Tag Archives: relationships

Long-distance relationships

I had a bad experience with a friend in high school. We were close. We were really close. Then, I got hurt by this friend and I cried, and my blood boiled and I stopped talking to them. Then, I started talking ABOUT them. Finally, I couldn’t bear to hear their name mentioned. This friend has since reached out to me, and I’ve ignored those attempts. I rationalize it, because, I don’t want to be hurt again.

When people are close, and in one accord, they turn their toes toward each other, closing that gap. Those in agreement incline their heads toward one another and, when in an intimate conversation, hunch their shoulders in the others’ direction. These are immediacy cues.

Have you ever noticed that when people fight, they often turn their backs on one another and create a larger gap of space between them. The greatest distance between two people is the space created by lack of Grace.

I make close relationships long-distance relationships when I fail to extend that Grace. I damage intimacy with friends and family when I begin to avoid them in order to (as I justify it) “keep the peace.” When I make biting remarks behind their backs, I lengthen the distance. When I turn up my nose at the thought of spending time with them, I expand the gap.

for he said, “The Lord watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight. – Genesis 31:49


Putting too much distance between ourselves and others can make us lose sight of why God created us to be relational beings in the first place. I am convicted about the way I’ve shut down my friend’s attempts to reconcile. I’ve chosen NOT to forgive, not to repair and now, I’m choosing NOT to be in harmony.

Long-distance relationships rarely work out. It starts looking greener in pastures closer to home. It begins to be easier to live without that person in our lives. We start to sink them lower and lower on the priority list, or kick them off altogether.

We’re called to walk with one another and with God. Are you in an emotional long-distance relationship with others? Have you put distance between yourself and God?


She will have music

In her giggles, there is music. It sounds like tinkling crystal bells. There are deeper tones in the hearty laughter and in the hiccups that follow (and they always follow), a clear punctuation, like a triangle being struck.

It reminds me of the nursery rhyme:

Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She will have music wherever she goes.

While I cherish our quiet moments, it seems my life with Mia has been a life lived with music. Her birth was the prelude. Back before that, I watched her tiny feet move ripples across my abdomen whenever music played. She seemed to particularly enjoy the worship at Temple Beth Yeshuran we attended to celebrate my father-in-law’s building project completion for their congregation.

I sang her lullabies in those hazy, frustrating, maddening first days. I sang out of desperation, and half-out-of-my-mind with anxious concern. Why won’t she sleep? Why is she crying? When was the last time I showered? Was that spit up or toothpaste on my shirt?

She would doze in my arms while I repeated the strains of “Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral,” thinking of the lush, green Irish countryside to calm my early mommy nerves. She slept as long as I hummed the tune of “Songbird.” She slept. Even her cries, that racked her when I lay her down, had a familiar tonal pattern that sounded like song.

Moreover, we usually went to sleep singing. Hymns, worship songs, Disney tunes, “Lullaby” by the Dixie Chicks. I sang. Then, she started to sing. She was 2 years and 9 months when her sister arrived on the scene. She stood at the glass, watching them clean the mewling thing and started intoning, “A dream is a wish your heart makes.”

Serve the Lord with gladness, come before his presence with singing. Know that the Lord, he is God. It is he who has made us, and we are his. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Psalm 100:2-4


My Mia is music. She has it embedded into her body and imprinted on her soul. She is the sheet on which God has composed a masterpiece and returns the gift of that creation when she sings, cries and laughs. She’s also attuned to hearing and recognizing songs.

We will be out, in a shopping area, and she’ll freeze. “Listen, it’s the song from X movie!” or “We sing this song at school!” or “I sing this at church!” She hears music where I hear white noise.

She’s the song that made me a mother. Her movements are sound and melody. Our relationship, at times, a tenuous harmony, but we keep moving through the piece together.

Are you creating music or noise in your relationships? What metaphors do you have to describe your children?

The Weight of Expectation

In my quest to look cooler by virtue of association, I’m bringing you a guest post from the coolest kid I know: Tony Alicea. When I was bummed because I felt like I was talking to myself over here at MessiahMom, Tony encouraged me. That’s Tony, an encourager. He’s got a great site, Expect the Exceptional. I want you to visit, www.tonyjalicea.com and would love for you to encourage the heck out of him here in the comments. If you don’t have time to devour his online body of work, read his testimony, here and follow him on Twitter, here.

One of my favorite movies of all time is 500 Days of Summer. It’s the story of a boy who meets a girl who he thinks is the woman of his dreams. The film documents the 500 days of their relationship in a unique style, by skipping backwards and forward through the days. Many people I’ve asked say that they don’t like the movie because you do not get the ending you expect between the two main characters. However, you are warned by the narrator at the very beginning of the movie when he says, “This is not a love story.”

One of the most poignant scenes is one where after they had been broken up for awhile, he reaches out to her and she invites him to a party at her house. The film goes into a split-scene as the events unfold. One one side we see the expectation in his mind of how the night would play out. On the other side we see the reality of the situation. It’s pretty heart wrenching. Call me a glutton for punishment, but I think I love it so much because I can completely relate to what he is feeling.

It helped me realize how we create a huge burden when we set expectations in relationships. Many times we do it unwillingly and in the process, never communicate those expectations to the other person. When they do not live up to our expectation, we are left with one of the most damaging emotions in a relationship:disappointment.

This has happened to me countless times, not just in romantic relationships, but also in my relationship with the Lord. I think to myself, “God, you say you are good so I’m expecting you to work out this situation in my life in this way.” When that doesn’t happen, I become disappointed and even disillusioned with the goodness of God.

Expectation is like giving someone a backpack of bricks that they never asked to carry. Expectations are almost always selfish and self-seeking. There is no hope in expectations. Expectations are demands.

“we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” Romans 5:3-5


Hope does not put us to shame. Another translation says hope does not disappoint. This is a completely different mindset, which I call “Expectancy”. Expectancy doesn’t expect perfection or that everything will work out exactly as planned. Expectancy is a hopeful optimism. Expectancy is trust. Expectancy is faith.

A friend of mine came up with this acrostic for hope. H.oly O.ptimism P.roducing E.xpectancy. I love that!

I want to live a life of expectancy where I believe that things will work out for the best. I want to live with birds-eye perspective where I can see the forest, not the trees. I don’t want to put any heavy burdens on any of my relationships.

500 Days of Summer ends with beautiful redemption. Even though it wasn’t the ending that was expected, I believe it was better than he could have imagined. If we persevere, I believe God will bring us not the ending we expect but the ending that is immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.

Regardless of what you’ve been through in past seasons of life and relationships, if you live with expectancy…Autumn will come.


Take me right out of my comfort zone, comfort zone

Tomorrow, I have an awesome guest post to share with you, by one of my good blogging buddies. I think you’re going to love it. Today, I have a short, raw, green story and a question. I haven’t really edited, because it’s so fresh.


Once upon a time, there was a girl who was comfortably comfortable. She knew who she was and what she wanted and went after it. She held fast to the Bible like a security blanket. She knew Christ and followed his teachings as she understood them, but, then… something kept telling her that there was more.

…The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same. -Luke 3:11


She wasn’t loving her neighbor as herself, not quite. She wasn’t giving away a coat when she had two. She would store up resentment over a past wrong.

This girl, while a nice enough person, would rail about that one guy, online, who was a complete moron, and hope to Heaven he lost his internet connection permanently, instead of learning to love someone with whom she disagreed. Once upon a time, this comfortably comfortable girl became restless, sleepless, and ultimately uncomfortable.

The Bible does what journalism is supposed to do: Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Be comforted and made uncomfortable today.

What Scriptures take you out of your comfort zone, and stretch you to your limit?


How not to remain friends with your ex

Back in high school, I had a long relationship. It lasted a total of a month. We were both sure it was the real deal 😉 After a month, he joined the Army. I figured that was the end of it, but he insisted that we remain friends. No harm in that, right?

Disney's version of this blog title


Wrong. Our whole relationship was based on my showing him around the city and doing some remedial American culture education, since his family had been missionaries for more than a decade, first in Guatemala, and then Peru.

He spent most of that *magical* month preparing to be a in a play, Bury the Dead, about four slain soldiers who refused burial. After the breakup, he invited me to attend, opening night. I took my mom, since the playhouse was in an unfamiliar part of town. We got there late, and the programs were gone. The play.was.awful. I found myself wishing that a cam light would fall on his head and put him out of my misery.

The house lights came up. My mom and I rushed to the car, where we could berate the terrible play, with the lackluster acting, and staging that tried too hard to be avant-garde. I realized, too late, perhaps, that we had left during intermission. That boy never called me again. Whew.

“But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me and let the dead bury their own dead”” Matthew 8:22


I don’t always believe that remaining friends with one’s ex is a good thing. I’m certainly friendly with my ex-husband. We make it work because we share a significant history and two precious children.

It’s also relatively simple to remain friends if the relationship ended in its fresh, green, state and was of short duration. I have a couple such friendships, those started over a date, but never materialized into love.

There are other relationships, those ended in pain, those remembered with a twang of regret, those too volatile to maintain. What of those? Maybe they end with a simple goodbye, or maybe with a rush of feet past the usher as you beat a hasty retreat.

Have you ever seen a terrible play? What have you done to make sure dead relationships don’t rise again?


Start on the right path

So, this one time, I woke up on a topless beach. I stumbled out from the dark cabin,  looked around and noticed everything wasn’t quite right. Eye-rubbing, yawning, squinting… all failed to erase the view, lots of women without clothes on, lazing around a beach. I was probably 8, my chaperone on this auspicious occasion? My Daddy.

I recently started reading some creative writing blogs, because I thought it might help with my writing. One author, C.S. Harris, said that when you introduce a character, you should always show that character first in his/her element, to show the forces that propel said character. For instance, if your character bakes, they should be placed first in a kitchen.

Since this is the first blog post exclusively about my Daddy, I’m telling you something right off the bat about him. I’m placing him, first, on a topless beach, surrounded by evergreens, on the shores of the San Jacinto river, just down the mottled sandy shore from a alco-hut that sold a giant margarita to an 8-year-old, to take to her dad in the boat.

That’s not the right foot to start on, but it does say something about how I came to know my daddy. It’s how his character was introduced to me, in those formative years.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. -Proverbs 22:6


My daddy isn’t a bad person, and he cares for me. I think he always has.  Now, our relationship is fine. I wouldn’t say we’re the closest father/daughter duo, but there’s no weirdness there. The problem isn’t that we don’t have a relationship, it’s that those early interactions started us going down the wrong path. We didn’t establish a clear parent/child line of demarcation. I sometimes felt, even at 8, that I was more responsible for him than he was for me.

It’s difficult to overcome one’s upbringing. That’s why the Scripture is clear on this point. If you start children on the right path, they’ll recognize that path and stick to it. If the basis of your relationship is shifting sand, the foundation is less sure.

Have you ever recovered from a rough start to a relationship?


My Last Valentine

February last, I was waiting in the airport. Waiting. Waiting some more. Still waiting. There was ice in Chicago, delaying the flight to Little Rock which delayed the flight to Dallas which delayed the flight to Houston, and that’s where I sat, waiting for my Valentine.

While I was waiting, my aunt was sure I was a lesbian. I had written on Facebook that I was going to pick up my Valentine from the airport – a she. I was in the middle of a divorce and I was calling my girl friend, Danya, my Valentine, which my aunt interpreted to mean my girlfriend and, well, whatever.

“A friend loves at all times…” Proverbs 17:17


That’s what Valentine’s do, though, right? They make some sort of sacrifice of what they want to do, in order for their Valentine to feel loved. Danya left her husband (whom she loves very much, thank you) to come down on the flight delay from Hades, to spend the holiday with me, because I was kind of in a personal dump. Her spending Valentine’s Day with me was the best Valentine’s gift ever. While everyone else was being mushy and smooshy, we were snarky and silly.

There were no fabulous parties for the two of us. We didn’t rub elbows with anyone at a posh restaurant or order a dessert big enough for two. We did what we’ve always done, which is to sit around without ever making a blasted decision about anything because the action isn’t nearly as important as the interaction.

I’ve never been shy about my lack of enthusiasm for Valentine’s Day, but last year, my last Valentine’s Day, I enjoyed the love of a friend who made a sacrifice to make my day. We read magazines and watched movies and came up with crazy schemes we never brought to fruition; the Joycean flow of shared words would suffice for us.

We conference-called Mary, our long-lost Pennsylvania bud, to round out the reliving of our glorious grad school days and it was well and good. There’s a serenity in nothing, when nothing is in the company of friends. That love, the love of your friends is a love worth waiting, and sacrificing for.

What was the best Valentine’s gift anyone has ever given you? What gift did you sacrifice the most to give?