Rekindling an old flame, part 2

My dad likes to fish. And by “like,” I mean if he could be on the water every day, I think he’d do it. Something about the call of the grouper, the invitation of the red snapper, not to mention the quietness of the wild blue yonder, beckons him. Sometimes I hear that call, too, but I’m pretty much ready to hang up after a couple of hours. And by “couple of hours,” I mean 1 hour. But when I’m out there, sometimes 15 or 20 miles out, there’s nothing like it.DCIM100GOPROThe water is a deep, sparkly, dark blue. The boat rocks back and forth, all the while rising and falling on swells unlike what you seen near a shore. There’s an exciting, and sometimes eerie, mystery to what’s below the 23-ft Boston Whaler because while the water is clear, what’s 90 feet down remains unknown.

So we tie off the anchor. We drop the lines. There’s a variety of bait samples used in hopes of hooking the big one. I might be on the bow of the boat. My dad at the stern. My brother starboard. My brother-in-law port side.

Because of my dad’s expertise, we are usually on top of rocky ground, which if you have fished before, you know the most elusive fish and the ones you want are tucked in the holes and crevices of the jagged edges there.

And the bite? When these fish bite, you know it! There is rarely ever a nibble that prepares you for what’s to come. These fish pack a wallop! It could be a 20-pound grouper, or a 2-pound rock bass, but the moment they bite you could swear you’ve hooked a whale. That’s part of the adventure. And boy, is it a thrill!

“There are plenty of fish in the ocean.”

Dating is lot like fishing. Emotions rising and falling like ocean swells. The mystery of who you’ll meet, when you’ll meet them, the chase. The ones that are worthwhile are usually harder to find, and don’t just go after the first bait that comes along. So you drop your line and hope to God to get a bite. All kinds of fish, all kinds of people that could potentially turn into your happily ever after.

But you may have to wait a while or reel a few in only to throw them back because they’re not right for you. You might need to pull up the anchor and find a new ledge. Then you drop your line in again… and wait.

Well, when I started dating the girl I’m writing this and the previous post about (and for what it’s worth, other posts like this and this), I thought I’d hooked the big one! At times it was a struggle. At times I wondered if it was worth the fight. But when it was good, it was really good. She was unlike any other I’d dated before and while it wasn’t always easy, it was worth it in the end. But then there was the end. The end of the dating relationship, the end of a friendship. I wasn’t prepared for losing my friend.

Since then, I’ve missed her. I’ve wondered where she was and what she was doing. I thought about the places we went, the conversations we had, the dreams we had for the future. Songs came on the car radio and I either had to change the channel or dive into the deep and mysterious feelings of loss and doubt. Which isn’t always smart when, ya know, you’re supposed to be paying attention to the road!

Time went by and I never told anyone about any of this. I was supposed to get over her. I was supposed to be over her. Whatever rule that said after a certain amount of time, a person needs to move on didn’t work for me. But it stayed hidden because I didn’t want to admit I still missed her. That is, until I was riding in a van to Missouri with my brother, to whom I confided in with these feelings that kept me unsettled all this time.

Talk about a boring conversation for my nieces, right? 

Well, they were asleep through most of it, so they were spared the Hallmark-worthy retelling of my dating life.img_20170701_095918344.jpg

Our conversation moved on to other stuff and we didn’t talk about her again till the trip back to Florida. This leg of the trip included one of my sisters. She and my brother challenged me to write my feelings down, try contacting her, and pursue what was clearly heavy on my heart. For the most part, I was on board, with the intention of being cautious as I didn’t know a whole lot about her current dating situation.

We arrived in Florida for a week with the rest of the family. I knew there wouldn’t be time to give appropriate attention to what I wanted to say in the letter because, well, the house was full of 8 wild kids, 8 adults, and 4 dogs. I’ll write when I get home, I told myself. So when I got back to Nashville, I dove in head first. I started with writing part 1 of this rekindling story.

“It’s time to fish or cut bait.”

I’ve totally dragged this out and by now you’re borderline postal wishing I’d get to the part where I reveal that I wrote the letter, she got it, and…

A. We chatted, she’s married with 9 kids, but has fond memories of days of yore.

or…

B. I showed up to her house with five thousand roses, she welcomed me with open arms and we’re now married with 15 kids.

Well, put away your Scantron® because this isn’t a test! I can say for certain neither A. or B. is the right answer, anyway. There’s always a secret third option– in this case, not writing the letter, which is the decision I settled on. Yep. The romantic gesture intended to express my feelings for a woman I haven’t spoken to in a long time is not happening. I considered writing the letter. I really did although I didn’t have a clue where to start. But after time, prayer, and a considerable amount of peace I have about it, I’m cutting bait.

I will always be thankful for the Missouri trip even though it’s hard for me to exactly define what changed for me. All I can say is that when I got it out, when I actually talked about it out loud with human beings, therapy was happening. And even though I didn’t write to her directly, I did write.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou

Now I feel relief, a weight lifted off my shoulders, closure or a chapter ending, whatever you want to call it. My steps are lighter and my heart feels untethered. I haven’t felt this free in years and I gotta say, I’m thrilled at what the future holds as far as relationships go. It’s scary to admit that in any relationship I’ve been in since she and I broke up, she was always in the back of my mind. I’m grieved to think of wonderful women (except this one) I missed out on because I wasn’t fully present. But I think that’s a thing of the past now.

I feel a release I can’t explain well.

It’s peace about the decision to let go. Finally letting go for good. Forgetting the past and moving forward to the future God has for me. And I’ll say this, too… I believe in a God that is bigger than me. His ways are higher than mine and his thoughts higher, too. He’s the great conductor and if, in the masterpiece He’s creating, He chooses to have her and I cross paths and He knows we’re better together than we are apart, then so be it. Amen.

So that’s how it’s going to be for me now, in this moment, and tomorrow and the next day and the next day. Happy for what God’s brought me through, and with the rise and fall of the ocean swells, my line is in the water. The anchor is tied. The sun is shining.

And it’s a beautiful view.

-Out of the Wilderness

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So you’re a newlywed, huh?

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.22.49 AMI was chatting with a friend recently about someone she knows who’s getting married. We covered some of the details most people love knowing about when it comes to weddings: location, the couple, the excitement of the families. It’s great when two people love each other, and side note, if you’re a girl wondering if a guy might be interested in you, check out another post of mine: 10 Signs He’s Into You.

My friend mentioned that the two people getting married aren’t Christians and neither go to church, which is why their wedding is taking place somewhere other than a church and not officiated by a pastor. We sort of left it as hoping for the best for the couple and that their marriage will last. I enjoyed the conversation but always wonder why I come up with my best comments well after any particular topic is over.

In this case, I didn’t have much to say in the moment about the folks getting married not being Christians. But if I could do it over, I’d say something about all of us, no matter where we are now, started somewhere. We all have a story and sometimes a relationship with God starts at a young age, sometimes not. Sometimes it never starts at all. My hope for these soon-to-be newlyweds is that in the process of getting married, and being married, that God reveals Himself to them. After all, marriage is spoken about a lot in the Bible and I believe God holds it in very high regard.

Another hope: just don’t screw it up! I say that playfully, yet reflecting on how mankind has pretty much screwed up everything at some point or another. God has given us so many good things, marriage included, and we’ve managed to pervert all of it. And that goes for Christ-followers, too. Here’s the thing about that, by the way. At the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat. People who call themselves Christians aren’t any better than anyone else. Like it says in the Old Testament, “We all like sheep have gone astray.” We’re all looking for an answer. We’re all seeking peace, happiness, and something to worship.

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.23.01 AMSo I still definitely hope for the best for my friend’s friends who are getting married. I hope it’ll last, that they positively wreck the statistics of divorce. And especially, I hope somehow they’re willing and able to understand a little more about God through their marriage. And if/when they have kids, they get another glimpse into the character of God, as it’s revealed through a parent’s love for their children.

Maybe you can’t exactly relate to getting married, being a newlywed or even becoming a parent. Hey, I certainly can’t! But we can all relate to one key take-away:

Whatever you’re doing, just don’t screw it up. 🙂
Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.22.36 AM-Out of the Wilderness

PS. All of these stunning photos were taken by amazing photographer Joe Hendricks. More incredible wedding photos can be seen on his website, along with breathtaking landscape photos (available for purchase)! Click here, you won’t be sorry!

Wedding Reception Playlist Music

Stuck not knowing which songs to play at your wedding reception? If you don’t have a DJ or just want to give the DJ a list of songs to work with, look no further. I compiled these from a few other lists, as well as suggestions of my own. This list is strictly fast/dance songs. I may also compile a list of slower music in the future. If you have other song ideas, feel free to comment below! I’ve made a note of songs that have suggestive lyrics, they are in bold.

RAP/R&B:
I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
Boom Boom Pow – Black Eyed Peas
Low (Apple Bottom Jeans) – Flo Rida Feat. T-Pain
In The Ayer – Flo Rida Feat. Will.I.Am
Big Poppa – Notorious BIG
Hypnotize – Notorious BIG
Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-A-Lot
Jump On It! – Sir Mix-A-Lot
Dynamite – Taio Cruz
Tootsie Roll – 69 Boyz
Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice
Teach Me How To Dougie – California Swag District
This Is How We Do It – Montell Jordan
Yeah! – Usher Feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris
Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) – Beyonce
Hot In Here – Nelly
U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer
Bust A Move – Young MC
Timber – Pitbull ft. Kesha
Hey Ya! – Outkast
Wiggle – Jason Derulo
Sexy Back – Justin Timberlake ft. Timbaland
My Love – Justin Timberlake ft. T.I.

OLDIES/ROCK FAVORITES:
You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC
Love Shack – The B-52′s
Brick House – Commodores
Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees
Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard
I Love Rock And Roll – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
We Are Family – Sister Sledge
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
Play That Funky Music (White Boy) – Wild Cherry
Some Kind Of Wonderful – Grand Funk Railroad
1999 – Prince
Mony Mony – Billy Idol

DANCE:
Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO Feat. Lauren Bennett & Goon Rock
Just Dance – Lady Gaga Feat. Colby O’Donis
Jump Around – House Of Pain
Thriller – Michael Jackson
One More Time – Daft Punk
Twist And Shout – The Beatles
The Twist – Chubby Checker
Y.M.C.A. – The Village People
The Train (Come On And Ride It) – Quad City DJ’s
Macarena – Los Del Rio
Cupid Shuffle – Cupid
Cha Cha Slide – DJ Casper

SING ALONG SONGS:
Sweet Caroline – Niel Diamond
Celebration – Kool & The Gang
Don’t Stop Believing – Journey
Shout – The Isley Brothers
Come on Eileen – dexy’s midnight runners

NEW-ISH SONGS:
Shut Up and Dance – Walk the Moon
Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson
GDFR – Flo Rida
Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
Happy – Pharrell Williams
All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor
This is How We Roll – Florida Georgia Line
Cruise – Florida Georgia Line
Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke
Turn Down for What – DJ Snake
Cowboy – Kid Rock

COUNTRY NON-LINE DANCE:
Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy) – Big & Rich
(if you’d like more country, let me know!)

A Love Story: Part Five

Before reading, feel free to get caught up here: A Love Story Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, yes this is all made up so please don’t congratulate me but do feel free to send me a Home Depot gift card as a wedding gift.

***

With the vows completed, I knew the moment was upon us. It’s funny, this part of the ceremony had me more nervous than the whole “till death separates us” part. It’s my father, anyway, that thought a fear of commitment was my problem. Turns out, he was partly right. I was afraid of committing myself to someone who was good. But now I’ve found great and with the smooth voice of Vince Gill, the guitar skills of John Mayer, and the certain come hither look of Johnny Depp, I began to sing. Acoustic-Guitar-1OK, that’s not completely true. My come hither look was more like Joey from Friends. But what was lost in talent was made up for in this being a surprise. That’s right. None but myself and a select few knew I was going to perform during the ceremony. Not even my soon-to-be wife knew. But hey, I love surprises. The idea came to me years earlier when a song grabbed me and didn’t let me go till I did something with it. The song was “All I Want Is You” and what I was doing with it was learning it on a borrowed guitar. No one in their right mind expected this from me because 1. I don’t play guitar, 2. I don’t sing, and 3. if I did either, it wouldn’t be front of an audience. But just after she finished her vows and the pastor prayed, I smiled and went to get the guitar. Forgetting that I was nervous, I looked towards the audience and shrugged my shoulders as if to say, “Here goes nothing.” Light chuckles from around the darkened room.

I tread my way through, rough but definitely sounding kind of, sort of, if you tilt your head a little, like the U2 song. After all, it’s not my talent or my desire to “make it big” driving me, it’s my heart. And to know this surprise might make her smile, that’s enough for me to say yes to doing something that terrified me. That smile, that smile is worth more than my comfort. I could barely look at her while I sang because I might forget the words, laugh, cry, or all three at the same time. But as I strummed the last note our eyes connected. That’s a moment I won’t soon forget. She looked so proud and happy. After setting the guitar back down, I joined her on stage, clasping her hands in mine. Meanwhile my brother made his way to the mic at the end of the stage. He read, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.” That’s a couple of verses from Psalm 145. Then her sister, a bridesmaid, approached the mic to sing her favorite hymn, “How Great Thou Art.”

At the time most couples would light a unity candle or pour colored sand into a jar, we opted to do both. We lit sand on fire and poured it in a jar. No, but that would’ve been cool, right? We brought bricks to each set of parents and had them signed. We told them that just like the 2 bricks will forever be part of our home one day, they will  be, too. That was her idea and I loved it since day one. She was full of good ideas. I learned that as early as our first date.

Check back soon for A Love Story: Part Six, which will reveal more about our first date.

-Out of the Wilderness

You Heard It, She Said An “I Do”

One of my favorite TV show scenes is from “A Different World” when Whitley is about to marry Byron. The minister goes through a list of commitments the bride and groom are making to each other. He asks Byron if he will follow through, and Byron responds with an “I will.” Whitley is given the same speech and when it’s her turn to confirm, she freezes. Everywhere she turns, she sees Dwayne Wayne’s face. (And if you don’t already know this, Dwayne was her long-time boyfriend, another main character on the show.) So anyway, Whitley’s mother encourages her to say “I will” because the ceremony can’t continue without her verbal confirmation. Just then, Dwayne, who slipped into the wedding without drawing attention to himself, stands up and asks Whitley, “Will you?” It’s a superbly dramatic scene! Dwayne resists the groomsmen who try to wrestle him away from the ceremony, all while asking Whitley to marry him. She says “I do!” Her mom tells the minister to go on with the Byron-groomed ceremony because Whitley said “I do.” The minister sums up the entire scene by asking, “but to whom?!” It’s a fantastic moment. Dwayne and Whitley get married and the crowd cheers. Well, at least her side did.

As I navigate through my 30s, I know I’m closer now to the husband I want to be. The funny part is… I’m still single. But in the things I do, in who I date, I’m aiming towards the “I do.” The big question still remains, though, “but to whom!?”

I Don’t Know What the Future Holds

…but I know who holds the future. Have you ever heard that before? It’s a catchy, thoughtful little quote that Christians like to say when things are uncertain. I’ve certainly used it for comfort at various points in my life and when I say various points, I mean when I wonder who I’ll marry or if all my mistakes have lead me miles away from where I should be or could be. Earlier this week I thought more about the word ‘trust’ and how it connects to faith. Because that ‘holds the future’ thing is really all about trust. If we really believed, like if we really, really believed, knowing that God is in control, that He really “holds the future,” that we can really trust Him completely, believing that everything that happens, happens for a reason, and even beyond that, He knows about everything that happens and that nothing happens that He hasn’t accounted for or planned on, if we believed that even with the chaos we see every single minute in our hometowns, in our states, in our country, in the world, in our heads, that He is actually in control, that He actually has a plan, that He actually isn’t surprised by anything ever, that nothing happens beyond what He allows, that there is an end goal and a finish line for all of us, that the world, as in the actual earth, is longing for Him, too, that as society crumbles and people act more and more crazy, act more and more selfish, less and less tolerant to Him and what he brings, less tolerant to those they call intolerant, even through all that, He counts the hairs on our head, He’s still got compassion for those that love him and those that hate him, He reaches out to hug us, to protect us, He loves us and even likes us, His angels are entertained by watching His creation (us) like I’m entertained watching His creation (dolphins and horses, more specifically), to really believe he can hold all the love and all the hate and all the greatness and sadness, all the victories and defeats that every one of us face, all the disappointment and all the success, all the governments that may or may not acknowledge Him, he can hold all of that in a balance that allows us to still live even when we don’t deserve it, to love even though we don’t really know how, to laugh even when we might be suffering… well, if we really believe He’s actually in control, as if He’s actually got a plan for the big future (mankind) and the little future (mine and yours)…

I don’t see how that wouldn’t change everything about everything.

The Problem with Being Yourself on a Date

Whether you’re a guy or girl, it’s normal to get nervous before a date. We’ve all been there. In fact, even the dates I didn’t put must stock in, I still found myself being nervous (see “This Was Not A Date” and “After The Final Tulip”). More often than any advice I get is the encouragement to “be yourself!” But isn’t that kind of the problem? Because myself is nervous! Might I suggest two other solutions for the nerves, neither are to “be yourself.” First, you can try acting. Pretend you’re a character in a movie but the character is the “normal you.” So on the one hand you’re nervous, but on the other, you’re playing the part of you when you’re not nervous. The second option is pretty much out of your hands, actually. The responsibility rests in the other person on the date (and if this ends up working, it’s a very good sign for the relationship). Like I said earlier, it’s normal to be nervous before a date, however if you find yourself so comfortable around them that you forget to be nervous, that’s an ideal environment to be in. Because then, and only then, will you realize that you truly can “be yourself!” How about you? Have you found any methods that help calm your nerves before a big date? Feel free to share in the comments below!