Friday, November 20, 2009

For the Boys

I've been a little disturbed by a strange trend I've been noticing lately... Other than the ear plug things that stretch the holes in your lobes out to the size of a bracelet (and apparently they smell... Eew!). I have received a few calls and notes from some of my male friends regarding this and they has made me decide to Blog about it!
Edward Cullen, Gilbert Blyth, Bingley, Jack Dawson, Johnny Castle, Noah Calhoun and Derrick Sheppard... To name a few of the men that women seem to swoon over. (Guys, if you don't know who they are you should google them to figure it out, that might give you something to learn from)... But why is it women love these men? It's not because they are all rich, extraordinary or even handsome.. I know the guys, if they know about the men above, are thinking something along the lines of "yeh, that's a dream, I'm a real man. Try finding that in the real world, I can't measure up to those expectations." But I think you can and I'm going to explain how ANY GUY can be even better than the names above (ya'll grab a note book and pencil, you're about to get some schooling!)
HAVE SOME CONFIDENCE! There is nothing more hot (in my opinion) then when a man knows he's a good person and believes that enough to just walk up and say "hi" talk a bit and ask for your number. No cheesy pick-up lines required, just confidence.. You can fake it by the way, and don't just be confident with us, practice on other people... Seriously, sounds silly but it will work start with making eye contact (not for too long or you'll get creepy ha!) with a stranger or smiling at people when you walk by them, even a hello... Then practice saying something to someone around you that you haven't met, if you're in line somewhere figure out something to say maybe about the staff there or even ask for the time if there's not a huge watch on your wrist... Eventually you will get more comfortable and comfort is confidence.. So learn to be comfortable with who you are and believe you have something to offer people, that you're a good person (and a good catch) and know that people in general will appreciate a kind word and want to know someone like you, then open the door for that to happen. WARNING: Don't get confused, confidence is not a synonym for cocky!! It's cute when a guy is cocky before a football game; not so much when that bleeds into every aspect of his conversations... And we can quickly tell the difference.
Reminder: If you are interested in getting to know a girl more than you do at this moment, that's enough to ask her to meet you somewhere for coffee or to help you pick out a gift for a party to get time to talk to her.. There are a lot of things you could come up with that wouldn't necessarily be considered as a date... Then after one meet if you still think you want to know more figure out something else to do, eventually you will know if you want to date her and it's not a marriage proposal so it's OK to ask her to hang out before you know you're in love!
PERSONAL HYGIENE... I know there are probably a couple of chuckles going on right now, but really, we all know this is an important subject. Wash an comb your hair, make sure your face has been washed before you leave your house, teeth brushed and no clues of last-nights supper remaining... You don't have to be super GQ and have an amazing knowledge of style, just clean. If you're looking for a tip on style, look at Clinton from "what not to wear" he is dressed well enough for a date anywhere but don't be too concerned, most girls don't mind a ripped pair of jeans and hoodie... In fact, some of us kind of like it from time to time. For a date, a colored shirt (the untucked, casual kind) and crisp pair of jeans with shoes not sneakers would do smashingly!
HAVE A JOB!! This one is pretty self explanatory but a good woman doesn't want to support her man.. If I am going to work every day you better be, and if you're not, you're not ready for a good woman anyway... Laziness has never been on the list of things any of my friends looks for in a guy.
MIND YOUR MANNERS! This doesn't mean you have to know which of the 3 forks you're given at a fancy restaurant to use for your salad... It means, don't belch or expel any other bodily gas in my presence for at least the first couple of months ha. Hold the mall door for the person behind you even if it is a guy your age... Maybe even open the door for me, I know, that's old school and we are equal now blah, blah, blah, but if a woman is confident about she probably won't slap you ha! Having manners is really just being courteous to others, you know, please and thank yous along with the other lessons your parents taught you before grade one.
RESPECT OTHERS! OK, there's a lot to be said for a guy who is genuinely nice! It's not a weakness to be cool with walking away from some crazy who is being ignorant to you rather than yelling in their face for an hour wasting time we could be spending getting to know each other. I know you're supposed to be strong and manly, but have you ever heard of the strong, silent type? It's OK to just ignore idiots and not let them get to you so much that they ruin any part of an evening. Remember something for me: Girls know all couples argue treat others is how we think we will be treated, only probably a little worse. If you are respectful of other people (and don't forget about respecting yourself) we will trust you to be respectful of us... The more you respect a woman the more she will open up to you. The old adage about watching how a man treats his mom is true, and we all do watch that so work on your relationship with your mum too!
BE A MAN! No that doesn't mean lumberjack but I don't want to have to hold your hand because you're scared of the boogie man in the movie... I don't want you to know more about the perfume I am wearing and who made it than I do, just that it smells great! You can compliment me on my outfit (better yet and not as expected, my shoes) just don't know (or at least don't let me know you know) whether or not they are Prada or Gucci ha! I fish and used to sit in the garage for hours with my dad and grampy working on cars, I don't like it when I break a nail but I'm not oblivious either, I do want you to know at least more than I do about something considered to be "typical man knowledge".
BE FUN!! When you finally do get the confidence to ask a girl to go do something with you some night, make sure you don't complain the whole time... We don't mind encouraging you on a bad day or letting you vent about stupid people every once in a while but we don't want to feel like we are your therapist either... We should be coming home and finding it hard to sleep because we are still excited about the great time we had with you and be trying to slow the thoughts about how funny and nice you are not passing out half way through our favorite TV show because you've worn our brain out trying to talk you through every one of your life issues. We do care about and want you to share the things that bother you but probably not until we actually have a relationship built and even then not every day... It gets too negative and eventually that negativity is linked with a relationship with you in our brain... I don't really think there is any coming back out of that once you're in that black hole.
BE COMMITTED!! No, no... I'm not talking about to us at this point... But to something, if we see that you are committed to your friendships or some sort of sport, your family, something, it just makes you look better in our eyes when you can be serious enough about something to be there... Whether it's for people you care about or making it to all your games (even better a game you promised your little cousin, niece or nephew you would make it to), we want to see that you can make it happen if you really want to. That will most likely buy you some brownie points and time when it comes to not being so sure about the relationship with the girl... We understand things take time and we probably aren't sure about you yet either, so relax.
COMMUNICATE!! One thing girls are pretty good at is communicating, usually it's with words... We will probably never understand why you don't communicate... We know you like to hold it all in and hope the problems or concerns you have with us go away on their own, but that rarely happens... I know I just told you I don't want to be your therapist and that's true but if you really want to show a woman you care talk to her about any issues you have with regards to her and your potential relationship, if you're not being a jerk about it, we will most likely want to work on it and try to make it better for both of us. We know you don't like to talk for hours and that's OK, just talk to us about something important to you, that will make us feel important to you as well. It's uncomfortable to talk to anyone about something you're not satisfied with when it is regarding that person but if you actually look at the relationships in your life that are successful (even the ones with your buddies) it's because somehow you do let them know when something is up and it gets fixed.
THE ROMANCE... This is the scary part for the male readers, but it shouldn't be... I'm about to tell you how to make it easy! Most every lady I know likes the romance from the movies but we aren't necessarily expecting it.. We know you don't have millions of dollars to lavish us with expensive jewelry, trips or extravagant date nights.. We understand that not all of you can write a song to serenade us with, a poem for every day of the week to confess your undying devotion or act a fool in front of the whole City at the next concert jumping onto the stage to scream a proposal... I would even venture to say that sort of thing may embarrass most of us.. So what can you do without losing your wallet or manly edge? Just show us you're thinking about us through a text or note left on our door.. Take us to your place for a home cooked meal (spaghetti is pretty cheap you know) and movie night for a date.. Make a card and a mixed CD of songs you know we like for our birthday... I once heard a Doctor say "study each other" when he was telling a couple how to improve every aspect of their relationship and it got me thinking; how true is it that if a guy would just care enough to learn (and continue learning about you) and pay attention to the things you like you would just love him! Seriously, buy a girl a pack of the brand of gum she chews next time you bought some for yourself, it's little and stupid but we realize the little things mean you're paying attention and we like that, those little things will create a huge payoff for you... Just because you're already dating or married doesn't mean you have learned everything there is to know about someone or you have a free pass to stop paying attention.
So take this into consideration and let me know what happens, eh!? (I meant to be really Canadian sounding there)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kindred Spirits

I've always heard stories about people meeting and talking on planes... My pastor could pretty much be famous for opening up communication with people for an entire flight. I, on the other hand, have never really spoken to someone for more than five minutes let alone an entire flight, never made a friend on a flight that I would keep in touch with (or even make the offer) to build some sort of kinship through writing or telephone conversations.

Today on board a Delta Airlines flight from Nashville, TN to Atlanta, GA I met a woman names Linda... She only sat beside me because the lady who actually was supposed to sit there requested to switch seats so she could be by her husband. The move created small talk when I offered to move to the middle seat to allow Linda to remain in the "roomier" isle seat she would have if she had not moved. Linda told me she was travelling to New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island; in fact, she would be travelling through the city I live in and meeting a friend she has known for years. Strangely enough when she said I may know her I actually did (as opposed to every other time I have been asked if I know so and so from British Columbia which is about a six or seven day drive from my province ha!)...

After a few minutes of talking I was quite amazed at all the commonalities that ran through our lives. We spoke about everything from the Faith we share, prayer partnership, family history, our puppies, weather, her beautiful love story of her relationship with her husband, Michael, and my lack of a love story. She told me she used to help lead the singles ministry in her church (which happens to be a position my mother holds in my church) and how she is great with praying for relationships and she will be keeping me in mind until she hears from me telling her I've found Mr. Right. It was very much a funny, sweet, southern offer and it means a great deal to a girl who does not believe admitting to a desire for a soul-mate to share her live with makes her weak, incompetent or without goals and aspirations.

As an aside, where did we go wrong with regards to what makes us weak as opposed to vulnerable? Doesn't being vulnerable enough to be honest about the fact we would like someone to hold our hand and smile when we are afraid actually show a form of courage and strength sorely missing these days? And isn't honesty in general lacking from our society lately? If so, isn't it most likely because people don't feel safe enough among friends to be honest about their needs, dreams, faults, requests and even successes? Rhetorical questions, but if you are left contemplating, the correct answers are yes, yes, yes and YES!

Linda is a sweet, beautiful, Godly woman who warmed my heart with a friendly smile and encouraging word. (Encouragement, by the way, is a gift we have, for the most part, forgotten how to give and lost sight of its importance. Sometimes we don't realize that believing in others and letting them know we do could change their world around.) She gave me her address and phone number in exchange for mine in hopes of continuing to for a friendship and says she expects to hear from me and eventually receive a wedding invitation; I hope to hear from her and I absolutely will send her that wedding invitation, hopefully in the not so distant future (I would like to be able to make it up the isle without a walker and oxygen tank! ha! It's really not quite that scary yet but for dramatics sake!)

The flight seating arrangements being changed by request was definitely a God thing (or fate or destiny, whatever you want to insert there) Linda and I both felt that way. I spent an entire weekend with good friends, having great times and attending awesome church services at Youth Congress 2009, but thought I was missing out on the "God Moment" I always look for...Apparently he saved the best for last, I was encouraged, my direction was confirmed, someone lifted me up and believed in me and I was assured God has me in mind... It didn't take a preacher, a good song, church sanctuary or service it was just a new face happy to share herself and life experiences with a kid like me.

So ladies, ("all my single ladies... put your hands up... lalalalala... Yes I am plane dancing, thank you Beyonce ha!) be encouraged with me, God knows what you desire, and if one of those things happens to be a good husband, it's OK, don't let anyone make you feel weak for that desire. Remember "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you", "delight thyself in the Lord always, and he shall direct thy paths", "and he shall give you the desires of thine heart" (which doesn't mean he will give you what you want, but it does mean he will help you want the right things for you), "The Lord saw that it was not good for man to be alone" (another aside: Adam was nowhere near being alone when the bible records this, he had all the animals to name and God himself to walk with in the cool of the day... But God still saw that Adam felt alone without human relationship... And he didn't make him just a friend he made him a woman.. Niiice :oP) And "I desire that you should have life and that more abundantly" if you're not feeling very abundant at the moment (we all have those days... weeks, months or years haha) remember there is still more pages to your story and it's coming. "For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you." I can keep going with these scriptures or even direct biblical stories (Example: Rebecka in the right place at the right time , out of her ordinary routine.. With a bucket of water on her head... That's attractive.. But it's where she needed to be even down to the detail to meet her husband.) but I think your heart strings have already been tugged and maybe after this little note you can smile and look forward to your own love story.

I'm not entirely sure Linda will ever get to read this, but just in case, I want her to know "you have touched the heart of a little blond girl from New Brunswick. You have been an encouragement when she needed it and a God sent reminder of Love. You have a beautiful spirit and I look forward to all the reports of the good things in both of our lives! Thank you for recognizing our "God moment" and letting me in your life as a friend! Something I never told you on the plane is from the time I read and watched "Anne of Green Gables (which if the book Linda was carrying with her) I have been looking for someone with a 'Kindred Spirit' who just seems to know the true me and I believe I have found that in you! I love you already!"


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I miss you!

I heard something that surprised me the other day... I was at my church kneeling in a seat talking to God... Not saying anything spectacular, just asking to be with Him and sit just for a while... I didn't really have anything to say to Him, no petition to bring for His approval, no great requests for Him to fulfil. Tears were streaming down my face and there was a sense of urgency in that moment, what could almost be described as desperation gripped me as I poured out my love for Him. I kept thinking "all I have to pour out to you is love; you poured out your own blood for me!" Earlier in the week I was listening to a radio show and it was explained that prayer is when we talk to God; whereas, meditation is when we listen for God to talk to us. I made it known I was listening for his words although he need not speak but just allow me to feel he was with me in the same way you can be in a room with a true friend and say nothing but just feel good because they are there. Then the surprise came... He spoke... "I miss you." My response followed something like "OK, Hold on a minute... WHAT!!?? You miss me? Have You forgotten who You are? Lord of all creation, Holy, Strong, All Mighty, First and Last, Never failing, Never changing God... And You expect me to believe that You miss me? Plus, we have spoken in passing lately, any spare moment I am aware of I take to whisper a couple of words your way... How can you miss someone you are already in contact with? How can You miss me? I've missed Your presence, Your touch, Your closeness; but You have everything, what could you feel you're missing?" Then, I just pressed my face into the floor and cried for a while until I think I figured it out (at least a bit). I was in contact with Him, I did speak to Him quickly before sleep found me at night but like it would be in any relationship, that is not quite enough to sustain and surely not to nurture anything. He wants and deserves at least as much from me I would give to any other kind of relationship. I wouldn't live in a house with someone and only speak to them in passing, forget they are sitting next to me and completely ignore them most of the time... So how can I say I love God and treat Him like He's not worth the time it takes to build any relationship? Though I desire to take my hair down and wash his feet like the woman in the Bible (John 11:2 & Luke 7:38), it's not really a physical option. I do desire to have been the last person at the cross and the first to the empty grave on Resurrection day but I can't go back in time. I dream of pressing my face to His chest and while hearing the heartbeat of God say "I love you" like John did (John 13:23) but, again, cannot. "So how do I build a relationship with someone who in many ways is not tangible, who I cannot touch, physically hear or see? ? What is it God would desire from me? What can I give to God? " Then, the obvious answer: I am made in His image (Genesis 6:9), because I take my joy from knowing Him, He has given me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4)... Taking from that, when I need to feel His arms of comfort and safety maybe He needs to feel my hand of trust; when I long to see His miracles on display perhaps He desires to see my commitment to our relationship through worship and lifestyle; when I desire to be close enough to hear His heartbeat maybe He is waiting for me to get close enough to someone who doesn't know Him or someone who needs help so I can share the what the heartbeat I hear... My way of touching Him in the quiet moments begins first with touching the hearts of people all around me whether by words, a helping hand, a friendship or a coffee on a cold day (if you've seen "Pay it Forward" apply the principles in that movie here.) He does miss me, not because He needs relationship with me but because he desires it. Not to prove His love, I think the cross was enough for that. Not because I don't speak to Him on a daily basis (I do). Through my lack luster attempts to touch the heart of my neighbors, co-workers, school friends and family members who all need love ("what the world needs now is love, sweet love, it's the only thing that there's just too little of") I haven't really been showing him much of my commitment to them and that's how I show my commitment to Him. If I really want to spend time with Him in private I need to spend time with Him in reaching out to people... Sort of like you know a relationship isn't true when the guy (or girl) only treats you well in private and pretty much ignores you in public. If I do show Him my desire for His closeness through my touch of compassion on the people around me, when I wash their feet, be last to leave them in their time of need, loneliness, seeming defeat and fear, and first to congratulate their successes (even when I'm not seeing my own success and I'm a little jealous), when I care enough to listen to their heartbeat I am really doing those things for Him and He is, only then, free to expose His true self to and through me.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Remind me again of how beautiful I am...

This one was written this summer (August 4, 2009) on vacation. As I sit on board flight # 3345, traveling from Portland, ME to Washington, DC, I am mesmerized. Looking out my window I see the ocean; coastline with boats floating; beautiful, golden, sandy shores; rivers streaming through towns and cities taking the path I suppose a lightning bolt would travel and the popcorn clouds suspended in the atmosphere... It's a relaxing and fearful feeling at the same time. Every thought from amazement to at the suspension of the aircraft to "can you imagine people actually jump out of these things FOR FUN!!??" pass through my mind. But the thought I cannot escape is "God is beautiful, everything he touches ends up magnificent!" You may not see it from where you stand, but truly, when you look from eyes above no one could dare say it's not absolutely breathtaking! My thoughts wonder to the things, people and surroundings of my life I so often take for granted... Forgetting to see the beauty all around me... Forgetting to see the beauty in humanity... Forgetting to see the beauty even in myself. Remembering, now, in this moment (and committing not to forget in the future) all these sights are extensions of His beauty. Take the time to realize this beauty expressed Him, my father, my friend, everlasting comfort, all surpassing priority, the worlds one and only Alpha and Omega, Jesus of Nazareth. The flower in bloom changes daily, hourly, even momentarily... He has not yet unfolded every petal of understanding to me or every petal of my life's dreams and ambitions but, it's a process and I am just happy to be a part of it. Some days I may not feel like I've been fed enough, or I didn't get enough fresh water to drink, or possibly he needs to be reminded to let the "sun shine in to dry up all the rain" however I am reminded a stroke of his finger hollowed out the riverbeds I am looking at right now, he knows how many grains of sand it takes to make the beaches below, he takes care of the creatures in that ocean, lets the lightning bolts out to fly and unfolds the wild flowers in perfect timing; so how much more must he care for a little flower in his garden of humanity? Now that I have come to this final conclusion: everything he touches is made beautiful... He is so great that he can't help but change anything that gets a moment in his presence. I must remember his touch in my own like (and you would do well to remember the same right now). I may not have reached all (or any) of my own personal goals, ambitions or perfection, but alone, the fact I have been touched by him and have spent countless, let alone one, moments in his presence makes me beautiful. Some may not see it from where they stand, and surely not all will, but looking through eyes above it's undeniable! There have been a lot of crushed hopes, stolen dreams and misplaced visions along the path of my life. Hurts I could never have imagined would happen to me. Misuse of the heart of an innocent child. Hard realities of adult obligations. But one thing remains true, loving, unhindered, strong, trust-worthy, and faithful (even though unappreciated a lot of the time) is the one who waters, sings to and weeds out this little flower, God! He gave me "Beauty for ashes" (Isiah 61:3) and "all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17) so "I will declare the beauty of the Lord, nothing compares to the Beauty of the Lord."