Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bitter-Sweet New Year

I put away Christmas yesterday. I tucked up all of the laughter and memories in clear, plastic containers. The house seems darker without the twinkling lights. Somehow, my heart does as well.

And so is the tension of the Christmas season. Throughout the Christian season of Advent we look ahead, basking in sweet anticipation. While we remember the First Coming of Christ, the longing fueled by the season draws our hearts into a position of waiting for the Second. And then, Christmas comes. It’s joyful, beautiful, and already behind us. Christ has come.

And He has not yet come back.

So, we wait — and we accept the tribulation in a world we know He has overcome.

Christmas leaves us with the responsibility go back to life-as-we-know-it, a New Year of death bringing about life. We are left to remember what we have allowed ourselves to forget for a few weeks of hopeful celebration. The sigh of rest lifts, and we must go back to our work.

I have always loved New Year’s Eve. I have tended to greet each midnight ringing-in with excitement, wondering what the next twelve months will bring. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to start over, to do this year better than the last.

For some reason, I’ve found it difficult to greet 2014 with the same enthusiasm as years past.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Single During the Holidays

This morning I read a recent article from Single Roots: “The Struggle of Singleness at Christmas” by Allison Stroud. She begins:

It is hard to write a blog post about being single at the holidays without sounding cynical. I mentioned this to another single friend yesterday at work and he agreed with me. I’m going to do my best here…
It’s hard to be single. It’s even harder during the holidays. I don’t think I’ve stated anything new. I’m pretty sure all of us who read Single Roots are thinking the same or have thought the same thing. I’ve tried to narrow it down to why exactly it is so much harder than normal-except for when we go to weddings, but that’s another blog post for another day.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Glimpse: Snow, Snow, Snow!

I spent the majority of the last week blissfully snowed in. I haven't seen so much glittering white since my years in north Idaho.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Missed Milestones

Earlier this week, Single Roots’ Ben Morgan blogged about feeling like he’s missed milestones on the road to adulthood.

I missed many of the milestones that I was supposed to reach in my life. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 18. I graduated college at 23, not 21. I’ve had more job interviews in my career field than I have had dates—one. My best efforts to begin a romantic relationship continue to be halted at the same age my sister and her husband had their first child.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

A Love Story

When I was a little girl, I asked God to write my love story. Instead, He has written me into something much greater.

Once upon a time, I dreamed that God would write my love story. I imagined the white dress and the blue flowers. I pictured my little sisters, arrayed in yellow as bridesmaids. My mind's eye strained for a glimpse of the groom's face, but all in vain — I hadn't met him yet.

I thought marriage would bring me fulfillment, and so I prayed for a husband while I waited for my life to start. Thankfully, God met me in my ignorance and showed me how wrong I was. He has better plans for me than writing mylove story.

It is only when God writes our love story — the story of Christ and His church — that we begin to live as we were created to.

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Attaining Unto The Presence of God

From my reading this morning of Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God with Spiritual Maxims:

Of Means For Attaining Unto The Presence of God
1. The first is a great purity of life; in guarding ourselves with care lest we should do or say or think on anything, which might be displeasing to God; and, when any such thing happens, in taking heed to repent thereof, humbly begging His forgiveness.
2. The second is a great faithfulness in the practice of His Presence, and in keeping the soul's gaze fixed on God in faith, calmly, humbly, lovingly, without allowing an entrance to anxious cares and disquietude.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Gender-Lite New Testament

This morning, Scot McKnight blogged about this post by Patrick Mitchel. Intrigued, I had to read the full post. Check out the beginning for yourself:

I have a confession.
I don’t really ‘get’ Christian single sex get togethers – whether Women’s Conferences (admittedly have only been to these in drag) or Men’s Conferences (been to some, never really enjoyed them) or to a lesser degree, men’s or women’s ministry meetings of various sorts.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Crock Pot Pumpkin Spice Latte


This autumn, I stumbled across a recipe for a crock pot pumpkin spice latte on Pinterest. Naturally, I just had to try it. It was tasty, but I found the latte to be a bit over-spiced. After reading through some other recipes, and I tried a version of the Crockin' Pumpkin Spice Latte. This one is a keeper, sure to warm up many a chilly fall day in years to come. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Women: The Nicer Sex?

I recently came across a Christianity Today article by Halee Gray Scott, titled “Christian Catfights: Why Women Leaders Don’t Support Each Other.” Scott’s main focus is women in leadership, but the trends she describes seem to affect women as a group.

Monica Holmes had the prettiest hair of any girl in the fifth grade. Her chestnut locks flowed effortlessly down her back, while my delicate, thin hair broke off around my shoulders. Even so, I didn’t envy her hair; I begrudged her braggadocio. No matter the context—recess, lunch, or a bathroom break—Monica couldn’t say enough about her hair to anyone who would listen. “I just love my dark-brown, beautiful hair. Don’t you too?”
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Women, Make-Up, and Romantic Confidence

Earlier this month, Mail Online featured an article about women and their make-up use during relationships. This excerpt is revealing (no pun intended):

The average woman will wait four weeks and one day before she lets a new boyfriend see her without make-up, a study revealed.
A study of 2,000 single women showed they felt far less attractive, less confident and more vulnerable without a full face of make-up.
And six in 10 wanted to be sure a prospective partner liked them enough before revealing their make-up-free look.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dating and the Missional Life

Earlier this week, Marshall Segal wrote a news release for the Desiring God blog. The content is small but weighty.

Marshall recounted a talk John Piper recently gave on missions to a group of college students. Here is an excerpt of Segal’s piece:

Piper’s question for the students was this: What do we need to believe — really believe — in order to love the nations enough to lay down our lives for the sake of their salvation? What truths give us the freedom to suffer in far away places for the sake of the gospel — and not just suffer, but suffer with joy? Walking through highlights from Hebrews 10–13, Piper wanted the students to discover and deepen roots of love for the nations that bear fruit in joyful sacrifice.

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Are Christian Dating Sites Christian?

Are Christian dating websites really Christian?

That’s the question Jonathan Merritt explored last March in a Religion News Service article titled “Are Christian Dating Websites Undermining ‘Christian Values?’” Merritt’s answer is a very firm yes. Check out this excerpt:

The new trend in dating sites built exclusively for Christians may have emerged long after their general market analogs but they make few strides in avoiding the same pitfalls. As usual, the Christian sub-culture is a step behind and not an inch deeper—from music to books to fashion trends, and now online dating.

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Not Dating, Just Talking

J.D. Gunter takes ambiguous relationships to task in a CBMW article titled “We’re Just ‘Talking’.”

One of the unique opportunities I have attending seminary, after ten years of marriage, is discipling young men who are single or dating. One of the disadvantages, however, is not being current on the lingo.
This struck me in a recent conversation with a friend who told me he had gone out several times with a young lady and was uncertain about the status of the relationship. Curious, I asked him if he was planning on continuing to date this girl.
“You misunderstand,” he said, “we aren’t dating – we’re just talking.”
“Talking?” I replied, a little confused, “you mean like we’re talking right now.”
“No,” he explained, “we’re at the stage of the relationship just before dating. It’s called talking.”...

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

21 Million Slaves

"There are more slaves today than were seized from Africa in four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In fact, there are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history, with an estimated 21 million in bondage across the globe."

On August 9, The Gospel Coalition posted an article by Joe Carter titled "9 Things You Should Know About Human Trafficking." Read it.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Consider Offline Dating

I came across a CNN article yesterday titled “The Lost Art of Offline Dating.” Intrigued, I had to take a look.

The author, Ashley Strickland, explores how online dating is becoming so popular that people aren’t putting much effort into their offline relationship opportunities. As a result, the social skills we need in order to date well are eroding.

Visit Marry Well to read more.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Kalam Cosmological Agument

I discovered William Lane Craig as a college student. This video is from his website, Reasonable Faith.

Believing in God isn't a leap of faith. Rather, it's a rational, logically justifiable position. Check out this video to find out why.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Taking Sides

Mara logs onto Facebook, takes a sip of coffee, and begins scrolling through her news feed. She reads about how a friend's toddler dumped an entire jar of applesauce on the floor. She snickers at a meme posted by her cousin.

And then she sees a picture that fades her smile. About 20 of her old college friends crowd around a picnic table, laughing faces posed to commemorate a summer afternoon.

If it were four years ago, Mara would have been there, too. Now the only connection she has with her one-time close Christian community is a lingering digital facade.

Sometimes she still wonders how it all happened. How could a difference of opinion between two people devastate so many relationships? How could one disagreement change her life so completely?

Visit Boundless to read more.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Encouraging Singles

This morning, Relevant published an article by Debra Fileta titled "3 Ways the Church Can Encourage Singles." As the title indicates, Fileta discusses some practical things churches can do to minister to singles:

1. Validate Them. From all the feedback I gathered from single young men and women across the country, one thing stood out to me more than the all rest: People need validation. There is so much truth in that statement whether a person is married, single or somewhere in between. As humans, we long to be validated—to be looked upon as though we are worthy and valuable, as though our lives have meaning. Sadly, and no thanks to our society at large, many times this value gets attached to our relationship status. Those who find themselves standing alone end up feeling less than the others in some way, shape or form...

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Praying for Marriage

Last week I ran across a Her·meneutics article by Anna Broadway titled “Why I No Longer Pray for a Husband.” I was intrigued, as I had recently discussed this topic with my mom.

Broadway writes about the changing dynamics of her prayers for marriage. She begins by sharing her involvement with a prayer group:

Then a friend forwarded me an e-mail. A small group of people across the country, plus a few outside the States, were fasting and praying each Monday for God to bring marriages to those who desired them, to change and heal men in the ways they needed (but especially around their willingness to commit) and to do the same for women in the areas where we were most broken. To participate, I just had to sign up to receive the weekly e-mail meditations, skip at least one meal on Mondays (though other kinds of abstention were also possible), and pray. I joined them...

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Friday, July 5, 2013

That Sometimes Firework Love

July 4th nights smell like sulfur. They sound like thunder or war.

This year, I listened in the house, thinking about love and fireworks.

There is a love that ignites in a moment, soaring into a ring of fire that fills up the sky. It’s beautiful and bright and original, and life has never been so full of light.

One breath, and it’s gone, leaving the black. You didn't know the world could be so dark.

Wait. Wait for the light to come back. Wait because the dark is terrifying and cold.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Women in the Exodus

Earlier this week, Eternity Bible College’s faculty blog featured an article by Preston Sprinkle titled “Divine Estrogen.” Preston explores the contribution of women in the early chapters of Exodus. He begins:

The book of Exodus is filled with outcasts who become conduits of God’s grace and power, when God thunders from heaven to deliver his people from Egypt. If you have never noticed this, it’s probably because you’ve been reading the Old Testament through a thick moral lens—looking for heroes and saints to emulate, instead of a gracious God to thank.
Or it’s because you’re a man...

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Why I Live With People

Years ago I watched a video segment on marital conflict. The husband and wife shared several sources of strife – he puts the toilet paper on the dispenser backwards, she squeezes the toothpaste tube in the middle. Each situation boiled down to one spouse not getting his or her way about a trivial issue. I was confused. Who thinks they get to decide how the toothpaste is squeezed? Who made her the lord of the toilet paper?

I couldn’t relate. Why? I’m used to living with people. I’m a 28-year-old college-educated woman, and I’ve never lived alone. In fact, I never “moved out.” That’s right – I still live at home. I haven’t made this decision because I’m inept or immature. I’m not incapable of living alone. It’s just that I’ve seen the value of living communally...

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Women: Spirituality Impacts Sex Life

Christian author Dannah Gresh recently had an article published by eHarmony’s advice blog. Gresh’s article, titled “How Spirituality Impacts a Woman’s Sex Life,” looks at the connection between faith and a satisfying sex life. Christian girls sometimes get a bad rap for being sexually prudish, and sadly, I’ve heard many a man voice concerns about marrying one of these “repressed” women. Studies indicate, however, that spiritually mature women have the best sex lives after the wedding day.

Visit Marry Well to read more.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I'm Nobody Very Special

I took a camping trip earlier this week and actually had time to read fiction. The older a get, the more of a treat novels are. Curled up in a hammock, underneath the warm Missouri sun filtered through frolicking oak leaves, I turned my way through the pages of two books in C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia series: The Horse and His Boy and The Silver Chair.

I had never read either of them before. I know, I know -- I really ought to be ashamed. I'm doing my best to catch up, though. The only Narnia book left on my un-read list is The Last Battle, which I plan to start promptly after finishing this blog post and putting some baked oatmeal in the fridge to soak overnight. (I'll post the recipe one of these days. It's a family standby.)

Lewis is a genius. Really. I wish I could have met him. I wonder how many times I've said that? Well, I'll say it again.

Among all the thoughts that I thought and felt while reading my way through his stories, one that struck the greatest cord in me came near the end of The Horse and His Boy.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Glimpse: It's Snowing

It's been snowing this weekend. Snowing. In May. In Missouri. Haven't seen a sight like this since I lived in north Idaho.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Book Review: ‘The Sacred Search’ by Gary Thomas

What if it’s not about who you marry, but why?

The subtitle of Gary Thomas’ latest book, The Sacred Search, pulls the reader in from the get-go. In many respects, reading the cover of Thomas’ latest book is reminiscent of his previous best-seller “Sacred Marriage,” which asked us the unsettling question, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”

But the what if’s of “The Sacred Search” don’t stop there. Flip the book over and the back cover keeps the challenges coming.

What if being in love isn’t a good enough reason to get married?

What if dating isn’t about finding “the one” but about serving the One who loves you most?

Don’t get married until you read this book.

That’s a bold statement for any author to make.

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Responsibility in Modesty

In yesterday’s discussion of modesty, Marry Well member LadyElaine80 recommended an article by Emily Maynard titled “Modesty, Lust and My Responsibility.” Maynard confronts some assumptions in the conservative Christian culture and encourages people to think outside-the-box. She begins:

I grew up in a conservative home, in a conservative church, and in conservative social circles. And hear me correctly, being conservative isn’t the problem. The lies I believed from my culture are the problem, and lies can come from any background. It’s been an intense process over the last two years as I’ve become aware of my many distorted views from my past, but in the midst of it, I’m seeing God more clearly.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Embrace Weakness

On Feb. 28, the Desiring God blog published Jonathan Parnell’s “Embracing Weakness Will Change Your Life.” Parnell’s discussion centers on the Christian life in general, but the concepts he explores have tremendous affects on our relationships. As fallen humans, the health of our relationships — with God and with other people — depends on how fully we see ourselves as weak and dependent on God. Parnell explains it this way:

When we are stuck on ourselves, we create a ceiling for God’s potential. We define possibilities by our capabilities, not his. And if you stare at yourself long enough, your capacity to dream will dwindle down to nothing. That is a safe and sad way to live, refusing to let your dreams extend beyond what you know for certain you can do on your own. It’s also a sign that you mistake yourself to be stronger than you are...

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love Others This Valentine's Day

It’s that time of year again. Time for lovers to love loving all the more. Time for singles to feel, well, alone.

I’ve spent plenty of Valentine’s Days as a single, and I know the associated angst all too well. I’ve made the “Singleness Awareness Day” jokes. And I’ve coined phrases of my own — a personal favorite being “The Evil Red Day.”

For me, though, this year is different. For the first time ever, I’m in a serious relationship on Valentine’s Day. While I’ve always enjoyed the festivity of the season, the pink and red hearts take on a new level of cheeriness now that I get to spend this holiday with someone I love...

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Growing in Patience

On February 7, Crosswalk.com posted an article by Jennifer Heeren titled “Dating Requires Patience.” She begins:

Patience is a fruit of the spirit that God taught me during my e-dating experience. My plan was to sign up for a membership on an e-dating site, pay for two to three months, and find the perfect man for me. This seemed perfectly fair to me since I was already in the second half of my thirties. I felt I had already paid my dues, so to speak. I was in a mindset to pray through the whole process and I really wanted God’s input into the outcome but I was also making my plan and praying that God would bless that plan instead of trusting in Him, leaning not on my own understanding, and letting Him make my paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV). God honored the fact that I wanted His input but I needed work on the not leaning on my own understanding part...

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

What Modern Singles Want

On February 5, USA Today published an article by Sharon Jayson titled “What Singles Want.” Jayson discusses the findings of an online survey of 5,481 singles. She begins:

Whether it’s a first date or potential partner, singles have clear “must haves” and “deal breakers” in mind.
And according to a broad national survey of almost 5,500 unattached adults 21 and older, those qualities, attitudes and expectations illustrate cultural shifts in how singles approach relationships.
Among the findings:
– 38% would cancel a date because of something they found while doing Internet research on their date.
– 42% would not date a virgin.
– 65% would not date someone with credit card debt greater than $5,000; 54% would not date someone with substantial student loan debt.
– 49% would consider getting into a committed relationship with someone who lived at home with parents...

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Leaning Into Fear

On Feb. 29 last year, a tornado went through Branson, Mo. — my home town — passing within a quarter mile of my family home. While there were no local fatalities attributed to the storm, the damage was severe in some areas.

My younger brother has always been wary of tornadoes. Like most boys in their early teens, he tries to make a good show of bravery. In years past, it helped knowing that bad storms typically skirt our town, with most tornadic activity showing up north or south of our immediate area.

And then last year we had an unseasonably warm winter day, followed by a mild evening where we dozed off feeling the breezy night blow in through open windows. Sleep. And sirens. Waking to jump out of bed and run down to the basement. Waiting in the dark. No electricity. No way of knowing what was going on. Friends in other parts of town texting to tell us a tornado was on the ground somewhere in our little city...

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