Way recommending: “Who’s Picking Me Up from the Airport?”

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I am an unlikely audience member forĀ Who’s Picking Me Up from the Airport?: And Other Questions Single Girls Ask and for this reason, I read it with great relish. What I hadn’t anticipated is how much I would enjoy it and, moreover, how much I would have needed it!

This book is effectively an encouragement for Christian women who are single and age 30+. These women are single not due to widowhood or separation/divorce but because they are still seeking a life’s partner. Still seeking–that’s the error in the perception as the book readily points out. Author Cindy Johnson lays bare what a raw deal single women, especially those in the Church, are given. Ever being postured as not quite whole, their lives not fully realized because they are not yet paired off with someone–we have done a terrible job of ministering to singles and focusing for way too long on their relationship status. The chapter that spoke most into my heart was “Call It What It Is: Why Being Single is Lame” where Johnson offers a “what not to say” to one’s single friends. I have been the offender in almost every one of the points offered. Points. Well. Taken!

The book is not long–150 pages and it is organized in a brilliant way that reads easily, like a memoir. Johnson pairs her own anecdotes as well as letters from her single friends, both male and female, who share their stories in dating and seasons of singledom. Johnson discusses so many beautiful aspects of the single life and how rich it is, but she also shares her journey through relationships that she had expected to turn out otherwise. Her voice is delightful, not just in contrast to the voice one might expect from a non-fiction book on dating and the single life. Johnson’s tone is consistently sincere and funny and she pulls no punches. This book is a gift and I believe that it would be a great gift for a friend, an addition to a pastor’s bookshelf, and would be a great women’s book club pick.

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*Johnson and I have gotten acquainted through our mutual literary agent. I received a free copy of this book in advance with no expectation of review or endorsement.

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Why listening to Christian music makes me lazy

I listen to a good number of Christian contemporary music artists. Casting Crowns, Shawn McDonald, Hillsong, anyone? Their epic Jesus-y ballads score my workouts and car rides and grading sessions.

And sometimes, I get a little lazy about it all.

It’s not the musicians’ or the music’s fault. It’s my own reliance on their worship as my own.

While romping through the woods solo yesterday, earphones scoring the hike per usual, I had to stop and question what I was doing. I was hiking uphill and working up a sweat and pumping endorphins and I was still being so lazy.

I pulled the plug on the portrait of God that was being drawn by someone else.
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I asked myself, is God really a Reckless Forgiver? A Lover of My Soul? Is He Not Dead but Surely Alive? These words were inspired by other believers whom I assume are in close relationship with Jesus. But am I trusting too much in the character that has been revealed to them and, basically, taking their word for it?

I began to think about the very specific ways God has revealed Himself to me recently:
– God was with me when an elder handed me diet pills across the dining room table. He gave me the patience and the words to be loving, to show His character, even when I was insulted and in distress. (1 Cor 10:13)
– He is so gentle in the faces and chubby hands of my kids who love me in spite of all of my intemperate streaks (Romans 2:4)

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Those are just a couple of examples. I’m struck when I think how Solomon tells us that there is nothing new under the sun, and then we turn right around and read in Isaiah how God will do a new thing.

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I just don’t want to underestimate, underexpect, undervalue the newness and the freshness and the total specificity of God. In all His glory, He reaches down to earth and shows His care in such awesome and totally relevant ways, to our own unique and often crappy situations, crappy situations of our own making.

Friends, I just want to have eyes that will see and ears that will hear everything He is doing, not relying on someone else to tell me, or sing an epic ballad about it. I realize more and more this requires being present and showing up even when I want to be a lazeabout.

None of this is new under the sun, but His blessings are new every morning.

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My intention for this spring semester is to show up to my devotion time even when I don’t feel like it, even when I have every excuse not to show up. Have you set an intention for the new year or new semester or new season of life? Feel free to link up a post or share below!

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Why Christmas is, inherently, nostalgic

The kids and I weren’t aware we started a ritual last week, but it was the beginnings of something worthwhile.

Basically all you do is come home from school and work and go to the freezer and take out the Slow-Churned Edy’s Chocolate ice cream and eat as much as you can stand while talking about your day at the kitchen table. You do this every day, at first because it’s cold outside and oddly the most comforting thing is a bowl full of chocolate ice cream, with requisite chocolatey mustaches to boot.

In order to continue the ritual, you have to buy more of the freezer food of the gods. No other flavor or variety will do. You can still sit and talk about big ideas and bellyache about petty people, but something will be missing. Graham crackers and milk do not cut it.

Victorian Christmas Card

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My friend Lisa picked me up from the airport today. I knew we didn’t have any ice cream at home so I made asked her to take me to Frogurtland so we could dish, literally and figuratively. It was like I was homesick for chocolate ice cream.

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My uncle Bob died last week and it was the kind of awful terrible unfathomably unfair thing, in spite of having lived a very full and happy life. Just the way he went. Parkinson’s Disease is a total crap way to go, the slow lumbering suffering and total awareness of the dismantling of everything over which you once had control.

I’m not into the theology of our loved ones smiling down on us. Not yet. I’m into the theology that we weren’t made for any of this. We were made for a better world. Every ache and acute feeling of separation in this world is a reminder that we were made for wholeness and unity.

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The best scene in all of Mad Men is the last episode of Season I (“The Wheel”) when Don Draper is selling the “carousel” marketing pitch to Kodak. He defines nostalgia in such a perfect way that it reaches across every culture, generation, sex, race, state. Nostalgia, “delicate but potent,” that which causes us to ache in our hearts to return to a place we have once been, to have what we once had.

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The irony of the song “Silent Night” is that the entire point of Christ’s entrance into this world was to expose the violence, the jealousy, the greed–the total lack of heavenly peace on earth. There could have been little solace there in the manger or beyond, given Herod’s orders. According to Ortberg’s “Who is this Man?,” Herod, upon hearing the news of the birth a King of the Jews, ordered soldiers to plunge their swords into every baby boy in Bethlehem. How still we see thee lie.

Bethlehem Square

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Christmas is nostalgic. Christmas is the reminder of three-speed bikes once-longed-for. Christmas is finally getting to go to midnight mass. Christmas is observing new chocolate ice cream traditions at 3 o’clock in the cold winter afternoon.

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But Christmas is also inherently nostalgic. Christ’s birth is nostalgic, pointing us to a condition we once had and can once again attain, but only through Him. He was born, vulnerable to a broken world. The earth ached to return to what it once was. Christ, the one who would redeem us all, longs to restore our factory settings so that our hearts may no longer know the pain of separation.

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