Tuesday, October 25, 2011

all the single ladies …

this past weekend, I had the pleasure of spending time with a woman that I won’t hesitate to call, one of my faves.  her coordinates on the map are exactly too many miles south of my location {the city of angels, to be specific}; but I’m lucky enough to get a call when she temporarily relocates to the northern region I like to call home.

as is usually a part of our conversation, we talked for a while about single-hood, a state of life in which she is currently situated.  not necessarily to her liking, but she is there nonetheless.

our conversation about the over abundance of fabulous women caught in the world of single-hood got me thinking.  why are there so many women moving their way through life without a suitor?  even my husband doesn’t get it.

are guys dumb?  blind?  insane? why aren’t these fabulous women getting snatched up by a great, well-rounded, God-loving, adventurous gentleman?  are there any more out there?

we often try to analyze the situation at hand, by diagnosing the problem that seems to breed amongst young adults on the west coast {I specify the west coast, because that’s all I know … and my mid-western husband claims these problems are not so common in the center of the states, where chivalry still exists}; the problem of “non-dating dating”.  {yes, I gave it my own name}.  people date in groups.  they meet in groups.  they get to know each other in groups.  and they date in groups.  {not that alone-time is a requirement for dating at all.  courting is still a thriving option, and a smart one at that – if you ask me}.

however, when all is done in “groups”, one nearly discards the responsibility of pursuit.  initiating an introduction … and subsequent conversations thereafter.  why is that?  why has the good old fashioned “boy meets girl, boy pursues girl, boy falls in love with said-totally-fabulous-girl, and they live happily ever after” story seem so rare?  it’s more like, “boy and girl meet in a crowd and then see each other occasionally when the crowd gets together until someone says ‘hey, you should like him/her’ and then they mutually decide that they like each other enough to try it out”.

I was pursued.  for 5 months, we were just friends.  friends that hung out all the time, but still; just friends.  no hand holding, no cuddling; nothing.  he kept calling and he kept coming around.  until I knew him.  until I knew who he was as a man, as a friend, and as a companion.  through 5 months of pursuing me through friendship, he showed me that my heart was safe in his hands.  and then, he asked me to be his girlfriend.  after he asked my dad, of course.

call me old fashioned.  it’s how I think it should be.

the only consolation I could give my dear friend, amidst my lack of understanding of her current state of life {although I know what it’s like to be single … I may have played hard-to-get, but I was the only girl of all my friends to never {repeat: NEVER} get invited to a fraternity formal – or any other boy-asks-girl-type event – the entire duration of my college career.  I may have pretended I didn’t care.  and I really may not have cared … most of the time}, was that this is an incredible opportunity for you to grow in Christ and into the kind of wife you want to become.  it’s cliché, I know.  but a cliché only becomes a cliché because it’s rooted in truth.  right?

the deeper your heart is in the word, the greater you will know Christ.  by knowing Christ, you will learn more about yourself … who you are, who you want to be through Him, and how to get there.  use the advantage you have of time.  time to learn about the kind of wife God wants you to be for your husband.  time to rid yourself of those habits/reactions/not-so-uplifting-traits that seem “ok” while on your own, but might hurt your future roomie down the road.  because he’s going to be more than a roomie.  it’s more than a never ending sleep over.  it’s marriage.  the biggest and most serious commitment you will ever make in your life.  it’s never too early to start preparing yourself.  your husband will thank you for it. 

it may seem far off and not in the plans for you.  but you don’t know that yet.  so don’t be afraid of ending up alone or worried that you aren’t going to fall in love … because you are too rad to waste time worrying.

use your time to prepare yourself.  don’t you hope God is doing the same work in him; for you? 

my friend asked me what I wish I had “worked” on or learned about myself before getting married.  my answer: my fear of looking foolish.  when someone critiques something I did/am doing {or insert a million other possible situations here}, I get defensive.  I make excuses.  I justify every action.  it’s not becoming.  it’s not good.  {hence my reading and re-reading of psalms}  my reaction usually ends up hurting my husband.  the man that continually reminds me “I’m on your side.  always.”  I hate that I need that reminding.

had I been reading and fervently preparing myself for wife-hood earlier in life, with my future husband in mind, maybe I’d be at least a few steps closer to being the kind of wife God has called me to be.  {and missing all those fraternity formals wouldn’t have been such a {secret} bummer.}

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

and he can sing ...

those who knew him before his "california" days {he's entered into his 8th year as a californian now ... i so have him beat with 6 whole generations of californian flowing through these veins, but that's besides the point}, well, they knew he could sing.  they probably saw him leading a choir or standing beside the vocal chords of both his dad and his brother {i have pictures to prove that those Benson Boys can sing with the best of them ... and i realize pictures don't really prove vocal ability like audio documentation would, but that's all i have, so bear with me}.  but upon erik's crossing of the californian border, he just about put his singing days on hold.  why you ask?  you've got me!

he would talk about his days of singing, but would lower the decibels of his voice just enough, the second he noticed my ears perked up to hear him {after i belted, quite loudly mind you, a few bars of the song leaking through the speakers}.  even when he started learning how to play the guitar, just after we got married, he would sing so softly, one wouldn't even know the strumming of the guitar was being accompanied by words.  i called him out a time or two ... and wouldn't you know, the wife has some weight.  slowly, as he became more confident with the instrument at hand, the volume increased.  soon enough, he would belt out a few bars to frank sinatra in the car ... just enough to make me swoon.  that man has got a voice.

but his musical goal wasn't just to sing.  it was to learn the guitar and to lead others in worship.  he's been strumming the guitar regularly for over 2 years now ... and i've grown joyfully accustomed to hearing his music throughout the house daily.  but the next step, to improvement, to confidence, to the goal ... was to play in front of people {the wife does not qualify as "people" in this situation"}.  he was encouraged by good friends and fellow worship leaders and by the nudging of his biased loving wife.

finally, he said ok.  he took a step.  a leap, rather.  knowing only a few songs in their entirety and never having played with others, he said he would strum in front of our small group.  it's intimate and comfortable.  a perfect setting for the first-timer.  {the fact that the usual worship leader said he wouldn't come if erik didn't play might have helped nudge him into playing ... just maybe}.  the room was dimmed and the acoustic sound of the solo guitar was beautiful.  he sang and he played, and he inspired the group.  everyone sang so strong and intently that erik's nervousness was almost undetected.  there is no doubt, the Lord was in that room.  the inspiring factor in all of this, was that he felt called to do something ... to take a step out of his comfort zone {which if you know erik, you know that there aren't many zones in which he is uncomfortable}.  multiple people thanked him for his willingness to bless them with his step of faith.  they were challenged to the point of sharing how they were feeling called to step our of their comfy cozy zones of life.  and they said they would do it.  i can't wait to hear how the Lord moves in their lives this week!

one of his favorites to play right now is this piece by Tim Hughes: At Your Name

At Your name, mountains shake and crumble
At Your name, the oceans roll and tumble
At Your name, angels will bow
The earth will rejoice, Your people cry out

Lord of all the earth we'll shout Your name, shout Your name
Filling up the skies with endless praise, endless praise
YAHWEH, YAHWEH, We love to shout Your name, O Lord
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/t/tim_hughes/at_your_name.html ]
At Your name, the morning breaks in glory
At Your name, creation sings Your story
At Your name, angels will bow
The earth will rejoice, Your people cry out

Lord of all the earth we'll shout Your name, shout Your name
Filling up the skies with endless praise, endless praise
YAHWEH! YAHWEH! We love to shout Your name, O Lord

We love to shout Your name, O Lord

At Your name, angels will bow
The earth will rejoice, Your people cry out

Forever I will love You
Always I will love You
Forever I will love You
You have won my heart

I will sing for You

Friday, October 7, 2011

and they ate Mexican food

last weekend, Erik and I had the distinct pleasure of hosting the lovely Esh family at our oh, so humble abode.  promptly after the South Dakotans flew into Sacramento International Airport {SMF} late Friday evening, the laughter commenced.  it then continued until approximately 12:00 noon on Monday, when they returned to good ol’ SMF; at which point in time, they flew away from us {most likely to their relief, but to our dismay}

Now, in this instance, my usage of the word “laughter” is not simply an expression of happiness; although that was the expression that consumed most of our time together.  But more so, I am using the term to reflect the overall enjoyment experienced upon our time with the Esh’s.  For instance, the unexpected quips of sarcasm, the ever-present wit {mostly displayed by the two persons from the Benson/Yeadon line}, the memories remembered, the stories divulged, and the passions shared.  It was refreshing; and it was lovely.

watching the likes of their very own miniature running around was a blast.  I mean, I’m pretty sure you could substitute “little adventurer” for “Shalom” any day and she’d come a’ runnin.  can you say “love”?  I’ll say it for you “l-o-v-e”; as in, “I love that little red-head i get to call a niece!”

and then there was the mexican food.  I know there are a few taquerias in the southern of the two dakota’s, but I couldn’t help myself.  I probably tired them out of refried beans, cheese, and tortillas for the next month.  {sidenote: much to my husband’s dismay enjoyment, I could/would NEVER tire of the three essential ingredients to all things mexican}  and I can’t help that it’s my go-to entertainment food.  it’s just that good {and yes, my husband even suggested it, so they can’t blame me entirely}.  I gladly welcomed the Esh’s to california with not only breakfast burritos, but homemade carnitas {en los tacos}, and huevos rancheros {ranch style eggs}.  all topped with, beans, pico de gallo {sans cilantro – I forgot to grab the greens from the store}; sour cream, queso, salsa, tapatio, and so on.  it didn’t take long before they noticed that most of the mexican food I make is simply the same ingredients in a different form.  oh, but so good.

we even stuffed them full of apples.  {not in any form of mexican food, mind you}  but apples a la Apple Hill.  the place of my fall-loving youth.  and I think they liked it!  we saw apple orchards, embraced the pony ride {for sweet Shalom of course}, and indulged in the goodness of all foods containing apple as the primary ingredient.   between the 4 1/2 of us {Shalom may only be 1.5 yrs old, but her appetite could easily be considered that of at least half an adult … at least}; we consumed in one sitting: 2 pieces of classic apple pie, 1 piece of sour cream apple pie, 1 apple struedel, 1 apple cinnamon sundae, 1 caramel apple, and approximately half a gallon of apple cider.  that’s not including the apple pie we purchased for the next night’s dessert.  we’re beginning to channel johnny appleseed; aren’t we?  well, I’m not afraid to speak for the rest of the group when I say, it was all very, very good.

and since this post is already bordering short novel status, I’ll sum the rest of the weekend up with a few pics: {and reinforcement of the fact that we loved spending some quality time with Esh’s before they move to Africa.  our conversation was certainly blessed and filled with the Lord’s presence.  needless to say, it was truly wonderful}


Apple Pie Deliciousness


I knew I would be so mad at myself if I didn’t get a picture of the brother and sister together … and since I forgot to do it at one of the pretty places we visited together, starbucks served as our backdrop.

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Surprisingly, Porter was calm, all weekend.  I think Shalom has some sort of magical tough.  He was even afraid of her at first … which I consider a good thing.

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I’m very impressed that a one and a half year old can swing by herself.  is that surprising to anyone else; or is it just me? 

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thank you for coming all the way to california to visit us!  our time together was truly special and we are so grateful for the memories that we created!  we will continually be praying for your ministries in africa and can’t wait to hear how the Lord uses you to share His Gospel.