All In

For the longest time, I tried to make excuses. I figured that there had to be more.

Why? Because nothing made sense. I lived everyday with this confusion hanging over my head and the belief that somehow, somewhere this would all make sense.

But I’m tired of making excuses and I’m tired of trying to make sense of that which will never make sense.

The man I need in my life is all in. He chases me down and won’t let go. The man I need in my life is careful with my heart and doesn’t run over it.

The man I need in my life won’t lie to me or hide the truth from me. The man I need in my life will cherish me. The man I need in my life won’t continually hurt my heart, even after I’ve asked for a reprieve.

Relationships aren’t easy. Marriage will take work. I am a romantic at heart but I know it won’t always be easy. And there will be days and weeks when choosing agape love for my husband will be hard – when the romance and feelings wane.

But, even still, there are some basics I can’t and won’t compromise on. I made excuses for so long. I can’t make them anymore.

The man who will choose me, will choose a woman who will love him unconditionally, fiercely, and find new ways to build him up when he feels knocked down.

I know what I bring to the table. So I’m tired of making excuses and chasing down any man that’s not all in for me. The one who is, will never regret that. But until he’s all in, he’s not the one I’ve waited and prayed for, for so long.

So I’ll keep waiting & praying.

Dear Future Husband

blue crayon poem, a.r. asher, elaina avalos, love poem

Dear Future Husband,

I have this weird tendency to spill water or coffee down the front of me when I’m drinking. It’s usually at the worst possible time – like when I’m in a meeting, a formal event, or when I’m trying to appear cool. My Grandpa would have said I had a hole in my chin. He knew because he had one too. It’s usually just water. Unless I’m drinking red wine & wearing a white shirt.

I will often do ridiculous and klutzy things. It’s a gift. I outgrew some of the klutz. But not all of it. It comes out when I’m tired or highly distracted – like when a hot guy {you] is around.

I once went to a reception on Capitol Hill after the Trafficking in Persons Act {2000}, was passed. I was out of place and completely fascinated. I went by myself after being invited by International Justice Mission {I would later work for IJM for a bit}. I do many things by myself because . . . why not? Like go on a wine cruise {with a bunch of annoying couples} down the Trent River. Who does that? Me, apparently.I’d rather do them with you, though.

Speaking of things I’d rather do with you, I have a huge long list. I do things by myself because life is too short not to try things you want to try. But wouldn’t it be nice to hop in the car {together} on Friday after work and drive to Asheville because . . . why not?

You should also know that:

  • I snore
  • I get really impatient in traffic. If you could drive us around, especially on the 1st & 15th & when we need to be on Western Blvd, that’d be great.
  • I make up ridiculous nicknames for animals and kids {my dog probably has 10}. I’m sure I will have more than one for you.
  • I am very cheap. We will never buy expensive toilet paper, for instance. This is not a compromise I’m willing to make. Angel Soft is as expensive as I’ll go. Haha. Unless you want to get a second job or we win the lottery. But even then it’s iffy.
  • I am a tremendous fan of kissing.
  • I will never leave you. Unless Don Henley proposed to me. Then possibly. {I KID.}
  • I love jewelry but fail in most other girly things like make-up & doing my hair. If I could just look like me without dark eye circles I’d be cool with that. I hope you don’t need a super high maintenance chick who wears high heels, and does her hair & make-up before she goes anywhere. I will fail you miserably.
  • I sometimes jump up & down and yell during football games. I often pace around the room at the end of a game. I apologize in advance.

For a few years I’ve written “Dear Future Husband” status updates on Facebook. I find myself humorous. I say things like, “Dear Future Husband, When I’m sick, please make me a hot toddy.”

So I say a lot of silly things but here are a few other things you should know about life with me:

  • I have been praying for you, about you, and for our someday family for more years than I can count.
  • I will respect you – probably more than any person I’ve even known. No one will ever wonder or question my support for you and how much I believe in you.
  • I will be your biggest cheerleader and fiercest defender.
  • I really need you around. I can do anything I want to do. And I have done so much on my own. But gosh, I just need you around.
  • Your ability to make me {and others} laugh, will probably be one of my favorite things about you.
  • Your love for kids makes me love you more.
  • I will ask for your opinion because I want to hear it {also see bullet #2}. I will want & need your advice because I respect you and also, I like you.
  • I will call you out when you’re being a turd. I hope you will do the same for me because the likelihood of me being a turd at various points in our life together is high.
  • I will know you like I know myself. When you’re low, I will pull you up. When you’re high, I will rejoice in your wins, brag about you, and look at you with the same stars in my eyes I have now.

There’s plenty more where that comes from, but that’s what my heart needed to write tonight. Why? Because I miss you & wish you were here next to me. I’m not gonna lie, I’m tired of waiting. So let’s get on with the show, Baby.

Fairy Tales

fairy tale, knight, knight in shining armor, love, marriage

Every little girl dreams of her knight in shining armor. I certainly did (okay, I still do). I can honestly remember being in Kindergarten and weaving fairy tales about the man who would fall in love with me and make me his princess. Maybe not literally his princess – but his princess just the same.

I’ve met some men I thought might be him – that proverbial knight. I have fallen in love a few times. But in all three cases, I guess they weren’t the one. Or maybe one of the three could have been. I certainly saw in him the qualities of my particular type of fairy tale.

I think most women who desire to fall in love and get married have their list. This list of qualities they hope to find in this man they’ve dreamt of for so long is obviously different for everyone. My list is personal to me and I have no intention of dragging the entire thing out.

But recently, and I do mean recently, I’ve had to think a little bit more about that list and what is most important to me.

Let’s just establish here, before we go any further, that we’re leaving me out of the equation. I’ll come back to me later. I’m thinking about a series on the “Proverbs 31” woman. I have a whole long list of qualities I want to exhibit and some I think I do already.

But this fairy tale? This knight in shining armor? What does he look like?

  • He loves Jesus.
  • He has a hunger & thirst for God’s Word and living out God’s will.
  • He is committed to being part of our church & in ministry in some form.
  • He is hilarious. Or at least I think so. If a man makes me laugh that’s just about the sexiest thing ever.
  • He loves children and wants to be a father.
  • He is tender and kindhearted when the situation calls for it – particularly if it relates to me or our children.
  • He is smart and can engage in intelligent conversation. And hopefully, playful arguments and debates.
  • He loves football.
  • Did I mention football?
  • He is masculine & proud of  who he is as a man.
  • He works hard & is successful in whatever it is he chooses to do.
  • He, like me, sees our family as part of our ministry.
  • He is okay with my desire to have a noisy house full of life & people. I’m the girl that wants my house to be the gathering place for my kids & their friends (and our friends).
  • He is openly affectionate.
  • He pursues me always. Even after he’s won my heart.
  • He honors, cherishes, and protects my heart.
  • He values my opinion and seeks it out because he values it.
  • Did I mention that he protects my heart?
  • He is playful, easy-going, and finds ways to show me how much he loves and respects me.
  • He cares about injustice in the world and it impacts charitable giving or actions.
  • He is my best friend and truest companion.
  • He is the first person I want to talk to when something is amazing, rotten, hilarious, or when something “Lucille Ball” like happens to me (bound to happen).

This fairy tale? It has eluded me so far. But I still pray for him. I still think about getting married. I don’t dream of fancy weddings that cost thousands of dollars. I dream of a quiet wedding on the beach or in the tiny chapel in my hometown. The wedding is not the thing. What is the thing, is two people standing before God and those closest to them – committing to love and honor each other, always.

I still dream of the fairy tale. I pray for the fairy tale. It may not look like your fairy tale. And it certainly isn’t like the fairy tales we read about or see played out in movies. But it’s still my dream.

It feels very unlikely during times like I’ve had recently. And yet, the hope doesn’t quite die. Wherever this hilarious, tender man (who loves football) is, I hope I run into him soon. And I hope he chooses me. He won’t regret that decision.

Nothing Will Fall Out As You Expect

north topsail island, topsail beach“Nothing will fall out as you expect. Your guide will keep to no beaten path. He will lead you by a way such as you never dreamed your eyes would look upon. He knows no far, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you.” – Streams in the Desert

I’ve been reading the Streams in the Desert devotional on and off for many years. I don’t read it everyday anymore. Sometimes I open it on the exact day, in the exact moment, that I need to read it. Today, I opened it to the April 16th entry and it met me right where I’m at.

Nothing has happened like I expected and certainly not how I “planned.” There are days when this overwhelms me with grief. Today started off that way. It’s a holiday. That usually happens on holidays. I watched a video on Facebook {this one} and that threatened to take me a little further down the path to being overwhelmed.

I cried. I’m not going to lie. I started to wander down that ugly path that takes me to the inevitable end: wondering why it is that this life I’ve always wanted and dreamed of still remains so far off. Usually when that happens I don’t come back very quickly or easily. It takes me awhile to work my way back from the hurt.

But something different happened entirely. The sadness happened for the briefest of moments. And then I turned my thoughts towards what God has for me. The questions were there . . . why is what I want so far off? Why do You – God – keep all of this from me?

Something stirred in me though. Something different. The reminders of what I don’t have, were met with reminders of those who clung to hope, and their faith, long after it made sense to do so. The verse that goes along with the April 16th devotional is Hebrews 11:8. Hebrews 11 is always described as the faith hall of fame, in one way or another.

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. – Hebrews 11:8

Whether it was Joseph {his story always means the most to me}, Abraham, Sarah, or Moses, yjey clung to promises long after reason and logic would tell them to do so.  They didn’t know where they were going. They didn’t take hold of the promise within an amount of time that seems reasonable {to me anyway}. And yet, they held on.

Holidays are always the hardest. I miss what is missing {obvi} and on these days I fear that it will always be this way. But today, against reason and logic, I know it won’t be. I know I’m just gearing up for the next adventure. My prayer today has been – lead me to the next adventure, Lord.

I’m ready.

Restless

2f85a27115c5c56d716835070c6dd78e

I’m restless.

Fitful.

Anxious.

I’m getting closer to what I want and only part of what I planned and hoped for. Every day I get up to a reminder that I am about embark on a journey alone that I wanted to share with the man I would spend the rest of my life with.

Restless and frustrated. I’m restless and frustrated.

Flowing under the surface is the hope that all of this is pulling me up, closer and closer to exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Prince Charming and Happy-ish Ever After

Once Upon A Time, Prince Charming, Love, Fairy Tales, Dreams

I used to think, when I was a little girl, that some Prince Charming type (he, of course, loved football, Jesus, and politics) would stride into my life, sweep me off my feet, and then? We would live happy-ish forever, with our house full of kids, somewhere near Washington, D.C. (my dreams are very specific).

Life’s not perfect so while I believed in the proverbial fairy tale, I wasn’t completely out of touch. My head was in the clouds only part of the time. After my childhood, I knew that life had its challenges and pain came along with the beauty. But I was convinced that our love would be like a fairy tale. How could it not? There weren’t any other options.

There’s something incredibly beautiful about the way kids look at the world. They’re full of faith and a dogged, bright hope. They don’t really ever consider any other outcome than the one they dream. A kid wants to be an astronaut when she grows up? Why not? What could possibly keep her from being an astronaut? As far as she’s concerned . . . nothing.

Children are resilient. I was resilient. I am resilient. Every time I turn around, the logical, adult side of my heart, that has long since met and been acquainted with disappointment, sadness, and life kicking you in the teeth from time to time, wants me to give up the dream.

Prince Charming? Happy-ish ever after? Give up. Face reality. A house full of kids? Prepare for the worst, Elaina. I had dinner with a couple of other over 35-ish folks, while I was in California. The conversation was familiar but eventually turned startling and depressing. I love being able to talk to other single people who understand how frustrating dating is in today’s society. There is so much to laugh at and commiserate over. It’s all the same story on repeat – different friends, different places, personalities, and backgrounds but the story about dating is the same.

But the conversation shifted and left me with a sense of hopelessness. I couldn’t kick it for days. I was frustrated, mad, and just generally in a bad mood. I’m sure my grief over losing Grandma didn’t help. Nonetheless, all I could think about was a few sentences spoken into the cool Orange County air that centered around the increasing improbability of having a family the older we get.

In spite of the hopelessness expressed that night and my frustration in the couple of days that followed, the truth is, I am simply unwilling to give up hope. Unwill-ing.

I don’t want a backup plan. I don’t want to prepare for the worst. I’m not willing to give up hope that the dream is just that – a dream. We so often spend our lives living for some moment in the future. I don’t want that either. But I won’t spend my days living with a sense of defeat and hopelessness.

Sometimes I think I lack faith. But then I remember how convinced, beyond physical appearances sometimes, that what I have always wanted is still out there. The faith remains, the hope remains. Why? Because even in my weakness, even when I’m tired and over the waiting, I believe a God who does crazy, improbable things in the lives of His loved ones.

I don’t know where my “Prince Charming” is (probably hating football & politics and living in Alaska), but I do know that this dream doesn’t die. More importantly, I’m convinced to my core it was placed there for a reason. So here’s my challenge to you single folks out there . . . resist the urge to be negative about dating, singlehood, waiting, etc.

It’s not easy. But I know for certain that how we think impacts our actions. Try it with me . . . think differently. Live with some hope. Don’t be afraid to dream. If your desires haven’t changed, press forward. Keep dreaming. Continue to hope.

What do you have to lose?

Me? I have nothing to lose.