Sunday, June 17, 2012

Halfway Through the June Friendship Challenge.

Okay, okay.

So I promised you updates. This was back when I had high hopes for my own victory in this challenge.

As many things in this life, it hasn't worked out as I initially planned. It started off innocently enough, a challenge to myself and others to put themselves out of their comfort zone and make one gesture of friendship each day during the month of June. It's the 17th, and I thought I would be swimming in friendship at this point.

"Swimming in friendship"? Wow. Beyond lame. THAT would be why I don't have many friends, my stupid phrasing is probably something I aught to work on. Anyway.....

So here is the 17th, and I realize that I haven't updated once since the 1st of June. It wasn't unintentional, I wasn't like, caught up in the busyness that my thrilling life provides. I just didn't want to share how miserably I had failed at my own challenge. Every time I tried to start a conversation with a new person, I got a bug-eyed look. I frequently felt left out of conversations at work, despite my best attempts to involve myself. It all came to a head when I went to my small group last week, but ended up having to bring the baby. Fabulous. Because that's what all the college kids want to listen to, is my 5 month old with Colic screaming her head off while we discuss the book. It was impossible for me to hold a conversation with anyone, much less make a feeble attempt at forging a relationship of meaning. I left that night feeling very defeated, and depressed. Like I would be alone at church *dramatic pause*......FOREVER.

I won't lie, I went home and cried like a baby. Which is so out of the norm for me, that I didn't even tell my husband. I just went to bed, and threw myself a little pity-party of one because my kid cried in small group and I felt like it was MY turn, damn it. I was tired of feeling like I had no one to connect with. Tired of feeling like I was never going to make any friends offline. Tired of feeling like a failure. 

But where I failed multiple times, God had victories that I didn't notice until last night. In the midst of my craptacular week, my neighbor struck up a conversation with me as I was on my way home from my workout. That led to us hanging out for two hours in front of our apartments. Somewhere between a few smokes on the balcony, and a conversation about Dave Ramsey, she confessed to struggling with some marital issues and I managed to sneak in my testimony about submission in marriage. It was a good conversation, and I feel like she took something away from it. I saw her this morning as I left for work, and she seemed actually excited to see me again.  Even better, I went home that night and had a wonderful conversation with my husband about witnessing to her that left us feeling more connected than we had been in a couple of months.

It's strange to me how God can use the plans that we've fouled up miserably, and turn them around for His glory. Funny how He can turn around 16 days of failure or defeat, and give you one more day filled with confidence and renewed strength.

It feels good to worship a God capable of giving me those things.

Maybe the next 13 days will be worth updating on after all.

The Uncouth Christian

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Whiny post of the week.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them.

 I feel a lot of pity right now. For myself.

It's ridiculous the sad faces of martyrdom I'm making right now. You would probably laugh if you saw me. Miss dramatic, right here. But honestly? Motherhood is kind of a lonely place sometimes.

I used to have a large circle of friends prior to marriage. A large circle of male friends I might add. While I'm still on good terms with all of them, it's not really appropriate for me to spend alone time with them anymore. Which is fine really, I am more than happy to change the way I interact with my guy friends if that means making sure my husband is secure in our marriage and that I don't fall prey to inappropriate behavior. I'm glad i've made that choice...

....On the other hand, that leaves me kind of lonely. *Insert martyr face here*

 Well who am I kidding, I'm pretty much starved for adult interaction. I know I am not alone in this.

I spend most of my day talking to my very young children, which leaves me feeling a little unstimulated intellectually. My jobs (unfortunately I have several) revolve around me talking to teenagers, or developmentally disabled adults who are completely nonverbal. Again, I feel blessed that I have the income when we so desperately need it, and I appreciate having a chance to help others through my job.

However, fellowship is important. Finding others who you can share your life's victories and struggles with makes your days invigorating and exciting. Having the support of others makes your burden a little lighter, and we can in turn help lighten the burden of a friend as well. Even better, befriending someone who is a follower of Christ can help you mature on your walk. As the verse above says, two is better than one (or three, or four, or a dozen!)

I struggle with making friends, as I am still slowly making my way into the woman that God wants me to be. However, my tomboy tendencies make speaking to other women very difficult. I would much rather watch a couple of brutes beat each other up in the Octagon, than talk about gardening or whatever. I am learning though, that so long as I find other women of faith I will always at least have ONE thing to talk about with them, even if we have nothing else in common!

So I am instituting a challenge for myself, and readers can join in if they feel compelled. It's a June Friendship challenge. For the month of June I will make a concerted effort to reach out to other women every day. Be it the lady I see at the park with her kids, or chatting with a younger co-worker about her summer plans or even (shyly) asking an older woman in my church if I can meet her for coffee and pick her brain for a bit. There are no rules here, except that you have to find at least ONE person every day to intentionally invest friendship into.

Be kind, be a good listener, be bold and be a light to others. Who knows, perhaps you will meet someone who could use a friend too!

Good luck, and I will update as the month wears on.


The Uncouth Christian

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Things that are weird: Being nice to people.

  I attend a ministry at my church that serves young adults around the college-age. Over the summer our numbers dwindle a bit due to all the people going home from school, so our college pastor leads a small group at his house over the summer. This summer we are reading the book WEIRD: Because Normal Isn't Working by Craig Groeschel. This book takes a look at what makes Christians different from the rest of the world, if anything and celebrates the idea of weirdness versus mediocrity and what is popular. 

  One of the things i've been doing as I have started reading this book is taking notes on things I see in my own life. I find it interesting how many ideas and behaviors are considered strange by our secular society, or outside of the norm simply because they are biblical in nature. It's encouraging me to stop striving to be considered normal and start acting a little weird myself. 

  One of the things that i've found a little weird today in our society is being nice, and expecting the best out of others instead of the worst. 

  Being a waitress, you don't expect to receive much kindness throughout the course of your day. In fact, I have come to the point in my job where I walk in to Pizza Hut at 10 am, expecting to walk out thoroughly defeated at 4pm. I expect the snide comments, demands to speak with management, threats on my well-being (not kidding) and worst of all, the "nice" people.

  Yes, the "nice" people are the worst part of my day. Not nice, but "nice". Let me explain...

  There is a sector of customers who use passive-aggressive tactics to make waitstaff feel like crap. These are the folks who use patronizing, sarcastic tones with a waitress while using words like "please" or "thank you" or worst yet, call you "hon". Their words (usually over-exaggerated and pronounced as if they are speaking to a toddler) are kind, but as you glance into the faces of these customers you know they are really thinking " you are a complete moron of a waitress, but I am socially obligated to use a pet name for you so I don't appear totally rude."

  Yeah, it sucks. It totally changes your mindset on customer service, to the point where nice people, make you very nervous. I never, ever take anyone at face value anymore. I am constantly wondering about their motives or intent, even if they seem perfectly lovely. 

  For instance, today I was waiting on a young woman and her young son. I had her pegged instantly as a "nice" person. She smiled too widely, said "thank you" too many times and even asked her son to stop playing table hockey with his ice on the table, because "I don't want you making a mess for the waitress".

  "Oh crap" I thought, "she's being nice". Instantly my brain went into defense mode.

  I braced myself for the inevitable change in tone, a rolled eye, sarcastic remark....something. People aren't just friendly to strangers for no reason you know. As I went to place her order, I almost backed away from the table as if I were being held hostage: slowly and without taking my eyes off the "nice" person. She probably thought I was insane, but really I was just protecting myself from the fallout that was soon to come.

  Then it happened, about ten feet from her table as I nearly reached the service station I heard a saccharin-sweet voice ring out from the "nice" woman's table; "hey hon? Could you come here for a minute?"

  I sighed to myself, and gulped. Here it was, she was about to humiliate me because her tea had too much ice, or because she didn't like the store lighting, or some other ridiculous crap that had offended her. I made my way quickly back to the table, and prepared mentally for the worst. Only to hear the following statement:

  "Have you been waitressing a long time? You do a wonderful job. We only come here to eat when we see your car in the employee parking, because we enjoy your service so much."

  I froze, totally perplexed.

  She could not be serious.

  I honestly didn't know what to say, so I didn't say much of anything other than a mumbled "thank you" as I scurried back to my station. I caught a glimpse of her face as I walked away, she was still smiling sweetly, at me.

  My brain was wracked with confusion, and expletives. Lots of expletives. I whispered frantically to another waitress, "table C3 said I'm a good server."

  Puzzled, my coworker raised her eyebrows at me and said, "you must have REALLY pissed this one off. If you don't get a tip from her, you can share A5's with me."

  Even my coworker knew that this woman must be sarcastic, and probably plotting to shank me in the parking lot after work. I tried to keep my distance from that side of the room, totally under-serving half of my customers in the process. Finally, the "nice" woman and her son made their way to the cash register to pay, and then began walking out the door. The woman turned her head to smile at me again, and even waved. 

  Not only did she leave me a 30% tip, but she wasn't waiting in the parking lot for me with a shiv. She also didn't call the manager later to complain about me. She just came to my store, was kind to me, then left. 


  I feel like this situation says a lot more about me than it does her. For starters, when did I begin assuming that everyone was out to get me? Who am I to have it set in my mind that she was a hateful person? 

  I shook the event off until I got home that evening and received my email Bible study for the day. 

Matthew 13: 14-15 

Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

  I have hardened my heart towards other people in a method of self defense. 

  It's quite common actually. Most of us do this when we've been hurt one too many times. But Jesus warns us here that having hardened hearts leads us to a lack of understanding. It makes us cold and unresponsive. 

  But how scary is it to walk around with your heart on your sleeve, exposed to pain and damage? I read again: 

  "...lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them."

He heals us. 

  No matter how many times people have been cruel to us, no matter what heartache we have experienced, we have been promised healing. Which makes hardening of our hearts a very blasphemous type of sin, because we are effectively telling God that he isn't capable of healing our hearts when others hurt us. So we close ourselves up, and put chain link fences up around our souls. We keep others at an arms length and pre-determine their intentions, and in the process do the same thing to Him. 

  I mentioned before how common this is, but the longer I think on this the further reaching I believe it's effects are. 

If a girl in Junior High is kind to others without discretion, she is labeled "fake" by her peers.
If a man in college is soft spoken and loving, his masculinity and orientation are questioned.
If a woman gives a compliment to a man who is not her husband, gossip flies about that she is an adulterer. 
Etc. Etc. Etc. Being nice isn't normal, being cold and keeping others at a distance is normal. 

Being nice is weird. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Good Freaking Morning, Kids.

I ate Doritos and a glass of Lemonade for breakfast this morning. 

It was a sight to behold too. I'm sitting here right now, noshing on this junk food before work. Stewing and pouting like a four year old. This week has been insane. BOTH of our cars are broken down, and we cannot afford to fix them at the moment. Why? Because we are behind on everything else. Not to mention we very nearly made a trip to the ER yesterday due to my son shoving a tiny Matchbox tire up his nose. Not just, a little bit up his nose, but WAY up there. That baby was practically invading his frontal lobes by the time he informed us of his predicament. 

Now i'm looking to send our kids to my parents house for a few days so Mr. Uncouth and I can put in some overtime next weekend. I really hate shipping our kids off to the grandparents, but it has to be done so we can catch up. So we can breathe. 

Days like these I find myself turning to Doritos, or whining, or a smoke on our balcony. But it seems pretty obvious what i'm missing, right? 

John 16:33
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have trials: but be of good cheer; for I have overcome the world."
HE has overcome the world. 
My cars won't start and my kids are acting like lunatics and I don't have enough money......But HE has overcome the world. 
I may be angry and petulant right now,
but I am loved
I am blessed
I am saved.  Because HE overcame the world. 
Maybe it's not a good freaking morning, but just a good morning. Because He overcame all the days before it. 
Praise God for a savior.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Idolatry of an Unconventional Type

So i'm a part of a mailing list for Christian women, that's associated with the magazine Above Rubies. The group is comprised of fairly conservative women, which is fine because I tend to fall more in that category myself. I get a lot of emails on this group from ladies asking for advice, or sharing homemaking tips...sometimes it's just women sharing their lives together. All-in-all it's a pretty nice thing to be a part of, but one email kind of set me back a little today, and not in a good way. 

I want to hesitate to give too much information, because I don't want to inadvertently identify her to someone else. I certainly didn't want to call her out or bust her chops over the subject, but it did get me thinking about some of the more unusual things that Christian women seem to have as idols. 

Anywhoodles, the gist of the email was this. A member of this group was concerned about a family member of hers and felt like she needed to reach out to her regarding an issue of potential sin. In an attempt to reach this family member, she tried to hand her a copy of "Above Rubies" magazine thinking it would set her straight. Her family member rejected the offer, and the member in question was angry about the rejection of this gift. She in fact expressed that she felt her sister was rejecting God by rejecting the offer of this magazine. 

Anybody see where I am going with this? No? Well, I read emails like that and it leads me to a conclusion about the culture of Christian women today: we idolize other forms of Christian information over the Bible. 

I know, I know. Sounds a little weird. But it's true! Think about it this way, the member didn't offer her family member a Bible with highlighted verses in an attempt to witness to her....she handed her a magazine. A good magazine by all accounts, but still....a magazine? How is the rejection of a magazine a rejection of God? I suppose it is an easy conclusion to come to if you believe that a magazine is the word of God. But we all know that isn't true.

There are countless materials on the internet for women who are trying to live Biblical lives. Things like Vision Forum, Above Rubies, Roo Mag, Women of Faith....these are all great resources with Biblical content in them that women can surely count on for wonderful faith-promoting ideas and thoughts. 

But they aren't the Bible, and nothing BUT the Bible will ever be the word of God. A magazine with a few lines of scripture in it is not the same as holding that blessed book in your hand and asking the Lord to help you understand the pages within. 

 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 
2 Timothy 3:16-17

Want to teach someone about Jesus? Give them a Bible. Want to help them correct their sin? Show them where God discusses it in the Bible. Want to uplift your own day and prepare your own heart for correct? READ THE BIBLE.

I am just as guilty as anyone regarding this subject. I can think of a million times where I spent a half an hour on Women Living Well (an awesome website by the way) just gobbling up lots of uplifting writing...but then my own Bible sat on the shelf all day. It's a terrible habit that i'm trying to work through myself.

Anyway, it just got me thinking. Perhaps we Christian women need to break the habit of giving SO MUCH focus to these websites and magazines and books and instead spend the bulk of our time in the WORD.


The Uncouth Christian.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I've moved from Wordpress to Blogspot. I decided a while back that I needed a change, and after a year of working on my language and attitude I finally made the switch. So I apologize, but all my old followers are no longer on my blogroll. I sent everyone on the mailing list a copy of my new address, and as of next week The Uncouth Christian on Wordpress will be deleted.  This will be my permanent home, and hopefully everyone will be able to find me again.

I'm hoping that from now on my blog will be a little less "uncouth" and a little more "Christian", but He's still working on me so stick around for the progress.

Also, many requests for patience as I put together a new layout. I still haven't determined what I want yet, so a premade is what's left.

 The Uncouth Christian.