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Book Announcement: Are You Ready to Break Right?

If you’ve followed my other blog (2blu2btru.wordpress.com) or followed me on social media, you may have seen that I’ve been working on a new book. I’ve kept many of the details close to my chest. This is one of my most personal projects, and I wanted to make sure I wrote this well before sharing it with the world.

 

In 2016, it seemed like everything I touched broke–I lost my job, ended my relationship, and faced a move with no savings or income. I ended up leaving the city I’d come to think of as home, my church family, and many of my friends behind. It was truly a breaking season for me. Yet God kept me in perfect peace as these things occurred.

I learned many things in this season, and many books could have come from it, but in the end, God placed Break Right on my heart. As I worked through the ramifications and realizations breaking up brought to the forefront in my life, I wrote the things I was learning and experimenting with in my journal. This season looked different than I expected, in ways that both humbled and encouraged me. I began to wonder if others might be interested in what I was learning, so I reached out to a few women and pitched the idea. Once I put the heart of this book into words, I knew it had to be written, and I had to be the one to write it.

In the process of writing this book, I experienced the full force of what heartbreak can do. I found myself struggling to repair things I didn’t know were broken or damaged. I confronted truths I ran from before battling with the blank page. The writing of this book further healed me, and I know the wisdom God shared with me will help others discovering the healing He wants to give them as well.

If you’ve read my other books, you know I’m not the “woo, woo, woo” or “there, there, there” girl. I’m the “dig deep”, “let’s look at the lady in the mirror and be honest about what we see” girl. I’m the hard truth teller, the “what does the bible say” redirector, the spiritual fruit inspector. I’m a southern gal who’ll bless your heart and tell you about yourself in a ladylike, well-mannered way, clutching my pearls the entire time. I wasn’t sure I could write a book bound in sensitivity AND filled with hard truths for hurting women in search of healing.

But God met me on the pages of this book. He walked me through this season the way I needed Him to, while helping me hone the message of it in a way that’s sensitive and respect of where a woman walking through a breakup is in her healing process while presenting truths wrapped in a ton of love. I didn’t hurl hand grenades at injured soldiers; I’m helping in the healing. Like many medical procedures, there is some pain and discomfort involved, but it’s necessary.

I’m so excited to share the final product with you! As I finish getting the final details wrapped up, I wanted to let you know about this book of my heart and what to expect when it comes out next month. The book is entitled Break Right: Finding Wholeness in Heartbreak, and a Good God in a Bad Breakup. Part memoir, part practical advice and encouragement, and all from the heart, this raw, real and relatable work will comfort, correct and challenge the Christian woman in the midst of a breakup to reexamine heartbreak and healing from a biblical perspective. Filled with biblical examples and personal experiences from myself and other women, Break Right seeks to provide the perspective shift many of us need so we can shine our lights for the Lord in the midst of a dark season.

This book is not a blow by blow of the breakups I’ve experienced or a way to bash an ex. In fact, you won’t find much about my ex, and I hope you won’t focus too much on your ex as you read it. This book is about how you can emerge better and help the next woman do the same. I share many personal stories, but they probably aren’t the ones you’d expect. 😉

This book feels different, and it’s inspired me to do something different with its release. I am opening pre-orders for Break Right tomorrow, February 14, 2018. From Valentine’s Day until Wednesday, March 7, you can order Break Right for the introductory price of $9.99 in paperback (it increases to $14.99 after the pre-order period). Why should you pre-order? Those who pre-order will receive some cool perks: breakup greeting cards, bookmarks, and prints, as well as a free eBook of funny and introspective tales from my romantic life, Misses before Mrs. You will also received the first section of the book to start reading and access to a special Facebook Group. I saved the best for last: all those who pre-order the book or a book bundle will be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card. All pre-order books will arrive by the release date, March 13th.

If Break Right sounds like something you need in your life, come back tomorrow and see the front cover, read the book description, and reserve your copy. I’ll be sharing more about this book in the coming weeks before release, so watch this space.

For all my eBook readers, don’t fret. The eBook is coming! I will open eBook pre-orders two weeks before release, with digital perks.

I love you all and can’t wait for you find your wholeness and experience how good our God can be, even in a bad breakup.

XOXO,

Erica

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Expressionless Wonder?

I have a serious question to ponder with you guys. OK, it’s not really a serious question, but it leads me to talking about a serious(ish) topic, and it’s a break from telling every woman within shouting distance of this blog “get your life!” (BTW: I LOVE Tamar Braxton and her idioms, and use them frequently. It’s one of my “guilty pleasures” that’s not really guilty, but that’s another discussion for another day).

I was watching an engagement video on someone’s blog, as I do from time to time. I love engagement stories. To be honest, I love stories; it’s kind of what I do. Still, my favorite stories are love stories. Anyway, I’m watching this engagement video and the question pops into my head: When I get engaged, am I going to do the “oh my gosh I have to pee dance”?

Yes, you know the dance I’m talking about. I’m talking about when the women covers her mouth with her hands (oh my gosh) and kind of runs and jumps in place (the globally recognized little kid’s I have to pee dance). Or the “oh my gosh someone just punched me in the gut/oh my gosh I’m going to hurl” dance where the bend over or drop it low with their mouths covered. I’ve also seen the “oh my gosh I’ve got to run away; no, wait I have to go back” dance and the “oh my gosh; hand claps for honey” dance. Delight and joy and “oh my gosh” just radiates from these women.

And then there’s me. Am I going to be that girl? Probably not. It won’t be because I won’t be excited to be engaged. It will be more because I apparently have an issue expressing emotion. This is weird, since I have an “expressive face” to most people, but I’ll give you an example of this phenomenon.

I had an annual review/pay review once a while ago. In my fantasy, I was going for a certain annual salary but I didn’t think I’d get it. I went into the meeting with my “be serious in front of the higher ups” face, ready to take my 2% and go back to work. Instead, I got my fantasy annual salary. You know what my face did? Maintained “look serious in front of the higher ups. They had to ask me if I was happy with it because they couldn’t tell by my face. How can that be? I was doing cartwheels and high fiving myself in my head. I was falling on my face praising God and fist pumping at the same time in my head. But outwardly? “I get huge raises and high praises everyday face.”

Y’all, I hope I’m not one of those girls who just smiles beatifically and gives her fiancĂ© a quick, gentle peck on the cheek (no offense to anyone who was that girl). I don’t want to be that girl any more than I want to be the girl that sits down with her guy and they “decide” to get married without a proposal (again, no offense to anyone who was that girl). I’m one of those crazy girls that wants a guy to put some effort into it, some thought behind it, some wow factor in it. I almost lost all hope of life and happiness when Jim Jones and Lil Scrappy proposed to their significant others. It was one of my throw my shoe moments, word to George W. (Sidenotes: I need to stop reading a certain website that convinces me I can say things like “word to George W. I’m not a punchline writer in real life. I need to have several seats. Anyway)

Am I just being a girl? Will it all be different when I see a guy on one knee? Is my face ever going to emote in a key moment? Will I actually have to pee? The world may never know.

If you’re an engaged or married lady, how did you react to the proposal? Was your reaction predictable and so you or completely out of left field? What girl were you?

XOXO

2blu2btru

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Social Media Envy

Today is the best day to make a statistical analysis of all of your social media friends. You can find the ratio of bitter, lonely singles to happily coupled people quickly. You can spot the people who think being anti-valentine’s day is deep and those who really just don’t want to drop $50 on flowers. You can tell who’s really happy with Jesus alone and who is eating a gallon of ice cream straight out the container while watching Love Jones or When Harry Mer Sally on repeat. It’s an amazing study in human nature.

Looking at what people write on their social media, though, doesn’t necessarily give you a true view of what’s really going on in their lives on a regular day, let alone a holiday. I once posted on my Facebook about people being such Scrooges at Christmas and got reamed for being insensitive because it’s not necessarily a happy time for everyone. I was referring to people trying to be deep and “hate on” the holiday, those annoying people who say things to get noticed rather than because they really have an issue. Celebrate or don’t, but stay off my page.

We all sign a social contract that says we can say what we want, but we have to respect everyone else’s right to say what they want. This is sometimes a very difficult thing to remember when someone expresses their disagreement with our opinion. We don’t, however, agree to divulge everything about ourselves or always state how we really feel.

We can put cute messages of live to our spouse on Facebook today and not relate how we “went upside their head” the day before. U can talk tough about independence and cry into my ice cream about not having a man. I can run my ex down on twitter and jump back in the bed with him without anyone being the wiser.

Why am I saying this? I want you to get real with yourselves. Be happy with where you are in life. Not mourning the past or anticipating the future, but content right now. Because that person whose twitter life you idolize might be worse off than you are. Because you only have right now. Because you are responsible for your own happiness.

What never ceases to amaze me is how many people don’t realize that their is no life achievement or person that will make you happy once for all time. Diamonds aren’t magic agents of change. Children will get on your nerves. A high paying job will need you to work a day you won’t feel like going in. Sustained happiness is a choice.

People may make fun of those single women who say they are married to Christ and waiting on God’s timing for a husband, but many of those women are happy and well adjusted to where they are in life right now. When your real life happiness matches your online happiness, then you have something to write about.

My absolute favorite blog is my favorite because of how real the writer is about her life. Some posts show her asking for advice on a parenting problem; others talk about a rough fight with her husband. I read about her grief in the loss of her father, and her decision to choose joy. If I saw her on the street (which is a possibility), I would feel like I knew her. Not just her awesome sense if humor or her perfect family photos, but her.

I say all of this to encourage you to take social media for what it is on days like today–a stage where everyone is auditioning to be the voice that tells you how you should feel, think & be. Cast your own life accordingly. That’s my two cents, anyway.

What is your social media envy? Is it personal finance blogs (my personal social media envy), fashion & beauty websites, super parent blogs, ĂŒber religious twitter personalities, or celebrity Facebook fan page?

FYI: the new site is coming! I have the name picked out and am working with Tech Support (aka Mr. Perfect) on the finer points. I am buying the domain today, and will give it out via twitter tonight (@2blu2btru). I will have a grand reveal blog party tomorrow!

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Savory Moment: Weddings and Writing

Mr. Perfect & I outside The Abbey
Mr. Perfect & I outside The Abbey

This weekend, I went to the wedding of a good friend from church. I have been talking to her about her wedding since she got engaged, sharing my vast knowledge of all things wedding (acquired from hours of wedding shows, wedding blogs, books, and investigative inquiries to venue, photographer, and other vendor sites) while she tried to make the hard decisions. I even got to be the (unofficial) fourth wedding photographer at her wedding (sorry, my camera gives me delusions of grandeur in that area; but I got some great shots! I’m just saying). Being at the wedding, enjoying all of her hard work and planning was really special. I’ve only been to one other wedding and two other receptions, so it was nice to see a wedding from start to finish that wasn’t on TV. I more than enjoyed myself. The bride was beautiful, the groom was emotional, the food was good, and a good time was had by all. At this moment, they bride and groom are on their way to soak up the sun and relax in the Maldives. Happy honeymoon!

What I really love about this point in my life is that I can be happy for other people. I say that as if it wasn’t true before only because there have been moments where I’ve had to remind myself to keep my eyes on my own paper, metaphorically speaking, and try to pass the tests in my own life instead of pining for someone else’s blessings. This usually involves some arrogance on my part, that I should have had something long before this other unqualified person.

But lately, I haven’t been feeling that. Lately, I’ve been able to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. I don’t know if it’s because I feel like I’m fulfilling my own purpose or because it’s more in line with my personality, but I’ve been over the moon for all of my friends’ successes the last year or so–and there have been a lot of successes in that time!

I have been hard at work on my book for a few months now. I’ve been writing the book longer than that, but the past few months is when it really took off. I wrote the beginnings of two pivotal chapters in November of 2011. I “finished” an entire chapter at the end of July 2012. But the real opening of the floodgates has been since about October. The interviews I conducted for the original idea for this book began in August of 2010, so we are talking about 2 1/2 years of work from inception to now. It’s snowballed from a small smattering here and there to a veritable flood of things I want to address and say. I thank God it has grown so well.

At this point, I have the major areas of the book outlined and started. I wanted to whet your appetitie and give you an idea of what’s to come in the book. The book is for Christian singles who want to prepare themselves to marry. The major divisions are:

  • Preparation–laying the groundwork for us to come to this subject with our hearts and mind in the right place. Have you done the preparation to be ready to consider a mate?
  • Meet Mates— a meet mate is a suitable one. How do you develop your criteria for a suitable mate? What principles does the Bible give us concerning mate selection?
  • Making Yourself Meet— Are you a suitable candidate for marriage? What work do you still have to do to be suitable for marriage?
  • In the Meantime–What should you be doing while you are single? How can you be happy for others? What does it mean to wait on the Lord? How do you wait (hint: this is an action verb!)? What are you waiting for?

The three main topics we will explore are preparation, purity, and patience. Each of these topics is composed of several other subtopics, of course, but these are the main takeaways.

So what am I actually working on right now? I am writing the practical application half of Meet Mates, pulling interview quotes for various sections, and researching. I still have scriptural examples and references being brought to my rememberance that will fit in somewhere, and I am still searching the scriptures for more. I have revised the first chapter multiple times to send out a piece to possible editors or agents. I sent this section to my dad, who really likes it. That’s a big plus for the book.

I’ve read certain passages of scriptures until my eyes feel like they are crossed, and the wonderful thing about it is I STILL find something new each time I read and meditate on them. I’ve enjoyed digging deeper into the Word of God. If this little book never sees the light of day in my lifetime, it has done a great work in my life. It has revolutionized my Bible study.

Things I still don’t have:

  • About the Author page–I HATE these. I never know what to say. Since it’s a book for singles, should I highlight that aspect of my experience? Since I haven’t published anything, should I try to get something published in Christian Woman magazine or somewhere to plump up my credentials?
  • Acknowledgements–there are SO many people to acknowledge! What if I forget someone? How can I convey my gratitude to them? I don’t even know how many more hands will be involved in this book to write one yet.
  • A foreward–once the book is finished, someone is going to have to read it and pen a foreward for me. I feel like women writers in colonial America, like I have to have someone vouch for me. “She’s a really good writer, and she really wrote this book. It’s awesome; you should read it.” Seriously, I think the foreward sets the tone for the book, and I want something that strikes the right chord and gets the reader’s hearts and minds ready for the book.

I welcome any suggestions. Of course, I know you all are not my writing blog audience, but as the blogs and discussions here started the idea for the book, I wanted to share this with you all first.

What savory moments have you all been experiencing? I love to read about your triumphs!

Working hard,

2blu2btru

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A “Successful” Courtship

 

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isa. 55:11

 

This scripture was in my head all day yesterday. I don’t know why, but when Joshua Harris asked what I would define as a successful courtship in his book, Boy Meets Girl, this came to mind. He started out by relaying how he’d heard about some friends who had decided to end their courtship. At first, he viewed this as an unsuccessful courtship. Then he realized that the courtship had accomplished what they wanted it to, it just didn’t have the hoped for outcome.

 

When two people decide to actively engage in a relationship with an eye towards discovering whether or not they should get married, whether or not it ends in marriage does not determine the success. Anytime you are able to make a clear, informed decision about whether or not you should marry, it’s a success. But try keeping that perspective and balance when you’re the one in the courting relationship!

 

It’s always amazing to me what happens when I share God’s word with someone. There have been people I really wanted to bring closer to Christ and His truth who just don’t fully embrace God’s word. It has frustrated me to see close friends and family pick and choose what to believe in the Bible or act as if they can decide to give God any kind of response they want. It doesn’t always matter how I present the Word or the timing of it; they just don’t want it. It has taken me a long time to realize that God’s Word accomplishes exactly what God means for it to accomplish. Sometimes it draws people closer and sometimes it drives them away. As a Christian, my job is to share the Word. I’m not supposed to be concerned with the results because I don’t know what a successful result is in any given situation. I can’t see all that God is doing. I don’t give the increase. Anytime I share the Word, it’s going to be successful. God’s word is going to do exactly what it’s supposed to do. That should be freeing. I can’t mess it up. But when there are feelings involved, it’s not so easy.

Throughout this season of courtship, I’ve learned that God answers prayers. I’ve also learned that sometimes the answer isn’t a simple yes or no like I’d want it to be. I wanted to know if I should marry Mr. Perfect, and my answer has been the Marriage and Family Workshops every 4th Wednesday, pre-marital counseling, and some uncomfortable revelations about self and others (To be fair, I asked for the wisdom to make the right decision. Maybe if I had asked a yes or no question, I could have received a simpler answer :D). I’ve also learned that God doesn’t have to drop out of the sky or send a blazing neon sign in order for me to get the message. He has placed some wonderful people around me who both knowingly and unknowingly have pointed me to the right scriptures at the right time, whose lives have been testimonies, and who have opened up their homes and hearts to share with me knowledge that I would have paid dearly to acquire through experience. Hearing the same things over and over again from people who don’t know each other nor do they know I’m dealing with decisions in the area they are speaking on just convinces me God knows I need some help and has placed study guides in this world for me.

 

Even if at the end of all of this I am back to being single, this courtship will not be without its accomplishments. I have learned to communicate better. I’ve corrected many negative traits I had. I’ve developed more discernment and a reliance on God for wisdom and not myself. I have written a book that will help many others wade through some of the wrong thinking we have about what relationships are all about because I’ve been disabused of such notions. I can say that I have conducted myself well in this courtship. I have done the work to know exactly what it is I bring to the table, good and bad. I’ve done the work to make an informed decision about my future. How can that not be counted as a success? 

Success simply means that something has done what it was supposed to do, even if it’s not what we wanted it to do. I may not end up saving a soul or flashing a shiny ring, but whenever God’s will is accomplished, it’s a success. This quote I saw on twitter by CS Lewis perfectly sums it up:

C. S. Lewis‏@CSLewisDaily

For you will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.          

A successful courtship, a successful life, is one that seeks out God’s will and then lines itself up with it. People like to think of sins as mistakes and God as this eraser that makes most of what you did disappear; that’s not how it works. God forgives sin, but consequences still come. However things end up for me, I strive towards eliminating sin and the need for God to have to work around what I’ve done to get me back on the path He had me on to begin with. Again, CS Lewis says it so much better:

C. S. Lewis‏@CSLewisDaily

Whatever you do, He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed him. #CSLewis

Your Two Cents: How do you view success? Did your relationship work out as you intended? What are you doing for Christmas?

XOXO

2blu2btru

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The Fairytale

This year has been a rough one for me, challenging all of these long-held notions I’ve had about what I’ve wanted from my life, notions I didn’t even know I held on to so tightly. As silly as it sounds, I’ve always thought that making the second most important decision of your life would be like the Covergirl slog–easy, breezy, beautiful. I’ve heard so many of the stories about people “just knowing,” seen so many happy endings to the most improbable stories, that I just assumed that in a relationship that moved along so smoothly deciding on forever would be as uneventful as the summer rainstorms at three each afternoon here.

Needless to say that my notions of fairytale love have taken quite the beating this year. For one thing, going to all of the marriage and family workshops and pre-marital counseling sessions have shown me that marriage is hard work in a way that just thinking about the prospect has not. The major thing that all of my visions of how I would come to be married (on the remote chance that I ever WOULD get married) missed was that there would be this other person who would have to be equally as sure, equally as committed. Seeing the other person struggle to make a decision on you forever is surreal. It’s like having a magician systematically reveal the secrets to all of the tricks that left you in wonder. It takes the bloom off the rose. I keep thinking, “it really shouldn’t be this hard, should it? Either you do or you don’t, you will or you won’t.” There doesn’t appear to be any room for surprise or romance left. There’s not likely to be any “it’s always been you” moment in which the hero finally confesses he’s loved the heroine from the first and always knew it would be her, mainly because from the outside looking in, it doesn’t look like it’s “always been” anything.

I hate unromantic proposals in everything but a Harlequin. A Harlequin is just a book, a marriage of convenience just a way to keep these two idiots together long enough for them to figure out what we’ve figured out be page twenty; they were meant to be together. When I watched Love & Hip Hop Atlanta’s reunion show and saw Lil’ Scrappy propose to Erica, when I saw Jim Jones finally propose to Chrissy on Love and Hip Hop, when I hear about any lackluster proposal, it deflates me. I don’t know, maybe I want to much, but I want a guy that’s happy and excited and can’t wait to put a ring on it. I want a guy who only waits to put a ring on it as long as it takes him to be sure and to plan a proposal just for me. When I shop, I want to make comparisons and deliberate. I may leave the store without buying anything so I can go home and think about it some more to see if I still want it. But that purse I carried around on my arm like it was already mine isn’t going to feel led on if I don’t end up buying it, you know? *Sigh* I stopped making sense two paragraphs ago, didn’t I?

I went to New Orleans Thursday night. We stayed until midmorning Monday. I bet I don’t have to tell you all the number one question I was asked both before and after my trip. Was he going to propose? Did he propose? Even Pink Susie, who told me I needed to move on, asked. Even my boss asked. Seriously. No one had anything else to talk about except beignets and Hurricane Katrina when it came to my trip. I went on my trip trying not to let any of the proposal hype get to me, and I managed to have a pretty good time. I love New Orleans–the music, the art, the food, the people. I liked getting up and going for beignets in the morning, loved walking around the French Quarter for hours. I fell in love with jazz music all over again and missed my stepdad so much my heart hurt. It felt fantastic to get away for a few days and decompress a bit, stretch out and breathe. Would it satisfy my romantic side to have had a nighttime proposal in the French Quarter with a street musician on saxophone playing for his life and an artist immortalizing the moment on canvas, MensHealth on one knee in the dirty narrow street? Sure. Did I think it was going to happen? No. What I envision is something much more prosaic. I imagine that if MensHealth does decide he wants to marry me, we will sit down and discuss it rationally. Since he has said he would “state his intentions” but wouldn’t realistically be ready to propose (as in has a ring) until March or April, I am not imagining frills or poetry. But I like frills. I love poetry. A saxophone solo or hidden photographer would make my life. But I won’t have that.

This has been a tough year on my notions of love and my vision of how love should happen. I feel more like I’m negotiating during a lock out some days than I do like I’m on the brink of making a forever commitment to love. It’s hard to accept that MensHealth just might not be ready, but that’s easier than trying to convince myself I can wait a while longer. My counselor asked me about my decision and having a hard deadline, and my answer to her is still valid. I need a resolution like Aaliyah. I need to move forward or move on. I can’t even write in a straight line about this anymore. It’s all a big loopty-loop. January 1st, broken heart or not, I’ll be able to breathe, to just…breathe.

XOXO

2blu2btru

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Free as a Bird, Wild as the Wind: Freestyle Friday

It’s been so long since I’ve done one of these, I almost don’t know what to do! Most of my time lately hasn’t exactly been “free,” so I haven’t been writing as much, but I’ve wanted to write many times. Work has picked up for me, I’ve been doing pre-marital counseling once a week, I’ve applied to school, and I’ve been writing or reading source material every spare moment I have. My days have been filled from my daily walk/jog until I fall asleep on the couch watching Investigation Discovery. Here’s what’s new and not so exciting with me:

  • My five year anniversary was this Wednesday. We didn’t have time to do anything to celebrate Wednesday, as we both went straight from work to church and didn’t leave there until after nine thirty, but hopefully we can do something nice this weekend. Of course, we are going to New Orleans next weekend, which is a great way to celebrate!
  • My car will be paid off by Monday or Tuesday!! I am so excited at the prospect of not having to send that payment in every month. I am praying that the car will still keep going and need as little work as possible for a year or two so I can at least get to taste a little bit of savings. The next debt up for repayment will be the student loans (eeek!)
  • I’ve been preoccupied with writing what will be the seminal chapter of my book, the Adam & Eve chapter. This chapter will introduce nearly every topic that will be developed later. Needless to say, trying to get it perfect has consumed a lot of my writing time (hence why I’ve been so silent here). I’ve decided to break the book up into three sections: Preparation, Purpose, and Purity. I’ve done extensive work in preparation and some writing in purity, but I haven’t done as much work on the Purpose section. I say all of this to say that the writing is going well. I’m not going to end up with the book I thought I would, but this one is going to be better; promise.
  • I’ve been reading Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship by Josh Harris, and it is GOOD! By the same author who wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye, this book focuses on courtship and how to move from friends to married couple. So far I like the stories used as practical examples (except that ill advised reimagining of Adam & Eve at the beginning) and the principles given. It’s WAY different than my book, but it’s a good read. 😀
  • I’ve been a little obsessed with Miguel’s “Adorn” and “Lovin’ Me” from the R&B Divas album! I listened to a CD with those two songs on it on repeat for a couple weeks;
  • however, it was supplanted by a sermon Bro. Drummer preached, “Following the Footsteps of Faith,” that everyone needs to hear. I mean, this sermon is awesome. One of my favorite concepts from this sermon is that you cannot expect the blessings of God if you are not where He told you to go. Brother Drummer used the following illustration: if someone tells you to meet them in Tampa and they will pay all of your bills for a year, you wouldn’t pull over at a rest stop in St. Petersburg and wait for them. You wouldn’t say “St. Pete is close enough. If he could pay my bills if I come to Tampa, why can’t he do it in St. Pete?” It’s amazing what principles we understand in secular things that we can’t seem to translate to spiritual terms. Get out of Harran!
  • Speaking of Brother Drummer, our counseling has come to the point of talking about the different relationships in marriage. We’ve talked about the covenant and contractual aspects; now it’s time to talk about the ceremonial and conjugal aspects (or as like to say as our code word “conjugating verbs”). According to Bro. D., we are getting to the interesting or fun stuff; I’ll let you know how that goes in a personal blog post.
  • I’ve got a list a mile long of things I want for Christmas, etc. I have picked out everyone else’s gifts, but I am indecisive about what I REALLY want. I want a new iPod (mine broke a while ago), a laptop (which I should have had long ago; I only own a desktop), a long list of songs and books I want to buy, a new bed, some spin shoes, a membership to the spin/yoga studio that just opened up, etc. Even though I feel like paying off my car is the best Christmas gift I could receive (thanks Mom! You’re the best!), I want to get myself something that moves me toward publishing my own website, developing my author platform, and getting some books published. But then, I really want to cut down my list of music related goodness to bless myself with. Decisions, Decisions.
  • I’m bringing back “We’re Just Links” to promote other blogs, so if you know of any great blogs, please tell me about them and leave a link.

But enough about me, loves, what are you doing/thinking/ this week? Have you got Christmas all squared away? Have you kept any resolutions you’re especially proud of? Do you want to get me iTunes gift cards and a domain name for Christmas? Feel free to leave some love in the comments section!

XOXO

2blu2btru

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Design of (Half) a Decade

Some of you may think this has already happened because of my harping on the number in my decision2012 posts, but today is a special day. Today marks my five year dating anniversary with Mr. Perfect. In the past five years, I have: graduated college, almost paid off two cars, found a great job after a few mifits, lived in three apartments, wrote countless blog posts, lost four people very close to me, survived at least three awkward Thanksgivings, and just about finished the first book I will publish…and Mr. P. has been along for the whole crazy ride.

The intent of Decision2012 was to bring the focus back to our relationship as we evaluate if we want to get married or move on. The crazy thing is, though, is that God had already provided the avenues by which we could critically evaluate this before I put my little hands on it. In December, my church had a big marriage and family workshop. They decided to continue to have these forums the fourth Wednesday of every month of this year. This started before devision2012. I don’t know the need at our church for such workshops or who the intended audience was, but it’s definitely helped me.

Along with this has been the more personalized approach of premarital counseling. We have had to think deeply about aspects of marriage as they relate to us. We get to examine and investigate ourselves just as much as each other. Instead of me looking at everyone else getting engaged, getting married, and having babies while our lives pottered along lost in questions of where to eat or do we want to go to the movies, I was able to take a good look at my relationship and decide if this relationship is the one I want to progress towards marriage. We had discussed marriage before, but very vaguely. “I think we could possibly be progressing toward seriously considering marriage” has been replaced with seriously considering marriage.

The last five years has not been without their ups and downs for us both individually and as a couple. I think that we have done the work necessary to make a decision. I was watching an episode of Dr. Phil where a couple was contemplating divorce. Dr. Phil told them that they hadn’t done the work to get a divorce. He said they had to really work on their marriage and relationship to get to a place where either they would continue to be married and moving in a positive direction together or to a place where they had some peace about the relationship and could move forward as an individual knowing that they weren’t making a rash decision. Either way, there was some emotional work to do to get them to a place of wholeness and peace as individuals so that they could make adult decisions. I feel like we’ve done that work.

Our relationship has been mostly good. We don’t argue very often. We have many of the same interests. We have the same values. We seem to want the same things out of life. We make each other laugh with our pop culture references and bouts of silliness. We encourage each other in our times of sadness. We make each other reach for the better. Through this relationship, I’ve learned to be a better communicator, to commit random acts of selflessness, to accept another person’s opinion, to put someone else’s needs first sometimes. I’ve been able to see the impact of my faithful, optimistic outlook on life on someone else, to see how my living testimony has inspired someone else. I’ve known what it was like to have a partner and a support to help with things I want to accomplish. We have grown in maturity and grace in the last five years.

There are still a few more weeks left in pre-marital counseling and this year. We still have one more trip left in us (to New Orleans next Thursday). One more holiday season before decisions have to be made. It’s at times like this you may wonder if I’m regretting things–either the past five years of my relationship or my decision to either get engaged or go our separate ways at the end of this year. The only answer I can give to both of those is “no.” For whatever else it turns out to be, our relationship has been a learning and growing experience for me that is invaluable to my life going forward, in whatever form “forward” takes. Perhaps if God hadn’t allowed there to be so many convenient ways for us to focus on marriage and what His word says about it; if we hadn’t had the opportunity to explore what marriage would look like for us without the commitment of being engaged; if we hadn’t had the opportunity to talk to so many people with so many different marriages; maybe then I would be hesitant over Decison2012. But the essentials to make the decision have been graciously provided to us. I have been in prayer my attitude towards marriage, asking for clarity and wisdom to make the right decisions. I’ve prayed for Mr. Perfect and his process of deciding what he wants to do, that it will be in line with God’s will for him with or without me. I’ve done the work.

Being the romantic that I am, I have always wanted getting engaged to be…effortless. I wanted flowers and sweet words. Somehow I, who never seems to have her nails done, would have perfectly manicured nails with which to take “look at my ring!” pictures. There would be a photographer hidden away capturing the moment for posterity. I’ve written proposals Shakespeare would be proud of in my head to mark the occasion. I would love to be taken by surprise and swept off my feet, but I’ve honestly enjoyed our process. I have felt relieved to look at rings and gently guide him towards something more my style. I like having discussed many of the possible hiccups after the honeymoon stage. I like feeling sure that this could work apart from all the warm fuzzies of a proposal. Perhaps it will leave me free to feel only happy bubbly emotion at the time of a proposal. Hopefully, I will still get to be surprised in some way.

This post is not the post I intended to write, but it’s the one I felt needed to be written. Later on, I will write my usual “Happy Anniversary” post, filled with the highlights of our year together. But for now, I am just being a bit introspective (and long-winded). Don’t let me get maudlin; tell me some happy relationship stories!

XOXO

2blu2btru

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Wedding Watch

I saw a wedding last Saturday while out with MensHealth. Since our pre-marital counseling session was cancelled, we went on a search to find our favorite local park. We can never find the stupid place on the first try, but it’s such a beautiful park, so tranquil. When we finally found it, my favorite area to visit was reserved for a wedding and a few people were milling around. I was less concerned with the wedding than I was with the fact I couldn’t go into the area.

After not being able to visit another favorite spot, where a family photo shoot was going on, we ventured back towards the first area. “Oh, look, the bridesmaids are walking up,” I said as we were passing by. We stand and watch a moment as the bridesmaids give way to the bride and her parents. We watch as the minister leads them in a word of prayer before moving on. The gathering looked to be no more than 20-30 people, standing on the steps in a public park. There were no additional decorations that nature didn’t provide. The whole thing probably took 15-20 minutes. They were there longer taking pictures than they were for the wedding.

We stopped again after making a few circuits of the park and sat on a bench not to far away. We discussed wedding pictures and watched babies toddling around the open space before being scooped up for group pictures. As we leave, MensHealth says “I think that’s why I don’t like watching all those wedding shows. They make it seem like you need all these things.”

He’s right; they do make you feel like a public park with 30 of your closest family members and friends for less than an hour just isn’t enough. I don’t know anything about the couple we saw get married that day. I don’t know why they chose to get married there. I know many people who go to court houses across the land and country on a Monday or Tuesday to get married, as well as those who plan for nearly two years. I wouldn’t presume to say that either of these options is any better than the other, but it does make you think.

I suppose that for some people, as long as you’re married at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. For me, I have a close knit family, both natural and spiritual, who I want their to witness my vows and continue to support us and our relationship long after. I want to be married by a minister who knows us and who has some wisdom to impart to us. I want to celebrate with those who have prayed for us and our relationship and who will continue to do so. It’s all in what’s important to you.

As much as I try not to be influenced by trends, wedding shows, wedding blogs, and my friends’ weddings, I know that there  are other things I can add to the above which will not add to my married life at all: Pomanders, personalized cocktail napkins, aisle runners, head table banners, and dance floor decals, a photo booth, chiavari chairs, chandeliers, candelabras, flowers, a Maggie Sottero gown (the MonaLissa Royale is a front runner in 2blu’s fantasy wedding), and the most perfect location I’ve ever seen (I would tell you where, but I can’t part with it; if I can’t have it, neither can you).

A friend of mine just got married this week and is happily making her first Thanksgiving meal as a married woman. I don’t know anything about her nuptials. I saw a picture on Facebook and MensHealth got a text from her husband to let him know they had gotten married. As far as I know, there wasn’t any pomp and circumstance at all, yet today, she is trimming a turkey as a Mrs. Maybe the woman in the park is doing the same thing. That’s the point of all of this, right? To be married? But what do you “need” to accomplish that?

No, really. That’s a real question. What do you “need” to get married?

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How Choosing a Mate is Like an Election…

Mr. Perfect was asking me about a remark our minister made about the election. He was talking about how it didn’t matter who was in the White House because God was in control and had set up the government. Mr. Perfect asked me if I believed that it really didn’t matter. I said I did. I believe God works all things together for good for them that love Him and are called according to His purpose. God can use even non-believers to carry out His will. At some point, the conversation switched to making bad choices in mates and divorce, as many conversations do these days for various reasons. As I was explaining my beliefs to him, it struck me that choosing a mate has a lot in common with choosing a President. Here’s my list of similarities:

  • You have to do your research. Anyone can tell you anything, but you have to look at a person’s record. Does he/she keep their promises? Are they swayed by special interests with deep pockets? Do their policies line up with your beliefs on how things should be run?
  • False advertisements and slander abound. Sometimes people oversell themselves when they are trying to get a position. They only put their best foot forward and pretend they have only done well their entire lives. They may even attack a rival’s record and cast doubt on their ability to handle a position. Even special interests groups not affiliated with either candidate will pay for advertisements against a candidate or in favor of a candidate that shares their beliefs. Similarly, when we are going about mate selection, a potential mate may only let us see their best qualities or will cast doubt on someone they see as competing for your affections. Your friends and family members may also have a lot to say about the person’s suitability. Their inner circle will have things to say about you as well. Discernment is key in determining who to let advise you. Read and listen for yourself and weigh biased opinions against the truth you have observed.
  • Debates don’t mean much. Being able to present your arguments for or against issues is important. Looking confident and keeping your poise under pressure bodes well for your ability to handle the position. But when you have your ceremony and are bestowed with the title, foreign leaders and even members of your own House aren’t going to abide by debate rules. There won’t always be a mediator to keep the conversation on track and mudslinging to a minimum. Everyone won’t be swayed by pretty words. How are you going to work with people to get things done? Can you concede the small points and stand firm on the more important ones? Are you willing to stay in the room until an agreement is reached?
  • Prayer is necessary. There’s no way to get around the fact that we will never know everything we need to know about a candidate endorse them unreservedly. Even if we could know this, there’s no way to predict how being elected can change them. At some point in time, you are going to have to choose one of the candidates or not vote. Time can run out and make the choice for you or you can decide for yourself. Either way, God knows all. He knows things we can’t possibly know. Prayer for God to show you who someone really is, to give you discernment, to help you know what questions to ask and who to believe is crucial. If you want God to be a part of your relationship, invite Him in early and let Him stay. Take advantage of the advantages you have in being able to have God personally involved in helping to prevent you from choosing the wrong person for the job.
  • You can only choose one. As good as the candidates may or may not be, you can’t vote for all of them. You may be compatible with one on the social issues and another on the economy. No candidate is going to match up perfectly with all of your ideals (or as Chris Rock says, you won’t meet anyone who loves Star Wars and the Wu-Tang clan as much as you do). You have to choose the best man for the job and support him, or don’t choose anyone.
  • A president can’t change anything without the House and Senate. There are a number of roles in our lives that need to be filled, just like there are many levels of government. These are checks and balances. If a democratic president has a majority republican congress, unless some bipartisanship takes place, they will cancel each other out. The congress won’t pass the laws the president wants, and the president will veto the bills that congress wants. You need a mate that can work well with your congress and you can work well with theirs. You can’t be engaged in a power struggle for every issue. Is this someone whose agenda you can support and push through, or will you constantly filibuster them?
  • There are strict rules for impeachment (aka you can’t undo your vote). Once your vote is cast, it’s hard to recall it. After someone is elected and they do a complete 180, it’s hard to get them out of office before their term is up. Only two presidents have been impeached, or investigated on suspicion of wrongdoing that may lead to removal from office (Nixon resigned before impeachment proceedings against him began).   Both men still remained in office. It’s equally as hard to undo a marriage. Divorce is “easy” in today’s society, but the spiritual and mental ramifications are not easy to overcome, let alone what God has to say about it.
  • Even if you pick the “wrong” candidate, God’s will can still be done. God can use your “wrong” mate. Even when what they do is meant for evil, God can use it for good. All things work together for good for us as Christians. You may be “stuck” with a less than perfect candidate who makes mistakes, but God is ultimately in control.

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

What are some other ways in which choosing a mate is similar to choosing a president? In what ways is it different? I haven’t even touched on the ceremony similarities. I probably won’t because I don’t want to drag election talk on past today, so feel free to start there.

XOXO

2blu2btru