Mis-Answered Prayers? There’s No Such Thing!

Two major lessons that I’ve learned in life are that God is ALWAYS listening and that He has a pretty good sense of humor.  I have shared many of my fears, thoughts and desires with God throughout my life and I suspect that He has heard more than I have ever told.  I have asked for direction and I have been given a path.  I have asked for comfort and I have been given the arms of a friend to hold me.  I have asked for forgiveness and I have been redeemed.  I have actually lost count of all of my prayers that He has answered.  Now, that’s not to say that He answered them in exactly the way that I had hoped, or that He even “answered” all of them at all.  Indeed, as Garth Brooks sings, “some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”  I have received this gift from Him many times over and I have always been incredibly grateful when I realized that He answered based on the bigger picture that I could not yet see. 

As I said, many prayers were not answered in the exact way that I had hoped, but those were the answers which reveled to me what, I believe, can only be described as His sense of humor.  I think He enjoys it when we ask for something really broad or vague; it’s as if He then has total leeway to interpret our prayers in the way that He sees fit.  For example, it is like when you are carrying something really heavy and you ask someone to give you a hand and they start clapping.  Technically, they gave you exactly what you “asked” for, just not what you “meant” for. 

When I left South Carolina to move up to Cleveland, I decided that I wanted some things to change in my life.  I felt that I had taken a leap of faith by moving to South Carolina in the first place and that I had worked so hard to create a home for myself. Granted, I had lived on my own before, but I never really felt like I had built a home; I had built a home in South Carolina.  To me, a home is not just the four walls that you sleep within at night.  A home is the one place where you can be truly yourself, where you belong.  A home is a place where who you are slowly starts to seep into the walls around you.  The pictures portray those who have changed your life and, by extension, have changed you.  The knick-knacks tell the stories of where you have been and where you have left pieces of your heart behind.  The books quietly reveal how you see yourself, how you see the world, and all of the things that you wish to know.  The very existence of your belongings suggests what you desire most in your life; order, adventure, chaos, security.  And, if you do it right, a home is a place where someone can enter and simply by taking in their surroundings, get a glimpse of the real you that you sometimes struggle to hide when you are too afraid to reveal who you truly are. 

When I lost my home in South Carolina my heart was broken in a way that I had never experienced before.  It is impossible to explain to people what such a tragic loss feels like when, from their stand point, it was all just “stuff”.  It was never just “stuff”, it was my home!  I remember sitting in my empty apartment in Cleveland and looking at the bare walls, the empty cupboards, and the complete lack of color and expression.  If someone had walked in at that moment they would have seen what I was seeing, which was my own emptiness being reflected on the world around me.  Enough!  I shook my head and had a stern conversation with myself where I said, “This is not you! This is a corner, a very tiny corner of who you are, but this is not YOU!  Pull your shit together, figure out what you want, and let’s carry on.”  And that’s exactly what I did.  I thought long and hard about what I wanted and I came up with four things; a man who loves me, a ring to show his love, a home, and a family of my own. (Don’t read in to this, I didn’t exactly mean babies.  A family is still a family even if it is only a family of two.)

I asked God for those four things and then went about my life while I awaited His response.  The year began to fly by with one adventure after another with a group of amazing friends who welcomed me into their worlds and accepted my invitation as I welcomed them into mine.  I still thought of what I had asked for from time to time, but usually only in the quite moments right before I fell to sleep. 

The seasons changed and before I knew it, it was Memorial Day weekend.  A co-worker whose company I enjoyed, but whom I had not yet become friends with, asked me over to his house to celebrate the weekend with another friend.  I gladly obliged and, as they say, the rest is history.  In fact, looking back now, I can’t seem to pinpoint when we went from being casual friends to being the inseparable trio that we became.  It kind of feels like it just happened overnight, that we went from spending one weekend together to spending almost every day of the week together.  We went everywhere and we did everything as a team.  When people said things like, “What did you do this weekend?” They were referring to the three of us.  When I was invited somewhere, we all were invited somewhere.  We would meet up at five in the afternoon and reluctantly go home at five in the morning, feeling like we could have hung out for much longer.  We had “Family Dinner Night” once a week where each one of us was responsible for a different part of the meal.  We would hold hands as we said grace and I would thank God for bringing us together.  And that is how almost two years whirled by, with one adventure and one late night after another.  He was responsible for so much of my laughter during that time.  He taught me more than I ever thought one person could know.  He introduced me to things that I never would have tried.  And day by day, week by week, he reaffirmed the feeling that I had that I had made the right decision to move to Cleveland.  There was a part of me that hoped our story could go on forever, and even a part of me that actually thought it would.  But, just as the tide bids goodbye to the shore or the leaf loosens its hold on the tree, everything has a season, and so did our story. 

It was right before Christmas last year (horrible timing on his part) when he told me that he had taken a job transfer and was moving a million miles away.  Well, maybe not exactly a million, but it was further than my arms could reach so it mid as well have been a million.  I cried that night for a lot of reasons.  I cried because I loved him and didn’t want him to go.  I cried because, while our other friend was still going to be here, I knew it would never be the same; we were a trio and it would always feel like we were trying to make up for the missing piece.  I cried because his house had been our home base and we had made so many wonderful memories there and I knew that driving by it every day and knowing that it no longer belonged to us would be heartbreaking. 

The next month was filled with tension, hurt feelings, and frustrations.  Looking back, I think none of us really knew how to simply say what we were feeling, which was that we all loved each other and we weren’t entirely ready for the story to be over, especially since we knew that it would never be the same again. The icing on the cake was when he informed me that our friend was helping him move and that they were both going to be gone for my 30th birthday.  Fantastic!  I guess the plus side was that we both had a ton of packing to do so we had a lot of space during that time.  He told me one day that he wasn’t going to sell the house and that he wanted me to have it.  I had been renting a duplex month to month and could easily move out at anytime.  It was weird to shift our relationship to that of a landlord/renter but I think we did it in the least awkward way possible.  He made out because he had someone whom he trusted living in his house, and I made out because he cut me a break on the rent and the house was a complete upgrade from where I was living and it meant that I got to keep all of our memories carefully held inside. 

The day before he left I went over to his house so he could give me the official “landlord walk through”.  I had been to his house a thousand times before but we discussed where the fuse box was, how to add oil to the gas for the lawnmower, and what day the trash pick-up was on.  The entire house was empty except for a small box of things in the sunroom.  He told me that the box was for me.  It had a few random things that he thought I would like, a collage picture frame of the three of us and one tiny other present.  He held out his hand and said, “I don’t know if you’ll remember this, but I hope that you do.”  And then he placed a ring in my hand.  My eyes filled with tears.  Six months earlier we went to an antique shop and I was trying on rings while he was looking around at other stuff.  I found one ring that I really liked but I was really broke so I took it off and kept looking around the store.  Apparently, when I wasn’t looking, he bought it for me; not for Christmas, not for my birthday, just because it was something I liked and he wanted me to have it. 

The next day, after he had left, I opened the front door to what was once his house, but what is now my home.  I sat on the floor in the middle of the room and looked at my ring and cried.  The week seemed to crawl by.  I received post cards from him on the road, but they only served to tell me that he was getting further and further away.  My other friends and family went into overdrive to make sure that I still had a great birthday, which I did.  I finished moving all of my stuff in, turned in my keys for the old place, and started a new chapter in my life. 

Today, exactly one year since he left, I found myself thinking back on our time together.  I burst out laughing when I realized what God had done.  Touché God, touché.   While it wasn’t what I “meant” for, God had given me exactly what I “asked” for.  For the time that the three of us were together we were a family and there is no doubt in my mind that he loved me.  Of course, when I asked God for a man to love me, I had meant in a romantic sense, but he decided to respond with a best friend instead.  When I asked for a ring, I was speaking of an engagement ring, but I actually think my ring is better.  An engagement ring comes with expectations, commitments, and sacrifices; my ring only came with love.  And a home?  Well, my friend could only give me that by leaving.  I fully expected for the answer to my prayers to be intertwined, and they most certainly were, just not in the way that I imagined.  They were, however, intertwined in a way that was better than I ever could have imagined.  Today I still miss my friend, but I love him so much for being the answer to all of my prayers, even if he didn’t realize that that is what he was doing. 

A man who loves me, a ring to show his love, a home, and a family of my own; I am forever blessed. 

This post is brought to you by the song “Home” by Phillip Phillips:

 

 

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New Year’s Resolutions: Just Another Excuse to Make a List

I don’t really need a reason to make a list, in fact, in some notebook somewhere I probably have a list of future lists that I want to make.  And, I don’t necessarily support New Year’s Resolutions as I find that I make resolutions throughout the year.  However, I do like New Year’s Resolutions for the simple fact that they are quantifiable.  For example, all of my NYRs are things that have easily determined success rates.  I will try to illustrate what I mean below:

Bad Resolution:  Be more active.

Good Resolution:  Go to the gym at least once a week.

 The “bad resolution” is not quantifiable so there is a good chance that you will not succeed in your endeavor to become more active.  However, if you are trying to determine your success rate at the end of 2013, and your goal was to go to the gym at least once a week, it will be easy to say, “I was more active this year because I went to the gym 52 times.” 

This year I decided to create very specific resolutions for myself that are meant to enrich my life.  Of course I have the traditional “lose weight and exercise more” type goals but my main resolutions are aimed at helping me to become a more well-rounded individual. (Now that I think of it though, this could prove counter-productive as one of my main goals is to become a LESS rounded individual.  Huh.)

Resolution 1:  Pack Lunch at Least Three Days a Week

                This is part of my plan to eat better.  I have found that the biggest culprit to my shitty eating habits is my failure to plan, which is ridiculous to me since I love planning.  Ideally I should be packing a lunch every day, not just for my waist line but for my wallet as well.  Baby steps people, baby steps!

Resolution 2:  Get in My 10,000 Steps a Day

                I have avoided the gym lately due to a back injury, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t sill be active.  At the absolute LEAST I should be getting my 10,000 steps a day.  Ideally, come spring,  I will be back up to three days of gym time too. 

Resolution 3:  Read AT LEAST 26 Books This Year

                I read a ton of books throughout the year.  However, this resolution is actually a bit more specific.  I have a few fiction writers whom I really enjoy and will read every book that they publish.  This tendency causes me to be a little “fiction heavy” in my reading.  One could argue that I get in enough non-fiction with all of my course work but I would like to take it a step further.  The real goal is to read a book every other week, but to alternate between fiction and non-fiction.

Book Number One:  The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

 

If you are looking for this book for yourself, be warned that you will have to look in youth fiction.  I saw this on the table of the book store each time that I paid them a visit; I even picked it up more than once, but I didn’t decide to read it until my nephew enthusiastically told me that it was “the Best! Book! Ever!”  With a review like that, how could I not read it?  At close to 500 pages, this is a pretty hefty book for kids.  And I’m not gonna lie, there were a few words in there that I didn’t even know.  It was an enjoyable read though about four “smarter than the average bear” kids who go on a top secret mission to save the world.  The main plot dealt with subliminal messages, which I found to be terrifying, so I can’t imagine how a child reading this must feel.  I would recommend it for you, but I even think that it would make a great read aloud book for kids maybe eight and up. 

Resolution 4:  Watch 26 Documentaries This Year

                This resolution is the visual version of the previous resolution.  I don’t have cable so all of my entertainment comes from whatever Hulu offers for free, but they do have quite an extensive list of documentaries. 

Documentary Number One:  Ayn Rand & The Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged

As mentioned in the creation of the blog, Atlas Shrugged is my all time favorite book.  I first read it eight years ago and have read it three more times since and listened to the audio version once.   Rand first published the ideas and theories found in Atlas Shrugged in her book The Fountainhead but they were not interpreted the way that she had hoped.  One of Rand’s central philosophies is that man has the right to his own mind.  The government cannot force a man to think.  The government cannot force a man to use his abilities to create wealth for another.  And that any act of altruism should be self directed and not imposed by the government.  While Atlas Shrugged received horrible reviews when it was published in 1957, it has gone on to sell massive quantities all around the world with the Bible being the only hard cover book that has sold more copies.  If you don’t have the time, or the interest, to read this 1,200 page novel, at least take the time to watch this film. 

Resolution 5:  Follow My Gut as a Visitor in My Own City

When I first moved to Cleveland the people that I became friends were all grew up here and weren’t interested in exploring Cleveland in the same way that I was.  A few months ago I decided that enough was enough.  It is time to be a visitor in my own city.  I convinced a few friends of mine to start a small restaurant club with me.  Now, every other Monday, we have dinner at a different restaurant.  There are only a few rules that we try to adhere to:

  1.  It has to be someplace that at least one person hasn’t been to before.
  2. We can’t visit the same city two times in a row.
  3. We must drink wine.

We got off to a pretty good start last year but I want to keep it going this year.  I look forward to sharing some new experiences with you as well. 

Check back soon for updates to these resolutions.

The Ups and Downs of Pinterest

Clearly it has been quite some time since I have written, as I actually had to hunt down my password just to sign on here.  I had aspirations of writing an “End of Year” post but then I simply realized that I didn’t have much to say.  2012 wasn’t a bad year by any means.  2012 wasn’t an amazing year by any means.  2012 was simply a year where I learned a little, lived a lot, and became another year older.  Some people who I thought would never leave, did.  Some people who I thought were lost were found.  And somewhere in the midst of it all I made some new friends and discovered some new places.  So, all in all, I would say that 2012 was a success.  Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to what I really want to talk about…. Pinterest!

Okay, don’t get me wrong, I love me some Pinterest, but I also get really annoyed while scrolling through Pinterest.  I fear for the young women in our society, and I fear for society in general.  I am also constantly amazed by the abundance of stupidity that can be found on the Internet.  I was going to do a “Top 10 Things I Hate on Pinterest” but I’m realizing that there might be way more than 10, so we’ll just see how this goes. 

1. 

http://pinterest.com/pin/165436986283633365/

Anyone who know’s me would most likely tell you that I am a romantic.  I believe in grand gestures and tasteful displays of affection.  People would also tell you that I am a planner and love to be in control.  Stuff like this drives me crazy though.  “Rules to Propose”!!!  Are you kidding me?  Ladies, for the most part, you will plan your entire wedding.  You will pick the dress, the decorations, the venue, the food, the location, everything.  Could you please just back off and let the guy decide how the hell he wants to propose to you?

2.

http://pinterest.com/pin/66920744434750180/

Again, I love control, but this is a little out of control.  Scratch that.  This is way out of control.  I am all for organization but this is a bit much.  When I read through this woman’s directions on how to make this, I just found myself feeling sorry for her husband.  If this is what their food menu looks like, I can only imagine what their sex menu looks like:  Monday – Missionary.  Tuesday- Doggie Style.  Wednesday – Reverse Cowgirl. Thursday – Crouching Tiger….. wait, who am I kidding?  More like, Monday – no sex. Tuesday – no sex.  Wednesday – no sex.  Thursday – no sex.  Friday – no sex.  Saturday – Missionary (but only if the kids are out of the house).  Sunday – no sex. 

3.

http://pinterest.com/pin/269019777712977222/

And here is where the problems start.  News flash: You’re not going to be the only girl that he loves for all of his life.  Stop being so damn selfish and insecure.  He is going to love other women; his mother, sisters, best friend, even some co-workers.  But, none of that should take away from his love for you.  Trying to tell someone who they can love is a sure fire way to lose the person that you love. 

4.

http://pinterest.com/pin/253397916505708177/

Pictures of HORRIBLE tattoos that people actually think are good.  To be fair, I have never been scratched by a cheetah however, I am fairly certain that a cheetah does not leave it’s spots behind when it does scratch something. 

5.

http://pinterest.com/pin/40532465368090652/

Anything made using old jeans!  Anything!  I respect and admire creative people.  I respect and admire people who reuse and repourpose old items keeping them out of landfills, instead of buying new items.  I don’t respect or admire anyone who tries to turn jeans into anything other than jeans.

6.

http://pinterest.com/pin/63120832249300890/

I am so stinking tired of posts like this.  Can we please stop the proliferation of the idea that women always have to wear a smile and be “fine”.  It’s okay to not be “fine” sometimes.  Part of being an adult is learning how to communicate and learning when it is appropriate to communicate.  You’re upset about something your boyfriend did?  That’s okay.  You don’t have to be “fine”.  Learn how to talk with your boyfriend to explain to him why you are upset.  Don’t give him the cold shoulder and then get even more upset when he doesn’t read your mind to figure out what is wrong.  There is a time and place for everything.  Deal with your issues in private and not in front of the company of your friends or family.  Respect your significant other enough to honor their privacy and deal with your issues one on one.  You don’t have to be “fine” you just have to learn how to be effectively honest. 

Also, I know this may sound harsh but the whole world is not going to fall apart just because you do.  Have a breakdown day.  Admit that you’re hurting, or upset, or scared.  Confront your emotions, deal with them, pick yourself up, put yourself back together and move on.

7.

http://pinterest.com/pin/255720085063285174/

This one is right up there with the jeans for me.  There comes a point when you’re not really being creative anymore, you’re just being ridiculous.  Put on a real damn shirt.

8.

http://pinterest.com/pin/61572719877165329/

These nail pictures.  It drives me nuts that people always post these pictures holding the nail polish as if to imply that they painted their own nails.  Bitch, you didn’t do that yourself!  And if you did, you only did it on one hand.  Stop frontin’!

9. 

http://pinterest.com/pin/33847434671273987/

This pillow reeks of codependency.

10.

http://pinterest.com/pin/190417890465949913/

Posting links to products that don’t even exist!  I saw this one and thought, “Wow!  That would make a fantastic present for my mother for Christmas.”  So I tried to track it down.  Do you know where I can buy it?  In imaginary land because it doesn’t really exist!

11. 

http://pinterest.com/pin/543880092468656536/

This isn’t crafty to me.  Stop stealing your son’s shit!

12.  Lastly,

http://pinterest.com/pin/23010648067226204/

No!  Damn it, America!  You do not need a fry holder for your car.  Just knock it off already!

 

Now for 12 things I love about Pinterest:

1.

http://pinterest.com/pin/22799541835441858/

2.

http://pinterest.com/pin/22799541835441834/

3.

http://pinterest.com/pin/22799541835441816/

4.

http://pinterest.com/pin/22799541835441746/

5.

http://pinterest.com/pin/22799541835441741/

6.

http://pinterest.com/pin/22799541835441749/

7.

http://pinterest.com/pin/22799541835441734/

8.

http://pinterest.com/pin/22799541835441730/

9.

http://pinterest.com/pin/22799541835441738/

10.

http://pinterest.com/pin/22799541835441706/

11.

http://pinterest.com/pin/22799541835441726/

12.

http://pinterest.com/pin/22799541835441722/

 

(Sorry, I don’t quite know WordPress won’t embed these instead of leaving the link.)