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What I’m Into {a snapshot of February 2015}

What I'm Into February 2015

After months of telling you that it’s been difficult, and that I’m putting one foot in front of the other, it’s like a dam has burst. Everything is transitioning; not in the way that fall transitions to winter, but in the way winter transitions into spring.

These are the moments when ice melts and begins to run into the rivers. These are the moments when a Narnian witch has to leave her sledge behind and walk.

I know that there will be more snowy days ahead. The thaw made give weigh to another frost or two, before summer bursts forth.

But after many days of hoping in the darkness, I feel like I am finally stepping into a pool of light.

Reading

Reading

Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach

I began reading this book last year during my trip to Luxembourg for my birthday. As sometimes happens with books that are begun, but not finished, on vacation, I allowed my time to be taken up with library books upon my return and allowed this book to sit on my shelf half read.

This month, in the rhythms of remembering my trip, I picked it up again and finished it. It is a book that reminds me that people travel for different reasons and in different ways. I enjoyed living vicariously through Alice on a trip that I would never want to take.

I cheered for her love story, as I am wont to do, and I sighed deeply at the end. Perhaps it is not the worst thing to take a year to read a book.

Watching

In my newly part-time life, I caught up with New Girl, The Big Bang Theory, and The Mindy Project.

I also watched season one of Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23, and am finding it cute, if silly.

Love abounds

Living

After a month of a restrictive diet, I slowly began to ease back into more normal eating in February. However, over the course of January, I picked up the habit of cooking every meal, simply because I had to. It’s certainly been nice not to need to prepare every meal myself, but it’s also become a rhythm, and I’m enjoying it.

After months of working full time, I had a short break where I wasn’t working. Friends came out of the woodwork to have coffee, lunch, and just catch up. I knew that there were things I wanted to do between jobs, but I didn’t realize how many of those things were relational. It’s been a month of reconnecting, building, and growing in relationships.

I began a new work adventure as the Assistant Director of our local Jewish Family Services. I’m still pinching myself that my job includes hearing stories and becoming friends with people in the Jewish community (as well as some paperwork). This part-time job is giving me the extra space I need for writing, relationships, and margin. It’s been an amazing transition.

January was spent going out on lots of first dates. February has been spent going out on second, third, fourth, and fifth dates. Although I’m still a little surprised by the series of events, I did meet someone lovely, and now we’re wading through the beginnings of a fledgling relationship.

Birthday daft

My birthday was on the 20th, and I spent it surrounded by good friends. It’s taken me a long time to be honest about the ways I truly want to celebrate. I’m better now about knowing what’s really important to me. It’s not what we eat, or drink, or what we do. It’s who I’m with. I felt spoiled by all the great people who went out of their way to celebrate, or to reach out if they couldn’t be there in person. Of course, I also didn’t limit my birthday celebration to one day (I am my father’s daughter. He likes to take the whole month). I had the opportunity to spend time with several groups of people, including my family, and soak up all the love.

Clicking

I only have one recommendation this month. This article reminded me so much of my youth, and all of what I’m unlearning, slowly, trying to sort the harmful from the good.

3 Things We Need To Stop Saying To Youth Group Kids by Addie Zierman

LJIZlzHgQ7WPSh5KVTCB_Typewriter

Writing

I had posts in many places in February.

I wrote my story about Reclaiming Eve for Suzanne Burden as part of her series. It was scary, but the fruit of those realizations have begun to transform my year, and my life.

I wrote about dating, being myself and learning that I am a good idea that God had for the Junia Project.

I wrote about my complicated thoughts about weddings for You Are Here.

I told some of my church love story for Ed Cyzewski as part of his Denomination Derby series.

I wrote for Cara Meredith about one of my rituals, it’s a little outside the box.

I wrote a little about the resolutions that chose me in January for The Mudroom.

I shared stories from all the dates I went on in January at the request of Tim Fall.

It was an honor to curate The Single Perspective series this month. There were four entries, each including many different responses to a single question, all from unmarried people. The questions ranged from what types of experiences these individuals have had in church, to the things they would tell their married friends. I held each post tenderly in my hands before publishing. I have felt the weight of holding and presenting these words.

I reviewed Erin Lane’s wonderful book, Lessons in Belonging. I know that the year has scarcely started, but it’s already a favorite for best book of the year (and I have a feeling I’ll be revisiting it long after this year is over).

In the de(tales) series, I hosted Thom Caraway, writing about a lobster, Kristin Tennant wrote about her daughter’s red mary janes, Hope Lyda wrote about mystery, and a bit about our mysteriously beautiful friendship, and Laura Lynn Brown wrote about a father, a daughter, and a key chain.


Once again, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer for What I’m Into (check out the rest over at her site).

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Here's what @littledidcknow is into in February

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25

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de(tales): orange keychain

Laura Lynn Brown was introduced to me through a lovely essay she wrote about her mother, which still haunts me. Since then, we have connected through the internet, and I’m so looking forward to meeting her in person in the future. 

Her writing is always luminous, and stays with me long after I’ve finished reading the last line. This piece is no exception. Enjoy, friends. 

keychain

I didn’t have a car. I didn’t even have keys. I drove a gold single-speed Schwinn with coaster brakes and sparkly handlebar tassels. But I coveted a keychain at the local department store for two reasons: It was orange, and it had my name on it.

I can still see where it was in Harts Family Center, on a carousel atop a small square display island next to the glass bunker where they sold watches and jewelry. I never looked at the jewelry, but I passed it on my way to my second favorite department, sporting goods. (School supplies was first.)

I was probably nine when I led Dad to the keychains and showed it to him. He asked why I needed a keychain. I would have taken that as an invitation to persuade. Start with the obvious: I would need keys someday, and this one was perfect because it was my favorite color and said “Laura.” And if we waited, it might be gone. And it was only $1.29, or whatever the price was. Then I looked him in the eye and grinned a little.

He smiled the weakened smile of dads everywhere, sapped by the kryptonite of a daughter’s petition.

::

For my sixteenth birthday, Dad’s gift to me was in a small white cardboard box, the right size for a bracelet. Inside was a key fob, a heavy black disk with the Buick logo atop a larger, teardrop-shaped piece of thick red suede. Its ring held a key to the family Skylark.

We went to the Hartz parking lot for my first drive, early on a Saturday morning before the store opened. I was surprised at how easily the car rolled when I took my foot off the brake, how far it could go and how fast on flat ground without any gas at all. Dad was calm and anticipated my surprise.

Not long after I was driving on the streets, Dad had me drive up the alley behind our house and turn right on the road we simply called County Road. There was a blind curve, and a huge white pickup came around the corner at us. I over-corrected toward someone’s hedges; Dad grabbed the steering wheel and kept us on the road. He yelled at me, called me stupid.

We took that road all the way out to St. Clairsville, a country drive I normally enjoyed, but I was smarting from his anger, and repaying it with silence, looking straight ahead. We returned home on the highway. I slammed the screen door and stomped through the kitchen toward my room, muttering about Dad in answer to Mom’s “How was it?” moments before he came in muttering to her about me.

::

I passed the road portion of my first driving test, but flunked the maneuverability portion. It tested, in essence, the ability to parallel park, but in a strange way. I had to approach five traffic cones set up in the shape of an inverted house, drive around the first cone into the corridor, back through the cones in whichever direction the instructor told me, then drive forward again. During the backing part, I ran over a cone.

Dad grinned, the kind where the mouth says “That’s funny” but the eyes say, “Oh, honey.” Poor flat cone. Poor deflated daughter.

He built five stakes on wooden bases, each about four feet tall, with orange paper napkins staple-gunned to the top. These were our practice traffic cones. Evening after evening that summer, after supper I’d drive us the four miles to the empty parking lot of Scott Lumber and park. He would set the stakes out at the same distance apart as the traffic cones. I’d practice the maneuver, over and over again, sometimes backing left, sometimes backing right.

One night he said something that frustrated me. I think he was telling me something I knew, therefore from my teenage point of view, unnecessary to speak. It was distracting. I looked him in the eye, told him to get out and I’d do it myself.

Ten times each way with perfection. That was my goal. He stood to the side with his hands in his pockets, grinning as I backed my way out around that last stake and drove through the gauntlet again. One. Two. Four. Five. Ten. Twelve. Twenty.

Later Mom told me that Dad felt like he got to know me in those evening drives. What did we talk about? I don’t know. I’m sure I did most of the talking and he mostly listened. I guess I felt comfortable enough with him to be myself.

::

A few days before he died of lung cancer, Dad was having mild hallucinations in the hospital. He kept asking where everyone’s car was and when it would be time to go. One morning he gestured toward a closet I hadn’t even noticed and asked me to get his pants and shoes. Not time yet, Dad, I said. Not time yet.

He seemed almost satisfied just to know where all our cars were.

I have no idea what happened to the Buick key ring. The Skylark key eventually got transferred to the Laura ring. It carried the keys to my first car, the brown Chevette I inherited when his father died. It dangled from the ignition in my gray Dodge Omni, and then my white Toyota Corolla, and now my blue Toyota Matrix.

A few years before he died, we started having a weekly phone date. Sometimes his call came while I was driving. He would rather I didn’t, but he stopped chiding me about it. Eventually he traded in “Are you driving?” for “Where are you headed?” I’d steer one-handed, the orange tab swinging with the rhythms of the road, his words and his attentive silence coming to me from the direction of the passenger seat.


Laura Lynn BrownLaura Lynn Brown’s writing has appeared in Slate, the Iowa Review, Cimarron Review, Every Day Poems, Art House America, The Curator, and elsewhere. She is the author of Everything That Makes You Mom: A Bouquet of Memories and the publisher of MakesYouMom.com, a new multi-author website. She works for a daily newspaper. More of her writing can be found at lauralynnbrown.com.

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A father, a daughter, and a keychain. A new de(tale) from @lauralynn_brown

A beautiful de(tale) from @lauralynn_brown

The lovely @lauralynn_brown writes a de(tale) about her dad

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23

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The Single Perspective: Words to Married Friends

The Single Perspective

It’s hard to believe that The Single Perspective is coming to a close with this final post. It’s been such an honor to hear the stories and perspectives of a variety of unmarried people. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I have.

If you’ve missed any of the four weeks, you can see the whole series here, and if you know of anyone who might appreciate these words, I’d be honored to have you pass them along.

Question: If you could share something with your married friends, what would it be?

khristiKhristi

*My advice is more for married couples in general, because my married friends have a pretty good balance in how they consider singles.*

So to married couples in general I’d say that life is about journeys and stages. Some of us are on unique & different ones than others. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need each other nor does it mean that we cannot learn from one another. There is no “us” and “them.” There is just “us.” We are all the family of God. I think it limits us and our ability to imagine what community looks like celebrating the different life stages of each other when we create subsets that don’t allow for us to participate in the learning & celebration of the others.

Khristi Adams is an Author, Pastor, Youth Advocate & Filmmaker. She is the author of the book The Misinterpreted Gospel of Singleness: a cultural critique of myths surrounding singleness in the Christian community. She is single, dating, happy, and having a great time living in Washington, D.C.

 

kevinKevin

I think the advice I would share with married couples is: don’t be afraid of single people. For me, I don’t know why I’m not married like the couples I know. I want to be, one day, but I have made choices and been dealt cards that make me different than them.

I would say: don’t hide behind your relationship. If it is a healthy one, it is a place of strength to strike out from, not a fortress to defend. Reach out to the ones who are alone, because as I know from experience (as might you) singleness is not easy, and I can be the most fragile and volatile I’ve ever been when I’m not in a relationship; right at the crossroads of cloud 9 and giving up.

Lastly, remember how you felt before you were a couple. You were probably much like me at some point, so be kind, because you know singleness, especially if it’s long term, can discourage brave hearts, and it can be difficult to keep your head up. So, couples, be brave, when I can’t be.

Kevin Strickland is an Editor for a show on Public Television. He lives in California and enjoys trying to figure out his life. (He is also Cara’s brother).

 

kayleeKaylee

Look, most people find their spouses through mutual friends. Do you have a male friend who likes reading novels, decorates with dinosaurs, would like mentoring foster kids, and could go ape at a hockey game? You do?! Then why in the world have you not talked to us about each other, then had a party where both our names were on the invitation list?!
I do really care though that you clear it with both of us first–it is incredibly panic-inducing when you had your brother and I walk together down the aisle at your wedding because he’s a mess and I’m not, and because he told you he thought my love of Star Wars was really attractive. If you are trying to set me up, please let me know so I can either discourage you from it or give you the clear. I hate getting a text message that says, “So-and-So gave me your number. I miss your voice, can I call?” and having to reply, “Your number has not been cleared for this inmate’s file. Please fill out the proper form first.”
And also, I would love to be your third wheel. I adore you, I support your relationship; just hang out with me. Don’t worry about me feeling like a third-wheel–I’m too busy enjoying your presence! One last thing: You look nice today.
Kaylee Francis lives in Portland, Oregon and has a degree in Bible/Theology with minors in psychology and English. She has been everything from a director at an organization that cares for women in the adult entertainment industry to an actor in a beef jerky commercial and is seeking out the next adventure. She spends every waking hour with Eärendil, her rescued papillon greyhound, while tweeting (@KayleeFran) about feminism, PTSD, and Speed Racer.

taraTara

It’s tempting to just project a list of “married people just don’t understand” complaints onto my married friends. These would be purely assumptions, as I have never been asked by a married friend what it feels like to be single. I’m pretty sure they all remember.

Many of my closest friends have been married 1 to 5+ years, and they’re either my age or younger. So while I’m sure they remember their single lives, it’s difficult to imagine that they understand my single life. They’re having kids and taking family vacations and buying houses, and I feel so far behind. Not because they do anything in particular to make me feel that way. But because I compare myself to them — because I love them and want to share in life with them and keep up with them.

My best friend Brittany is the best person I know. She’s been married for 6 years, has a 2-year-old, a baby on the way, and a career as a nurse practitioner. I could brag about her superpowers for days, but one thing I love about her the most is that she includes me. She invites me over and lets me babysit and makes plans with me and cooks me food and makes me a part of her life. I hang out with her and her husband, and I never feel like a third wheel. I’ve never felt unimportant.

That’s what I want married people to know. Your single friends want to hold a place of importance in your life. They want to be called on for favors. They want to babysit your children. (Yes, single people! I just volunteered you to babysit.) Your single friends want to hang out with you and your spouse without feeling weird. They also want to hang out with just you. They want you to celebrate their triumphs and milestones, even though there won’t be a shower thrown in their honor or a family photo Christmas card to commemorate them. I want to tell married people that your single friends need you, and you need them.

Tara is a graphic designer, writer, and Midwest enthusiast from Indianapolis, IN. She loves a lot of things, but mostly her dog Gretta, Young Life, and Taylor Swift. Tara writes about the beautiful, awkward, stretching, funny parts of life as a single 30-something Christian woman on her blog No Need for Mirrors.

 

ryanRyan

If I could share something with my married friends, it would be that I hope they have made the right decision.  I’m laughing, because that’s not meant to sound ominous, but I also know that so many of my young Christian friends, particularly ones I met through my former campus ministry, have married at an extremely young age for what might be considered very noble – or ignoble – reasons.  That is, they wanted to have sex already, and so they got married before their brains had even fully matured (speaking literally here: I believe full brain maturation occurs during the mid-twenties).
I think it’s important for married Christians and single Christians to have intense conversations about sexual ethics long before they have sex, and to determine their own understanding of these issues and why they believe what they do.  I want my married friends in particular to know that sexual ethics is not just something you ignore until you are married, at which point magic happens and the gaps are filled in.  No, a simple “no sex – until the man woman marriage bond ” maxim isn’t just cheap theology – it’s a reductionistic teaching, one that we cannot base any kind of meaningful moral or ethical reflection upon.  Unless we flesh the conversation out further, I believe this stopping point has the potential to bankrupt sexual wholeness and health in our lives as Christians.
Ryan Kenji Kuramitsu is a Nikkei Christian writer and activist who works with groups including the Gay Christian Network and the Japanese American Citizens League to empower marginalized communities. He hopes to one day marry and have a family surrounded in love by the family of God.
KateKate

I think most of my friends know this, but if they don’t, I would sit them down, look them in the eyes and tell them: “I celebrate your marriage, I pray for your marriage, and I hope for it to be a place of love and grace and freedom for you. With that being said, I want you to know that marriage is not the ultimate fulfillment of life. There are ways of experiencing love and life that stretch far and wide beyond it. It can be a beautiful way of experiencing God’s love and provision, but it is not the only way. Be fully you as you are fully committed to another, allowing yourself – just you – to be complete in Christ as the person you were created to be.”

I think it’s important for my married friends to know that I truly am happy and content with being single. They tend to worry about me, I think, and I appreciate the way I am welcomed whole-heartedly into their lives and families. It’s been a journey to discover who I am as a single person again, and I am so very thankful that I can be myself around my married friends with no expectations or preconceived ideas placed on me.

Kate is mom to four wonderfully unique kids and friend to some of the best people you’ll ever meet.  After getting divorced in August of 2014, she began two exciting new jobs – one as a legal administrative assistant and the other as a piano teacher. In her free time, she enjoys exploring faith, mystery and beautiful words, listening to Tiger’s baseball games, and engaging in autism and lgbtq advocacy. You can find her on Twitter and on her blog.

 

 

AlishaAlisha

Singleness is not easier than your married life.  Its just different.  Singleness does afford me more freetime but it comes with more responsibility as a Christ-follower to make that time for the Kingdom.  Let us speak up, let us lead.  We’re capable, we’re competent, we are seeking the Lord just as richly and deeply as you do.
Alisha is a 32 year old Texan who transplanted to Spokane, WA in 2013.  Growing up in church in the South, she was expected to marry & make babies, but God had another plan involving singleness and a career in international education bringing her to Gonzaga University. While marriage and family would be a great adventure to embark on, the roller coaster ride of singleness has brought her many joys, tears, and treasures including: travel, the love of red wine, running, food, and Taylor Swift….Did I mention she’s still available?
johnJohn
Thank you for being great examples of what it means to be married with single friends: opening up yourselves, your house, your time. Listening to our struggles and not ever assuming you know what we’re going through, but seeking to know, being there with us, and only then speaking. Being wise in how you talk about dating and married life. Hosting events that aren’t couples only. Letting us be part of your family by being friends with us as individuals *and* as a married couple.
John Lussier is an M.Div. student at Multnomah University studying theology and ethics. His love languages are beer, burritos, and books. He’s a good guy and loves the Lord. John sometimes goes on extended rants over on Twitter.
Mary SharonMary Sharon

A beautiful thing happened several years ago, when I formally asked the blessing of my church community on my celibate life. I wrote a prayer of offering, and they stood, as sacred assembly, with hands extended, as the priest prayed the blessing over me.

Six months later, married couples were still approaching me, saying “Our married life is richer because of the generous way you live your celibate life.”

I felt humbled, elated, affirmed. And also instructed: How we live our lives in Christian community matters—not just to God but to those who are watching us, seeking clues and encouragement for their own journey into holiness.

If I could share something with my married friends, it may or may not be a word of insight. More likely a word of appreciation, of love, of gratitude. What I most share with my married friends is, well, friendship, inclusion—creating a space of genuine friendship for them in my life, and entering into the space of genuine friendship which they offer to me.

Isn’t this the way it should be? There is only one banquet table, only one Lord, who insists on calling us friends, who spreads the table, who invites us at every turn.

In the end, St. Paul would insist, there is neither married nor single, no “us” distinct from “them.” There is only Christ, in whom we all uniquely live and move and have our being.

Mary Sharon Moore is a Catholic author, teacher, speaker, and spiritual director, whose practice spans the United States. She works with individuals in all states of life (single, married, divorced, widowed, the “waiting and wondering”) who may be discerning a call to celibate life. For more on her work, visit marysharonmoore.com.


Thank you all for reading The Single Perspective. Single Minded Mondays will return next week.

Sharelines:

9 writers talk about what they would want to say to their married friends.

Bridging the divide between the married, and the unmarried.

What your single friends want you to know.

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Happy Birthday To Me

Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday.

I’m celebrating by surrounding myself by people I care about, wrapping myself in their words, arms, and thoughts.

After a hectic (but wonderful) few weeks, I’m giving myself a bit of a break. I’m not writing about what I want to be different about this year, or catching you up on all that’s new. I’m practicing being present today, being at rest, and being suspended in the joy that comes from know you’re right where you should be.

I hope that for all of you as well.

The past few weeks have been busy, however, and I have a few pieces of writing that have popped up all over the internet. I’d be honored to have you check them out, if you’ve missed them.

Thanks so much for being along for this journey, friends.

I wrote my story about Reclaiming Eve for Suzanne Burden as part of her series. It was scary, but the fruit of those realizations have begun to transform my year, and my life.

I wrote about dating, being myself and learning that I am a good idea that God had for the Junia Project.

I wrote about my complicated thoughts about weddings for You Are Here.

I told some of my church love story for Ed Cyzewski as part of his Denomination Derby series.

I wrote for Cara Meredith about one of my rituals, it’s a little outside the box.

I wrote a little about the resolutions that chose me in January for The Mudroom.

I shared stories from all the dates I went on in January at the request of Tim Fall.

I like to think that there’s a little something here for everyone.

Be well, friends.

Sharelines:

A few gifts for you, for my birthday.

Posts in all the places.

There's something for everyone in all these guest posts.

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18

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de(tales): mystery

It is hard for me to find the words to introduce my friend Hope to you. I’ve known her longer than just about anyone, and we have been friends through the difficult and the wondrous. We are truly friends of the soul. She also writes fiction that makes me feel like I know her characters. 

It’s an honor to share her words with you today. 

de(tales): mystery

I float in the essence of life. My mind surfs over facts and figures and finds its home in mood and vibe. When I get fearful, I know I’ve trespassed into the land of absolutes (it happens more than I’d like).

Many months ago, I stood in the center of a heart-shaped labyrinth in New Mexico. I took in the lavender and pale blue tones of the horizon, and with a lump in my throat I filled my prayer pendant necklace with the red, soft dirt. I placed it over my heart.

And I renewed my vows with mystery.

As a shy, young girl, I made my way to the perimeter where I could observe and take in the feel of what was going on. I turned to the safe space of journals and prayer to make sense of life. As I got older, I was more engaged with the world. But I frequently had to grab bits of experiences to pull them apart, work them out later, like stashed pieces of taffy.

Because I make my home in the interior, I wait until I feel a nudge to take a next step. It leads to what I call “wandering with a destination.” Not long ago I was stressed about deadlines. My body told me to pack up the car and head to the coast to work without distraction. As I drove with my music cranked, the trinity of my mind, body, and spirit decided against the venture. My inner workings could not “see” me at the coast that day.

One hour into the trek, I took an early exit and backtracked home. A loss? Nope. During that drive time, I mentally resolved my work obstacles and ideas were free-flowing the moment I got off the freeway. I love it when that happens.

When I’m around people who capably maneuver through finite details and data, I wonder how I survive at all. And lately, I worry that I’m wandering without a destination. But I’m thankful to be an essence-dweller because I meet the coolest residents there, like Cara, our fab host of de (tales). Cara is one of those rare folks who absorbs information and then poetically processes the depths of wonder.

A long time ago, she followed the nudge to email me after reading one of my novels. Our life circumstances didn’t have a lot of similarities, but our spirits did. Kindred from the get-go.

During our many years of pen pal communication, we’ve only met in person once (it involved wine, chocolate, and talking till 2:00 a.m.)…but we meet often in spirit. I’ve taken her to the desert with me. She’s packed me along to Europe. We’ve included one another for concert outings (Over the Rhine, of course), and we’ve met in the dark to see by the light of the other’s encouraging words. She visits my work cubicle on Monday mornings, and I’ve been beside her in coffee shops as she weighed choices. We laugh as we text one another to “go meet in the closet” during the day to share the holy sacraments of friendship and faith.

That’s the miracle of experiencing Spirit beyond the boundaries of the concrete—there’s plenty of room to carry people and be carried by them.

In this birthday month of you dear Cara, I want to say thank you for being a soul friend. For meandering through mystery with grace (and with Hope) and for expressing the treasure and the struggle of faith with so many others. You inspire me to keep my desert vow.

In the words of ee cummings, “I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart).” And it’s a privilege.


 

Hope LydaHope Lyda is a writer, substantive editor, spiritual director, and a dreamer. If you get the nudge, you can look for her on facebook or www.hopelyda.com.

Sharelines:

A lovely de(tale) by Hope Lyda about finding herself in mystery.

"I renewed my vows with mystery. " a new de(tale) by Hope Lyda.

"I frequently had to grab bits of experiences to pull them apart, work them out later, like stashed pieces of taffy."

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The Single Perspective: On Finding Support

4f900e54

So, far the Single Perspective series has been humbling, beautiful and enlightening for me. I’m so pleased to share a variety of perspectives from unmarried people with you.

Question: What are some concrete ways you seek and receive support from others, yourself, and God?

khristiKhristi

There’s that phrase “it takes a village to raise a child.” I would go further to say that it takes a village to sustain a healthy individual. I’ve been blessed to not have to seek out a lot of support. I have such a great village in my life that I don’t have to seek them out; they seek me and check on me and love me fully. It’s so great to have accountability and love from people who just want to see me succeed. It’s the same way with God. God seeks me out and pursues me and chases me. I can’t tell you how undeserving that feels. Because of God and because of my village, I have no other choice than to keep moving forward through their love and encouragement.

Khristi Adams is an Author, Pastor, Youth Advocate & Filmmaker. She is the author of the book The Misinterpreted Gospel of Singleness: a cultural critique of myths surrounding singleness in the Christian community. She is single, dating, happy, and having a great time living in Washington, D.C.

 

kevinKevin

I think the number one thing I have tried to do in order to get real support from God and people around me, is to try and be totally honest with myself and them. Granted, I don’t tell everyone everything, but when I ask for advice or prayer or some kind of help, I think it is from a desire to be known, and subsequently loved in spite of being imperfect and needing help. I think when I am honest with myself and can try and be known by God and my friends and family, that is when I feel their prayers and when I feel closest to them. It is, however, a constant struggle.

Another thing I do is let other people distract me. I am a very intensely introspective person, sometimes to a fault. It is easy to feel the guilt of coming out of that space to interact with what’s happening around me, because I am convinced that my introspection is the most productive thing that could be happening. Well, sometimes I am wrong. I have found that just allowing someone to distract me, or to distract myself and take a break, do something fun, or just think about something else is a huge way I support myself and let others support me.

One really important way I find support is through talking things out with people I trust. It is really simple, but it helps me every time. I often find that all I need is a different perspective. Being single, I sometimes only consult myself on decisions or problems, but I don’t have to. More often than not the other person doesn’t even have to say anything more than “What’s wrong?” I then have permission to hear from myself, out loud, what it is I am dealing with. In my experience, if you can find someone that will ask you that question, you have found a valuable friend.

Kevin Strickland is an Editor for a show on Public Television. He lives in California and enjoys trying to figure out his life. (He is also Cara’s brother).

 

kayleeKaylee

I am currently going through Dialectical-Behavioural Therapy. It is a form of discipline that combines emotions with logic to create a “wise mind.” It has been the most incredible experience to get practical tools I use every single day to reduce stress levels and learn how to return to a general feeling of peace (“baseline”).
Every Thursday, my roommates and I have a group of around 10 people over. We all bring contributions and make food, talk, then watch a movie. We frequently hang out otherwise during the week, but Thursday is a sacred day for us.
Committing to a group of people is really important and healthy. Always have people you invest in every-single-week. Be intentional in telling them that you want to be there in their struggles and their triumphs. Go to their plays to show support, watch their vlogs, and in turn, invite them to read the novel you’ve been working on or to watch a movie that is really important to you. When they get a new job, show up on the first morning with a latte for them. People will blossom in your presence, even when you are wilting and need them to hold you up and remind you what direction the sun is in.
When it comes to God, it is so essential to be a part of your church, but also to have someone you can study the Bible with. I have a friend who will commit to studying a Bible book with me, and we will take three days where we are sometimes up until 3 in the morning with the book of Jonah, crying and confessing the things we were afraid to voice aloud in the daytime.
Also, I rescued a dog a few months ago, and watching her have the courage to recover from her abuse and to love again has been so inspiring and helpful to me regarding my relationships with God and others.

Kaylee Francis lives in Portland, Oregon and has a degree in Bible/Theology with minors in psychology and English. She has been everything from a director at an organization that cares for women in the adult entertainment industry to an actor in a beef jerky commercial and is seeking out the next adventure. She spends every waking hour with Eärendil, her rescued papillon greyhound, while tweeting (@KayleeFran) about feminism, PTSD, and Speed Racer.

 

taraTara

Is it just me, or does the word “support” carry a weight of obligation or instability or something? I feel uncomfortable at the thought of admitting my seeking of support, consuming bits of help and encouragement, because I can’t always give back in the same capacity, and that kills me a little bit inside. But at the end of the day, I do seek support from different sources. I do need to be supported by my community and my God and myself. Maybe it’s time to get over my “support” complex.

Over the past year, my circle of friends has narrowed, and it’s been a painful, but necessary experience. In a small group Bible study with my sisters and handful of close girlfriends I admire, I do my best to share my perspective on life and let them into a heart that often keeps walls up. My sister Trisha gave me an epic lecture about laying it all out on the table before our first meeting. It wouldn’t work otherwise, she said. I’m still learning to let those people I love fully enter my deepest, darkest messes of life. It’s an ongoing journey. But surrounding myself with a smaller group of trusted friends has meant my heart feels safer and well cared for.

The older I get, the more introverted I become. When I was younger, I would equate being alone with being lonely, so I did whatever I could to avoid being by myself. After I graduated from college and wasn’t constantly surrounded by my peers at all hours of the day and night, I became more attuned to what my body and soul needed. God clearly began to reveal to me that I needed rest. I needed quiet moments to share with only Him. I think I was reluctant at fist, but soon I began to crave time alone like I needed it to survive. And in a way, I do. I still love sharing my life with people and building relationships — no less than I did before this revelation of my increasing introversion. But now I make it a priority to be alone and be still. In those moments, I write or pray or read or listen to music, and that’s how I get my energy back.

How do I receive support from God? Oh, let me count the ways! I tend to hover around a 10 on the “hot mess” scale of life. That means I don’t have it all together / I have mostly none of it together. I’m in constant need of grace, and for as much as I ask for it, He never fails to deliver. It’s hard, though, you know? To be like “Hey, God! I’m a flailing little human who needs you to help me get out of bed in the morning!” It feels just a tad selfish. But my favorite thing about continuing to grow in my faith is that my collections of life trials and triumphs reflect His character in ways I never truly grasped through Bible stories or theologians, or tales from the older and wiser. He’s allowed me to live the whole mess out myself, knowing I’d repeatedly beg for grace and admit that I’m flailing. And in that way, I receive support from Him, flying away from open palms, knowing full well I can return to them anytime.

Tara is a graphic designer, writer, and Midwest enthusiast from Indianapolis, IN. She loves a lot of things, but mostly her dog Gretta, Young Life, and Taylor Swift. Tara writes about the beautiful, awkward, stretching, funny parts of life as a single 30-something Christian woman on her blog No Need for Mirrors.

 

ryanRyan

I try to receive support from others by investing in deep, meaningful friendships with people of all genders.  Assumptions can be powerful, and painful; I think a pitfall that many single young people fall into is not being communicative with their friends if romantic feelings develop, and I have been on both sides of this dynamic myself.  However, I ask my friends to help provide me with concrete support in this with clear communication and honesty.  Personal boundaries are one area in which I am still very much attempting to grow, and it’s often difficult to know in what ways I might be transgressing some fairly important ones, making singleness more difficult without even knowing it.  I ask God to help me discern the ways that I can better honor those who enter the various spheres of my life without compromising our friendships.

Ryan Kenji Kuramitsu is a Nikkei Christian writer and activist who works with groups including the Gay Christian Network and the Japanese American Citizens League to empower marginalized communities. He hopes to one day marry and have a family surrounded in love by the family of God.

 

 

KateKate

Personally, I’ve developed a Rule of Life that helps me keep myself sane. It involves bi-weekly time to be alone, daily pauses to stop and be mindful, weekly meetings with a group of women who are my heart and soul, yoga, and contemplative practices such as lectio divina and centering prayer.

I don’t hesitate to send out a text for help or prayer needs to friends when I am feeling overwhelmed.  Their replies and presence never fail to remind me I am not alone as I walk through life. I think it’s vital to ask for what I need, and in return be generous with what I have and what I can do. I’ve also discovered, though, that I can do a whole lot more than I thought I could and thus find myself learning new skills (often while googling random home repair questions!)

I’m continually reminded by others to be gentle with myself, which is an area I am learning to support myself in. Part of this gentleness is learning to be mindful of God with me in every moment. My greatest support often is simply stopping and breathing in that reminder of His presence.

Kate is mom to four wonderfully unique kids and friend to some of the best people you’ll ever meet.  After getting divorced in August of 2014, she began two exciting new jobs – one as a legal administrative assistant and the other as a piano teacher. In her free time, she enjoys exploring faith, mystery and beautiful words, listening to Tiger’s baseball games, and engaging in autism and lgbtq advocacy. You can find her on Twitter and on her blog.

 

AlishaAlisha

I seek out specific times to hang out with friends in my life stage and also married women. I’m intentional about having alone/quiet time to meditate, write, and pray. I’m transparent and honest about my frustrations with singleness. I make time “evaluate” life on a weekly basis: identifying good, joys, and uglies, even if its just a brief thought. I exercise & listen to worship music. I check in throughout the week with close friends via text for connection and community.

Alisha is a 32 year old Texan who transplanted to Spokane, WA in 2013.  Growing up in church in the South, she was expected to marry & make babies, but God had another plan involving singleness and a career in international education bringing her to Gonzaga University. While marriage and family would be a great adventure to embark on, the roller coaster ride of singleness has brought her many joys, tears, and treasures including: travel, the love of red wine, running, food, and Taylor Swift….Did I mention she’s still available?

 

johnJohn

I’ve been living on my own for awhile now. At first it was very easy to isolate. I could bunker down in my apartment and not see anyone but my roommates for an entire weekend if I chose to. But that gets really lonely. I’ve made an intentional effort to be with people, on a schedule, throughout the week. That kind of regular connection with people creates the community we absolutely need. Thursday night movie group has become one of my absolute favorites thing. We do dinner, watch a movie, and then hang out. There’s something about the consistency of the group and the intimate nature of being in someone’s house, having dinner, and experiencing something in common that is totally essential to how I live. That group is part of me and I them.

John Lussier is an M.Div. student at Multnomah University studying theology and ethics. His love languages are beer, burritos, and books. He’s a good guy and loves the Lord. John sometimes goes on extended rants over on Twitter.

 

Mary SharonMary Sharon

Thank God for my friends Rosemary and Dan. And Jane and Jerry. And Kathy and Steve. And Signe and Russell. And Mary and Bert. And for Judy and Jane and Helen and Catherine and Terri and a host of others who occasionally pull me off the grid to feed me and renew me.

I have my hiking and birding friends. I have my coffee friends. I have my Sunday afternoon organ concert friends. (Well, I did until my travel schedule became so wild.)

Like Jesus, I seek out those whose hospitality restores me. I cannot give myself a pep talk when I feel down, so I seek out those who are a graced listening presence. I can go on nature walks and drink in the beauty of creation with my own ears and eyes, but I prefer the ears and eyes of friends to help me to discover and share the beauty.

And sometimes I simply savor things alone. Watching my backyard birds as they move through the seasons. Baking bread each week, making yogurt. Cleaning my home space, making it lovely and fresh. These things bring me pleasure and joy.

Mary Sharon Moore is a Catholic author, teacher, speaker, and spiritual director, whose practice spans the United States. She works with individuals in all states of life (single, married, divorced, widowed, the “waiting and wondering”) who may be discerning a call to celibate life. For more on her work, visit marysharonmoore.com.


Please return next Monday for the next (and final) Single Perspective.

Sharelines:

9 unmarried writers share their thoughts on getting support from others, God, and themselves.

The Single Perspective: On Seeking Support

Ideas for seeking support as an unmarried person (and offering it to your single friends).

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Friday

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What I Didn’t Resolve In January {at The Mudroom}

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As you may have gathered, January was a time of change and growth for me, much of it very dramatic.

As I prepared to write a piece for the brand new contributor blog, The Mudroom, I sat for a time with the theme: New Leaves and Clean Breaks. It seemed tailor made for me.

I wrote about the end of the year, and January and what changed in that time (even as it continues to swirl, not quite settling yet).

I’m still figuring out how all of this will look as I embrace the gifts of February, but I want to share the journey with you. Would you join me at The Mudroom?

Sharelines:

Transition, and resolutions I didn't make for @mudroomblog.

The story of January and the resolutions that made me for @mudroomblog.

My first piece for @mudroomblog. It's about January, and all the changes that came (and are coming).

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11

Wednesday

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de(tales): red mary janes

Kristin and I met during an event at the Festival of Faith and Writing. But we became friends because we both wanted to go to a panel discussion on writing about sex. Kristin is a friend for the journey, and has encouraged me through the distance and the internet in the time since we met. She’s also an amazing writer, and one of the founders of the phenomenal blog You Are Here, which explores stories about place from a lot of different angles. 

Today she’s sharing a story close to my heart (I also have a pair of red Mary Janes). 

Enjoy, friends. 

redshoes2

The first pair of red suede Mary Jane shoes were purchased for my youngest daughter simply because I couldn’t resist them. As far as I’m concerned, there’s just something about red shoes anyway, but on my daughter’s sturdy little feet they were so cute it hurt my mama heart.

At four, S wasn’t yet demanding full autonomy when it came to her wardrobe, so I could easily get away with purchasing and presenting a new item to her. And besides, with an older sister paving the way through life, S wore mostly hand-me-downs—a colorful and somewhat random collection of pieces, many which had once been part of coordinated outfits but had since been separated from their original pairings. Somehow, the red suede shoes went perfectly with everything, in an eclectic, haphazard way. This was good, because S LOVED those red shoes, and reached for them each morning before heading to preschool.

I loved them too—even more than I had when I first spotted them on the Internet. Now those once-inanimate shoes were animated by feet I loved, kicking leaves on the sidewalk as S held my hand on walks home from school. I burned the image in my mind, while my heart said a small, silly prayer: Don’t let these moments of hand-holding and leaf-kicking ever change.

The next fall, when it was time to put sundresses and sandals away and to start trying on last year’s jeans and jackets to see if anything still fit, S spotted her red shoes, which had been in hibernation for the summer. She hugged them with glee, as if reuniting with a friend after a summer away. Releasing the hug, S strapped the Mary Janes on her feet and took them for a skip around the bedroom. Quickly, she came back to me, puzzled and hurt, like someone she loved and trusted had just pinched her.

“They don’t feel good,” she complained.

“That’s because you’re growing up,” I said brightly, “and your feet are growing, too!” My firstborn had always been excited to be growing. Sure, it might mean she had to say farewell to a beloved winter coat (which she would later see on her sister), but in her mind that was a small price to pay for getting bigger. Bigger was her goal!

For S, however, this was not good news. As soon as the words had left my mouth, I understood that S saw getting bigger as more scary than exciting. Getting bigger meant growing up in lots of ways—moving on to different toys (and feeling sad about the ones she now neglected), and heading to different schools (she was starting kindergarten). It meant that her sister was growing up, too, and acting grown up in ways S didn’t care for (second-graders thought they were SO great).

In short, growing up meant change, and S liked things just the way they were.

I spent some time consoling her before turning to a parent’s favorite trick: distraction.

“Guess what? You can help me pick out your new shoes!” I said. Who can resist new shoes, I thought, leading the reluctant S to the computer where I pulled up my favorite children’s apparel website, where the red shoes had been purchased.

“Look!” I said. “The Mary Janes! Look at the pretty colors they come in!” I liked variety. After all, the fun of getting something new is that it’s different, right? I clicked on a dusty blue pair, then the purple ones. Purple was, after all, S’s favorite color.

But S spotted a tiny square of red near the palette of color options. “I want red,” she stated, firmly.

So I bought red suede Mary Janes again…and then again the following fall…and then the fall after that, too. The red shoes became the foundation of S’s signature look, along with her very long hair, which she insisted she’d never cut.

A small part of me worried—is she too cautious, too afraid of change? Will she always cling to the safe and the known—to the things that others expect of her?

I watched those pairs of Mary Janes grow, year-by-year. Often, the shoes looked cautious—holding back, heels to the edge of a room as S observed the dynamics at a birthday party before diving in, or hesitating to climb any higher on the play structure at the park. But as the red shoes got bigger, I also saw them doing new things, like dangling from a piano bench as S confidently played at her first piano recital, pedaling a two-wheeler fast enough for Grandpa to let go of the seat, and auditioning for the lead role in a play. Her devotion to the red shoes was not holding her back.

One fall, when we went to order the new installment of red shoes, we realized that S’s feet had grown out of the kids’ sizes. I watched her face and saw a flash of sadness, followed by a look of brave determination. “We can find something else,” she said. This time, I was the one feeling a sense of loss—an emptiness that comes with watching something lovely and dear pass on, out of your control, before you’re ready.

Looking at S’s face again, I knew the bravery I saw there wasn’t about the shoes. Letting go of the red suede Mary Janes didn’t require bravery, but growing up did. And while she seemed to know that she didn’t have to like the inevitability of growing up—to embrace the forward-march of time and follow her older sister toward the scary land of adolescence—she also seemed to know she couldn’t fight it. There might even be some new treasures awaiting her down that road…like black patent leather Doc Martens boots and an electric guitar.


Kristin TennantKristin Tennant lives in Urbana, Illinois, where she and her husband parent three teenage daughters and cook meals designed to lure many friends to their table. Kristin (@kt_writes on Twitter)  has been working as a freelance writer since 2002, helped found the collaborative blog You Are Here, and is also in the process of writing a memoir. Her youngest daughter, now 14, has not only fallen in love with other shoes (like the patent leather Docs), but she has definitely cut her hair—it’s bobbed, and shaved on one side.


You can check out the other de(tales) (so far) here.

Sharelines:

A de(tale) about growing up, change, and red mary janes by @kt_writes

A story told in shoes by the lovely @kt_writes

The newest de(tale): red mary janes by @kt_writes

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Monday

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The Single Perspective: Favorite Things About Singleness

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Welcome to the second week of The Single Perspective! This month, Single Minded Mondays is exploring varying perspectives on questions related to singleness, defined here as the state of being unmarried. If you missed week one, you can catch it here.

Question: What are some of your favorite things about being single?

khristiKhristi

I have truly enjoyed this journey of becoming and self-awareness that I wasn’t conscious even mattered up until a few years ago. I love being able to work on being a whole person (spiritually, physically and emotionally). I truly believe that I need to be the best possible “me” that I can be for my relationships, career, service to others, etc. I’ve learned some things about myself that I like and some things that I need to work on and be aware of. My singleness has allowed me the space to grow in those things, and to fall in love with those areas. My singleness has allowed me to embrace those parts of myself.

Khristi Adams is an Author, Pastor, Youth Advocate & Filmmaker. She is the author of the book The Misinterpreted Gospel of Singleness: a cultural critique of myths surrounding singleness in the Christian community. She is single, dating, happy, and having a great time living in Washington, D.C.

 

BrendaBrenda

I love that my life and my body are mine. I don’t have to adjust my clothes, hairstyle, or schedule to someone else’s preferences. I don’t have to work constantly at keeping a guy interested. I’m used to living independently and having my own back. I can dream my own dreams and make changes or sacrifices where needed without affecting anyone else. And when I get sick, no one else is going to catch it or later give it back to me.

Brenda Wilkerson lives and writes in Memphis, Tennessee. She loves Jesus, Friends, basketball, sunshine, and her cat, Peach. She has been divorced and dateless for four years. You can connect with her on her blog, Don’t Stop Believing, and on Twitter.

 

kevinKevin

Sometimes I really like being single. And sometimes I don’t. Sometimes, I like it and I don’t at the same time. The times I feel good about it are these: when I can read for hours or watch 3 movies in a row or play video games or go for a solo hike or just geek out about something that I love without the responsibility of someone else’s needs. This may sound very selfish. It is. I love it. It takes a lot of pressure off when all you have to do is listen to yourself and what you need. I am starting to think that that is the only way we can truly be good at loving and listening to other people.

Another thing I like about being single is that I can be entirely myself, and find out exactly who that is. Yes, of course I like to impress girls and make awesome impressions, but as I grow up I think I am getting more and more honest about who I am, and I credit some of that to being single. When I am in relationships, I tend to try and be what they want. I don’t look in the mirror contentedly. To be fair, I don’t really ever look in the mirror contentedly, and don’t really think I should, but I’ve realized theres a big difference between trying to be someone else and trying to be who you are.

One more thing I like about being single is my attitude. When I’m not in a relationship and I want to go the movies or ask a girl out or go swing dancing or go to the beach, I have to decide what to do in the face of nervousness and possible failure. It is a very scary and uncomfortable place to be and I have found much true life and growth in that place. I have found confidence and self respect in, sometimes, very dismal, dark places in my soul, where I didn’t think I had what it took. More often than not, it turns out I did.

Kevin Strickland is an Editor for a show on Public Television. He lives in California and enjoys trying to figure out his life. (He is also Cara’s brother).

 

kayleeKaylee

1. I can read a book whenever I please
2. Plans with a different friend every night
3. “Dear Roommates, Allison and I decided to up and leave for Canada today. I have the dog; you can finish off the yogurt. See you in a week! –Kaylee” (Do you know how much of a problem this would be if I was actually married to my roommate and the baby was mine?!)
4. Cheaper meals, cheaper air travel
5. Boys still buy my drinks instead of carefully budgeting and discovering we don’t have money for Moscow Mules this month
Kaylee Francis lives in Portland, Oregon and has a degree in Bible/Theology with minors in psychology and English. She has been everything from a director at an organization that cares for women in the adult entertainment industry to an actor in a beef jerky commercial and is seeking out the next adventure. She spends every waking hour with Eärendil, her rescued papillon greyhound, while tweeting (@KayleeFran) about feminism, PTSD, and Speed Racer.
taraTara

I’ve lived in five different cities since graduating from college in 2006. In every single one of those places, I dreamed of finding something (or someone) to make me stay, but I also found it to be wondrously exciting that I didn’t have to. I’m approximately 50 percent free spirit, and that half of me has had the best time living in unexpected places, making unexpected friends, having unexpected adventures. The other half of me still longs for a sense of permanence, but it doesn’t make me any less thankful for the experiences I’ve collected as a single girl with the ability to pick up and go if the Spirit leads me.

In college, our campus pastor’s wife was a keynote speaker at the annual Women’s Conference one year. Her talk has stuck with me since I heard her words in the chapel auditorium. It was about singleness. Her singleness. She spoke about not waiting until she was married to live her life. To have adventures. To serve God. She spoke about searching for God’s purpose behind her singleness and becoming thankful for those years.

I’ve done my best to adopt her philosophy, even though it’s extremely challenging for me. One of my favorite things about being single is that I have the freedom to dedicate so much of my time and energy to a ministry I’m passionate about. I’m able to spend time with high school girls throughout the week and go with them to camp every summer and go get spur-of-the-moment milkshakes without having to answer to anyone. Can married people do this, too? Sure. But for me, it’s my way of living into that call I received years ago as a junior in college to do life now, serve God now, be myself now.

Tara is a graphic designer, writer, and Midwest enthusiast from Indianapolis, IN. She loves a lot of things, but mostly her dog Gretta, Young Life, and Taylor Swift. Tara writes about the beautiful, awkward, stretching, funny parts of life as a single 30-something Christian woman on her blog No Need for Mirrors.
ryanRyan

One of the things I’ve heard single people really appreciate about their singleness is that great cliché: you’re not “tied down ” to any particular location, able to travel or move to an entirely different place without great guilt or sorrow.  St. Paul echoes something similar in one of his most famous epistles shortly before his treatise on Love, insisting against the grain of social norms that it is actually “better to stay unmarried.”  In so doing, Paul speaks to the truth that a person who wields their sexuality in a celibate way (singleness) is often able to do a rare kind of work that would otherwise be impeded by the everyday business of family life.  It’s this special, sanctifying and kingdom-building work that we are called to as Christians during our singleness, either for a season or a lifetime.

I have appreciated how being unmarried has allowed me to move through such spaces and undertake unique opportunities, building relationships and investing in work I would not necessarily be able to do if I had a family at this time.  I think this has to be one of my favorite things about being at this young stage of my life, and it’s not something I expect to look back on with regret.  I hope to continue to influence and impact others positively where I am at, creating memories and risking myself in ways I won’t be able to do in the future.  I want to be able to enjoy the fruits of this labor way down the line, with my family, when and if I get married.

Ryan Kenji Kuramitsu is a Nikkei Christian writer and activist who works with groups including the Gay Christian Network and the Japanese American Citizens League to empower marginalized communities. He hopes to one day marry and have a family surrounded in love by the family of God.

 

KateKate

I love this question, especially as my view of being single has many things attached to it. My singleness is defined by being divorced, by having four children, by being 40-ish, among other things. It’s been good to really think about the gifts that being a single woman (again) has brought me.

Being single has allowed, and really compelled, me to be more fully myself; to discover who I am and to explore life in all its depth. That exploration hasn’t come in big adventures or great experiences, but rather in learning to be present to each moment. I went from being a married stay-at-home mom to being a single working mom of four, which was a huge jump. I absolutely love the work I do – work I wouldn’t be doing if I would still be married. I am pursuing a career I never would have dreamed of just one year ago. Being single has forced me to walk through hard, hard situations, but in doing so, I have discovered a beauty in life that I couldn’t see before.

It took me a bit to get used to the different rhythm in life singleness brought me, with my kids going to their dad’s every other weekend. The wall of silence that hit me as I kissed them goodbye and shut the door was at times deafening. But I have come to greatly appreciate the time and space that being single gives me. This time and space gives opportunity to grow friendships and connect with others. Whether grabbing a cup of coffee or late night texting, I deeply enjoy the variety of people I’m able to share life with in those moments. That time and space also allows me to nurture my creative side with a notebook full of doodles, an instagram with too many Michigan sky pictures, and hours spent at the piano bringing fun and rest to balance the crazy part of my life.

Kate is mom to four wonderfully unique kids and friend to some of the best people you’ll ever meet.  After getting divorced in August of 2014, she began two exciting new jobs – one as a legal administrative assistant and the other as a piano teacher. In her free time, she enjoys exploring faith, mystery and beautiful words, listening to Tiger’s baseball games, and engaging in autism and lgbtq advocacy. You can find her on Twitter and on her blog.

 

AlishaAlisha

I love the freedom it allows.
The flexibility.
My choices are my own…to a certain extent.

Alisha is a 32 year old Texan who transplanted to Spokane, WA in 2013.  Growing up in church in the South, she was expected to marry & make babies, but God had another plan involving singleness and a career in international education bringing her to Gonzaga University. While marriage and family would be a great adventure to embark on, the roller coaster ride of singleness has brought her many joys, tears, and treasures including: travel, the love of red wine, running, food, and Taylor Swift….Did I mention she’s still available?

 

johnJohn

What I love about being single is “me time” and “me space.” Despite how others have described me I call myself an introvert. I need certain places and times to just do what I want and be completely myself. My room is that way. If you were to go in there right now you’d see an absolute mess. I doubt I’d get away with that if I was dating someone. But that’s my place. I like to spend several hours before bed reading. That’s me time that, I imagine, would be harder to get if I was married. But it’s my time. I can use it as I like.

Of course dating and married people have those same needs, but I think as a single person I can meet them a little more easily.

John Lussier is an M.Div. student at Multnomah University studying theology and ethics. His love languages are beer, burritos, and books. He’s a good guy and loves the Lord. John sometimes goes on extended rants over on Twitter.

 

Mary SharonMary Sharon

When I was, oh, maybe eight, I began to really “get” that I enjoyed being alone. Having no sisters, I wasn’t particularly skilled at developing friendships with girls in my class. (Now, others might say that because they had no sisters, they were drawn to forming friendships with girls in their class. But I am an introvert, so there you have it.)

Back when I was about eight, after dinner my mother would wash the dishes, and my role was to dry them. “But first I need to go to the bathroom,” I’d say. So down the hall I’d go, do what I may or may not have needed to do, and then somehow found myself quietly walking past the kitchen door and into the living room, where I would sit. Just sit, on the sofa, perfectly contented to be alone with my thoughts and with God.

When the dishes were done it would finally dawn on my mother that I had never returned from the bathroom. I don’t recall how long I was able to pull off that routine.

So, for many, a huge gift of living alone as a celibate is the solitude itself. Holy solitude, which enables me to be renewed in loving relationship with the Lord.

I cannot imagine not living in holy solitude—say, in community. And I cannot imagine any source of interior renewal apart from this most privileged relationship. I live for this life of prayer which impels me to spend myself in service to the Gospel. My work is the fruit of my being in relationship.

Mary Sharon Moore is a Catholic author, teacher, speaker, and spiritual director, whose practice spans the United States. She works with individuals in all states of life (single, married, divorced, widowed, the “waiting and wondering”) who may be discerning a call to celibate life. For more on her work, visit marysharonmoore.com.


Please return next Monday for the next Single Perspective.

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10 single writers share their favorite things about singleness.

The Single Perspective: Favorite Things About Singleness (the second in a February series)

The Single Perspective is back for week two!

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Lessons In Belonging {review and giveaway}

Lessons In BelongingI wanted to read Erin Lane’s new book, Lessons in Belonging, because belonging is my thing. I talk and write and think about it more than anything else. Belonging, and longing for belonging, is the lens through which I see the world.

The more I read about it, the more curious I became. It’s a book about church, and about what it looks like to be a millennial in church. It’s a book about how terrifying and momentous it can be to commit to a church body, and to find your way there every week. But it’s about more than that. It’s a book about a woman, a marriage, a life. It’s a love story in every sense of the word. It is a book about what it means to belong, and how it feels when you don’t.

There is a feeling I get when I’m reading a book by Lauren Winner. If you’ve been here long, you know that she is my favorite. I trust her to tell me the truth, to be honest about what she doesn’t know, to take me along on the journey. I felt that way, walking alongside Erin.

It is almost a cliche to say that a book is conversational. Most of the time, I don’t think we mean it. We mean that it is relatable, or informal. This book is conversational. It is punctuated by humor that made me laugh aloud in my empty house and exclaim “Oh Erin” (or frankly “Oh Rush,” about her husband). There is a give and take to the dialogue and the narrative that made me feel a part of the experience, not just a bystander. Erin did not just write about belonging, she invited me to belong in her thought processes and her relationships. She is hospitable with her words in a way that made me forgetful of the limitations of our medium. I am guessing that she will receive many emails, letters and comments from people who consider her a friend after reading this book.

Like any good love story, there is a fair amount of “will-she-or-won’t-she” in these pages. She writes gratefully about her Catholic father who continued to bring her and her brother to Mass, whether they wanted to go, or not. Later in the book, she writes about the Pharisees in a passage that zinged somewhere deep in my heart: “Now if you grew up in Sunday school, you’ll probably remember the Pharisees as the ‘teacher’s pets’  who were always trying to find favor with God through dogged obedience to religious law…I’m tempted to place myself out of their ranks. But Jesus spends a lot of time with the Pharisees, and I should be grateful for that. I suspect that this is a group of people to which I would have belonged, albeit reluctantly.”

But it’s not just a horizontal love story, but a vertical one, too. Although Erin’s faith doesn’t waver more than any honest person’s does, her words paint a picture of her love for a God whose love and dominion are vast and spacious. “Recognizing that God is both friend and stranger helps me hold the paradox that God is both knowable and unknowable,” she writes.

As if this book hadn’t already captured my heart enough, Erin also writes about friendship, learning to ask for what she needs from those around her, and “blurting out at random, “Do you like me? And secondly, do you have time for me?”

Late in the book, Erin describes herself as an “anthropologist of belonging” (she graduated with an anthropology degree, after all). As soon as I read it, I realized the full import of this book. This is not a how-to guide, or a self-help tome. It won’t teach you to like church better, or to find one for your very own. This book is a close study of what it looks like to belong, mostly from the outside. It is a missive of hope that says clearly: “this is possible, don’t give up.”

If I could, I would give all of you a copy of this lovely, insightful book. Thanks to Intervarsity Press, I do get to give it away to five of you. You can enter using the Rafflecopter below (if you’re reading this on an email, you will have to click through to enter).

This is a book to buy for yourself and give away to friends. I already have several people in mind who need it. You can buy it here.

If you’re local to my area, you’ll also want to put March 5th on your calendar and come down to The Book Parlor from 7-8pm for a reading and book signing. Find out more here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Win a copy of @holyhellions' amazing new book #LessonsInBelonging from @littledidcknow

Cara of @littledidcknow reviews @holyhellions' book #LessonsInBelonging

Lessons In Belonging by @holyhellions: a missive of hope (a review and giveaway)

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