Showing posts from 2012

Facing Plenty and Hunger

Over they years, I've written extensively about singleness. Growing up in a conservative family and church culture, I was raised to appreciate and desire marriage as a natural part of life. Then I grew up, and I realized that the world doesn't always work the way I thought it did. Instead of being married with a couple of kids, I’m single — a status that has stuck with me consistently whether I kissed dating goodbye or plunged into Biblical dating with gusto.

Of all the circumstances I’ve lived with in life, my singleness has perhaps done the most to teach me about God’s sovereignty. I have choices, and I am called to walk in obedience — but even if I’m honoring marriage and having pure relationships, I’m ultimately dependent on God when it comes to being found a ”good thing” by a godly man (Proverbs 18:22).

Though I've prayed boldly, I've remained unmarried...

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The Cost of Dating

Dating costs.

Dating costs financially. You have to pay if you want to catch a movie or go to dinner. If you date long distance, travel costs like tanks of gas and airline tickets add up. Even a romantic gesture like a bouquet of flowers can be quite expensive.

Dating costs temporally. When you give of your time, you are giving something you can never replace. You may be able to conserve financially, but time is necessary if you want to get to know someone.

And dating costs emotionally. Dating requires being vulnerable and risking rejecting. It takes overcoming fear and trusting daily for God’s direction.

Dating can be very costly...

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A Glimpse: Breaking Molds

I got my nose pierced this week. I feel so wild now. #breakingthehomeschoolermold 

Resting in God's Faithfulness

I didn’t even blink when I saw yesterday’s date illuminating from the computer screen. I knew it was coming. I anticipated it with an ambiguous sense of hesitance and relief — hesitance because I knew I would be reminded of things I’d rather forget, and relief because I knew I would rest in the temporal distance of a whole year. In some ways, I knew it would feel like getting to turn the final page of a difficult chapter.

On November 14, 2011, I became engaged for the second time in my life. At the time, I felt like God was blessing me for years of hopes deferred.

The sweet touches of contrasting coincidence felt like God’s finger prints on a new love. In August of 2004, I had broken up with my then fiance of two months. Seven years later, almost to the day, I entered into a new relationship. It felt like a sign, like God was giving me the gift of a second chance. This time I thought it would come wrapped up with a happy ending.

It did, but not the sort I expected...

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Don’t Be Consumed By The Future

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:33-34 ESV)
At Marry Well, we often discuss the importance of intentional dating. We advocate dating with a purpose — finding out if you and the person you are getting to know are compatible as marriage partners. At the same time, we discourage casual dating that pays little attention to the future of the relationship.

That said, in our effort to think ahead, it’s important that we don’t become consumed by the future...

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Women and Self-Obsession

Ladies, I have a confession. I am self-obsessed. My guess is that you are, too.

Jan Quick begins her Resurgence article “I See You and I Judge” with this confession. Self-obsession is rooted in pride, but pride often shows up in unexpected ways. Quick wisely examines self-obsession through the lens of insecurity.

There is a judge, a jury, a panel of accusers. “Do you think you’ve hidden your shame?” they cry. “You are a fraud, a loser, a wannabe. You’ll never make it to the top!” These voices have been with us all of our lives, it seems. Who are they anyway? The Bible tells us that this voice is the accuser of the brethren whose name is liar and yet . . . it still feels so true...
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A Glimpse: Cake Decorating Class

My little sister talked me into taking a cake decorating class with her this month at Michael's. I was very proud of this cupcake. 

Dream With Marriage in Mind

A couple of weeks ago some long-time family friends came to spend the afternoon with my family. We spent the day catching up on each other’s lives over coffee and pie. As inevitably happens in a family with three unmarried adult daughters, the conversation turned to singleness and marriage as our friends gave us their two-cents of advice.

The husband belabored one point in particular — don’t marry a man who only wants to add you to the life he already has planned. This sort of man, he warned, wants to put you on a shelf with all his other possessions and accomplishments. The result of this mindset, according to our friend, could be disastrous...

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Don't Assume Men Aren't Trying

It’s old news that we have a problem in U.S. churches. There are innumerable singles who don’t want to be single. Women are especially vocal about the issue, while men often seem disinterested. In conservative complementarian circles, women frequently feel as though their hands are tied when it comes to initiating relationships. In this context, it’s all too easy to start pointing fingers at those who have the ability to act — Look at all these single men! Why aren’t they pursuing relationships? They aren’t even trying! ...

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A Glimpse: Turtle fun

My little brother caught this turtle in our backyard. Instead of hiding in his shell, this gutsy guy kept trying to run away.

Strengths, Weaknesses, and Couple Complementarity

Last week, I got to catch up with an old friend from college. She spent the summer falling in love, and as we chatted over bowls of soup, she was almost bubbling over with excitement about her courtship.

I like seeing my friend so happy. But more than that, I love hearing how God-orchestrated her relationship has been. God writes beautiful stories in the lives of his people. The process my friend is going through — regardless of how it will end up — has been a witness to what can happen when people submit their lives to God and allow him to write their stories.

During our discussion, my friend told me about a conversation she had with her boyfriend’s parents. One day when they were alone, they asked her to tell them about their son, specifically asking her what his faults were. They told her they thought knowing his weaknesses may be more important than knowing his strengths...

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Obesity and Attraction

A few weeks ago I came across a Boundless article by Candice Watters titled “Eating for God’s Glory.” Near the beginning of the piece, Watters writes:

I’ve been trying to lose weight for as long as I can remember. (OK, I can remember being 3 years old, and I’m pretty sure this wasn’t on my mind then. But ever since high school, I’ve felt an urgent need to drop a few “el bees.”)
Oh, how I can relate. When I was about 10 years old, I can remember standing in front of the bathroom mirror and trying to hold my tummy in so I would look thinner in my new one-piece black swimsuit...

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Don't Be A Cheap Date

I never wanted to be one of those spoiled girls. You know — the ones who have to be taken out to fancy restaurants and pampered with expensive gifts, the sort who expect large diamonds. I’ve always found that attitude rather sickening.

Instead, I always wanted to be the kind of girl who is a blessing to the men in her life, the type who gives more than she receives. I’ve worked hard to develop that sort of character. Indeed, I’ve become quite a virtuoso in the art of being low maintenance...

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Fully Thankful Today

Every so often, I’ll come across a blog post or stumble into a conversation about infertility. I’ve read about and listened to the very real and deep pain that pours out of the mouths of would-be mothers. And when I listen or read, my heart aches for these women, and I often say a silent prayer on their behalf.

If I am fully honest, though, compassion is not the only emotion I feel. Along with it, I often feel a touch of frustration...

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A Glimpse: Humming Cutie

We hung up our hummingbird feeder last week.

Counting 1000 Gifts

Eucharisteo -- thanksgiving -- always proceeds the miracle. ~ Ann Voskamp
At my church's women's retreat last February, the book One Thousand Giftscame up in a group discussion.

A couple weeks later, a friend recommended a blog to me called A Holy Experience.

That same day, a different friend posted a link to said blog on Facebook.

I visited the blog and read that day's posting. It fit me -- where I was at and what I was going through. And I realized then it was the author of the book I kept hearing about: One Thousand Gifts.

I thought maybe it was a sign. Now, before you dismiss me as a mystic, this is often how God speaks to me -- through repetition. I haven't quite perfected the skill of knowing it's him the first time he says it.

Good Hygiene is Attractive

Brett and Kate McKay of the Art of Manliness recently posted a column titled “Keep a Regular Grooming and Hygiene Routine.” The post is part of a series that focuses on equipping men to live on their own for the first time. Some of their advice is timeless, though, whether you’re just starting out or have lived on your own for awhile...

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The True Story Behind ‘The Vow’

They met in the fall of 1992. He was placing a telephone order for a sports jacket, and she was the customer service representative on the other end of the line.

Initially, they talked about sports, but they soon realized they shared the same faith. In a world before e-mail and unlimited minutes, their long distance relationship managed to flourish. During their first “in person” visit, they read and discussed portions of the book of Job. They had no idea how faith in the midst of hardship would come to define their relationship...

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A Glimpse: Faith and Reason

Biola was a sponsor for last weekend's On Guard Conference. I visited their table. It was beautiful. 

We All Want To Be Loved

I finally got around to reading Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz this summer. I know, I know — I’m behind the times. It feels rather like I’m one of the last Millennial Christians to discover Miller’s work and to enjoy his fresh look at old truths.

Last night I read Chapter 13, titled “Romance: Meeting Girls Is Easy.” I found Miller’s exploration thought provoking, particularly his recounting of a discussion he had one night while sitting on the roof with his friend Paul. Here is an excerpt:

“It isn’t what you think it is, Don.” Paul takes his gaze from the city and eyes the pipe in his hand. He turns it over and taps the top ash onto the roof, rolling the embers under his sneakers. “What isn’t?” “Marriage.” He looks me in the eye. “It isn’t fulfilling in the way you think it is.”
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It's after midnight. I sit slumped on the couch, feeling the cool relief of the summer night being pulled in through the open window behind me. I could pretend the breeze was real if I didn't hear the low growl of the whole-house fan swirling down the hall. But it doesn't matter. The artificial breeze feels good.

I can relax. Almost.

Did I get enough done today?

So it starts, the mental cataloging of the day's tasks, assigning them arbitrary weights of value, deciphering where the minutes went.

And like always, the answer comes from within, deep down like a failure I'm trying to forget.

A Glimpse: Summer Toes

Turquoise -- because I felt like it.

Honor One Another

We live in a dehumanizing culture.

Naturalism and materialism have reduced the soul to a series of chemical processes. The basic difference between man and animal is a couple chromosomes and a few millennia. Life itself is the product of random chance.

The world promotes a low view of who we are, and it shows up in the way we treat each other. Sadly, Christians often get caught in the cultural tide.

But who are we — really?

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Read Before You Initiate

You know that perplexing moment when you realize your match wrote to you without reading your profile? So many questions buzz through your mind.

Why has he contacted me if he doesn’t care about finding out what I have to say?

If he doesn’t have time to read through my profile, does he really have time for a relationship?

If it wasn’t worth the effort to read my profile, why is it worth the effort to correspond? Is he even reading my messages?

Something tells me this guy is a bad listener.
The whole situation is confusing...

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Love and Liturgy

For centuries, our understanding of worship has been influenced by observing the way lovers adore one another. New Testament scholar and former Bishop of Durham N.T. Wright, in his book After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters, discusses how our understandings of both liturgy and romantic love can inform one another...

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The Cheap Vanishing Trick

I’ve been involved in the online dating scene for nearly three years now, and there are some aspects of the system that I will never get used to — like the vanishing trick.

It happened to me again, about a month ago.

I was contacted by a guy on a dating site (not Marry Well). He said he was impressed with my profile, and I after reading through his, I was rather impressed as well. We corresponded almost daily for a few weeks. Then — he failed to respond to a message. I could see the message had been read. I waited two weeks. Then I wrote again, saying I assumed he had decided to move on. Again, the message was read. Again, I got no response.


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Rules, Virtue, and Crash-Barriers

The more I read N.T. Wright, the more I enjoy him. Consider this excerpt from After You Believe, taken out of the chapter titled "Three Virtues, Nine Varieties of Fruit, and One Body."

Another illustration may help -- and may show that this is not a matter of playing rules and virtue off against each other, but of seeing the former within the larger framework of the latter. When the local authorities build roads for cars to travel long distances -- highways, motorways, call them what you will -- they naturally intend that people should drive along these roads in full control of their cars. Ideally, nobody will ever stray from their side of the road into the path of traffic coming in the other direction. But because from time to time people have been known to lose concentration, to fall asleep at the wheel, to be distracted by a pet dog in the back seat, or whatever -- and because sometimes a puncture or other mechanical failure may cause a car to behave erratically, no matt…

Grow Up and Get Real

Last week Jon Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like blog published a guest entry by Christian comedian John Crist titled “Stuff (Single) Christian (Girls) Like: Getting Upset With Guys For Not Acting Like Real Men.” I appreciated Crist’s humorous and balanced approach to the common debate. His conclusion summed up the issue well:

Here’s the thing. Single men and women are both living in a fantasyland. Guys like to play video games and fantasy sports because it makes us feel like real men, like we’re accomplishing something greater than our abilities. There is no game called Fantasy Wendy’s Manage...because we can go make that a reality tomorrow...
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Love of Authority or Authority of Love?

The topic of submission is always tricky at best. There are so many definitions of the term, so many ways of interpreting the pertinent scriptural passages, and so many possible applications of the relevant teachings. And then, on top of interpretive difficulties, we have social and cultural sensibilities to contend with.

It’s not an easy topic.

Still, many conservative evangelicals acknowledge some sort of role distinction between men and women in the marriage relationship. Women are supposed to respect their husbands. Men are supposed to love their wives.

Most of these conservative Christians acknowledge that men are given special authority in the marriage relationship. But what is this authority? And why should women respond to it?

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Real Love and Wild Horses

I heard this song for the first time tonight. Someone I know mentioned it, so I looked it up. I'm glad I did.

A Glimpse: Father's Day Pies

On Saturday, the ladies in my family made 26 pies. 26. We were organizing a Father's Day Pie Giveaway for Sunday morning. Several ladies from church signed up to bring pies. We counted the dads, totaled the promised pies, and then baked up the difference. This year, the difference was about 26.

We made four apple...

The Worst Marriage Advice Ever

Woman’s Day recently published some of the worst marriage advice ever in Stephanie Emma Pfeffer’s ”9 Marriage Problems That Are Actually Good for Your Relationship.” Consider how Pfeffer’s tips line up with biblical wisdom in the area of marital fidelity.

Pfeffer writes it’s good for your marriage when:

You both fantasize about other people. “Fantasies are an ancient aphrodisiac,” says Iris Krasnow, author of The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married. “A vivid imagination allows you to open up to your partner physically and emotionally.” So thinking about a sexy neighbor, for example, can improve your marriage—as long as those racy visions stay in your mind.
Scripture teaches:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 ESV)
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A Glimpse: Unpacking

We are finally unpacking some of our decorative items. With all the moving in recent years, we've had to get rid of almost everything except those items with sentimental value. The result is a quirky, mildly tacky, eclectic mix of odds and ends. I'm finally feeling at home in my house.
Here's a glimpse of our kitchen.

Small-Town Style Social Networking

Last month First Thoughts published Matthew Schmitz’ “A Small-Town Defense of Facebook.” Though Schmitz focuses on Zuckerberg’s social networking behemoth, some of what he says applies to smaller online communities — like Marry Well. Check out this excerpt:

Of course, any tool can be harmful if not used in virtuous moderation, but I don’t think there anything particularly vicious about sharing links and photos with your friends. The temptation to “constant self-fashioning” is no more acute here than in, say, dressing. Sure, both forms of self-presentation can tempt us to vanity and immodesty, but the solution is prudence and care—not necessarily wholly abjuring fashion or closing one’s Facebook account...
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Self-Control: The Forgotten Fruit

Yesterday, Marry Well published an excerpt of Paul Tripp’s recent discussion on maturity. The quoted passage concludes: "Biblical maturity is never just about what you know but always about how grace has employed what you have come to know to transform the way you live."

Tripp seems to be getting at the scriptural idea of good fruit.

So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:18-20 ESV)
As we seek to grow in maturity, and as we assess the maturity of potential mates — what fruits should we be looking for? ... N.T. Wright explores the concept of spiritual fruit at length in his After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters.

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A Writer's Inspiration: Harriet Beecher Stowe

I read Chapter 11 of Scot McKnight's One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow last week. In that chapter, titled "Vocation.Life," McKnight turns his attention to Harriet Beecher Stowe.
As a writer, I found McKnight's discussion extremely refreshing and inspiring. For me, writing has not been lucrative. Meaningful -- yes. But in the eyes of those steeped in our money-centered culture, I think I seem to be only wasting my time.
McKnight's words were just the encouragement I needed last week. I had to share. It's long, but very worth reading. Literary experts may quibble about the merit of Stowe's works, but there is little question that she lived out her faith through her pen.

A Glimpse: Wedding Season

I attended my third wedding of the year this weekend. It was beautiful. 

A Glimpse: It's June

It's June today, and I went to Silver Dollar City

A Glimpse: Practicing

What used to be a pleasant chore is now a treat. 
I got to practice the piano twice this week. 

Flying the Nest

British adults are taking longer to fly the nest, according to a report this week by Nicholas Winning of the The Wall Street Journal.

In a fresh sign the weakness in the U.K. economy is marking a whole generation of Brits, data released Tuesday shows there has been a sharp rise in the proportion of young adults who have yet to fly the nest. (...)
The long-term effects of this culture shift are yet to be seen. Still, I can’t help feeling a bit positive about the trend...

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McKnight on the Romantic Theory of Love

This spring, I’ve been reading Scot McKnight‘sOne.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow. The reading has led me on a journey of refreshment, with almost every turn of a page bringing either insight or conviction or inspiration.

So too with the chapter titled “Sex.Life.” As in his preceding chapters, McKnight paints a window into the kingdom landscape, gently critiquing what is by shedding light on what should be. His discussion of romance, in particular, caught me off guard in the way it resonated with my past experiences and future longings...

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A Glimpse: Summer Love

We carved our first watermelon yesterday. 

An unWedding Day

On May 26, the Gospel Coalition posted an article titled “Today Was Supposed to Be My Wedding Day.” The author, M. Conner, candidly reflects on how God led her through a broken engagement.

May 26, 2012. It was supposed to be a momentous occasion—the day I would walk down the aisle in my mother’s lace wedding gown, peonies in hand, best friend at my side, family and friends looking on with joy. It was supposed to be the day I started a new chapter, the day my dreams would be fulfilled. Little did I know, God had other plans...
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A Generation Hooked on Stimulation

“Is the overuse of video games and pervasiveness of online porn causing the demise of guys?”

So begins CNN’s “‘The Demise of Guys’: How video games and porn are ruining a generation,” published earlier this week. Authors Philip G. Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan examine how certain forms of entertainment media is affecting a generation of young men.

Increasingly, researchers say yes, as young men become hooked on arousal, sacrificing their schoolwork and relationships in the pursuit of getting a tech-based buzz...
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Are You Problem or Purpose Focused?

The Resurgence recently posted “Your Problems or Your Purpose: Where is Your Focus?“ by pastor Stutton Turner, who writes that a good team member is purpose-focused rather than problem-focused. While Turner is giving advice on putting together ministry teams, his words are helpful for choosing a marriage partner as well.

How can you identify a problem-focused person? Turner writes...
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Understanding the Male Mind

I’ve never been a big fan of what my family calls “man movies.” I’ve struggled to understand how some men can be so entertained by explosions, shoot-outs, and stupid humor. While my dad and brothers are sitting on the edge of their seats, I often find myself bored senseless — usually I give up and get a book.

I remember when one of my favorite English professors spoke about watching movies with his son. As he rattled off some titles, I was somewhat stunned. He has one of the finest minds I’ve ever encountered. I could have seen him enjoying Braveheart or The Book of Elieven, but Live Free or Die Hard and Dumb and Dumber? Really? I chalked it up as one of the great mysteries of life.

Then I read Gary Thomas’ Sacred Influence last year. His chapter titled “Understanding the Male Mind” was very enlightening, to say the least...

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Table Rock Lake and Campfire Donuts

I went on my first camping trip of the summer this week. My whole family was able to make it, including my brother and his wife. We also were visited by several Canadian geese, who ate more of our hot-dog buns than we did.

I knew it was going to be a good trip when we arrived at Table Rock State Park to find our favorite campsite vacant. It may not look like much, but we love the easy water access.

It was a blessedly calm few days -- which was very needed after what has seemed like a ceaselessly chaotic few months. We spent most of our time just talking, with a few card games and long walks mixed in for variety.

Our other pastime was what my family jokingly calls "rural eating." After about a month of strict adherence to our diet, we splurged and tried out a few new campfire recipes. By far, my favorite was a recipe my mom found for campfire donuts.

For best results, begin by drinking coffee -- especially if you were up late enjoying the stars and night sounds.

Open a ca…