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Getting Serious About: Publishing a Book

DSCF0270When I was in the fifth grade we had to write an essay about what we wanted to be when we grew up. One of my best friends at the time, Tiffani, and I decided that we wanted to be therapists. But I also wanted to write. I ended up writing in that essay that I wanted to be a relationship therapist and write books about relationships. Not long after sixth grade started, I moved away and didn’t reconnect with Tiffani again until we found one another through Facebook somehow nearly two decades later. Now Tiffani is a nurse and I work as an administrative assistant in the legal department of a company. Yet the desire to talk about relationships, the desire to write, has never gone away.

Many of you know all about how I started doing interviews with married couples and posting them on my blog. You may also know that I spoke to the single women at my church during the Marriage and Family workshop about dating and purity. You may even know that I decided to write a book and have been working on it off and on for about four years. What you may not know is that the book I dabbled in for so long now has a title, a cover, beta readers, and a tentative release date.

One of the main reasons I started The Season for Getting Serious was so that I could encourage other women to get serious about their walk with the Lord. I’ve had a couple opportunities to do “Getting Serious” talks to help do just that. I’ve hosted college prep workshops, spoke at an empowerment workshop and an authentic self workshop, and taught ladies’ bible classes about topics that very much relate to helping women get serious about who they are in Christ and what He has called them to do. Yet I hadn’t stepped up and done the one thing I knew that God had called me, Erica D. Hearns, to do: write.

Oh, I wrote blogs, but no books had been written by my hand. I was dissatisfied with the books I read geared toward single women and began writing what I felt God wanted me to say to them in drips and drabs, but I wasn’t really committed to publishing it.  I wasn’t sure it was God that was leading me to want to publish a book. Maybe it was my own selfish desire.

In 2012, the guest speaker at the ladies day, Sister Felicia Carruthers, did an activity where she had us think back to when we were kids and the things we liked to do. Somewhere in the things we always did as a kid we might find our purpose. That was a simple exercise for me. I’d always written. I’d written Spiritual Adventure articles for the local congregation when I was in college. I wrote a poem for a coffee shop the Christian Student Center hosted. I didn’t minister to people by singing or going to medical school to save lives; I used my writing to promote the things of God. That ladies’ day was the day that I realized I needed to get serious about seeking publication.

Through many false starts, distractions, frustrations and tests, I kept limping forward. I gave my book to a couple of beta readers about two weeks ago. I commissioned a cover and received the finalized version yesterday. I’m amazed at how God has brought me to this point, just a couple steps away from publishing my first book. Somewhere along the way, I started to take this journey seriously. I wrote the difficult passages. I’ve put myself out there for feedback. I was able to critique my cover and propose the changes I wanted without compromising what I wanted or insulting the designer (I hope). I am making sure that my genuine concern and compassion are evident to the reader as much as the urgency and call to obedience and repentance. I’ve committed myself to publishing the book that God gave me to publish.

Sometimes, in the “busyness” of everyday life, the still quiet voice that nudges us towards doing what God would have us to do is drowned out. The godly goals and desires we have can get washed away in a sea of stress and worry. But what I try to remind myself is that someone is looking for the thing that I am procrastinating about doing. Someone needs to read this book. Someone needs to read the next one.  As Mordecai tells Esther, if I don’t do it, God will raise up someone else to do it; but what if I was placed here and given this talent for such a time as this?

So, anyway. I have a book coming out soon. I’ll release the title, cover, and so forth as the release date approaches. I’m still working out some of the kinks and getting things in order. But it’s more real than ever now.

XOXO,

Erica

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Monday Motivation: Day 11

I’m over a third of the way to a new habit, at nearly halfway as a matter of fact. For the past 11 days, I have gotten up and went walking/jogging. When I first started going, it was cold in the mornings. I wasn’t excited about getting up and getting out, and I didn’t really see the point in doing so. If you’ve ever seen the movie Fireproof, you can understand when I say I was just going through the motions like Kirk Cameron at the beginning of the Love Dare. The fact that I was making any effort at all was enough. I was really going just to plug in my headphones and listen to some music. All this work had better be recognized and appreciated.

As I lay in bed some mornings looking at my clock, I had a real struggle with myself to get out of the bed. It wasn’t because I was too tired–I’m usually up by 6:30 and I don’t go out until 7:30–it was because beginning things can really suck sometimes. I would literally have to list every reason why it was good for me to get out of the door:

  • It’s not like you are sleeping.
  • It’s not like you have something better to do (let alone that you’re actually going to do)
  • The sooner you go out, the sooner you can come back.
  • It’s good for your health
  • Don’t you want to look great again?
  • Aren’t you tired of not being able to run like you used to?
  • God gave you a body and you need to take care of it.
  • You paid good money that you could use right about now for those shoes.
  • Etc.

The worst thing about being out there was the cramping. I could walk all day, and if I jogged, after the initial discomfort, I would be fine. But as soon as I stopped, my calves would cramp so painfully, I’d want to collapse next to the garbage bins, grab my calves and scream “Why?!” like Nancy Kerrigan. The bottom of my feet, in the arch, would hurt so bad that I couldn’t even get through a sun salutation without wanting to cry. There’s just too much wait on my ankles, feet, and calves to be pounding repeatedly.

But what I’ve discovered as I embark on day 11 is that it all dissipates and changes the closer you get to making something a habit. I find I need a much shorter pep talk to get me out of the door, if any. I find that I can jog longer and don’t need as much rest in between jogs. I drank enough water for my insides to float and my legs didn’t cramp as much. I haven’t had any music the last three times I’ve been out. All of this is progress.

I’m only about halfway to a habit. A habit takes 21 days to create. I’m already seeing a little dedication and commitment pay off. If you’re trying to get rid of a bad habit, the best way is to create a good habit. I won’t tell you it will be easy. When I gave up caffeine, I had teeth gritting headaches that rival any migraine I’ve ever had, but the ability to have normal sleeping and waking patterns where I’m not dependent on caffeine to perk me up and too keyed up to go to sleep at a reasonable time is so worth it. Now, years later, I would probably have the shakes if I drank caffeine I’d be so keyed up. I don’t even miss it.

Yesterday’s sermon was entitled “You Can Do It.” We have a power in us that is limited only by our imagination. Even if I can’t run a 5K without walking now, I can get there and beyond there. It’s not impossible to overcome things if we just start doing them, consistently and faithfully, until it becomes a habit and not a have-to.

That’s my two cents, anyway. Leave yours in the comment section.

XOXO

2blu2btru

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Thoughtful Thursday: Balanced Thinking

One of the MANY pictures I took in St. Augustine. This is at the Old Jail.

There are few things that people both critically overthink and fatally underthink in equal amounts. One of those things is the idea of commitment, of forever.There’s a saying that goes “marry in haste, repent at leisure.” Sometimes we are too quick to pull the trigger on major decisions and make mistakes we can’t take back. Sometimes, however, we face a bit of the opposite struggle.

As you all know, I am under a bit of a deadline in my relationship. Mr. Perfect and I will be at five years of dating in early December 2012. Our relationship could be in preschool, have started and finished undergrad (or a five year master’s program), paid off a car loan, or completed Insanity or P90x approximately 60 times. In the past five years, many, many friends have met and married and had babies. They’ve moved to new cities and started completely new careers. I’ve gotten to be deliriously excited about at least ten engagements, five marriages, and two babies of people I really know and interact with, not to mention countless facebook friends. While I’ve enjoyed everyone else’s happiness and success in the relationship arena, I do wonder if I’m in the remedial love class. I mean, if you can’t either seal the deal or decide it’s not going to work in five years…

I am at the point that I may be overthinking things when it comes to marriage and family. I am at the tipping point, so to speak. The content of this blog is not the extent of the relationship work and knowledge that I’ve acquired in the last three plus years I’ve been writing it. I’ve read so many books about relationships and marriage it is unreal. I have followed the blogs and taken the tests. I should be certified in relationship coaching. Still, I have NO idea what marriage will really be about for me. There are some things you just have to do to know, you know? I have a surplus of knowledge and no experience. In the current job market, you can’t get hired on that.

The key to this commitment issue, of course, is balance and perspective (OK, so maybe that’s two keys). This is why I decided to stick to my original plan of giving this five years (a really generous amount of time, IMHO). Any more time would be uncivilized. Anyone who’s ever even seen gambling on TV knows that there’s a time you have to place your bets and let it ride. Once Regis asked, “Is that your final answer?” there was no turning back. You have to lock it in. But how do you know when you have enough information to make an informed decision? When you have looked at it from every possible angle and ignored all the impossible ones. A balanced perspective.

If you haven’t been following my personal blog What I Wanted to Say (and why haven’t you, get on that!), then you are perhaps unaware that Mr. Perfect and I have started Pre-Marital Counseling. No, we are not engaged; it was something Mr. Perfect wanted to do before deciding on engagement. So far, we aren’t discovering too much; we have talked about nearly everything that’s been said over the last five weeks in six session by one mental health counselor and one minister and one book (huh? Yeah). Forever is such a far reaching decision that it requires a lot of thought and attention. However, at some point you have  to make a decision. The trick is to make a decision based on what you have learned and observed of yourself and your relationship, not other people.

Don’t play the even Miss Independent is getting married (which is true, and I’m beyond excited for her!) card, or the it’s been five years card, or the I’m awesome and you need to marry me card. In fact, just stop playing cards. Don’t pull straws or eeny meenie minie moe it, either. Make an informed decision.

I know many of you think that my sticking to a hard and fast deadline is silly. I don’t get the point of pre-marital counseling for a pre-engaged couple of five years, either. But we all have to do what gives us a level of comfort that we’ve explore all viable options and possible angles without overthinking and possibly missing out on something wonderful.

That’s my two cents anyway. Leave yours in the comments section

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The Herman Cain School of Commitment

I must admit, I haven’t been closely following the Herman Cain story. I have heard about the sexual harrassment allegations and the alleged mistress who have all come out recently, though. This post is not really to make any judgements on that. What caught my attention was the headline today that he’s “reassessing” his candidacy for President.

It is astonishing how remarkably peaceful your life can be going on, how well you can be doing and how much growth you can be experiencing, when all of a sudden, your train gets derailed. The thing is, though, he put himself out there, held himself up for public scrutiny. The same thing happened to Kanye West, Roman Polanski, Michael Jackson, and many others. There’s just something about achieving success, or putting yourself out there in an effort to achieve success, that just opens a person up to all kinds of nasty things showing up from the past and present to destroy the future.

What does any of this have to do with a relationship blog, much less commitment? The short answer is that in today’s society when employers as well as potential mates check out your Facebook page and twitter, scrutiny is almost unavoidable. With such scrutiny, it’s inevitable that any dirt you are doing will be found out. I’m all for that; get out the black light and check.it.out. If you’re going to commit, you must AUDIT.

It would be silly for Herman Cain (or anyone else for that matter) to think that they would get within spitting distance of the most powerful position in all the land without be thoroughly vetted. America may not be all she used to be, but our President is arguably still the most powerful man in the world. Forgetting for the moment that people would look longer and harder at Cain for being a Black man (who is a Republican), we must admit that anyone wanting to be President is subject to a thorough inquiry. We want to know about your business dealings; the decision making in your personal life; your ability to commit to your own wife and family; your personal integrity; your ability to make the decisions that are best for this country and not just your interest; your ability to keep us out of military conflict; your ideological precepts, and; your plan of action. We want to know where you went to school, what grades you made and your track record in politics thus far. We want to know your take on foreign policy. In short, we won’t vote for just anyone for President (though, when it comes to local government, that may be another story…ahem…).

What I propose is that we take our evaluations for filling the position of our spouse just as seriously. We should vet any potential mates just as thoroughly as we do people we might vote for in an election. Just as the President of the United States has a lot of power over our lives, so will a spouse. A spouse is one of the most influential people in your lives. They are a factor in determining where you live, where you work (even if you work), where you worship, how you celebrate the holidays, and how your household is set up and run. They can influence your mood, motivate or dissuade you. Yet so many people are satisfied with trading byproducts for the real thing.

I know plenty of people who traded good sex for committed relationships. Before they realize it, they are living with (and fighting with) the same person for years without any real commitment on the other person’s part. They have invested their hopes and dreams into a relationship with no strings attached. They want commitment; they expect to have a commitment someday. But they have already committed themselves on the basis of sex, charming words, the “serious gesture” of moving in together. At first they agree with the “we don’t need a piece of paper to be committed” mentality, but then they start to question it.

It’s like how you fall in love with a candidate for President, then start to see inconsistencies in his agenda. You did a little deeper, and then you find affairs while his wife is dying of cancer, sexual harrassment allegations, recreational drug use. Now his character is called into question and you are rethinking your vote. But if you’ve already made the campaign contributions and cast your vote, there isn’t much you can do except be disillusioned and know better next time.

In 2 Peter 1, Peter gives a list of virtues for the Christian to aspire to in order to make their calling and election sure. If you want the vote, their are some things you have to do to ensure you live up to the voter’s expectations of the ideal candidate.

So many times, we only “campaign” in the early stages of the relationship, trying to win each other over. We put our best foot forward and roll out our ideal agendas for the future in the hopes of impressing the other person, of getting their vote, so to speak. We conceal all the bad things, telling ourselves that it’s too early in the relationship to bring it up, because we know it might cost us the vote.

We are also the voter, trying to determine whether to vote for this politician. Sometimes, we cast our vote too soon. Either because the person has the same political affiliation or has a similar stance to us on one or two key issues. But as time goes on, we realize that there are different kinds of democrats, different kinds of republicans. There are varying degrees of liberalness and conservativism to be considered. Maybe they don’t live up to the principles they espoused. Maybe their personal character is called into question when things they tried to cover up are revealed. But once the ballot is cast and our vote is counted, all we can do is know better next time.

My encouragement to you is to treat your potential mate like a presidential candidate. Scrutinize him/her. Make sure their actions line up with the things they say they value. Don’t let them get your vote just because they are attractive or say they value family or make you laugh. Don’t make premature gestures of commitment in a non-committed relationship. This means more than just sex. This also includes premature emotional attachment, building a future in your head with no expressed commitment (I have been guilty of that one), playing “wife” or “husband”, financially supporting someone.

No one would make payments to the electric company each month and settle for the promise of having electricity sometime in the future; you pay the bill with the expectation that when you flip a switch, a light will come on. It doesn’t take us long to complain if this doesn’t happen. We aren’t giving them our money for nothing; we expect something in return. When we commit to those who haven’t committed to us, we are paying money for services we never receive. Don’t accept that in your personal life any more than you would with your finances.

This is not to say that a person’s past is always the best way to determine their future actions; people can and do change. But often the things people try to cover up are things they haven’t learned from, haven’t evolved from, or don’t even realize still deeply affect them. People who can be honest about who they were at least have the realization of the person they were, and that this may impact who they are now. The point is to be dilligent and investigate until you are satisfied you can confidently endorse this person. Then make sure this person is going to be committed to you as well. Make sure they will fulfill their campaign promises if you cast your vote for them before you cast it.

XOXO

2blu2btru

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Love is a Four Letter Word

Love has less to do with your feelings than you think; in fact, love is about what you do and not how you feel. It could be said that love is perfected when you do something loving despite how you feel.

In non-romantic relationships, we understand this perfectly. We can understand how you may not always have the warm fuzzies for your children, but you still feed and clothe them, still keep them safe and try to raise them well. You know your parents love you because they care for you (or know they don’t love you because they don’t, which is, unfortunately, the reality of some). You know your parents love you because they go to jobs they hate in order to provide for you, do what’s best for you instead of what they really want to do. Loving sacrifice is something that most people automatically assume into the role of parenting (though less so now than in times past).

Think about all of the friends and family members you love. Some of them irk your nerves, but you still deal with them. They borrow money you never get back or get an attitude and stop speaking to you for no apparent reason. When they go through hard times, we try to be there for them, even though the last thing we want to do is hear another woe is me story. No matter how much they frustrate and disappoint us, no matter how many people tell us to just let the relationship go, that they aren’t worth it, we keep loving them. Here, again, sacrificial love goes with the territory.

How, then, does love become all about me and how I feel when we discuss romantic love? How come, all of a sudden, I have to feel a certain way? I could say it’s because I’m not related to this person by blood, but I’m not related to my ne’er do well friend, either, and yet it doesn’t seem to be as hard to love her/him (action) even when I don’t feel like it.

Here’s the thing: with romantic love, their are these initial feelings involved they allow us to become attached to this person. These feelings are infatuation, mostly. They come about because of chemistry and mutual attraction. The way you look is attractive to me. All of that is great; it’s natural. But it’s not love.

Love is one of those tricky words that can be a noun or a verb. Love can be an idea (noun–like liberty). But when we talk about loving someone, we are talking about a verb, an action. As far as I know, love is not a state of being verb, which is a verb used when a noun or pronoun is not taking action but just is. No, love is an action verb; it’s something you do. So of course it irks me when people say they aren’t in love anymore; were you ever in love?

Love is a decision, a conscious decision that you have to make over and over. The feelings we like to think of as love ebb and flow. Peforming the actions of love can influence the feelings we think of as love if we are consistent in our actions. Just like our love for our children, family members, and friends, the love we have for the romantic partners we choose should be motivated by more than just feelings. We have a bond with this person that we have committed ourselves to growing and protecting. There are times when it’s easy, and times when it takes more effort. There are times when what our partner wants isn’t what they need. We have to love in a way that teaches, that shows affection, and that grows our bond.

Love is a commitment that you enter into by choice. It’s not something that overwhelms  you and manhandles you how it wants to. We would love to believe that, because it makes us exempt when we are no longer happy with the person we chose to commit ourselves to; we can simply “fall out of love.” The whirlwind has passed and we are back to our senses. Meddlesome love, always making us fall in love with the wrong people and commit ourselves to bad relationships. It’s not my bad choice; I just can’t help it.

I don’t mean to sound condescending or rude. I think love is powerful. There isn’t a more powerful force in the world. But if the only love you have is the love you feel, that’s not going to be powerful enough to sustain any relationship. I love writing, but if I only wrote when I felt like inspired, when I had the warm fuzzies, I’d never finish a piece. I love writing, but it involves a lot of hard work. I sometimes wonder if it’s worth the effort. But just before I give up, the right sentence or phrase brings back that loving feeling. I can’t subsist on that feeling, though. Love isn’t the feeling; it’s what keeps us moving until the feeling comes round again.

Anyway, bottom line: Love is a decision, a choice. If I had to use a definition, I’d use the definition of poety: an outflowing of emotion recollected in tranquility. The feelings are a part of it, but love is so much more. It’s about commitment, action, and common purpose and goals.

That’s my two cents anyway. Leave yours in the comments section, or email me at 2blu2btru4u@gmail.com

XOXO

2blu2btru

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Early Morning Carpé Diem…or Whatever

It may surprise you that I’m up at 7:30 on an overcast, rainy Saturday, but most people that know me know I slept in :D. What should surprise you, though, is what I’m about to do: I’m going to Saturday morning yoga at the gym. Yes, I’m up early, not to watch TV or movies, not to go interview someone for my blog or head to the church for some event or other; I’m up early to exercise.

I went to my first Saturday morning yoga last week. I didn’t even take real gym shoes. I was only staying long enough to do a few asanas and go home. I just wanted to get my feet wet. After another week of inactivity (mostly because of Aunt Flo…still don’t know if you can’t do yoga/inversions during your cycle or not,  so I gave it a miss), I’m up to go to yoga and get on a cardio machine or two. It makes no sense for me to a) waste my gym membership (that, while not expensive, isn’t exactly free) and  b) complain about being fat if I’m not going to do anything about it.

Besides that, I want to workout. I want to feel awake and alive after I leave the gym. There are many things I don’t like about exercising– sweating (I still think sweat is gross), DOMS, the possibility of injury, feeling fat and sweating in places I didn’t have a few years ago–but one thing I do like is that no matter how I felt going in, I always feel better after having done it.

So, I’m going to yoga. I’m just praying we are doing something other than opening my hips; they are still a little angry at me for last week.

Namasté!

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The Ring Didn’t Mean a Thing: Rings, Cheating, and the Commitment Question

Photo of my bridal set (engagement and wedding...
Image via Wikipedia

This post came about from a few diverse instances/conversations over several months. The most recent was a discussion on Miss Mitten’s blog about Prince William choosing not to wear a wedding ring (I looked, but I couldn’t find an article that stated why he didn’t want to wear a ring, so I can speak to that…for him). Then there was a twitter status and blog post from my soror and fellow blogger who writes Girl Talk and Lip Gloss about a man in the club trying to pick her up who had the “ring tan line” from where he’d clearly removed a wedding band from his finger. The others have to do with the feminine aspect of the ring, which I’ll introduce later.

The male half of the ring thing is fairly simple for me: Mr. True Love, whoever he may be, is wearing a ring. I remember hearing in a wedding ceremony the phrase something about taking this ring as a symbol of my love blah blah, and I believe that says it exactly (:D). It’s not merely a sign that you are “taken” “married” “committed”–it’s a visible reminder to you of my love for you. How people may or may not respond to the moral impetus of aforementioned symbol has no bearing on how seriously any man I marry should take it. Now, if you can’t wear it because of the job you do (which, I understand, does include one or two jobs), or you break a hand/finger and they have to cut it off–fine. I’ll find a way to work around that. Otherwise, you’re getting a ring and wearing it. Hey, I don’t like jewelry, either, but there’d be a misunderstanding if I didn’t wear my ring.

Another favorite reason for not wearing it is they don’t like the style. This is  no longer a problem. There are a ton of men’s rings in various styles and price ranges out there; I’ve seen them with my own eyes (yes, I may have looked in a jewelry store…so what?). They have traditional and made to order. You aren’t relegated to a simple yellow gold band.

Men can still take it off if they are those low down brothers, but a woman not interested in getting involved with a low down cheating married man can easily discern a tan line on the left ring finger and move along. If he’s going to cheat, he will with or without the ring on; this is a character flaw, not a problem a ring solves. It’s also not an excuse for not wearing a ring. Just because you aren’t a cheater, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to wear one. I mean, women are clearly marked married, with an engagement ring, wedding ring, a last name change, and a change in address from Miss to Mrs. None of that will keep her from cheating, either, but we do those things to show we are now one with our husband, to have visible, tangible symbols of that love, and to let the world know we are proud to be Mrs. So and So. You mean you aren’t happy about being married to me, not proud to see a reminder of that love and commitment on your finger? Well, what the h-e-double hockey sticks am I doing with you then? (But that’s just my humble opinion).

The female ring thing is off a different tenor entirely. It’s not a question of a ring, but which ring. Mr. Perfect has a friend who saved years for the engagement ring. When this woman left him (and his ring), he sold it and PAID A DOWN PAYMENT FOR A TOWNHOME TO BE BUILT. That ring has to be between 10-20 grand, easy. Your entire down payment?…whoo, y’all, I got a little lightheaded. According to One Perfect Day, the current convention is for a man to spend at least three months salary, or 25% of his income, on a ring. O_O Many women equate the size with how much the man loves her. I’ve heard of women giving the ring back and asking for better, accepting an “OK” ring and making him put a better one on layaway, visiting rings, giving them back for being the wrong cut, promising themselves that when he does better financially she’s going to get the ring she really wanted…THIS IS FOOLISHNESS!

One thing Mr. True Love doesn’t have to worry about from me is foolishness over a ring. My thoughts are these: if a man decides he loves you enough to marry you, saves up and puts aside money he could be doing other things with for a ring, pours over cuts and designs and picks something he thinks you will like, does all the detective work necessary to get the right size ring, and proposes to you, and the only problem you have with accepting his proposal is with the carat size, cut, clarity, or color (yeah, I had to look that up…and?), you may need to check yourself. No, you do need to.

I don’t want to hear about what you “deserve,” blah blah. Are you in love or not? Do you want to spend the rest of your life with him, or do you just want a ring impressive enough to put on facebook, have your friends ooh and ahh over, and ensure you are some of the brokest newlyweds in the ‘hood? I will get into the consumerism of a wedding and its trappings, and people starting married life in debt and unhappy from trying to keep up with the Jones another time, but I will say you know what your man can comfortably afford. Don’t try to bankrupt him on an engagement ring and lavish wedding–you’re bankrupting both of you that way.

But that’s just my two cents. Do you require your husband to wear a ring? Why or why not? Any thoughts on the engagement ring guidelines, advisements, and FOOLISHNESS (me, interjecting my opinion in the form of a question? No!…)? What does the ring really mean? Leave your two cents in the comments, or email me at 2blu2btru4u [at]gmail[dot]com if you want to let me know personally. 😉

XOXO

2blu2btru

P.S. Apparently the blogosphere is absolutely buzzing over this whole thing, so I’ve included a bazillion posts you can read for other’s opinions on it.

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The Real Lover’s Lane

Upper Falls, Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Mic...
Isn't this beautiful? Too bad it has NOTHING to do with this post... Image via Wikipedia

This past weekend, Mr. Perfect and I visited the real Lover’s Lane–IKEA! *Before you run off, feeling duped and mislead, hear me out…

Back when I was in Michigan, they used to show commercials for a lingerie boutique called Lover’s Lane. They had commercials for every season and holiday as well as standard commercials, even for Mother’s Day & Father’s Day. The Mother’s & Father’s Day commercials usually included a kid or two (usually with a seductive voice telling you to “put the kids to bed”). I always wondered, watching these commercials, “Is this all there is? Is that ALL lover’s do?” Never mind the poor children who always had to go to bed!

In IKEA, I found the answer. It was obvious that there weren’t a lot of single people (in any sense, as in unmarried people) traipsing around, looking for furniture to take home (alone) and assemble (alone). There was no shortage of children. There was an area to drop children off, but most people chose to keep their children with them. I was interested in why they may be. I mean, I’m not into assembling bookshelves and futons by myself either, but it had to be deep than that.

Two words came to mind as I watched couples consult over wood colors and styles:permanent love. Permanent love is what those Lover’s Lane commercials seemed to be missing. When you begin to make your house or apartment into a “permanent” home (as in as long as you plan on being there; maybe you are still saving for your permanent, permanent home) for your family, you’re making a statement that you are together.

Choosing and furnishing a home are some of the first challenges a couple has to work through after making their couplehood permanent. You have to consider, perhaps for the first time, another’s tastes and sense of style. You have to communicate & compromise (those dirty C words). You have to consider longevity a& stability of the product, along with the design (we won’t even get into child friendly or child safety furnishings!). You have to consider how best to consolidate two people’s junk possessions. You may even have to throw some things away.

Watching couples hold hands & corral kids while discussing the merits of entertainment centers in blond wood versus brown/black, I felt a little twinge of…not envy, exactly, but intense…detachment. I thought it was wonderful to see, but I may as well have been at home watching a thirty second commercial. It doesn’t feel like that, or the Lover’s Lane commercials (especially the LL commercials!) will ever be my life. I still feel like one of those kids running around. It was one of those weird moments where real, ordinary life seems epic and fascinating again, like something to be studied.

What unusual (or usual) places have you witnessed the true nature of love? Have any random thoughts about IKEA? Have you seen/Do you remember those Lover’s Lane commercials?

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Thoughts from the cubicle: This new playlist of mine is poppin’…it’s poppin…it’s poppin’…maybe I should download Lil Mama’s Lip Gloss and Willow Smith’s Whip my Hair and put them on a playlist together…EPIC! LOL

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What’s in Your Marriage Kit? Minister Part II

In the previous marriage kit post, we were interviewing my minister about marriage. He will be married for 19 years on August 17th. He has shared his views on  how to get to know someone and what the qualifications for a husband/wife are. In part two of the interview, we are discussing red flags to look for, how independent women affect relationships, Always Something Better Syndrome (ASBS), commitment phobia, common issues in marriage, and what people need to be doing during engagement and their first year of marriage for a solid foundation.

12. What are some red flags to look for?

Someone who is unaccountable. I believe you see everything up front before you go in. Don’t believe you can change it; accept that it’s there. Accept what you see.

14. How do we know that “this is who God has for me?” Is that a notion you agree with?

Proverbs 31 is the wife God has for a Christian Man. God doesn’t choose who we marry; He chose what we marry. You know what God chose for you *I shake my head* A male. *Laughs* God leaves the decision up to us, so we can be held accountable for our decisions.

15. How does a man find a wife?

He looks where Godly women are to be found. You find a good wife like you find a church *references Proverbs 31* By referring to scripture, wise council–you have to involve older people.

16. How do you feel ideas of independent women affect relationships?

I believe that has been brought on by an atmosphere of illegitimate children, irresponsible husbands/fathers, the economy, home structure, and supply/demand. Girls are made to work; they are held to a higher standard. Women are more aggressive &  studious. It can cripple a Christian home if a woman does not value her role in being submissive to her husband. It’s brought on by negative impulses, culture/tv glamorizing independent women. It’s a climate of default, with women having been defrauded by me. A man has to be sensitive to the fact that this is something she has had to do and over time gain her trust and confidence and show that she can depend on him.

17. What are your thoughts on ASBS? Does such a syndrome exist?

I think that it needs to happen and not be forced. A person needs to allow themselves to feel that something is right. If a person is really given to God, two people can meet a certain personality and just click; certain personalities clash. I think you need to expand, go broader, expand your borders, step out of your comfort zone.

18. How long should an engagement be? When should you get married?

Immediately–time depends on length of courtship. If you date five years, one month; if you date 1 yr., 4-6 months for arrangements, housing. But no longer than six months.

19. What should you be doing the first year of marriage?

Enjoying yourself. Taking out all elements of fear; validating “you made the right choice”; implementing conflict management strategies, financial management; learning how to respect each other’s space, show good faith; implement your theories discussed while dating/engaged.

20. How do you navigate In-law relationships & family relationships?

When you have an issue with your partner, call their people–they will still love him afterwards & they have insight into their character. Don’t call your people and complain about your spouse. Also, never lend to your family, check with your spouse; make sure your family knows they have to go to your spouse for things and vice versa. They will be nicer to them knowing they have that kind of say so, and it prevent arguments like “you’re always lending your family money.”

From the cutting room floor: comments that didn’t fit anywhere else:

  • Allow yourself an opportunity to meet someone that when something funny happens at work, she would be the first person you’ll call.
  • Doctrinal reasons alone would not have kept us together; the idea of marriage was solely based on Christianity, but staying married influenced by upbringing. We weren’t ready for marriage when we got married.
  • based on divine righteousness, it becomes greater than personalities clicking.
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What’s in Your Marriage Kit?

After finally cornering catching up with my minister about his marriage preparedness kit, I figured it was time to change tactics and give him the opportunity to talk freely. As you will see, my minister can be very funny, and he brought out a lot of points that I hadn’t thought about. I feel like I got more out of him within this discussion than I ever would have just having him answer the question “What should be in your marriage preparedness kit. This is going to be extremely long, but so worth the information and the honest provided. Enjoy and comment!

Note: I did not have a tape recorder, so some parts will be […],but I take great notes and have fantastic recall for conversation, so what is presented is accurate and in context.

1. How long have you been married?

19 years on August 17th

2. How long did you know your wife before proposing?

Almost a year. I was twenty six and looking to settle down.

3. What made you certain she was the one?

Her faithfulness to the church independent of anyone else, her dress code, her honesty. I tried to intimidate her and see if she would take a stand on issues, and she stood her ground.

4.How old were you when you got engaged?

Twenty-seven

5. How long were you engaged?

Well, the wedding didn’t go off within the timeframe we originally planned. We broke up. We had conflicts over some issues and broke up. We got married 3 years later. I called her and told her I hadn’t met anyone else that I’d wanted to marry and that I wanted to pick up where we’d left off.

6. What was the biggest adjustment you had to make early on in your marriage?

Well, I’ll give you a trivial one. Wearing the ring. It was two to three years before I got used to wearing the ring. When I was in the pulpit and everywhere, I would be fiddling with it. This is actually the second one; I lost the other one. I think I may have thrown it out the car window!

Learning to talk about things before you do them, learning to talk about how I was spending money, sharing money and time. I had to get used to it being our money.

7. What is something you learned after you got married that you should have known before you got married?

You cannot get a divorce. I didn’t understand the permanency of the institution. I like to have couples I counsel write at least 10 things they dislike, see as a probable source of problems, would change if they could about their partner. Then I have them write at least 10 things they admire, that made them make the decision to marry that person, that they want them to maintain & develop. I tell them to forget the 10 things they admire and focus on the 10 they don’t. People get married for the qualities that they like and get divorced for the qualities they don’t like. They have to be able to comprehend and embrace the negative before they get married, because then there is no reason for divorce.

I wanted to get married so badly, I didn’t put any thought into what marriage was.

8. How do you go about getting to know someone? (My minister seems to have a preoccupation with denouncing dating and boyfriend/girlfriend relationships)

Dating isn’t bad but it should be between two mature people. It doesn’t matter to me who approaches who. I think that honesty is important and that each person should put their true intentions on the table–whether they are looking for someone to socialize with, if they’re looking to get married. They are both adults. Give enough information for the other person to make an informed decision.

I think in dating you should require three references, preferably from his or her previous girlfriends/boyfriends but other people in their lives as well. Know their background aand treatment of people. Interview this person. Know of their financial history, what was instilled in them about money, financial acuity.

I should have said this first, but spirituality is the number 1 criterion. Also family interaction and how they handle a crisis. Accept what you see. Know that it can be changed and modified, but you need to see it and accept it for what it is. An example of that would be Job’s wife. When he was covered boils…she told him to curse his God and die! That’s how she handled crisis! I’m not judging her, but I’m saying you need to see that type of thing before marriage.

9. What weight/importance do you give to feelings and physical attraction in choosing a mate?

Very important. It’s important that you find the person you are involved with attractive. It’s more important for him to find her physically attractive than it is for her, because men are visual creatures. People try to ignore the nature of men & women and say we are all the same, but men and women are different. For her on a scale of 1 to 10, him may have to be at least a 6; for him  it’s an 8.

10. I haven’t worded this as a question, but what are your thoughts on standards, lists, and settling?

You must have some things you will not comprise on and some things that are compromisable. Some uncompromisable standards might be if someone is unfaithful during the courtship, religion, morals, values, integrity. Some trivial things “I want a certain complexion or nationality,” height, education, income. When you weigh these things against each other, you will find that the external things are on one list and the internal things are on another. Having in mind a desired lifestyle that you and your mate agree upon and having standards is good. I heard in a country music song one time (maybe fudging the reference her, I think he said country music song,) Things that will make an Eagle fly will kill a sparrow.

11. What is required, or what are the qualifications of a wife?

A woman must:

  1. Marry a man she believes in
  2. Love him, and love him enough to let go of her past–don’t bring past into relationship; she needs to be focused on her relationship and her husband.
  3. Be about his dream–not about her dream.
  4. know some things about her man and the powers in her femininity. She can not stand toe to toe with her husband arguing. She should cease to argue and wait for a better opportunity. She knows how to deal with her husband.
  5. Knows how to keep a house. The wife has the domestic responsibility. Her husband can help, but it’s always up to her to see that it’s done even if she doesn’t do it herself.
  6. Keep herself beautiful to her man. *As aforementioned men are very visual* Keep her makeup, keep her perfume, go to the gym–for her man, not for anyone else. *This is about keeping the attraction going*
  7. Knowledge of who her husband is
  8. “Y’all want me to keep it real? We all adults in this room.” Discipline her husband when it comes to the bedroom. Tell him sometimes not tonight honey. *Kids & Christmas analogy* have every argument outside of the bedroom. Keep children out of the bedroom. I told my wife “this is our love den.”
  9. Be his friend. Talk to him about everything. and put in parentheses “everything means EVERYTHING”). Keep a calendar and create initials for “honey I love you, I missed you, I was faithful to you today so that you can see that and make sure you express that everyday.
  10. Have a hobby, an outlet, or a means of relaxation.

11. (cont’d) Of a husband?

  1. He must be a Godly man-rooted in God
  2. Han a goal, an almost unattainable one. It keeps you from being bored
  3. Know where he is going–helps you recognize distractions.
  4. Have integrity for himself, wants to be faithful for himself and not just because the Bible says.
  5. Discipline of body & mind. He must read, have knowledge of the world around him, have a large world view.
  6. Direction and goals for your family
  7. Be a model of everthing you want to implement, lead the house in a spiritual manner.
  8. Romantic–not overkill. “He wants to to have some of that Pepe Le Pue in him” *LOL* Ain’t nothin’ wrong wit bringing a flower. He knows how to show affection.
  9. Knows how to handle money. The husband is the provider and has the financial responsibility. The wife may help him with the money and she may work, but he has to she that bills get paid.
  10. Knows how to step back from work and spend time with his family.
  11. Leader in the church in some capacity
  12. Have a hobby, an outlet or a means of relaxation.

Whew! That is more than enough to chew on (and comment on) for one post) I will be posting the second portion of this interview later on today (won’t make you wait to long!”