregnant or adopt because you do such great work and they’re afraid you will quit. Some think you are working on your career because you are just killing time before the kids start coming. They can also be Condescenders, but for the most part they are just the Concerned.

The Torturers. And my, oh my. We haven’t even talked about the family. One individual family member can fit into all three categories, as well as the special category really only a family member or in-law can occupy: the Torturers. They meddle. They press. They pester. They hint. They offer advice on what worked for them or so-and-so to get pregnant. They are desperate for grandchildren/nieces/nephews. And of course they too mean well. But they are the Torturers.

The True Friends. And of course there are those amazing diamonds in the rough who invite you into their lives as parents. They answer your sometimes way too personal questions about pregnancy, labor, the adoption process, or all the special challenges and rewards that come with being a parent. They see parenting as a lifelong learning process and admit it when they don’t know all the answers. They continue to invest in your friendship regardless of your mom-status. They allow you to speak into their lives and enjoy having you around them and their kids. These are the True Friends.

What I find is that for many of us in this older age bracket, we live very fulfilled, happy lives. We have loving relationships. We have careers. We have LIFE, even if we haven’t technically brought life into the world. We may yearn for children, and others of us may not. The point is, while we may spend much of the time feeling put down and left out, we’ve got to learn to live with the Mommy Clubbers, the Condescenders, the Concerned, and the Torturers. We can choose to cut ourselves completely off from them, but I don’t think that is the answer.

So instead I just have a bunch of questions. 🙂

What if you don’t want to have kids?

What if you just want to wait to have kids?

How do you interact in a loving, Christlike manner with the above groups of people?

What are some loving responses to the questions and annoying put-down remarks?

What do you do when you’re the “last one” without kids?

What about dealing with fertility issues?

What if you CAN have your own kids but you’d rather adopt?

Does your husband feel any pressure? How does he deal with it, and how do you deal with it together as a couple?

Do you have True Friend moms in your life? How can we be an encouragement to them?

I guess more than anything I’m just hoping I’m not the only one who feels all this. Some days are better than others. Some days I don’t think twice about any of it. Other days it is all I can think about. So, is it just me?

 

Dealing with Loneliness May 28, 2010

This is a repost from my other blog, Keep Him or Dump Him?

On this blog we talk a lot about being the kind of women we know we can be, and not settling for anything less than the best in our relationships.

If you’ve been on that journey for even a short amount of time, you’ve probably come to realize something. It’s a lonely way of life.

It can get lonely when you feel like surely you must be crazy for holding out for the “right” guy. You might have even been called “too picky” and told you need to lower your standards. Nobody’s perfect they tell you. And you know this, but you also know that you are worthy of the deepest love and respect possible in a relationship with a guy. And so you continue to hold on to hope as best you can.

It can get lonely when you see another girl partying and hooking up with few consequences, while you continue to wait. She seems to have so much fun. But you know that even if her body isn’t showing the effects of it, her mind and emotions are taking a beating that she may not be aware of—or that she just isn’t equipped to acknowledge. Somewhere along the way she was tricked into thinking that this is the way it is done, this is who she is, and this is how it is supposed to be. It can be very tempting to want to try her way of doing things. It can also be very tempting to set yourself up on a high horse above her. Instead of judging her or joining her, you decide to love her and be her friend.

It can get lonely when you’re the last one of all your friends to be in a serious relationship. You find yourself surrounded by couples and feel like the third wheel. You may even begin to scrutinize yourself and think there is something wrong with you. You feel like you have to choose between bitterness of soul and just accepting reality. You fight the temptation to just go out and find any guy willing to fill the void in your life. But you realize that when you draw your strength from God, you can think a little more clearly and try to keep your eyes on what’s really important.

It can get lonely when you are being pursued by men that you know are totally wrong for you. You get tired of always saying no. You might begin thinking that you should just go ahead and take what you can get. You might start thinking that God is holding out on you and this is what you have to choose from, so why not just go for it. But you are reminded that God has good, exciting plans for your life and choose to focus on that instead—even if it is a daily battle to do so.

I speak from experience on all of this. “But Ashley, you’re a happily married woman now, and therefore I am going to stop listening to you.” (I remember totally tuning out married women’s opinions at one time in my life, too.) Yes, but I have a very good “emotional memory” and remember very, very well the way it felt to be alone.

I didn’t always handle my loneliness very well. Often I was very immature about it. I’d avoid friends who were in happy, healthy relationships because it just put a spotlight on what I didn’t have. I would totally ignore the advice of happily married women because my jealousy painted them as being totally out of touch with the real world and what it was like to be single. I manipulated guys for their attention and affection to fill the void in my heart, but didn’t understand that this was what I was doing.

Finally I found a decent way to deal with loneliness. I guess that after a while I just got tired of being miserable. I started taking a good look at myself to evaluate who I really was. It was painful and not fun. And—you guessed it—it was still lonely! But I was at least learning to be a little more content with it. I had a lot of alone time with God because I didn’t really have much of anyone else. I ended up reading the Bible a lot, journaling a lot, praying a lot. And after a few months of it, I realized that I was becoming a different person. And I kind of liked her.

I need to point out that just because a woman is married, it doesn’t mean she is never lonely. Loneliness has more to do with your soul than your relationship status. It comes and goes, often staying longer than we’d like. But sometimes a little loneliness is OK. When we are dealing with it in appropriate, healthy ways, it can be a tool that helps chisel us more into reflecting the image of God.

What are some ways you have dealt with loneliness?

 

in the meantime, not alone January 12, 2010

I just had to share this with you!!! 

I just finished listening to one of my favorite Bible teachers. She pointed out something that really spoke to my heart. Check out the following verse:

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you … Blessed are all who wait for Him.” (Isaiah 30:18)

The words “longs” and “wait” are both translated from the same Hebrew word. 

Think of something you are waiting for… something you keep praying about, something you keep asking Him for… You’re longing to see this thing happen. 

God is, too. 

He knows what He has up His sleeve. He knows the plan inside and out. He knows all the exciting twists and turns. He knows just how this thing is going to play out. It hasn’t escaped His notice. He’s working it out. He’s making all the preparations. Every time you trust Him it makes Him even more excited for the coming moment–the moment when all will be revealed, all will come together, all will make sense, all will be just as it is supposed to be.

God is longing and waiting for just the right time. He’s waiting right alongside you. You’re not alone in this “meantime.” 

 

Peripeteia January 5, 2010

Filed under: relationship with God,stuff I've learned,waiting — Ash @ 11:12 pm

I really love listening to people’s stories. It’s so fun to see God’s hand in all the little twists and turns. It seems like it’s the small things that, in hindsight, were the “peripeteia” of people’s lives. Giving bunny ears to someone. A tweet asking where to eat for dinner. A phone call, an email… things that were part of an ordinary day–maybe even part of an ordinary, lousy day. And yet these were the very things that God used to guide him or her along His path.

I wonder if perhaps this is the very reason for our going through difficult times… so that later we will be amazed and in awe of the one small thing that turned everything around. So that we would see later that it was entirely God’s doing and nothing that we orchestrated ourselves; we may have cooperated along the way but ultimately it wasn’t anything we could have cooked up on our own. At least not without totally ruining the whole thing.

One moment can change everything.

 

the beauty of the tension of balance November 10, 2009

Well… I didn’t post last week. Sorry everyone.

The past week and a half, I have learned that life is often about living in between two completely opposing emotions, and that this is okay.

I have an intense desire to be a mother. It’s funny, because I used to swear I would never have kids. But as I’ve gotten older, I look back and realize that I have always had a mother’s heart. I didn’t always know how to handle “mothering” emotions in positive ways and often confused them for something else, but now I know that God has put within me His nurturing Spirit.

I’m learning to strike a healthy balance when it comes to unmet desires in my life. In the past I would either take things into my own hands and completely screw everything up, or would shut down my wants and needs so I couldn’t be disappointed. Now I am learning that desire is something God puts within us, especially desire for relationship. The mess comes in when we try to fulfill our desires apart from His direction, or try to protect ourselves from pain by convincing ourselves it’s better to shut down the desire.

Now I see that I can actively have an aching need to be a mother, but can also be content while waiting for it to happen in God’s timing. It’s perfectly fine for me to openly weep when I have a negative pregnancy test. It’s expected that I will feel a painful longing when I hear that another friend is pregnant or adopting. But I can also know that God has things for me to enjoy, important lessons for me to learn, exciting things for me to do in the here and now that I would not be able to experience under any other circumstances. He has a purpose for me and if I will wait on Him, everything will be better than I can imagine.

It’s interesting how much of life is paradoxical. I think this is the beauty of living in the in-between times of life… the beauty of the tension of balance.

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us. (Psalm 123:2, NASB)

You have caused her heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of her lips. (Psalm 21:2)

“But tension is to be loved, when it is like a passing note to a beautiful, beautiful chord.” (Sixpence None the Richer)

 

Memory markers October 29, 2009

This week I was reminded of the importance of remembering.

One of my favorite hymns is “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” My favorite line is “Here I raise mine Ebenezer; Hither by Thy help I’m come; And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home: Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God; He, to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood.”

I’ve heard that some churches have rewritten this line because the word “Ebenezer” just makes everyone think of Scrooge. Well, this week in community group, I led us in investigating this word, its meaning, and the implications for us.

Ebenezer means “stone of help.” In 1 Samuel 7, after the Israelites had defeated the Philistines, Samuel set up a rock and named it Ebenezer.

Now, to us this would probably be a bit of a strange sight. But not for them; setting up a bunch of rocks was extremely meaningful. Later when their children or others would ask, “Hey…why is there this big pile of rocks here?” or “Why does this rock have a name?” it would be a perfect opportunity to tell them a story of God’s intervention and deliverance. Over and over in Scripture, God tells His people to REMEMBER. Throughout the Bible there are certain stories that are repeated (particularly the exodus) so that future generations would REMEMBER.

Last night we talked about this story and shared our own stories of God’s intervention. Every person has at least one. And the more you view the world as full of miracles, the more you tend to notice them.

One of my favorite things to do in the world is to listen to others tell stories of how God has “interrupted their day” as our pastor, Gary, would say. I remember my grandfather telling us the story of how he felt an angel holding his arm back from whacking off all his fingers with a butcher knife while he was trying to cut off a piece of chocolate from a huge brick of it. Last night we shared stories of how details worked out to bring us all to living in Nashville. I can recall countless miracles that have happened to those I know, from “big” stuff like being freed from addiction or walking away from a deadly wreck, down to “small” stuff like a narrow miss or being at the right place at the right time.

I think it’s important to make “memory markers” of some sort that can help us remember these events. Because there are going to be times when even though we are being obedient and loving God with all we’ve got, we will be so low and discouraged that we wonder if God forgot us or if we heard Him right in the first place. There are going to be times when we just don’t understand why a certain situation is going the way it is, or why a certain loved one is being the way they are. We’re going to feel lost and alone and like maybe God is mad at us.

These are the times we’ve got to remember. These are the times we need to recall the TRUE nature of God—that He loves us deeply and will never let us go through anything that can’t be worked out for our own good in the end. That He has rescued us before and He will do it again. I don’t know about you, but I desperately need that hope!

What do you use as these “reminders?” A ring or bracelet? A tattoo? A poster on the wall? A big rock in your front yard? Whatever would serve as a good reminder to you of how God has intervened in your life in the past, I recommend having one on hand at all times. He’s brought you this far and won’t ever leave you. Don’t give yourself a chance to forget His love and power that is at work within you.