Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Baking British


Confession: I have a terrible tendency to compare myself with others. Never has this worked in my favor or made me a better person...yet I seem to continue to do it.

If you ask me what I watch on TV, you will get answers that include shows that fall in a few categories: crime dramas (such as Criminal Minds, Law and Order, etc.), crime documentaries (anything on Investigate Discovery), legal and political dramas (Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder), reality shows (but only Dancing with the Stars and The Voice…because, well, Adam Levine), Saints football, and cooking shows (any and all, but especially competitions).  After reading that list, it’s a bit of wonder I’m sane and not twisted and demented with all of the crime shows I watch! No comments from the peanut gallery, please! Lately, one of my favorite shows is a baking competition aired on PBS. It’s called The Great British Bake Off and is set in England, hence the title! The techniques and flavors used in Europe are so different than what we use here and they absolutely fascinate me!

Let me quickly set up for you how the competition works. Each week there is a certain theme and there are three rounds per episode. The first round is the signature bake challenge, second is the technical challenge, and the third round is the showstopper. The contestants know what will be asked of them in the first and third rounds and have time to practice between episodes. It is the technical challenge that is the most interesting one to me…and also the one where I recently learned quite a lesson.

For the technical challenge, the bakers are given the challenge of creating a recipe belonging to one of the judges. As the name implies, they are judged on the technical components of what they bake. However, the recipe they are given is usually one that is somewhat unfamiliar to the contestants and eliminates some key details such as certain specific techniques or baking times. Recently, the technical challenge was to bake a custard pie. The ingredients for the custard were given but nothing more. There’s a part of this segment as they are preparing this custard where only one contestant is cooking her custard. As she is looking around at the others simply mixing the ingredients, they are looking at her cooking her ingredients. In the background is commentary of the contestants questioning their own techniques compared to hers. They question why she does that and come to the conclusion that she must be wrong as she is the only one using that technique! There is also commentary of her questioning herself, as well. Would you like to guess who wins that challenge? You got it, the one who cooked her custard even when no one else did! Each of them seemed a bit surprised! 

Comparing ourselves to others is a pretty common issue among people. It is definitely an issue I constantly battle. I compare my abilities, my appearance, my body, my experiences, my opinions, my spiritual growth…and the list could go on. I have learned a few things in this struggle. 

  1. Comparing myself to others prevents me from seeing who I truly am. Using others as a mirror is not what God intended. He has uniquely and individually created each of us. He has also set a particular path and plan in motion for each of us. If I seek to align my life with someone I deem better than myself, I risk not being the very person God created and desired me to be. I also run the risk of missing opportunities to display His creative glory as I strive to be someone other than myself.
  2. Comparing myself to others often leaves me wanting. Every day I encounter women who I believe are prettier than I am. I see women who are thinner than I will ever be; women with bodies that I will never attain short of a body transplant. There are people with better houses, cars, and wardrobes than I have. There are people with stronger skills, abilities, talents, personalities, and countless other things that I may feel I fall short of. These thoughts do nothing but leave me wanting rather than appreciating. I see how I don’t measure up rather than how I have been blessed. 
  3. Comparing myself to others could also leave me with a false sense of pride. Comparisons also lead me to believe I may be better than someone else. When I focus my eyes on what I have or who I am and allow that to become a source of pride, I miss the needs of those around me. I miss opportunities to share what I have been given and who I am with the world around me…which means I also miss opportunities to share the very place my value does come from, God. 
  4. Comparing myself to others steals my joy and contentment. Rather than finding my value in the Giver of all I am and the Creator of my body and life, comparison leads me to place my value in the gifts He has given me and to be paralyzed by the things I see as lacking. Whether comparison makes me feel better or worse about myself, it eliminates God. When I eliminate God from my thinking, I eliminate my source of joy and contentment.

At the end of the day, God has made me, scars, dimples, saggies, quirks, and all, intentionally. He has done so for my good and His glory. I must daily choose to keep my gaze upward and not circular. I must focus on Him and not others. Though it doesn’t change the things I would like to change, focus changes my perspective. And changing my perspective often changes everything.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Ugly D-Word


Confession: I have dealt with depression and anxiety since I was in high school. Only recently have accepted it and become a bit more open about it.

High school. For me it was 4 years that were slightly better than the 2 spent in middle school. Those were rough. I spent my elementary school years in a small town in south Louisiana in class with the same kids each year. We all knew each other and mostly got along…as well as kids do. I was not really a very cute or petite kid but that was ok there. And then in 6th grade (you know, the year aliens inhabit a person’s body?) my family moved to a new city. There, you went to middle school, complete with a 7 class schedule, formal PE with uniforms, lockers, and popular kids. I tried very hard to make friends and to be kind. But kids can be cruel. I was different for many reasons and they let me know it. 

It didn’t take long in high school to realize everything was going to change. You get a fresh start and some may even get a chance to be popular. I didn’t. Though I made friends and connections in band and church (which I truly loved and am thankful for), I was still different, maybe even more so. My faith grew significantly over the summer before high school and I knew God called me to do ministry. I felt different and a bit weird (not one of my favorite combinations). But I learned that God would always be present, would always be my friend, and I would never be alone. Yet I felt overwhelmed with loneliness most days. I would go through long periods where I lacked motivation and joy. I went through the motions though I constantly felt sad. But because no one ever talked about it, I always thought there was something wrong with me. I still wasn’t very cute or petite. I was never enough. And I couldn’t perfect this whole faith and friendship with God thing. I was a big ball of a mess.

Fast forward to adulthood, where there have been points in life where those feelings I have had about myself continued and the seasons of loneliness and sadness still overwhelmed me…and when I still didn’t realize what was going on. I still wasn't very cute or petite. I still felt like I didn’t quite measure up. And I hit my 30's still single. My career and ministry seem to have taken a path of placing me in churches where there is either great struggle or big transitions. The pressure to perform and be as perfect as possible smothered me. A pastor once told me, “You think you can talk to church members, but you can’t, so don’t share things with them.” I had frustrations and no one to talk to. I had sadness and I had to hide it. I truly felt completely isolated. Then I reached the point where I couldn’t take it anymore. There was no more trudging through. I realized I wasn’t struggling with sadness anymore because I had allowed it to take over. The tears were constantly sitting on my bottom lids and I was struggling to function. Coping was a skill that I had left behind. The anxiety was affecting me physically as well so I knew it was time to see a doctor.

In that visit, I told him about some breathing issues I was having because that was my reason for going. While we talked, I made this statement (while in tears), “I am sad all the time. I cry daily. I will not say I’m depressed because I think that word is overused. I am just sad and struggling to function.” He looked at me and simply said, “Alanna, you are depressed. And that’s ok. I can help.” He proceeded to listen as I talked. He took time to validate my feelings and tell me that it’s ok for a Christian to deal with depression…and I wasn’t alone. He also helped me to deal with the fact that medication might indeed help. And it truly, truly has. But there have been a few things I have learned along the way.

First, sometimes you need to simply put on your big girl (or boy) pants and deal with life. But sometimes you might need help. You can only fake it ‘til you make it for so long. When the struggle with the sadness ends and you allow it to take over because you can no longer deal, it can get dangerous.  We weren’t meant to do life alone. We need others. Sometimes that may come in the form of a counselor, trusted friend, or wise doctor.

Second, know yourself. I still have periods of sadness and anxiety. But in my time on medication, I have learned to cope. I have become aware of certain times that are more difficult for me. And at those times when lies start to creep in, I am aware enough to remind myself of what I know to be true about me and about life. I choose to listen to what is true.

Third, my Christian faith isn’t about being perfect. I mess up all too often. I let it get me down. The pressure of being in ministry closes in on me some days. But I have worked to be intentional in building relationships where I can be honest. I live my life with people who allow me to confess my weaknesses and failures and look at me to say, “Do you want me to fuss or be sympathetic?” But then they push me to grow and to work through the things. And they never leave me alone.

Finally, a change in my circumstances isn’t going to fix everything. My biggest depression trigger is my singleness. I never dreamed life would be the way it is now. I never wanted to be a “career woman.” I wanted to be a mom with a large SUV driving my kids to soccer games and dance practice. I was going to cook for my family and vacuum while wearing pumps and pearls. We were going to go on fantastic family vacations and enjoy each other’s company and build wonderful Norman Rockwell painting memories. But this hasn’t been God’s plan for me. As I have dated more over the last few years, I have come to realize men and relationships don’t take my sadness away. Being wanted doesn’t remove all of the loneliness. Affection doesn’t fill the longing and empty places in me the way I thought it would. Instead, a change in circumstance often brings about a new set of pressures and anxiety! Instead, I wake up each day, get out of bed, and strive to remember that God’s mercies are new every morning. That is what is going to get me through the circumstances.

Can we hold on together? And can we hold on to this: God does have a plan. He is at work on things that we can’t even begin to fathom. But can we also promise to be real and do what it takes to work through this, struggling daily with our sadness and depression and anxiety instead of allowing them to win? Don’t give up the fight, my friends.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

My Terrible Parents

Confession: My parents are the two most influential people in my life. In many ways, they have shaped me into the woman I am today. And it’s all because they did everything “wrong.” 

Last weekend, I had the privilege of having my youngest niece, Caroline (affectionately known as my Itty Bitty Best Girl), with me while her daddy went to a wedding. She is a dainty bundle of ten week old goodness that I simply adore. Brett and I met up for lunch and the return swap at the end of the weekend and had some great conversation. At some point it turned to discussions about parenting and our own parents. We had some laughs and fond reminiscence, and at some point he asked a question that has come up before: “We all turned out well. What did Mom and Dad do to make that happen?” My answer to that question is that they were terrible parents.

I have a list of reasons for what made them such bad parents: 
  • My siblings and I weren’t their number one priority or their “world.” There has never been a question as to who the most important person in my dad’s world is. It is my mother. And for my mother, it’s my dad. If you’ve spent any amount of time with them, you know this. They were always on the same page and united in their decisions. We, as children, never outranked a parent. We could not pit one against the other. And deep down I always knew, if forced to choose, they would pick one another over anyone else, including us. While that may sound harsh, I also believe it is biblical. There was also great security for me in their relationship. Because they love one another so deeply and unconditionally, I know they also love us, the result of this love and commitment.
  • They didn’t read the latest parenting books or magazines for direction and guidance.
    My parents started their family young. In fact, today we would probably say they were just babies (my mom had 2 babies before she turned 22). Money was tight so there wasn’t a shelf full of books or magazines telling them what foods to feed their babies, how to get them to sleep, 427 practices to ensure healthy brain, emotional, intellectual, and psychological development, or anything else. They didn’t have social media to ask all of their friends at once what they should do (only to receive 17 responses that completely contradict one another). While those resources aren’t bad, they aren’t always the best, either. My sweet mom had 4 things she counted on: her own intuition, the pediatrician, my dad, and her God. Those are what she used to determine what was best for each of us as individuals. 
  • They didn’t reward us for appropriate behavior in public.
    While our behavior was a choice we had, the expectations my parents had were clear. There were times and places for us to be loud and active. There were appropriate ways to show anger and irritation. After all, we were kids. These expectations were spoken and clear. They were taught and they were expected. I don’t recall ever being told I would receive a toy or a candy of my choosing if I would just behave. My parents didn’t bargain or bribe. Sometimes we got a treat at the store but it was just because. It didn’t happen every time we went to the store…no matter how well behaved we were. Special treats, purchases, toys, or activities were gifts that were given unconditionally, not based on our behavior. Now, as an adult, my parents are two of the most giving people I know. I won’t share all of the ways they so generously bless us but I will share that I know none of what they give or do for us has strings attached. I learned as a child that they give because they love not because of anything I do or don’t do. I also know that there are some things I am just expected to do, whether or not I am rewarded. 
  • Our teachers were always right until proven otherwise.
    That’s right, my parents believed our teachers (the educated grown-ups) before they believed us. If there was a problem at school and we were reprimanded, we were reprimanded at home too. If we had grades that didn’t reflect our capability, it was our responsibility, not our teacher’s. But they always found out what was true by going directly to the teacher. They never simply took our word for it. But, I can also remember a situation where it was the teacher in the wrong, not me. But she wouldn’t budge. And I learned a great lesson that day.
    In fourth grade, if we didn’t return our signed papers on the day they were due, we had to write an extensive paragraph detailing our responsibility to return them timely manner. And it had to be written 25 times. I don’t remember the entire paragraph she had but it began like this: “It is my responsibility as a fourth grade student to…” followed by many words that basically said “to return my papers on time.” There was a week when my dad was out of town and missed seeing my papers. My mom told me to tell my teacher that she was going to keep them until he was home so he could see them. I did and that was unacceptable to her so I had to do the punish work. After talking to her and learning she wasn’t going to change her mind, my dad did something most parents wouldn’t. He didn’t go to the principle or to the school board. He also took responsibility. Since we didn’t follow her rules, we did the punish work. He and I sat together at the table and he wrote the paragraph 15 times and I wrote it 10. In that moment I learned the importance of taking responsibility for my actions by example. 
  • They made us go to church.
    Until we were in college, we attended church together as a family on Sundays. We also rode together in one vehicle. You didn’t choose on a Sunday morning if you were going to go or not. This was a value of our family and wasn't open for discussion. But faith wasn’t just for Sunday mornings in our house. My dad spent the beginning of every day in the living room in his red terry cloth robe, kneeling at his recliner in prayer after reading his devotion. Over time, he moved to the kitchen table with his Bible and journal. The only reason I know this is the physical evidence I saw with my own eyes. It was not something he announced. It was simply what he did. My mom never hesitated to speak of her faith in everyday conversation. It was obvious to me that their faith filled their lives, influencing their actions, relationships, and parenting.
  • They made us eat dinner together at the table…but what’s more, they made us turn off the TV!
    We ate dinner together almost every night. My mom cooked and served our plates (always serving herself last). We each sat in the same place every night. We held hands and said our blessing and always ended it by squeezing the hands you were holding. This was the time we talked about life and what happened at school or work that day. Following trips, it was when we gave our reports. We talked and laughed but we did not sing (that was one of mom’s no-no’s). There was no TV and even today, cell phones are highly discouraged! It was tradition and it was routine. And to this day, it is still my favorite place to be with my family. We have our best times around the dinner table. 
  • And here’s the kicker: they disciplined us. And, yes, that sometimes included spanking.
    But it also might have been handled with a discussion, loss of privileges, or even being put on your knees in the corner when you are a preteen (yep, that was me…though I was 12, not 15 like my brother would like to have you believe). In the eyes of some, our punishments didn’t always fit our "crimes."  But my parents didn’t care what other people thought. When my parents gave instructions, they also gave 2 choices: obey or disobey. Disobedience always had consequences. Though some parents overlook “minor” disobedience or wait until it becomes a pattern or bigger issue before dealing with it, this was NOT the method my parents used. My dad believed you deal with disobedience early and clearly. His theory was to “nip it in the bud” early. My parents taught us early the role of authority in our lives and how we are to respond. 
If you’ve read all of this, I hope you see that I don’t at all believe my parents are terrible. In fact, the opposite is true. Though their parenting may be contrary to what some would say is the “right” way to parent, quite frankly, I don’t care. They were successful parents. I believe they have raised 3 well rounded, productive, and hard working adults. If you were to ask them what they did right, they would honestly tell you they don’t know. And what I’ve told you is only the tip of the iceberg. God did a really good thing when He made my family and I am forever grateful.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Carrying the Fruitcake Torch

Confession: I might have actually developed a taste for fruitcake...at least for Mrs. Torbert's fruitcake.

As you may have read here, I set some goals for year 38 of my life. One of them is to select 38 recipes on Pinterest to cook between now and September 8, 2015 {the last day of my 38th year}. Like I've previously stated, the great thing about goals is that they are adjustable...and I've already adjusted this one. Slightly. My board has only 37 recipes on it. This is because I decided to include a special recipe that isn't on Pinterest. That recipe is Mrs. Betty Sue Torbert's Fruitcake. Let me tell you, baking fruitcake isn't like just baking any old cake! But it was a great experience and one that I was so excited to tell Mrs. Torbert about! Here's my fun in pictures:

First, she brought the recipe to me. This is how it was delivered:


Maybe you're like me and aren't quite sure what to think about this at first. If I recall correctly, this is an old salt can. Inside of it was more than just a recipe. Mrs. Torbert also sent her pans and antique cloths to use. {I'll tell you about those cloths later.}
 

After familiarizing myself with the recipe, step one was to buy the fruit. A LOT of fruit. One of the things I learned from my friend, Sue Gene (Mrs. Torbert's daughter), is that you have to buy it early because, one, it isn't always available and, two, fruitcake has to be made well in advance! {Another reference to those antique cloths that I'll tell you about later.} This recipe is chock-a-block full of candied fruit and nuts. It includes red and green cherries, pineapple, figs, dates, citron, orange rind, lemon rind, almonds, and pecans...along with a variety of spices.

I haven't had this many dates in a while! {A little single girl humor...}

Most of the fruit came in these little tubs...with a layer of syrupy stuff at the bottom.


I chopped up all of the fruit and nuts and put them in the biggest bowl I have.
 

Unfortunately, the only thing my bowl was big enough to do was hold the fruit. Forget any mixing! So I did used the only thing I had that was bigger...the insert from my electric roaster. I guess if this becomes a tradition I'll have to pick up a big tub somewhere!


I had to flour the fruit then mix the other ingredients that formed the batter. After mixing all of that together, I packed it down into 7 {that's right, SEVEN} loaf pans and baked my fruitcake!


Once the cakes were baked and cooled, I removed them from the pans and prepared them for aging. This is another thing I learned...fruit cake has to age! Though I baked them in early November, they won't be ready until Christmas time...who knew?? This is where those antique cloths, and the tin can, come in. You soak each cloth in grape juice and use them to wrap the fruitcake for the aging process, resoaking the cloths every couple of weeks or so.


After wrapping each cake, they go in the can for storage and aging, which is where they sit now. And where they will continue to sit until Christmas! Can I just tell you I am so excited for Christmas when I can share some with the Torberts and my dad, who just so happens to love some fruitcake!?



I don't know what your feelings about fruitcake are. You might think this is the most ridiculous post you've ever seen. {Some people may not have even made it past the first picture so maybe you should get a prize for reading this far...how does some fruitcake sound?} For me, there was something really fulfilling about baking Mrs. Torbert's fruitcake. But it was about more than just baking this cake that is said to last forever. 

A publication recently came across my desk with a quote from Dr. James Dobson. He said, "A heritage is what you give to someone, a legacy is what you do in someone." To some, this may just be fruitcake. To me, this is part of Mrs. Torbert. This is sharing in something that has been part of her life for many years. Have I told you she is 91? Have I told you she was a chemist before retiring? Did you know she has had foxes in her backyard? She also knits some of the most beautiful sweaters and booties I've ever seen. Her stories and life fascinate me. To be able to carry on a little bit of her life is part of continuing her legacy. I don't know what my legacy will be. I don't know what I will be used to do in others. But, whether it's big or small, I hope and pray it makes a difference. What about you? Life on this earth is short. How are you investing in those who will come behind you?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kidnapping a Massage Therapist

Confession: I spent way too much time contemplating how I might be able to take a massage therapist home with me today.

Marc. The massage therapist. The man who was able to relieve neck pain and a nagging tension headache in ways Aleve can only dream about. My hero of the day. I want to bring him back to Louisiana with me but I don't think he'll come willingly. What's a girl to do? If I kidnapped him, I could plead stress and anxiety, right? I mean, I watch Law and Order. People get away with more all the time! Surely a judge would understand my dilemma! 

OK, so maybe not. But it would be nice to have that kind of pampering and luxury at my disposal! If you could have a luxury at your fingertips, what would you choose? I'd love to hear about it! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Does Anyone REALLY Like Change?

Confession: I know change is inevitable. It's often not so much the change I dislike, but the adjustments and unknown that come with it...especially if it includes saying "Goodbye" in any form.

There is some big change coming in my life. When I began working at Pineville Park nearly four years ago, I never dreamed my tenure would last longer than my pastor's. He planned to retire at PPBC...I never made that commitment. I've never been in a church for longer than 3 and a half years so to promise 20-plus was a bit much for my taste. In Steve (and Kimberly), I've seen another person live out "God's ways are not my ways." My pastor, my boss, my friend, my mentor, and so much more has experienced God changing the plans he and his wife had for their lives...again. For the many years I have known Steve and Kimberly, I have seen their lives change and grow in many ways. They have displayed incredible obedience and faith when God has called them to change careers, move to a new position in a new church at a pivotal time in the lives of their children, and adding two more children to their family, changing all of their lives forever...all of this because God led them to do it. And now, God calls again. And again, it brings change. And again, it's hard...for many people. But, again, it's going to be good because it is how GOD has planned and led them. As sad as I am about saying goodbye to my friends (and honestly don't really like that it's happening), I have great peace in what the future holds for all of us because this is God's plan for them and for PPBC today.

There is an old hymn that has been on my mind during all of this. The lyrics are:

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will. 

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head. 

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r. 

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

I find such encouragement and reminders of God's hand at work in these words. The first verse reminds me that He is in control. The winds and waves obey Him and all things move under His control. In verse two, I am reminded that God sovereign and at work. It is Him we follow, not a person. In verse three, we see that fear is a natural response, but we can have courage knowing that what we dread will bring about great blessings when we are obedient. Verse four reminds me that I don't have the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to fully understand what He is doing but I must trust and have faith in His wisdom rather than my own. The fifth verse speaks what I have felt often about this change...the bud has a bitter taste. It has left me sad, uncertain, and nervous. BUT, the flower, the outcome of this, is going to be sweet because it is God's plans we are following, not our own. Finally, verse six reminds us that God will one day make plain why He has worked in the ways He has. Though it may not be this side of heaven that I see His reasons and purposes, nothing is in vain and He is going to reveal all of that one day. And I will choose to trust Him...not myself or any other human. Can we promise to do this together?


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Hardest Confession



Confession: My absolute deepest heart’s desire is to be a wife and mom. While this isn’t a secret, you will rarely hear me express and own the depth of this desire.  Time and waiting do not ease the want or pain. This leads to my greatest question: What's wrong with me?

As you may know about me or have possibly read here, I am a planner. I rarely do anything without some level of planning and attention to details necessary for success. Knowing this, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I have had my life planned out for a long time. I was going to meet my husband in college and marry shortly after graduating {though my dad would probably say the first plan should have been getting out of college quicker}, teach for a couple of years, and then we were going to begin our family. We would have 4-5 kids, all boys, and I was going to be a stay at home soccer mom who drove a Suburban and volunteered at their schools. That was MY plan and it was going to be a great little life for my big family. I giggle a little as I write this, thinking of Proverbs 19:21(NIV), which reads, “Many are the plans in a man’s {or single woman’s} heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” God’s purpose has certainly prevailed and it has been nothing like my plans! I am 38, single, and childless. 

Don’t get me wrong, I have a great life that I love! I don’t sit at home waiting for some man to show up at my doorstep with a white horse and glass slipper. I strive to invest my life in my family, my ministry, my community, my friends, and the kids God has placed in my life, even if they aren’t my own. While I do feel content, I also live with this never ending feeling that something is missing, there is a bit of a hole waiting to be filled. I also battle the same question regularly: What is wrong with me? With each failed date and relationship, it gets a little louder. With each man that asks me how a woman is still single, it gets a little louder. With each sweet smelling infant I hold, it gets a little louder. With each toe that makes contact with the cold sheets on the other side of the bed, it gets a little louder. When the question gets too loud, it begins to demand an answer and my need to shut it up grows stronger. My answers range anywhere from “too fat,” to “not pretty enough,” to “too rigid,” to “too loud and overbearing,” to “not a good enough housekeeper,” to “not spiritual enough” to a thousand other places in between. While I know I must choose to believe there is nothing wrong with me rather than these lies and then replace the lies with Truth, there is something in me that needs a concrete answer. Because if I know what’s wrong, then I can make plans to fix it, right?!? And then I read this article and found the answer.

Do you want to know what’s wrong with me? Do you want to know why I’m not married? It’s because I refuse to settle. You see, if I dig just a little deeper in my heart’s desire, there is one desire that just barely edges out my desire to be married and have children. That desire is my desire, my need, my urgency to follow God and be obedient to what His plans are. Today, that includes singleness. Is it lonely some days? Yes. Do I enjoy the quiet solitude other days? Yes. Do I want a family some days? Oh yes. Do I enjoy my freedom other days? Oh yes. We all have days where the grass seems like it would be greener on the side. But each side has its share of dry spots. The places that are greenest and healthiest are the ones that are nourished and tended. While I’m on this side of the fence, I will choose to live my life as best I can. I will hold on to my desire for a husband and children one day but if that means I must settle to have it, forget it. Because is settling is what’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.