December 28, 2014
by Laura

Go ahead and sweat the small stuff…the workout is worth the results

Sick of hearing this? This post is for you…Click here for the td;dr

While planning a wedding, and consequently stressing over seemingly mindless details, people always say “don’t sweat the small stuff.” It is true that you have to pick your battles and ask questions such as “does it matter if the napkins are fuschia or magenta?” However, it does matter if the napkins are bright yellow when I specifically requested fuschia?* Not that I am being a Bridezilla, but I don’t want my wedding guests to experience eyesore and not enjoy the hard work I put into the decor (DIY bride here).

Therefore, I really dislike this platitude. I unabashedly sweat the small stuff. I hear this constantly, and it grates on my frikkin nerves.  What gives you the right to determine whether my frustration is out of proportion to the problem at hand? When did caring about fine details become uncool? Details such as time, traffic, logistics, capacities, budgets, weather patterns, are those that people prefer to dismiss them because they are “boring”, but if ignored can cause mild aggravation, and possibly irreparable mistakes.

I can’t tell you how many times I have ruined someone’s happy-fun-time of scheduling too many activities in too short of time because I brought up concerns about the time constraints, or have been anxious when leaving for a flight because my ride decided: “Oh, 90 min is plenty of time to leave for the airport (which is across town) and get to your gate and board.” Is it possible? Yes…as long as you don’t hit traffic. But I know from experience that it is when you short-change yourself on time that you hit the 10 car pile-up or train delay.

Our culture presents the chill and laid-back person as the paragon of psychological well-being. People brag about their penchant for winging it, and embracing the thrill of being the last-minute hero. The last-minute hero is fodder for many a great movie, but sadly real life dishes out the crappy outcome more than we want or expect. The movie makes us feel good because it reflects our desire to forget about those pesky things that get in the way of our heart or vision. However, movies exist outside the confines of Murphy’s Law. In reality, most everyday victories — or horrible situations avoided — are due to consideration of seemingly small details. And God’s grace.

Continue Reading →

November 12, 2014
by Laura

Why I don’t care for “Christian” Music

I love music. I cannot imagine my life without it. I write songs and play piano. I used to play in a band.  A playlist must happen when I do my cardio. I despise commercials on the radio, because I want to hear the tunes, dammit! (But also tell people “I don’t really listen to the radio much” just to sound cool.)

While I do have my preferred genres, I can like pretty much anything. My iTunes shuffle runs the gamut of music styles. But there is one style in which I do not have a single MP3 present: Christian Music.

Yes, that is right. I call myself a Christian, but I am not the biggest fan of Christian music. Now, when I say “Christian Music”,  I am really referring to “contemporary” Christian music or stuff that is commonly sung in church. I am also put off by the average Christian “alternative” or “hipster” bands.

I admit it. Praise and Worship is my least favorite part of the service.  While others are holding their hands out, swaying like they are about to faint because God’s love is just washing over them…I am thinking about the most random stuff. Like, where I’ll go to brunch after church. Or what to write in my blog. Or what it would be like to be famous. Or this cat video.

Thus begs the question….as someone who is so moved by music in general, why can’t I get moved by church music?

During my initial ruminations, I felt it had something to do with my past. I was forced to sing a lot of these types of songs at camp or day care or school…during times where I felt most ostracized.  Times I was away from my family.  I was weird and socially awkward, and other kids wanted nothing to do with me.  How can I sing about how “Jesus Loves the Little Children” when I feel so alone?

There is always that voice in my head that tells me I am a loser, and I am not worthy of having acceptance and respect.  And what is wrong with me that I cannot “get over” the bullying and unpopularity I dealt with? I bear a serious cross of depression from negative self-talk, a rut I got into believing that stuff and being afraid that if I believed good things about myself, someone would pop my happy balloon and say it was not true.  But, Praise the Lord…since Jesus loved us so much and saved us from our sins, that is all we need right??! I should NEVER feel depressed. EVER!

While I do have a decent amount of uplifting songs in my music library, my preference is darker, “gothy” music in some sort of minor key.   Like Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. When I listen to NIN, as sacrilegious at it sounds, It’s like someone validating my pain, rather than trivializing it with some saccharine music and a happy praise message that just ignores all the trials and struggles in life.  It “Reznorates” with me.

God’s love for us is awesome, but cheerful lyrics and depression don’t really mix well. It’s like forcing someone with an ulcer to eat a fattening meal because it’s just so tasty and wholesome. While the feast is indeed delicious, the ulcer needs to heal before the food can be enjoyed.

So many Christian music lyrics spout how awesome God is, and how we should worship Him because of what He did. It talks about how we are all sinners…lost sheep that have now been found.  How can this music help someone who is emotionally resistant, or does not feel loved and good enough to draw closer to God?

I sometimes am not ready to let God in on that level. I still have a lot of pain to work through. My pain and rumination have become my identity. Sometimes I wonder if my dreary, overcast outlook on life is who I am, or just not letting go of my past. It is hard to differentiate sometimes.  Letting it sink into my spirit feels so uncomfortable, and I often resist it. I am afraid if I don’t, I will start crying in front of the congregation. And I don’t like to cry in front of others. This is why I often revert to distractions during worship.

While most churches don’t play Christian music that resonates with me, I have thankfully gotten some good suggestions for Christian artists who don’t rehash John 3:16 every way to Sunday with a campy guitar melody.  It is a wonderful thing that the Lord has inspired art in many forms.  He has inspired music throughout the ages, from Gregorian chants to classical music. There are Christian artists out there who still convey the Gospel, but in a darker, more ethereal , and/or contemplative style that is more appealing to me than the overplayed stuff.

I feel that praise and worship is a personal thing, and like God often meets us where we are at, music should convey the same.  Happy fanfare about how awesome God is because He came down from heaven to wash away our wretched sins may not be where everyone is at. For some, the contemporary music and hymns are working for them, and that is great.  But it’s not the only worship music out there.

June 18, 2014
by Laura
1 Comment

Is Britney Is More Satanic Than Nine Inch Nails?

One of the toughest things I faced once I renewed my faith in Christ was deciding what to do about my music collection. I have what many Christians would find to be a blasphemous library of genres ranging from rap, heavy metal, 80’s music, 90’s alternative, darkwave, and enough electronica varieties (trance, industrial, techno etc.) to keep a European discothèque partying until the Second Coming. In other words, I have what the average person would call a horrible taste in music.

I can talk the talk and say that I am a Christian…but can I walk the walk if I am still getting crunk with Lil Jon and the Ying Yang Twins? Or jamming it out with Trent Reznor and Metallica? If I am only allowed to listen to wholesome, vanilla Christian music…what’s left? I guess some Gregorian Chants…at least that would be retro-cool and not the campy, contemporary stuff they often play on Christian radio.* ParentalAdvisory

When having to make the tough decisions on what to vet, I decided to look less at the image associated with the artists, and more at the message that is conveyed and whether there is anything positive I can glean from listening to them. In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul mentions that there is freedom in what we can do. There are no lightning strikes from heaven if I blast Ludacris in the car. Or listen to Metallica on my runs. But Paul calls us to ask if it is beneficial or not.

Not to sound New Age-y or anything, but music is one of the ways we can grow closer to God, particularly for those of us who are musically inclined. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. Sometimes what we immerse ourselves in can bring us closer to things that are not beneficial to us, and before we know it, we are idolizing things that are probably best left off of a pedestal.

One of the big misconceptions is that evil and demonic things are apparent and in your face. Kind of like Halloween, Black Sabbath, and goth kids. Nine Inch Nails (NIN), one of my all-time favorite bands, is just blatantly blasphemous. Lyrics such as: “God is dead / And No one cares / If there is a hell / I’ll see you there” sound just terrible…no Christian in their right mind would listen to that filth! NIN albums have that Parental Advisory label on them, and therefore are evil and must be avoided at all costs.

But the enemy does not always work like that to corrupt our fragile little souls. He prefers to sneak around like a thief in the night, undetected (John 10:10).

As long as people keep focusing on how satanic music like NIN is, the enemy is sending destructive messages to us via other means.

If I play this album backward, what kind of satanic messages will I hear?

If I play this album backward, what kind of satanic messages will I hear?

I’ve seen the same people who would deem someone like NIN’s Trent Reznor as evil and demonic listen to stuff like Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus like it’s nothing. The message portrayed by these stars promotes promiscuity and sexuality for young women, with little redeeming value other than how to gyrate on stage half-naked and shake your lady bits. It sells a message of fame and adoration that young girls idolize. And their well-meaning Christian parents just play cool with it, perhaps even listening to this music themselves. Not to mention, the music requires little compositional creativity other than a few hooks and samples.

Trent Reznor’s lyrics are off-putting and crazy and full of naughty words, but his music is unique and ingenious. He has actual musical talent. His lyrics speak from a place of pain and struggles; they seek to convey real emotions. Britney Spears is a manufactured pop icon. Her lyrics appear to reference only what industry executives want to promote so people will buy albums.

As long as a song has a catchy beat and does not put us on edge, it’s easy to ignore the message being sent:

Your identity is your sexuality, and little else. If you speak from your feelings, even if they are feelings of despair, they are of the devil and should be tamped down…immediately. Only upbeat music is God-worthy.

I have yet to find many Christians who are fans of NIN, but I am sure a decent proportion are fans of Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus. Newsflash: Your music choices are not any less worldly and demonic than mine are. At least Trent Reznor essentially says “My music is angry and I am against religion, but at least I am going be up front about it.” After the temporary thrill of breaking it down in the club to today’s catchy pop music, you wonder why you feel so ugly, so worthless, and why you need sexual admiration to feel validated.

So let’s return to Paul’s question. Is NIN or Britney or any other artist you listen to beneficial? Do you feel good about yourself when you listen to it? Can you appreciate the music for its creativity? Is there any value that can be gleaned from the music? If it’s lyrical, what is behind the lyrics and what messages do they convey?

And what is the answer? Do we go back to square one and only listen to approved Christian music? Is secular music all completely evil and demonic?

I honestly don’t know. I suppose it depends on the direction in which God wants you to move. This is not a post about which artists are better are worse, though I have made my personal tastes known. The purpose is to expose how the enemy can work in our lives through music, and in this post I make strong comparisons between artists to shed new light on some misconceptions;  these beliefs that state that music that sounds angry or dark or has strong language is just sinful, but it’s perfectly OK to listen to today’s pop music that can have equally damaging effects on thoughts…before we even have a chance to fight back and realize what thoughts this music instills over time, even if we enjoyed hearing that catchy tune over and over on the radio.  liljon

And before you think this is a post about me wanting to justify my raunchy music tastes while enjoying the fruits of eternal salvation, I deleted about 50 rap songs that were all about bitches and hoes, thug life, weed, and rims. After praying and thinking about it, I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing beneficial from me listening to it. However, I admit that I am tempted to bust out into some Lil Jon lyrics because listening to rap makes me feel like a total gangsta, even though I am lily white and 110 lbs. And this image makes my friends laugh :-).

But strength does not come from the feeling like a badass thug or a rock-star…it comes from our salvation through Christ. Accepting salvation and my worth because of it is one of the most difficult things for me, which is why I often find myself returning to this crutch, and also why conventional Christian music is not on my Top 40 List.


*Except Gospel. I like Gospel because it feels real and tangible to me. Lyrics are often about how people overcome hard situations through the power of God, rather than just “yay Jesus” without the testimony to really show it’s power (Rev. 12:11). Plus it’s jazzy and funky.

May 13, 2014
by Laura
1 Comment


In looking over my previous blog posts…I felt like I’ve been coming across as rather cold and academic…my posts appearing more like dissertations rather than the interesting vignettes and quick spiritual takeaways I intended. So I thought I would just try something a bit different and write about a very recent major life event. WARNING: this may seem totally random :).

About a week after I wrote my dating treatise, the love of my life popped THE question…ironic considering I mentioned I my lack of knowledge about marriage in my footnote. It appears I will soon get to experience that, and for that I am very thankful. After a few days of blissful elation and a few OMG SQUEEE!!!11!!s from relatives, I realized I had to get down to brass tacks and start planning a wedding.

This centerpiece probably costs more than a month's rent

This centerpiece probably costs more than a month’s rent

When I was single, it always seemed like when friends got married, they disappeared into the abyss. Of course, my lonely self would take it personally, bemoaning another friend biting the proverbial dust. While experiencing a constant stream of Facebook status changes, it was like my coupled friends were just being raptured, while I was left behind for the demons of self-criticism to torment my soul.

Now, I feel like I’m at the edge of a black hole, approaching the event horizon. I have come to understand where all the engaged people go. I always wondered why it seemed friends dropped off the face of the earth when they got engaged, and now I know why. All of a sudden, my weekends turn into venue tours, food and cake tastings, and vendor meetings. Since the engagement, I have not had my Sunday afternoon nap. My once cherished tradition of bedded bliss is turning into wedded bliss ;).  I have stayed up well into the night pricing out table linens, drooling over centerpieces on Pinterest, researching how to save money (Hint: you can’t, weddings are expensive as hell), calculating how much alcohol guests might drink, poring over fine print on vendor contracts, reading comments on wedding articles and feeling bad about myself compared to how much or how little others spend, and trying to minimize guest list bloat without causing permanent family strife.

As cute and froo-froo and sentimental as they are, weddings scare the crap out of me. It’s like Peter on the boat in the storm, trying to walk on water, and sinking. And getting up and trying get up and do it over and over again. While the thought of sharing your life with someone is bound to cause some jitters…that is not the most terrifying part for me. It’s the wedding itself. It’s navigating the desire for my princess day with my desire to just eff it all and elope. It’s the judgement that will inevitably befall whether I spend too much or too little (I will NEVER snark a wedding again!!). It’s trying to have fun and let go when my natural tendency is to flip my lid when one detail is not perfect.

Stare into the you see?! DO YOU SEE?!

Stare into the abyss…do you see?! DO YOU SEE?!

The wedding has caused emotions and struggles I thought were dormant to percolate to the surface. When flung into a situation that is unfamiliar, it’s like standing on the house of sand…or worse…liquid water that ebbs and flows constantly. The ground under your feet does not feel solid. Sometimes the fear and decisions are overwhelming. You feel like a cornered animal, so coiled and poised to lash out or curl into fetal position.

Staring into the black hole suddenly warps your mind like a funhouse mirror. Thoughts that normally seem petty suddenly become appear larger than they should, while the rational voice of God becomes smaller. Emotions and struggles I thought were dormant to start percolating to the surface. I am flung into my hurtful past and then into the uncertain future, the gravity of the marriage black hole distorting time as I know it :-).

Within these depths, a Bridezilla is born…

However, black holes are not the horrible, evil things the world makes them out to be…black holes are massive gravitational forces that can change and shape the universe, just as this wedding will change the fabric of my life. They are not always destructive. God created them to pull galaxies together. Light gets sucked in, defracted, and who knows what else…but new light gets spit out anew from the center. Changes shape and renew us, even though they seem scary at the time. Yet like many famed vessels of science fiction, I must harness the power of this gravity and make it purposeful so it can propel me forward…at warp speed!

April 16, 2014
by Laura
1 Comment

Think Easter Eggs Have Nothing To Do With Christ? Then Your Faith Is Lacking

As someone who struggles with anxiety and worry, one of the most annoying pieces of advice is something along the lines of “you just need to have more faith.” Alternatively, I am chastised for my lack of faith with statements such as “you just don’t have enough faith” or the ever-so-cheeky “stop being such a doubting Thomas.”

People spew this advice all the time, but they don’t really provide any clues as to how to actually “get” said faith. Priests and pastors can be notorious about this, especially when trying to provide a breadth of counsel to dozens if not hundreds of parishioners. Of coures, the logical response to the statement “you need to have more faith” is “OK, how do I get it?”

And then…crickets…

Or…I may get the proverbial  “Pray about it more…” Wow, even the crickets were more consoling! Am I not praying enough??


May the odds be ever in your favor

So, in addition to what was already stressing me out, now I have to worry about not having enough faith or not praying enough. The problems I am up against make faith seem so elusive. When told to “get more faith”, I get this image of having an empty “faith basket” and I need to fill that basket up. Like hunting for Easter eggs, it figuratively requires looking under rocks, in the bushes, in a cow patty, wherever…just to find as many eggs as possible.

If you ever participated in such rituals as a child, you know the coveted prize of the Easter egg hunt is the Golden Egg (e.g. a plastic yellow egg that probably cost less than $0.50 at the drug store). Along with other kids, you searched feverishly for the coveted Golden Egg. If you were the lucky soul who found the Golden Egg, it was a moment of epic win. A moment when you felt ultimate confidence to step up and claim your prize, and you gloated as other kids ended their search in shame. However…

Roman’s 12:3 states “God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

In other words, we do not need to go hunting for more faith. Should we choose to accept Christ in our hearts  or not, faith has already been given to us as a gift from God — freely accessible to all, and not hidden.

We often spin our wheels searching for faith like a coveted Golden Egg, but the Golden Egg has been in your pocket the entire time.

Before Jesus went to the cross, he told His disciples in John 14:16-17:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

This advocate is the Holy Spirit, who dwells within those who accept Christ’s sacrifice for absolution from sin. It’s not a privilege only for a few, but for all. The Holy Spirit that abides in believers allows access to God’s wisdom and discernment for how to handle tough situations, confirming and assuring the faith we are already given.

Former Pope John Paul II states in a 1991 audience:

“…St. Thomas explains that from its very beginning faith is a gift of God (cf. Eph 2:8-9). This is because “man, in assenting to the truth of faith, is raised above the level of his nature…and that can only occur through a supernatural principle which acts from within, i.e., God. Therefore, faith comes from God who works interiorly by means of his grace” [3] . After the beginning of faith, all of its succeeding development occurs under the action of the Holy Spirit. The ongoing deepening of faith which brings one to a greater knowledge of the truths believed is especially the work of the Holy Spirit, who gives the soul an ever new keenness in penetrating the mystery…”

Luke 17:6 says that this gift of faith is so powerful that even faith the size of a mustard seed can uproot a tree and throw it into the water…so if your “measure of faith” seems puny, just know that it does not take much. Who needs a backhoe, right?

Who needs a back hoe, when you have faith? I just wanna know where da gold at!

Who needs a back hoe, when you have faith? I just wanna know where da gold at!

If you are seeking God’s counsel for trying to solve a problem….you have enough faith.

If you are taking steps to allowing Jesus and the Holy Spirit in your life…you have enough faith.

If you are struggling with something and you utter even the smallest prayer…you have enough faith.

March 17, 2014
by Laura

Special Little Snowflakes

While indulging in reading one of my favorite fashion blogs, I came across this most interesting post from Aussie blogger Cassie, called “From Frightened to Femme.” When reading her story about how a shy, nerdy girl became a confident fashionista, I saw a lot of myself in it…down to our love of books, Daria, and other areas of geekdom.

Furthermore, at some point in our lives, we wanted to break out of our shells and express ourselves through our outward styles.  Yet we were afraid if we did that, we too would become shallow, vapid people. Since we did not grow up pretty and popular, we wondered if such triviality was worth the hassle and expense.

Cassie rocks the awesomeness that is the book skirt.

Cassie rocks the awesomeness that is the book skirt.

In her post, Cassie writes:

“I had decided at about 12 there were two types of girls in the world – girls like me, and girls like Them. Girls like Them were the pretty girls, the skinny girls, the girls who wore makeup and read Cosmo without being embarrassed about it. They were the ones who dated the good looking boys, the athletes, and They made fun of me for reading at lunchtime. They were silly, giggling idiots (or so I thought) and therefore everything They liked was also silly.  I didn’t care how I looked, because that was something They did – I was better than that. I was better than Them…

I’d missed all the teenage mucking around that teaches girls how to put on mascara without poking their eyes out, because I’d been too busy reading and scowling at people over the top of my glasses. Despite being in my late 20’s by this time, I found myself in the awkward position of eyeballing a makeup counter seriously for the first time, and having no idea whatsoever where to even start…I wasn’t even sure it was worth giving it a try. The most expensive concealer in the world wasn’t going to make my teeth straight, and a perfect manicure wouldn’t make me any less fat…It was easier to stick to the things I knew I was good at – being opinionated, reading, talking too much.  Being fashionable, being stylish, being femme – my fear and uncertainty told me these things were just not for me.”

I’m not going discuss my similarities (I already wrote about it here), but I felt refreshed knowing I was not alone in my thoughts. Especially hearing from someone across the bigger pond, thus illustrating how these kinds of struggles are not endemic to your school, or your city, or your country.

We fully disclosed our guilt by having total disdain the interests of the pretty and popular, but also desiring style and beauty. We were also willing to allow ourselves to be renewed, to be OK with changing how we saw things and openly adopt interests that may have initially been uncomfortable.

However, I’m not here just to write about how Cassie and I are kindred spirits, but how her post made me reflect on how sometimes, as Christians, we can fall into the trap of judging others who do not fit the mold of how a Christian should look and act. I have also noticed we often diminish our negative feelings and secular interests, limiting them to only what’s shiny, happy, and holy. Like…only watching G-rated movies, popping pills for bad feelings, or listenining only to Christian radio.

Though we don’t intend to, we often take such pleasure scowling at people over the tops of our Bibles at those who are anxious, depressed, or backsliding. What’s even more disturbing is that we become haughty without realizing it.

Perhaps we see people’s behavior as too “worldly”, their interests are too “secular,” or they are just “superficial Christians” who were not really saved. We may lean towards thinking there are certain “levels” of being saved, like some people are more “saved” than others. You either are, or you are not.

Accepting Christ and how He saved our wretched souls from the grave is a very profound act. For those who accept this, the Holy Spirit works within us to transform and renew us, to become more Christ-like. Naturally, this includes wanting to move away from things that are of this world (Romans 8:1-6). When the Holy Spirit reveals things to us, so many things we see or thoughts we have appear “foolish.” And boy does it feel awesome to call it out!

However, we have to be careful about how we approach this. Just as we can become vain about outward appearance, we can easily become prideful in our ability to outwardly exercise our faith, resist temptation,  find time to pray and read Scripture, or any other perceived “Godly” mannerisms.

Perhaps you revealed something rather “unsavory” about yourself to another believer, only to have that person slightly smirk and say, “Oh, I don’t really struggle with that” or “Tee hee, I don’t watch those kind of shows, they are sooo vulgar.” As if they are bounds above your flaws and indulgences. Or, they might allude to the fact that you do not have enough prayer and faith in your life. It may sound well-meaning, but really just made you feel like crap.

Sometimes, when I experience a negative emotion like jealousy or wrath, I want to tamp it down because I “shouldn’t” feel like that, or that because I am a Christian I am sooo above these petty emotions. As if I am some sort of super-intellectual being who has evolved to some higher plane of existence. But as much as I wish I could be a Vulcan like Mr. Spock, I am still just a human being with busted up logic and feelings.

There is nothing more fun than sitting in your sweats judging l...

There is nothing more fun than sitting in your sweats judging cray crays on reality TV…

Like Cassie and I thought we were “better” than those popular people because we were scorned by our environment, we often think we are somehow transcendent of things “of the flesh” because we have Christ, who was also scorned. Yet since we are all flawed, and salvation through Christ is a gift available to everyone (Acts 2:21), we are not special snowflakes in this regard.  Furthermore, it can be comforting to know that we’re not all that deviant, especially if we’ve had days where we feel crappy, abnormal, rejected, weird, or unworthy (1 Corinthians 10:13). Which is, unfortunately, everyone on this planet—except this friend. Everyone has at least one of them on their Facebook wall ;- ).

While our paths and struggles may differ, and we are uniquely created with regards to our gifting, none of us is more perfectly made than another. Though it may be tempting to revert to those comfortable, elastic sweatpants of downward-comparison and judgment, don’t be afraid to let the Holy Spirit suggest us a fresh new look every day (Romans 12:2).


February 14, 2014
by Laura
1 Comment

How to Find Advice Worth Keeping: A Treatise on Dating

Note: This post will review advice from the book “How to Get a Date Worth Keeping” by Henry Cloud, Ph.D.

Since Valentines day is nigh, I figure now is as good time  to talk about the nebulous and elusive subject that is dating. Everyone (single and coupled) has differing (and often conflicting) advice about this subject.

I’ve been single, in relationships, and dating…as a Christian and a non-Christian. So…I figured I would chip in my thoughts on this subject. Why not?*

There’s clearly distorted gender roles and dating advice spouted by secular entities out there (e.g. Hollywood and Cosmo), but the Christian dating zeitgeist also propagates damaging messages, summed up as follows:

Ladies, if you're good, God will totally bring this guy to your door...

Ladies, if you’re good, God will totally bring this guy to your door…

1) Ladies: Just wait patiently on the Lord and He will bring you a man. You are a crown of God’s creation, a perfect princess who deserves a prince charming.. You don’t need to do any work at all. No need to waste effort cultivating what you can bring to a relationship, and certainly DO NOT PURSUE. Just cheerfully sit pretty and keep your legs closed, and God will handle it.

2) Gentlemen: Pursue with all your might! BUT…never think  about sex while you’re pursuing. Ever. Keep it in your pants, at all costs. Take solace in the fact that once you’re married, you’re practically entitled to sex whenever, and of course she must submit. Only young, fertile women are wife material; a Proverbs 31 lady is icing on the cake. Your single life will be fraught with countless rejections and sexual frustration, but it’s OK…you’re dying to your flesh and becoming closer to God, right?

To me, this sounds like the perfect recipe for keeping people single and unhappy. Women are basically told to be helpless, and the men are rendered helpless by conflicting messages. This perverts the desires God placed in men to pursue, protect, create, and seek after God, and for women to connect, encourage, create, and seek after God.

Furthermore, this presents a paralyzing conundrum of having faith vs. applying real world strategies (as listed below). Am I not ambitious enough? Am I not believing God enough if I follow a strategy or dating advice, join a dating service, etc?

“God secures the promised land, but we must go out and get it.” -Henry Cloud, Ph.D.

Two summers ago, while wandering the wilderness of singledom, I read Dr. Cloud’s book  “How To Get a Date Worth Keeping” with a singles group at my church. This book promised that I would find a romantic partner within 6 months or I could get my $10 back. OK…challenge accepted. **

Dr. Cloud wrote this book to help Christian singles get out of dating ruts, and in doing so dispelled a lot of conventional Christian dating advice, leaning towards practical advice that works across spiritual sectors AND gender roles… i.e. bringing some *gasp* “wordly” dating advice from which Christians can also benefit, such as:

  • Dating is about meeting different people, and less about marriage. You can’t assume from a 90 minute coffee date at Starbucks that person is “the one.” Taking the marriage equation out of dating really does take the pressure off.

  • Dating is a numbers game; the more people you meet, the better your odds. It’s not always about how spiritual you are. You actually have to put some effort into meeting people. Proverbs 10:5 states “He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.” Diversifying your efforts in meeting people will likely reap rewards. So go scatter your seed (metaphorically, not literally ;-) )!

  • Figure out what habits and thought patterns prevent you from meeting people. Psalm 139:23 states: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Work with God to heal and overcome these things.

What was most interesting about this book was how it really examined the gender roles the church enforces. It actually provided some accountability for women to step up and take initiative, where they were often encouraged not to. Of course, as someone who likes to see platitudes busted, I found the book refreshing overall. And it really did help me see past a lot of BS and take a good, hard look at myself and what was blocking me.

However, I do think Dr. Cloud got a bit too egotistical in thinking if people followed the advice in his book to a T, they would totally find their life partner. In other words, relying completely on his prescribed works.

One of the most jarring “works” he proposed was meeting 5 eligible people of the opposite sex a week. While the intent to break up ineffective habits and go out of your way to meet people makes sense, does it really have to be five?! Yes, he insisted on five. I’m sorry, not even the most extroverted people I know meet that many different eligibles a week. And as an introvert…I’d rather put my hand in a meat grinder.

He cited examples of former singles who obeyed his every word and found their life partner, but I am sure for each one of those, there are probably those who are still looking. What if you do everything right and it’s still not working out?

At the end of the day, we have to give God credit for bringing us into compatible relationships and marriages. 

I love cats so much I'd rather see this at my door than the hot UPS guy

I love cats so much I’d rather see this at my door than the hot UPS guy

Please note that this does NOT equate to the obnoxious platitude singles often hear: “It will happen you least expect it.” God did not bring me to my boyfriend because I was just loving the single life, at the club, singing that Beyoncé song. I was working to better myself, and I was actively and expectantly looking, though weary and contemplating throwing in the towel and resigning myself to 10+ cats and many nights on MMORPGs. I really had to let God work some serious messes out. And it’s still a work in progress.

God does not bring us that person due to whether we are desperately looking or not…it is when we are ready for that person.

It is not whether we meet 5 new eligibles within a week, or within a decade. God’s intention is to bless us with a mate with whom we can grow spiritually, and grow closer to Him…not to fill a perceived lack or elevate your status. Meeting the right person at the wrong time can end in disaster.

There are exceptions where people really do serendipitously meet and are happy. But most of the time, people experience content relationships because they reap the harvest of their efforts — following practical dating advice, working on becoming a better person, etc. I will say that if simply waiting on God for your wife or husband is not working, then don’t discount Dr. Cloud’s approach. But it’s not the ultimate game plan for dating either.


*Sadly, I have never been married so cannot speak with authority on that. It’s a whole other animal. EDIT: But a week after this was posted, my boyfriend proposed…so I will know soon!!

**I met my boyfriend fiance within about 3-4 months of reading the book. But I attribute that to God’s timing, and not necessarily the book.


January 15, 2014
by Laura

The Power of Waiting For It Later

Welcome to 2014! It’s a brand new year, and with each new year, we all hope for fresh starts and for our goals and dreams to come to pass. The most cliched saying in January is, “This is my year.” But sometimes, we realize we’re saying that year after year for the same thing, hoping for our wishes to come true. With each year, the statement becomes a bit less declaratory…then moves from wistful to despondent to downright sardonic. Yeah…sure it will happen…when Jesus descends to Earth mounting a flying pig.

Bacon from heaven? Yes please!

Bacon from heaven? Yes please!

When the future seems bleak, spiritual thinkers such as Eckhart Tolle suggest centering in the present. His book, The Power of Now, is highly regarded and has helped a lot of people with tips for enjoying the here and now through meditation. I definitely think there is some benefit to this for Christians because we must constantly seek God to help keep us continually focused on Him, no matter what is going on or how we feel.

But when you are denied a dream, the last thing you want to do is to enjoy the present. Because the present sucks. Somehow you feel shafted, rejected, or ostracized. Maybe you received a bum deal or a bad medical diagnosis. Countless attempts for finding your dream date or losing weight seem futile. You want to know where you went wrong (looking to the past), or you worry about when it will happen (projecting into the future).

Telling people to cheer up and be in the moment while they are going through crap is like selling sand in a desert. It’s trite and dismissive…possibly bordering on presumptuous when telling someone how to feel. Sometimes, it’s OK to be hurt. It’s OK if you cannot free your mind or release your Chi…or whatever…

Sure, the little present moments with which God blesses us are nice, but that dream deferred always lingers on the horizon of your fleeting escapes from the drudgery of your thoughts. You can’t just meditate them away and live in bliss. There is more to it.

In addition to asking God for the Power of Now to get through each day, ask Him for the Power of Waiting For It Later.

The Power of Waiting For It Later requires God’s wisdom to execute. It requires God-given resolve and endurance to fight the negative circumstances and the thoughts that accompany them.

Waiting for it later requires bravery and strength to trust that God’s ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8). Trusting God is not the bliss and flowers part of life…it’s one of the most difficult things we do. And it does not offer us the feelings of happiness and joy we get from indulging in the present because it is so hard sometimes.

Thankfully, God can see outside of time and has perspective we lack.  He is the ultimate contingency planner. The tragic irony of our missed opportunities is that God does not always reveal the reasons right away. So there is this murky and rough period of “why is this happening to me??!”

Continue Reading →

December 22, 2013
by Laura

Perfecting the Art of Perfectionism


Sigh…why can’t we all be like the Holderness family and rock out the Christmas jammies.

Previously, I presented the frightful side of complacency. Now it’s time to talk about its evil partner in crime…perfectionism.  Especially considering it’s the holiday season, when there is so much pressure for everything to be perfect. Sure, I could write about the Christmas story in Luke, like so many other believers around this time who strive to bring back “the reason for the season.” However, I think getting the perfection gremlin out of the way is key to keeping us all sane during this time. And don’t put down the cookie. You know you want it ;-).

I like to think that I am pretty laid-back and easy going…at least I did until I read an article on the Huff called 14 Signs Your Perfectionism Has Gotten Out of Control. And I’m guilty of pretty much all of what is listed. I never really considered myself a perfectionist because…well…I eff up so many times. Sure, I always knew perfectionists were total Type-A’s , but they were also regularly on point, in nearly every aspect of their lives. They worked and stressed tirelessly, but it showed. Everything was…to the millimeter…perfect.

On the other hand, I am pretty lazy in several areas. I do the bare minimum to get ready in the morning. I don’t wear make-up every day. I procrastinate on chores I need to do. I’ll leave a mess around longer than I should. But at the same time, I constantly feel I am not pretty enough, smart enough, and often freak out because my place is a mess and people are coming over in 45 minutes.

Brené Brown, a social scientist best known about her work on shame, breaks it down like this:

“Perfectionism is not about striving for excellence or healthy striving. It’s…a way of thinking and feeling that says this: ‘If I look perfect, do it perfect, work perfect and live perfect, I can avoid or minimize shame, blame and judgment.'”

And then I realized…I don’t have to appear perfect to be a perfectionist.  It’s a mindset, not necessarily what is presented to the world. When we are so afraid of people seeing us fail, it can drive us into complacency mode if we’re not careful. We become too afraid of what others think that we retreat into our hidey-holes while the world passes us by.

Continue Reading →

December 4, 2013
by Laura
1 Comment

Church Needs To Keep It Real, Yo!

I saw this interesting CNN opinion piece on my Facebook wall a few months back about why millennials / Gen Y – the newest generation of adults – are leaving the church. I mean, this is absolutely absurd! More than half of adults under 30 do not oppose same sex marriage ?! Gosh, we must figure out how to stop this Godless generation and save their souls before the Rapture!


How modern churches think they look…

Millennials have been getting a lot of news attention in recent years. As employers are concerned about what do with these entitled, narcissistic 20-somethings who show up to work in flip-flops and demand a bi-annual promotion, so is the Christian community. And it is a rightful concern. No one wants to see people turn away from the faith.

Rachel Held Evans, who wrote the CNN opinion piece, provided a very thoughtful analysis of this problem.  Christianity often comes across as very exclusive with little room for questioning. I could not help but agree with many of her points because I am also part of this cohort. We’re also close in age. It speaks something of my generation that I am writing this blog as a way to question some of the strict dogma to which Christianity is clinging.

Her most interesting point is how churches are trying to gloss over this issue with simply making “a few style updates  edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving.” What’s next, presenting Scripture in 140 words or less?

Continue Reading →