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    Loneliness

    Thursday, April 25, 2019


    A few months ago, I was babysitting two sweet little girls and, over pizza and a bowl of ice cream, the questions started coming.


    Girls: “How many kids do you have?”
    Me: “I don’t have any.”


    Girls: “Do you have a husband?”
    Me: “Nope.”


    Girls: “You’re not married! Do you have a boyfriend?”
    Me: “No.”


    I’m starting to squirm a little bit. Why am I letting these questions from 5 and 9 year-olds bother me? I find myself not measuring up - even in their eyes. I find myself not fitting into their frame of mind of where I should be because I am an adult after all! And with being an adult comes a spouse and children. Right?


    A few more questions were asked “Do you live alone? Do you have friends?” etc. Finally, the conversation ended and we moved on to American Girl dolls and Bitty Babies. My mind, however, still lingered on the exchange we had.


    Later that night, the parents came home as I was putting them to bed. The mom came into the room with the littlest girl and we all said our good nights. Right before the mom shut the door, the little girl yelled out with a hint of panic in her voice, “Mom! Miss Lauren is ALL ALONE.”


    This five year old was concerned for me about something we all fear: loneliness.


    Loneliness. The word even sounds cold. If we were honest, I believe we would all share that we fear this feeling. It’s not that we aren’t ok being alone at times, but it’s different when you start to feel as if your life is defined as solitary, lonesome, desolate. Susan Scutti reports that “loneliness tends to peak in the late 20s, mid-50s, and late 80s . . . The late 20s is often a period of major decision-making, which is often stressful because you often end up feeling that your peers made better decisions than you did, and there's a lot of guilt about why you did this or did that” (CNN article, link below).


    The Truth is . . . we can be lonely in any season of life. We can be lonely in singleness. We can be lonely in dating. We can be lonely in marriage. We can be lonely in a room full of people.


    So if your relationship status doesn’t fix loneliness and being around people doesn’t help it, what does?


    Wisdom.


    I was reading an article on the correlation between wisdom and loneliness and was amazed at how, despite the secular source, biblical the research was. (The Bible is true. Why should we marvel when science and research proves it to be true?) One of the researchers found that “people who have high levels of wisdom didn't feel lonely, and vice versa” (CNN article). Interesting. It reminds me of Proverbs 4:6, “Do not forsake [wisdom], and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.”


    So where is wisdom found? In the Bible. Who gives wisdom? God. “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him.” James 1:5


    As I drove home that rainy Friday night, I thanked God that while the world or well meaning children might look at my circumstance - no husband, no kids, no boyfriend - I can rest in the fact that I am not alone. The wisdom of His Word shows me that He will never leave me nor forsake me. And I smile and pray that this little girl will fall asleep knowing that her heavenly Father is with her as well.



    Tenebrae

    Thursday, April 18, 2019



    Tomorrow night I will attend a Tenebrae service. Tenebrae (Latin for “darkness”) is a Christian service celebrated on Good Friday. There is a candle stand on the altar with several candles lit; the room is dark except for the candlelight. During the service, there are several scripture readings and congregational hymns focusing on the Passion Week of Jesus Christ. Each candle is gradually put out as the night progresses on. When the concluding hymn is sung and the last scripture read, the final candle is extinguished - leaving the room in complete darkness. “It is finished.” Then strepitus (Latin for “great noise”), someone slams a door symbolizing the earthquake following the death of Jesus Christ. The congregation then rises and leaves in silence.
    The darkness.
    The strepitus.
    The silence.
    In that moment, I am Mary Magdalene, looking on from a distance at the cross (Matthew 27:55-56). Looking at the death of the man who had cast out my seven demons and given me a new life of freedom. But this Jesus came to save! He can’t die!
    I am one of the eleven disciples who ran at the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, looking for a room to be locked in and to hide in from the Jewish leaders (John 20:19). What did I do with the last few years of my life? I left my job, my family, my friends, my reputation for . . . this? Was Jesus who He really said He was? Did those things really happen? My whole world has been shaken.
    I am the centurion keeping watch over Jesus. I saw the earthquake and the manner of which Jesus died. “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:51)
    I am the high priest, robed in my self-righteousness, performing my religious rituals in the temple when the curtain of the temple was completely torn in two from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:51). How can this be?! The Holy of Holies is exposed! God’s presence will overwhelm man’s sin!
    I am a weeping woman placing flowers on the grave of a recently lost loved one when several tombs around me suddenly broke open and the dead bodies inside were raised to life (Matthew 27:52). Am I seeing things!? I flee in terror.
    I am the wife of a former saint, passing through the town center in Jerusalem, when I saw the body of my once-dead-husband appear in the crowd (Matthew 27:53). Is this even possible? I know not whether to embrace him or to run away.
    Fear.
    Panic.
    Confusion.
    Sorrow.
    This service of darkness and silence puts me in the shoes of the followers and the non-followers of Jesus on that dark day in Golgotha: What just happened? I’ve always known the end of the story; I’ve always experienced Good Friday with the knowledge and hope of Sunday. But with Tenebrae, I taste of the ache that His followers felt. What questions and doubts flooded their hearts? How unbearable was the despair? Did they remember that He told them that they would see Him soon (“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” John 16:16)? How many times did Mary Magdalene and the other Mary go to see the tomb (Matthew 28:1) before the stone was rolled away on the Sabbath?
    Oh the waiting and longing for what was promised! Will it ever come to be?
    Today, we know that Sunday is coming. But on Tenebrae night, I feel a deep aching - an intense longing - for the joyous celebration of an empty tomb.
    He has risen.
    He has risen indeed.

    Tips on Traveling with Friends

    Thursday, April 4, 2019


    I love traveling. It rejuvenates my spirit. I have a travel fund in my monthly budget so I can plan to get away often. If you love to travel too, don't put your life on hold waiting for a husband to travel with. Now is the time to go!

    While I don't mind flying by myself to visit friends in other cities and countries, I feel much more comfortable and safe traveling with a friend when visiting a new place. However, it can definitely be hard to find a good travel companion. You can be best friends with someone and then find traveling together to be very frustrating. Thankfully, I have found a very good friend, Elizabeth, to travel with. I want to share with you some things that have helped make our trips successful.

    Some things to talk about before going on a trip with someone:

    1. What are your expectations for this trip? What do you envision? (Does she like to do the same things as you? Is she thinking a fast-paced trip or a relaxing get-away? Maybe she pictures laying on the beach all day while you want to ride bikes and go snorkeling.)

    2. How much money are you wanting to spend? This is very important. Money can be a source of contention and can separate friends. My friend and I always consult each other before we purchase any kind of ticket or reservations. 

    3. What is your non-negotiable? What is that one thing you have to do? My friend Meghan gives this advice and I love it! When Elizabeth and I went to Seattle, her non-negotiable was hiking Mt. Rainier while mine was going whale watching. We made sure that both of those things happened.

    4. Communication is key! Say it. Talk about it. Be open and honest. Be sensitive to their thoughts and opinions.

    Once you have your travel companion and your location, now it's time to PLAN! Elizabeth and I get together and list out all the things we want to do. Then we start doing our research. How much time does this activity take? Where is it located in regards to where we will be? How much does it cost? What are people saying on TripAdvisor? Google docs is our go-to for shared planning. We hyperlink websites, add maps, list the itinerary, etc. Envision what each day will look like. Allow extra time for little hiccups that might occur along the way.

    Consider:

    - Food: Need a grocery store stop? Should you bring breakfast to-go items? Coffee? Snacks? What types of food do you both want if you go out?

    - Transportation: Lyft/Uber, public transportation, walking

    - Places to stay: I use rewards for free hotel stays and we also do AirBnBs.

    - Clothing: What is the weather going to be like? Are you doing any fancy dinners? What will you need for your various activities?

    - Assign responsibilities based on your individual strengths: Elizabeth is good at figuring out transportation and researching cute restaurants. My strengths are booking lodging, navigating airports, and ensuring we are properly caffeinated.

    Find yourself a good travel companion and enjoy experiencing a new city together. Bon Voyage!

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