Goals, objectives, resolutions… whatever you call ‘em it’s time to put up or give up! Some are gearing up for the best, most productive and successful year of their lives so far! These are the people I plan to be associated with this year and to that end I’ve made one of my biggest goals… to follow several people from different local gyms, studios and fitness facilities as they work for their health and fitness goals (more to come on that next week!). I believe this series will be one of the most rewarding goals I achieve this year, but I do not think it’ll be considered the loftiest goal I set...
I’m a goal oriented person and New Year Goal setting gets me giddy for weeks leading up to January and, though I don’t always attain all my written goals, I make commendable progress that I wouldn’t otherwise achieve if I didn’t have my goals written down.
Last year I approached my goals differently. Usually I write and post them where I can see them & read them every day, or at least quite often. I didn’t do that in 2017, instead I made my goal more of a directive. I wanted to “Settle down & Focus.” Whatever aspect of my body, mind, soul or spirit I was working on, I wanted to ask myself two questions and be able to answer “yes” to one or the other. The questions were:
Will this settle me down?
Will this give me/help me focus?
2016 had been a year of carefree living. My publisher went out of business so I lost my drive to get books out. I was still “choosing” a church in Wenatchee and didn’t feel connected anywhere. To avoid the loneliness of being single; I went out A LOT, I spent A LOT, I raced A LOT, I dated A LOT. It was a year of hedonistic pleasure and soothing the pain of The Leaving.
I knew, however, I was made for more than living carelessly for simple pleasures. I was made to honor God with my body, mind, soul and spirit. I was made to love and help others and serve my fellow man. I was made to write. I was made to be a productive member of society, not just a greedy soul looking for what the world can give me… I knew I needed to settle down & focus.
I didn’t not anticipate the settling down to happen the way it did. If 2016 was about living carelessly, 2017 was all about him. The Mountain Man. He who built me a snow cave and melted my heart!
I planned to put an end to seriously dating at the end of 2016. I was not opposed to it, I’d just spent so much time entertaining so many men (without sex of course!) that I was literally exhausted. Yes, their attentions and affections kept me from being lonely but it didn’t meet my need for a partner or companion, and the flirting, the figuring someone out just to realize they weren’t into me or I wasn’t into them and having to start all over again… or have two or three ongoing pursuits at the same time wore me out. I knew I wanted a life-long partner, I knew God made me with a companionable soul, but it was too much. I needed a break.
Just before I closed down my online profile I met a guy. He was nice enough, definitely had the physique, wit and personality I liked, but he wasn’t a Christian, a gym rat, or a hiker so there were too many things dissimilar that I figured it wouldn’t work out. We built a friendship on that mutual understanding. I’m not gonna lie, there was chemistry too so we were friends who also kissed, but that was it. Then somehow, maybe it was the because I had mentally prepared to settle down and wasn’t really entertaining too many other men, maybe it was because his cadence through life was something my feet could follow easily, maybe it was because no matter how hard I tried to shake him off, he still showed up in all his brawny, ‘simple-man’ glory that was so attractive to me, maybe it was that unbelievably amazing snow cave he dug out...
Whatever it was… Jeremy Worley somehow became me focus in 2017. In July we decided to settle down together for the rest of our lives! We got married, I moved onto the chicken farm and we have thoroughly enjoyed all the pleasures of newlywedding!! With the settling in came a whole lot of firsts and new revelations and filtering through our rubbish and salvaging treasures from our pasts. We’ve each had to let go of old news and bad habits and are learning how to honor what we once had, while celebrating this new life together.
My 2017 goal was to “Settle down & Focus.” I achieved it; even if it wasn’t the way I planned. I settled down with a partner for life. I focused on getting all three of my books in the Road to Love series re-published. I got my credit card debt paid off. I did try to make a career move into a job that filled my soul, but that didn’t pan out the way I wanted, so I’m currently job hunting, but what’s life without risk, right?!
In keeping with the theme idea, I gave myself a word for 2018: GROW! I want to grow in all areas of my life. I have my SMART goals written down and now that I’ve settled down with the Mountain Man and he’s given me a place to call my own, by his side, on his mountain, in the safety of his belief in me… I’m confident this year will be an astonishing year of growth for us both.
So cheers to a 2018 full of growth & success from the Chicken Farm to you!
I had originally intended to post this yesterday, since it would have been an anniversary. But I finished the night on the phone with a man who loves me and chooses to be with me. I'll never forget what once was but I realized during the conversation, that I'm happy where I am now. I don't miss 'back then' anymore. I'm excited for what the future holds. I don't need to look back and mourn the way I used to. I can remember what lies behind but press on boldly into a future full of hope.
So... here's to the past, here's to the present, and here's to me Leaving the Middle, it's been swell, for the most part I've had a blast, but life's changing again...
Two years ago yesterday (From FB memories):
“Here we go. The day is here. It's supposed to be our 14th wedding anniversary, but he walked away so instead I have been in this wilderness for 40 days. Thankfully I have been far from alone and treasure each person who is walking this road with me. I am ready to let go of what was, not quite yet of hope, but of what we used to be. My God promises that He works all things for good for those who are called according to His purpose. With that promise in my pocket, I am moving on to a new chapter of my life. But first, for today, I will finish writing this one. One last day,
here in this valley, to feel this moment in my life, to remember the good, because there is so much good, to mourn the loss of a dream and to exhale the hurt, pain and anger. May it be well with my soul!”
I took to the mountains, because my help comes from the LORD, the One True Author and Perfecter of my faith, and I am closest to Him there. Exhaling what was... letting go. Breathing in the fresh-air healing that only comes in an earthy pine tree scent no man can package and ship on the gusts of alpine breezes.
“Sounds strange to say but this solo drive alone in the mountains was one of the most liberating and spiritual things I've ever done! Soooo there I was on top of a mountain... The furthest I've ever been alone. It was supposed to be an epic letting go. I bought a huge balloon, paid $15 for it!!! I had a sparkly notebook of blank pages to fill. I had nothing but the sounds of nature and my songs playing on repeat. I was a teary mess. I was going write until the tears stopped flowing and tie the pages to the balloon and send my sorrows, my hopes, my prayers up, up and away to the heavens and say goodbye to this chapter of my life... But the wind whipped up and the balloon slammed into a rock and popped so loud it startled me out of my sobbing. It was tragic and I bawled even more because my beautiful plan to let go, like so many plans before it, was ruined. I shook my fist at God, ‘That’s not how it’s supposed to happen!’ Then a still small voice reminded me, this isn’t my story, if it was I would have written it differently. This is His story and I am a mere character. This is character development. This is where I start to become who I’m going to be. I will forever treasure this day. And I can't wait to go kick up more mud real soon! I sure do miss being the shotgun rider but driving was awesome!!!”
One year ago today:
I ran 10 miles to mark the day, it seemed like a good idea.
I hope for something I’ve never had before, in a man like none I’ve ever known before. He loves me and I know it’s true because he shows me over and over with his faithful, patient, steadfast persistence that I keep trying to find the catch in. He’s still here for no other reason other than he picks me every day and I pick him. Whether he shares it or not, he strengthens and encourages my faith. I believe in his love for me as I am, with all my "over thinking" and butterfly business and eccentricities. I know he has a magnificently strong will that can handle me and mine boldly and without fear or intimidation. He has earned all my respect and admiration and I believe him when he says he’ll never leave me. And yet I am oh so wary! Not because of him but because sometimes I still feel like a dog run over. But I believe him and the risk is worth it, because he’ll put all my fears to rest in time… I just know it! Pray it up brothers and sisters and all the rest of y'all wish us well!
This post was hard to write. Like with my debt, I’m not disclosing where my boundaries were and are now or what my compromises have been, except to say my intimacy boundary lines have moved. But before I get into that…
Did you know that 17% of women in their 20s think it’s OK to sleep with a man on the first date? 17%! When I heard the stat, I was floored! I was heart sick for the youths represented in that number. But the next statistic Mark Gungor gave repulsed me! One would assume women would gain wisdom and stop that unsafe sexual nonsense as they aged, but evidently the opposite is true; 58% of women in their 40s are having sex on first dates! How is that possible? How is that OK? How do we give our bodies away so cavalierly? It kind of seems like lower behavior than prostitutes… at least they make money off their Jons. It’s utterly undignified!
There are people who think we’re nothing more than flesh and bone and instinct and for them, I guess sex can be casual and animalistic, with anyone, anytime. That’s what it was for me for a large part of my youth. But then, I embraced my spirituality, I connected with God; I realized I am more than “just” a body. I am a body, made to move and be active and respected and loved. I am a mind made to learn and inquire and be explored and challenged. I am a soul made to feel, to empathize and sympathize and be known. I am a spirit made to connect metaphysically to the Creator of the heavens and earth.
I am not an animal! We are not slaves to our sexual desires. We are beings made in the image of God. We do not have to operate on instinct. Intimacy is more than animalistic drive; it’s a bond deeper than physical or hormonal attraction. I now believe this to the core of my being and strove, as I dated, to conduct myself in a way that honored God and my own being; body, mind, soul and spirit.
What was my compromise and how did it happen? It was a slow fade... I started dating (after my divorce was final and I was legally single) with a very conservative boundary. I think I was fun and flirty but also up front and honest with the men. I kept my boundaries; in fact, I guarded them fiercely! Those who thought they were ridiculous or disrespected me were dismissed. Those who honored me proceeded in getting to know me, and I them. Sex of any kind was not an option.
The jerks didn’t surprise me. I wish they weren’t real, but they are; they are men of dishonor, looking for an easy lay and when they find out that’s not what they were going to get from me (and other women of dignity) they disappear quickly.
What surprised me were the men willing to respect my boundaries. I can’t say they always understood them but I was pleasantly surprised by all of the honorable men out there. Way to go you guys! You are great and I thank you for your respect and defense of my honor! Ladies, they’re out there out there! There are good guys, honorable men who will absolutely respect you.
Over the course of dating I came to believe, like never before, that God and all the people that say to wait (something I had never done before) were right. I came to know a few different kinds of men; there were the jerks, there were those who needed to be policed – I had to mind my boundary or they would cross it, and there was one who policed himself. He didn’t share my philosophy but he did it because he was a true man of honor. He took time to listen to me and hear what I believed and why. Though he still doesn’t agree, he respects me enough to stand with me for my honor instead of trying to break me down.
Because he actually respects me, defends my honor and doesn’t push or manipulate me into more than I want to give… I want to give more to him. And so, over the course of the last several months, though there is still no sex of any kind, my boundaries have shifted. Right or wrong, I will stand before God but what I can say is that I am more convinced than ever that saving sex for marriage is a beautiful thing. It shows a level of patience and self-control that is essential for a relationship to develop healthy boundaries. I can trust him because I know he is a man capable of controlling himself and vice versa, which is so important in a world such as this where men take what they want from women and 58% of women in their 40s spread their legs so freely.
Even with the compromise I haven’t fallen for the lie that sex is causal and means nothing or ought to be tossed into the mix of a dating relationship. Sex is a precious, sacred act meant to be shared in the most intimate of settings with a lifetime spouse. I haven’t lost anything in my restraint, except for men who lacked patience and self-control. I gained the love of an amazing man and he gained all of my admiration and respect. I have the memory of a first handshake that made me swoon. I had time to hug and hold hands and talk and learn about him and not feel pressured to do more. I have a first kiss that I remember with the fondest of pure emotions that didn’t get devalued or lost because it was competing with a sexual encounter. I have a treasure trove of cherished firsts to look forward to with a man strong enough to overcome his own selfish desires because he respects me that much. I love him for that and so much more. And… yes, like with my purchase of Guinevere, there is compromise, but I’m OK with it, may God have mercy on my soul.
It’s time to come clean, to confess the compromises to my principals and beliefs over the last couple years and admit to the consequences of my choices. It’s like the song “Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns: “It’s a slow fade, when you give yourself away. It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray. And thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid, when you give yourself away. People never crumble in a day...” I didn’t set out to be in consumer debt again after working so hard with my ex-husband to get out of it. I didn’t set out to have an ex-husband. I didn’t plan to be dating in my late thirties proclaiming my boundaries publicly because our culture falsely dictates that hook-ups and friends-with-benefits are supposed to be normal not scandalous.
There’s a little known saying: “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” It’s a warning of sorts; the “little foxes” as they’re called in this Biblical passage are the little things that, over time, ruin us. The little foxes invade our thoughts, our relationships, our sensibilities and slowly eat away at the rich, ripe fruit we’ve tended to and watched grow. With stealth and cunning they sneak in and take and weaken and reduce our harvest. Little by little, day by day, without vigilance and accountability a luscious vineyard becomes a picked over field of lackluster fruit. Today, I look over a windy and battered vineyard that is my life and wonder... who have I become? I’m nothing like she who once was.
I know that life circumstances like mine lend themselves to a change in lifestyle. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it now; I’m blessed to have gone through this in the day and place we live. Had I been abandoned in a different time or country, I wouldn’t have fared so well. I have a job and community that supports struggling single women and doesn’t prey on them. I live a happy, comfortable, independent life that keeps me safe. It’s a good life I’ve been dropped into, but it’s different. I am alone; free and unfettered to taste and see and hear and feel all that that I can... but also unaccountable. I don’t answer to anyone and, no one cares what I do with my time, talent or money... for me, this is the biggest little fox in the skulk.
Some people are loners and can effectively live and manage their vineyard on their own. While I am fiercely ambitious and motivated, I know that I am a companionable soul and work my vineyard best in fellowship. It’s not that I need someone to tell me what to do… no, no... I appreciate knowledgeable guidance but I’ll learn how to grow, water and nourish my fruit myself; that part I’ve got covered. It’s near the borders, where the creeping vermin sneak in, and in the bounty I have to share, where a companion, accountability partner, or teammate works best for me.
Let me explain…
If I am left to myself, yes, I want a vineyard capable of sustaining me, but so what if some of the fruit is consumed by pests? There’s still enough for me to live off of. Sure it’s not the best, it’s not the most, it’s not the smartest way to tend a vineyard but… who cares? As long as it’s enough for me, it’s good enough. But, add a partner to the mix, someone I know will also enjoy my fruit, suddenly I’m motivated to shoo those foxes away and build fences and borders to keep them out. Why? So I have more bounty to share with them of course! I have external motivation, someone else to give to, to share with. I have a greater reason to care.
It’s not the same as being desperate for a companion. I don’t need someone for my vineyard to grow. God has blessed me with a wonderful body, mind, soul and spirit. He has given me opportunity to grow good fruit. I do that, but there’s something about me that manages myself better when I know there’s someone else directly affected.
I lost my someone… my someones actually…
In the same amount of time that my ex-husband left, my kids transitioned from childhood into young adults, capable of making their own choices, quite independently of me. He didn’t want me. They didn’t need me. I, alone, was left to tend my vineyard, and the little foxes started creeping.
The biggest compromises came in the areas of finance and romance and it is in these two areas I must make my confession, but this is enough for now, confession is inevitable but it will wait a bit longer, just a bit...
It's been so long that I don’t even have your number anymore… I don’t even know you anymore. It’s weird isn’t it? After years of knowing and loving and living together, there’s nothing. It would be a lie to say you’re not still here in every single day of my life.
I didn’t marry you to ever be here without you. But you left. You didn’t want me. Discarded me like the trash you rolled to the street week after week, year after year, house after house. I told you I’d wait as long as I could, and I did. I waited, faithfully waited. Then I dated, silly, fun, data gathering dates to numb the pain of being alone and remind myself I was pretty and desirable, at least by others, if not by you. I had my rules and boundaries and time limits but in the back of my head I think I was still waiting for you to figure out what you needed to figure out. I waited. For a word, a call, a text… anything to give me hope that there was hope. There’s been nothing.
And the truth is I’ve known from the beginning of The Leaving you never wanted me. I knew you were done. Strange as it sounds, and though some will question it when I write it, I feel like God’s been in the leaving as much as you. I can’t wrap my head around why He would allow a good marriage to end.
And it was good, wasn’t it? No one cheated, no one abused anyone or anything. We were the not-quite-white-picket fence family and couple. Bumps in the road, issues that we had to work through, but good.
We were good together. We had a good life, a good family. It was good.
I just don’t understand. I want clarification. Why did you leave? What did I do? How could I make it better? Nothing… Nothing… I’ve come to accept that maybe I’ll never have the answers I want. I have to accept the things I cannot change. Maybe I’ll never know.
But before I go, I owe you some words. I must write them, who knows if you’ll ever read them...
I am sorry. You were a good man. I sure I didn’t say it enough. You were an honest man and I didn’t realize what a gift that is. You were a protector and provider. You stood by me when I was such a mess of a person. You helped me become the woman I am today and I love who I am so much and you’ll ever have all my respect for sticking through the mess that I was. I didn’t give you enough credit. I didn’t thank you enough for all you did… all the good things day after day. For the longest time I wished I could go back and re-do what I didn’t do right and say what I should have said.
I spent a lot of time agonizing about how I failed you and wishing I had a chance to do it right. I read the Love and Respect book the pastor recommended a little too late. I read other books. I made a point to study the needs of men and realized how far from the mark I was when it came to honoring you. I am sorry. I wish I would have known… but I didn’t know then.
I guess I accept now that I’m not responsible for what I didn’t know but I still feel bad that I didn’t have a chance to “get it right” with you. But… you didn’t tell me and I didn’t have the information until I had it and then it was too late… But still I hoped… And I practiced what I learned. If the research and books are right, and I think they are, I missed the mark. I didn’t give you enough respect, I didn’t treat you the way men treat each other. I messed up. I got it wrong. And I’m sorry. You deserved better. I hope that in time, you can forgive me for my short-comings. And like you’ve told me, I hope you find love.
But as for me… now that I know better, I’ll do better. And as for me, it might be a sin, or another failure notch in my belt, but I waited as long as I could. I’m done hoping, wondering, waiting. I’m moving on. I wish you the best in life. For however they were for you, they were the best fourteen years of my life so far. Thank you for all of them. Thank you for taking my kids as your own and for letting me get to know your daughter and for adopting our daughter together with me. Thank you for bringing us here to Chelan County. Thank you for being a steady stable force in my life. I’m sorry it didn’t work out but I will honor the last thing you told me to do, I will go and find love. It will happen for me, may it also happen for you. May the God of grace and mercy bless you and where ever life may take you.