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Posted on Apr 11, 2011 in Before Marriage Blog, Literature, Spiritual Life | 0 comments

Managing Emotions

A while back, my mother handed me a book  entitled “Managing Your Emotions” by Joyce Meyer.

My thought as I scanned the cover, “Oh, crap.”

I can only think of one or two times in my life that my mother has handed me a book that wasn’t light Christian fiction.  She must be feeling pretty strongly about my need for the book.  My mother, Miss Never-Get-Too-Upset, handed me a book on managing my emotions…  Yup – “Oh, crap.”

You see, I’d had an emotional episode that wasn’t very pretty.  I was on vacation and I’d literally taken a vacation from everything, getting out of my usual routines.  The result of my little “vacation” was that on the last day, I lost it.  A less-than-ideal situation presented itself and I lost my cool.  The result of my outburst was not good and I was suffering some difficult side effects.  So my sweet, kind, emotionally-stable mother handed me this book.  Scowling, I forced my hand to open, reach out, and allow my fingers to close around it.  I had absolutely no intention of reading it.  None.

As I took the book from my mother, she said the most astounding thing.  Very quietly she whispered, “It helped me.” 

My even-keeled, never-get-too-upset, calm, quiet mother read a book on managing emotions?  And it helped her?  To this day I can’t quite figure out why my mom thought she could use a book on handling her emotions.  She already does that really well.  I’m the one whose emotions tend to have me trying to catch my breath from the roller coaster ride on a pretty regular basis.  Maybe she read it to help her know how to deal with me?

Still, I didn’t open the book.  But February is the darkest, coldest month of the year around here; and my boyfriend was in Central America for over a month.  On the treadmill one day, I finally cracked it open.  I figured I’d be irritated within a few pages and close it right back up, but Joyce surprised me.

What I read there has challenged me in many ways, but one of the most profound things was that my emotions LIE to me.  This concept was new.  I’ve been operating under the assumption that my emotions are how I truly feel and sometimes I can logically override the way I really feel by concentrating on the facts.  Joyce contends that the facts are the truth and our emotions are lies.  Our emotions keep us from recognizing the truth and can send us on that roller coaster ride that tries to override logic.  As obvious as it seems to me now that I’m writing it out and have had time to get used to the idea, when I first read it I was completely stunned.  And yet I knew in my heart that it was true.

Since that time, I’ve been working on controlling my emotions better.  I do a pretty good job, but then every once in a while something happens and they rage out of control again.  It’s terribly embarrassing when it happens.  I’m a passionate person and at times I let the crazies out.

My prayer is that God will continue to shape and mold me into His image and one day I’ll be the kind of person who quietly prays when she’s upset, rather than venting her frustration.  Please, God?  Please.

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Posted on Feb 14, 2011 in Before Marriage Blog, Just Goofing Around | 5 comments



In honor of Valentine’s Day, I present something intended purely for entertainment…  Enjoy! ♥

I want you to imagine for a moment that you’re a teenage girl who has rented a movie on a Friday night and invited several friends over to eat pizza and watch that movie.  Of course, it’s a pretty decent movie, as you know that it will be inspected by your parents prior to viewing.  You have some old quilts thrown over the ugly couches in the basement, a rather boxy, dusty old television that someone handed down to someone that eventually made its way to this very basement (the first time your family ever had a second television in the house), and some snacks (thank you, Mom).

You turn off the lights, settle in, and enjoy the show.  The movie is good.  There’s no cussing, no immorality, nothing offensive at all – until, of course, your dad (The Preacher…) walks downstairs to check on things.  As if on some kind of heavenly cue, the movie suddenly has it’s only suggestive scene – and wouldn’t you know that the characters in question aren’t married?  (How does he do that?  It’s like he has radar or something!)  Rather than be the cool dad who says hello to everyone, eats a few bites off the snack table, and goes back upstairs, THIS teenage girl’s father utilizes all 6’2” of his holy, pastoral, public-speaker presence to glare at the screen and holler, “RUN!  Flee!  Get out of there!  Kids, you must RUN from immorality!  Fornication!  RUN!!!

Welcome to my world.

I wish I could say that only happened one time, but it was a pretty regular occurrence.  In hindsight, I guess most kids would’ve stopped having their friends over, but I just kept inviting people over and kept getting embarrassed.

Dad was actually right, for all his drama and interesting delivery of that message.  No matter how hard I might’ve wanted that booming voice gone from my head, its impact can’t be doubted.  And all my friends knew they were going over to a pastor’s house, so at least I had a little bit of an excuse.

These days my parents have a 90” high-definition projection-screen television with DVR and universal remote control, a wet bar, and leather reclining couches in their basement.  And when I go over there and catch Dad watching a James Bond marathon, I wait in anticipation for the moment when I can use all my 5’10” and loudest and holiest pastoral public-speaking voice to yell, “Fornication!  Sin!  RUN!!!” 

My, how times have changed.

So, kids, what’s the moral of this story?  As you prepare for Valentine’s Day frivolities, if you aren’t married, remember to RUN!  Or you could be like me and find that the sexiest part of your lovers’ holiday is talking to your boyfriend on the phone about the old, leaking paint gun he’s using on his mission trip in Guatemala.  LOL.

P.S.  If you are married, by all means, ♥ CELEBRATE!  ♥

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Posted on Dec 2, 2010 in Before Marriage Blog, Odds and Ends | 27 comments



I’m not sure how many times I’ve mentioned on this blog site how difficult I have found “the wait” – waiting for love, wishing for love, hoping, dreaming, and trying to keep my mind off my perpetual state of singleness.  I could probably do a count of some kind and let you know the statistics, but that seems like a lot of work.  The point is, I’ve been waiting a long time for love.  When I say “love” – I mean the REAL kind…  The kind where one person is so comfortable with another person that they don’t hold back, they can laugh and point out a new pimple on their face to the other because they know it doesn’t matter, the kind where they can say those words “I LOVE YOU!” and nothing in their hearts cautions them – be careful

There have been times in my life where that kind of love seemed so distant, so impossible, that I couldn’t imagine it ever actually happening.  I looked around at this wonderful life God gave me – such a great life – and saw absolutely no one who might be my match.  But even in those dark moments, I had an inkling that one day it would just… happen.  I would turn around and see a man standing there, smiling at me, and we would know that we’d finally found what we’d been looking for.  I had a feeling that when that day came, it would be easy to stop walking alone and take his hand and begin walking together.  I had a feeling that I was standing at the bottom of a great mountain I could never climb, but one day that mountain might just flatten out and be gone. 

Back in July of this year, that very thing happened to me.  I received a message on Facebook from a man I was acquainted with in childhood.  He’s older than me, so we weren’t exactly friends, but our families knew one another and I was familiar with his family.  He said, “Hi. Remember me?”  And my mountain went flat. 

It took a little while to believe he was for real.  I’ve dealt with so much dysfunction and seen the blackness in the heart of man so clearly that I didn’t really think someone like him existed.  Although he’s aware of the world around him and all the sin and darkness that exists in it, he has somehow kept himself unspotted from it.  He isn’t a man who talks much about his faith in God or feels the need for deep, theological discussions.  He simply lives his faith in the way the Bible describes – pure and undefiled religion…  I actually had to meet with my pastor, a professional counselor, to get his take on the situation before I could accept that it was possible there wasn’t some deep, lurking darkness he was hiding.  Speaking with my mom about him at one point, we decided it was sad that when we meet someone who is a genuine Christian, our first instinct is to try to figure out what’s wrong with him because we can’t believe anyone actually follows the commands of God and lives according His Word.

This man is not what I had in mind for myself, but the more I get to know him, the more I see that he is exactly what I need.  In the middle of my big-city, mega-church, Starbucks-drinking life, I fell in love with a farmer from the rural mid-west.  He’s deeply involved in his small, Mennonite congregation.  He’s been all over the world on mission trips.  He is aware of the impact he makes on the environment, treating the world God created with respect and helping to preserve it for future generations.  He serves as a leader with the local Youth for Christ chapter.  He’s a little shy, has a sense of humor that many don’t know because you have to stand close and listen to hear his witty remarks, and he cares deeply for those the Lord has placed in his life.  He’s a man’s man, with a shop full of tools and tractors.  He’s currently out hunting deer and always carries a pocket-knife.  And yet this calloused, quiet man has opened his heart to me, trusts me with his thoughts and feelings, and patiently handles my moods and, yes, even my blog

One of the barns and the "Grain Leg"

I’ve moved at least ten times in my life (not counting moves across town), and for the last five months, I’ve been falling in love with a man who’ll never move from the farm he has worked so hard to build.  We’ve spent time in each other’s homes, putting some serious miles on our cars and racking up frequent flyer points.  We’ve used all the great technology available to us today to stay in touch and be a part of each other’s lives.  This city-girl has been incredibly surprised by the freedom and security and joy I feel when I visit him.  In his area, there’s no need to lock doors, check under the car and in the back seat for predators, or worry about children getting kidnapped from the front yard.  He’s related to half the people there.  It’s the community I lived in until I was twelve.  My grandfather and his wife and some of my cousins live there.  It’s a familiar place, in spite of the vast difference from the life I’ve been living in Nashville. 

And because I’m not working at the church full-time, I have time to spend with him when he visits.  I have time to go visit him.  Because I’m not working at the church, I feel the freedom to explore other options for my future outside of Music City. Because I’m not working full-time at the church, I have time to enjoy being a girlfriend and nurturing this relationship.  I’ve been helping out a friend who has five children and a large house to manage – caring for her wonderful children, helping her organize and manage her home, and getting an intimate look at the life of a stay-at-home mother with a large family.  It’s a world away from my career as a minister, but I find great satisfaction and joy in ministering to her and her family.  I see God’s hand at work in my life, changing me, growing me, leading me down a beautiful path I could not have imagined for myself.  I see how God has ordered my steps, has prepared my heart, and has gently opened my eyes to see something new and wonderful.  I feel so blessed. 

Dear readers, allow me to introduce you to Rick, one of the most wonderful men I’ve ever known… 


Isn't he handsome?


Being silly for the camera

So happy together...

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”  -James 1:27
Photo credit:  Leslie Coelho, dear friend, wonderful photographer!
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Posted on Sep 11, 2010 in Before Marriage Blog, Just Goofing Around, My Crazy Family | 6 comments

Combine Derby

Combine Derby

When I started this blog, I wrote a post about the county fair that I went to once when I was 12 years old.  I was really excited about going, but it didn’t turn out to be the most pleasant experience.  In the spirit of making new memories, I went back to the same county fair last week and had an entirely different experience.  (Thank God!)  I didn’t ride any rides this time (I prefer keeping my food in my belly), but enjoyed all the displays and junk food and the thrill of walking hand-in-hand with a handsome man who proudly introduced me to his friends.  The weather was beautiful, we were relaxed and happy, and the day was topped off with something called a “Combine Demolition Derby.”   

For those of you who are as uneducated about farm life as me, a combine is a very large tractor used to harvest crops.  It has two big front wheels and two smaller back wheels, an enclosed cab area for the driver, and a large attachment on the front that separates and cuts the crops.  These machines can cost up to $500K, so I’m not sure why anyone wants to smash them into one another, but one of the combines in the derby had a title painted on the side that seemed to explain it all: “Redneck Recycling.”   


In the Combine Derby, several of these huge machines enter a small, confined space and bang into one another until all are disabled but one.  The last one standing is the winner.  I’ve been to a demolition derby with cars once in Nashville, but that’s as close as I’ve come to this kind of entertainment.  I was a little skeptical when my new boyfriend (a farmer from the rural area where I grew up) said this would be a fun way to spend an evening.  Much to my surprise, it really was fun.  The large, open cabs on the combines give the viewer better access to see the drivers, who worked hard to entertain us.  We could see when they were having problems shifting or were steering one direction but the combine was going another direction.  The large wheels made it very obvious when they were disabled.  I definitely think I’d return to another combine derby.   

Two combines going head-to-head


So in honor of my most recent and better experience at the county fair, I’ve edited my previous story and am reposting it so you get a good understanding of the contrast.  Mom straightened me out on some of the details, which actually make the story a little funnier (in my opinion).  Enjoy!  

Wenger Family Fun, Take 2…  

In the farming community that I lived in until I was 12, the county fair was a really big deal.  There were all kinds of rides and they actually cancelled school because all the farm kids took animals they had raised to show and compete at the fair.  This was a totally foreign concept to me, but I wanted to go to the fair for the rides.  ALL the other kids went to the fair, but Mom and Dad would never take us.  It was terribly expensive to ride the rides.  I think you could get a bracelet to ride them all for $15 (plus $6 to get into the fair) and that was highway robbery.  

When Adam was a baby, I finally convinced Mom and Dad to take us to the fair.  Adam couldn’t have been more than 3 months old and they had this nifty carrier thing that Dad could strap to his chest and carry Adam around.  So off we went, into unchartered territory, with a father who was NOT HAPPY about the amount of money he was about to spend.  I was as dressed up as I could be with my little lavender purse just chock full of money ($27 was a lot of money to an 12-year-old) and about to burst with excitement.  

Things did not start well.  Not only was Dad in a bad mood to begin with (which we all tried to ignore and act extra cheerful to help him out – no fighting, no asking to go to the bathroom), but he had not anticipated the parking situation.  They had turned a field into a parking lot and it was muddy and rough.  We had to park as far away as a person could get from the fair and hike in through the field.  Mom was wearing flip-flops and after we’d hiked for a good 10 minutes (or so it seemed), her shoe broke.  So Dad tried to fix it with the metal tab of a Coke can.  Dad got it fixed up so Mom could at least continue walking, sort of (she would never admit there was another problem at this point), and off we went again.   


We spent the atrocious amount of money to get into the fair and started riding the rides.  I convinced my mom and sister to go on the teacups with me, so Dad went to show off his son to his friends.  After spinning around in circles within circles, the three of us stumbled off the ride to find the nearest trash can to throw up in…  (Ugh.  Who comes up with these rides?)  We found Dad and were considering if our upset tummies could handle another ride when Dad commented that his shirt felt wet.  We trudged along toward the next ride while he tried to discover the source of the wetness.  

Suddenly, we heard a great shout and looked over to see Dad standing stock still staring at his hand that was frozen in mid-air.  It was covered with yellowish brown slime.  Yup, folks, it was poop.  Upon further inspection, we found that our sweet little three-month old baby had at that very moment released more poop than we thought could come out of a grown man into the tiny littlest diaper – which of course could not hold all the poop.  

It was everywhere:  in the carrier, in Adam’s clothes, up his back, in his hair, all over Dad’s shirt and arm and hand…  And remember, things were already tense that day.  This was one of the first times they’d used the carrier, so they weren’t real familiar with how to put it on and take it off, and those things can be kind of tricky.  So Dad found an empty tent at the edge of the fair and commanded us all inside while he and Mom tried to figure out how to get this carrier thing off him and Adam out of it without smearing any more poop around.  Oh, by the way, it stunk to high heaven!  There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth…  

Katie and I stood off to the side and tried our best not to laugh out loud.  I mean, what else do you do???  Stay out of the way and do all you can to stifle your giggles and PRAY that at some point this will strike Dad as funny.  

And then I made a startling discovery.  My little lavender purse with the $27 inside was missing!  After we had sort of cleaned up the poop, we silently backtracked to the teacups and discovered my purse in a nearby trashcan.  Everything was inside but the money, which brought me to tears.  All my hard-earned savings was gone.  We left the fair then.  I don’t remember the lecture I received on the way out, but I’m sure it was really good.  If I had any memory of the ride home, I’ve suppressed it by now!  


And so, now you see why this most recent trip to the fair was so much better than the last one.  And yes, Mom and Dad, I learned my lesson and brought absolutely NO money to the fair with me this time.  And when contemplating what pair of flip-flops to wear, I thought better of it and put on my tennis shoes.

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Posted on Feb 28, 2010 in Before Marriage Blog, Just Goofing Around | 17 comments

eHarmonize This…

eHarmonize This…

 I call 2008 “The Year I Dated.”  I’d dated before, but in 2008, I dated a lot.  I lost track of how many dates I had and how many guys I went out with.  I dated so much, I got tired of dating.  You married people out there who think it might be better to be single and going out with different people and trying new things, please keep reading… 

In 2008, I also taught a class called Chase the Lion, which teaches that taking risks, trying new things, and not fearing failure are important to our faith.  Many of our Biblical heroes were risk-takers, including Ruth who threw herself at Boaz’ feet and wound up with a rich husband and a famous descendant…  I liked the curriculum (by Mark Batterson) so much that I taught the class about six times over the next two years. 

Around that time I also picked up a book on dating by one of my favorite authors, Henry Cloud.  The basic principle of How to Get a Date Worth Keeping is that singles are afraid to take risks.  We should do everything we can to meet new people and get dates with them, dating basically anyone who asks at least once, and getting out of our comfort zones.  He says it’s a fun social experiment, allows us to gain new experiences, and challenges our preconceived notions of people.  This very godly man challenged singles to go on dating websites, give our numbers to people we meet at social functions, and stop sitting alone at home on Saturday nights crying into our pillows. 

Well, I didn’t often find myself sitting at home alone on Saturday nights (unless I was tired and wanted a break), but I was still single, dateless, and ready to take a risk.  I decided to give his method a try.  I joined eHarmony and and told my friends that I was going to make dating a part-time job.  I asked them to set me up on dates with anyone they knew.  And I got bold about giving my contact information out to anyone who might be a possibility. 

My efforts worked and I soon started dating.  A few of the guys I dated that year stand out to me.  The first one was a really nice, Christian guy who took me out on some amazing dates.  He was a perfect gentleman and I enjoyed his company.  But he didn’t seem to know what he wanted.  At times he’d be very attentive and seem totally interested.  At other times, he pushed me away and acted like a jerk.  Yet he kept asking me out on amazing dates, so I kept going, at one point making a kind of game of it in my mind.  Who would I get that night?  After a couple months of his craziness, I decided I’d had enough.  I missed the fabulous dates, but not the emotional roller coaster! 

Another guy I dated was wealthy and fun, going to great lengths to plan dates around things he knew I would like.  What girl doesn’t like that?  But after going out for a few weeks, he started complaining when I went out with friends instead of seeing him, then told me to change my hairstyle…  He eventually told me I should just quit my job so I could go with him wherever he wanted.  Oh, and I found out he had a bookie and only met when one owed the other a large amount of money.  I decided he wasn’t for me! 

Probably the most memorable date I had that year was with a guy I’ll call “Steve”.  His pictures showed a professional, clean-cut, attractive man.  But right before we met, he texted me to say he was afraid I was better-looking than him and other really insecure things.  Huh?  One of my only requirements during this dating experiment was that a man be reasonably attractive.  He didn’t have to be McDreamy.  My only expectation of him was that he looked like the man in the pictures. 

I drove up to Starbucks and parked next to his car.  I got out of my car and then he got out of his.  As he stood up, I looked down at just the right moment to see him nearly lose his pants.  And he wasn’t wearing anything under them!  Trying not to show my shock and horror, I looked up to see his face.  He was in bad need of a haircut and had a beard.  He walked around his car to greet me and was wearing old jeans and a ratty shirt.  I wasn’t sure if I was meeting the same man I’d met online, pictured in suits and ties. 

We went inside and talked for a few minutes.  His voice was the same and I could see some similarities, but the pictures he posted must have been several years old.  Unable to get the image of his butt from my mind, I was grateful when the barista came over and told us they were closing just 20 minutes after we walked in the door.  He invited me to get a drink at a nearby restaurant and I made up some excuse and got out of there.  I probably would’ve met him anyway if he’d put up accurate pictures, but the fact that he so blatantly misrepresented himself bothered me almost as much as seeing his butt.

Most of the guys I met during my dating experiment were nice, good guys who wanted to get married and have a family.  I was surprised by the number of times they brought up marriage.  But none of them were right for me.  After all that dating, all I felt was tired.  I didn’t feel like I could go out with one more random guy.  I got off the dating websites and started working on become the best person I could be.  I hired a personal trainer and started spending a lot more time on my relationship with God. 

I learned a lot that year.  I got to go to some amazing places I never would’ve gone to any other way.  I met some really interesting people.  I’m glad I did it.  And I’m also glad I didn’t marry any of the guys I dated that year. 

Have any of your dates made the Hall of Fame for worst dates ever?

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Posted on Feb 7, 2010 in Before Marriage Blog, Just Goofing Around, Odds and Ends | 5 comments

Sex Sells?

Sex Sells?


Today marks the one-year anniversary of the day I began revealing some of my private thoughts to the world on a blog.  I had no idea a colleague’s suggestion to start a blog for the purpose of communicating more of myself to the members of our church would turn into such a big part of my life.  I didn’t know if anyone really wanted to read my thoughts and feelings, but I decided to give it a try.    

I’ve had some heartache this year as a result of this blog.  A few people I love dearly have misunderstood or simply not liked what I’ve written.  It’s possible that they thought they knew me and once they read my blog, they decided they didn’t like me.  Ouch.  But this blog has also brought me great joy as people have commented on something that’s helped them in some way or how alike we really are.    

I’m learning to accept the controversy and even discomfort others might feel at what I choose to share.  I’m learning to deal with the shock I feel when someone I don’t know well asks how my debt-reduction plan is going or some other personal question they wouldn’t normally know about me.  Oh yeah…  I wrote about that on the internet for anyone to read!     

I’m also learning what people like to read and what they really don’t care about.  I’m also learning that people don’t always post comments on the things they like, but might tell me later that a posting helped them not to feel so crazy or alone.    

There’s this addicting little page available to me called “Blog Stats” that lets me know how many visitors I’ve had, what posts they’ve read, and so forth.  I try not to let my emotions rise and fall with the rise and fall of the number of readers each day.  I’ve tried to let the page teach me what works and what doesn’t.  I’m not always successful though.  I don’t like the days of zero readers, although that hasn’t happened in a while.    

I can only imagine, what it will be like, when my stats get this high...


I find myself wondering how many readers other bloggers have.  How do I stack up?  And how do those power bloggers with 10,000 readers a day do it?  They say sex sells.  Maybe I should write more about that?    

Here is a list of posts you clicked on most this year:    

  1. Orie Wenger – I wrote down some memories of my uncle who passed away in June of 2009.  Many people loved him and losing him was a terrible tragedy.
  2. Ash Wednesday – The beginning of a spiritual and personal journey I have been on to cut out the excesses in my life and focus on just being a Christian.
  3. Strength of Soul – A devotional posting I wrote in response to Psalm 138. 
  4. Thoughts on “Back to School” – This post created some serious controversy, which came as a surprise to me.  I almost deleted it, but decided a little controversy was okay.

Hmmm….  None of these were about sex or anything particularly scandalous at all.    

If I were choosing which posts I most want you to read, I think I like the ones I’ve posted recently the best.  I realize that might be how I felt at most points in the last year.  I’m not sure, but here they are anyway:   

  1. The Truth Hurts, but Silence Kills
  2. Anxiety
  3. Depression
  4. Haiti

I’ve posted 54 times in the last 52 weeks.  My goal at the beginning was to post three times a week, but I found that few people have the time or inclination to read three posts a week.  I also discovered I would rather write less often and have something of quality to say than stick to a prescribed number of writings per week.  I’ve written about sex a little bit here and there, but not much.  I guess a celibate, single girl’s thoughts on sex aren’t that exciting, although I assure I have some many thoughts on the subject.    

Thank you for joining me on this journey.  I’m looking forward to the new things I’ll learn in the second year of blogging.  If you have any suggestions or want to hear my thoughts/opinions on a particular subject, I’d love to hear from you.  When you post comments, it makes me so happy.

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