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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

To All the Single Ladies - a little perspective........

I find that this topic is always of interest, not only among women but also among the guys.
I've just never tackled it before.


But I'd like to offer some perspective on dating and singleness. In spite of feeling inadequate to address the subject, I think perhaps I should.  I think I'm qualified...


I am a female.


I've been single. (And I looked forward to being married from the age of, oh, about 4!)


I have three daughters above the age of 12.


I get to run in several circles with young adult women.


And...I have a husband and a son and a brother and their friends are friends of mine.


That said, I have some insight, some input, and some encouragement on the subject of singleness...and not remaining thus.

Some of the comments I hear frequently are "Where are all the good guys?  Why are all these great gals sitting at home on Saturday night? How am I ever going to get married if no one asks me out?"


I well remember some of the angst of singleness.  The loneliness, the self-doubt, the comparisons.  I wanted to be in a relationship and I wondered where all the good guys were. And why they weren't asking me out.  I remember the loooooong conversations with my sorority sisters - the ones who were at the house with me...wondering about the guys.


So I have some replies...for the gals. 

If the guys start asking me these questions, I'll figure out some replies for them.


Be forewarned - I may very well offend at least some of you. It's not my intent but it may happen.  So please accept my apology in advance.  My take on this matter may be a bit different than many "Christian viewpoints". 


Here goes...


1. SERVE. You were created with a nurturing spirit.  It is not only "normal" for you to long for a husband and family, it's good. But don't waste time waiting around for the next phase of life.  Invest in others NOW.  SERVE the Body of Christ where you are.  Nurture your nurturing spirit.  Develop the gifts that will make you a valuable wife and mother, should that time come.  But don't wait around and waste the gift of NOW.  In spite of how your heart feels, the goal of life is not marriage.  It's being conformed to the image of Christ.  It's enjoying your Heavenly Bridegroom and doing all you can to be sure your life brings honor to Him.
(Helpful hint - if you really want to prepare for marriage and motherhood, spend as much time as possible learning to cheerfully and willingly serve those who cannot repay you.  Seriously)


2.  RELAX.  The current climate that insists guys should be "intentional" with you and "only date in order to pursue marriage" may very well be what's keeping you home on Saturday night.  With all due respect to the need for guys to "man up" and not be passive about commitment, can't we find a happy medium somewhere??  Maybe not even all the way to the middle but just a wee bit towards the center place of "dating is how you get to know each other"??  I hear fellas getting a bad rep about being too afraid to ask girls out because they fear rejection.  Maybe that's true sometimes.  But I contend that it's also true that they fear hurting your feelings.  If they ask you out on a "casual date", they fear that it's likely you'll think it's much more.  If they don't ask you out for date #2, they are afraid you'll need counseling and if they DO ask you out a second time, they are afraid you will book the church!  Just relax. You really really really don't have to figure out if you should marry this guy before you accept Date #1.  Don't view males as potential husbands - instead see them as brothers in Christ that would be great to hang out with.  Period.


3.  "Give me a chance" goes both ways.
Girls often rightly feel that guys won't give them a chance (unless they look like Miss America and have Bible knowledge to rival Beth Moore).  And these gals ought to be given a chance.  I couldn't agree more. 
But, maybe, just maybe, gals are just as guilty?  How many times do fellas ask a girl out and get the response of "I'm not ready for a relationship", "You're a nice guy but just not my type", etc.??  Is it possible that the girls aren't giving the guys a chance?
Rest assured - it takes a lot of courage to ask a girl out.  Especially if the prevailing climate is one of "intentionality" and "guard the girl's heart" and "man up". So when/if the asking results in failure , well, he's probably not  inclined to repeat the process anytime soon.
So, while I am NOT saying "lower your standards", I AM saying
Be realistic.
Give grace.
Know that you can't always judge a book by its cover.


And see point #2 again.
Oh, and I love the criteria my church's college pastor gives his guys on how to decide whether to ask a girl out or not - if she carries an ESV study Bible and looks hot to you!!!  Girls, you can use the same standard when accepting a date.  You don't have to figure out if he's "the one" beforehand.


4.  Sort of related to point #3 - Appearance.
We females frequently complain that men care too much about what girls look like. And that it's not fair.
Maybe so.  Maybe not.
But if we are so bothered by that, why do we spend enormous amounts of our resources on hair and nails and clothes and makeup and thinness?  Are we just a little bit hypocritical???
Now, hear me out.  I am not about to tell you not to pay attention to your appearance.  (sighs of relief all around)  In fact, I am going to tell you that God wired men to value your appearance so you need to value it too.  Just don't make it your priority.  I Peter 3:3,4 instructs us to "let not your adornment be merely external - braiding the hair and wearing gold jewelry or putting on dresses, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit which is precious in the sigh of God". 


Do not criticize your brothers in Christ for valuing beauty in women.  God made them that way.  And He made you to not only have an interest in becoming beautiful but to also respond to a man's appreciation of your beauty.  Even my 14 month old granddaughter knows how to twirl her tutu for her Daddy!


Yes, I know I should exhort you to focus on your inner beauty.  So, consider yourself exhorted.


But, as my Mama says, if the barn needs painting...Paint the barn.


5.  But about that inner beauty...
We women have more than a desire to be beautiful.  We long to be cherished. God wired us that way! But instead of wagging our fingers at the men and demand that they cherish us, maybe what we need to do is to
Be cherish-able.  (Is that a word?)
You know what makes us UNcherish-able?
Stuff like sarcasm, cutting remarks, "joking" at someone else's expense. Cynical spirit.  Haughty attitudes (this means you think you know more and better than men - and it also means displaying your superiority even if it's legit).  Having to have the last word.  Pouting.  And coldness - ignoring people, having to be center stage, using the tongue to turn the atmosphere to ice. Being so "tough" as to be untouchable.
Guys notice, girlfriends.  Even if they never point it out to us, they notice.


They also notice the good stuff.
Like kindness.  Plain, old-fashioned kindness.  ALL personality types can be kind.  (Or not) You don't have to be syrupy sweet if that's not your temperament but kindness is always appropriate.
Friendliness.  There will never be a person who doesn't need befriending.
Gentleness.  In an age of "tough people" and direct approaches, I fear we have lost the art of gentleness.  I am not talking about weakness - I just mean gentleness instead of harshness.
Tenderness combined with strength.  We seem to swing to such extremes - either we are so stinking independent that guys figure we don't need them or we are so disgustingly needy that they are repelled.  Being cherish-able means we are vulnerable yet tenacious.  Capable yet receptive. Confident yet soft.


6.  Your  date is not your dad.
Some of you have a lot of pain in your relationship with your Dad.  He might have betrayed your trust or neglected you or failed to live up to God's calling on his life.  And the scars on your heart make you hesitant, even fearful, when it comes to male relationships.  Understandably, you feel the need to protect yourself from further pain.
 I know gals with this story. My heart aches with theirs. My own story and that of my girls couldn't possibly be farther from this  - we've had the best.  And I wish everyone else could, too. 
If your story is one of pain, I urge you to seek some help for healing.  I believe with everything in me that God longs to heal this deepest hole in your heart and to walk beside you in moving forwards toward a healthy male relationship.
As you do, let me gently encourage you to not treat fellas as though they will inevitably let you down.  Guard your heart, yes, but don't expect them to fail you and then punish them if they do.
I know there is great hurt.  But I believe in great healing.  And I'm praying for you!


For you gals like me with a sweet story of father-daughter ties, you, too, must remember that "your date is not your dad".  It is not his job to treat you like a fragile princess nor to make all your dreams come true, nor to protect you from every possible discomfort (including a broken heart -- your feelings are YOUR responsibility!).  It's his job to follow God with his whole heart and treat you with respect.  If it winds up that God brings you together for life, then it's YOUR job to adjust your life to his, to serve him cheerfully and willingly, and to see to it that you respect him because of his position (and God's command!).  Don't worry your pretty little head about what he is supposed to do - that's between him and God.  (So if you have some complaints in that department, take it up with God.  Not hubby.  You're welcome)


Oh, and one more thing.


7. They really like to do the pursuing part.  You can encourage them by being receptive and cheerfully responsive but don't try and move things along at an accelerated pace because they are taking too long. AND don't make yourself so available that they don't have to work hard to win you.  They actually want the thrill of the chase and the sweet rewards of triumph.  Don't cheat them out of it.


Girlfriends, I am PRO marriage.  A good part of my calling is to help women insure theirs survives. I love fairytale endings and I wish everyone could marry Prince Charming and live like Cinderella for the rest of the days.  I know that's unrealistic and most likely unBiblical :)  But I do think God wants our marriages to not only survive but especially thrive.  Because it's the picture He gives the world of His relationship with us.  He takes marriage very seriously.


So it stands to reason that He takes dating very seriously too.


But I don't think He intends to take all the fun out of it, either!!!


I'd love to hear from you.  Single ladies, married women, even the guys you dared to share this post with.  What do YOU think?









James on Prayer

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
James 5:13-18


This passage is chock full of spiritual truth - and application.  Here are some things I see in here:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Your prayers...........

and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.  Revelation 5:8


All day yesterday, Heaven was graced with an aromatic blend of your sweet prayers.  The prayers of the saints.  Your intercession for my Daddy and for my Mom and for all of us.


We thank you - each one of you - so very much!


We were committed that "all would be well with our soul" regardless of how God answered but we are so very grateful and pleased that God saw Daddy through the surgery successfully and we know He will equip him to endure the recovery.


Your calls, your texts, your FB messages were Earthly exhibitions of your Heavenly actions.  Sweet smelling incense that encouraged us, blessed us, and strengthened us.  We cannot possibly say "thank you" enough.  We are blessed.




For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.
Hebrews 6:10


May the God of grace and mercy and generosity bless you and reward you as only He can do.


Amen!
                                                           
                           

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Please pray

For this week's Wednesday's Word, we are going to pause from our journey through James.  Instead of giving you God's Word, I am asking you to pray.


For my Daddy.


Today, as you are reading this, two days' past his 86th birthday, he is undergoing a nephrectomy.  The cancer that he has fought off in his bladder for 12 years has spread to one of his kidneys.  In order to continue his successful combat against this foe, the kidney has to be removed.


Please pray for him.  For my Mom.  For us all.


God is able. God is faithful.  God is good. 


All the time.


The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.   Proverbs 18:10


Thank you, friends.  I'll keep you posted.



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Surviving Suffering

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.
James 5:7-12


These verses follow the admonition to the rich who are misusing their wealth, oppressing the poor.  James is addressing the persecuted and distressed...the context is suffering.


Perhaps you and I are not being exploited and oppressed as many were that read this original letter and as many are persecuted for their faith even today.  We might even feel uncomfortable putting ourselves in the same ballpark as those heroes.  But all who are committed to the cause of Christ have experienced suffering to at least some degree.  (This, by the way, is a litmus test of righteousness - if nothing in our lives causes enough of a stir to provoke at least some suffering, then we have reason to examine ourselves to see if truly we are in the faith.  But that's another post....)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

All those rich people.....

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
James 5:1-6


We're in the home stretch of our trek through James.  The last chapter.  I hope you've fallen in love with this letter as I have.  More importantly, I hope it's taken up residence in your heart and that you've embraced its Truth.


Today's passage requires some grappling with in order to embrace it....let's have a go at it....