The second thing she revealed to me (though a little distant in the timeline at the moment) is her Valentine's Day ritual. Historically, this Hallmark holiday has been exploited to allow couples to "show" how much they love eachother by endorsing the excessive purchase of candy, cards, flowers, sex toys, and stuffed animals. Personally, I think this day is a joke, and showing your love and affection should be a 365 day/year thing. Every day should be full of love, even if it's only between you and God. I found out that Angela's yearly rituals definitely reflect how I feel about this. Every V-Day, she goes out and buys her own chocolate, flowers, and a cute teddy. She even goes as far as buying herself a card, writing a motivating message to herself, and signing her name. Then, she'll go out and treat herself to a day of complete relaxation: put on her favorite outfit, get her hair done, get a mani/pedi, and just enjoy being in love with herself. My honest, gut reaction to this was "wow, ridiculous". But the more she talked about it, the more sense it made to me. My man might not know what I want, but I sure as hell know how to please me. What an insane concept! Ladies! Forget expecting your man to live up to a cliche, disingenuous past time and start using this day to remind yourself how truly beautiful and wonderful you really are. While it sounds arrogant, how can you really love anyone else if you're unable to love yourself? Think about it.
Also, I made a mental note to relay Dennis Rainey's "Non-Negotiables". He and his wife are the co-authors of Moments with You, a couple's devotional. Dennis concedes that these "non-negotiables" are true simply because He is true, and I feel it blog-worthy enough to share with everyone.
- Seek God, not sin. Seek good and not evil, so that you may live. Amos 5:14
- Despite being genuine in our walk with God, our lives are filled with constant temptation to fall away and "live in the moment". We experience things on the daily that test our faith and appear to be a more attractive option--things that are usually down the wrong path. While it's true that there is a lot about being a faithful and loyal servant that gives you that warm feeling inside, there is also a lot that requires discipline, avoidance, and control--most of which you must fight yourself on to be in accordance with His will. In the end, you will either use temptation (by not falling into it) to push you closer to salvation, or let sin destroy you. It is not negotiable.
- Fear God, not men. The fear of the Lord leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil. Proverbs 19:23
- Human nature dictates the way we interpret social cues and the way we trend. I sometimes(though usually less than other people) care more about what everyone else will think of me rather than what God will think of me. True enough, my adolescence would have been a lot different had I gone by this non-negotiable. My carefree lifestyle, however, makes me just as guilty as the next person. I don't care what other people think of what I do, but I find myself in situations where I'm not thinking about His expectations of me either. It is not men who decide our fate, but our Father in Heaven.
- Love God, not the world. Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. John 2:15-17
- This is one of my very favorite non-negotiables. While things are nice, flashy, expensive, and tend to display your SES, I find useless new things to be a terrible waste. What I do want to address is the idea that love is among worldly affections/possessions. While it's true that some worldly emotions that are closely (and often mistakenly) related to love, to love someone with a righteous, God-inspired love is by far the most cogent gift you could give and share with another person. I don't feel that it's "of this world" to want to be preoccupied with someone you love; especially if it's being built on a Christian foundation.
- Believe God, not the deceiver. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44
- Often, there lies a personal controversy that your mind must use the Spirit to address: the difference between temptation and a blessing. I blog about this all the time, as does my favorite blogger, Cara-Marie (http://seespeakshare.wordpress.com/). It is so difficult to discern between good and evil, as evil knows exactly what you're looking for. Luckily for believers, we are given the gift of discernment when we accept the Spirit through baptism. However, like any gift, everything is subjective and vulnerable to worldly influence; especially if you're living on a sandy foundation. Generally, worldly people attack Christianity first and foremost by mentioning the inconsistancies in the Bible. While there is no doubting that those inconsistancies are there, God's words are supreme. Those of man (i.e. ideas left up to worldly interpretation) are not. No matter what the world, or evil, tries to dictate to you, know that His truths are absolute.
- Obey God, not your appetites. Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
- This non-negotiable is by far the most difficult for me to abide by. From food to addiction to anger to lust- and everything in between- I've always had a difficult time quenching my appetite for satisfaction. I want to feel good all the time! I want to enjoy the greatest tastes and smells (those who know me know how true this is) and feelings. But what is most important is that we apply our love for Him by avoiding the desires of the flesh. Rainey says that obedience to God demands two things: courage and faithfulness. If we have faith that He will satisfy the things we need, it will be easier to have the courage to say no to the things we want.
- Serve God, not self. Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here I am. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8
- Slavery is a word that, when used in a negative connotation, can instill fear, sadness, anger, and countless detrimental emotions. Used to describe your relationship with Him, however, one will experience a completely different set of emotions. As Christians, we are slaves to our God, the Almighty master and ruler. Even that sounds somewhat negative to the skeptics and non-believers! But I'll have you know that I am a humbled, grateful servant to my Lord; as are my Brothers and Sisters in Christ. How else would you compare yourself to an All-Seeing, All-Knowing God? His wisdom goes way beyond that of which we can even fathom to be possible; there is no other way! If you can surrender everything into His hands, you will find that you never really had any control to begin with. Except then you'll have the discipline to follow His Will for you.
- Worship God, not comfort. Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18
- I have experienced this concept again and again; be it on my own, or vicariously through other people. There is something to be said about suffering and those who go through it. Like most of these points, I'm completely guilty of seeking comfort before seeking God! There are few people who can honestly look suffering in the face and spit fearlessly. As a Christian, you hear "Give it to God" a lot. You also hear "Faith, not fear". What it comes down to is that the only thing you can do is praise God for everything you do have rather than what you don't. You should also keep in mind that His plan is not necessarily our plan, and go about your life faithfully. Easier said than done. I'm guilty of rebounding after a bad breakup (which always leads to a string of regret--Hurt people hurt people), overwhelming my friends and family with my pain (which always leads to awkward and depressing companionship), and physically numbing my pain (which always leads to....well....everything terrible). You (I) find yourself (myself) in a situation that has become irrational and spiraling out of control. Without seeking Him first, you (I) continuously make bad decisions in an attempt to rectify the initial situation. When your light appears to be going out, the first thing you do is think "Forget God, I need to find a flashlight", rather than praying for a resolution. Be steadfast, people!
I can attest to the jitters and the racing heart, but it was more important that we arrived alive. I made sure to save half for the drive home. :-P
The ride up gave me a lot to think about. David and I talked about my decision to decline my grad school acceptance, to which he encouraged me to strive to do what it is I really want to do. I expressed my concerns about the possibility of becoming too wrapped up in my dreams as a clinical behavior specialist, and that I didn't want it to consume me. What I really meant to say was that while I want to have a job (for monetary gain and social stimulation), I want to have a life as well. I want to have a family, and a marriage full of love and vitality, fun and adventure. I didn't think it appropriate to have that conversation yet, though. It is, however, still on my mind (I may or may not be considering getting my MSW online). The thing I hated about the idea of being a student after graduation was the looming prospect of not being able to work and go to school. Really, having to go to work and school and not being able to have a social life/get any sleep.
Update: I have a habit of writing and editing posts over several days, and this issue with school has finally been resolved! This morning, I actually registered with Capella University out of Minnesota in their Masters program for Mental Health Counseling. I start in December! Pretty ridiculous!
After getting lost (briefly), being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic in Atlanta (one mile in an hour!), and driving in circles up and down windy (and foggy!) roads with only the high beams as a source of light, we finally made it to the cabin. It was a sweet reunion with my best friend of 9 years. The 50 degree weather didn't hurt, either.
For all those who think of country life as slow and "behind the times", I can definitely say that they've one-upped Publix, Winn-Dixie, and the Walmarts of Florida. This bumpkin town had few stores (and about as many people), but low and behold, their grocery store had a Barnes and Noble-like section to sit and enjoy the newspaper, a winery, a movie rental section, and a Starbucks! Their shopping carts even had a little holder for our coffee while we shopped.
Though it was a struggle, we managed to get up, pick up our groceries, shower, make breakfast, AND be out of the house by 10 to head over to Blanche Manor. The view from our cabin, from the car, from the mountain atop trail horses; it was all simply breathtaking. Not to mention, enjoying the serenity of such a charming area with someone so wonderful was pretty whimsical.
The most exciting (and subsequently depressing) news of the weekend came Saturday night after we had settled in from a (felt like) 2 hour commute to the saddest/wimpiest waterfall (if you can even call it that) that I've ever seen in my life. Ms. Lauren Elizabeth McLeod is now the soon-to-be Mrs. Lauren Elizabeth Camus. Ty made a wonderful storybook-scrapbook filled with five years of memories that ended with "Will You Marry Me?" and her ring. Luckily, I anticipated the moment, and got it all on camera; tears and all (you know it's real when the girl starts crying). The next morning, however, we realized that somehow, someway, it had gotten deleted.
Though I didn't want to leave, I was happy to finally get home and reunite with my puppy (who was happy to see everyone else BUT me), and get back to my (too-empty) tempurpedic mattress. I can honestly say that this weekend couldn't have been more perfect, or have come at a more perfect time.
Things I've learned in the past week:
- I love the country, even though I'm a city girl at heart. Good people, good food, and great pictures.
- For some reason, there's only certain people I can eat and not get sick around lately.
- Caramel Apple jam is my new favorite dessert. However, I've eaten it all and don't want to pay $10 to ship another jar.
- I need-not want-more sleep.
- I'm enjoying trying foods I usually wouldn't (except for cheese grits--terrible decision every time).
- A wish sandwich is when you have two slices of bread and you WISH you had some meat.
- I need to stop relying on my phone to get me where I need to go. A two hour 55 mph scenic byway is not what I asked for when I clicked on "Fastest Route".
- Sunday Night Karaoke at Tomahawk is my new favorite hangout.
- I love my life.
- I desperately need new tires. But first I need more money.
- I adore you, David Hindman.