Worst Day of the Year

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Today, Valentine’s Day, is supposed to be the worst day of the year for me as a 30-year-old single woman.

Or at least that’s what everyone tells me.

I refuse to accept that.

I love Valentine’s Day. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor with my sticker-decorated shoebox full of valentines, reading them over and over. Sending and receiving cards is definitely my favorite part of this holiday. That alone would be enough to make me enjoy this holiday. But then you add in chocolate, pink, hearts, and flowers. What’s not to love?

Today I’m enjoying the holiday with a treat exchange at work and a small celebratory thank you for my outbound boss (she’s moving to another department). Saturday, I’m having a few other fabulous single ladies for a holiday dinner, something I hope to make a tradition. I know that not every single woman embraces this holiday, so I want to know that they’re loved. Loved by me, but more importantly, by our God in heaven.

So don’t tell me this holiday isn’t for me. It’s for all of us.

Photo by Lori Greig

Daily Acts of Love

Now we’re at the 3rd week of the Challenge for Women (these weeks are going by fast!). Today’s challenge is:

“That this fullness of God overflow in daily acts of love so that people might see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Ouch.

This is where I often struggle. It’s easy to know what to do, it’s much hard to do it. I’m lazy and self-centered. I’m also not very observant, so I have to work harder to notice the needs of others. But just because it’s hard is no excuse.

The second part of this point gives me the reasoning to try, and try harder: “so that people might see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Straight from Matthew 5:16.

I can’t think of a better reason to seek to do good things. I want to seek to glorify God in everything I do. That requires me to think about so much more than me and my interests.

May the glory of God be my chief motive. It’s easier to do the right thing when you’ll look good in the eyes of others, but that can’t be my motive. It’s easier to do things for others when I’m in a good mood or when it fits in my schedule, but those can’t be factors in my decision making progress.

I need to be better at fulfilling the 2nd greatest commandment (“Love your neighbor as yourself.”) to better fulfill the Greatest Commandment (“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”).

Other Posts in This Series:

A Summer of Growth

Peace, Joy, and Strength

Photo Credit: GMA Lou

Quotes, Including Mockingjay Quotes, Spoiler-Free

“…you won her over. Gave up everything for her. Maybe that’s the only way to convince her you love her.” – Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, p. 329

“Many churches speak about homosexuality in terms of sin and judgment but about divorce in terms of forgiveness and grace. When a same sex couple goes down to the courthouse to petition for a marriage certificate, the Christians show up with sandwich boards. Do they also show up when their congregants go to the same courthouse to petition for an “unbiblical divorce?” Likely not. And the hypocrisy on this issue has not escaped the next generation.” -“Why Our Generation Doesn’t Care About Prop 8″ by Jonathan Merritt

“I asked the children [from the suburbs] where the slums were. But they said there were no slums near where they lived, only far away, in the city.” – The Love Wife by Gish Jen, p. 44

“We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.” – Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, p. 379

“Annie, being a virgin in this day and age is something to be proud of…you’re like a unicorn.” – Shirley, Community, “The Politics of Human Sexuality”

“He is the God that understands that I just miss being loved by a lover….I am blessed in the truest sense of the word.  I am also a little lonely.” – Amy Beth Bullard, “The God Who Understands”

“Finally, he can see me for who I really am. Violent. Distrustful. Manipulative. Deadly. And I hate him for it.” – Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, p. 232

“A proud person tries to reinvent reality. He tries to redraw the borders of human behavior to suit himself, displacing God as the Lord and boundary keeper of life.” – Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., p. 125

“I noticed, too, it was the cruelest thing you could say about a person–that they were small.” – Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

(advice given against early engagements) “…if a man is going through a woods, and sees a good young sapling, he may mark it and come back afterward and get it, if he can.” – Most Famous Man in America

” ‘Oh, no. It costs a lot more than your life. To murder innocent people?’ says Peeta. ‘It costs everything you are.’ ” – Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, p. 23

FQF: Dinner and a Movie (or 2)

1. What’s your favorite science fiction movie? Make it a double feature. What’s your second favorite?

Favorite is probably the new Star Trek. I actually didn’t see it in the theaters (wish I had!), but I really enjoyed it. When picking a second, it’s really hard not to pick Inception since I just saw it and loved it. Instead, I’m going to have to go with a Star Wars…maybe Episode III? Sorry to purists out there, but I prefer the ones actually made when I was alive.

2. Which ethnic group has the best food?

LOVE Mexican food (both real Mexican food and Tex-Mex, though I must admit I prefer Tex-Mex). I could literally eat it every day. Chinese is a close second, but I’m pickier in which kinds of Chinese food I like.

3. What is your favorite Disney princess?

Toughie. Aurora, probably. I’d love her life in a rural cottage with plenty of time to think (and presumably to read).  Or maybe Cinderella.

4. What is America’s gift to the world?

Wow…hmmm. Though we are merely the bearers of this gift and not the originators, I think I’d have to say the Gospel. While it’s also been distorted here–often beyond recognition–America has also been the place God has chosen to incubate the Gospel, and many Americans have been major instruments God has used to spread it. The downside is that Christianity and America are often linked in a way that is highly unflattering to God. May God help us to de-Americanize the Gospel and continue to selflessly share this wonderful gift.

5. Excluding romantic love, when was the last time you told someone you loved them?

This past weekend to sweet little “Abby,” my friend’s 5-year-old girl. I treat her like a niece. She started calling me “Erica” to be silly, so I started calling her “Abby.” Then she started calling me “best friend” and then “sister.” She knows how to wiggle her way into your heart, that’s for sure!

Preparing for Marriage Now

In a depraved world, there’s all kinds of things that could make me sad.  Lately, one that has stood out to me over and over again is the ugliness of divorce.

While I do believe that the Bible allows for divorce in certain cases (a subject for another post), there is something incredibly wrong with our society when divorce is not only common, but often encouraged when either party as warrant to feel wronged or unhappy.

As an unintentionally single woman*, I can’t really speak to how to make a marriage last.  When I get married, I know it won’t be as easy as it seems on this side of the altar (not that I think it’ll be easy).

Lord willing, I’ll have a loving church family to walk beside me and show me how to be a loving, faithful wife.  I know I’ll need it.

But what can someone in my place do now to help keep myself from a failed marriage? Here are some ideas I’ve gathered from more people and books than I could possibly list:

1.  Know that love is a choice. While it’s also a feeling, deciding to marry someone is choosing to love them even if/when the feeling leaves.

2.  Don’t expect him to be perfect.

3.  If you get together while he’s married to someone else, how can you accept his commitment to love you forever?

4.  Know him before he’s pursuing you so that you’ll have a better idea of his true character (not just his wooing-character).

5.  Focus first on seeking repentance and forgiveness for your own sin before pointing out his (Matthew 7:3-5).

6.  Learn to be submissive to the authorities in your life now (parents (if applicable), pastors, bosses, and God).

7.  Develop a servant’s heart, eyes, and hands; desiring, looking for, and acting on opportunities to serve others.

I know this list is far from complete…what do you think I should add?  I’m especially looking from help from those of you who are or have been married!

*Phrase comes from Connally Gilliam’s book Revelations of a Single Woman

Photo by Donna62

Valentine’s Weekend

Though I can hardly believe it’s that time again, Valentine’s Day is this weekend. Usually I’m more excited about it, but between the weddings and tax season I haven’t had a lot of time to think about it.

I know a lot of singles like to mope on this day. While that might sadly be me on other occasions, I have always enjoyed Valentine’s Day.  What’s not to love about a day full of chocolate, pink, flowers, and cards?  I love to use this time to show love for others: my family, my friends, and in particular, fellow single ladies.

Though I haven’t yet gotten into this season, I do hope to spend an extra few minutes loving others, and I hope you will to.  Have a great weekend!

Final Questions

Elizabeth asked, “Have you ever considered taking a risk (or more than one risk) or doing something risky? Or do you always play it safe?”

Ooh, you really know me, don’tcha?  Of course, you have the benefit of real life conversations like the one we had about dancing (nope, still haven’t had to go!).  Yeah, I do play it safe a lot.  But certainly not all the time.  I have made two moves without knowing anyone, except for one or two acquaintances (first to Oklahoma, then to North Carolina).  I force myself to do things that I don’t want to at first, like going to a party, trying a new food, or joining a book club.  I travel, and am willing to travel, and put myself in situations that aren’t ideal for greater causes.

Is there a certain risk you think I should take?  And don’t tell me it’s about boys… (those are the hardest kind!).

Jen asked, “How DO you (or anyone for that matter) go about making your life more interesting? How do you get out of a rut?

This is a funny question to follow the last one, doesn’t it?  Personally, I don’t really worry about making life more interesting…it seems pretty interesting in and of itself.  No matter how much I try to get into patterns and schedules and routines, life throws wrenches and everything changes.

As far as getting out of rut, I like to remind myself that each day is a new day.  Fresh, new.  Doesn’t matter if tomorrow was blah or tomorrow is certain to be the same, today is a gift of God and I’m going to seek to enjoy it and make the most of it.  Of course, this is the attitude I would like to have, not necessarily the one that I do have, especially since I’m not a morning person!  I hope you get out of your slump soon, Jen!

Liz asked, “When it comes to friendships, are you are more apt to have many close friends that you are very open with, or do you tend to only have a couple close friends who are your special confidantes?”

I do tend to have a few close friends, but that said, I do tend to be open very quickly and easily.  I think I’ve closed off more as I’ve grown up, though those might not necessarily be linked, as it seems like I meet less people than I did in my school days, thereby insuring I don’t have as many opportunities to make new friends.  I just told one of my good friends who my crush is–or really, let her guess–(it had been bugging her, because I knew some of her guy stuff, and she knew that I did have a crush), but it took me quite some time to open up about that.

I so wish I could share boy stuff with you, my lovely bloggy buddies, but I can’t be certain who will read this or what conclusions they might jump to!  I’ll stick to my promise though, and will share info if anything juicy ever happens (and believe me, it hasn’t).  Besides, I couldn’t have you all thinking I’m just as vapid boy-chaser, could I?

K-Lai asked, “What, in your opinion, makes up a great friendship?”

Selflessness, openness, honesty, and being grounded in the truth. 

“Is there a fine line between love and hate?”

Probably not true love and pure hate, but between like and dislike.  My house was once TPed, and I thought my ex might have done it, but when I asked him, he said something like, “I don’t like you, and I don’t hate you.  If I did either of those, maybe I would have done it.”

“If you had to write a personal statement for winning the Nobel Prize (you pick which category), what would it include?”

Ooh, could it please be in literature?  Pretty please?  I think that would be so cool! (You would think that the future winner of the Nobel Prize in literature could come up with a more descriptive sentence than that!)  I would hope to be witty and funny, but when it comes down to it, I hope to give a clear presentation of the gospel.

“Do you have a recipe for lasagna? If so, what is it?”

Umm, I really don’t like lasagna, so no recipes here.  The one time I ”made” it, for a church small group function, it was just the Stouffer’s frozen kind.  In fact, it’s an issue of much teasing in my family as lasagna points back to the days when my hormone levels were a bit more volatile.

What I Learned from My Father’s Love

Valentine’s Day is coming up next week, and I must tell you, it’s one of my favorite holidays.  That might sound strange coming from a single woman, as the stereotypical single woman loathes this day and fights with bitterness or jealousy, but I really do enjoy this holiday.

The reason why I enjoy Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with romance.  It has little to do with flowers, pink, red, hearts, or cards (though let’s face it, I love those things).  The reason I love Valentine’s Day is that it’s a reminder of love: the Father’s love for us, and our love for one another.

While Christmas and Easter are also great holidays for contemplating God’s love for us as demonstrated through His Son taking on human flesh and dying on the cross for our sins, Valentine’s Day has become another holiday for me to comtemplate these huge truths as well.

At this time of year I try to take it a step further, seeking to live out the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Because I know that Valentine’s Day can be a temptation to mope, moan, and mourn for single ladies, I try to brighten this day for the single women I know by letting them know that I love and care for them with a simple card, and more importantly, that God does too.  It’s really the least I can do for others, considering the great cost of the love God has shown towards me:

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in  that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8, NASU

This post is submitted as a part of What I Learned from Love at Middle Zone Musings.

I Love Books

My roommate just got back from a 10-day trip to the left coast. While she was there she picked me up a few things: 3 classics! This might not be that exciting for you, but she knows I love them and worked with the bookstore employee to pick out a few good ones I didn’t have. She got me:

Voltaire’s Candide (though it wasn’t on my list, I’ve wanted to read this since taking philosophy),

Honore de Balzac’s Old Goriot (which I’ve never heard of, but it came strongly recommended from the bookstore lady, along with The Idiot, and if anyone recommends Dostoevsky, they’re okay in my book!),

and Charlotte Bronte’s Villette (I’ve wanted to get back into reading the Bronte sisters).

Basically, she was showing me love by getting me this awesome present.

I’ve been helping out another friend by finding quotes for her to use in her classroom. I’ve been stuck on finding quotes from books, because I love them so much.

As exhibit C in my love for books, I was walking out of the library yesterday, book in hand, and realized I had no idea when I’d find time to read it. I love books, but sometimes my schedule doesn’t allow for reading as much as I would like.

Anyway, I’ll wrap up this purposeless gushing. If you love books as much as I do, feel free to check out the Book Nook Club. We’re always looking for new reviewers, and our monthly discussions are a lot of fun!

Silent Night

To me, this song encapsulates the awe and solemn wonder of the Christmas season. When I think of this song, I think of singing it by candlelight, considering the miracle that God became a man.
This weekend I was struck by the amazement of the incarnation and the love of God. As I considered the extent of my own sinfulness, I was struck again by the depth of God’s love. As amazing as it is to consider the “how” of the miraculous resurrection of Christ, studying the “why” is more profound.
Why was God willing to take the wretchedness of death upon Himself for the good of mankind? How deep is God’s love!
“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24-25b
12 days of Christmas, Day 6