Tuesday, June 24, 2008

NEW ALBUM OUT TODAY!! Only $6.93 !

My new album, Playing Favorites releases today! I recorded this album in January with producers Josh Wilson and Lee McDerment (Lee also sang some BGVs and played piano on it, by the way). It's one of my favorite things I've ever done, seriously!

And guess what... you can get it on iTunes for only $6.93.

Click here to buy it!

Songs include:

- Rain
- Please Forgive Me
- Walking on Sunshine
- Holding out for a Hero
- Everlasting Love
- I Wonder
- Hallelujah / Thy Word

Pick it up and let me know what you think!!
~TLC:)

Practicing What I Preach

For a while, I’ve been practicing not looking at men. I don’t mean “looking” at them – I mean looooooking at them. I even exchanged my primary crush on the bald beauty of Bruce Willis for the striking stature of the Chrysler Building.

Recently, though, I was with a male friend and commented on how much I respected that I’ve never seen him stare at a woman. Ever. (And yes, he’s completely heterosexual.) “It’s not easy,” he said. “But I set my mind to it and it comes easier with time.” He said he thought it was probably more difficult for him to not let his eyes trail a woman than for me in my efforts with men. So I tried to put myself in his shoes and perform a one-week experiment of not staring at women.

Initially, I thought I mostly looked at women to admire their fashion. I was wrong. Way wrong. On day one, I realized that I would stare at an attractive woman in workout clothes longer than a well-dressed but unattractive woman. I deduced that my purpose in looking at women was actually to assess their value, to judge them as “worthy” or “unworthy” of love. The attractive people were “worthy,” of course. This disgusted me about myself.

I realized that, in my weaker moments, I compared myself to other women. Someone once told me that comparison is a joy-stealer. Not only that, but it ignores the image of God that He has placed in that person.

If it makes me sick to see men leering at a woman, why would I let myself do it? Of course, I don’t offer the pathetic catcall that he does, but I’m still focusing on the same things. Maybe he’s lusting after her, but I’m judging her. It’s causing me to stumble too, just in a different way... I stumble into pride or vanity or self-condemnation.

By the end of the week, it had become much easier not to look. And a funny thing happened—I think I developed a stronger sense of confidence. I always thought I had a pretty healthy self-image, but this trained me in a new way. I even found that I had less of a desire to linger on TV shows or magazines that featured a parade of beauties. I didn’t want to judge myself against their standard or judge them against my own.

I’m doing what I can to kill this thing in me… this monster of self. So I decided to keep it up—not just for that weeklong experiment, but as a general method of operation. In an unexpected way, this new restriction kind of set me free. Weird.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Plight of the Single Man - Part 2

(Continued from yesterday's post)

Common mistakes:
- Aiming too low. When a man is afraid he won’t be able to fulfill a woman, or when he's lazy, or when he wants to "rescue" someone, he “marries down” (intellectually, spiritually, etc.) to ensure he’ll always be enough.
- Looking for your exact opposite. While some opposites complement, others detract. Just because you can offer financial prowess doesn’t mean it’s wise to marry someone who can’t even balance her checkbook.

The best thing to do is to look for someone who needs nearly the exact measure of what you have to offer. If you’re a man of intellectual depth, it’s not going to serve you well to marry a dense woman. You may be able to meet her intellectual needs, but eventually you will feel that your gifts are being wasted, and you won’t find the satisfaction of using your gifts. You will become bored, because she won’t be able to stimulate you in that area. But marrying a woman who is your intellectual equal will serve as a continual source of fulfillment. And it will challenge you to greater heights.

If you possess spiritual insight, there are women out there who are praying for men who can challenge them in that area. They long for a man who is strong enough to lead them. You will find greater fulfillment in that area than in marrying a woman who isn’t your equal.

In short: think of what you have to offer and look for the kind of woman who needs it in the measure that you possess it. Being appreciated and respected for what you have to offer will be far more fulfilling and stimulating than trying to figure out what you want.

Thoughts? Criticisms? Hit me up in the comments.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Plight of the Single Man - Part 1

Men, this might be revolutionary for you. This week, I had three conversations with guy friends who were struggling to find the right woman. They wanted to know why I didn’t address that in my recent week of blogging. And well, I kind of did (although it was directed toward women, I think it fits both sexes). But in the meantime, an even more interesting answer has presented itself. Stay with me…

Not long ago I read a really embarrassing book because a friend begged me to. I’ve read tons of relationship books, but this book taught me entirely new things. Some of this might seem archaic to you. If it does, read the book. Dr. John Gray makes better sense of it than I can.

One of the main things of note: A man derives his deepest satisfaction and fulfillment in a relationship by giving to a woman. A woman derives her greatest joy from receiving. The way this plays out over the course of a relationship is multi-tiered. But here’s the way I think it applies specifically to “finding the right woman.”

“When a man focuses on what he wants, he is sure to miss the woman for him. When he focuses on the question, ‘Am I the right man for her?’ then he will find clarity…” (Dr. John Gray)

Since men are happiest when they give, they’re missing the point by trying to figure out what they want to get. The better question to ask is, “What do I have to offer? And what kind of woman would be the best recipient of that?” Because when a man offers those things to a woman, he will find his greatest pleasure in being what she needs.

(I'll post the 2nd half tomorrow. And yes, this is a re-post... I had two friends tell me that they felt it was "too long" the first time.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Man, oh man...

Men, this might be revolutionary for you. This week, I had three conversations with guy friends who were struggling to find the right woman. They wanted to know why I didn’t address that in my recent week of blogging. And well, I kind of did (although it was directed toward women, I think it fits both sexes). But in the meantime, an even more interesting answer has presented itself. Stay with me…

Not long ago I read a really embarrassing book because a friend begged me to. I’ve read tons of relationship books, but this book taught me entirely new things. Some of this might seem archaic to you. If it does, read the book. Dr. John Gray makes better sense of it than I can.

One of the main things of note: A man derives his deepest satisfaction and fulfillment in a relationship by giving to a woman. A woman derives her greatest joy from receiving. The way this plays out over the course of a relationship is multi-tiered. But here’s the way I think it applies specifically to “finding the right woman.”

“When a man focuses on what he wants, he is sure to miss the woman for him. When he focuses on the question, ‘Am I the right man for her?’ then he will find clarity…” (Dr. John Gray)

Since men are happiest when they give, they’re missing the point by trying to figure out what they want to get. The better question to ask is, “What do I have to offer? And what kind of woman would be the best recipient of that?” Because when a man offers those things to a woman, he will find his greatest pleasure in being what she needs.

Common mistakes:
- Aiming too low. When a man is afraid he won’t be able to fulfill a woman, or when he's lazy, or when he wants to "rescue" someone, he “marries down” (intellectually, spiritually, etc.) to ensure he’ll always be enough.
- Looking for your exact opposite. While some opposites complement, others detract. Just because you can offer financial prowess doesn’t mean it’s wise to marry someone who can’t even balance her checkbook.

The best thing to do is to look for someone who needs nearly the exact measure of what you have to offer. If you’re a man of intellectual depth, it’s not going to serve you well to marry a dense woman. You may be able to meet her intellectual needs, but eventually you will feel that your gifts are being wasted, and you won’t find the satisfaction of using your gifts. You will become bored, because she won’t be able to stimulate you in that area. But marrying a woman who is your intellectual equal will serve as a continual source of fulfillment. And it will challenge you to greater heights.

If you possess spiritual insight, there are women out there who are praying for men who can challenge them in that area. They long for a man who is strong enough to lead them. You will find greater fulfillment in that area than in marrying a woman who isn’t your equal.

In short: think of what you have to offer and look for the kind of woman who needs it in the measure that you possess it. Being appreciated and respected for what you have to offer will be far more fulfilling and stimulating than trying to figure out what you want.

Thoughts? Criticisms? Hit me up in the comments.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Working in the Arts

*The NY Times has a report on the N.E.A.’s study of working artists (including architects and designers) in the United States.

Interesting tidbits:

- “More Americans identify their primary occupation as artist than as lawyer, doctor, police officer or farm worker.”
- “More than one in four artists live in California and New York, where their sheer numbers are overwhelming compared to the artist colonies in other states.”
- “Overall, artists make more than the national median income.”

One of my favorite quotes of late is from Aubrey Spears: "Truth has bigger muscles in art." I've heard that gun control activists made very little difference in the legislation... until someone wrote a movie called Bambi. Then things shifted dramatically. Art opens up people's hearts, softens their core.

Want to change the world? Want to impact culture using your gifts? Come to New York.

*Via Tom & Alissa

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

You CAN buy me love. Yes, you can.

Maybe you know about my big crush... And you can make all of my dreams come true.

So... who's got $800 mil for me? Anyone? Anyone?

Bueller?

I Am A River.

I wrote this a while back after a conversation with a girlfriend who compared women to water. I thought it was interesting. What are you?

I AM A RIVER

Darci said we are all like water.

Some of us are rain—alternating quiet with raging intensity, dramatically moving from place to place.

Others are lakes—docile and serene and contained. They are a nice place to go to get away.

Still others are oceans—wild and uncontained, but with the occasional buried treasure.

And then there are rivers—the place for adventure and sometimes peace, but always in motion, moving in the same direction.

I am a river.

Maybe an ocean.

No, a river.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

A Day Late

So I just wrapped up my week of blogging about men, women, and relationships, but I failed to answer one of the questions that someone sent in to me (Sorry, Anne!) and am making steps to remedy that. Here we go:

“How do I know what to look for in a man? What if some of my expectations are too high/low?”

I’ll try to answer that question for both sexes here. My policy has always been that I want to marry a man who will be my best friend for the rest of my life, so I try to think of the qualities that are important to me in a best friend. Here are 15 questions that work well for me when thinking through this kind of thing:

- Do we like to do the same things? (not all the same things, of course – it’s important for you to have individual interests that you can explore on your own)
- Do we like to talk about the same things? (Again, not all the same things, but the big ones. For example, it is an absolute deal-breaker for me if a guy can’t expound upon his thoughts about spiritual matters. Being in ministry, this is too much a part of my life to not be able to discuss it with my best friend.)
- Do I respect this person? Even when he/she fails? And does this person respect me?
- Do we have fun? Do I enjoy being around this person?
- Does this feel natural? Is it easy to be around this person or does it require a lot of effort?
- Do I trust this person with my heart?
- Does this person make wise decisions? (For marriage, you will be making decisions with this person for the rest of your life. If they don’t execute wise decisions, it will affect you forever.)
- Am I able to be my true self around this person without fear of rejection?
- Does this person understand me in a way that even I don’t understand myself? (This is important if you are looking at marriage as a means to become holier and more sanctified, because this person will be able to help you develop your strengths and reduce your weaknesses.)
- Can I welcome the “hard truths” from this person when they challenge me?
- Does this person help me become all that God has called me to be? Am I developing into a better version of myself because of his/her presence in my life?
- Does this person encourage me, lift me up, and make me feel alive? Or tear me down?
- Could he lead? Would I follow?
- Am I this person’s biggest fan? Do I think he/she is awesome?
- Does he/she make me love Jesus more?

These 15 questions are just a starter kit. There are tons of other things that might be important to you, but those would be more specific to your situation and your desires. And as for your expectations being too high/low, all I can offer is this: pray about it and ask God what He wants for you. Ask Him to put His desires in you so that you will want the right things. And ask for His eyes to see those things when they come along.

Hope this helps!
~TLC

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Summary of Man + Woman Blog Week

This concludes my week of blogging about men, women, and relationships. Thank you so much for your questions and comments! Here are the highlights, along with a few bonus pieces. If you want to know more info, read the rest of the blogs!

Women
- Find out who God is, then find out who you are. It will help you not to be such a fearful wreck.
- Tend your garden. Let God heal the parts that are broken and restore them.
- Don’t let just anyone into it. You are not desperate. God wants His best for you!

Men
- Find out who God is, then find out who you are. When you discover His plan, chase it!
- Get your head on straight. Women are not a buffet for your eyes.
- Game on! When you pursue a woman, do it blatantly and righteously.

Prayer for Women:
Pray for the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. Pray that your heart would trust in the goodness of God. It produces a peaceful essence that doesn't lend itself to striving and clawing and grasping… rather, it lends itself to patience and grace and joy.

Prayer for Men:
Pray that God would help you to be drawn with the fire of a thousand suns toward character and godliness. Physical beauty is vain, it will fade, and it will disappoint you. Character grows. Beauty fades. Only a fool expects a lifetime of fulfillment from something that is guaranteed to be temporary.

Thoughts on Marriage (for women):
- Pray for your husband as often as possible. Buy this book.
- Find the right place on the Speak Up / Shut Up Continuum. Thou shalt not nag. Talk to God.
- Don’t just misplace your complaints – eliminate them. No talking to girlfriends or mom! Build him up in public and in private!
- Work on your appearance. Be as attractive as you can be for your husband and for him alone.
- Have a lot of sex with him. Welcome it. Initiate it.

Bonus Question:
Do you believe there is one person for each individual? Or does God have many possible matches for us, and it's us to discern the best choice?

I personally believe that God has one person for each individual. I definitely lean toward the whole “God is sovereign” end of things, meaning that I believe He has all these things planned for us, and that He guides us down His path to help us discover that person (this is an entirely different theological discussion that I won't broach here). I’ve heard people say, “I married this woman and it was a huge mistake. She’s not the one.” I completely disagree. Once you marry a person, they become the one. They're it. Even if you don't believe that God is sovereign, you've still entered into a lifelong covenant with them. Ultimately, that is your choice and that is God’s choice. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of disagreement and rebuttal on this, but this is where I fall on this answer.

If you have more questions or comments, leave them in the comment section and I'll try to respond to them there! Thanks so much for reading... I couldn't have done it without you!

Much love,
TLC:)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Not That I Know...

For the next couple of days, I plan to address the remaining questions I’ve received on these topics. I tried to cover most of the concerns in the previous entries, but these are a few that didn’t quite fit into the format. Here’s the first bonus question, which I have absolutely zero authority to answer. Hah!

“Your blog entries have been really geared toward singles… Do you have any advice for an old married woman about how to improve her marriage?”

Well, I don’t know you and I don’t have any details about your marriage, but I’ll do my best. And please remember: I’ve never been married, so I’m speaking mostly from what I’ve learned via my scripture, married friends, and books. Maybe the amount of books I’ve consumed on the topic will somehow bridge the gap between ignorance and information. You asked for it…

1. Pray for your husband. As often as possible.
I’ve already written about The Power of a Praying Wife, and I still use it as a daily prayer guide. I recommend buying it, breaking it in, and using it for the rest of your life.

2. Find the right place on the Speak Up / Shut Up Continuum.
This is a followup to the first point. My mentor advised me “Most of your complaints about your husband can be solved by keeping your mouth shut to him and open to God.” Not that there’s not a time to speak up—just pray about it first. Proverbs repeatedly warns men against marrying a quarrelsome or contentious woman. It says that she is like a constant dripping. We call it nagging. If you have a tendency to nag your husband, remember that it’s turning you into the person Proverbs talks about – and it says it’s better to live on the corner of a roof than in a house with that kind of woman. Uh oh.

3. Don’t just misplace your complaints – eliminate them.
When you stop nagging your husband, don’t transfer that over to your girlfriends. Or your mother. And refrain from putting him down in front of his friends. I know it must be a struggle, but that kind of talk (even when offered as a “prayer request”) only serves to emasculate and disrespect your husband. It destroys the intimacy of marriage and steals his trust in you. Build him up at every turn—in public and in private—and reject the temptation to tear him down. Always.

4. Work on your appearance.
It’s a big deal. You are the person God has given him to fulfill all his needs for feminine beauty. You are the one he chose. Plus, you deserve to take care of yourself. Prioritize it.

5. Have a lot of sex with him.
No, really. Initiate it. Revel in it. Initiate it again. Maybe you feel like he’s been neglecting you or that he never pays attention to your needs. Meet his anyway. And I suspect (it's all I can do, really) that it will have a way of warming up the fires of your relationship, not just your bedroom. Stormie Omartian puts it this way, “Something is built up in the man and the marriage when this need is met by his wife. Something is diminished when it is not. You leave yourselves open for temptation and far more destruction that you can imagine when this area of intimate communication is neglected… there is no excuse not to engage in it regularly.”

And with that, I’m done. Do any of you married people (men or women) have any other advice to add to this? Also, please correct me on anything I'm wrong about!

Thanks,
TLC

Monday, June 02, 2008

Healing My Inferiority Complex

When I was 18 my mentor told me to choose a verse that could serve as a "code" for my personal life and my future marriage, something to aspire to and challenge me. This is what I chose:

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear."

The more I read it, the more it made me feel inferior, unfeminine, unlovely. I am fine with inner beauty--although my shoe collection testifies otherwise--and I'm totally down with submission to a godly man who empowers me to follow. But here's the rub: Maybe on my good days I could be considered "gentle," but it would never be one of the top 5 adjectives used to describe me. And I am not "quiet."

Peter was practically rebuking me, it seemed. How could I ever be these things, these "beautiful" things, when they seemed to contrast so strongly with my natural temperament and even my spiritual gifts? I prayed about it, talked to people about it, tried to forget about it.

Then one day, I was talking to another friend who has a similar temperament. She mentioned this verse to me and how she hated it because of those same reasons. And in that moment, God showed me something that I'd never realized before. When I measured it against scripture, it made sense. God totally transformed that verse into one of possibility and hope... here's how it breaks down for me now:

Peter refers to it as "the inner self" and speaks of the "quiet spirit" -- that doesn't mean women need to be silent and demure. It doesn't mean we are to be devoid of opinion or insight or wisdom. What it means is that our spirits should be at rest with God, that we should trust Him and fear Him alone. Maybe we are vocal, maybe we are shy -- but if our hearts trust in the goodness of God, there is a peaceful essence that doesn't lend itself to striving and clawing and grasping. When our spirit is quieted, it lends itself to patience and grace and joy.

The great thing about this verse is the freedom it promotes. True freedom come when we focus our eyes on the Lord, trust in Him, wait for Him. It comes when I surrender the desire to act on my own behalf and instead choose to trust in Him. Most of that striving is done in fear anyway, right? But if we don't give way to fear, we become more like Sarah, more beautiful, more gentle and quiet in our spirit, even if not in our temperaments. Beautiful!!

And for those of you who are single women, here's a little something I wrote for you/me on the topic of keeping a quiet heart while waiting.

Put Away Your Flashlight (Song of Solomon 8:4)

Put away your flashlight –
The one you shine into love’s closed eyes
Hoping for a flinch, ever-so-slight
Grasping at the hope of a pending dawn

No more shaking love, my dear,
Begging it to wake
Your heart will faint from exhaustion,
And regret will steal your morning

Press your face against the pillow now
And wrap yourself in sheets of truth:
“There is no ‘meantime’ when you
Rest deep in the arms of your Pursuer.”