Friday, March 28, 2014

Equality Within Responsibility

Ashley and I were sitting around talking the other night and the topic of dating came up. We've been married going on five years now and have been in a relationship for seven. It's so minimal in comparison to others, particularly Ashley's grandparents who are going on 58 years of marriage. Talk about the legacy they have! Anyway,  we’re sitting there discussing dating, specifically the pre-dating phase, and I realized that I'm really frustrated with it.  I just feel like there's a major double-standard that people aren't seeing.  Or if they see it, they're disregarding it as no big deal. Ashley told me to blog about it, so here I go. I say all of this knowing it is merely my opinion and I have a personal bias when it comes to the topic of dating. So take this as my opinion based on my personal life experiences.

Here is the statement I want to make up front: guys and girls should be held to an equal standard  of protecting the other's emotions. We all know the people who are too forward with the opposite sex; too charismatic, too flirtatious. They charm you then harm you and it's all a big game.  They're known as players who casually lead others on - it's all about the chase.  They're the girls that your momma tells you to avoid and the guys your daddy wants to threaten with a shotgun.  We all know them; emotional abusers. As men, we are taught not to be that guy.  You are taught, or more instructed, to treat girls with the utmost respect. Do not be the guy who leads girls on. Do not be the one that leads them into an unsure relationship which has the potential to damage their future marriage. Do not be the guy who plays with girls' emotions. All of this is great and valid and important. I am completely on board with the thought of guys stepping up and leading, protecting, and caring for girls. I accept, as a guy, the part I have played in leading girls on in the past.  But there's a very, very big problem with this.  Girls aren't seemingly being taught from the same rule book.   
Girls, for the love of your future husband, STOP misleading guys! There, it’s out. The reason Ashley told me to blog about this. I get so frustrated with guys that are “there for” girls and the girls aren't there in return.  I see young men being vulnerable to girls and putting their emotions on the line only to be disregarded time and time again. These are not the girls that I mentioned in the above paragraph that you'd normally beware of.  These are the girls next door; kind, sweet girls, just being completely oblivious to guys' emotions. Just because dudes play sports and hunt bears and rip their chest hair out to be manly doesn't mean our emotions don't go as deep as yours.  It doesn't mean when you blow us off and we pretend it's no big deal that it doesn't break our hearts a little.  And you need to know that it's a little confusing when you spend 5 evenings a week with us and then suddenly spend Saturday evening out on a date with someone else.'re leading guys on and you don't even know it.

We guys want to show you who we are, but we don’t want to compete for your attention. We can only live our lives like a contestant on "The Bachelorette" for so long until we call it quits . Our persistence, our attention towards you, our “being there” for you only goes so far. So help us out. Think about what you want in your future husband. You want someone who is always going to be there for you? You want someone who places value in you?  You want someone who will open up to you? Then start now. Begin this journey  before you even think there may be something there with someone. Start by placing an equal responsibility on yourself and your future husband.  Don't give in to charm and attention guys are willing to give you now. Start preparing for the future you want. 
Here’s the reality; we try to do things the way we think you want them to be.  If there’s nothing there on your side, let us know. Stop the cycle of brokenness within relationships by placing a higher value on your future relationship. I completely understand and agree with having friends of the opposite sex. I am all for it. But girls if you think the guys may be getting the wrong idea about it, don’t just say, “Oh I just think of us as friends”. I firmly believe that you should just walk away from it. Save the misconceptions and false leads. It may be painful but it may be what’s best for the guy’s future relationship with his wife. It may be what’s best for both parties.

So here’s the closing thought. You, right now, may be in a friendship with someone else’s (future) husband/ wife. How would you want your future spouse to be being treated at this time? Would you be alright with playing games with their heart ? Or would you want it protected from as much pain and heartache as possible?  Be careful. These are individual’s futures we are talking about here. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

The New Normal

We are officially two and a half months down under! It's crazy when I step back and think about it. We have a new normal, a new pace of life, new relationships, and a new church family. I suspected life would change once we arrived and settled in, but I was not suspecting how quickly I would become used to it. I've become used to people driving on the "wrong" side of the road; in fact we automatically migrate to the left side when walking down the sidewalk! Trashcans are "bins", restrooms are "toilets", and I'm starting to appreciate being called "mate".  Walking or riding my bike is the new normal, as is  hearing "so good" said a minimum of a hundred times a day...(make that 100 times every conversation). One more thing, you know you've made it when you're referred to as a legend over here.  Some of these things are definitely Aussie things, but others might just be Hillsong language.  So we are still in the process of sorting that out.  Anyway, Ashley and I have settled  into this season of our life and have begun to really enjoy it.

We live in a house with five girls. A Norwegian, a Mexican, a very British Albanian, and two other Americans. All creative students studying in different areas. There always seems to be singing going on, some dancing, a lot of laughter, and even more cooking.  It's a bit like a family in the house, which is a blessing. Ashley and I wonder what we will do when we no longer live with people. We will then have to begin talking to each other again. I mean how do married couples tolerate each other all the time? Anyway, we feel blessed to have such a great group of girls living with us.  Disclaimer:  This paragraph has all  negative emotions omitted because our housemates will be reading this blog.  Thank you.

School is really great. I absolutely love the classes that I have. Song writing by far is the highlight and yet also the most challenging. It consists of writing a song a week, working with melodies, and creative writing. By the most challenging, I mean it really has stretched me. I have learned to step back and look at my own music objectively and think about what's best for the song. In the workshop we spend time writing and sharing our music. It is so difficult. You should try it some time. You have 60 min to generate a melody and throw some lyrics with it, all the while not using an instrument. Oh by the way you also have to share it with your whole class. Enjoy! In all seriousness it's been amazing though. I have become very intentional about what I feel like God is trying to communicate through the music He has given me. I just approach it now as, "I'll give it a go". It's the Aussie way.

Let's see what else... I have begun to appreciate what I was so formerly used to in life. Things like having two cars (I would be happy with just a crappy one now), Taco bell, going to the movies, hanging out with Ashley's grandfolks on Thursday nights, and most of all American coffee. I miss that. Coffee here is different. I don't really know how to explain it, it's just different.  And it's not that there's not movie theaters and fun things to do - but everything is painfully expensive.  Ashley and I dropped $39 going to the movies for Valentine's Day.  No that didn't include popcorn.  No that didn't include nachos, or a soda, or games in the arcade. Just the movie tickets. So I have gained an appreciation for what was just normal about life. I understand that normal is always changing, thus making nothing normal but just seasons of change. Still, I do miss some things about back home.

Ashley is working at a cafe by the school. She has been able to work consistently five days a week. She seems to enjoy it. She's learning how to make coffee and is gaining an appreciation for Australian coffee because her boss makes her drink a cup every shift. She will also brings home some great food sometimes which is awesome. Since she's working with the locals, she's picked up a bit of the Aussie way of saying things.  Some examples are "How you going?" (How's it going?) ", "no worries" (in response to "thank you"),  and "I'm sorry?" (instead of "what?"),. I personally am not use to their phraseology yet.

The church here is great! I never take for granted being planted in this House at this time. We've heard some incredible speakers, been a part of the new Hillsong recording, but most of all learing to embrace the Kingdom attitude here. There is this overarching attitude of, "Welcome Home". It runs through every area of church life. "Welcome to the family, let's do life together and love on others" seems to just be a way of life for them. We were invited to serve in The Western, a cafe in the church, after our Sunday night services. We get to chat with newcomers, serve them coffee/hors douvers (sp?), and clean up. It's honestly such a great place to serve and personally is stretching me. I have learned so much in the brief time of being in this culture. I am becoming more aware of what I want my attitude to be towards others and what I want my life to look like in service to others.

Well that's it for now. We still have a checklist of things to do while here. See a koala bear, surf at least once, hike the Blue Mountains, box a kangaroo, drive a motorcycle, and get Keith Urban's autograph. Ok, mainly that is my list, I don't know what Ashley's looks like.

We appreciate all the prayers, words of encouragement, and love we get from you.

Much love to all of you!