To the Missing Island Youths

Where have you gone?

police tape, news cameras

thousands of Facebook posts

not a word, not a trace

five lives, teens, youth

are there more of you?

more—that vanished like morning fog

look, search, question, follow-up

find nothing

what does it take to erase a person—five people

surely more than a week, a month

Where have you gone?

pouring over each clue, seek similarities

island born, under twenty-five, slight build

odd ones out, queer, creative—different

too different to connect, to alike to ignore

are you together, wherever together is

lost, but not found

you leave a space greater than you occupied

hundreds search, thousands weep

Where have you gone?

taken, stolen

escaped, free

questions without end

will you be seen again

five people,

do you rest without

those who best love you

Where have you gone?

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What Is Wrong With Me?

A 24 year old man once asked me if I was as discontent about being single as he was. He asked if there was something wrong with him. I paused, reflected on where I was 4.5 years ago and found myself being more wise than I actually am. Three things are true of people who see ‘all their friends’ getting engaged, married and starting families– 1)there’s nothing wrong with you, 2) you are blessed–not cursed and 3) you will find someone to share your journey.

1) There’s nothing wrong with you.
As 20 somethings (and any age really) we compare ourselves way too much. Really, how can we help it. Everything is a contest. We vote constantly on what’s hot and what’s not. We keep up with the latest trends, games, what’s making headlines on social media. We retake our selfies dozens of times, apply several filters and touch ups and add hashtags so people will give us a tonne of likes and validate our projected self image.
 The self image that we carefully crafted and borrowed from our favourite celebs and/or Pinterest pages. Add to that the pressure of watching most of your friends hitting milestones in their lives. They are purchasing homes, getting married, having babies and posting hundreds of photos a week about it all. All of your photos are selfies.
This is for a few reasons–firstly, you’re single. You do things on your own. Secondly, as a result of being single, you don’t get invited to the family friendly fun things. Your friends think that you’re out having adventures, when really, you’re watching Youtube videos at Starbucks wishing that you weren’t single.
It is not a deficit towards your character that you are single. In fact, take it as an opportunity to discover yourself without feeling the need to compromise (also known as faking) the things you enjoy in order to win favour with the object of your affection. What motivates you? What fills you up? What do you really enjoy? Do that. I mean, watch Netflix too, but DO something. Live YOUR life. Stop trying to live someone else’s life by looking at what they have and thinking you’re missing out because you don’t have it right now.
2) You are blessed–not cursed 

The best revelation of my 20’s as a single woman has been the freedom. Not that I don’t want to share my life with someone, nor do I hate children, but the freedom of a single person is vastly different to the freedom of a family. If I wake up tomorrow and want to go to Hawaii (just pretend I have money for that right now), I don’t have to discuss it with anyone other than work.  And even with that, though it would be REALLY irresponsible, I could call in sick (or quit) and pack a bag for three days, and just go swimming in Mexico or Australia. I could spend New Years in Paris if I wanted to without having to worry about paying a mortgage or saving for my kid’s college.
I have time to stay up too late at rock shows and eat terrible left overs for breakfast. I can choose to have wine instead of supper and eat french fries on the side. If I want to throw a dinner party that is a little risqué in theme (but not too risky , as I love Jesus), I don’t have to worry about what my significant other or their parents might think of me. I sink or sail my own ship for now.
On a slightly less introspective note, think of all the opportunities you have for impacting other people’s lives that you wouldn’t have if you were in a long term committed relationship. Commitments take time and investment. They are worth while. Yet, if you are both working full-time, and you have kids, you will have little time for anything else until you get over the baby/toddler stage.
Right now you can stop on the street and talk to homeless people for hours–maybe even take them for a hot meal because you alone dictate your schedule. You can choose to eat beans and rice for a month and donate the money you would’ve spent on fancy groceries to charity. You can chaperone youth trips, and go on short term missions trips instead of vacation–all of which are more trying for those in families. Let’s face it, we miss the people we love deeply when we are away from them for long periods of time…get some solo adventuring in while you’re free to do it!
 3) You will find someone to share your journey.

This last one is not a cliche. Though I know not everyone gets married, that is not the point. You WILL find someone to share your journey with, you just have to realize that sometimes they are NOT a love interest. I know, at the peak of loneliness that is not what a single person wants to hear. But, my best adventures were the ones that I took on my own to go and see a good friend. I was able to encourage them and feel the richness of love that they have for me. See, people who are in long term committed relationships have a lot more worries than the average single person.

Their life is united to another body, mind and soul–and that is a heavy and wonderful burden to carry. Often they feel that your love for them is extravagant when you take the time to adventure with them. Whether that adventure is taking them and their new baby to the swimming pool, or going on a ladies (or men’s) only camping trip. The person you share your journey with is likely to change between now and when you find your one true love. Don’t wait to enjoy the ride. Go make some memories.

** I’d like to add, if you would like to join my support network and help me in this journey of radical obedience http://www.gofundme.com/cherylfollandGCN follow this link to donate and share. Every little bit helps. **

Fan Friday: About Sex

I had a great conversation with a friend last night about the place for sex in a relationship. At the risk of ruffling some feathers, I’d like to take the time to address what I believe on this sensitive subject.

In a culture that is sex positive, and belonging to the LGBTQ culture which is dramatically sex positive, I come across as archaic and old-fashioned IMG_1658in my beliefs. I believe that sex was designed by God to take place
within a committed covenant that over the centuries has evolved into what we now recognize as marriage. I word it this way on purpose. Marriage wasn’t always a state recognized union, and is some places it still isn’t.

In North American culture, our covenant unions are surrounded by  ceremonies and paperwork. In other cultures, if you sleep together you’re married. One thing h
olds true along this spectrum, sex is sacred and our culture has lost that.

IMG_1386I’m not here to shame anyone, I can only speak from my experience and my convictions. I believe the Bible is true, which is why coming to terms with my sexuality as “other than
straight” and Christian doctrine was so hard—is so hard—in the first place. There are more verses about covenant, marriage and faithfulness in scripture than I can count. Marriage is so important to God and to the LGBTQ community.

What are we gaining by promising to be with someone we haven’t really treated any different from the last person we were with?

We gave the last person(s) our heart, our mind, our body…we probably thought we’d be with them longterm too (unless it was casual sex—which I’ll leave for another discussion). What makes sexual intimacy intimate is that it’s sacredness isn’t for everyone to enjoy. It’s a promise to be vulnerable and fully open to another person. If you wouldn’t trust someone with your life, your heart and your future, why would you trust them with the most tender parts of yourself?

Ultimately, if you’re a Christian, you need to figure out where your convictions are in light of the Bible. Do you believe it has authority or is it a nice book to you? No judgement. My sincerest heartfelt hope is that you learn what your convictions are and live a life of integrity. Don’t feel pressured to feign someone’s idea of holiness and don’t feel pressured to be sex positive simply because the people you identify with most are doing it. there’s glorious freedom in knowing who you are in Christ and living accordingly.

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Cheryl

Take Me to Church

This is the best poem I have ever written to date. I was afraid to share it with the world because of how “love” is personified here. After sharing it with a very godly friend of mine, I’ve gained the courage I desire to share it. She made an insightful comment–the woman is you–this is the way you see love. 

How do you see love? Bittersweet? Passionate? Consuming? Steadfast? Tidal?



“Admit it: you have spared her nothing, not even this.
Like little planets hanging there suspended like soft stars like
cattle kneeling in earth. Crows flutter in her veins; church bells
come again in wet speech.”
The Usual Past Tense …Is Hung
Emily Carr
Bittersweet is a generous love
all at once devoted and consuming
infatuation at its best
she becomes your whole world
every detail cemented in your heart
catalogue the joyful enraptured bliss
dote on her with all your riches
negate your own self care
all other people you dismiss
while you worship her
Admit it: you have spared her nothing, not even this.
Specks of copper on porcelain
intentional chaos of a master sculptor
highlight flaws that make perfection
you trace the dots forming the picture
her skin holding constellations
the rhythm of her heart begins to spike
careful attention at the cost of all else
you and she in limbo here
in all your differences alike
contained within her universe
Like little planets hanging there suspended like soft stars like
Time is not of importance
you lose yourself in her
and she lazily devours you
tasting the soft caverns of your heart
minutes turn to hours and days
you cannot think freely of her spells
mischief is her master
freedom is her burdened yoke
grazing through dormant impassioned belles
at her pleasure you are reduced to
cattle kneeling in earth. Crows flutter in her veins; church bells
Two are one and one are two
a tangled sleepy mess
she is the bond you cannot break
love rests here within forbidden fields
discipled by her captured affections
silent and still your bodies preach
to one another’s quiet fears
to pebbled paths of discontent
to consumption of each ripened peach
her pale blue eyes whisper in your ear

come again in wet speech.

Christmas Cheer

This is a year of firsts. The first Christmas I celebrate without plenty of children around. The first Christmas I am too far from home to surprise my family with either gifts or my presence. The first Christmas completely on my own.

I feel great! Like many single adults living far from home, I often find this time of year very lonely. God has blessed me with a change of perspective…maybe it’s just because 30 is the next birthday on the calendar, but I’d like to think it’s Jesus shaping my heart…in any case this year I am surrounded by love. Generous people are everywhere if we are willing to swallow our pride and admit we are alone. Letting others into my life gave me plenty of invitations for Christmas Day. I went from feeling like a burden or forgotten to having the privilege of choosing which events to attend!

I’m so excited to spend this time remembering Jesus with people who share His love and they do so in practical ways. Lonely people don’t really want a gift, though we appreciate them. What we really want is time. People who care to spend time with us during a season of togetherness. Who has God placed in your life that could use a little togetherness this year?