Thursday, May 24, 2012


Today I lugged two boxes, three clothing-gorged trash bags, and one over-the-door ironing board to Goodwill and handed them to the scraggly man who received them into the back of the warehouse where he would turn my trash into someone else's treasure. Last night, in my clutter purge I organized and straightened every shelf and drawer, searching for other things to add to my Goodwill cache. In the drawer beside my bed--the place where everything goes that doesn't have an assigned place--I found a few stray batteries, some stamps, crumpled memos from six months ago, three outdated housing manual, and an extra Hallmark card that said, "Thinking of you at this difficult time and wishing you peace." It's one of those .99 cent cards, an extra I picked up last time I was in the card aisle. I transferred it to another drawer newly dubbed my 'stationary drawer.' Wouldn't need the card anytime soon, surely, but I figured I'd keep it, 'cause eventually something sad will happen. I like being prepared. I finished my cleaning and went to bed in peace with the knowledge that everything was right in my world. Tonight, the card is lying beside me, opened, waiting to carry words of comfort to my coworker whose 15 month baby girl died last night in her sleep, silently, senselessly, peacefully. Not 3 months ago, I followed the little girl around the church nursery, coaxing her to give me the headband she'd pulled off her head; on Sunday I sat with her mother in church. This afternoon I gaped at the e-mail, announcing her death. Sometimes sadness sneaks in or strikes suddenly; it doesn't ask "ready or not" to warn us, and doesn't wait for you to stock up on sympathy cards. And inevitably, when it comes, I'm never truly prepared.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Even if I do say so myself, the visuals on my blog rock! The puddle wouldn't be nearly as cozy without the pictures. Here, at my gushing, seems the perfect place to present a confession. I’m an art thief. I’ll admit it--most of the pictures on my blog are not my own, but scavenged from dozens of other websites. I slink around on Google images until the perfect photo for my post pops up and then I—well I swipe it. I shamelessly copy and paste and repost, only dreaming of possessing the talent of these photographers. But here I wish to make it clear that though I covet their talent, I do not take credit for their work. This post is to celebrate the many photographers and artists who unknowingly supplied me with the aesthetic part of my blog. Thank you!! (Whew, now my conscience can breathe.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


(I wrote this a few months ago. Levi finally got the hint and has found better ways to fill his void, with missions work and investing more time in his business. I'm proud of him. We rarely talk, but it's understood that we'll always be there for each other.)
Levi lives in South Carolina, 500 miles away from me. A few months ago, he nabbed my number from a friend and texted me, clearly scoping out a possible relationship. He’s twelve years my senior, and though from an upstanding family, carries more baggage than the cargo hold of a 757. Aware of his reputation, I hesitated to begin communication with him, but, as usual, curiosity overtook my judgment. Slowly, like the saturated bottom of a cardboard box, my resolve gave way. Now thousands of texts and countless hours of phone conversations later, he’s convinced that I’m the one for him, but I remain just as sure that he’s not. We’re at a stalemate as complicated friends. He insists I’m “perfect” because of my godly encouragement, and assumes that I’m “beautiful” if only because I’m kind, and assures me that I’m “awesome” because I’m not vain like the women from his past. But his profuse complements don’t convince me because I suspect they’re more wistful than anything; he’s just tired of living a lonely life.
Levi’s life intrigues me. He’s served jail time briefly, been sued, married, divorced, fathered an illegitimate child, fostered an extensive string of dysfunctional relationships, traveled a good portion of the world, speaks 3 languages, started a business, made millions, owns 3 Ferraris, and is presently building an elaborate house. In the future he plans to take weekend trips to New York for Broadway shows, and France for shopping, and Belgium for waffles, and he intends to visit every continent—
At least, he would if he had someone to join him. Though money can charter him a trip to any country, and lend him every luxury, Levi suffers from the drawback that afflicts many affluent people: his life is filled with emptiness. He can’t find someone who will truly love him beyond his bank account.
This is why I think Levi isn’t more excited about that magnificent house that he’s going to move into, why he encourages the builders and painters to take their time. Because, though full of furniture, appliances, and decorations, the house echoes with emptiness. I can always tell when he’s struggling with loneliness because he describes the house to me, room by room. Through his verbal depiction, he leads my imagination through the heavy front door into the entry way where we walk under the sparkling chandelier cascading from the ceiling. He shows off the expansive kitchen with glossy cabinets and black appliances. And he points out the sleek leather furniture in the living room and the calming dark earth tone of the walls. We climb the wide staircase that he longs to ascend with a wife in his arms. And upstairs, he pauses in the spacious master bedroom where the walk-in closet rivals the size of my entire apartment bedroom. In this room, he rehearses his plans to tuck his wife in with a kiss in the mornings before he leaves for work and surprise her with gifts on her pillow at night. He revels in describing the sliding glass doors leading out to the balcony where he’ll keep sunrise and sunset rendezvous. Here is where the tour stops, with Levi on that balcony, contemplating how his life feels so lonely, so empty.
Why, you may ask, have I not leapt at the offer to change the marital status of this seemingly eligible man? The answer is simple: a belief. The belief hardly acknowledged in our culture that marriage after divorce is unbiblical. Based on Christ’s instruction in Matthew 5 and Mark 10, marrying a man who is divorced would mean violating a blatant biblical mandate. Acquiescing to Levi would be settling for God’s second best for my life. For this reason, I’ve let Levi know that there is no reason to hope that my mind will change.
But despite my resolve to adhere to this command, there is one thing that makes it hard for me to resist entertaining the Levi's proposal. One detail causes me to second guess my stand. It’s not Levi’s cars, his bank account, his suavity, or his travel itinerary. And none of the rooms in his expansive house could entice me to concede to his persistent proposal of marriage.
None of the rooms except one—the upstairs office. Or what I could turn into my office, he promises. My office where I could write all day if we got married.
There, converging in those 144 square feet of room, are my dreams—to be a wife and a writer. Married to a man who could sponsor my passion to write without dividing my energies with a career—it’s enough to make me rethink my morals. Enough to tempt me to claim Christ’s forgiveness in advance and elope in Portugal or some other exotic backdrop.
Besides, I reason, I’m twenty-six. Maybe the Lord has forgotten my desires. What if the man meant for me was aborted, or what if he’s distracted by a busty blonde or what if Levi and I were supposed to marry, but he just made a mistake by getting married to the wrong one? On and on my rationalizing goes.
Sometimes, I think I could make it work, that I could make it right. But my rationalizing never screams louder than the resounding no in my heart.
Levi wonders at my resolve. “How can you be so sure that God will bring someone else along?” Some days I wonder along with him. After all, I have no promise that God will lead another man into my life if I hold to His command. I possess even less of a guarantee that He will bring another man whose income would allow me to write.
My unmet desires sometime ring through my empty heart like Levi’s loneliness through his house. But all that changes when my eyes stop focusing on the one thing I don’t have and turn to the only thing that matters: God’s presence. The presence available to accompany every individual at all the world’s tables for one. My desire to do what is right is stronger than my yearning to write. And I long for God’s company over the companionship of a spouse.
My unfulfilled desires have revealed His capacity to fill even the hollowest places with joy that no human companion can offer. His arms are the only arms capable of holding me tightly enough to feel absolutely loved. His words are the only words sweet and gentle enough to offer genuine comfort.
Only when we’re willing to abandon our most precious plans and seek His exceeding abundant dreams will we realize that our hearts aren’t truly empty—they’re just open with potential to be filled with peace and purpose, with hope and happiness, and perhaps, most importantly, with the desire to know the Lover of our souls if only we give Him room.