White Bread and Mountain Dew: A Lesson on Joy

Uncategorized

Confession time. I work as a cashier at a grocery store, and up until now I’ve been too ashamed to admit it. Now, it’s a super classy, upscale, family-owned, has-a-Starbucks kind of grocery store, but a grocery store, nonetheless.

About a month back (after being home a month from teaching on Guam), I moved to a lovely lakeside, Christian college town, where I now reside with my brother who (long story short) needed a family member to live with off campus…and so I embarked on a new adventure. And it’s been a wonderful blessing. Quaint. Charming. Restful.

But in spite of these gifts from God, and even though I am truly thankful for employment, I have wrestled daily with fears and longings of the future and struggles of insecurity about my job and that “ultimate” question, “What am I doing with my life?!”

However, I am learning. Sometimes I learn truths about joy and beauty through poetry, or the deep thoughts of great men such as Lewis or St. Augustine. But lately, the truths that arrest me most harshly and gloriously are the ones like I have encountered as a “Didyoufindeverythingyouneeded?” cashier girl.

A cross-eyed, mentally handicapped customer has been one such truth about joy. He seems to come in the store a couple times a week, never buying more than $10 worth of food, namely white bread and Mountain Dew. He declares to me with a smile,
“You guys have a REALLY good deal on bread this week.
That’s a really good deal!
Umm, here’s my globe bag. This is my globe bag.
Umm…this is food stamps. Could you please circle how much I have left? I really appreciate it.
And on Saturday my food stamps come in, and I think I’m going to get some of you guys’ doughnuts!
Your name’s ‘Audrey,’ right?”

And my heart melts.

Now, I wish he would consume more than white bread and Mountain Dew, but this guy seems to live with more joy than most people I know who have a lot more than he does.

I always loved that scene from “Christy” when Miss Alice tells her, “Hold onto joy, for joy is a gift,” and she gives Christy a pretty leaf. I used to pick up leaves and think of that scene. But now when I think about holding onto joy, I think of white bread and Mountain Dew.

And in Jesus, we have found everything we needed.

Keep the faith,
Audrey Ann

We Kissed God Goodbye: Why We’re Mad at "Courtship" Books

Uncategorized

Once Upon a Time…
I kissed dating goodbye.
I entered a courtship with someone.
We were best friends.
We broke up.
We didn’t get married.

But wait…that’s not how it was supposed to end, right?

I, like many other Christians in my generation, filled my mind and heart from an early age with all manner of books about godly romance, Christian dating/courtship, and doing “it” God’s way. In many ways I am thankful for the influences of such literature, but lately I’ve been thinking about just how much I relied upon those books and how much I shaped my view of what my life should look like based on other peoples’ stories—people I’ve never even met.

With such a revelation, it’s easy to initially feel internally jarred, and then just furious at these people who allegedly messed up my life by defining it, and then when I followed what they said…I still ended up confused, manipulative, unhappy, and unmarried.

And apparently I’m not the only one.

Blogposts scoffing at books by the Ludys, Joshua Harris, and Elisabeth Elliot are all the rage. I even read one post in which a woman blamed said authors for the fact that she was nervous about being flirtatious in front of married men. Well, before I risk hopping off onto a rabbit trail, I must quickly add that we SHOULD be careful not to be flirtatious—particularly around married men. Seriously—we live in a crazy world where infidelity is spreading faster than stage four cancer. Yes, be on guard, people. Be. On. Guard.

But I, too, have been tempted to blame relational problems or complications based on notions and ideas about if I do THIS, then I’ll get THAT, just like [fill in author’s name] said.

Ah, but then a prodding came upon my heart. And I realized that it wasn’t someone else’s philosophy that had messed me up. It wasn’t someone else’s sermon, book, or conference that had left me lonely, confused, and bewildered. It was me.

It had always been about me. And that was and is the problem.

Instead of continually being on my face before the Lord, I was relying on someone else to be God for me. Instead of coming to a relationship with humility, I came with (supposedly) all the answers.

But I don’t mean to downplay all of what I’ve learned—Elliot, Harris, and the Ludys have been tremendous, tremendous blessings in my life. But they aren’t God.

Rehearsing the various love stories of the Bible, none of them look the same, and there is no pattern nor formula neatly laid out for me in five easy steps of how to find God’s will for me with regard to marriage.

God brought Eve to Adam. Moses met Zipporah in the middle of the dessert, while trying to escape a death sentence. Isaac and Rebekah were arranged by another man. Ruth asked Boaz (in the middle of the night, I might add).  Hosea married a hooker. Joseph remained betrothed to a pregnant girl, because an angel told him to in a dream. Paul didn’t get married.

Where are my instructions on exactly how to be in a relationship with someone while pursuing marriage? Well, other than to be pure and marry someone who is a follower of Christ…there aren’t many.

It’s the whole Bible we must examine—the wisdom God points out, and the continual recognition that our very lives are entirely to be about HIS glory, HIS mission, HIS delight.

My life isn’t about getting married—it’s about glorifying God…forever.

And I think that’s what Elliot, Harris, and the Ludys were trying to tell me all along.

I am so sorry that I’ve made the hope of marriage about me and not about Jesus. I am so sorry that I’ve manipulated and tried to control.

And now, as I am again blessed with a man who is pursuing me (all the way from the island of Guam), may I stay humble first for the Lord’s service, for He is forever my Beloved. It’s only with His love that I can love well, too.

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann

Photo Credit: Marvelous Things Photography by Tori Watson

A Princess and Pornography–How God used "Snow White and the Huntsman" to heal my heart

Uncategorized

I’m not a big “moviegoer.” And I don’t typicality feel slighted if I’ve missed all the latest flicks. Honestly, a lot of them are poop with a side of more poop. However, God used a Hollywood production to speak His love, affirmation, and encouragement over me. It wasn’t a bestseller—but I’ll never forget it. And as weird as it sounds, I’m so very, very thankful for it.

The version of Snow White I grew up with was this short, naïve, fat-faced girl who danced around with little old men. It wasn’t my favorite. But this story was different—and it flowed deep into the cracks of fresh wounds needing healing.

The first time I went to see it was with my boyfriend, and I was sick with the fact that the queen was nearly nude in one scene. I almost walked out to “use the bathroom.” But I’m glad I stayed to watch it, because the power of it was that the queen was the embodiment of everything I was hurting about—she was the porn queen—tall, blonde, voluptuous, sensual, cool, you name it, she was it. And she was deadly. Literally.

After she murders the king, her new husband, while allegedly making “love” to him, she tosses Snow White to the tower, and the kingdom withers under her rule. The queen eats raw hearts out of birds and praises herself for giving the people of the kingdom the remains of the milk in which she bathed.

Although I’m pretty sure my hands were clenched just watching her and her antics, and I could have grabbed the chick by her slender, pretty neck, my eyes widened a bit, and my heart softened, when I learned of her story. I learned of how men abused her and that she suffered under a spell where her power came from her beauty—therefore she was its slave, beauty was her master, and what a miserable captive she was.

As long as she had beauty, she had power. As long as she was youthful, she mattered. But she, like every other woman throughout history, possessed skin that leathered and sagged with age, hair that lost its luster, and bones that no longer moved gracefully. So she would send for young women, and literally suck the life, youth, and beauty out of them.

But there was one in the land whose beauty was eternal. There was one whose beauty was defined not by merely the pretty lines of her figure and face, but the purity of her heart.
 

And it was her heart that the queen wanted. Literally, again. She wanted to eat it. (Gross, I know, but stay with me, because the imagery is beautiful.)

Snow White was summoned to the queen from the tower, but escaped into the forest, where she met the huntsman and the dwarfs.

The huntsman wondered why she was so wanted, and the dwarfs would have killed her if they hadn’t known: she was wanted for two reason, her heart, and for who her father was—she was the daughter of the king, and she had a pure heart.

Soft-spoken, innocent, and yet gutsy, I appreciated the portrayal of Snow White’s purity not as mousy, and yet not as overly sensual or “sexy” in the terms of the world.

Tricked by the disguised queen, Snow White bights the deadly apple, and waits for the kiss of her love to awaken her. And awaken she did. With raised voice, she calls her people to overcome the terror of the queen, and as she storms the castle, the sweet men of her life attempt to shield her from the queen’s touch, but this is a battle she must fight on her own. Usually chain mail looks pretty stupid on a woman, but somehow it works for Snow White.

After some thrashing about, she calmly declares to the queen, “You can’t have my heart,” and thrusts the knife into the queen’s heart. And for just a second, I almost feel sorry for the queen. My body, tightly tensed, began to relax.

And I wept.

I am Snow White. And so are many women trying to serve as women of God.

And in this wildly imposter “satan-sex” world we live in, I have been tempted to do two things:

1. Hate. Hate the women in porn videos and photos. Let bitterness run through my veins, instead of prayer and forgiveness as God forgave me—and a love for women who are so lost and hurting, and could be forced into such a life.
2. Give up my heart. See myself as a sex object. Labor to achieve a perfect body. Wear tight, revealing clothes. Move my body the way they say. Turn to colorful magazines. Sacrifice my body to the god of this world.

But to Satan, the CEO of the porn industry, I say this: you can’t have my heart.

And I mean it.

May Christ be the beauty of my youth, the power of my life, and the Purifier of my heart.

Keep the faith,
Audrey Ann

Photo Credit:  Google (free) Images/ publicdomain-books.blogspot.com