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What I Wish the Church Knew About Singles

Disclaimer: Everything you are about to read is going to be highly biased. I’m not kidding myself- I know that very well. I know that I’m basing all of this on my own experiences and on the experiences of others in my church. Your experience may be totally and completely different. Feel free to dump my opinion in the garbage if you don’t think it’s true. 🙂 Also there has been such a long break between posts because of how much thinking and praying went into this post.

My family would probably call me a sneaky or snoopy person. I prefer the word observant. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had the ability to somehow…um…gain information that no one else had. For instance, Mom and Dad would be planning a secret family vacation and somehow, I would be the only kid who would knew where we were going. Accused often of eavesdropping (probably true), I like to think that I just happened to overhear things that no one else did. On top of that, I love to people watch. Sit me in a coffee shop and I’m a creeper- extraordinaire. I watch what people do, but more than that, I watch their facial and body expressions. Yup, creepy, right?

So over the last few years, I have gained some knowledge in the area of singles in the church. Not only by being one, but by watching others. And I’m here to share that knowledge with you all. This is not a desperate cry for HELP! nor is it a guilt trip for the church. I’m not trying to sound petty or sarcastic, although it may come across that way at times. Please take it as a friendly post from a friendly person. Here goes:

  1.  Singles are not scary human beings. This may seem like an odd thing to say but I have a reason. I think it’s pretty “stereotypical” for singles to complain about being left out of things at church. I also think that hospitality is one of the least taught on commands in Scripture. Let me say this: It is VERY rare for a single person to get an invitation to a family’s house for dinner. I think people feel awkward inviting just one person over. But several times I have seen it happen that as soon as there’s a couple, it’s easier for others to invite them. But the Bible commands hospitality to all, even strangers. Not just those you are comfortable with.
  2. Singles LOVE kids! This is along the lines of the last one. Most of the singles I know in my church love to be around kids. I asked for advice when writing this post and my best friend said that even to be invited over to a family’s house with the parent’s still there (AKA, not always to babysit) and just to hang out with the family. She mentioned reading stories to the kids and playing with them. Just being a part of the family.
  3. We are busy people too. This one might get a lot of “but, but, buts” coming from people. I’m saying it with a grain of salt so take it that way. Listen, we ALL have the same 24 hours in our day and we ALL choose what to do with those hours. After work, singles can choose whether they will stay home and watch Netflix, just like parents can choose how many sports their kids will participate in. Sometimes there is an assumption that if you are single, then you MUST have an abundance of extra time on your hands and you absolutely must be using that to serve or you don’t love Jesus. Now there is some truth that we don’t have a family and kids to take care of but there are singles I know that are some of the busiest people and it IS with serving! Yet they are always expected to do more because they are single.
  4. Singles are adults. I hear a lot of unhelpful/untrue statements from married people. Things like, “It’s such a shame that some guy hasn’t snatched you up yet” or “You’re going to make a wonderful wife” or “God has the right guy out there for you.” These statements give us the idea that singleness is just a transition state and actually lend towards discontentment. Also, you do not know whether a person will get married or not. It’s not up to you! Please leave the matchmaking to God and treat singles as full adults, instead of something hanging in between teens and married adults.
  5. Singles know we don’t know everything. After reading this post, you may be thinking, “You sure don’t!” Haha that’s ok. I know it. I’m thinking of one area in particular. A lot of times when you hear singles talk about marriage, if a married person is around, you will almost surely hear them pipe up, “Hey! It’s not all it’s cracked up to be!” Or something along those lines. First off, thank you for making God’s covenant design look soooo appealing. -_- Secondly, we aren’t 12 anymore. We have real expectations of marriage. We don’t expect Disney marriages. We know that marriages happen between two sinners and there are bad days, months, even years. We know that there are dishes to do, toilets to clean, bills to pay. And that’s not even adding kids into it! We know that getting married is complicated. But think back to when you were single…did you desire to be married then? Please realize that YOU are our example of Christ’s union with the church and we need good examples. They are few and far between. Actually, my best friend and I tried to think of some really good marriages (knowing that it’s only what we see from the outside) that we would look at and say, “Yeah, I would want my marriage to look like that.” We thought for a looonngg time and barely came up with two out of all the couples we knew. Please remember that none of us know everything and we can all learn from each other.

If you made it this far, congrats and thank you. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time as I watch the singles I know and I observe my own heart. By God’s grace, I’m praying we all grow closer to each other as we get closer to Christ. Feel free to comment below with any thoughts you have.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2018 in church

 

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Theology for Dummies

Have you ever read any of the “For Dummies” books? You know which ones I mean?

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They are pretty iconic. I mean, most people would recognize them simply by the cover, even if you’ve never read one of the books. They have somewhere around 2,500 titles and over 2 million books in print. Crazy, right? The appeal is that they are easy to read for the average person and present the information in a design where the important stuff is made known so that you can recognize and remember it. I think I read one in high school but I don’t remember what it was.

But to be honest, I kind of stayed away from them because I didn’t like reading stuff written for “Dummies!” (Yeah, pride. I know.) I considered myself a pretty well-read person, for which you can thank my parents. My Dad used to read to us all the time as little kids and he can still recite the “Three Billy Goats Gruff” from memory. In fact, if I were to go home and my Dad was read a book to my younger siblings, I would be in the front row.

When we got older, my Mom read us books like King Arthur, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Canterbury Tales. We read a lot. I love books and reading. I used to get in trouble for reading too much (actually, I used to get in trouble for getting upset when people interrupted my reading…) Old English? No problem. Beowulf? Bring it on. Deep theology? My favorite.

But things are different now. My brain capacity and concentration capacity are different. And although the desire to read deep things is very real, I find myself wishing someone would write a “Theology for Dummies” book. Which sounds like a contradiction, I know. But I simply can’t comprehend the books I used to be able to read- which is SO frustrating! For instance, I’ve had Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship” sitting on my shelf for about a year now. I’ve probably started it 4-5 times and never been able to get past the first chapter because I don’t understand what I’m reading. No matter how many times I read the same sentence, I don’t get it. (Is there a kid’s version of this book??)

I used to be able to read several books at the same time and keep up with all the themes. Don’t believe me? Look what popped up on my Timehop today:

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This was what I was reading four years ago. I liked reading more than one book at a time so that if I didn’t feel like reading one book, I had another to turn to.

But not now. It’s been frustrating but also very humbling for me. The person who used to pride herself in reading the great books of the world has been brought down to the level of a child and is thankful that she can read at all! That person who used to have 6 books by her bed that she was reading all at once is now thankful to be able to open her Bible and comprehend one single verse in it. Thankful to find those authors that do write simply. Ultimately thankful that salvation isn’t for the wise or all-knowing people but that you just have to have faith like a child. That it’s simple. Just thankful.

 

But…if you happen to find a “Theology for Dummies”, let me know. 😉

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2018 in books, epilepsy

 

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It is Well

This morning, at 7:28am, I got a text from my best friend saying that a package was supposed to be delivered to my apartment around 7:30 so I probably wouldn’t want to get in the shower or anything. Sooo what I actually did was jump up, threw my morning hair into a messy bun, and scrambled into some semi-decent clothes, just in time to hear a very signature knock at my door. The knock gave it away because Natalie always knocks the same way and then I knew it was actually her and I needn’t have bothered.

She came because today marks 2 years from that very first seizure. It seems like sooo much longer than that- years longer. Two years ago, my life changed and went in a direction that I never expected. So she brought me an inside joke gift:

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If you read this post, then you know she did this once before when I hit another significant mark throughout this journey. Anyway, it was a great start to my morning! She is the best.

But today I want to talk about how epilepsy has effected yet another area of my life that I took for granted.

I have always loved music. I used to play piano, I took flute lessons for seven years, and it was a pretty rare day that we didn’t listen to some sort of music as kids. As an adult, I used to listen to music while I ran, while I cleaned, cooked, worked, etc. Almost constantly, I guess. It kind of ran my day.

Music is still very important to me but I have trouble listening to it now. My mind has trouble concentrating on things while listening to music and I almost CRAVE absolute silence. It’s really rare now for me to just turn on music as a background noise unless it’s for other people. That being said, I’m about to reference music and songs a lot, because they mean a lot to me. 🙂

A song that is pretty popular right now and I actually really like is Even If by MercyMe. It is reminiscent of Job in my mind:

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

There is another line of that song that says, “Give me the strength to be able to sing, It is well with my soul.” I didn’t learn the truth of this phrase until recently. I grew up singing the song It is Well and my current church sings it every so often. But it wasn’t until this past year that I stood up to sing it and my mouth closed as I realized I would be lying if I spoke the words. As I stood there in silence, it occurred to me that it wasn’t well, it wasn’t okay! I was hurting in several different ways and It. Wasn’t. Well.

I knew it should be. You don’t have to tell me what the meaning behind the words is. I know about eternal perspective and focusing on Christ. But sometimes, temporary issues (whether they are physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, or all put together!) cloud our vision of Christ. Some days, it’s REALLY hard to say, It is Well. Which is one reason I love the line from Even If, “Give me the strength…” Yes, Lord! How could we possibly be okay with earthly troubles unless God gives us the strength to lean into him?? Unless he gives us the strength to say (and mean) It is Well??

There have been quite a few songs that have helped me over the last two years. I’m going to reference one more. The chorus goes like this and pretty much sums up my life:

If I ever needed grace, it’s now
You are strong when I am weak, somehow
I am weak enough to see
I need You to cover me
If I ever needed grace, it’s now

 

(Jimmy Needham, If I Ever Needed Grace)

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2018 in epilepsy

 

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American or Christian?

My Sunday School class has been doing an in depth study on the conscience recently. Which is fascinating- I don’t think I’ve ever really studied it before. We’ve talked about things your conscience can be, things it can do, how it can be misguided or aligned to truth. And all throughout the study, one particular topic keeps coming to my mind. Rarely does politics ever enter the stage of this blog, so here goes.

Last election, I did not vote for Trump. Now before all my conservative, Republican friends whip out their phones to call my parents and ask what kind of daughter they raised and all my Democrat friends starting cheering, ya might want to hold your horses. The reason I determined, after much thought and prayer, that I couldn’t vote for him, was a matter of conscience for me. It literally would have gone against my conscience to do so. Now I completely understand that is NOT the case for everyone and, while I challenged my friends to think about it, I cheerfully told them that if their conscience allowed them to vote for Trump, then go for it!

I did not vote for Clinton either. I did the unpardonable sin (apparently) in the voting world and I voted third party. Actually I did worse- I did a write in because the candidate I wanted to vote for was not on the ballot in my state. But I did it with a completely clear conscience. And yes, I heard every single argument about how that is wasting your vote and not being a good citizen and all that. Can I just say I have actually never felt as “persecuted” (I hesitate to use that word) in my whole life for a choice based on faith as I did during that time? And all the mocking was actually coming from believers and close friends of mine. Many times it brought me to tears. Really sad. Please don’t ever make fun of someone who is honestly doing something out of conscientiousness. Even if you think they are misguided. Come alongside them and talk things through, but don’t mock them.

But it brings me to my next point. Which is where I might really start to get into trouble. I have often thought that sometimes believers are Americans first and then Christians. *Indignant murmuring starts* Sometimes it seems that our allegiance is to AMERICA! and then to the Lord. Let me ask you some serious questions (and believe me when I say I have already asked myself them):

-Do you talk more about the president or about Jesus?

-Do you get more upset/offended when someone talks trash about your favorite politician or when someone misuses God’s name?

-Are you more more passionate about your gun rights or loving others with different opinions?

-Would you be more upset if someone came to take your gun away or your Bible away?

-Do you brag more about our country or about our Lord?

-What would your FaceBook/Instagram show?

These are just a few of things that I’ve thought through myself that determine where my heart is at. Yes, I am thankful to live in America. It is a blessing. But I am a believer in Christ FIRST and my heart belongs to him above everything else.

 

As usual, feel free to share your thoughts, but if you are going to rant, it probably won’t ever appear in the comments. 🙂 Weird how that works, huh?

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2018 in politics

 

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What are you afraid of?

This is kind of a follow up to my last post so if you didn’t read that one yet, you might want to start there.

I shared before how it’s hard for me to find time to get a deep enough conversation going so that I can witness to my co-workers. BUT I do have one thing going for me. At my old job, we had these “Random questions of the Day” that we would ask each other in the office. It was super fun and they ranged from really shallow, (If you could only wear one set of clothes for the rest of your life, what outfit would you pick?) to fairly deep, (What is one passage of Scripture that you don’t understand or confuses you?) 

I found that it’s a really good way to get to know another person and to start conversations so on the very first day of my new job, I started asking “Random Questions of the Day.” It’s to the point now where some of my co-workers will very determinedly find me and ask ME what the question is if I don’t ask them first. It’s also pretty handy because it’s an intentional way to get to know another person without them really realizing it.

So, one day last week my question that I thought of just happened to be, “What is something you are afraid of?” I had gotten several answers such as spiders, the dark, etc. I was close to being done for the day and excited to leave because I had several places to be that evening and needed to leave right after work. I was hurriedly cleaning up some dishes in the meat department when one of my co-workers (who is probably the most persistent about the Question) came in to tell me his answer after thinking about it for a while.

“I have my answer.”

I looked up absent-mindedly. “Oh ok. What is something you are afraid of?”

“Dying.”

I can’t quite explain the feeling that came over me. It felt like someone had smacked me upside the head with a board but at the same time a door was flung open right in front of me. Considering all the other answers I had received (and that my answer was snakes), this was totally unexpected. I believe I whispered, “Oh, Jesus” in my head. Outwardly I was cool as a cucumber.

Feeling the weight of my words and knowing exactly where they would lead me, I asked, “Why are you afraid of dying?” He explained that he had done a lot of dumb stuff and could have died.

Me: “Do you know where you would go when you die? What do you think happens when you die?” I have already had conversations with this young man (he’s actually only 15) and knew that he was unsaved and didn’t know anything about the Lord.

Him: Well, with me it could go either way, I guess.

Me: …slowly… “What do you think is the determining factor as to where you go? What determines if you go to heaven or not?”

He did not have an answer. I inhaled slowly and shared the only way to get to heaven. Standing in the meat room, washing dishes, I told this young man about salvation and hope. I told him there was only one way to be rid of a fear of death.

And then he was called to the front and it was time for me to clock out. But I have been praying for him and for the other girl who was walking in and out of our conversation, listening the whole time. Praying for God to change their hearts.

Hmmm…how very simple it was and yet how very hard at the same time. I felt like my face was on fire and my brain was going to explode. In that moment, I truly did not see a person standing before me but an eternal and LOST soul! And I think the weight of that was a little overwhelming. But praise God for putting some words in my mouth for once! What an answer to prayer!

[Side note: As I was rushing quickly out of the store because I was then running late, one of the other girls asked me what the Question was. I quickly told her and she instantly replied that she was afraid of not being able to achieve greatness in life. I hesitated for a moment and I’m pretty sure my thought was, “Lord, I LITERALLY do not have time, strength, or energy to do this again today!” Fortunately these questions are also easy to come back to and I plan to follow up on that one too. What a difference one small, intentional, question can make!]

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2018 in witness

 

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Done “Being an Example”

Have you ever felt paralyzed? Hmm…maybe that’s not quite the right word. Crippled? Maybe inadequate is the best word for it. Where you look into your toolbox and realize that you simply don’t have what is needed to get the job done? Like you need a flat head screwdriver but, doggone it, all you have is a Phillips. (Because we all know you can make do the other way around.)

That’s kind of how I’ve been feeling about evangelism recently. Yeah, I know, you’re waiting to find out how my brain got here. As you may know, I started this new job which is totally different from my previous job. It is fast-paced, you get moved around a lot within the store, and there isn’t a lot of time to talk with your co-workers or the customers. I went in, prayerfully, with one goal: to share Christ with others. Very simple in my mind.

But I have found myself floundering. I slowly realized, with dismay and distress, that I don’t recognize opportunities to share the gospel! At first I refused to believe it. I mean, seriously, I just worked at a Christian facility for over 4 years. And I shared the gospel daily with my campers when I was a counselor. But that is such a controlled environment where bringing up Christ came naturally and easily every day.

I’ve been thinking about how evangelism was taught to my generation. All growing up, I was pretty much taught that if you live like Christ, people will see your example and will want to follow him. It’s very simple. Example Evangelism is what I’m calling it. But the more I look at Scripture, the less I see of that! You have to use words! You can’t just give someone the gospel by your actions (although you need them for sure); words MUST be included! (Romans 10 talks about hearing the gospel.) I feel like I was never taught how to naturally bring Jesus into everyday conversations in order to witness to others. And I’m TIRED of living by example only. I get frustrated at work because I know I miss opportunities to share Christ simply because I don’t recognize them until later.

Now, that all being said, I’d like to make two disclaimers:

  1. I realize that you need actions AND words. Both are necessary parts of evangelism. I’ve been looking at Jesus and Paul and how they did ministry. I am aware that their whole lives were testimonies. Not only did they proclaim salvation with their lips but they also healed people, lived among them, gave of themselves. My point is that sometimes I think believers almost become humanitarians because we do wonderful and nice things but if we don’t openly share Christ right along with it, then the entire meaning is lost!
  2. I am NOT blaming my parents or the church for my inadequacies in this area. I know that each person should always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in him. I take full and complete responsibility and I have people at church not only holding me accountable but also helping me learn and grow.

However, I don’t know when or where this whole “Example Evangelism” thing got started but can we lay it down now? You don’t convert people (Okay, we don’t convert people at all, but ya know what I mean) by being a good example. You know what’s going to happen? They are going to look at you and go, “Well, there goes a really nice person! They don’t make ’em like that anymore!” And they will go on with their lives.

Let’s learn and teach the new generation how to boldly and naturally share Christ in everyday conversations. Teach them to share the gospel by example AND with their words. You need both. Without one, you will frustrate yourself; without the other, you will become a hypocrite to all people.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2018 in witness

 

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No Heat Produces Faith, Faith Produces Heat?

Those that know me know that I love to sleep in the cold. Not like 50 degrees cold, I’m the person who keeps her window open all winter long. I froze my water bottle shut one night this winter and I have frozen a whole cup of water in my room before. Not that I like BEING cold- I like to pile on lots of blankets and snuggle under the weight of all of them. Now I have this magical thing called an electric blanket and I flip that on ten minutes before bed and then turn it off when I get in and everything is very cozy. I just like the air around me to be cold.

So ever since I moved into my apartment, my routine has been to go to the thermostat at night, flip the heat off, open my bedroom window, and crawl into bed. In the morning there is a very particular science to things. You see, while I love sleeping in 30 degree weather, I DO NOT love showering in that kind of temperature. So in the morning, I set my alarm for about a half hour before I need to shower and when it goes off, I reach over, close the window, dash out and flip the heat back on and crawl into my nice warm bed while everything heats back up. About a half hour later, my apartment is at a livable temperature and I can get up and shower. Works like a dream.

Yesterday, I did the same thing I’ve done every single morning. I dashed out, flipped the heat switch and crawled back in bed. I showered and it wasn’t until I was putting my shoes on about 5 minutes before I should be leaving for work that I thought, “Boy, it’s still kind of chilly in here!” So I checked the thermostat and sure enough: 57 degrees. I thought to myself that it sure was taking a lot longer than normal to heat up this morning but I didn’t really have time to think much about it since I had to leave for work.

It was a short but stressful day of work. Actually, it has been quite a long week and I’m ready for it to be over. Nothing big, just a lot of small things that piled up. As I walked home from work, I was freezing: it was 35 degrees and really windy and when I opened up my apartment door I was met with a blast of cool air. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Not a very good welcome home. The temperature hadn’t moved since that morning.

I played with settings on the thermostat thinking maybe I had accidentally bumped one of them and sat in moody silence on my couch in my coat and hat for forty-five minutes, listening for the heat. It would kick on but then 4-5 minutes later shut off and the temperature wouldn’t change. Finally, in a grumpy, complaining mood, I went downstairs and talked to my landlord’s daughter, who said she would ask her Dad as soon as he was done with chemo for the day. Which just made me feel worse. To be fair, they did bring me a space heater, but when you have 9.5ft ceilings, that doesn’t do much.

So I decided to go for a walk, thinking that a brisk walk MUST be warmer than sitting in the cold. Wrong. I forgot how windy it was and several miles later, I arrived home again to my cold apartment with a very cold body and hurting head. I spent the rest of the afternoon curled under my electric blanket, very grumpy.

So this morning, I got up, and (not very hopefully) turned the heat on, and crawled back in bed as usual. Still wasn’t working and it was even colder. Finally I started crying. Don’t laugh- as previously mentioned, it’s been a rough and frustrating week. And I cried out, “Lord! Can’t I at least have some heat?! I just want to be warm! I’m so freaking cold!” And right then, I heard the heat kick on in one of its fake-you-out tricks. I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes at my vent in disgust. About 15 minutes later I realized the heat was still running. This time it hadn’t kicked off like all the other times.

You know who I felt like? Job. But not Job when he is proved righteous and his friends proved wrong. Not Job when he says he hasn’t done anything wrong. Job when God says to him, “Uh, who do you think you are talking to me like that?” Yeah, I felt pretty small and I meekly said, “Thank you, Lord.” About 45 minutes later my apartment was at 70 degrees and the heat is still working. I checked with my landlord and the repairman hadn’t come out yet.

That was a pretty fast answer to prayer. Gosh, why wasn’t that my first response when I found that it wasn’t working?? Why did the prayer come out of desperation instead of being the first thought? I think that’s how a lot of believers live. Prayer is like our back-up resource instead of our first weapon. I want to be so close to God that talking to him about it is always what happens first. I don’t want it to be an after-thought. First thought, constant thought, all day.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2018 in prayer

 

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