Tag Archive: Valentine’s Day

Guest Post: Aubrey Sampson: I Wish

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hope this morning finds you surrounded by love in some form: friends, family, netflix, pets (don’t bring them to me, I’m allergic) or, of course, your significant other.

I’m super excited about today’s post because it’s beautifully written by a very talented gal named Aubrey who’s working on a book about overcoming shame with Zondervan. While you wait for the fall release, check out her blog aubreysampson.com.

When I first read “I Wish”, I was both touched and convicted. Aubrey has an incredible way of taking an every day experience and revealing the heart of what’s going on inside. I thought Valentine’s Day was a perfect opporutnity to wrestle with the idea of contentment since the holiday often sets many of us up to fail. “I Wish” is a great reminder that we have everything we need to be joyful.

I Wish

by Aubrey Sampson

Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods and Disney’s latest production of the same title are bookended by two powerful words: I wish. The point is that wishing is cyclical. We wish. We receive. We wish again.

I’ve wished for a new kitchen for quite some time now, but the reality is that on a church planter’s salary new countertops and appliances are the stuff of fairy tales. To my surprise, however, for a Christmas gift, my husband went all heroic-DIY on me. He restored our kitchen cabinets, repainted the entire room, and even used some hardware store credit he’d been saving up to replace our 1980’s eyesore of an island light. It was an affordable way to make my dreams come true. The new kitchen looks gorgeous. I am in love. I am grateful. And yet…I continue to wish.

A few days following the unveiling of the kitchen, I began to think of all the little things I wanted for the new space. A circular rug would be nice. Some new coffee mugs would be cute to display. Nothing too grand or out of reach, really, but before I knew it I was hunting the internet incessantly for sales; ignoring my family to scour decorating apps for farmhouse-chic chalkboards, neo-distressed island stools, and kitschy kitchen dishes. At night while my household slept, I would tiptoe down the stairs to search, uninterrupted, through EVERY DESIGN BLOG THAT HAS EVER EXISTED.

And while there is nothing inherently wrong with online shopping, I began fixating on what I didn’t have, couldn’t afford, and desperately longed for. I wasted long hours placing household items into online shopping carts only to delete them in a moment of anti-materialist resolve, only to later add them again.

My wishing had mutated into obsessing, and I transformed from a sweet Sondheim fairy tale character into a nighttime Gatsby; surrounded by my new beautiful kitchen while staring out at the Other Kitchens just out of reach. And all of this was literally in the span of a week.

In scientific terms: Girl. Gone. Cray. Cray.

Incidentally, as swiftly as the wishing came, the shame followed. I hated myself for this covetousness, this greed. All around me neighbors are losing homes and jobs, and yet I’m daring to wish.

In his classic book, The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer writes, “There is within the human heart a tough, fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets things with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns my and mine look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do.”

I think of my grandmother. Raised by share croppers in Oklahoma, a widow with four children, and still reeling from the residual impact of the Great Depression, Mamaw would deny every gift we tried to give her. “But you need a dishwasher,” we’d say.

“No I don’t. I have always washed my dishes by hand and will do so until the day the good Lord takes me home.” She wasted nothing and shared everything. She was a woman content to decorate her house with newspaper clippings, photos of flower bouquets or mountain scenery. She most certainly was not a woman possessed by Pinterest or owned by Overstock.com. Sensible Mamaw would never have wasted money, let alone a commodity as valuable as sleep, to pore over images of mid-century modern soap dispensers.

These are such first world problems, I know that. At the end of the day they are also Garden of Eden problems. I am Gatsby but I am also Eve. I dwell on what I don’t have. I’m discontent. I don’t believe God has provided everything I need. I wish.

And let’s be honest, right now my struggle happens to be with material items, but if it wasn’t, I’d be longing for other things: approval, accolades, affection.

“We either love wrong things or we love them in the wrong ways,” writes Jen Pollock Michel in her beautiful book, Teach Us to Want. “Instead of loving God faithfully, we devote our affection to trifles…We seek our good in something or someone other than our eternal husband, who is our God.”

In an attempt to stop the madness, to honor my DIY husband, and more significantly, my Eternal One, I finally began asking myself some difficult questions about wishing: What would it look like for me to cultivate gratefulness? Can I give generously to others rather than hoarding in my online shopping cart? Can I enjoy beauty without becoming greedy? Can I learn to wish for the right things?

And the most essential question of all: Can I learn to be content with nothing, knowing I possess everything in Christ?

So I’m trying. I’m turning off the phone, keeping a thankfulness journal, practicing generosity, trying to find true rest. I’m not buying the rug or the soap dispenser.

Even so, something in me knows this: my true contentment will never be found by forcing my possessions back into their proper place. It will be through remembering that Christ possesses me.

Even in my “cray cray,” even in my shame, even in my wishing, I am his.

We are his. And he will be faithful to transform our desires and change the object of our longings. And at the same time, I believe that our wishing won’t end. In fact I don’t think the point of our Christian lives is to stop wishing. I actually believe God will help us to keep on wishing, because at the end of the day, all of our longings are designed to point to and be met in him. As Sondheim put it, “To be happy and forever you must see your wish come true.”

In other words, we will wish until we find the ultimate object of our wishes—Jesus.

 Photo by zazzle.com

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Top 25 Love Songs

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s a list of love songs to celebrate with:) There are far too many to choose from but here is a few great ones.

Sparks by Coldplay

Stolen by Dashboard Confessional

Make You Feel My Love by Adele

At Last by Etta James

Dreamlover by Mariah Carey

La Vie En Rose by Louis Armstong

Everything I Do by Bryan Adams (this one goes out to Amber)

Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol

The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra

When the Stars Go Blue by Ryan Adams

Into the Mystic by Van Morrison

So Are You To Me by Eastmountainsouth (Jody:)

My Girl by Temptations

She Lit a Fire by Lord Huron

Strawberry Wine by Deana Carter

San Francisco by Gregory Alan Isakov

Lover of the Light by Mumford & Sons

I Swear by All 4 One

For Me This is Heaven by Jimmy Eat World

It Matters to Me by Faith Hill

Fools Rush In by Elvis or UB40

Only Love by Ben Howard

California Stars by Billy Bragg & Wilco

Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros

To Be With You by Mr. Big


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Top 25 Breakup Songs

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Single Awareness Day is around the corner! Below is a list of my favorite breakup songs for all my blue Valentines out there. These gems (I might be guilty of playing out, through tears, in my car, all alone) are worth a listen.

Please comment your song suggestions! I’m sure I have missed some great ones that I may need in the future;)

Love is a Battlefield by Pat Benatar

Forget You by Cee Lo Green

Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.

I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt (or Bon Iver)

You and Tequila by Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter

Need You Now by Lady Antebellum

All To Well by Taylor Swift

It Ain’t Me Johnny Cash and June Carter

End of The Road Boyz II Men

Since You Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson

Cry Me a River by Justin Timberlake

A Little Bit Stronger by Sara Evans

Forget About You by Cary Brothers

When a Heart Breaks by Ben Rector

Your New Twin Sized Bed by Death Cab for Cutie

I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton or (Whitney Houston)

If I Were a Boy by Beyonce

Crazy by Patsy Cline

Screaming Infidelities by Dashboard Confessional

December Baby by Ingrid Michaelson

Stars by Grace Potter

Keep It To Yourself by Kacey Musgraves

Not Over You by Gavin DeGraw

Someone Like You by Adele

Landslide by Fleetwood Mac (or Smashing Pumpkins)

 


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Book Club: Paris Letters

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It happened again! That thing where random things connect perfectly:) On Saturday I was thinking I needed to find a new book to read. On Sunday my faithful reader-grandma-theologian friend, Alecia recommended Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod. Since February is the month of all things love and Valentines, what better time to read a real love story? (In stalking the author’s blog for a few minutes, it appears this is a story of how she met her man).

The book comes out tomorrow.  Coincidence?? No, it’s actually just the careful planning of her publisher. If you’re in, finish up by February 28th. I have a feeling this will be a quick read and the perfect way to enjoy the month:)

je t’aime!

Cindy


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A Valentine’s Story

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So I was all set to post a little cartoon video. Short and Sweet. Then a story happened that seemed a) too good not to share and b) oddly similar to pre-chosen video.

There are two things I know to be true about myself.

1. It is impossible for me to fly without something interesting happening. Usually, it leans more toward calamity than fortune, but either way, I ALWAYS have a story from my flights.

2. Seattle is my lucky in love city. I can’t go there without some small thrill. It’s the weirdest most frustrating thing. (frustrating b/c I live thousands of miles away and have less luck here)

So my story.

Sunday I boarded a plane for Seattle. In the row next to mine sat a nice looking gentlemen who seemed to notice me, too.  We did the eyes and the smile and the small stuff.  When we landed, he nodded  a goodbye.

Airports in general have a buzz about them, don’t you think?  So many people going so many places, it’s hard not to wonder, will I ever see this person again? I was pretty excited to see the friends I was visiting, so I rushed away to meet my ride, Amy outside.  Hug, dinner, run the next day, coffee, lunch, shopping, and eventually my last night in town.  We headed out to dinner followed by a drink at Kings Hardware. We walked in and there.he.was.

The guy from the plane!  #sleeplessinseattle #thisismyluckycity #ithoughtmyplanestorieswereover

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We chatted a little, both surprised to run into one another. He lives in Seattle. I don’t. I say I’m in town visiting and to see about a job. He says he hopes I move and that Seattle could use more girls like me. Smile. A friendly goodbye and I return to my friends.

Next day. Fly home. Layover in Oakland that reveals a Facebook message from guy from the plane!  He admits to typing my name and city in and finding me.

The rest? Well, none of your business:) I do have some boundaries.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

Before you start thinking anything along the lines of me being oh so suave, you should know (thankfully after talking with plane guy) I noticed my butt was wet when I stood up to use the restroom. What the heck? I couldn’t figure it out. Until I returned to my seat and saw that my jacket was also wet. Someone had spilled pickles on my chair. PICKLES! I sat in pickles. AKA the most stinky and gross food on the planet.

Not hot.

We called it a night.

XOXO, from Seattle

XOXO, from Seattle


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A Love Story

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Blogging has given me a new appreciation for holidays, mainly because they help me come up with content. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I asked my Grandma if I could come over and hear her and my Grandpa’s story.  Over a warm turkey sandwich, I listened in on parts I’d heard before, and a few details that were new to me.

Meet Viola Soule. Have you ever in your life seen a more beautiful name? She grew up in Pasadena and played violin for the Pasadena Civic Orchestra.  Quite the lady.

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Such a babe!

While Art Johnson was in WWII, his parents moved next door to Viola.  The day he came home from the war she was out trimming the hedge between their houses.  He stopped and talked with her and asked to take her out right then and there.  She said yes and they headed to the picture show that night.

Viola said she had an older spinster woman living on the other side of her house who left a sign on her lawn mower that read, “I took this out for a turn today and no one asked me out on a date!”

Grandma liked Grandpa right away explaining, “I enjoyed him a lot more than the other guy I was dating at the time. I could’ve married Art the next day ”

Grandpa, not so much. He moved a little slower.

Art, middle center. What a fox!

Art, middle row, center. What a fox!

They dated the next two years before getting engaged.  As my Grandma retold the story, Grandpa interupted to remind her that during their dating, he took off with his cousin to work a job in Illinois.  Viola looked bothered and said out of the corner of her mouth, “His cousin was a regular rounder.”

I made a mental note to begin using that phrase.

Art insisted there was no commitment at the time and Vi chimed in with, “You’re right, I could’ve gone back to that old boyfriend while you were gone.”  They both smirked and moved on to the part where Grandpa didn’t love the job and came back to date Viola again and eventually get engaged.

It’s funny picturing them navigating the dating world so long ago.  Viola with her boyfriend she wasn’t thrilled with, and Art independent as ever. Somehow, things worked out and they eventually raised a family for which I’m very thankful to be a part of. They lived their lives and it all worked out when it was supposed to.

Like the letter from Steinbeck said, “Nothing good gets away.” In dating, it can feel  like everything is super fragile and crucial.  Lunch with Art and Viola was a good reminder that Lord willing, life is long and things have a way of working out when and how they are supposed to. It’s important to simply enjoy each day and take things as they come.

Grandpa developed alzheimer’s a couple of years ago and it’s been hard on everyone, especially my Grandma.  Before leaving lunch she told me, “You know, life has good years and bad years. You take the good with the bad and your Grandpa and me have had more good years than bad. That makes us pretty lucky.”

I like her perspective.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!


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THE BOX

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tumblr_mb0yhmlvIW1qzx5hdo1_500[1]I recently had to move some of my furniture and odds and ends from my brother’s garage to a storage unit. Having dumped it back in March, I wasn’t exactly sure what awaited me.

A couch

A TV cabinet

A dresser

The box

You know, THE BOX. The one you store your ticket stubs, Valentine’s cards, and sweet notes in after a breakup. The place where pictures go from frames, to a stack, and ultimately to their final resting place inside THE BOX. THE BOX gets shoved in the back of the closet where no one, including you, can see it.

As my brother, Matt, carried it over, he took one look at the pink hearts on the outside and asked, “Why not just toss it now?”

I really wanted to. I did. I did not want to take THE BOX with me to my next destination and have been happily free from the person’s face and handwriting lurking inside for some time. But….since I couldn’t remember the exact contents of THE BOX, I thought I needed to go through it. Peering in the lid, I discovered I hadn’t used THE BOX solely for the relics of a bad relationship. In the rush of moving I had thrown in my ihome and a few other random items. Knowing my dad and brother were waiting on me, I figured this wasn’t the time to sort out THE BOX. Isn’t this the kind of thing you do in your bedroom with sad music playing or something?

“Ugh. I’ll deal with it later at home” I told Matt.

Once everything was loaded, I drove my friend Tony’s truck while my dad and Matt followed. I looked to the front passenger seat and saw that someone had put THE BOX up front. Awesome.

“What are you doing here?” I muttered to it. Didn’t THE BOX know it wasn’t meant for the light of day, much less shotgun?

13581236346451970_AYeBCMCI_c[1]We arrived at the storage unit and the guys started unloading while I signed paperwork. Noelle and Kathy, the friendly employees, greeted me with mass amounts of small talk. Eventually one of them asked me why I was storing.

Oh, it’s one of those, is it?

Sabotage conversations. The kind you get sprung on you while trying to do normal things. Ex) doctor’s office: “When did you last have sex? Are you in a relationship?” Verizon Wireless: “Have you heard of our family plan? Isn’t there someone you could sign-up with??”

Why am I storing? Why is my life not together in such a fashion that I don’t need to shove it in some 5×7 unit? Well…given that THE BOX was fresh in my mind I wanted to blame my ex, an unattractive habit that springs up now and again. I blame THE BOX. Vicious cycle.

I figured they didn’t want to hear that. Noelle (male) was wearing a Santa hat and two, not one, but two, earrings with dangling Christmas ornaments. I didn’t want to ruin his jolly mood so I smiled and muttered something along the lines of “guy’s suck.” Kathy loves it. She says it’s their mother’s fault. I love it.

I went upstairs to help with the loading. Once the big stuff was in my dad and brother went downstairs to get the last load. When they came back up I noticed THE BOX was not with them. I wondered how that conversation went down and was glad Matt had to explain my box instead of me.

Finally it was time to return the truck keys and be done. I hopped in the driver’s seat and saw that it was literally just THE BOX and me in the car. I swear it was mocking me.

I got to my friend’s house, parked, and began walking down the street… carrying the damn BOX like a sick present to return the keys. How was something I foolishly thought I could privately hold on to now publicly on display for my friend’s and family to see? I hate THE BOX! I hate THE BOX!

Embarrassed, me and THE BOX rode in the backseat of my dad’s car like five-year-olds to go to lunch. Again, I wondered what my dad thought of my BOX.

111182684522100913_qeQiVzS2_c[1]I was pretty frustrated with myself by the time we reached the restaurant. While my dad ordered, my brother and I sat opposite each other at the table as my tears threatened to spill over. Matt took one look at my face and says, “Forget this. I’m throwing away THAT BOX! You don’t need this.”

Just like that, he jogged to the car, grabbed THE BOX and dumped it. Right there, in the restaurant trash can.
Love guys, so rational.

He had to go back and dig out my ihome, but other than that, I was free.

That stupid BOX. That stupid boy. Why had I held on to either one of those? Matt was right, I didn’t need it. All day I just kept thinking, why didn’t I throw that crap away a year ago?

Was it because I wanted to reminisce? Not particularly. Was it because I was hoping to get back together? Not a chance. Do I care about the items inside? No. So why, then?

The truth is, I was just avoiding the situation. I simply didn’t want to deal with it. Yet, had I just handled my business the first time, THE BOX wouldn’t have haunted my moving day. The whole ordeal would’ve been entirely avoided. Also, my holding on to THE BOX represented what I’d done wrong in the relationship… God, you’re super funny with this whole BOX day…I’m getting the picture. I held on to someone I shouldn’t have because I was afraid you wouldn’t provide someone better.

My friend Katy told me once that every time she’s broken up with someone, she has upgraded while her ex downgraded. I laughed and had to admit she was right about her own life, was unsure it would play out in mine….until it did. The one person I’ve dated since was an absolute upgrade in every way. Why had I doubted?

195484440045040489_UDD8JG1E_c[1]The whole experience has me wondering if there are other places I am doing this in my life.

Where else am I avoiding something I should take care of now?

What things have I convinced myself are private but are actually one situation away from a public debut?

Where am I clinging to less than God’s best for my life out of fear?

These are the places where sin has great opportunity to grow. Things like avoidance, laziness, fear, and a desire to control can hide out and stay around awhile. We don’t notice anything is wrong because they are often wrapped up in small things that aren’t inherently bad, like my BOX. A narrow definition of sin allows us to make deals with ourselves like, “Later. I’m waiting for the right time. It’s not that big of a deal…it’s just a few memories…a small habit… a little too much food…a love of things…a realtionship that needs to end….one that needs to mend….a website….bitterness I can’t let go of…I need to do things my way”

We shove these small items into BOXES in the back of the closet only to end up carrying them around later, often publicly. We make today’s problem tomorrow’s.

It’s fine I still had THE BOX, but it wasn’t good for me and there’s a difference. I don’t want to give past burdens space in next year’s closet. No more carrying around a BOX full of things that weight me down or hold me back or from what God is calling me to. What about you? Do you have a BOX?

This morning I find myself very thankful for God’s grace. My closet is full of this kind of stuff and He is mercifully patient about it. He doesn’t give up on me when I cling and petition to keep items out of fear and distrust. He helps me get better at tossing things out. He’s given me the kind of friends and family that will say, “Forget this! You don’t need it” when I can’t do it for myself.

The instructions of the Lord are perfect reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.
Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever.

The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair.
They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.
They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.

How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19:7-14

**PS I’m accepting dating applications for Matt. Email to Olivemepost@gmail.com.


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