Meaningful Friendships

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They’re the friends that you don’t have to see every week but the ones who make you smile just thinking about them.  The friends with whom you can pick back up right where you left off whether it’s been a day, a week, two months, or a year.

The friends who you can share everything with because you trust they won’t go around blabbing your secrets and you know they won’t judge you no matter what you say.

The friends where as they talk you can’t help but jump up and down in your seat and scream “What?!?  I thought I was the only one who felt that way!!”  It’s so great to know you’re not alone and to have someone who gets you, who understands what you’re going through.

They’re the friends where it doesn’t matter if you go to six flags or if you just hang out after lunch and talk about random stuff.  Everything’s fun when  you’re with them.

They’re the friends who make you want to be a better person, who encourage you to grow closer to Christ.

The friends who don’t say what you want to hear but what they know you need to hear.  Even if it hurts.  They’re the friends who will gently correct you or offer constructive criticism.

They’re the friends who know when you’re not okay even when you adamantly insist you are.  The ones who can see through the smile all the way to the tears deep inside you.  They’re the ones who hurt for you because they hate to see you in pain.

They’re not the loud, obnoxious ones who are the life of the party.  The ones who want to be popular but aren’t focused on investing in someone’s life.  The ones who forget your name.

They’re not the ones who promise not to tell anybody but the next day you hear through the grapevine the secret that only they knew.  They’re not the ones who care more about juicy gossip than your heart.

They’re not the ones who would only choose you if there isn’t someone better around.  The ones where the relationship is one-sided and it’s your job to make sure the friendship doesn’t fall apart.

They’re not the ones who laugh about your feelings just because they don’t understand.  The ones who are more focused on their life and their problems than on finding out how you’re doing.  The ones who don’t listen  to you.  The ones who interrupt you if what they have to say is more important to them than what you are talking about.

I have had my share of the not-so-meaningful friendships.  I’ve had more “friends” than I care to admit stab me in the back.  I struggle with the insecurity of whether or not someone likes me as much as I like them.  Whether or not they actually want to hang out with me or be my friend.  Maybe that subconscious worry stems from the past friendships where I was used only to get what they wanted.

But I now have a small handful of real, deep, close friendships.  I feel so blessed to have these amazing people in my life and it’s so exciting to be able to love them without worrying about if or when they’ll decide our friendship isn’t worth it.

I used to be obsessed with trying to be popular.  I wanted to fit in.  I wanted everyone to like me.  After a year or so, I finally seemed to be on the inside of our group but it wasn’t as fulfilling as I thought.  I had a ton of very shallow friendships.  I started realizing that it wasn’t the quantity that was important but the quality.  I am so thankful that God taught me that important truth.  Now I try to focus on investing in a few people who are like-minded with me, who also seek to grow closer to God, and who care as much about me as I do about them.  It’s so rewarding and I can’t tell you how much they have blessed me.  I love you guys!!

Complete in Christ

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I feel so empty somedays.  Like part of my life or half of my heart is missing.  Like I’m a puzzle waiting for that last piece to be put in its rightful spot so the masterpiece can be finished.  I know my problem.  I have a God sized hole in my heart but I’ve been trying to fill that hole with a marriage sized cork or a man sized puzzle piece.  Neither of these were meant to fill the hole so they aren’t going to fill the emptiness.

We all were born with a hole in our hearts—an emptiness and void inside of us. We can try to stuff it with the things that surround us. We can choose to fill it with our desire for a relationship, our longing for a specific career, our group of friends, our greed for more possessions or more money . . . but none of these things will satisfy us—nothing of this world ever can. For a time, we may find something to fill the hole in our heart. . . something that seems to complete us. . . something that we think will make us happy and content, filled and satisfied forever. . . but in the end, we will find ourselves just as or more empty than before.

Until we realize that only God will fulfill us, we will live our lives searching for satisfaction and completion in all the wrong places. Saint Augustine put it this way: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”  Colossians 2:10 tells us that we “have been filled in Him.”  Christ completes us! He’s the missing puzzle piece. He fulfills us, satisfies our desires, and takes away the emptiness that we’ve been living with for far too long.

Jeremiah 2:13 says, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Israel, in this verse, has left God. They forget that God can quench their seemingly never-ending thirst. They go out in search of a drink of water with broken hearts and cracked cups; and they wonder why they never seem to have enough to satisfy. Their wandering hearts cannot find rest until they find the ‘more’ they have always wanted, the ‘more’ that is just beyond their grasp, the ‘more’ that will just end up leaving them empty, the ‘more’ that they think they will find in things of this world; they are not content with the One who is enough.

Don’t be like the Israelites, constantly searching for fulfillment in cheap substitutes when the real deal is right before your eyes. Instead, cry out like David in Psalm 63:1, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you;  my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”  For after all, “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places…and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:11).

Are you seeking your completion in something that this world offers?  Are you searching for your worth through relationships or a prestigious career? Or are you discovering your purpose in Christ and seeking fulfillment in Him alone?

Random Acts of Kindness

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Whether it’s the woman who stops to tell me I’m beautiful when I’m wearing sweatpants and forgot to put make-up on that morning.  Or the man in the checkout lane at Walmart who lets me go in front of him.  I love it when people do things like this for me or give me random compliments.  It literally makes my day!!  I stopped to think about it and realized…when was the last time I did something like that for someone?  If random acts of kindness put a smile on my face, why can’t I go out of my way to cheer someone up today?

Ladies I challenge you to come up with at least 5 random acts of kindness every day.  I need to work on this too.  Let’s do it together!!  It can be a simple thing like complimenting someone.  I often see a woman at a restaurant who is absolutely beautiful.  Why don’t I take a minute to step outside of my comfort zone and let her know?   If a cashier or an employee at a store is doing a great job, tell them!

Here are some other ideas I came up with:

  1. Pay for the groceries of the person behind you in line
  2. Help someone load their car at Walmart
  3. Leave a gift for the mailman
  4. Send an anonymous encouragement letter
  5. Donate blood
  6. Free babysitting night for a single mom or a low income family
  7. Leave inspirational cards on cars
  8. Pick up litter
  9. Give someone a flower
  10. Offer your seat
  11. Return a shopping cart to it’s proper place
  12. Donate to the next tip jar you see
  13. Volunteer at a homeless shelter
  14. Go to a nursing home and visit with the residents
  15. Shovel your neighbor’s driveway
  16. Rake your neighbor’s yard
  17. Be a salvation army bell ringer
  18. Help pick up something that someone dropped

Can you come up with any others?  Let me know what random acts of kindness you’ve done today!  I’d love to hear from you!

What I’m thankful For

 

1 Thessalonians 5:18- “Give thanks in all circumstances…”

Ephesians 5:20- “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father and in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Thanksgiving should not be the only time of year that we sit down and make a list of what we’re grateful for.  We should be doing it everyday.  But Thanksgiving (or the day before) is always a great time to start! 🙂

I am thankful for…

A family who will always love me no matter what

The way Jesus loves me unconditionally

Forgiveness

The grace of God

Friends who encourage me to grow closer to Christ

When people pray for me

The way the air smells in autumn

Chocolate!!!! 🙂

Weekends

Memories

Children’s laughter

Empty sidewalks when I’m on a run

Honeycrisp apples dipped in peanut butter

The smell of Jonagold apples

Apple pie (can you tell I LOVE apples?)

Compliments from random strangers (these always make me smile!! :D)

Quiet mornings

Cozy sweaters when it’s cold out

New jeans 🙂

Pictures with friends

Selfies with my sister

Contentment in Singleness

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As a young child, I could hardly wait for my twelve torturous years of school to be over. I would count down the days until I would no longer be chained down by paper and pen. I would finish each school day with the exciting thought that someday soon I would graduate. I would be an adult, and this tiresome time of lessons and homework would all be over.

Yet now that kindergarten through sixth grade, junior high, and even high school are all behind me, I can’t help but wish with a sigh that I had better enjoyed my childhood years. My mother warned me not to let my thoughts rush to the future. She told me that adult life had many responsibilities that as a child I didn’t have to think about. She told me that I would grow up fast enough. She was certainly right. I didn’t realize that in the blink of an eye I would no longer be a child. I was too busy wishing for what I didn’t yet have.

You would think that I would’ve learned my lesson. You would think I would now understand the importance of being content, yet I still often find myself wishing away this season of my life for one that I hope to be soon in coming. Instead of enjoying my years of singleness, I look anxiously towards the future—hoping that marriage will be included.

Oftentimes I am too quick to think “the grass is so much greener over there.” Though, usually, it sounds a bit more like: “Oh, if only Prince Charming would come right now, I just know I would be happy forever.” We rush through the now—the season of life God has purposely placed us in—for our then. And soon, we’ve reached our pasture of paradise—FINALLY! But . . . wait a minute . . . it’s not quite as green as we thought it was. So we either look back with tears in our eyes as we wish that we hadn’t wasted those years that are now behind us or we spy a new plot of land where the grass is definitely so much greener this time around.

If we can’t find joy in doing our own laundry, why do we expect to find joy in doing a load double the size? If a 9 to 5 job is too much to bear, what about when the children are sick or cranky and the dishes are piling up and your husband’s out of town on a business trip? If we are not happy where God has put us now, why do we expect to be happy with what we think we want for our future? God wants us to fight this giant of discontentment in our life. He wants us to realize that He put us in this exact time, this exact place, and these exact circumstances for a specific purpose.

I believe discontentment—this greener grass mentality—is a problem that the majority of women struggle with. Perhaps it is evident in your life when you compare yourself to your closest friend, and then just because you don’t have her looks, personality, prestige, or money, you believe that there is something wrong with you. Or maybe you’re refusing to enjoy this stage of life because you are too anxious to hop onto the next.

Discontentment poisons our effectiveness for the season of life that God has placed us in. If we weren’t so busy daydreaming about Prince Charming, we’d have more time to serve others. If we weren’t constantly wondering when our knight in shining armor will appear, we’d be able to grow closer to God and trust wholeheartedly in His plans for us. If we weren’t so busy worrying about the what ifs of our future, we’d have more time to talk to God.

Remember, this season of singleness is profiting you profoundly, whether or not you ever get married. However, let’s go ahead and presume that you will someday be someone’s wife—after all, the majority of us will most likely one day be married. Think of your single years as practice for your married ones. You won’t be found anxiously waiting—wondering if (and hoping that) your hubby will get that big promotion. Instead, you will know the secret of patiently waiting on God. You won’t sigh despondently as you compare your tiny two bedroom home with the mansions of your friends, for you will already understand how to be truly content in everything. You won’t be overwhelmed with despair when your husband returns home one evening without a job. After all, you will know from experience that God works all things out for His good, even though it may be hard to see it at the moment.

You won’t be left wondering when God will bless you with children or if you’re destined to be barren for eternity. Instead, you will be able to trust that His timing is ALWAYS best. When your children are getting on your nerves almost constantly, you will know how to breathe deeply and let the peace of God fill you. You will have practiced patience so often during your single years that now at this most opportune time it is second nature to you. After all, patience is perfected through trials and troubles and tests (Romans 5:3). Your nerves will not control you or your actions . . . only God will. When your husband is not the perfect, angelic being that you thought he was (or your children do not turn out to be innocent cherubs), it will not ruin your life because you will already know that only Jesus can fulfill you, not the preconceived ideas that you dreamed up for your future. The hardships of singleness can grow you and prepare you for your future. Will you let them?

So many women live with the misconception that they are only discontent because their dreams have not yet come true (whether it is marriage, a pay raise, or a specific career path). They believe that as soon as they have their desires fulfilled that their discontentment will disappear with a snap of their fingers.

Most women who are pining for married life think that after marriage they will never again wish that their life is different, never again complain, never again have a sour attitude, never again experience anything but a sunshiny day. Yet, if you are comparing your life with all of those around you now, why do you assume that discontentment will never slosh about in your brain once you are married?

Perhaps you will no longer lament over the fact that you are always a bridesmaid and never a bride, but maybe instead you will bemoan the fact that your husband is not as attentive as Suzy’s. Perhaps you will have no more nights of solitary dining; maybe instead, you will whine that dinner’s now cold because John got stuck in traffic on his way home from work. Maybe you will no longer be found coveting your best friend’s marital position, but perhaps you will feel discontentment permeating your soul because Lucy has more children, her kids are better behaved, or her husband has a higher salary.

If you are fostering an attitude of discontentment now, if you are cultivating seeds of covetousness, you will find that instead of instantly being weeded out once you are married, these feelings will turn into an overgrown field of briars. Remember, if you do not grasp the secret of contentment now, then you can count on feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied in the future—even after you are married.

Fruitful Singleness

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This season of singleness is growing us in patience and teaching us how to trust in God. 1 Corinthians 4:17-18 encourages us, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” We may temporarily be experiencing an uncomfortable season of loneliness and confusion. Of doubt and impatience. But this time is for our benefit.
In Eric and Leslie Ludy’s book, “When God Writes Your Love Story” (an amazing read, by the way), they share a story of Eric’s sister, Krissy. She is asked by her brother Mark if she is destined for singleness. Her answer is simply, “Today I am.” Such a simple answer, but so profound. Until we walk down the aisle on the arm of our daddy . . . until we are given away to the man we love . . . until we are actually married . . . we are destined for singleness. We do not know if God’s plan for us includes singleness forever, but until He brings someone, we should be serving Him and living for Him—and Him alone.
Does your life have purpose? Or are you sitting in your rocker with a book in your hand, staring out the window and waiting for Mr. Prince Charming to ride up on his horse? Paul hands us a deep truth in Philippians 4:11: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
You don’t know how long your season of singleness will be. Everyone’s is different. It could be a year, a decade, or, if it is God’s will, forever. We should not be sitting by the window moping and sighing until our future husband appears. Instead, we should be preparing. 1 Corinthians 7:34-35 tells us that “an unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.” Don’t waste your single years pining for your future husband; use this fruitful time, free of distractions, for your advantage.
Joshua Harris says in his book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”: “Although we don’t sin when we look forward to marriage, we might be guilty of poor stewardship of our singleness when we allow a desire for something God obviously doesn’t have for us yet to rob our ability to enjoy and appreciate what He has given us.” He goes on to say: “Let’s live our todays for His kingdom and entrust our tomorrows to His providence.”
Ladies, I challenge all of you to use your singleness to its fullest potential. I encourage you to seek Christ, not marriage. Let me warn you, it will not always be easy. But why waste the time God has given us now just because we are impatiently looking toward that which He has not given us yet?
Is God calling you to the mission field? Are you hesitating because of a fear that says if you go you will never marry? Is God calling you to pursue a specific career that you’re putting off as you search for Prince Charming? Is He asking you to begin a ministry but your fear is causing you to hesitate? Are you being led to volunteer at a local hospital, homeless shelter, pregnancy care center, or nursing home? Is God calling you to Himself but you haven’t noticed because you are too busy planning your future wedding? If God is calling you to do something, DO IT.
Stop obsessing over an earthy prince and start obeying your Heavenly prince. Stop searching for romance and instead turn to the Lord. Stop looking to marriage or a dating relationship to fulfill you. Stop believing that only a boyfriend or husband can satisfy you; that only romance can erase your loneliness. Instead of chasing after what the world says will satisfy, seek God. He alone can fulfill us.
I have a few questions to ask you. What if you are not married for another five years? Or what if you have to wait another decade to be a wife? Would you really want to waste that abundance of time moping?
You may feel that the suspense of not knowing when or who or how is killing you. Yet, honestly consider the possibility that your married days may not even be remotely near. Instead of pining, we should be using our singleness to learn what it means to rely on God. We should be using these years to become the woman that God created for us to be. Instead of putting our life on hold as we wait for a man to come into our life, we should be using our singleness to serve God in ways that would not be possible if we were married. Instead of chasing after guys, we should be chasing after God.
The purpose of our life should be to glorify God wherever we are (2 Corinthians 5:9) and in all that we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). I pray that you seek to glorify your Heavenly father wherever He has placed you—whether in the camp of marriage or singleness.

Pray For Your Future Husband

   

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 If God has destined you to one day be married, then your future husband is out there somewhere—right at this very moment. Isn’t that something? You may not yet know who your future husband will be, but at this very moment he’s living and breathing. He could be on a ranch in Texas, in a Starbucks in Michigan, working at a Christian camp in New York, or going to college in Missouri. He could be attending classes at the Dallas Theological Seminary, he could be an intern pastor at a church in Mississippi, he could be in Alabama working at Burger King’s, or he could be a farmer from Pennsylvania. You may never have met your future husband but he’s out there . . . somewhere.

     There are so many different ways that you can pray for this special man that you will one day fall in love with. Pray that God continues to grow your future husband into the likeness of Christ. Pray that God protects him and holds him tightly in the palm of His hand. Pray that God gives him the strength to save himself for you. Pray that he pursues whatever God is calling him to do. Pray for his physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Pray that he is continuing to become the man that God wants him to be. Pray that he falls in love with God’s Word and meditates on it.

Many of us know that when we marry it will be to a man who is a strong Christian who shares our beliefs. But we too often overlook that HE MAY NOT BE A CHRISTIAN YET. Right now, as you read these words, your husband may be searching for truth. Pray for him. Pray that God brings the right people into his life to bring him to a saving knowledge, if he doesn’t already have one.

I know it may be hard to start out. It may feel awkward at first—praying for someone you don’t even know. But it gets easier in time and I have found that lifting him up in prayer makes me feel closer to him even though I don’t even know his name. I find that it’s easier for me to express myself through pen and paper and so I actually keep a journal of my prayers for him. Here is one from that journal:

“Dear God,

. . . I pray that my husband does less and loves more. I pray he does not live a busy or hectic life but instead one of selfless love and service. I pray he is not concerned with his own comfort—propping up his feet as he lounges lazily—instead, show him others’ feet that need washing. I pray his love is not just shown through words but also through actions. I pray that this love is not a self-love but a love of and for You, poured out and proven by his life. I pray that he understands the importance of love—that without it his accomplishments mean nothing, they lose value, and are empty, vain, and meaningless. Instead of seeking prestige, help him to seek You. Help him to understand that fame in this world is not what is important—living a legacy for You is. . .

I pray that his life is not described by his accomplishments—what he is doing—but what You are doing through him. Help him understand that this life is not about him but about You. I pray that his treasure is not of this world but of You. I pray that his eyes are not fixed on himself but on You. . . I pray that his every thought, his every action, and his every step are all pleasing to You. I pray that he shines so brightly with Your love that others can easily see You evident in his life. I pray that his life is marked and characterized by a heavenly love. I pray that his life is not about what he can get but about what he can give. I pray that he is not focused on taking in but pouring out. I pray that his heart is not cold or hardened or closed but warm and softened and open. . .

I pray that Your hand is obvious in his life. I pray that his every step is determined by asking if it is something You would do. Help his life not be full of deeds of darkness—instead help him to live like a child of the light. Help him revere You so greatly that he understands that You—the One who matters most—are always watching. . .

I pray that he surrenders all of his life and all of himself to You. I pray that his feet follow You wherever You lead. I pray that his hands are always ready to serve You. I pray he understands what he does “for the least of these” he is actually doing all of it for You. . .

God, I’m waiting for a big, strong man of You. I’m sure this world feels that this man of mine does not exist. But I’m waiting for You to bring this guy into the picture and prove otherwise—defying their beliefs and expectations. . . I’m confident that You didn’t mess up with this dude of Yours—I just know he’s going to be totally awesome. And I’m just tickled pink because one day, I’m not only going to meet him. . . I’m going to marry him!”

And one other example:

Dear God,

I pray not that You give me a man who will complement my weaknesses, but a man whose personality will challenge me to growth. I pray not that You give me a man who will never butt heads with me, a man whose personality will never clash with mine but for a man who will stay by my side even though it will not always be easy, a man who always points me to You, and a man who encourages me to pursue sanctification. I pray not for a man who will fulfill my will and desires but one who will fulfill Yours. . . I pray not for a man who will give me pearls, red roses, or chocolates “just because” but a man who will love me always “just because.” I pray not for a man who will buy me an expensive diamond ring but a man who will give me something more valuable than all the riches in the world, something I will treasure more than the largest diamond on earth, something I long for more than all the gold money can buy: his heart. . .”

Girls, please don’t think of this as a small thing.  Praying for him is HUGE.  James 5:16b reminds us that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

     Dannah Gresh, in her book “And the Bride Wore White,” shares a story about a woman named Dolores Cummins: “The air was cold that December night. Church bells reminded us to pray for boys trapped in the Battle of the Bulge. I was 15, but I remember hearing a voice saying, ‘Your future husband is in that battle—pray!’ A year later, I met my Robert. We started dating, and later we married. To my amazement, he related his experience of lying facedown in a beet field during that battle. The Germans bayoneted nearly all of his fellow soldiers, but they simply stepped over him, sparing his life.”

     You do not understand how greatly God can use your prayers for His glory. I highly recommend Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer’s book entitled “Praying for Your Future Husband” for more ideas on how to pray and also for more testimonies on the power of prayer.

 

One Step at a Time

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Wow.  Here I am.  I always wanted to start my own blog.  But I never thought I actually would.

I’m on a journey.  This thing called life.  And I’m inviting you to come along for the ride.  I will be sharing what I have learned in the past and what I’m currently discovering as I seek to pursue God and glorify Him always.