FHFYFUFU

I have a little phrase I’ve been repeating to myself as a reminder of my appetite. And no, I don’t mean peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, although I’m down if you have some to share. I mean appetite as in what I’m hungry for, what I want my life to be about and in turn, what I’m feeding it and how I’m feeding it. What am I doing each day? What am I not doing each day? More on all that here.

For her, for You, for us, for us.

The her is my future ________ (insert “girlfriend” or “wife” here).

The You is God.

The first us is for the relationship I’ll have with previously mentioned girlfriend or wife.

The second us is for the relationship I have with God.

It might sound simple, I know what you’re thinking. Love can walk through…wait, what? OK, it might be simple but it’s been a good reminder to keep my eyes pointed towards God– my savior, my helper, my provider. I don’t always get it right, but that won’t stop me from trying.

-Out of the Wilderness

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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

Rekindling an old flame

handsSo I’ve posted a few blogs about my trip to Missouri. If you missed them, check a couple of them out here and here. This one, though, is diving into a deeper and more private part of my life…something I don’t do very often. It has to do with dating and relationships. I guess when I post something, I try to keep it somewhat light and entertaining so I’m a bit nervous about what this post could reveal to you about me. Maybe it’s something you don’t know? Maybe it’s something I should keep to myself? Hmm, anyway I’ll just keep typing and see what happens.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 3.09.59 PMOn our 15 hr trip from Tallahassee, Florida to Branson, Missouri my brother and I covered a lot of topics, my dating life was one of them. Being single at 38 offers a decent topic to waste time talking about, right? 🙂 To catch you up, and this is something my brother already knew, I’ve dated on and off over the years but had 2 relationships that I’d call “serious,” meaning they each had the potential of progressing to marriage. We talked about the ins and outs of each one, the reasons the relationships ended, my thoughts on that, his thoughts on that, where those 2 women are now, etc. We talked deal breakers, compatibility, likes/dislikes, faith, personalities, core values, and more.

By the end of the conversation, he was pretty much sold on me pursuing one of them again. Maybe the reasons it ended were characteristics that I’ve grown out of, ya know? Like, I’ve matured and grown into a different place than I was back then, and perhaps she has, too.

The conversation turned to something else and we didn’t really get back into it again before arriving in Branson. But, of course, there was still a 15-hour drive back to Florida.

This return trip included one of my sisters, who also knows these relationship details of my life. So she and my brother encouraged me to write down what I’d say to this woman if given another chance. Then they took it a step further and said whatever it is I write, send it to her however I can. Such a paralyzing thought, but also I felt a flicker of life there. As if there could be something rekindled. A faint sign of life, even if it is completely one-sided. I have no idea how it would be received, how she’s feeling about relationships overall, and all that. We haven’t spoken in a long time.

I haven’t written anything down yet, and I don’t know if I will. It’s something I think about and consider doing, but I have fear of hurting her in some way and to me, that makes the whole idea extremely high risk.

So here I sit at my computer, writing to you instead. Hopefully you’ll read this and accept it as a piece of my heart, without judgement but with compassion.

UPDATE: For the dramatic conclusion of this story, click here.

-Out of the Wilderness

10 more signs a Christian guy is into you

via-quickmeme.com_A while back I published my first lighthearted and completely unreliable post for how to tell a Christian guy is into you (click here for that list). Well, it’s time for another. Just as lighthearted. Just as unreliable. Enjoy!

10. You comment that his man-bun reminds you of Samson from the Bible. He responds by flexing for you.

9. He invites you on a coffee date… to the coffeeshop in the east quadrant of your mega church.

8. He uses this lame-o line: I’d be pretty bad at mission work, ’cause you’re the only “miss” I’d have my “i on”.

7. He says he’d totally “leave and cleave” for you.

6. He doesn’t want you to be a MISSionary. He wants you to be a MRSionary.

*Take a break and check out one of the worst dates I’ve ever been on. It was embarrassingly funny! Click this link.*

5. He brings two sets of ear plugs when the two of you attend the contemporary worship service.

4. He loves that you’re learning Greek but he still wants to French with you.

3. He wants to stomp grapes with you just so he can wash your feet.

2. He tells you he has a sensitive side, which includes being seeker-sensitive.

1. He says you put the ‘angel‘ in evangelical.

 

20 reasons I was single in my 20s, plus a few more

During my senior year of high school, I started compiling a list of things I’d love to have in a mate. The list started with broad characteristics that were must-haves. Things like Christian, patient, good listener, thoughtful. Had the list stopped there, that would’ve been great. It’s smart to have some sort of criteria when seeking a friend for the end of the world. More specifically, a best friend to spend the rest of my life with. But the list didn’t end there. It went on. And on. And on. A total of 45 things I wrote down that defined who it was I was looking for. No prob. No prob? Yeah right… no wonder I’ve been single for so long!

I don’t think there’s ever been a woman on earth that could measure up to that list.

I might as well have created her from a computer, like these guys did. But Kelly LeBrock aside, this “perfect girl” isn’t out there. A girl I was dating years ago surmised that (and this is as we were breaking up) I’m looking for someone just like me. Mostly because of how and when it was presented, I became defensive. But she was right. Now comparing her comments to the list from high school, I’m about to blow your mind, so make sure you’re sitting down for this.

The list isn’t who I was looking for, the list is who I wanted to be.

Booya. Mic drop. You’ve been served. Insert any other overused phrase here. Even as I sit here typing I’m looking at this decades-old list and it’s blowing my mind. All these things I wrote down are either characteristics I already have, or ones I’m striving towards. If there were a girl out there that had all these qualities, I don’t think I’d fall in love with her. I think I’d be super jealous of her!

Then it makes sense that what I’m looking for in a mate now, now that I’m in my 30s and so much wiser and so much more mature, are much less specific. Less specific and not about me!

I look forward to finding this person. That is, if God’s ideas for me include a woman that can put up with a guy who made a list in high school of 45 things about her that’s really about him but at least he didn’t try to make her on a computer but maybe that was only because he didn’t know how because he was more into playing sports than computer programming.

-Out of the Wilderness

The Reawakening: Part 2

tuxedoPlease consider this a formal invitation to come along with me as I move forward, perhaps out of the wilderness, into the next chapter of my life. The focus of this adventurous writing is what I do for work, but really, it includes so much more… because I don’t have a limit on where I can go or what I can do. I may be inspired by my friends, time with my dogs, during normal business hours, or something I hear on the radio or see on TV. I’m very excited to find out how this stirring in my heart will be fulfilled. My goal is to post every Thursday around 1pm Central.

To have a more full understanding of where I’m coming from, you should probably know as a 30-year-old I was inspired to make a pledge and that’s sort of what’s going on now, 6 years later. Or at least, it’s a continuation of that pledge that I desperately need to live out.

The pledge was to never live a regular life. That can mean many things, but to me, it means not settling. Living an adventure in my work, in my relationships. I’ve heard it’s every 5 years or so one goes through some kind of phase in life questioning their significance, maybe with the itch to hit reset and start over, whether it’s in a job, relationships, moving to a new city, or some other aspect of life that feels stale. It happened to me in 2008 (as I mentioned, when I was 30 years old). During this uncomfortable phase a friend of mine, one who’s more experienced and further along in years and in wisdom gave me a book called No More Mondays by Dan Miller. It’s about being satisfied at work, whether that means changing jobs, or just changing perspectives in my current job. Now, I’m reading it again. It’s an inspiration to know feeling claustrophobic at a desk is an OK feeling to have. It doesn’t mean I’m lazy or ungrateful. Because I’m neither. But it was at this very desk where I sat for 8 hours that work became routine. I traded passion for a paycheck. I convinced myself comfort was more important than connecting with deeper needs. But a combination of events at work shook me out of the status quo. The timing couldn’t have been better because just as I was beginning to question my goals at work, I had time off to think through my desires, my skills, and I was about to spend a week in a small town north of Cincinatti.

The ideas, lists, brainstorms, plans, rants, and wild thoughts that follow are not a journey to the next goal in my life, they are the adventure my heart longs for. I certainly hope you’ll accept my invitation to come along!

-Out of the Wilderness
black shoes

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!