Friday, February 12, 2010

Trusting God with Relationships.

Relationships have been on my heart and mind lately and I by that I mean all types of relationships. From my relationship with God to my close friendships to my small groups and church family to the typical male/female relationships a single person of my age my be thinking about. And to tell the truth I am growing in many of the areas. Starting the New Testament Challenge at my church has drawn me closer to God every day as His history and love story is laid out chapter by chapter in the greatest book ever written (The Bible). He is stirring in my heart in ways that I never even imagined when I started the NTC 2 weeks ago, challenging me in ways that I yet don't even fully understand, but it is bring about revival in my life and I can feel Him ready to move through me out into the community I am a part of. My friendships are constantly growing. As I have said before I am blessed beyond what I even deserve with amazing girlfriends that just continue to open their hearts and exude love in every way possible. And I am growing in small groups. This summer I got involved in a young adults ministry that has opened up many new relationships and opportunities for growth not to mention the heart group I joined for the NTC. I love to fellowship with all these people, to hear their journeys in Christ and see how God is working in their individual lives. All I can say is God is good!!

Yet one are that I feel I am not moving is in the male/female relationship department. Yes, I have male friends whom I value emensly, but we all know that is not what I am talking. I am talking about being single and desiring to date and get married. And really this was not something I really gave much thought to until this past year. I was quite content with my singleness and viewed it as an opportunity to be used by God during these single years that I might not be available for down the road when I am married. To be honest though, in part, though I may have been mature enough for marriage in many ways I was just not ready for it. However, that has greatly changed. Perhaps it was the slew of friends, classmates and total strangers that got married in the year 2009 or have upcoming weddings in 2010. Or perhaps it is the fact that my 25th birthday is right around the corner and in my mind I always assumed that I would be married by this age. Or (and this is what I really think is the case) I am beginning to recognize the desire for marriage God has always had in my heart. I am a big believer that God designed us for relationship; with Him, with others, and as man and wife. Marriage has been an evident plan of God's since the beginning. He saw in Adam that it was not good for Adam to be alone (Genesis 2:18) and then created a helper suitable for him (Genesis 2:18). And so I believe in this plan for my life, though some days it does not make the wait any easier.

It begs the question then what am I to do whilst I wait. Let me tell you it has been the focal point of some intense conversations I have been having with God lately. I am open and honest, pouring out my heart and my thoughts to God on the subject at hand. And admittedly there are some days that I feel as though I am talking to the ceiling and like what I am professing is not being heard at all. So comes more waiting; waiting for an answer to my prayers, waiting to see where God is going to lead. And today that is why I write because in a way I have an answer to a prayer. No, I have not magically found a man and been remedied of my singleness, but I have found some answers to what I should as I am waiting for him. As you may know I am an avid reader of the Boundless blog and webzine and I love so much of the advice that they offer singles who are in the same boat am I. Today as I scanned the daily blogs I came across a series written several years ago by one of the contributing authors and it was literally like having my personal prayer answered. All the things that I had for so long wondered about and asked God about were right there in this series of articles. Hallelujah!! I just love when God answers prayers in ways that are tangible and don't leave me scratching my head wondering what that possibly could mean. So now rather then try to sum up all the information that I myself am still trying to absorb I will point you in the direction of these articles. Maybe you think that they will have nothing to offer you or maybe for you it can be an answer to a prayer like it was for me. Either way I encourage you to just check it out, it may surprise you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Dream Worth Believing In

* I just want to note that I did not write this, a friend of mine did. I was cleaning out my word documents when I found it and thought it was too good not to share with everyone. It really captures some thoughts that have been stirring in my own heart lately so I hope you all enjoy.*

Think about what you desire. Think about what you dream. Think about that which stirs your soul. Now answer these questions.

Does it bring into perspective the pages of your story you are already holding? In other words, can you see your past leading up to it...or perhaps preparing you for it? And vice versa...if this dream were to happen, this desire fulfilled...can you see how it would make more sense of your past? Shed more sunlight on it? Or even rescue you from it?

Does it explain the longing in your heart for a life you haven't found yet? Think of the life you crave to live. Would this desire or dream fit securely into it? Do you see this thing expanding and complementing you life, rather than limiting you? If this dream comes true, do you think you could do and be more for God, than you could otherwise? Would it strengthen you as a person and further your quest to become that which you were created to be?

Does it give you back your heart? Does it take away pain? Does it lead you down a path of adventure, life and love?

If you've been answering "yes" to these questions, perhaps it's time to start believing in your dream. Now here's one more question. How would you live differently if you believed it to be true...if you believed it could happen...if you believed it was from God?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bromances and Manly Women

First, let me say hello and that I know it has been a long while since I have posted anything, but I just really have had no desire or drive to write anything really thought provoking. Today though I've got the spark and so I will share.

A few minutes ago I was reading a blog post on the Boundless blog about Bromances. Just a few things to clarify before getting into the meat of my thoughts. For those wondering what Boundless is, it is a Christian singles website and blog that offers up advice and articles on Christian singleness, dating, marriage, etc. It is very good and I highly recommend it. Next you may be wondering what a bromance is according to Wikipedia (I know awesome source right) it is a "close, but 'non-sexual' relationship between two males" The article in itself was describing this recent trend in male relationship and was struggling to understand really what this new trend was all about. Of course many many many people wrote in explaining what it was and that they were kind of uncomfortable with this growing phenomenon of effeminate male behavior and all I could do was shake may head and laugh to myself.

You see, for years (yes even in the Christian circles and Churches) we have been telling our men that they need to listen more, be more sensitive, openly express their emotions...basically be more like a woman. So then is it wonder that now we have an entire generation of men that are openly emotional and sensitive. People come on! And the reverse is happening as well. As one commenter pointed their are women who have picked up some more masculine traits. To me this is a bit alarming and disturbing. As a society/culture we are destroying the unique male/female traits that God designed each gender with. We are telling our men that they need to step out of their emotional stupor and begin to emote more freely and as they have done so women have found it more and more necessary to take on a masculine role. Instead of celebrating the femininity that beautifully defines a woman and the bruiting masculinity that defines a man we have meshed them together into a sort of Hodge podge of both sexes and come out with bromancing girlie men and butt slapping manly women. It is time to wake and see the damage we are doing to both sexes. Women, we need to recognize that men are not women; they burp and fart and punch each other and act really tough and guess what that is okay because that is how God designed them. Now men, if you want the women to stop acting so emotionally sterile and carrying on some of the cruder male actions then it is time to step up and act like men. We don't want to assume the role, but someone has had too. SO boys and girls let's start acting like boys and girls should, let's stop trying to make one into the other and let's start celebrating our gender differences and recognizing them as reflection of God's image within each of us.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Did I just click love goodbye?

Hello everyone, sorry for the long absence from writing. As you probably assumed the title of this post is definitely a play of words based on the book title I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris. This post does deal with relationships, but not with the actual book itself. This is merely my own thoughts on my own dating life from a Christian perspective.

Let's start with the basics. I am single for those who do not know and for the most part I am very happy and content. I have had only one long relationship that started when I was in high school, but since then really haven't dated much nor was I really looking up until about a year or so ago. God and I were working on our relationship issues and I saw this as an important first step before I ventured back onto the dating scene. Honestly, the things I learned in that time were so very vital to what I want in a relationship. I learned about who I really am and what exactly I am looking for in a husband. Plus, God was blowing the doors wide open on my concepts of relationships. In the Christian community just because we are believers does not mean that we are immune from the generalities that encompass all of dating. We still offer up heartfelt expressions such as; "When you stop looking that's when you will find him" or "God has that perfect someone out there for you it is just not time for you to meet them yet" or "God is using this season of singleness to teach you something" and the big one "God can be your husband, lover, etc..." I am the first one to say that I bought into all these statements (some which are completely false and others that hold some truth, but still paint an incorrect picture). You see, God created us for relationships. Yes we are created with relationships in mind. Look at your life and see all the relationship you have. There is the God relationship, your family relationship, you friendships, your church relationships...the list goes on and on, but within in all of these there is a very special relationship we are created for that can be filled by no other person and that is the husband/wife relationship. No matter how much you love and serve God (unless called to celibacy which I believe very few are) or how much you invest with your family and friends there will still be a hole left unfilled until we find the spousal partner. And we are created that way. God designed that desire for a husband or wife. He saw at creation that is was not good for man to be alone and thus created Eve for Adam. So it is not bad/ungodly like we are taught to have the longings and desires in our heart for a husband or wife, it is a godly desire placed there by God himself.

Now you are probably asking what all this has to do with my post title and so now I am going to tell you. Once God and I had worked on many of issues in my life and that my eyes/heart had been open to many of the relationship falsities that I had believed I felt it time to step out into the dating scene with my new gained knowledge. I was going to be active in the pursuit of my future husband because I know understood God was not just going to drop him into my lap or flash a big neon sign over his head. Yet, I had been gone so long where did I even begin. Bars and clubs were definitely out of the question because the caliber of man I was looking for was not going to be found there. The church members and small groups are a great place to start. They can see potential in matches that you might not always recognize or might not even realize are there. However, the unfortunate thing about living in a small area is that the availability of men is limited. Many come to the area already married or dating so it closes many a door for singles out there. So what options did I have left? I knew a few people who had had success from online dating and I thought why not give it a whirl you never know. It gives you the ability to widen your dating sphere to where there just might be someone you are compatible with. But which one to choose? There are hundreds out there offering love at the click of a button, but which one offers you the greatest potential in finding a match. After doing my research I settled on eHarmony for several reasons. It is one of a very few sites that does a personality assessment to discover truly the things that I value most and it takes the matching out of my hands. It is sort of like friends setting up people on blind dates only with a little more psychological insight into the people. I have to admit it is kind of exciting to open your page and find matches waiting there for me to discover. However, (here comes the tie in to the title) I cannot help but wonder did I ever click someone with potential goodbye. Now some bad candidates are easy to spot. Ones with no pictures and very little filled out on their profile are probably not subscribing to the service so it is easy to close them. Then there are the ones who despite matching on a psychological level they are no match on the spiritual level. And of course there are the ones who choose to initiate the close which is no big deal. But the ones that are hard are the ones that seem like they have potential, but for one small reason something inside says no. Is it a chemistry thing? Is it a looks thing? Am I being entirely too picky in the process? Despite trying very hard not to date by the worlds standards and giving people honest chances I still find old practices ingrained into my relationship thought process. So by the time we reach the open communication stage of the process most matches have fizzled out. And it leaves me with the question is internet dating all it is cracked up to be? Sure, there is some science/psychology behind what eHarmony is doing, but is it merely a substitution for being out in the real world or can one really find the right person from a dating website. As for me I do not have a definite answer yet. I think it can be a tool in the pursuit to find someone, but certainly not the only means that should be used. So I guess for now only time will tell if I just clicked love goodbye.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ruined by God's Love

Have you ever been ruined by God? It is an interesting question I know. And I'm sure many of you right now are scratching your heads and saying did she really just ask me if I've been ruined by God. Or you are thinking I have been healed by Him, redeemed by Him, restored by Him, filled by Him and sometimes I have been broken or humbled by Him, but never has God ruined me. I promise if you stick with by the time I am done writing today I will answer that question for you.

I had the pleasure of accompanying my friends Lauren and Keith to church yesterday. It was a very non-traditional service in the sense that the entire time was just spent praising and worshiping and fellowshiping and communing with God through music (something I could have done all day). The worship leader was explaining to us that this service had been in the works for many months and that as he was preparing for the day he spent a lot of time reading Romans, especially Romans 6. As he was preparing God inspired him with this song he was about to introduce to use and he presented us with the very same question I just presented you with.

Honestly to say I was shocked is an understatement. In my little religion major mind all sorts of bells and whistles and flags were going off. I just could not believe what this guy had just asked. My interest was also peaked though (probably because I was curious to see how this guy was going to talk his way out of this). But he began to read to us the scripture that God had inspired him with and I began to see where he was going. If you are not familiar with Romans 6 Paul is explaining that we have died with Christ and are given new life in Him. That we are dead to sin. That we are free from the bondage of sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I know that being a slave does not sound very appealing to anyone, but because we are slaves in one form or another to something why not be a slave to righteousness living for Christ.

So with that set up here is how we are ruined by God. As we die to sin and to our former selves we are bound as slaves of righteousness. We abdicate our place and control of our own lives and allow God to take the reins. His internal working of our heart, mind and soul begins to reflect in our outward and daily lives so much so that it begins to be less of ourselves who is seen and more of God. Thus by the standards and practices of the world living without God we have been ruined by His love and presence in our lives. So you see by allowing God's inner working and by becoming slaves to righteousness rather than slaves to this world we have become ruined by God's love (at least in the eyes of the world which is fine by me).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

It Is Well With My Soul

First I apologize for the long absence from my writing. The last month and a half has really been crazy for myself and my family (all of which has worked itself out now). There were many times that I felt inspired to write and believe me I had much to write about, but at the end of the day I just didn't feel like writing. I was so physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted at days end that all I really wanted was a shower and a pillow. I know that sounds bad.

I am back now and finally feel ready to write. One of the ways God has been speaking to me is through music as He often does. However, this time I wasn't listening to contemporary music, I went back to the hymns of the church. There is such beauty and wisdom within the verses of the old hymns that in times of distress I find much comfort in them. One day while I was listen to some I began to wonder what had inspired the men and women of the past to write such powerful songs so I hopped on the Internet and began to research the history behind the hymns. Let me just say there are some amazing stories behind these hymns, but the one that struck me the most during this particular rough patch was It Is Well With My Soul and I just have to share it with you.

The lyrics of this hymn were composed by Horatio G. Spafford in 1873, but the years leading up to his penning of this hymn were marked by sorrow and suffering. In 1870, Horatio's only son died as a result of scarlet fever. A year later, Horatio who made much of his living through real estate investments, found himself in financial ruin after the Great Chicago Fire. Wanting to take his family's minds off the tragedies they have just suffered he decided to take them on holiday to Europe, but was called out on business before they were set to sail. Horatio insisted that his family travel on ahead of him and that he would join them later once his business had been resolved. On the voyage to Europe the ship carrying his family collided with another ship and sank. All four of his daughters perished in the sinking, but his wife survived. 9 days later Horatio received a telegram from his wife saying "Saved Alone". Horatio quickly boarded the next ship bond for Europe so that he could join his grieving wife. As he made his voyage across the ocean then captain called Horatio to the bridge and pointed out that the spot they were now passing over was the place that they believed his daughters had died. It was then that he returned to his cabin and wrote the lyrics which he took from 2 Kings 4:26.

After reading his incredible story I was in awe. Here is this man who had lost his home, his possessions, his children and still he was able to say it is well with my soul because he was assured of the salvation that comes from Christ. And I thought to myself why am I evening complaining. I have a home, I have clothing, I have food and I have my family. I have lost nothing in comparison with this man. If he can say after all that "it is well" then there is no reason why I shouldn't be able to say "it is well" with me. So at that point I released my grip of control on the situation and turned it back over to God. It is well with my soul because God is my salvation, because He is faithful and because He is in complete control.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Abba Father, I Cry Out

*Disclaimer* This particular post has nothing to do with hating God or losing my faith. It is just a girl having a David moment before her Almighty Creator.

God I am struggling to understand what is going one here. It seems like the waves just keep pounding down on me and my family. Each time we have managed to get back on our feet, but it is not long before the next wave comes crashing. Honestly what is it that you want us to learn. We have bent our knees, we have been broken, we have looked to You and yet here we stand again. I just wish I could understand the lesson you are trying to teach us.

And really it is not fair. It seems like so much pain has been directed toward my family in a few brief months, but here we are again the sting from the last blow barely subsiding. I know that life is not meant to be fair. I know that You never give us more then we are able to bear. I know that through suffering we are sharpened. I know that You will provide and that we do not need to worry. I love that Your love for us is so great and so enveloping. I know, I know, I know. Yet, I am still questioning why. My human side is questioning the logic and reasoning. Why do we need to go through one more thing? Haven't we proven our faithfulness or is it the other way around haven't you shown Your faithfulness to us more than enough times? Father just help me make sense of it all.

Abba Father my heart and soul cry out to you. In this time of heartache where else can I go? Fill my heart with your peace again. Give my soul rest in the uneasiness of this time. Spread your love and mercy like a wildfire through my family. Let my cries for them be heard and not fall on deaf ears. For their sake and not my own do I cry to You. I know you will never leave us or forsake us. So to your feet I fall Precious God. Carry this burden while we are weak and trodden on. Build us up in ways only You can. Give us strength to rise once more. And walk with us till we hurt no longer. Mighty is Your Name and Awesome is Your Power. In You alone do we place our trust, our faith, our hope now and forever.