Sweet Seth

autumn-walkSeth has been so wonderful lately. After a kind of rough patch in October where we talked through a few points of conflict (an important aspect of any healthy relationship), the past few weeks have been some of the sweetest we’ve had.

The weather finally turned cooler a few weeks ago down in the South where we live, so Seth and I took the opportunity to bundle up and go for a nice walk outside in a cozy, historic part of town. I had a warm latte in one hand and Seth’s calloused palm in the other. The leaves started changing, and we talked about everything and nothing.

At the end of our walk when Seth escorted me to my car, he gave me a kiss goodbye and then asked me to wait a second. “I’ll be right back.” He jogged to his truck, grabbed something out of the back seat and then jogged back to me. He wrapped his left arm around my waist and, with his right hand, threw a paper airplane through my open driver door onto my passenger seat.

I laughed, genuinely happy. “What was that?” I hugged his waist. He gave me a quick kiss on my forehead and said with a grin, “See you later.”

He jogged back to his car and got in while I, still smiling and curious, reached for the paper airplane. I unfolded it delicately and read one of the sweetest notes Seth’s ever written me. He acknowledged that he’s not always the most verbally affectionate boyfriend, but he wanted to make sure I knew how much he cares about me. I think I actually teared up a little bit. He’d written me a love note. And folded it into a paper airplane. It was the perfect combination of thoughtful and playful; quirky and sweet.

cinderella-stairsA few days later, after dinner with a group of friends, my high heels – glittery, silvery three-inch heels – were killing me. So Seth carried me up the stairs to my apartment. On the way, one of my heels fell off, so Seth set me down at the top of the stairs, ran down the stairs, picked up the silvery shoe, and ran back to the top of the stairs where he knelt down and gently slipped the glass slipper back onto my foot. I felt like a princess, especially when he scooped me back up again and carried me across the threshold of my apartment.

festival-of-lightsThe next week, Seth surprised me with a road trip, ensuring that he catered to my planning nature by telling me how to pack. “Dress for cool weather, and plan to be outside.” He wanted to keep the destination a surprise, but he is also learning how I operate and is lovingly choosing to adjust his style. He threw in a couple of red herrings (“Pack a hammer and a baseball cap”) just to keep me off track, but he ultimately took me to a lights festival modeled after my favorite Disney movie. I felt so loved, not only that he thought to surprise me with something he knew I’d enjoy, but that he also presented the surprise in a way that catered to me.

Last Sunday, he called me before church just to say “hello beautiful” and to let me know he was looking forward to worshiping with me. We watched “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and he told me I remind him of Mary because I’m a beautiful brunette who is lovingly supportive, resilient and a Proverbs 31 woman. And the next morning, he sent me off to work with an unexpected text: “Good morning, sweetheart. I hope you have a wonderful Monday!”

A couple of weeks ago, we attended the wedding of some dear friends who attend church with us. It was a beautiful ceremony, and at the reception, Seth leaned over to kiss my cheek and whisper quietly, “You were worth waiting for.”

My eyes widened in surprise, and he laughed, “It was a long wait!” He smiled. “But you were worth waiting for.”

Authentically Aurora

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Sunshine Blogger Award

sunshine-blogger-award

Some of my favorite days are the cool, blustery days where the golden rays of sun shine down and warm your chilled hands and face even as you snuggle under a cozy, oversized sweatshirt. Serendipitously, I recently learned that there is a word for this phenomenon: apricity – the warmth of the sun on a cold day.

I like that word. Apricity. And it’s what I want to be to the world: the warmth of the sun on a cold day. The warmth of the Son on a proverbially cold day. That’s what Jesus came to be – light in the darkness; warmth to the cold. Neither dark nor cold actually exist; they are the absence of light and heat respectively, and Jesus came to freely give all He had to those who had none. Apricity – the warmth of the sun on a cold day. 

Little Sunshine over at Sunshine Ave recently nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award (an aptly-named award for a blog so named)!  Evidently…

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to “bloggers who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”.

…something I aim to do both on this blog and in everyday life! I am honored to have been nominated for this award and gladly accept! Thank you, Little Sunshine, for the nomination!

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Answer the questions from the person who has nominated you
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers for this award
  4. Write the same amount of questions for the bloggers you have nominated
  5. Notify the bloggers you nominated

Rule #1? Check!

Rule #2? Here we go…

Little Sunshine posed the following 10 questions for me to answer:

  1. What is your biggest dream?
    • This question makes me think of Rapunzel in “Tangled”. rapunzel-dream
    • I’ve had a lot of dreams over the years, and I’ve been blessed to see most of them come true. I used to dream of somewhat superficial things – visiting all 7 continents, releasing an original album on iTunes – but now I consider those more of life goals. A dream is something precious and intimate, interwoven into your heart. And these days, my dream is more like a vision – to be a wife and mother, full of life and joy, radiating light into the world and growing more and more into the godly woman I’ve been uniquely created to be.
  2. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
    • As mentioned in #1, I’ve had a goal for a while of visiting all 7 continents. I’ve been to about 30 countries and 5 continents, all of them wonderful experiences, and a year ago, I would have definitely said that I most want to visit Australia and New Zealand. But Seth is an American through and through; a homebody of a patriot, and we are taking a trip to California later this month, which is about as foreign a trip as this cowboy wants to take. And after imagining exploring California with Seth, there’s no place I’d rather be.
  3. Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?introverting-coffee-book
    • Introvert. Definitely. This surprises most people when they first hear it – mostly because I’m a pretty social, outgoing introvert – but my perfect day involves curling up in a quiet little nook with a latte and good book… or finding a secluded park where I can walk and think and listen to music on my earbuds… or staying home to clean and organize my apartment… or sitting alone in the silence to work on my latest art project. Mmm. Perfection.
  4. Is what you’re doing now what you always wanted to do growing up?
    • Yep. When I was in 2nd grade, I decided that I wanted to go to West Point and be an engineer. But what we want as sweet, innocent, idealistic 8-year-olds is not always aligned with reality, so although I am living the dream of having an engineering degree and working at a major oil company in Corporate America, I have discovered that the composite of the bureaucracy, politicking, process nazis and inauthenticity of my current workplace comprise something akin to my personal hell. Which is why I am changing careers to teaching… where I can spread my cynicism wisdom to the next generation.
  5. Do you usually follow your heart or your head?
    • My head. Sometimes going with your gut is a great option for quick decisions, but for any decision that allows for more than a few seconds to go with your first instinct, I have found that emotions are subject to the whim and fancy of the day and may not hold up longer-term. I prefer thinking through the logic of various options, examining my intentions, considering the ripple effect of whichever choice I make, and of course consulting God in prayer.
  6. What are you most thankful for? by-grace-through-faith
    • That while I was still a sinner, Christ did for me. Even though I am undeserving of being rescued from my sinfulness and total depravity, Jesus willingly took on the punishment I deserve (through his death and resurrection) so that I could be brought into a right relationship with God. Nothing compares with that – no family relationships, no dating relationships, no job or financial success… Without God’s love and mercy and grace, I would be like the walking dead.
  7. What’s on your bucket list this year?
    • Finishing my teaching certification. And maybe getting my CHL.
  8. What’s your favorite food ever?chocolate-is-a-girls-best-friend
    • Peanut butter. Or chocolate. Let’s go with chocolate covered almonds as a fair compromise. 😀
  9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
    • “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:36-40
  10. Which of the places you’ve traveled to inspired you the most, and why?
    • My favorite trip I’ve ever taken was to Germany at Christmastime with my family, but the place I’ve visited that most inspired me would have to be South Sudan, mostly because that trip helped to right my perspective on so many things in life. We are profoundly blessed.

Alright! Hopefully you all now feel like you know a bit more about me! Here are my nominees (I liked Little Sunshine’s questions, so answer these same questions if you choose to accept)!

  1. MyLittlePieceofQuiet
  2. Salvageable
  3. InsanityBytes
  4. MrsSpike
  5. BlissfulBritt
  6. SingleStrides
  7. INFJRamblings
  8. MySweetJesusBlog
  9. BeautyBeyondBones
  10. TheRoseQuartz
  11. Captainsspeech

Authentically “Sunshiny” Aurora

The Liebster Award

Liebster AwardWhy do you write? Is it for the attention; the acclaim; the dream of being the next Jonathan Acuff? Is it your way of cataloguing or even processing your life? Or is it for the pure love of writing?

I write because it is therapeutic and because, let’s be honest, my life can be a great source of entertainment for the downtrodden desperately in need of a laugh. But it’s also nice to be noticed and complimented on a job well done, even though that wasn’t my goal going in. So it is with great honor and appreciation that I accept mylittlepieceofquiet‘s nomination for The Liebster Award. Consider this my acceptance speech.

Jennifer Lawrence acceptance speechI’d like to thank, first and foremost, God for the gift of words, particularly the Word who is also the Way. Next, I’d like to thank my family and friends for all of their support through the crazy adventures detailed in this blog. And lastly, I’d like to thank all of the kind, psycho, timid, bold, wise, immature, clueless, well-intentioned and not-so-well-intentioned men who have served as fodder for my writing. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Alright, on to the good stuff. What is the Liebster Award? It’s an award of recognition in which one blogger with less than 200 followers nominates 11 other gifted bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Here are my 11 nominations:

  1. Masculinity Summit
  2. Lifeloveandthepursuitofmommyness
  3. Written For Our Instruction
  4. codegirlblog
  5. typetasting
  6. themodernladyofficial
  7. Casey Fiesler
  8. MARKMDMPH
  9. Fictional Types
  10. My Heart Will Sing No Other Name
  11. Scribal Tattoo

Next, my 11 answers to mylittlepieceofquiet‘s questions:

  1. Do you have any pets?
    1. Nope, but that didn’t keep me from getting fleas earlier this year!
  2. If you could meet anyone from the past, who would it be and why?
    1. Jesus. It’s hard to trump the Son of God. Initially, my answer to “why” was going to be that there are some questions I’d like to ask God, but then I decided that, really, I just want to bask in his presence, sit by his side and be wrapped in the strong arms of the One who loves me more than I can imagine.
  3. What are some of your hobbies?
    1. I have tons of hobbies. I get bored easily, so as soon as I feel like I have mastered one, I move on to another. Over the past five years, my hobbies have included: reading, swing dancing, writing music, painting, photography, running, traveling, cooking, ancestry research and now blogging!
  4. Do you prefer to drink coffee or tea?
    1. I have always loved the smell of coffee. It’s a comforting smell that reminds me of mornings in my childhood home as my dad was getting ready for work. But only in the past few years have I started to like the taste of coffee. I drink green tea every morning, but I’ve become a sucker for sweet coffee drinks.
  5. What is your favourite season of the year and why?
    1. Christmas, duh! Actually, fall in general. I love the crisp weather, the changing leaves, the spices and smells of the season, the focus on friends and family, the perspective shift to a season of giving, and the celebration of the birth of our Savior.
  6. How long have you been blogging?
    1. Just a few months now. I started in August.
  7. What are a couple of your favourite movies?
    1. Top 3: Bourne Identity, Tangled, Gladiator
  8. If you could pick one favourite book, what would it be?
    1. Besides the bible? Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith. It was one of my favorites in junior high/high school and still has a special place in my heart.
  9. What is your favourite colour and why?
    1. Picking a favorite color is tough because my favorite color to wear is not the same color I’d pick for a new car, nor is it the color I would choose for the interior decorating of my living room. My favorite color to wear is green, but when I was a girl, my favorite color overall was purple because I believed it to be the color of royalty, so I thought it best represented God, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
  10. What is one of your favourite quotes?
    1. So many good ones, but for today… my dad always said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
  11. What is your favourite type of music or favourite song?
    1. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of country music, but this week, my go-to song is Blank Space. Don’t judge. Horrible lyrics, but you’ve gotta admit that it’s catchy!

And finally, my 11 questions to my 11 nominees:

  1. Which of your posts is your favorite, and why?
  2. If you could meet anyone from the past, who would it be and why?
  3. What are some of your hobbies?
  4. Where is your favorite place to sit and write?
  5. What is your favorite topic to write about?
  6. How long have you been blogging?
  7. Of the topics you’ve blogged about, which is the most difficult to write about, and why?
  8. If you could pick one favourite book, what would it be?
  9. What is your favourite colour and why?
  10. What is one of your favourite quotes?
  11. Who has been the most influential person in your life?

Thanks again, and happy reading!

Authentically Aurora

Finding Flynn – Part I

I went on a camping trip this past weekend. The weather was perfect – 60s and 70s – and I went almost exclusively with complete strangers, which was also perfect (strangers have no expectations about who I am or how I should act, so I often – especially of late – feel freer to be myself with strangers than friends).

I ran into an old acquaintance at a ministry banquet last week, and he invited me to his church’s camping trip for their “Singles” Sunday school class. As a part of my self-imposed goal to attend at least one social event per week, I agreed to go. So on Friday I was assigned to a carpool group, showed up at the agreed-upon apartment at the agreed-upon time of 5:30 pm and was still standing in the parking lot at 6:30 pm (a display of the typical lack of punctuality demonstrated by singles of “Generation Me”). Nevertheless, we had an enjoyable drive into the countryside as I exchanged witty banter with the two nerds I found myself wedged between in the back seat of an ancient Toyota Corolla (and I use the term “nerds” affectionately).

Our carpool group eventually made it out to the campsite around 8:30 pm and found the rest of our group already gathered around a roaring campfire. Insight into my brain: I wish I didn’t do this, but if I’m honest with myself, in my singleness I tend to scan new groups of people for their most eligible bachelor. In this instance, he wasn’t hard to find.

Angular features highlighted by the flickering fire, his defined jawline was rimmed with a dark five o’clock shadow. His waterfall haircut grazed his forehead as he spoke with animation, and he radiated an aura of leadership. As conversaion progressed, I discovered that he was the group’s bible study leader and had a playful demeanor with a dry sense of humor.

Flynn RiderHe reminded me a lot of Flynn Rider, the male protagonist in “Tangled” and my favorite Disney prince. Flynn is a dashing, swashbuckling hero with a sense of adventure and flair for the sarcastic. Not everyone agrees with me, but I peg Flynn for an ENFP. For those of you not familiar with Myers Briggs, the ENFP is an extroverted, intuitive personality type who likes flexibility and makes decisions based on gut feelings or emotions. I personally am an INTJ. That means that I recharge by being alone, am intuitive, enjoy structure and am a rational decision maker.

The ENFP/INTJ combination is said to be one of the most perfect personality matches from a romantic standpoint. Some of the most legendary love stories are between an ENFP and INTJ because the playfulness of the ENFP balances the intensity of the INTJ. Think Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy of “Pride and Prejudice.” Epic.

In addition to being a ridiculously attractive leader of men, my real life Flynn is also a 34-year-old mechanical engineer and former Army Ranger who plays acoustic guitar. At first glance, he’s everything I’ve ever wanted. Unfortunately, just as I asked myself, “Is this guy for real?”, I discovered that yes, he is, but so was the young, curly haired girl who pranced out of her tent, plopped down in his lap and wrapped her arms possessively around his neck.

Figures.

Authentically Aurora

Prophetic Provision

Prophesy

Over the past six months, I have received unimaginable volumes of unsolicited post-breakup advice from well-meaning friends, family and even complete strangers. Some people have told me to “put myself out there” and date around. Others have chided me when I do go out on dates, claiming that it’s too soon after my relational train wreck of a summer.

How soon is too soon? How does someone “properly” move forward with life after a breakup, divorce or failed engagement? If there’s not a right answer – or even if there is a right answer, but it varies from situation to situation – then why do so many people have such vehement opinions about this very personal, very sensitive topic?

Here are things I know to be true:

  1. It’s probably not a great idea for me to sit at home alone every night, drinking multiple glasses of wine and singing parodies of Taylor Swift’s “22”.
  2. I am still healing, so getting into a serious relationship right now would probably be about as smart as playing Leap Frog with a unicorn.
  3. I typically date to marry, but I am also capable of going on casual dates without physical or emotional entanglement (as evidenced by about half of the posts on this blog so far).

Since I live to please God and not man (Gal. 1:10), I threw out the conflicting advice and did what I do anytime I need wisdom: I prayed about it. In the end, I felt convicted that I needed to get off of eHarmony, so I did, but I still felt I should keep myself open to going on casual dates to get myself out of the house and, if nothing else, make new friends. And this week, make a new friend, I did.

Time for some back story. I know, I know… my role model Flynn Rider doesn’t do back story, but in this case, it’s necessary. So here we go:

The biblical Old Testament is written in Hebrew, which does not have a grammatical way to express the comparative or superlative (e.g. better, best). The way Hebrew emphasizes something is through repetition, like small children at grandpa’s house telling their mother that they are “very, Very, VERY” bored (hypothetically speaking, of course)! This style of emphasis is why God is frequently described throughout the bible as “holy, holy, holy,” underscoring his utter purity.

Similarly, I believe that when God is trying to tell me something, He emphasizes it through repetition. And three times in as many days, three different people have spoken to me about the gift of prophesy. The bible lists many “spiritual gifts”, some of which (like teaching and encouragement) are widely accepted throughout the church, but others (like healing and prophesy) create more apprehension and division among Christians. I have grown in an appreciation for spiritual gifts like prophesy as I have witnessed them in my father and, later, experienced them myself.

I remember as a kid, my dad often knew things before they happened – little things, like one time at a country fair, he entered his name in a raffle drawing. Right as the woman drawing the name out of the bowl touched the paper with the winner’s name, my dad turned to my mom and said calmly, “She’s about to say my name.” A few seconds later, my mom gasped, astonished, while my dad – completely unfazed – walked up to the stage to retrieve his prize. My ten-year-old self thought it was completely normal for daddies to have premonitions. After all, my dad was my hero; my role model; my seemingly infallible Gandalf-like figure.

But then I went off to college and realized that not not everyone’s daddy woke up from prophetic dreams to inform the family that a tsunami was about to hit Indonesia. And about that time, I started to experience prophetic visions for myself. For example, this summer, my friend Jill gave birth to her first child. Everyone knew she and her husband were having a boy, but the couple kept the name a secret. The plan was to reveal their son’s name after it was on the birth certificate. But two weeks before Jill gave birth, she and I went out to dinner, and as I sat talking and laughing with her about her soon-to-be-born son, I suddenly KNEW the baby’s name: Elijah. I didn’t tell Jill at that very moment, but I knew with such certainty that when she later sent out the text that her water had broken, I wrote back: “Say hi to baby Elijah for me!” She was as shocked as I had been when God revealed the baby’s name to me.

I’ve often asked why things like that are revealed to me. Knowing Elijah’s name before he was born didn’t change anything. It was a powerful revelation that seemingly had no impact. Why, then, did God choose to reveal it to me? I have come to the conclusion that it was for my encouragement, and for the encouragement of his mother, Jill, that God still speaks. It was a reminder to me of God’s omniscience and omnipotence. It reminded me who God is, and who I am in relation to Him.

With all that as background, last night I went on a date with Jonathan, an eHarmony match I’d connected with before I got off the site. Jonathan is a welding engineer and clearly a godly man, but he’s 9 years older than me and has a melancholy personality. I knew within the first five minutes that I respected him, but he wasn’t for me (there’s enough melancholy in me to go around)! Fortunately, the feeling was mutual, so I asked Jonathan how he felt about being set up with one of my friends. I strongly sensed that they would be a good match – she’s a godly engineer who does triathlons and, like Jonathan, is passionate about the End It movement.

Jonathan looked at me for a moment with a puzzled look on his face. Then he asked, slowly and cautiously, what I think about prophesy. I was immediately overcome with a Presence; a sense of knowing that the words he was about to say were Divine. God had been preparing me for this moment through my repeated encounters with prophetic conversations over the past few days.

And then Jonathan told me that he’d had a dream about me last week. In the dream, he walked into a coffee shop and saw me sitting at a table, laughing and talking with another man. On the morning of our date, Jonathan shared the dream with a friend of his, discouraged. But his friend’s reply was, “In your dream, she may be with another man, but perhaps it’s because she has a friend to introduce you to.”

So far, half of Jonathan’s premonition has come true. I’m praying that the other half comes to full fruition in due time.

Authentically Aurora