Keep Him or Dump Him?











{July 24, 2011}   Lot*us

This is a poem I was inspired to write a few years ago ( July 2008 to be exact).

” The past few weeks, I’ve been thinking of Lotus flowers. I often look at life through symbols. They are beautiful – and actually rise each morning out of the murky water to embrace life. Then at night they disappear back down under. They have strong roots – and some religions have actually classified them to symbolize new beginnings or letting go. Life. They remind me of life – with all its beauty and pain. While in Egypt a few years ago, I found out the lotus is a symbol of love and the sun. ”

So here it is – Lot*us.
 
Centuries ago, waking up in time – there’s a sense that history caught us in its petals. Awake – asleep – she opens in the morning light. At dusk, her form closes back down into the depth of a world that shuts before eyes can see.

Enlightenment engages the soul to re-open to a sentiment – a beauty of tears and pain, until one day the love brings truth to set them free.

Ancient Egypt – haunting my roots, birthed in mud – strong in the beginning, you won’t bend or break through chaos – the world shouts. Undefiled…sinking back down until new beginnings rebirth old nights.

Blooms of water lily white foretell the sacred energy of harmony meant for you and me. Perfume purity each day for a chance to breathe in life.

Sink no more under the Nile of lies. 

Twilight harbors a distant shore far beyond where we stood – where we stand today. Midnight crossings complete the alignment of Jupiter, Earth and the sun.

The trinity of three brings me to my knees.

Hollow, unhindered, whispering for more – you and me…two stars, combust, in time. Coinciding, merging into one cosmic mass. The dark sky eternally written light for the night – guiding the way for time tables of those who are yet to appear. 

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{June 27, 2010}   Rose Buds…

Many years ago, a friend told me – after being heartbroken over a man – that all a woman needs to do is be like a flower. Flowers grow – reveal beauty – and stay put just where they are meant to bloom. A man will see this beauty, and be compelled to come closer to it. All she has to do is be what she’s made to be – beautiful in bloom.

Many of you are probably thinking – that’s great! But what if the bloom is fading? And the petals of life are taking its toll? That’s an obvious thought pattern that almost every woman has thought about sometime in her life – I’m sure.

As a single woman – I’ve been there, and to be very honest – I’m still there a lot of the time. Then I’m reminded that all will fade someday. It’s what’s blooming today that matters. Like a rose with thorns…it has beauty, and it can cause pain if you reach for the wrong part of the stem. God in His amazing wisdom has used nature to teach us life lessons. As women – beauty is essentially what drives us. It could be the beauty of using ones mind to advance world issues, the beauty of wanting to raise a family, the beauty of remaining single, or the beauty that many associate with the prick of selfishness. That would be a thorn!

Where are you in life’s garden of choices?

Another beautiful thing in life that’s hard to understand is pruning. Have you seen rose bushes cut down in Winter – only to look dead. Then in Spring – with all of their glory – they invade the senses and come to bloom after a set-back.

In all of life’s trails and errors – in life’s bad dates…and empty plates…I believe there is a love that is sweet. Even when you can’t see it now – if you don’t sense it – trust it. For one day…it too shall pass.

Edith Piaf says in LA VIE EN ROSE –

When he takes me in his arms
And speaks softly to me,
I see life in rosy hues.
He tells me words of love,
Words of every day,
And in them I become something.
He has entered my heart,
A part of happiness
Whereof I understand the reason.
It’s he for me and I for him, throughout life,
He has told me, he has sworn to me, for life.
And from the things that I sense,
Now I can feel within me
My heart that beats.

~Jaime



{June 1, 2010}   Holding or Hinged?

Do you remember the first time you waived good-bye? The fluttering in your heart tossed an undercurrent like the blue crashing sea. You thought you were on top of it all, only to find you’ve been knocked by something so small.

Never lose hope – for in and out the ocean roars – back and forth calling for more. Each new wave is the first to begin a series of them. When life has pinned you down – wait – awhile and the tug boat will come back around. For in the gulf of existence, it’s the strong who make it far to shore – while never leaving the ocean floor.

This is about becoming unstuck from attachments that no longer serve the greatest good for you, or the other person/people.  Here it begins – or in some cases, it ends.

Over the past decade of my life ( my “love” life) I’ve hit some crashes that left me feeling like a fin-less dolphin without a friend. The men seemed like sharks. They really did. They came along side and watched for a while. You see them. They move closer – and you begin to believe they want to swim with you in this ocean of life. Next thing you know,  you’ve been bitten and are bleeding in heart. But also it feels like bleeding in body and soul. How can this be? You were only a sweet dolphin swimming in the sea.

The purpose of this metaphor of oceans/seas is to contrast the unpredictability of relationships. I’m particularly speaking of male/female ones. When do you come to realize you’re holding on to someone who will drown you in the end? How do you know if you’ve been hinged to a person who will bring you to your greatest potential times 10?

Believe me, many thoughts, and years of trials and contemplations have given me a few answers.

1.) Romantic feelings come and go – but a fish worth keeping will swim with you through the high tides and low rises. This takes TIME and channeling many waters.

2.) You’re casting a net and see – all these amazing possibilities! Hey wait…there’s one, two…no three fishes out there for me! How do you know you’ll catch the right one? Well, I don’t know if we can 100% know. But the fish who has most of what you’re looking for will probably be a good catch. One of the greatest requirements is KNOWING WHERE to fish!

3.) You see two fishes dancing around your knees. Only one can be yours. Which do you take? Oh my, can I have two? Heck no…for heavens sake. If there are two catches you like – see which one is willing to be held. Let the one who swims away – have a great day!

4.) You’ve hit the ocean floor. It feels like you can’t come back for more. A little one spots you from above, and swims down to where you’ve been shoved. You see his fin, and he takes the lead – right back up to where you once believed. This one may truly be a fish worth keeping – the one who takes you to the top – out of the darkness of the drop.

5.) Lastly, you’re wondering if you’re the only one in the sea. You take notice of others floating so freely. Why do you sense you’re all alone in a school of many that seem to have homes? This I say – and this I mean – YOU are the only YOU swimming in this sea. One worth keeping will stop to see if after all the traveling – you were meant to be.

~Jaime



{May 28, 2010}   Dealing with Loneliness

On this blog we talk a lot about being the kind of women we know we can be, and not settling for anything less than the best in our relationships.

If you’ve been on that journey for even a short amount of time, you’ve probably come to realize something. It’s a lonely way of life.

It can get lonely when you feel like surely you must be crazy for holding out for the “right” guy. You might have even been called “too picky” and told you need to lower your standards. Nobody’s perfect they tell you. And you know this, but you also know that you are worthy of the deepest love and respect possible in a relationship with a guy. And so you continue to hold on to hope as best you can.

It can get lonely when you see another girl partying and hooking up with few consequences, while you continue to wait. She seems to have so much fun. But you know that even if her body isn’t showing the effects of it, her mind and emotions are taking a beating that she may not be aware of—or that she just isn’t equipped to acknowledge. Somewhere along the way she was tricked into thinking that this is the way it is done, this is who she is, and this is how it is supposed to be. It can be very tempting to want to try her way of doing things. It can also be very tempting to set yourself up on a high horse above her. Instead of judging her or joining her, you decide to love her and be her friend.

It can get lonely when you’re the last one of all your friends to be in a serious relationship. You find yourself surrounded by couples and feel like the third wheel. You may even begin to scrutinize yourself and think there is something wrong with you. You feel like you have to choose between bitterness of soul and just accepting reality. You fight the temptation to just go out and find any guy willing to fill the void in your life. But you realize that when you draw your strength from God, you can think a little more clearly and try to keep your eyes on what’s really important.

It can get lonely when you are being pursued by men that you know are totally wrong for you. You get tired of always saying no. You might begin thinking that you should just go ahead and take what you can get. You might start thinking that God is holding out on you and this is what you have to choose from, so why not just go for it. But you are reminded that God has good, exciting plans for your life and choose to focus on that instead—even if it is a daily battle to do so.

I speak from experience on all of this. “But Ashley, you’re a happily married woman now, and therefore I am going to stop listening to you.” (I remember totally tuning out married women’s opinions at one time in my life, too.) Yes, but I have a very good “emotional memory” and remember very, very well the way it felt to be alone.

I didn’t always handle my loneliness very well. Often I was very immature about it. I’d avoid friends who were in happy, healthy relationships because it just put a spotlight on what I didn’t have. I would totally ignore the advice of happily married women because my jealousy painted them as being totally out of touch with the real world and what it was like to be single. I manipulated guys for their attention and affection to fill the void in my heart, but didn’t understand that this was what I was doing.

Finally I found a decent way to deal with loneliness. I guess that after a while I just got tired of being miserable. I started taking a good look at myself to evaluate who I really was. It was painful and not fun. And—you guessed it—it was still lonely! But I was at least learning to be a little more content with it. I had a lot of alone time with God because I didn’t really have much of anyone else. I ended up reading the Bible a lot, journaling a lot, praying a lot. And after a few months of it, I realized that I was becoming a different person. And I kind of liked her.

I need to point out that just because a woman is married, it doesn’t mean she is never lonely. Loneliness has more to do with your soul than your relationship status. It comes and goes, often staying longer than we’d like. But sometimes a little loneliness is OK. When we are dealing with it in appropriate, healthy ways, it can be a tool that helps chisel us more into reflecting the image of God.

What are some ways you have dealt with loneliness?

~Ash



Some snippets of what went on in the world of women and relationships this week:

  • In a recent poll in the UK, men reportedly lie more than women. Their top 2 lies? “I didn’t have that much to drink” and “Nothing’s wrong, I’m fine.” Read the full article here.
  • Researchers found 92% of canned food and drinks are contaminated with BPA, a chemical that mimics estrogen. Pregnant women are being advised to avoid or limit consumption of these items. (Maybe all of us should!) Full article here.
  • Muslim women in France will likely be banned from wearing their veils after the bill goes to parliament this summer. Full story here.
  • Several strange killing sprees have happened in China in recent weeks, that seemed to be directed at children. This week six Chinese women were hurt in a cleaver attack. Full story here.
  • Researchers have found a new way to possibly screen for ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer kills 15,000 women each year. Full story here.
  • The United States Supreme Court might have three female judges for the first time ever if the Senate approves Elena Kagan. Read the full article here.
  • Google made a decision to ban ads for “cougar dating sites” from their content network. However, they will still allow those promoting sites for “sugar daddies” wanting to date younger women. Full story here.
  • There is now a “female Viagara” seeking FDA approval for premenopausal women with low sexual desire. Article here.
  • An iVillage survey found that married women ages 18-49 are very likely to be satisfied with their sex lives, but many would rather sleep, read, or watch a movie than have sex. Read full article here.

THIS WEEKEND IN THEATERS

No major relationship-themed films, but Date Night and The Back-up Plan continue to be popular at the box office.

*** Please view all links with discretion. The items discussed in this post are for informational purposes only. ***



Some snippets of what went on in the world of women and relationships this week:

  • Recent studies show that women who are significantly older or younger than their husbands have a lower life expectancy. Watch out, cougars. Full article here.
  • The pill turned 50 this week–on Mother’s Day, ironically.
  • Iconic actress and singer Lena Horne died this week at 92 years old. She was the first black woman to sign a significant long-term contract with a major studio, revolutionizing the black woman’s image in Hollywood. Read about her here.

    Lena Horne

  • Women in America are now more likely to have children at 35 or older than in their teens. Check out the article here.

THIS WEEKEND IN THEATERS

*** Please view all links with discretion. The items discussed in this post are for informational purposes only. ***



Some snippets of what went on in the world of women and relationships this week:

"Praise, " an apron by Heavenly Hostess.

The apron strings: It wasn’t long ago that aprons were tied to the idea of repression and “Leave It to Beaver.” These days, however, the apron is a thing of beauty, expression and acceptance, the LA Times says. The garment once defined a generation of women, but now it is an icon for women who are fully embracing all things domestic.

Recession linked to rise in abortion rates among some women: Amid economic fears, one trend emerges on abortion: Poor women were
twice as likely
as the rest to have an abortion, Salon reports. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal emphasizes that though most of those women had insurance, they chose to pay out of pocket for the procedure.

She was an athlete and an advocate: Patricia Rico, a longtime advocate for women’s track and field, has died at 76. She was the first female president of USA Track and Field.

All the single ladies, and their kids: Audrey Irvine’s relationship column at CNN.com focuses on the single ladies. Specifically, do single moms raise girls who will stay single?

Where our money is: According to GirlsandWomen.com: “Women carry out two-thirds of the world’s work hours, they receive one-tenth of its income and own less than a hundredth of its property.When a girl or woman earns income, she reinvests 90% of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40% for a man.” The Web site is a point of gathering for women and girls ahead of June’s G20 conference and it is looking for women to represent issues. It is part of the G(irls)20 Summit campaign, designed to help educate women about their influence, as well as educate the world about their weight in the economy.

The church isn’t immune, and neither are its women: A megachurch in Kansas is working with women addicted to pornography. The ministry gained the attention of the New York Times.

A fatal attraction? A university in Spain has learned that hot women may be bad for men’s health, and the stress it can put on a guy is compared to the stress of jumping out of an airplane. We’ll definitely be discussing this one more next week!

I love you, Mom!: Sunday is Mother’s Day! Forbes reminds us she’s worth $117,856 a year while bemoaning (a little) the holiday’s commercialization. Speaking of commercialization, somebody over at Appolicious believes there’s no better way to honor Mom than with apps. Um. OK. Meanwhile, Salon ruminates on the new mom trend: older, single and smart.

THIS WEEKEND IN THEATERS:
No movies with any significant relationship premise open today, but “Iron Man 2” — with all its expected relationship neuroses — will likely dominate the box office. Up to Thursday, however, Date Night continued to rank in the top 3 at the box office, with J.Lo’s “The Backup Plan” following on its heels.

TENNESSEE BLUES: While this has very little to do with relationships, it has everything to do with Keep Him or Dump Him: Our own Ashley is among those affected by the devastating flooding in the Nashville area. Her personal possessions are in good shape, but the situation does take a toll on one’s spirit. Please keep Ash and all Tennesseans in prayer as they continue to deal with a disaster that so far has taken the lives of 21 people in Tennessee, 31 in total.
Ash has posted a couple of tips for those who want to know how to help with relief efforts:

A couple of churches and United Way benefit when you buy these cool tees in support of MiddleTN. Click the image for more.

MONETARY DONATIONS can be made via the following links:

# Middle TN Red Cross: 615-250-4300 or by mail at 2201 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203.
# Second Harvest Food Bank
# Community Foundation Flood Relief: Checks can be mailed to P.O. Box 440225, Nashville, TN, 37244.
# Salvation Army: or 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

RAISE AWARENESS

Educate those around you about what is going on out here. Remind them that dozens of counties have been declared federal disaster zones. Post pictures to your Facebook. Email them to your friends. Call your local news and tell them to find ways to carry news about the situation.

And, of course pray. We have a long road ahead of us.

Thank you so much for helping!

(And thank you to Nashvillest for compiling the above resources!)



{May 1, 2010}   A Few Good Men

I know we’ve all thought it…are there any good men left?

To answer this question, it probably is a good idea to have an idea of what a good man is. There are many definitions/concepts/thoughts/and feelings about this.

I’m no expert, but I can testify what a not-good man is! Over the years…I’ve been like many women who find themselves attracted to guys who are not the best for them. In the heart of hearts, I think we DO know what a good man IS.

Have you ever met one – and everything in you just says YES…YES…YES. There’s no question about his integrity. He truly walks his talk, and talks his walk. They are few and far between. But ladies, I challenge you to hold fast and wait for this kind of man while being this kind of woman.

Many of my friends have made lists of traits they deem worthy. Most have prayed this list to God. Honestly, most of them got what they prayed for. Some of them got what they needed. God was indeed faithful. We can never box God, but I know as we ask, and pray, in line with His will – there’s always an answer. Though, often it comes in ways we don’t always expect!

About 10 years ago, I attended a finding the love of your life seminar. Recently, I went through old notes. Here’s what I put down for an ideal mate:

A Christian. He is totally humble, odd in the sense of being so in touch with who he is that he doesn’t need the approval to be. He’s funny. He’s charming in a sweet way. He likes to write and sing. His soul and spirit is sensitive. He’s an artist at heart. He looks at simple things in life and sees deeper than what meets the eye. He’s passionate about life. He cares and is bold. He loves people for who they are. He has the clearest eyes. They are deep and true. He walks and stands with integrity and honor. His voice is beautiful. There’s truth and love that sounds out of his heart.

Well, that’s a mild list. But what character traits are you looking for in a man? I will say my hope is still meshed in the above description. Though, recently a book named How to Get a Date Worth Keeping by Henry Cloudreally is stretching my thinking on how I’ve viewed dating and myself.

Cloud says, “Good men look for the natural beauty of the real person shining through, the sex appeal that comes from the radiance of a women’s personality, strength, humor, playfulness, virtue, and other things. It has little to do with a physical 10. Healthy men look for a spark and an openness toward them that says,  ‘I like you and I am not mad at you for being a man.’”

It’s safe to say some qualities of a good man include: loving God, taking initiative, being a servant, being generous with the poor, being responsible for his life, cherishing humanity, etc. In this day and age, we are fed such lies about what makes a man. Media teaches us to turn our eyes away from the truth of one who sleeps around, who pressures women, who is selfish and materialistic, and who plays with emotions. In essence, he’s a bad man!

A good man does good deeds. Psalm 112. His heart beats with compassion, and passion, for God and life. He will treasure you. He will be a covering for you. My prayer for you, and myself, is for us to continue to wait on the LORD and His standards. Believe me, I know what it’s like to fall for less. Thank God – He knows what, and who, is best for each one.

Looking forward to the answers!

~Jaime



Some snippets of what went on in the world of women and relationships this week.

  • After banning a Lane Bryant commercial for showing too much cleavage for prime time, FOX finally aired it at the end of American Idol Wednesday night. Many people feel that the “banning” of the commercial was a double standard, since the networks that banned it still air Victoria’s Secret commercials during prime time. You can watch the “banned” commercial for yourself:
  • The Navy announced this week that women will now be allowed to serve on submarines. The lifting of the ban will affect women in the Navy as soon as next year. Read the full article here.
  • Oklahoma passed laws that require pregnant women to see and hear ultrasound images of their babies before getting an abortion. You can read one article here.
  • Police in Tehran announced they will begin to arrest women with suntans, on the heels of last week’s accusations that immodest women cause earthquakes. Full article here. Interestingly, this week the UN also elected Iran to the Commission on Women’s Rights. That article here.
  • Jillian Michaels (“Biggest Loser“) drew fire this week for her comments on wanting to adopt rather than become pregnant. Some think she is putting her figure and career ahead of family; Michaels says that is not the case. Read an article about it here. She also admitted to being bisexual. More on both topics here.
  • A survey on Match.com showed that more couples who end up marrying meet online rather than in bars. Meeting online was the third most-likely dating method to lead to marriage, following meeting through a common acquaintance or at work/school. Read the article here.
  • People in Japan are dating according to their blood types. Read more about this here.

THIS WEEKEND IN THEATERS

  • No major relationship films coming out this weekend, but Date Night and The Back-up Plan continue to be popular at the box office.

*** Please view all links with discretion. The items discussed in this post are for informational purposes only. ***



“We are beautiful, no matter what they say. Words won’t bring us down. We are beautiful, in every single way; yes, words can’t bring us down. So don’t you bring me down today.”

Beauty. We all know guys are “visual.” But a guy worth being with for the long haul defines beauty differently than the others. Should we take care of our outer appearances? Yes. But we’ve got to be sure that we’re striking the balance between “inner and outer” beauty. We’ve got to know that we’re beautiful, not because society or a person tells us, but because we ARE. We are the crowning glory of all God’s creation. Even after everything else in the world God made, it just wasn’t beautiful enough. It needed women. It needed you.

But… chances are (if you’re like me) you’ve spent most of your life feeling anything but beautiful. I can’t add up the amount of time I’ve spent comparing myself to other girls. And just when I think I am getting better about it, yet another TV show, commercial, or movie comes out with a “more this” or “less that” woman and there I go again. It’s a struggle that I feel like I’m beginning to win, but in our culture it will probably always be a battle at some time or another.

Women in the past didn’t have as difficult a time with this as we do, girls. Ask your grandmothers. Sure, they had pressure to be beautiful. But with the way our world is today, we aren’t comparing ourselves to just the few dozen or so women around us in real life. We have thousands. Not even taking into consideration women in the entertainment industry, we have our girlfriends at school, at work, at the gym, on Facebook and Myspace and YouTube, and on and on. And let’s face it– we can be downright mean girls when it comes to our appearances and trying to make ourselves feel better.

We will be bombarded with millions of images of other women by the time we reach adulthood, but most of us won’t have the strength to remind ourselves many of those images are airbrushed, retouched, and largely unrealistic. And it’s not like we go looking for women to compare ourselves to; these images are practically forced upon us–it’s just the reality we live in. Little girls today can’t walk through the mall without seeing advertisements that glorify sexiness. Society is training women from very young ages to view themselves as inferior to… well, a fantasy.

The solution isn’t to boycott this reality. The solution is to transform it.

Yes, guys can make us feel beautiful on some level. Compliments are amazing self-esteem boosters. Those of us who heard our dads tell us we were pretty when we were little will have an advantage. BUT. We have to believe we are beautiful deep in our souls for it to truly transform us and the world we live in. And when we do believe it, our chances are so much higher of being completely happy in a healthy relationship with a man. It may come as a shock, but guys have a much broader view of beauty than you might think. As my friend Brian told me, “A confident, secure woman can make ‘comfortable’ very, very attractive–no heels or low-cut shirts or high-cut skirts or makeup–but still beautiful.”

I’ll never forget a conversation my husband, Aaron, and I had that was a recurring one for us for a while. You know how it goes (I sure hope this hasn’t happened to just me!)–I would complain about some physical aspect of myself and he would elaborate on how beautiful he thinks I am. And then in turn I would totally discount it, bring up examples of women more beautiful in that area, point out more of my flaws, and so forth. Guess what. That really hurt his feelings! I didn’t realize it, but I was basically telling him that his opinion didn’t matter and that he didn’t know what he was talking about. He was doing everything right–he saw and appreciated my beauty and wanted me to know I’m beautiful. But I didn’t really believe it for myself yet.

Guys are looking for beauty, but not for us to need them to convince us we are beautiful.

Imagine what your life would be like if you allowed yourself to see yourself as God does– as His chosen way to reveal His own beauty to the world. Would that change the way you live? Would it influence the people around you? Would it affect your relationships–with men and with other women?

I guess the question is, what are some ways we can wire ourselves to see ourselves the way God does? How can we transform our culture in the area of beauty? How can we start encouraging each other instead of finding things to hate about each other and ourselves? Do you think this will help us as we become the women we want to be? Will it influence the kind of men a woman attracts? Talk to me!

~Ash



et cetera