Come As You Are

Things have not been great with Seth lately. We’ve hit that six month mile marker where the messiness of life starts to creep into the relationship – sickness and time apart and stressors at work and all manner of things – and we are each having to make the determination of whether we believe this relationship is worth fighting for or not.

peachy-pink-1It was a scary weekend of realizing how much power Seth has to hurt me now. We’ve spent a lot of time together investing in this relationship, and at this stage, it’s either going to result in marriage or a painful breakup.

As a result, I spent a lot of time alone this weekend, reflecting and praying. I really want – really need – to ensure I keep God as my First Love. I want to ensure I maintain that my identity is in the fact that I am a daughter of the King… and not that I am a girlfriend of Seth.

On Saturday, we went to a fall festival where we went through a corn maze and got to pick some homegrown flowers. My favorites were beautiful peachy-pink chrysanthemums, and Seth helped me fill a vase with them back at my apartment. And then we fought. And fought. And fought some more.

peachy-pink-2I thought we were okay on Sunday at church until Seth made a passive-aggressive comment after the service. I went home and cried most of the afternoon. But when I left my apartment in the evening to meet some friends, I turned on some music and heard David Crowder singing “Come As You Are“. Then I turned the corner out of my parking garage, and the sky opened up before me.

My eyes welled with tears. Bright pink and orange hues lit up the sky, and I felt God speak to my heart, “This is for you. Peachy-pink. Your favorite.”

The chorus of the song picked up, and I sang along in a broken voice:

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

Just hours before, I’d written in my journal: “God, please woo me to yourself. I want you to be my First Love.” Sometimes the Lover of our Souls is quick to respond. He delights to heal the brokenhearted, turn ashes to beauty and give good gifts to his children.

Authentically Aurora

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He’s a Pretty Sick Boyfriend

Tired-Mom.jpg

Relationship books and Buzzfeed articles alike will tell you to marry not the one who brings you a dozen roses, but the one who believes you are beautiful when you are elbow-deep in baby drool and dirty diapers. Not the one who romances you with a self-composed guitar song, but the one who will hold your hair back when your body is wracked with illness. Not the one who pursues you in the best of times, but the one who chooses to love you even in the worst of times.

I got sick on Sunday night. Not just sick, but borderline deathbed sick. It’s possible that I should have gone to the hospital. Not to be graphic, but I had a stomach bug that left me spewing at both ends, unable to keep even water down for two full days. I was so weak and dehydrated that I nearly passed out multiple times and legitimately slept on the bathroom floor one night.

What I didn’t expect was Seth right there beside me on the bathroom floor – not because he was sick, too, but because he wanted to take care of me.

At 9PM Sunday night, Seth called and found out I was ill, so he came over with some Gatorade. When I stood up to let him out around 9:30PM, the movement triggered another round of violent vomiting, and when I finished convulsing over the toilet, I was astounded to feel Seth’s arms around me, pulling my hair back from my forehead and rubbing my back, telling me in hushed tones that I could do it; that I’m a strong woman.

After that, he refused to leave until about 3AM, nursing me back to health with sips of water and prayers over me while I lay half-delirious in bed. Although I am both mortified and beyond grateful that he stayed with me in that condition, at that point, I was too far gone to even be a gracious patient.

I don’t remember much of what happened, but as the fog of illness has lifted, I do recall telling Seth, “I’m sorry. My stomach is really sensitive right now. Do you mind brushing your teeth? Your breath is making me more nauseous.”

He accepted my criticism without complaint, lightly retaliating later by playfully ending a prayer with, “And God, when Aurora wakes up in the morning, please give her a strong desire to brush her teeth.”

Okay, fair. I was the one who’d been vomiting all night, after all. 

Today I ate my first “full meal” since Sunday afternoon. And by “full meal”, I mean oatmeal and a banana. But I am thrilled to be out and about, back in society and functional again as an independent human being. Health really is something we take all too for granted. But I’m going to do my best not to do that. I want to make a conscious effort to remember to be thankful for my health. And for Seth.

Authentically Aurora

La Douceur du Foyer

Flowers from SethI just got home from Paris last night, greeted at the airport by Seth’s smiling face. He’d offered to pick me up and left work early to do so, showing up looking handsome in a blue-and-white plaid button-down tucked into khaki slacks. He wrapped me in a hug and then, from behind his back, pulled a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers dotted with tiny purple daisies. My favorite.

He insisted on carrying my luggage, kissed me sweetly when we were alone in the elevator, and made dinner for me while I showered at home, washing off more than 15 hours of travel. Other than my daddy, I’ve never had a man meet me at the airport with flowers – and certainly not cook dinner for me as well. Seth makes me feel like a princess.

I’m still processing everything I saw and experienced during my whirlwind of a trip to Paris, but in the meantime, my travel-fogged brain has been musing over a couple of things.

I got sick my first day in Paris, and I am not sure if it’s because:

  1. I was stuck in a petri dish of an airplane for ten hours with coughers and sneezers,
  2. My body subconsciously wanted my French to sound more authentic (i.e. more nasal-y), or
  3. I am allergic to socialism.

With the EuroCup going on, Rachel and I made a lot of new friends – British, Welsh, Polish and German, but no French. I was disappointed to discover that Parisians were just as rude as all the stereotypes. I’m wondering if this is because:

  1. They’re bitter about only being back-to-back World War Champs because of American rescue,
  2. They have stale baguettes stuck up their butts, or
  3. They are living under the stench of European socialism.

In the 18 hours I have been back in America, I have already experienced some reverse culture shock. Most notably:

  1. When someone passed me on the street this morning, I surprised myself by automatically clutching my purse closer to my side, wary of pickpockets.
  2. I walked past two women talking in the office and heard one begin her sentence, “We pardoned…” and was stunned to realize that my mind heard, “Oui, pardon!” I think I need to purge my brain of the last week of French speaking.
  3. I passed by a TV screen declaring Hillary is picking up votes. Not that I’m exactly a Trump supporter, but I’d thought I was escaping socialism when I came home and was disheartened to realize that  – in actuality – perhaps the difference in culture is not quite as significant as I’d hoped. Regardless, I am beyond thankful to be back home in the Land of the Free & Home of the Brave.

Yay ‘Merica.

thatcher-socialism

Authentically Aurora

Happy Q2!

Smiling in field of flowersAlthough I am partial to sweater weather and pumpkin spice lattes, the second quarter of the year is also a personal favorite of mine. The first week of April brings with it sundresses, wildflowers and clear blue skies. Gloom period is over, and the earth comes to life again as though waking from a long slumber.

I underwent a hibernation of my own during the first quarter of this year – my fast from dating. I’d told myself that, in light of the seemingly endless incoming (and outgoing) line of men in my life, I needed to take a break from dating this year to refocus and center myself; to reinstate God as my First Love.

My hope in so doing was to to rest in my singleness, learning to be content in this season and celebrating all of the unique opportunities afforded to me as an unattached young woman. It’s been a great first quarter. I’ve gotten to invest deeply in some key friendships, taught Sunday school to elementary children, started mentoring a group of high school kids, gotten certified to babysit foster kids, arranged some new a capella mashups, begun fashion illustration (check out my Instagram) and started looking into a few different travel destinations for a girls’ weekend away.

When I started on this journey, I wanted to make the commitment specific and measurable enough that I could be held accountable and not bail when the first cute boy of the year looked my way, so I gave a soft commitment not to go on any dates for 2016. However, I also wanted to give myself flexibility as life circumstances changed and my heart matured; I didn’t want to be legalistic about the commitment or put God in a box as to how He wanted to refine me in this area of my life. I didn’t feel a strong conviction to give a definitive commitment for an entire year, so I gave myself the option to reevaluate at the end of every quarter whether or not I should continue my break from dating.

So as the end of March approached, and with it, the end of Q1 2016, I prayed and asked God what He thought. Then I met with the girls in my bible study and asked for their input as well. In both my personal time of reflection and in the feedback from the group, there was a consensus that I have successfully hit the “reset” button on my dating mentality and could now move forward with starting to date again, this time with a God-honoring perspective on both the physical and emotional aspects of a relationship.

I am not in a hurry to jump back into dating. My days of online dating are behind me. But I am open to the possibility of exploring whether some of my godly male friendships could grow into something deeper. I’ve had seven guys waiting for this moment – the moment I would allow them to pursue a relationship with me.

Just thinking about juggling all of those possibilities had me nearly breaking out in hives, so I’ve already told five of the seven that I am not interested in a romantic relationship with them. Care to guess which of the seven has captured my attention?

Jay – a police officer I met while volunteering for the Passion Conference in January who sends me shirtless photos of himself from time to time

Jordan – the massage therapist and divorcee I met on the Bahamas cruise

Ike – a friend for over ten years with whom I’ve done international mission trips and who is graduating from seminary in May with plans to be a pastor

Hovik – the Armenian auto shop manager who lives in my apartment complex

Grant – the banker I met at church who takes me to a concert every year

Seth – a chemical engineer who volunteers in our church’s kids’ ministry with me

Joe – an A/C mechanic in my bible study who is built like a lumberjack

Authentically Aurora

Fools in Love – Part II

image“It’s easy to fool the eye, but it’s hard to fool the heart.” -Al Pacino

The last time I heard from Nick the Strict, he sent me flowers at the office along with a card reminding me to fix my eyes on Jesus. I want to say that he’s a sweet, Christian man, but he’s one of those guys who speaks fluent Christianese and is always ready with a Jesus Juke.

Basically, when Nick opens his mouth to talk about Jesus, it makes me want to punch him in the face. And I’m a fellow Christian. Jesus Jukes: Just don’t do them, people. 

Nick has been texting me on and off for the past few weeks, despite my repeated rejections of his romantic overtures (seeing a theme here, folks?). Two weeks ago, he sent an out-of-the-blue text: “How have you been lately?”

I replied: “Hey! Life is good. How are you?”

Instead of sending a normal I’m-doing-great-thanks response, he wrote back: “Good to hear. God is doing great things. I’m joyful.” See what I mean about the Christianese?

On Tuesday this week, he reached out again, more forward than ever. “Good morning! So when do you want to come by for homemade pizza?”

Considering I have already told him that I’m not interested, he lives 45 minutes north of town, and I wouldn’t want to drive 45 minutes for pizza at the house of a guy I was actually dating… no. But thanks for playing.

“You are persistent, aren’t you?!” I wrote back. Take the hint, dude. Don’t make me spell it out for you again. 

“Always looking out for you. My pizza is good – even better than my flowers!” Then another text came through: “Ok wee u there”.

Wee u there? What? …and then another text: “Ignore that last one it was confirmation for a tee time”.

Annoyed, I waited a while to reply, so he tried again: “So are you going to bake dessert? What day?”

Finally, I sent a text back saying, “I’m actually seeing someone, so I don’t think he’d appreciate my coming out to see you. Thanks though.” If he wouldn’t accept my straight-up rejection, maybe his uber godliness would require him to back off if I made reference to one of my other suitors.

Nick’s reply? “Good to hear. I hope he is a godly man. God bless you in Jesus name. May your relationship be filled with joy and gladness.”

Like I said: I want to say he’s a sweet, Christian man. But he seriously needs to find a woman who appreciates Jukes in the name of Jesus.

Authentically Aurora