Lost Angeles Found

Post-New Years…

This year I spent NYE with a shipload of sailors… real sailors. Shanties and all. I will never forget that

Apart from that, one of my favourite parts of the New Year is my new year letter to myself from the year before… 

Let me explain…

Every year I write a letter to myself to read in exactly 1 year. January 1st is a convenient time to write this letter since everyone else is so motivated about starting new things or self-improvement. (I’ve kept this resolution for at least 5 years!!) It’s not that I don’t have friends that I write to myself (I promise, I do! There’s a reason I’m not reblogging everything!). This letter from the past is a great reminder that I’m not the same person after 1 year. We grow, make mistakes, learn, love, get our hearts broken, achieve, fail, and get back up. The process is beautiful.

What do I write to myself? I ask myself questions… years ago I remember reading a previous letter asking whether or not I was married… that’s hilarious. Anyways, I write about my job(s) or lack thereof, the hobbies I entertain myself with, and even predictions I have for myself in the next year. In 2013 I predicted that the current job I have now would be a character-defining factor in my life, and BOY, that’s the most accurate guess ever! It’s my first full-time job, and getting a wacky creative to tie herself down to a desk for 8 hours a day is like pulling teeth from a rabid badger. 

This past year I road-tripped across the U.S. with my best friend, lost my dog, Sammy, got my first promotion, painted on stage/in public for the first time, watched my brothers graduate from college and high school, and made two new best friends. A lot happens in a year and it’s too easy to forget unless we reflect…

I highly recommend doing this since it provides a sense of perspective. It shows you how much you can grow in a year, and even how you learn best. It teaches you that it’s ok to take risks once in a while. Writing these reflective letters can inspire you to live more whimsically or to invest more time in relationships rather than work. 

Here are some topics to write on if you’d like to give this a try, but don’t know where to start:

  1. Your highlights of the year
  2. Big achievements (graduation, career, new car, etc…) and failures
  3. Travel, adventures
  4. Friends, family and relationships
  5. What you hope for in the new year
  6. Questions you’d like to ask your future self
  7. Personal growth, worldview?
  8. Top 3 life lessons you learned

Some handy tips: I use Google Drive to store my letters in one doc so I can go back and read letters from years before if I desire. Plus, I won’t lose it and I can access it from anywhere with internet. To look back at events and choose my highlights or memorable moments, I go through pictures and even Facebook posts. This is incredibly helpful as you’ll constantly be surprised how much you achieve in a year!

Do you write New Years letters? How has that been going for you?

saskiakeultjes:

tomato face a life long mood drawing 
 

I’m happy that I too blush easily. It’s one of the parts of me that cannot lie and I’m grateful that I’m forced to be stripped of any control that I have over my expression in this sense. I’m free from manipulation because I must blush and being free from manipulation is a beautiful thing. To be honest is a beautiful thing. To know how you feel and to be unable to hold back from expressing yourself in truth is astounding and priceless, raw and real. 

saskiakeultjes:

tomato face a life long mood drawing 

 

I’m happy that I too blush easily. It’s one of the parts of me that cannot lie and I’m grateful that I’m forced to be stripped of any control that I have over my expression in this sense. I’m free from manipulation because I must blush and being free from manipulation is a beautiful thing. To be honest is a beautiful thing. To know how you feel and to be unable to hold back from expressing yourself in truth is astounding and priceless, raw and real. 

iwilltrustinyou:

5 NOTES ON DATING FOR THE GUYS


1. A DEFINITION OF INTENTIONAL
“Intentional” is one of those words that sounds right, but no one really knows what if means. So I would like to clear that up. Here is my working definition for intentional and how it relates to how a Christian man should pursue a woman. 
The intentional man repeatedly and constantly goes first and takes on all of the risk of rejection. He always lets the girl know where he stands so she feels secure and isn’t left guessing. (On the other hand, don’t weird her out by talking about marriage on the first date.) 
Approaching her initially:
Intentional: “I’d like to take you out on a date.”
Unintentional: “Wanna hang out sometime? My roommates are all gone this weekend.” 
Paying the bill:
Intentional: “I’ve got it.”
Unintentional: “Can you cover half the bill? I’m pretty broke right now.” (My wife believes this communicates, “You are worth about $20, but not quite $40.”)
Following up after a date:
Intentional: “I had a great time tonight, and would definitely want to do this again. I will give you a call this week.”
Unintentional: “I’ll call you sometime.”
Bringing other people in:
Intentional: “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you. Would you like to have dinner with my Community Group leader and his wife?” (This is a way to honor her by pursuing outside accountability from a godly couple.)
Unintentional: “I don’t know if you really wanna meet my friends yet …” I.e. “I don’t really want you to meet my friends yet,” and as Chris Rock says, “If you have not met his friends, you are not his girlfriend.” (In this case, there’s a disingenuousness where he’s not being fully open with his whole life with the woman and is cordonning off the relationship from other areas of his life and people who know him. This is a guy who’s only selfishly protecting himself and shielding himself from any accountability and consequences, and he cannot be trusted as the protector of someone else.)
Things are going well:
Intentional: “I think you are a godly, beautiful woman, and I have great time with you. I would like to pursue a relationship with you.”
Unintentional: “Soooooo, what do you think about us?” Or, “I am not sure where I stand. What about you?”
Things look like they could go well for a long time:
Intentional: “I don’t date for the sake of dating, and marriage is a long ways away, but I couldn’t be happier with how things are going. I think you’re amazing.”
Unintentional: “Things are going OK I guess, we’ll see.”
Recognizing the end of the relationship:
Intentional: “I am sorry, I don’t see this progressing past friendship.”
Unintentional: (Time passing … cold shoulder … you stop calling …)
Ultimately, the unintentional guy’s responses are selfish because they put his interests before the woman’s, and they’re moreover cowardly because he avoids addressing where the relationship is, leaving the woman marooned in relationship limbo.
The man in the relationship should always have an answer for three questions: 

WHAT IS THIS RELATIONSHIP? 


WHAT ARE YOUR INTENTIONS? 


HOW ARE YOU DEMONSTRATING THOSE INTENTIONS RIGHT NOW?

The big idea is this, men: Don’t keep her guessing. Let her know exactly where you are at all of the time. It is a risk of course, but better on you than her. Own it. 
2. CLEAN YOUR ACT UP TODAY, NOT ‘WHEN’
You’ve probably heard some guy say this: “I will clean my act up when I find the right girl.” It’s not true. The lie is that once you find the right girl, all your problems will go away—you just need the right motivation, right? Wrong! If Jesus isn’t motivation enough to grow in maturity and pursue godliness, then you are not ready to pursue a woman. 
The truth is that when you’re in a relationship, you get their crap on top of your crap. That’s double crap. It is hard to start a healthy relationship with two immature people drowning in crap. Men, get your life together first, know where you are going, then invite a girl to come along (Prov. 16:1–9).
3. PLAN AHEAD
Don’t spend time with your girlfriend without a plan. Decide ahead of time the prudent time to say goodnight and where you should go. If a frat boy goes to a party with the attitude, “I’ll just see what happens” he will end up drunk and who knows what else. The same goes with dating: your judgment will be impaired when you are together (the opposite sex has that effect). Also, you are not fooling anyone. Every girl knows what “Do you want to go to my place and watch a movie?” means. The battle is won by not putting yourself in that position. And if you do find yourself in the bad position, flee. Literally, get out. Not joking. Make sure she can get home safe of course, but seriously, get out of there. (1 Cor. 6:18). 
Don’t be prideful. Spend time in prayer, think it through, soberly acknowledge your weak and sinful state, and don’t set yourself back (James 1:15).
4. GUARD HER HEART 
I went to a Christian college and I can’t tell you how many times these “good Christian guys” started dating by using the faith as a tool for manipulation. They would start a daily Bible study with a girl they just met, and position themselves as the ultimate confidant and authority in the girl’s life and leaving her heart completely exposed to a immature boy. A mature man knows that the person that can do the most damage to a woman’s heart is him, and he takes that very seriously. This is very difficult line to walk, and takes a lot of wisdom and discernment, but here are some indicators that you may be crossing the line:
You just started dating, and you are sharing “heart” things with each other that you haven’t shared with closest friends and/or mentors that you have known for years. 
You are isolating yourselves as a couple and not listening to people whose opinion you used to value (Prov. 15:22), saying things like, “They just don’t understand what we have.”
Your individual Christian walks become intertwined, and you end up pursuing and becoming closer with each other more than becoming closer with God. 
5. PHYSICAL TOUCH
The Bible only outlines two categories for Christian women in relation to Christian men: either she is a sister in Christ or she is your wife. There isn’t a middle ground. The lie is, “We’re halfway married, so we can do 50% of the married things.” That is not true at all. You need to put physical touch in two categories: acts of affection or acts of desire. 
Acts of affection are ways that you show that you like, appreciate, and cherish  the women that you are dating. Think of it as a affectionate father with his daughter. He hugs her, snuggles her, kisses her on the forehead, holds her hand, stopping at any type of sexual satisfaction whatsoever. He just wants to make sure his daughter knows that he loves her. 
Acts of desire are acts that are reserved for marriage. Foreplay is designed for one purpose: to build the desire to have sex, which it does well. Think of foreplay like and freeway on-ramp: it’s purpose is to transition you to full speed. You don’t see cars hanging out on on-ramps, never intending to get on the freeway. Physical touch is designed to progress, and it is naive to think you will always be able to keep your desires in check. Failure and sin is all but inevitable. 
In short, you know what you are doing. If you stop for a moment and think about it, you know which category the physical touch you are doing falls into. It is different for everyone. It is not helpful for me to tell you where the line is so that your conscience will allow to you run up to that line and hang out there for a while (Titus 2:6). If you are asking the question “How far can we go and still be in the clear?” your heart is in the wrong place to begin with. 
I would encourage any couple who is focused on the physical to change their focus to friendship (Song of Sol. 2:7). Building a friendship will set you up for a strong marriage far more than a physical connection. The physical connection will come later, you don’t have to worry about that. But you have freedom, in the midst of gospel community, to pursue friendship and have fun.
HE’S CALLED US TO HOLINESS
There is a right way, there is a best way, and it is the same way: God’s way (1 Thess. 4:3–8). God did not give us rules just to steal all of our fun; he’s called us to holiness, and the rules are for our joy and protection. The process of dating is an exercise in putting Christ on the throne in all things. So embrace it, and don’t just endure it. 

iwilltrustinyou:

5 NOTES ON DATING FOR THE GUYS



1. A DEFINITION OF INTENTIONAL

“Intentional” is one of those words that sounds right, but no one really knows what if means. So I would like to clear that up. Here is my working definition for intentional and how it relates to how a Christian man should pursue a woman. 

The intentional man repeatedly and constantly goes first and takes on all of the risk of rejection. He always lets the girl know where he stands so she feels secure and isn’t left guessing. (On the other hand, don’t weird her out by talking about marriage on the first date.) 

Approaching her initially:

  • Intentional: “I’d like to take you out on a date.”
  • Unintentional: “Wanna hang out sometime? My roommates are all gone this weekend.” 

Paying the bill:

  • Intentional: “I’ve got it.”
  • Unintentional: “Can you cover half the bill? I’m pretty broke right now.” (My wife believes this communicates, “You are worth about $20, but not quite $40.”)

Following up after a date:

  • Intentional: “I had a great time tonight, and would definitely want to do this again. I will give you a call this week.”
  • Unintentional: “I’ll call you sometime.”

Bringing other people in:

  • Intentional: “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you. Would you like to have dinner with my Community Group leader and his wife?” (This is a way to honor her by pursuing outside accountability from a godly couple.)
  • Unintentional: “I don’t know if you really wanna meet my friends yet …” I.e. “I don’t really want you to meet my friends yet,” and as Chris Rock says, “If you have not met his friends, you are not his girlfriend.” (In this case, there’s a disingenuousness where he’s not being fully open with his whole life with the woman and is cordonning off the relationship from other areas of his life and people who know him. This is a guy who’s only selfishly protecting himself and shielding himself from any accountability and consequences, and he cannot be trusted as the protector of someone else.)

Things are going well:

  • Intentional: “I think you are a godly, beautiful woman, and I have great time with you. I would like to pursue a relationship with you.”
  • Unintentional: “Soooooo, what do you think about us?” Or, “I am not sure where I stand. What about you?”

Things look like they could go well for a long time:

  • Intentional: “I don’t date for the sake of dating, and marriage is a long ways away, but I couldn’t be happier with how things are going. I think you’re amazing.”
  • Unintentional: “Things are going OK I guess, we’ll see.”

Recognizing the end of the relationship:

  • Intentional: “I am sorry, I don’t see this progressing past friendship.”
  • Unintentional: (Time passing … cold shoulder … you stop calling …)

Ultimately, the unintentional guy’s responses are selfish because they put his interests before the woman’s, and they’re moreover cowardly because he avoids addressing where the relationship is, leaving the woman marooned in relationship limbo.

The man in the relationship should always have an answer for three questions: 

  1. WHAT IS THIS RELATIONSHIP? 

  2. WHAT ARE YOUR INTENTIONS? 

  3. HOW ARE YOU DEMONSTRATING THOSE INTENTIONS RIGHT NOW?

The big idea is this, men: Don’t keep her guessing. Let her know exactly where you are at all of the time. It is a risk of course, but better on you than her. Own it. 

2. CLEAN YOUR ACT UP TODAY, NOT ‘WHEN’

You’ve probably heard some guy say this: “I will clean my act up when I find the right girl.” It’s not true. The lie is that once you find the right girl, all your problems will go away—you just need the right motivation, right? Wrong! If Jesus isn’t motivation enough to grow in maturity and pursue godliness, then you are not ready to pursue a woman. 

The truth is that when you’re in a relationship, you get their crap on top of your crap. That’s double crap. It is hard to start a healthy relationship with two immature people drowning in crap. Men, get your life together first, know where you are going, then invite a girl to come along (Prov. 16:1–9).

3. PLAN AHEAD

Don’t spend time with your girlfriend without a plan. Decide ahead of time the prudent time to say goodnight and where you should go. If a frat boy goes to a party with the attitude, “I’ll just see what happens” he will end up drunk and who knows what else. The same goes with dating: your judgment will be impaired when you are together (the opposite sex has that effect). Also, you are not fooling anyone. Every girl knows what “Do you want to go to my place and watch a movie?” means. The battle is won by not putting yourself in that position. And if you do find yourself in the bad position, flee. Literally, get out. Not joking. Make sure she can get home safe of course, but seriously, get out of there. (1 Cor. 6:18). 

Don’t be prideful. Spend time in prayer, think it through, soberly acknowledge your weak and sinful state, and don’t set yourself back (James 1:15).

4. GUARD HER HEART 

I went to a Christian college and I can’t tell you how many times these “good Christian guys” started dating by using the faith as a tool for manipulation. They would start a daily Bible study with a girl they just met, and position themselves as the ultimate confidant and authority in the girl’s life and leaving her heart completely exposed to a immature boy. A mature man knows that the person that can do the most damage to a woman’s heart is him, and he takes that very seriously. This is very difficult line to walk, and takes a lot of wisdom and discernment, but here are some indicators that you may be crossing the line:

  • You just started dating, and you are sharing “heart” things with each other that you haven’t shared with closest friends and/or mentors that you have known for years. 
  • You are isolating yourselves as a couple and not listening to people whose opinion you used to value (Prov. 15:22), saying things like, “They just don’t understand what we have.”
  • Your individual Christian walks become intertwined, and you end up pursuing and becoming closer with each other more than becoming closer with God. 

5. PHYSICAL TOUCH

The Bible only outlines two categories for Christian women in relation to Christian men: either she is a sister in Christ or she is your wife. There isn’t a middle ground. The lie is, “We’re halfway married, so we can do 50% of the married things.” That is not true at all. You need to put physical touch in two categories: acts of affection or acts of desire. 

Acts of affection are ways that you show that you like, appreciate, and cherish  the women that you are dating. Think of it as a affectionate father with his daughter. He hugs her, snuggles her, kisses her on the forehead, holds her hand, stopping at any type of sexual satisfaction whatsoever. He just wants to make sure his daughter knows that he loves her. 

Acts of desire are acts that are reserved for marriage. Foreplay is designed for one purpose: to build the desire to have sex, which it does well. Think of foreplay like and freeway on-ramp: it’s purpose is to transition you to full speed. You don’t see cars hanging out on on-ramps, never intending to get on the freeway. Physical touch is designed to progress, and it is naive to think you will always be able to keep your desires in check. Failure and sin is all but inevitable. 

In short, you know what you are doing. If you stop for a moment and think about it, you know which category the physical touch you are doing falls into. It is different for everyone. It is not helpful for me to tell you where the line is so that your conscience will allow to you run up to that line and hang out there for a while (Titus 2:6). If you are asking the question “How far can we go and still be in the clear?” your heart is in the wrong place to begin with. 

I would encourage any couple who is focused on the physical to change their focus to friendship (Song of Sol. 2:7). Building a friendship will set you up for a strong marriage far more than a physical connection. The physical connection will come later, you don’t have to worry about that. But you have freedom, in the midst of gospel community, to pursue friendship and have fun.

HE’S CALLED US TO HOLINESS

There is a right way, there is a best way, and it is the same way: God’s way (1 Thess. 4:3–8). God did not give us rules just to steal all of our fun; he’s called us to holiness, and the rules are for our joy and protection. The process of dating is an exercise in putting Christ on the throne in all things. So embrace it, and don’t just endure it. 

Your Insecurity Isn’t Just Hurting You…

I’m usually ruminating on things I’ve learned while driving. It seems like a good use of time. Plus it keeps me from being frustrated from other drivers. 

I realised last night behind the wheel that insecurities that I pump in my heart through my veins don’t just keep me from achieving more, they’re also damaging to the relationships around me, especially in the long run. Ah, the journey of life…

image

When my insecurities manifest to actions that don’t identify with who I truly am, it’s to protect myself, but in doing so, there’s a good chance I’m being manipulative.

Say my neighbor offers to cook me dinner because I lost my job and she’s feeling sorry for me. I could turn it down for a number of reasons: 1) it’s too much trouble for her and I don’t want to be a bother (false humility) 2) I don’t want to feel pitied (pride) or 3) I’m not worth her time and effort (self-hatred). These aren’t the only possible reasons one might turn a kind gesture down, but we’ll stick with these for now. The three reasons (and others) listed aren’t the facets that hurt my neighbor however. If I say no, and then put on a facade of optimism about employment in my response and I’m expecting her to leave me alone. I know how she will react and I am inducing her response by creating an persona that I don’t actually have. 

While my enthusiastic no-thanks-I’m-doing-great-see? response will probably not physically or emotionally hurt my neighbor, it’s still an act of falsehood in an attempt to trigger an expected outcome from someone else. That, friends, is a form of control, no matter how sweet it looks in its straight-cut bangs, bow-tie flats, and peter-pan collar. 

Not convinced? New scenario: I’m the president of the photography club in my college and a new person arrives. I flip on the PR-personality: no matter how crappy my day was or exhausted I am, I am fun-loving, inquisitive about everything in this newbie’s life (OMG, you do yoga too? I LOVE yoga!), and I am ready to party. "We should, like, hang out or something." In reality: I have no idea who this person is, they’ve never seen me before and we have no investment in each other. Plus, I hate yoga. I just want to get another member in the club, because… being in the club will make them happy, right? And it’ll make me look good because I think I need external approval to be happy, my drug a la insecurite. Or maybe I can just be me, let them be them*, welcome them and let them decide if they want to come back next week.

My behaviors that rise because of my insecurities (extreme politeness, brash sarcasm, silence, over-bubbliness, super-extraversion, the list goes on!) are methods of control, especially if I can guess how others will react to my behavior. If this is true, acting out insecurity is no different from manipulation, except the insecure one is usually fooled into thinking that he/she is only affecting himself/herself. 

No, it’s not a cardinal sin—in fact, people do this all the time! Have you ever told someone you bumped in to “Hey we should catch up some time!” when you have no intentions to follow through or initiate? Maybe you’ve shrugged off your own needs to hide some hurt or avoid healing. And we all lie to the telemarketer when we want them to stop selling us their new organic soap. I know it’s not the worst thing I could do to another person, but I think when I’m working with relationships, control is not a good asset to have in my inventory. We can get away with these subtle manipulations and live happy, healthy, yoga-doing lives (I don’t actually hate yoga), but it makes it harder when important situations arise and you need to be honest, vulnerable, and genuine. Honesty and trust are the most important currency in your relationships. Don’t be poor. 

*Quote of the day: "How about you let me be me, and I let you be you?" –Jason Westerfield

Holy Spirit introduced me to the supernatural years ago… and if you read my blog, I’m huge proponent of it. Did you know that it’s for you too? That’s right!
It’s not enough to act like Jesus anymore. He called us to BE like him! To do what he does and say what he says. Heal the sick and the lame? Not a big deal. It’s supposed to be super-natural. It’s what you were made for.
Watch this video and get your mind blown.