- We are a Christian group. The core of our heart is we believe the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit and is the flawless Word of God. We believe in the trinity of God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–and that He is holy. We believe that Jesus Christ is God’s only Son, born of a virgin, that He made complete payment for our sin nature through His sinless life, death on the cross, and resurrection. We believe in the second coming of Christ, the resurrection of the living and the dead, and eternal life either with Christ or lost forever. We believe that those who accept the free gift of salvation through Christ are born of God’s Holy Spirit and are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Please don’t expect anything different.
- We are all broken in unique ways. There will not be two people here with the same story. And we will not compare each story to see who has it worse.
- This is not a Christians singles group. The first goal of a church singles group is as a spiritual community. When a singles group becomes an avenue for finding dates, the group goal cannot be met. We are not that.
- We believe that God will lead the way but that you have to actively walk in that way and take steps, maybe fight battles. God is with you in this. There will be no “just waiting on God” in our group.
- We believe that dating is an expression of who you are. The reality is that even the things that you did not cause are still your responsibility to deal with. You will have to work on yourself in this group.
- Dating also involves a team. Who will be on your team?
- We will not be discussing “how far is too far” nor shaming if you are already sexually active.
- We will be an “in your face” group so you can end sabotaging yourself and find love.
- We believe in taking risks. Of course, as a group we will walk with you as you take risks. You are on a journey that will require effort, risk, pain and failure.
- We believe in dating. We believe in meeting at a neutral location for a planned event that both of you will enjoy, grow and be romanced at.
- If you are at risk for serious depression or other clinical issues, you should see a good professional and work on that first. If you are an alcoholic, sex addict, or other impulsive behavior, you should be in recovery before joining us.
- There will be homework required of you. Required.
An open letter to all those who are #OVERIT: As a white middle class Christian, I do not claim to understand the hurt of racial and religious prejudice, though I do have friends who have had first hand experiences with it. As a woman and a millennial I have had my own experiences with prejudices based on my age and sex. For so long I have remained silent stewing in my frustration because I believed my voice was not big enough to be heard. No longer though can I remain silent as so many do because it is time for the masses to stand up and say we are OVER IT. I am tired of staying silent as people who call themselves Christians go around proclaiming that they are superior because who they are and what they believe. I am tired of my African American friends being pulled over because they of the color of their skin. I am tired of hearing stories of Mosques being vandalized and Muslims being persecuted for their beliefs. I am tired of my LGBT friends being bullied and slurred because of who they love. I am tired of being harassed because I am a […]
This list could be very long. I’ll make an attempt at some of them. The memory of the first time you felt a warm sandy beach and put your toes into the ocean. The memory of when you realized a parent loved you simply because you are you and not because what you have done for this parent. The memory of when you realized you were truly loved by a friend, someone who didn’t have to love you like family but did anyway. The memory of the first time you saw the Grand Canyon. The memory of seeing your first sunset. And who you were with when you did. The memory of when you knew you were forgiven by Jesus. The memory of when you realized that Jesus loves you even in the depths of your shame. The memory of your first kiss. The memory of walking down the aisle on your wedding day. The memory of when that child tells you he/she loves you. The memory of your child coming to understand that Jesus loves him/her even in the depths of his/her shame. At the end of your life, these are the memories you want to play over and […]
To our delight our one son is still awaiting transfer from the local jail to the state prison system. It should have happened a year ago. It sounds like it is not going to happen for another year. We have no idea why. We would like to think that he is such a wonderful offender that the powers-that-be want to keep him around but he’s sitting at a security level that does not reflect that. So we are simply grateful that he continues to be this close to his support system. He is spending most of his time creating a little business with his art. Not just simple art either. This is his art—created with the limitations that jail provides.. Yes, we are amazed by his talent too. He’s not collecting cash money for his business either. That is another limitation. It is a barter of commissary. Terrill has created a huge stash of snacks, particularly this one brand of peanut butter cookies. Twice now when they’ve done contraband checks he’s lost his stash of cookies because he can’t possibly eat all that he’s bartered for. Which means there are many loved ones of fellow inmates receiving gifts of beautiful […]
A few months ago I watched a movie with the kids called “Pete’s Dragon”. I knew the story line from when I was younger as there was an old animated version. My kids fell in love with Pete just as I had as a young girl. The new movie is a beautiful story of love and friendship, but there was a song in the movie that once I heard it, the lyrics hit me hard and I cried. I knew I had to find it so I could listen to it again as I felt those words just speak to my grieving heart. The song was “Nobody Knows”, by The Lumineer’s (I love their soulful sound and how almost every one of their songs just speaks.) Here are the lyrics……(video below) Nobody knows how to say goodbye, It seems so easy ’til you try, Then the moment’s passed you by, Nobody knows how to say goodbye. Nobody knows how to get back home, And we set out so long ago, Searched the heavens and the earth below, Nobody knows how to get back home. Through the darkness to the dawn, When I looked back you were gone, Heard your voice […]
We are approaching our 2-year anniversary of offering weekly brave dating advice here. We believe in dating. We believe in dating that does not have the single focus of leading to marriage but leads to discovering who you are so you can find the match for you. We believe in: “Live your life to the full bravely following after Jesus. Now. As you are living bravely, who is keeping up with you? That is the match for you.” Which means we have brave dating practices that we believe in. This blog is just putting our core brave dating practices in one location to get you started. We have so many good blogs to choose from! But these are the core. Date with a Team Placing Yourself in Good Situations Maybe Coffee is Just Coffee (And Not Your Love of a Lifetime) Brave Dating Practice: Do Not Limit Yourself to a Type You Can Be One of Those Known as “Hard to Get” Boundaries Are Attractive—As in They Really Do Attract Others The Vulnerability in Dating Women, It’s Okay to Have a Little Vanity (You Too, Guys) Brave Dating Practice: Commit Yourself to a Local Church Say “Yes” to the Spontaneous […]
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 Since I’ve stumbled onto the truth of what hope is (I have chosen to set goals, my tenacity gives me room to change and revise those goals because deep down I know I’m worthy of having something good happen to me), I’ve loved this verse more and more. It states that God is our source of hope, that we can be filled completely with joy and peace because we trust in him which enables us to find the Plan B. Understanding very well that trusting God also requires vulnerability, which is where the bravery comes in. Do you ever find yourself keeping your hope for “safe things?” Do you see why you do that now? You don’t really trust God so you don’t want to become vulnerable to God and risk that disappointment again. Truth is hope is not nebulous and ethereal gifted to us from God. Hope is something we have a part of when we find our Plan B. Plan A […]
I can’t spare you the vulnerability of the complications of dating. I believe in dating. I believe in both of you meeting at a neutral location for a planned event that both of you will enjoy, grow and be romanced at. I believe you will learn a lot about you and you will be fascinated about this other person–even if he/she turns out to be a drip. I believe dating is not always romantic and rarely easy. It is most always complicated. I can’t sugarcoat this truth. You have to be vulnerable with a stranger. There is that big part of dating again–vulnerability. It is simply a part of dating you can’t avoid. You want to have you be the one a future someone falls in love with which means that someone has to vulnerably know you. Not all of you on that first coffee date though! Just part of you so this stranger knows enough about you to want to see you again. Of course, the stranger you are on this coffee date is most likely someone you know at least a little bit but he/she is new enough to your circle of life that you have to brave […]
We’ve got this story in the book of Luke. As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten men with leprosy stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you. Luke 17:11-19 What happened to the other nine? Maybe some were too busy to be thankful. They planned to express thanks. But first they needed to find family members, friends, Jesus did say go to the priests, right? I blame Jesus. Not really. How could they forget gratefulness when they got their lives back? Every day would […]
Let me repeat myself yet again and again and again. You need to date with a team. These are the chosen people who “get” you and also want the best for you. Let them help you in all their ways to find this great match for you. I’m sure I will repeat this again as it is that important. I’m pretty sure about every other Brave Dating Coach blog mentions the importance of having a team involved in your life. Another brave dating practice I encourage—though is entirely optional—is putting yourself on an online dating site. This is solely to get your numbers up to meet new people. This may not be for everyone but it is a resource. I found another stat read that I love so much and it combines your team’s involvement in your life and online dating. No wonder I loved it. From a survey from the actual app developer (so yes, this one may be skewed a bit), 90 percent of Millennials said they would enjoy playing matchmaker for their friends. (Go team!) Almost 70 percent said they thought the matches they would make for their friends would be better than if their friends continued […]
As Charlie Peacock sang, “Yellow Is A Happy Color.” Be Brave has had a lot of “heavy” blogs lately. We have been lamenting together. Pain is real. No one is exempt from pain. I identify with the pain you are walking through. Pain is your beginning. I am hoping you are choosing to let bravery define you rather than your pain. I am hoping that you are living brave decision to brave decision to brave decision, even making those little brave decisions to get out of bed in the morning. Or making the decision to stop numbing the pain. This is also amazingly true. You also get a lot of joy right now. Our brain does this “funny” thing. If we numb our pain, we also numb our joy. This was a finding in Dr. Brene’ Brown’s research. There has been a lot of pain talked about lately. Which means there is also a lot of joy. Your life also has a lot of joy. It really does. Yellow is happy color. We are declaring today a yellow day. It is mid-July. Summer is still here! And because it is mid-July I still have weeks of summer left!! That is […]
Part of Brave Dating is learning about you, particularly what you want in a match. Hopefully your team and friends and family will be of help to you to notice these things as you are learning along the way. When you figure out something, put that on your list. Or if you are a creative type, create a vision board. The vision board idea is a simple collage. If you discover you are drawn to someone who likes culture, cut out pictures of an orchestra or a museum. If you discover you cannot possibly date a smoker, find a picture of a pack of cigarettes and put a big X through it. If you want a match to be someone who will run daily with you, find a picture of running shoes. You can do this on a corkboard or some other Pinterest-type of board or you can do this digitally by pinning such pics on a Pinterest board or Photoshop creation. Or you can go simple old-timey crafty by cutting out magazine pictures and using glue. However you create this, keep this vision board in your view. You can stare at this vision regularly and use it as board […]
I love this quote from St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo and early (354-430 AD) theologian. It speaks to the power of singing. In five words this quote gives a clear picture of the importance of singing. And I realize not all singing would do this quote justice. But singing songs of scripture, prayers, praise, worship, thankfulness and repentance would all qualify as “praying” in this context. As Christians we’re all taught the disciplines of the faith—how to pray, why we tithe, the purpose of communion, fasting, service, etc., but we’re rarely taught why we sing. And yet in many churches singing takes up as much as half of the entire Sunday service. My first twenty years as a Christian were spent in a church that at its core was musically gifted and worship-oriented and that set the tone for me to include singing and music in my daily routine. Music has been a part of my life for decades before I became a Christian, so singing (and playing instruments) in worship comes natural for me. But I know this is uncommon. Maybe you’re not as musically inclined as you’d like. Maybe you’re just not comfortable singing. Maybe you wonder why […]
Pain is your beginning. Not your end. Even though it feels like it is your end. Even though it must be your end because this is more than you can handle. If you have been a Christian for longer than a month, then I’m sure you have heard someone say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Maybe someone has said this to you now as you are in this pain. The intentions were good intentions. I get it. But this is one of those “supposed to’s” that can make you angry at God. The “supposed to” stated is that God won’t give you more than you can handle. It is a poor interpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 that has been hijacked for a long time. Actually this promise is never promised in the Bible. I get why it got hijacked though. It would be nice to believe that we wouldn’t have to endure pain more than we can handle. That God is “supposed to” carry us through a pain which we do have strength to handle. But this is simply not true. Paul, who wrote 1 Corinthians 10:13, also wrote this recap of his life in 2 […]
True. Dating is a budget item. There is a cost to dating. It’s not all walks in the parks under rainbows. Even coffee adds up quickly. The Washington Post (my local paper) ran the Match survey about the cost of dating in 2016. Yes, it’s one of those stat reads that I love so much. I warn you now though. You may not want to read much further. The news is expensive. The average unmarried American spent $1,596 on their dating life in 2016. Of course, in some cities the average is higher. For example, in Washington, it was $1,788; in New York, $2,069. I’m guessing it is a better number in Iowa. (My family is in Minnesota, I know lots of Iowa jokes.) As you are hyperventilating about that large number and are starting to plan to never date, here are some items you probably didn’t think of that helped grow that number: bar tabs, dating site memberships, haircuts, manicures and new date outfits, entrance fees to dating events, and money spent on matchmakers. Breathe again. Your budget just became a lot more manageable and dating just became more possible. Here’s another interesting Match survey find. Who should pay […]
Good morning. I know…the morning doesn’t feel good. You feel too much actually. You certainly feel too much dread. So much dread that you don’t believe you have the strength to get out of bed. Just doing that is too much. You feel the responsibilities you have to do today. Those responsibilities just add to your dread. You are overwhelmed and the decision that seems easiest is to just stay in bed. That is the only decision you can handle right now. I’ve been here too. I want you to know that your pain is real. It hurts. It hurts so much that you don’t feel like you can get out of bed this morning. But I am asking you to. A brave life is brave decision upon brave decision upon brave decision. Even the little ones such as the decision to get out of bed today. This is a brave decision. You are risking some vulnerability to make at least one of your responsibilities today. I am here urging you to do this. A brave life is brave decision upon brave decision upon brave decision. Even the little ones . Click To Tweet Good morning. You get another day. […]
When talking to someone new, do you assume the other person is bored, uninterested, or only making conversation with you to be polite? Do you tend to notice and fixate on interactions where you feel put down or slighted? Do you tend to imagine slights from others? Do you tend to take these interactions very personally? When you enter a group of people, do you assume that you won’t fit in or that the group members would rather you weren’t there? Do you worry that people are being outwardly nice to you, but secretly do not like you? When you invite someone to connect on social media do you worry that the person will ignore your request? Do you think healthy and happy relationships come naturally to others but find it hard to imagine someone giving you the kind of love you see others receive? In conversations with others, does it seem they are criticizing you or finding fault with you? When others give you attention and seem interested in you, do you assume it’s only a matter of time before they lose interest? When there’s no conflict or problem in a relationship, do you assume it’s the beginning of […]
On Father’s Day I was privileged to preach to our church family. Part of what I shared is about my infertility which led to the best Father’s Day sermon subtitle ever, “How I Made John a Father.” I shared with our church family the very short version of how John and I became parents. I did not have the words nor the time that Sunday to share how this decision has changed my life…redefined my life. Becoming a mom to these boys is the best decision I have ever made. I share often here at Be Brave about the pain of that decision. I’ve never had my heartbroken so much. I can’t believe how much I know about the State of Virginia prison system. I’m grateful that my heart breaks for #BlackLivesMatter because I know this fear that is all too real…for me. I know that #drivingwhileblack is real. I also know the joy of seeing one of my sons “get” how much God loves him. I love seeing that light turn on when they realize they can have a better future than the generations behind them. I love the gratefulness my sons have as they approach each part of […]
June 12, 2011 was the first day I stepped foot at a very special place as a camp counselor: the Christian Retreat Center (CRC). This place holds a special place in my heart and that will never, ever change. Unfortunately, only people who have worked as a camp counselor in a place such as this will understand how I feel when I say that I LOVE camp. Take notice to the fact that this word is all caps, bold, italicized, and red. Yeah, I love camp. The people I met there and the things I’ve witnessed God do has forever changed me. Let me help you gain some perspective on the impact this place had on my life which lead to why its so important to me. Two counselors I met my first year were bridesmaids in my wedding last month and I am a bridesmaid in one of their weddings this coming October; I had about 4 tables at my wedding for my CRC family; one of the speakers for the older campers (the founder of this website, actually) is now a dear friend of mine and a person whom I feel I can always confide in for guidance; another speaker for a […]
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” Genesis 1:3-5. Thus we have light and darkness like these are simply opposite of each other. This is not true. Light and darkness are not equal. I’m sure someone with a physics background can use science to prove to us that light and darkness are not equal. That is not me. I’m sure someone who loves Star Wars can use the theology of Star Wars to prove to us that light and darkness are not equal. That is not me. What I do have is some notes from one of my sons who is in prison. We pinged back-and-forth ways how light and darkness are not equal. Here is what our non-physics non-Star Wars minds came up with: Light and darkness are not opposites. Light and darkness are not competing forces. Light is infinitely more powerful than darkness. Darkness is really the absence of light. Light and darkness have no relationship to each other. Light has never seen the darkness and darkness has never […]
I want this whole blog to be this T.D. Jakes quote. Such truth that is needed to be heard. Can you hear it? There are people who can walk away from you. And hear me when I tell you this! When people can walk away from you: let them walk. I don’t want you to try to talk another person into staying with you; Loving you; calling you; caring about you; coming to see you; staying attached to you. I mean hang up the phone. When people can walk away from you let them walk. Your destiny is never tied to anybody that left. The Bible said that, they came out from us that it might be made manifest that they were not for us. For had they been of us, no doubt they would have continued with us. 1 John 2:19. People leave you because they are not joined to you. And if they are not joined to you, you can’t make them stay. Let them go. And it doesn’t mean that they are a bad person it just means that their part in the story is over. And you’ve got to know when people’s part in your story […]
Today’s been six months since my dad did his fly up to heaven. I don’t know why, but six months on anything seems like it’s important. I feel like the wound of losing my dad isn’t so raw, but yet, some days something will happen or a memory will surface and the wound opens up again. This year is full of “firsts”. First Christmas. First Birthday’s. First Father’s Day. I’m about done with these firsts to be honest with you, but I know they must come and it’s part of the process. So with Father’s Day around the corner and this six month milestone….I am feeling it. My dad wasn’t so big on special days that involved him. We always tried to make a big deal about his birthday or Father’s Day, but often he would just say, “Well thanks for this gift, but you shouldn’t have.” It wasn’t a rude way, just he wasn’t a man that liked to be fussed over. I remember the summer of 2000 standing at a board full of make shift phones in Garden Valley, Texas. Kev and I were gearing up to lead our first short term trip to Botswana with Teen Mania. […]
It is brave decision upon brave decision upon brave decision. Even the little ones when those decisions make you feel anxious and nervous and you would rather shut down in front of Netflix. It is in those brave decisions that you become light. Light to you and a light to others. Back when I began Bravester I had a blogger who is the adopted daughter of a grown teen of mine from a youth group in the 1980s. Cathy is quite a story. Cathy is a living story that is alive and brave. She recently released this “recap” of where she’s been for a while, what she’s been living through. Her living story is continuing. Notice the brave decision upon brave decision Cathy is making. May her living story inspire you as you face your pain which is your beginning. And may you recognize the darkness and be a light. Suicide and Me: A Painful Confession Overwhelmingly, the last year has left me questioning where I fit in and what kind of purpose I have. With each new hurt I stepped further and further away from nearly […]
“We used to play pretend, give each other different names. We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far way. Used to dream of outer space and now they’re laughing at our face saying, ‘Wake up you need to make money’ yeah. Wish we could turn back time to the good old days; when our mom would sing us to sleep, but now we’re stressed out” Above are lyrics from my all-time favorite band Twenty-One Pilots. Song title: “Stressed Out” Some things I remember vividly as a little girl. Whether it was playing outside with my brother and our friends or waking up Christmas morning to presents under the tree. But one thing I don’t recall, however, is ever feeling stressed or having the thought of “what if” with a nuance of negativity. What if my dad can’t pay the oil bill and we freeze? What if we don’t have enough money for groceries? What if I lose control of the bike and get hurt? What if I get there and they don’t like me? What if I get my heart broken? As we get older, something happens to cause those thoughts to pop into our heads: Experience. I […]
My guess is your team already knows it, if you let them in on your relationship. Too often relationships are grown in the dark. Let the light of your community come into your relationship space. This is why it is important to date with a team. Let this happen for your next relationship. Because this current relationship is over. Time has revealed that this is not a match after all. Deep down you know it. Instead of facing the ending which needs to be made, you start to contort, to be super-glued, to pray, to cry, to compromise, to lie to yourself, to lie to others, to put “what God told me” as more important than what you are discerning now. You play this trick on yourself–“I will only think of the good parts of him” trick. Every time you think about breaking up/making this ending, you begin to miss someone who does not exist. You focus just on the part that you like and fail to look at the whole of the person, which includes the negatives which time has revealed to not be a match for you. You never make the ending because you feel like you are […]
This is not my statement of faith which I believe as an ordained minister. This is what I proclaim when my life no longer makes sense. This is what I have learned from being at the door of the Father’s heart. I learned this back in the early 1980s and it has sustained me through the many pains my life has had to endure. It comes from Psalm 18, and specifically this section, vv. 4-16. The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from His sanctuary; my cry to Him reached his ears. Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of His anger. Smoke poured from His nostrils; fierce flames leaped from His mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from Him. He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath His feet. Mounted on a mighty angelic being, He flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. He shrouded Himself in […]
Don’t be a single waiting around for life to begin once you get married. Start living your story now. Say “yes” to brave and time-consuming things for God. Besides having great stories to tell (do you need another reason?), you never know who you will meet “along the way.” And this person will probably be attracted to you because you are doing these brave and time-consuming things for God. Because the best way to find your love for a lifetime is to “Live your life to the full bravely following after Jesus. Now. As you are living bravely, who is keeping up with you? That is the match for you.” How are you going to know who is keeping up with worthy you if you are not neck-deep into your story? Our Global Scavenger wrote this recently on her Joyful blog. Jenny is the one who said “yes” to the Global Scavenger Hunt.” She is the one who asked my brother to join her and he said “yes.” Then she wrote this blog just two weeks after her return. Perhaps she has learned to make room for “yes” in her life? I remember hearing about the person who said “Yes” […]
Grief is unique. Unlike emotions that don’t necessarily take you anywhere and can also keep you stuck, grief is a forward motion. It hurts like hell and that is where it starts to move you forward to denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Pain is your beginning. Grief means I am getting ready for what is next because I am finishing what is over. No one wants to finish what is over when it comes to grief. We always want that person to be with us longer. Just one more day… Just one more laugh… Grief moves us to become participants in life again when we really don’t want to. Yet somehow grief does move us forward. Maybe because grief states loud and clear, (whomever or whatever your blank gets filled in with) MATTERS. This person is gone, my heart is smashed, because he/she mattered on this earth. Grief honors that. Grief is the price of love. Grief states that _____________ MATTERS. Grief honors this person. Click To Tweet Our Missionary Momma Sarah has so vulnerably shared her grief over the loss of her dad. Her writing is beautiful because somehow her pain is beautiful. As the Velveteen Rabbit said, […]
I read this article on Good Friday, Where Have All the Lamenters Gone? I had to share this part: Reclaiming the Lost Language of Lament It’s time to recover this lost language. And I believe to find our way back to this essential, life-giving practice, we do it together. The Jewish people lamented in community, and I can’t help but wonder if our churches ought to look like this today. What if we opened a door to the singles in the community who are lamenting their singleness, instead of just telling them to start an online dating profile? I know! I know I’ve just been encouraging you to maybe start an online dating profile. But I hear this too. I want to make room for lament. Lament is a passionate expression of grief. It’s the cry of our heart that is usually full of anguish, sadness or heartache. And it is something to do together. I’d like to also add that this thought is rolling around inside of me just after I celebrated this beautiful wedding of a good match. Celebration. Lament. Joy. Pain. We get seasons of both, don’t we? Especially when we realize that if we numb our pain […]
There are people in your life—or you can get people in your life—to help you live bravely into a life of forgiveness. These are the same people who are living brave as whole people with boundaries willing to get their hearts broken and still be brave who speak words that heal you. Because of how they live their lives so filled with brave faith, they may not seem like “safe people” because they are “brave people.” That is the irony of bravery, isn’t it?! How will you recognize these people? You need to evaluate the people you are choosing to be in relationship with. Yes, this will be judgey of you but this is okay. This is called discernment. This is discerning which of your relationships get limited boundaries and which get BIG boundaries. You have been given such wisdom to discern these things as in Proverbs 8:11-12, For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it. I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment. I know where to discover knowledge and discernment. Do you want a list to help you with this discernment? A recommended resource from us is anything written by Dr. Henry […]
Note from Brenda: Just had to share the happy day. Emily and Zane will figure out I did this in about a week. Enjoy! Dear brave single person. Emily has bravely shared her story here. I was there with her when her parents marriage broke up. I was there with her when she became the “dumped girl” after this long-term relationship. I’ve been there with her when she rediscovered her life and calling (which is why I’ve asked her to write about it). We laughed together when she’d share which blog posts on Brave Dating Coach were helpful in the early stages of this new relationship. I’ve known Zane too, separately. On the actual night when Emily discovered she loved Zane which she shared here, I was who she was coming to see. Or was I the excuse to come see Zane?! This is what I know. This is a good match. I’m so honored to see up close this love for a lifetime grow. And the wedding was a celebration of that. Both of them were surrounded by each of their teams who helped put together this celebration. This was not a wedding of a bride and groom being […]
It’s hard to believe The Global Scavenger Hunt has ended and I’ve now been back to America for two weeks. Two weeks! I remember when we’d been overseas for two weeks. We were finishing up Egypt, about to head to Europe for the final big leg of the trip, and I couldn’t fathom another week of living like we’d been living. It didn’t feel as though we’d been gone 14 days; it felt as though we’d been gone months. One more week seemed like an eternity. I just want to have my own room, be in my own bed, and sleep for more than four hours. This was all I could think at that moment when Bill announced we were (“already” but I heard “only”) 2/3 of the way through. Camels make not sleeping look better We were exhausted, or at least I was exhausted. This trip was not a vacation. It was a test of skill, of stamina, of strength. I was in yoga class last weekend and the instructor made us do 10-second chaturanga, which is essentially lowering oneself into a tricep push-up as slow as humanly possible. And then, once we’d done that five times, he changed the criteria: lower yourself […]
Luke 12:22, 27-28 I tend to worry. I’m what you would maybe call a perfectionist? I don’t like to admit it, but I am just that. I want everything to be just right, so when it comes to my wedding day I want everything to be SUPER perfect. Just last night, my friend Emily, Zane and I were sitting on my living room floor putting wine torches together when I asked Zane if he had gone with his mom to get the porta-potties situated. He said he didn’t but then asked me if his mom had told me what was going on with the farm (where the wedding is taking place). I said that she hadn’t and immediately felt my heart start to race. What is he about to tell me? He shared that the ideas we had for parking and the tent were no longer or may not tangible because of the owners concerns with the grounds being wet and the cars blocking his barn. Well now what? What are we supposed to do? That’s the only rational place to put the tent and that’s the only good place to park cars!! **INITIATE PANIC MODE** Zane, being as sweet as he […]
This title can also be “Every Woman You Date is Going to be the Wrong One Until She is the One.” The truth is the same, it’s just that I have lived the title. What this means is you are going to kiss a lot of frogs to get your prince. I lived this title so I have kissed a lot of frogs. Thankfully I also chose to not kiss some of those dudes. Yeah for me! I don’t have regrets. You don’t necessarily have to kiss those frogs either. Yeah for you! You have boundaries. Note also that this title does not mean you can change a man to become the one. Stop that lie right now. Stop contorting yourself so this “match” becomes a true match. It is not. It simply is not. I was talking to a pretty awesome young woman lately who was telling me about a date she had. It was a good one, a fun one. But the fella has some pretty obvious red lights. She immediately shamed herself for always being attracted to the wrong type of men. I could practically hear the messaging inside her head. I stopped her berating of herself […]
I love songs like Trust In You and Thy Will Be Done, I really do. I’ve sung both of these songs in worship at my church. I love the thought that when God doesn’t seem to hear our prayers, thoughts and concerns, that He knows better than we do and He is watching out for us. I love knowing that God sees the big picture and He will never leave or forsake us. But sometimes that just isn’t enough. Sometimes trusting God isn’t enough for me. Sometimes “Thy” will doesn’t seem to take into consideration that “my” will got crushed. Hearing that still, small voice and following His leading has left me in a bad spot more than once. In fact there have been several times that I have felt hurt or betrayed by God. “God You sent me down this path and you didn’t make good on Your word.” I have said this kind of thing more than a few times to God. “God You told me to start this business, or take this job, or buy this thing and it ended badly again.” Sound familiar? “God if You want me to trust You maybe You shouldn’t drag this […]
Note from Brenda: Our Abigail turns 18 in a couple weeks. I have loved her writing and her perspective since she was a young tween. I suspect I will still learn from her as she turns 18 and becomes what she says, “I have to buy a briefcase and start talking about my 401k plan.” But before that, this is the core joy of who Abigail is.
A life of forgiveness sounds like a brave life. Like the bravest of all lives. And it sounds unattainable to you. I must mention my life quote again, “The brokenhearted are indeed the bravest among us—they dared to love, and they dared to forgive.” as quoted Dr. Brene Brown in Rising Strong. This is a glimpse of what a life of forgiveness might look like–and it has a whole lot of brokenheartedness attached to it. No thanks. Yet to love means the risk of heartbreak. Before we go any further, I must tell you again what forgiveness is not. Letting go of healthy forms of anger. Allowing others to continue to disrespect your needs and boundaries. Lying down and becoming a human doormat. Telling the wrongdoer that the past is no longer significant and everything’s fine now. Agreeing to become best buddies with the wrongdoer. Pretending to go back to normal relations as if nothing happened. Denying that you may still have to live with pain caused by the wrongful deed. Condoning of a bad behavior or the justifying of an offense. Waiting for an apology first, or whether the person will ever be talked to again. Demanding of reconciliation. […]
This trip was a curious one. When I returned from Greece (the first time), I was kicking and screaming. When I returned from Greece (the second time), I did so begrudgingly. When I returned from my working holiday in New Zealand, I experienced culture shock. (People at LAX were not as “No worries, mate!” as everyone in New Zealand and Australia.) But when I returned from this worldwide venture, I could have knelt down and kissed the soil. I was back! To America! Where everybody knows my name! “Hi, Jenny.” I’m guessing that’s not what the organizers had in mind, trying to widen our horizons and all that, but man–it sure feels good to be home. We packed so much into three weeks that I feel like I’ve been away for a year. Seriously. A year. I think I need a really good nap right about now. But no rest for the weary! Scavenge, monkeys, scavenge till you die!* (I will say that we arrived Friday night, 8pm-ish, and were given the rest of the night off. Hallelujah! But I 911’d my Greek friend Nikitas for dinner, and off we went until I fell asleep in my tiramisu. It occurred to me at one […]
So I’ve talked you into giving online dating a try. Take it with a “what the heck” attitude. You are getting your numbers up and “meeting” people outside of the circle you have now. What the heck. You might meet someone pretty special. You will meet some duds. What the heck. Do you know what the hardest part is to being on online dating sites? It’s not dodging the duds. That becomes laughably easy. It’s writing your profile. This is a sure way to filter out duds and attract possible matches. You will learn this when you start scrolling through profiles of matches. Woohee there are some clunkers out there. And then you will come across some good profiles. Those good profiles do stand out. Take the time to make yours a good profile. I’ll help you with that. Here are my tips which I’ve used to help write some profiles. Choose 3 or 4 adjectives that best describe your personality. If you are at a loss as to what your best adjectives are ask your team or circle of friends to describe you in one word. Take those words and develop creative sentences. Don’t simply list these words. Creatively […]
I was introduced to my husband-to-be, Zane, in June 2014. If you had told me then that I would marry this man, I probably would said something like, “HAHAHAHA!!!! Good one!” or “Yeah, okay!” (said VERY sarcastically) or at the very least, given you a really strange look. Zane and I met at the Christian Retreat Center and he quickly became my absolute favorite counselor. I loved being around him and I always saved his hugs for last when it came time to go home that week or at the end of the summer. I just adored him. He was a lovable teddy bear, but I never thought of him as anything more than a friend. Just to paint a picture: he had hair all the way down to the middle of his back and a beard that almost touched his chest. Not something I was super attracted to. Besides, I was dating somebody else at the time and I was convinced that I would marry this guy. So why would I think of dating anyone else when I’m not even available? The following summer, Zane and I became even closer than the year before. I wouldn’t say we were inseparable, […]
I could tell you the story of Iceland, but I think the pictures will do a much better job. Here’s the deal. We arrived into Iceland, congregated into a circle at the airport, and were told to “Be Free.” Instead of bussing to our hotel, we were given the hotel’s address and told we could rent a car. We could do unlimited bonuses. We could pair up with other teams as much as we wanted. Essentially, no rules in Iceland! (Except for no internet/Googling. But we were allowed to use the Garmin* that came with our rental car!) *Garmin is worse than talking to Siri. Garmin made me want to break a window. Garmin is 100% less effective than Google Maps. It didn’t recognize anything I entered unless I wrote it in Icelandic, and even then it was only 50/50. One of the things Mark and I realized as our Global Scavenger Hunt was coming to a close was that we really liked people from the other teams, and we never got to spend any time with them. So, we tried to incorporate that more into our final days: In Egypt, we took a break to have coffee and dessert with the Flying […]
Dear Abigail, You deserve better. You deserve better than the boys who call you stupid, unloved, a piece of crap; the boys who tell you that the world would be better if you died. You deserve better than the girls who ignore and exclude you at your own birthday party. You deserve better than that hideous, emotionally abusive boyfriend, who belittles you in public and tells you who you can and cannot speak to. Please do not believe even for a moment that this is the life you are destined to, or that you are meant to be in pain. I wish you could see yourself as I see you now, years later. You’re golden. You always have been golden. It’s difficult for you to see when others have driven you into the dust, covered you in dirt, and reduced your worth to a garden weed; it’s difficult for you to see because you believe them. And so you settle for abuse and mistreatment because you believe it’s the best you’ll ever receive. It’s not the best you’ll ever receive. One day you’ll be surrounded with people who cherish you deeply and treat you like they do. One day you’ll […]
We made it to Ireland!!! After eight trains, one midnight ferry, one lost phone, and $800 worth of tickets, we finally arrived! We left our less-than-50-euro hotel at 1:30a.m., boarded the 2:40a.m. ferry, and entered a weird twilight zone where we were amid hundreds of seats, several cafes, and a theatre, with maybe only 20 people, none of whom were awake, laying across cushioned seats on this cruise-ship-sized ferry. Granted, Mark and I were awake because it was the first time we’d had reliable wifi in days. But we each got about an hour of sleep (plus three in the hotel) before making our way to the Gibson Hotel in Dublin, checking in by the grace of God at 7a.m., and taking a brief nap before going straight back into scavenges. Here are some of the highlights of the day: Visiting the Book of Kells (of which I had no prior knowledge, but turned out to be SUPER cool: an 800 A.D. illustrated rendition of the gospel, written on prepared calfskin, in Latin, and lavishly decorated at the hand of skillful artists using quill pens. It’s absolutely stunning). I’d show you pictures, but we weren’t allowed to take them. Here’s what the library upstairs […]
It was established long ago that my family does not bear the so-called “Luck of the Irish” (possibly because we’re not Irish), but instead we bear the “Luck of the Curriers,” which is the opposite. This means that despite Laura’s wonderful efforts to get us on the fast track to Dublin via Wales, I instead followed our original itinerary to Lancaster (en route to Isle of Man), only to realize three hours later than we travelled 250km in the wrong direction. As I was about to step onto the tracks of an oncoming train, Mark intervened with beer and promises of chocolate*, and I went off to rectify the mistake I’d made. *not entirely true, but that would have worked The Issue When Laura had done her computer jujitsu to get us to Dublin, she’d given us a schedule with a three-hour layover, bringing us to Wales at 2:00pm so we could find the mysterious “hut circles” [part of the scavenge, to get points for going to Wales] before boarding the 5:15pm ferry to Dublin. The problem was that our detour cost us the layover, and the next ferry to Dublin didn’t leave until 2:40 a.m. the next morning. To scavenge or not to scavenge, that is the question… […]
Cruelty is easy, cheap, and rampant. You have a choice of what to do with those words. Do you believe them to be true—because your mom or someone you love in your life said so? Or do you choose to treat those words like trash that must be taken out? You have the power to make that choice over the words spoken into your life because you have the authority over your brain. Too often we forget we have this authority. Some of you don’t realize you have this authority. Too many people listen to what their brain says and they trust it. You actually believe that what your brain says is real! So when you try to imagine something different—like the truth of those words from your mom or your identity in Christ—this feels impossible because you are telling your brain something differently than what your brain has recorded. Your brain chatters, mostly chatters regurgitated stuff. This is why you must guard what goes into your brain. Most of what is in your brain is what you’ve inherited and recorded over time. And your brain doesn’t shut up. Try to get your brain to shut up. Set aside a […]
May 1st (May Day) In order to explain our worst day of the trip, I must first explain the scavenges. One of the bonuses, worth the most points (500), was to complete scavenges in the four primary countries: Belgium, Netherlands, England, and Ireland. This seemed like a no-brainer, and one that was easy to accomplish in four days. But, there were three catches: We all had to complete a mandatory scavenge in Cambridge, England, otherwise none of the points we earned would count. Within each country there were mandatory scavenges, in order to get the points for that country. There was a -500 point penalty for flying As I mentioned in my previous blog, our first day was spent in Antwerp, Belgium, so we thought our second day would be spent in the Netherlands, and then we’d head to Cambridge, England and end in Dublin. So simple, right? But, three more catches: We never bought a proper map and/or guidebook because the bookstore was closed, so we had no way of garnering distance. The train schedule we picked up was wildly inaccurate I really really wanted to go to Isle of Man. The Isle of Man is an island in between northern England […]
I have yet to write about this “huge” Christian dilemma of dating someone who is “unequally yoked.” Mostly because I hate that term. I’ve had those words beat over me enough when I was younger. I’m not even happy to include them in the title. They are such “Christianized” words that they sound ridiculous. Yokes are not a part of our daily life, unless you are still living on a farm (which then many people are jealous of you) and you are using a yoke with your farm animals instead of more modern equipment. Or unless you are Amish and then you wouldn’t be reading this. For your good health though, yolks should be a part of your life. They are packed with protein. I haven’t written about it yet but I do have some strong opinions on it. Strong opinions that I share with the people I am coaching but not fleshed out enough to put out in blog world where it may be misunderstood. I’m all about you finding a good match which leads to that love for a lifetime. And being with someone who has a similar faith as you is very important in that. But the […]
There’s good news and bad news. Bill –for some reason– always likes to start with the good news, so the good news is that we’ve arrived to Europe! Belgium, specifically. Within the first twelve hours, I had beer, chocolate, waffles, mussels, ice cream, and frites (fries), and I did not fear for my life while crossing any street! WHAT A NICE CHANGE. The bad news (“bad”) is that I’ve already been to the four primary countries in the European leg: Belgium, Netherlands, England, and Ireland. There are scavenges listed also in Luxembourg, Whales, and Isle of Man, so Mark and I are hoping to hit at least one of those, but the problem is that we have only four days to do so–by Wednesday night, we need to check in with the group in Dublin. It was definitely a culture shock, in the best possible way, to go from the chaos of Vietnam/Thailand/Sri Lanka/and Cairo to the calm, orderly, English-speaking country of Belgium. When we landed in Brussels, it was as if we’d entered a ghost town, which is certainly not the Brussels I remember. The first time I was here, four years ago, I thought this city was crowded, […]
A beloved person in my life heard these words spoken over her: “Now that you’ve slimmed down, you can wear things like this…” “I deserve more than the gift you gave me for Christmas…” “You are hard to love…. No man will ever love you.” These words came from her mother. That person in one’s life that you think would nurture and build esteem. Cruelty is easy, cheap, and rampant. And mothers aren’t exempt from it. Why do we excuse family members and their behavior towards us? Just because they are “family” and “blood” they get to push all over our boundaries and wound us? Creating boundaries with family members is one of those painful adulting things we all need to do. Don’t let love confuse you when it comes to this. To continue to let your family members say such hurtful things to you—and excuse it as okay—is not you expressing your love for them. This is a back-and-forth dysfunctional love that is far from what love really is. This is coping love. This is contorted love. You are worthy to be loved as the whole person God created you to be. Not this contorted version someone wants from […]
When I told my dad we were going to Egypt, his reply was this: “Will you learn how to walk like one?” Oh, Dad. But the answer was yes. Our camel guide at the pyramids made a joke about walking like Egyptians afterwards, and I thought he meant some version of being bow-legged. Now I realize he meant the day after riding a camel. I hobbled around wondering why my inner thighs felt like they might snap at any moment, and then I remembered the two-hour camel ride, which I’ve concluded is great training for anyone interested in rodeo. There’s a fair amount of “clinging” required whenever the camel kneels for human dismount, not to mention the camel stride is 20x more wallopy than a horse’s. The Egyptian motto should be “Mummies of gold, adductors of steel.” Our first evening in Egypt was, as always, confusing as we tried to figure out a place to obtain a map and a guidebook. But we managed to knock out a few simple scavenges and made friends with a collection of guys working in an electronic store—which began simply by asking where the metro was and pointing to a map, and culminated into fifteen […]
Before arriving to Sri Lanka, The Lawyers Without Borders told us we needed to climb Adam’s Peak at sunrise if it was a scavenge. Lo and behold, it was. I’ve only hiked one other mountain (volcano, technically) at sunrise, and it was an amazing experience. But man, it was tough hiking the cone of a volcano in the dark. And there were so many people in the group we had to keep stopping, and I grew angry in my impatience (who wears heeled flip flops on a hike?), and it was freezing at the top, and I looked like death in all the photos–but the payoff was worth it. So, I was expecting this to be the same, but it was a totally different experience. To begin: I could write an entire blog on the car ride TO the base of Adam’s Peak. We were in a taxi van driven by two Sri Lankans who spoke very little English, and I questioned whether or not the driver had actually ever driven stick-shift before. And I’m not a car person, but I can guarantee whatever is meant by the word “shocks,” this van did not have them. The road was swerving and bumpy […]
This is also true about online dating sites. They are also self esteem boosters. This may be why people you message do not respond to your message or wink or smile. Even if you have a simple message to respond to, which you should. The thrill for this type of person was that someone found him/her matchable or attractive. That is quite the satisfying feeling, isn’t it? Even if this is not why you have braved up and put yourself on a dating site. It still is nice to get that wink. You get that self esteem boost. There are many on these sites who use these sites just for that self esteem boost. Not really dateable material there. Just move on. None of this behavior is about you. You are enough. So go on. Write a bio that reflects who you are (blog coming up with useful tips!). Use that natural-looking snap of you as your profile picture. Add those pics of you and your friends and family that say “this is who I am.” Write a general first message that surmises you safely as well as gives an entry point for someone to respond back. Stay in the […]
A report from Mark again. Jenny’s follows. We have been on the move again and we have reached the midway point through the trip. The last four days were spent in Sri Lanka with a “par 6” leg. Such a long leg meant that getting out of the main city of Colombo was not only optional but also necessary in order to do well for that leg. We left for Colombo on the first day in Sri Lanka. In the booklet of challenges there are different types of challenges or scavenges. There are approximately 30-40 generic scavenges that I have written about from previous legs. There are typically three to five “mandatory” scavenges which are frequently food related and we are provided a long list with a “do four of eight” type instructions. We also have the global scavenges. Lastly, there are “bonus” challenges that are much more involved and worth higher point values. Our focus for Sri Lanka was on the bonus challenges. The first bonus challenge that we completed was to go to Anuradhapura and visit a series of relics from the ancient world. One element that was included in this bonus challenge was that we had to […]
Yesterday evening marked the halfway point, conveniently while we were still halfway around the world. Today, we traveled to Cairo, Egypt. This is the place of the Pyramids, guys!!! “You’re wondering what is a place like me doing in a girl like this?” “Uh, yeah, something like that.” (Let’s just say I watched the movie The Mummy enough times to quote the entire thing.) But as we’re awaiting the results of our Sri Lankan leg of the adventure, and waiting to receive our booklet for Cairo, which will inevitably start another whirlwind of activity, I wanted to post my joyful moment so far, and that is this: I made a commemorative video of our first half of the trip. It’s only 7 minutes long, and it’s the first time I’ve ever used iMovie–on my phone no less–so please humor me and pretend like it’s awesome. And feel free to share it with your friends. Donate. Thanks Bravester folks! I know you are helping!
This is a video story I happened upon from my brother’s church. (The same one doing this coincidentally.) It is a beautifully gripping testimony of the pain of cancer and the pain of fatherlessness and the beauty that comes from both. So moving. Can you feel the holy tension in the questions raised? But most of all, can you see the bravery in this one man? A man who didn’t go to church or have a faith until the cancer diagnosis. Who then has grown so brave in his faith to love another so. I want to be this man. I’m sure he is flawed and cracked. Yet it is the pain that is making him beautiful. Love pries open your chest and pulls open the door of your heart so someone can walk right in and make this mess that remakes you into something more beautiful. –Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way, p. 131 Our Missionary Momma Sarah is in the midst of the pains of grief. She has been vulnerably sharing her growth, backward steps, and pain since her father’s sudden death. She was already this brave missionary living and raising three children in Botswana. We have all admired that. […]
This is a report from Mark because he explains why. I am writing this from Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. I am also writing it using my iPhone because we left our laptops behind in Colombo. Let me first explain how we got here. Friday was a very long and busy day. The day started with breakfast at our beautiful hotel in Hanoi. From there it was a bus ride to the airport where we boarded a flight to Bangkok. Bangkok was not known to us until we got on the bus as it was our layover city en route to Colombo, Sri Lanka. We arrived into Bangkok at 1:00 PM and our departing flight was at 10:10 PM. After a group meeting and instructions, that gave us about 8 hours for a par 1 layover leg in Bangkok, Thailand. Jenny and I had a great day in Bangkok. The list of challenges for the layover leg was simple with about 10 items and none of the global scavengers that I highlighted in my Vietnam post. There was one special scavenge awarded to the first team to take a photo of an elephant. Immediately after getting off of the Airlink train, Jenny […]
Today was the best day of my trip so far. Instead of participating in scavenges, I left at 7am to visit Halong Bay, which is three hours away from Hanoi and one of the most beautifully depicted seascapes I’ve ever seen. Seven years ago, visiting Halong Bay was a scavenge on the Global Scavenger Hunt, but because of our limited time in Vietnam, Bill decided not to include it. Unfortunately, it was the only thing I could think about from the moment we received our scavenge booklet—I wanted to go so badly. And we were so close to it. And I don’t know when my next visit to Vietnam will be; getting to Southeast Asia from America isn’t exactly a quick hop away. I thought about it. I fretted. I justified. I pleaded with Mark to go. He and I stood firmly on either side of the chasm, and his rationale makes perfect sense, but I was afraid I’d really regret not going. My friend Lauren has a Three-Time shopping rule. “Are you going to think about it more than three times if you don’t buy it? If yes, get it.” And the answer was inexplicably yes. I know this […]
ICYMI: the answer to yesterday’s riddle was Vietnam. Our second leg of the journey takes place in Hanoi, Vietnam. But before I talk about the country, I need to set the stage for why I’m the most horrible teammate in the world. An hour after we arrived, our score sheets were tallied and we learned our standing in the competition: Team Thundersnow is 6th (of 10) places. We weren’t surprised, and this is why (granted, one leg of the journey is not enough to make a sweeping judgment call, but this is our general first impression): Money isn’t everything….but it helps a whole lot – There are many scavenges, and they range in price. Some are free, (going on a hike, for instance), but transportation costs money, entrance fees cost money, food cost money, challenges that require you to buy something cost money, bonus challenges cost money…. And if you have greater amount of expendable income, it’s less of a concern to do them all. Having money also makes a team more expedient—instead of walking or using the city bus, they can use a taxi or high speed ferry. It’s especially difficult not knowing in advance how much a scavenge […]
Online dating is definitely a part of today’s dating landscape. It is one of the tools we have available to help you “get your numbers up” to meet people. Yes, dating is a numbers game. You need to meet a number of people to find a good match. Don’t let that defeat you while at the same time get that picture out of your head of that daydream prayer you have. You know the one. The one of entering into a coffee shop one day and you will see “him” and know it is “him” because there is a glowing light over his head which signifies immediately that this is the one God has for you. You will then walk over to him and he will say something clever and you will know he is the one because you will respond with something clever and cute and not stumble over your words while hating yourself on the inside for being so “stupid.” The whole scene will be movie-clever-perfect. Not going to happen. Dating is a numbers game. You are going to meet a lot of people to find your match. Notice I didn’t say date a lot of people. You […]
We arrived to Hong Kong at 8:30 a.m. on Easter Monday. I knew absolutely nothing about Hong Kong, such as the fact that they celebrate Easter Monday,* but the eerily silent streets and closed shops tipped us off that something was amiss on a Monday morning. *when we inquired at the hotel, the bellman said, “It’s Easter Monday, holiday, of course!” Once the group was given scavenge booklets, we all scattered. Mark and I sat down with our map and list of scavenges, I was so confused I wanted to dive into the bowl of my sweet and spicy wontons and never come out. (PS. THESE WERE THE MOST AMAZING WONTONS OF MY LIFE.) First of all, Hong Kong is comprised of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. There are 57 million people who live there, and they have more skyscrapers than New York City (314 vs. 241). To navigate the city, there are busses, trams, ferries, metro (MTR), escalators, and furniculars, and Lord knows what else. The challenges ranged from every part of the city, to outside of the city, to the islands, even to Shenzhen, in China (a “bonus” scavenge). It was disorienting to say the least. The hardest […]
In May of last year it had been a year and a half since I was in a relationship. A year and a half of singleness; a year and a half of loneliness; a year and a half of longing; a year and a half of…. Wait a second. What the heck am I talking about? Forget all that and let’s start over. It had been a year and a half since I was in a relationship. A year and a half of awesomeness! A year and a half of adventure. A year and a half of exciting what-ifs. A year and a half of bravery! Yeah, that’s more like it. Being a twenty-something year-old in this day and age can be a trying time when you’re single. I had people asking me all the time, “Are you married yet?” as if I’m defined by my relationship status. There was a time in my life when I believed that. You’re only as good as the person you’re with or the person you’re married to. Do you know what those statements are? They’re lies; ugly lies that will keep you from who you are meant to be. I was in a […]
Control! Finally a fruit of the Spirit that is all about control!! All of the other ones—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and faithfulness–have challenged us to stop trying to control our lives and push our faith into vulnerable areas. Which then become memorable, faith-shaping times. But still so hard. Finally control. But it’s not the kind of control that we like which keeps us out of vulnerability. It is the control that pushes us to these brave moments of vulnerability. And self is involved. We don’t get to “give it over to God” and wish the hard part away. We have to enter ourselves—the self–into this. Oh God is faithful through it all but we have to be in with our skin to live our story. We have to be in with our skin to live our God-given story. Click To Tweet What this means is when it comes to love, my self control will help me handle the heartbreak that love brings. I will not numb myself out of it but accept that heartbreak is a part of love. The world needs the heartbreak I risk. You too. When it comes to joy, it means I am […]
Day 1: San Francisco We were told to meet at 8:30 a.m. in the lobby of the hotel. We didn’t know if we were going to fly away at noon or spend the day in San Francisco, but Mark and I suspected we would complete scavenges in SF. We were correct. Today was our trial run, a way of orienting us to the type of scavenges we’d receive, how it would work, what these mysterious scavenge booklets would look like, how scoring works, etc. Unlike normal events, this one was considered pass/fail if we completed a mere 8 of the 38 challenges given us. We had eight hours. “Don’t do more than eight,” he said. “Eight is all you need.” He gave pointed looks to two teams in particular. “But–” “Eight.” “But what if–” “Eight. There’s no extra credit for over achieving. Not today!” There was some more banter. Yes, what we do today counts. But it counts only that you do eight, or you don’t do eight. Bill asked the group one last time, “So…how many scavenges are you going to complete?” “Ten?” Anyway, I wasn’t in the over-achieving category for once. I figured it’s best to save our […]
Today I had a Hunger Games moment. Mark and I, having met for the first time at noon today, joined our cohort of Global Scavengers –nine other teams of two people– for orientation and a Bon Voyage dinner. We began with introductions. Here are the teams we’ll be competing against: Lawyers Without Borders – 5 time champions, and this is their 10th year coming. This is obviously the team to beat, and our biggest competition. Slow Folks* – a married couple who are joining this hunt for the second year in a row Flying Snitches – Harry Potter fans, and thus thrown in the “let’s be friends” zone. This is a team of two women about my age who’ve been friends for 15 years. Yolo Go Now – a married couple (one American, one Chinese) who flew in from Beijing. This is their first time competing. TSA pre-check yo’self – a couple from LA who have wicked awesome jobs (one makes movie trailers and the other is a screen writer) who seem cool but competitive Ying – This is their last name; they didn’t realize team names were supposed to be creative. This is a Father-Daughter team (the daughter is 14 […]
“He Is Risen” is the second song in the three-song CD, “Even The Earth Wept” that I recorded for Easter/Lent with our church worship team at Spirit & Life Church. For those of you that have heard my music before you might be surprised at the “pop”sound of this one. No disrespect to those that love, write, record and listen to pop worship, it’s just not my thing. But after the heaviness of “Even The Earth Wept” I felt that a much lighter song, one that celebrates the Risen Christ, would not only tell the story but make the CD flow. And this story, the death and Resurrection of Jesus is a journey–one that ends in the celebration of all celebrations. It’s colorful, joyful and it’s awe-inspiring and life-giving. He Is Risen! He Is Risen, He’s Alive, Praise His Name, Glorify! So here’s the lyric video for the song. I hope you enjoy!
It wasn’t too long ago that The Global Scavenger Hunt and I (along with my teammate, Mark) became “official.” I wrote a blog about it, which is the equivalent of setting one’s Facebook status to “Committed relationship.” And then the freakout began, as all who are in committed relationships are wont to do. My freakout was not packing related, although that’s the NUMBER ONE QUESTION I received. “How will you know what to pack!?”* people asked. I shrugged. “Layers?” *ICYMI: part of the beauty of the Scavenger Hunt is that we’re taken to 10 different countries and they don’t tell us in advance where we’re going. We learn the destinations 4 hours before our flight. The truth is I prefer not knowing the countries. My typical MO is to wait until the night before my trip, pulling an all-nighter with my entire wardrobe on the floor, my apartment looking like the aftermath of a tornado because I forget that on a normal basis I only wear three outfits on rotation anyway. The nagging question: “But what if….?” What if it rains? What if it’s unseasonably cold? What if it’s unseasonably hot? What if I need to dress up? What if I go hiking? What if there’s an opportunity […]
For someone who always touted my emotional openness and honesty, I sure did keep a lot of secrets. I told a lot of lies. My honesty was superficial, but I didn’t even believe it. The deception was so elaborate and pervasive that I actually succeeded in hoodwinking myself. It’s not that I was reserved–quite the contrary. There was something simultaneously thrilling and comforting about revealing things about myself. I’ve made my entire life story known. People know me for being notoriously self-disclosing. So, being such an open person, how could I be so dishonest? “It’s okay!” “Not a problem!” “That doesn’t bother me anymore.” “I’m fine!” “It’s cool, no worries!” “No hard feelings.” “I’ve moved on from that.” “I’m a new person now.” “Do I seem upset? I’m not. Honest to God, I’m not.” That’s how. When it came to preserving my rapport with others, I knew no bounds. Being upset about something meant that the people I loved would be upset, too. If they were upset, there would be conflict. If there was conflict, they would leave me. There was a fundamental brokenness to my “trusting” nature. Sure, I could trust anyone with the fact that I’d been in a […]
Botswana experienced it’s largest earthquake on record last week! It was quite a rumble! Because most people have never experienced this before, it’s been fun to hear people’s thoughts. One of our brethren in Moralane said that he thought it was a herd of elephants who have been tearing up his fields. He ran out with a shotgun to scare them off only to discover there were no elephants there! Another lady in a fellowship in Metlobo told Sarah, “I told my husband, I think a helicopter is landing in our yard!!” From people running out of the shops, to our family standing there looking at each other, like “What the heck?”…..it “shook” everyone. Thankfully, there was no major damage and everyone has been reported fine. For another glimpse of life in Botswana, here is a report from my husband, Kevin, preparing for Easter Conferences. I ran into Leslie yesterday and he asked me how my recent trip to Salajwe went. I said, “Good, but nothing went the way I expected, . . . but then they never do on outreaches.” He responded, “Actually, there was one outreach back in 1974 that Len went on and he said that was […]
It started with an email. Over the past couple of years, I’ve collected travel subscriptions like they’re toothpicks, and a several weeks ago I received one from The Travel Magazine that had a subject headline: “Win a trip around the world.” Now, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve noticed I’m a little overeager when it comes to applying for free trips anywhere. If there’s a contest, I’m applying. And as a general rule, to earn more entries, they tell you to share on social media–hence all the Twitter (and Facebook) love. People probably think I’m a robot, but these are just my high hopes that if I apply enough times, the law of probability states I MUST WIN AT SOME POINT. Right? So I open the email, skim to the bottom, and click the link where it promises a free trip around the world. I’m redirected to a new page, and already I can tell that this is not the standard, “Enter your name and email address for 1/1,000,000 chance of winning.” This is something else. This page describes an Amazing-Race-type adventure: 15 teams of two people competing on a global scavenger hunt, in 10+ countries that are unknown to […]
I have a confession to make…..sometimes I feel like I am not a good missionary. Kevin and I arrived in Botswana full time in 2004. I’ve been doing this full time for 13 years. It’s a long time. At the same time I feel like even after 13 years, there is still so much to learn. I don’t know the language. Setswana is hard and it’s even harder to find someone who will take the time to teach you in conversational Setswana. I don’t have the culture figured out yet. I cringe because I know I’ve probably offended more times than I really even realized. It’s not intentional……it’s just culture. Sometimes I have no clue what my exact calling is here in Botswana. I thought I knew…..several times, only to discover I really have no clue. Missionary friends around me impress me with their clearly drawn out paths and big dreams. Me I am over here like, “Uh…..” Since moving to the southern part of Botswana three years ago, I really find myself trying to find my niche. Our first year in our new ministry, I was told, give it a year to settle and then you’ll find it. Three years […]
Why are You listening so quietly, Jesus? Faithfulness is brave. Because faith is taking the first step even when you cannot see the whole staircase. The whole staircase is hidden mostly because of those silences coming from God. Why?!!!! It is one thing to be faithful when you can see God’s active hand in your life. We all get seasons like that. Seasons. Look at creation. God has set everything up to work on a cycle. When you can see God’s active hand in your life it is memorable. It is summer! You wish for it to never end. But there is this continual movement with God. Everything cycles til that one beautiful day of forever. Can you feel the vulnerability about to be exposed? Yet again one of these fruits of the Spirit is challenging us to live braver lives. Read all of the challenges of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness. It is easy to be faithful in summer. It is hard to be faithful when God is silent. When your prayers only go as far as the ceiling and you sleep alone. Yet we are still challenged to be faithful—as in this is one of the […]
“Beautiful” is the third song on the three-song CD our worship team at Spirit & Life recorded for the Lent/Easter season. This is a song of praise in the truest meaning of the word. I remember writing this over a period of two nights several years ago at home. It was one of those songs that I just didn’t have to work at. It flowed easily and naturally and in the end told the story of how I was feeling at the time. God is beautiful, He’s wonderful, He’s the Prince of Peace and He is worthy! “I will praise Your name without shame And I will lift up my voice and sing I will can You Lord of Lords and I will Call You my King of Kings” “Worthy is the Lamb”
I have a favorite memory I love to share often, hoping that in sharing I can also relive some of my happy memories. There was a time I was living with a roommate. One of those type of roommates I haven’t stayed in touch with after I moved out. But we were both open to spontaneity, and that is a good quality. There was a time we were both commiserating over broken relationships for both of us. In a matter of a few hours we decided to drive overnight from Minnesota to Tulsa to catch the graduation of a former boyfriend of mine. That is spontaneous and we did it. We continued to commiserate over our broken relationships on that drive, eat that crazy good food you do at 3 am, arrived, found my former boyfriend and certainly surprised him, found out he was engaged and she was there, he ditched her for several hours to hang with us, slept finally, missed his graduation, and drove home. What a good memory! It didn’t particularly bond my roommate and me together for a forever friendship. The former boyfriend we went through all this “trouble” for was one I never cried over. […]
So while I was stateside my mom, sister, niece and myself went and saw the movie “The Shack”. I had read the book a few years ago, and really loved the way it just portrayed God’s love for us. I know this book/movie can be quite controversial among the Christian community, but I tend to not look too terribly deep into some of those things. Maybe that’s a fault that I have, but I tend to focus on what I feel like the Lord is showing me and let the rest go. (So this isn’t a pro or con review of the book/movie…..you be your own judge on that one.) I knew this movie might be a bit of a hard watch given the fact that we had just lost dad and we’re still very much in the heavy grieving stage. I explained some of the plot line to my mom and she said she still wanted to see it. (Ya’ll it had been over 20 years since my mom saw a movie in the theater…..she was excited! 🙂 ha!) There were many really beautiful scenes in the movie, but one really touched all of us and left us holding […]
Thank you so much for coming to the party, and for your wonderful gift! I know the party wasn’t a total blast. There were times where I couldn’t keep myself from crying, and there were times where I wanted to throw things. I almost left altogether a few times–my own party, think of that! But you didn’t ditch on me, even when I left you sitting in the corner while I tried to block other guests from leaving. The thought of my guests leaving me to clean up the dishes they left around, leaving me to sit around in an empty house, was terrifying to me. Remember when I ran to the door and wouldn’t let anyone open it? It only made them angry, and they turned around and climbed out a window. I forgot that you were sitting at the dinner table, waiting patiently for me to come back. How rude of me! What’s sad is that you brought the greatest and most thoughtful gift of everyone, and I tossed it carelessly aside as soon as you gave it to me. All I wanted to do is hang on to all the other guests’ gifts. I thought they were […]
“When I see people stand fully in their truth, or when I see someone fall down, get back up, and say, “Damn. That really hurt, but this is important to me and I’m going in again”—my gut reaction is, “What a badass.” ― Brené Brown, Rising Strong I begin gentleness with this quote about being badass. Because gentleness is not soft and fluffy. Gentleness is the presence of being “there” and going in again and again and again. Gentleness almost sounds like something we could do on our own. For example most mothers are gentle with their babies, caring for and nurturing them. We can all do that. “On our own” is not what I am finding out in each and every one of these fruits of the Spirit. Gentleness is something we think we can do on our own yet is really another attempt to control our faith. To have the fruit of the Spirit of gentleness in our lives means we get to yet again be exposed to vulnerability just like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness. I am growing a bit weary in this series because uncovering these truths has been gutty. I feel like I […]
This is now Blog #4 in a row on the importance of making and keeping your own boundaries. As well as several other blogs on boundaries throughout Brave Dating Coach. This is definitely a brave dating practice. Making and keeping your own boundaries is what will make you attractive and it will help you grow a healthy relationship. This is very much a part of brave dating. But don’t just assume that you need to make and keep boundaries for relationships only involved in your dating life. You also need to make and keep them when it comes to all of your personal relationships. Yes, even those complicated relationships with your family. One of those “adulting” things you need to do is to make and keep boundaries with your family. Even if you come from a good family. Because sometimes even a good parent can have an assumption about you that will encroach on the person God is growing you to be. This then causes you quite a lot of tension as you desire to follow how God is leading but you have a beloved parent voicing the opposite. This is not holy tension. This is a mess. And one […]
Leader: God is good all the time. Response: All the time God is good. We say this often. Sometimes with exuberance. Yet sometimes we don’t believe it. Some of us never believe it. Because how can God be good when my life hurts so much? How can there be any good in me because I know my shame? How can God be good to me? This entire word “good” doesn’t belong in my broken life. Or I work so hard at “being good” that I’m exhausted and still feel unloved. Yet goodness is a fruit of the Spirit. Goodness should be a part of our Christian life. We should ooze goodness. But it is easier to try to be good. To do those good works as a means to show our worthiness (so maybe you can believe you are really worthy). Goodness becomes yet another way we try to control our faith. Instead of simply living our lives out of the truth that we were created good. Worthiness is our birthright. You were enough the minute you were born. You are going to be asked to take another brave and vulnerable look at yourself. That’s where this series on the […]
As you probably already know a good part of last year I was on sabbatical. After 20-plus years at our church, Brenda and I felt God leading us to something new. And after much church-visiting we found a new home in January at Spirit & Life Church in Montclair, Virginia. We are both on staff at Spirit & Life, I as worship leader and Brenda as Family & Youth, and it’s been energizing and a blessing to both of us. Within just a few weeks of taking on the role as worship leader the new band and I began recording a three-song Lent/Easter CD called Even the Earth Wept. The title song tells the story of the last minutes of Jesus’ life and ends with several choruses of “Hosanna,” expressing the joy, praise and gratitude we have for His sacrifice. The goal in recording the song was to try to tell this amazing story lyrically as well as musically. The minor key, instrumentation (cello, viola, percussion), tone, melody, and tempo were recorded with a sort of theatrical feel that I hope sets the mood for a different kind of worship experience. “Hosanna, we’ve come to worship You.” Below is a […]
Our View of Ourselves “I am bad for having boundaries.” “I am selfish for owning my own life.” “My wants are not important.” “My wants are the only ones that are important.” “I must have everything I want.” “I am responsible for others.” “I must do whatever anyone wants of me.” “Whatever goes wrong is my fault.” “Nothing is my fault.” Our View of Others “They will hate me for saying no.” “People will leave me for having my own boundaries.” “People are controlling and want to manipulate me.” “Others will resent my assertiveness and requests.” “They will leave me if I don’t make them happy.” “Others are responsible for me.” “People are selfish if they do not do what I want?” “People are unloving if they say no to me.” “People expect me to be compliant to their wishes.” “Others are responsible for my behaviors.” Our View of God “God doesn’t want me to own my life.” “God doesn’t want me to have anything of my own.” “God wants me to have everything I want.” “God thinks I’m selfish when I say no to others.” “God wants me to allow others to do whatever they want to me or […]
Earlier last year I heard the phrase “Unspeakable Joy” and I just loved it. I don’t know what it was about it that just made me smile, but I am pretty sure it didn’t have anything to do with thinking about loss. I imagined it being something that caused so much joy, you just didn’t have the words to describe it. There’s been this video floating around the internet and Facebook which I thought was so very touching…..(you mind need a tissue). Oh my goodness, when I saw it I had tears in my eyes. Her response is true “Unspeakable Joy” isn’t it? Such gratefulness and love coming from that sweet little girl. You can’t help but just cry right along with her! But what I noticed at the beginning of the video is that it says she lost her cat and her best friend. She lost something so deeply important to her, that no doubt her parents saw the ache in her heart over her loss. Because of their fierce love for her….they wanted to mend that broken heart and restore the joy. I remember so well sitting with my dad in his last moments and feeling such great […]
People are going to break your heart. Recently I wrote this in a letter to my son who is in prison, “There is that stupid saying, “You only hurt the ones you love.” It is overused and misused. But the truth of it is you get hurt by the ones you love because you keep making yourselves vulnerable to them because you love them. We will get through this. I know it. “ Kindness is our fruit of the Spirit this week. We’ve gone through Love, Joy, Peace, and Patience. Kindness requires bravery because there is risk involved. People are going to break your heart. We don’t think kindness requires bravery because kindness is a behavior we learned back in kindergarten. It is a simple behavior all humans should extend. It is a behavior that affects and blesses everyone around you. Kindness should be a part of anyone’s Christian walk. It should be a fruit of your life. But to bless someone, give to someone, extend yourself to someone has the inherent risk that your heart will be broken. You can’t simply show kindness to someone, particularly a vulnerable someone, without your heart being attached to it. Unless you are […]
In the previous blog I described an unpleasant scene too many of us have been a part of. The “bitch sessions” of women who are angry at men. Or men who are angry at women. Or young adults whining about their parents. Or a wife complaining about her husband. Each and every one of these complaints comes when a personal boundary is crossed. The crossing of that boundary falls under your responsibility. It is so much easier to whine, complain, and bitch. The reality is when your boundaries are crossed, you get upset. You feel violated. You feel not appreciated. You feel less than a person. Some of you in response turn into the victim. Sometimes you dramatically want to play the victim. Sometimes you don’t even realize you are playing the victim. Lots of blame is cast about in these “bitch sessions” yet it is quite likely that this person being bitched about doesn’t even know he/she has crossed a boundary with you. You would rather bitch and stay in this relationship where you don’t know where you start and where you end than do the uncomfortable thing—and grown up thing—to make and keep your own boundaries. It is […]
I’ve realized grief has a funny way of showing itself. Sometimes you think you’re really okay, only to find out, you’re not really okay. Sometimes it takes people closest to you to tell you, “Maybe you’re not really okay.” Thankfully, I have a pretty amazing husband who encouraged me to leave him for a month, spend money on a ticket and fly back to the US to spend some more time with my mom and sister. (I am pretty sure he’s kicked himself several times for agreeing to this! Watching three kids alone is no picnic!) I’ve been stateside for about a month now and I feel like I am in a better place mentally. I wasn’t in such a great place when we returned to Botswana the beginning of January. I thought I could move on and that maybe even the normalcy of my life there would help me move past some of my grief. Instead I found myself in a dark spot and even the normal things seemed to overwhelm me. I wanted to just crawl inside of a hole and really just be left alone. Thankfully, I was in my head enough to know that was not […]
God, give me patience!!!!!! What we are really saying when we pray this is or scream this (let’s be honest) is, “God remove me from this tension that I am in. I don’t like it.” Tension is uncomfortable. Tension is vulnerable. Patience creates tension. This is part 4 of our series on the vulnerability that is a part of each of the fruits of the Spirit. Like we learned with love, joy, and peace, we use patience as a way to control our faith. When we’re bringing our prayers to God again and again, we all grow tired of waiting. All of us. Not just you. It soon begins to feel like our prayers are falling onto deaf ears. Or just to the ceiling. Our reaction to the silence is to then take control or just “do the best you can” for the situation. God’s seeming silence is tension inside of us. So then we add to our prayers a prayer for patience. This seems like the godly and wise thing to do in this uncomfortable situation. And yet we still fail to really have the patience. The tension is so uncomfortable and taking control is easier. Asking for patience […]
“The most compassionate people I have interviewed over the past 13 years have also been the most boundaried.” –Dr. Brene’ Brown Another Dr. Brene’ Brown memorable quote—that comes from research. Coming from research is important to me. I just don’t want to give you platitudes to encourage you and challenge you. I challenge you from how God leads using the word of God and research. Check out the entire 5-minute interview. I’d like to parse this teaching 5-minute video even more with you. Dr. Brown goes on to define boundaries as “what is okay and what is not okay.” That is pretty simple. So when I encourage you over and over and over again to have boundaries for your life, I am simply asking you “what is okay and what is not okay.” When it comes to your dating life, “what is okay and what is not okay.” It is worth every minute of prayer and time and conversation you have to figure this out for yourself. What are boundaries for you may not necessarily be the same boundaries for 33-year old woman or a 55-year old guy. I can’t give you a list of boundaries you should have because […]
Someone (many “someones” actually) said a Christian shouldn’t be singing or playing blues. After all, Christians have a “hope and a future” and knowing that should preclude us from singing or playing that genre of music, right? Count me as one that doesn’t follow that logic. Christians have the same emotional ups and downs as anyone. We experience the same pain, the same hurts, the same sicknesses and the same everything else good and no-so-good. Pain is your beginning. It’s the beginning of a journey that will take you to the other side. Brenda speaks about this very topic in her latest Note To Self Video that you can watch HERE. Yes, we have a hope and a future. And we have the blues. Both help me reach the other side.
We continue on with these vulnerable fruits of the spirit. Peace is next. How can peace have vulnerability? It is peace, isn’t it? Can’t I simply have peace in my life? Love Joy Peace is a central promise of the Christian faith. One of the names of Jesus is the Prince of Peace after all. When Jesus healed the brave unnamed woman who left her home after 12 years seeking a healing from a shaming blood disease, Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” Luke 8:48. First, women, let’s awe that she was called daughter by Jesus. What a tender name, a name many of us crave to hear. Peace was the sending off gift Jesus gave her. Can you imagine the peace of living every day from that day forward knowing that you have been healed…after 12 long years…and called daughter?!! After the resurrection, the disciples huddled together in fear not knowing what to do next. Jesus appears and says, While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Luke 24:36. No wonder he is called the Prince of Peace. He is […]
When I’m old and grey (actually white, I hope), I want to look back on my life and feel like I did something. I don’t want to die having done nothing but sit around and blog. Besides, blogs aren’t interesting if you don’t get out and have experiences that are worth writing about. I hope I live a wild life full of stories, stories of terror and fear, stories of despair and grief, stories of joy and elation. I want people to gasp. You really did that? or That really happened? You’re not making that up? This is why I don’t have any regrets. Everything I’ve ever done, even the worst mistakes, has shaped my life. No good story is all oatmeal cookie; there’s gotta be some raisins in there. Of course I don’t approve of everything I’ve done, and I feel sorry if any of my mistakes have harmed others. I feel natural and healthy guilt until I apologize and get right with God and with others, and then I cement the encounter into my metaphorical journal. I want to go off to college and meet new people. I want to study abroad in a French-speaking country. Or anywhere! I want to travel the […]
I’m afraid the answer is you. At least a good part of it. You have voices in your head, whether they are real voices from people you love and trust or voices you’ve made up, that complicate dating. It adds to why you hate dating. p.s. I hope people on your team are not those voices. These complications are in no particular order. They just are and can be exposed and done away with. You have way too many requirements. You have that list of who you want as a love for a lifetime and it is long. Maybe due to fear of vulnerability but if someone isn’t a “Proverbs 31 woman” right away the relationship is not given the time to grow. Of course, there are the very real red lights, yellow lights, and green lights. But when it comes to your list, are you living the Proverbs 31 life? Are your expectations more than you are living your life right now? Maybe your list should be who you want to be and a realistic look at who you are bringing into a possible relationship. Don’t forget to add to this new list your trust issues, your previously broken-heart […]
I loved my junior year. Everybody else seemed to be stressed, but I was in my happy little world of denial. I had a cozy little place in my social world and felt a deep sense of belonging as a result of that. I spent hours doing whatever made me happy and felt content almost all of the time. If I was forced to repeat one year of my life for the next ten years, I would certainly choose junior year. It was the time of my life. It was enjoyable, but was it fruitful? Hardly. Of course I learned things. I discovered some things about myself, primarily concerning identity and ambition. I just can’t say my life was radically changed. After each completed year of high school, I always chose one core lesson I learned that year that was represented in a new piercing. Freshman and sophomore years were easy for me to pick, but not last year, because I didn’t do a whole lot of maturing. Of all the years in my life, I learned and grew the least during junior year. Why? Because I was comfortable. It is impossible to make enormous strides in maturity or confidence when […]
“The joy doesn’t replace the heartache; rather, they tensely coexist each day, fighting for our undivided attention.” –Lesa Brackbill This quote comes from a friend of mine who lost her baby to the horrible disease Krabbe. She wrote it in the midst of the long suffering death of her baby girl. (Read their story here.) Lesa found in the midst of terrible heartache while watching her daughter suffer that she was also capable of having joy. This is brave. It also sounds fake. We are on part two of a series on the vulnerability that is a part of each of the Fruits of the Spirit. No wonder we try to control our faith so much. It requires much vulnerability from us which is why a life of faith is actually brave. But because of our fear of vulnerability, we would much rather control our faith and keep it safe. How true is that for you? Part 1 – Love So my friend suffered through the disease and death of her daughter. She felt heartache. Still feels heartache. Yet she also felt joy. Still feels joy. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many […]
Dating is a fairly new concept. It may feel like this has been around forever—maybe because you feel like you’ve been dating uselessly forever—but it really started around the 1900s when that part of history changed most of the entire world—the Industrial Revolution. However, dating wasn’t considered welcomed. Many early daters, particularly the women, were arrested for dating. In the eyes of the authorities, women who let men buy them food and drinks or gifts and entrance tickets looked like whores, and making a date seemed the same as turning a trick. Source: Labor of Love, Moira Weigel, p. 11. Oh my! Dating is vulnerable but not this. Have you ever also realized that going out on a date helps the two of you sort of be anonymous. Instead of courting or being called upon as you sat in the parlor with a chaperone nearby, on a date you were out amongst strangers. Yes it is just the two of you awkwardly conversing and trying to eat a meal without getting a sauce on your face. But surrounding you were strangers, maybe strangers in the same vulnerable situation. This creates a much different dynamic to a growing relationship. To grow […]
As C. S. Lewis famously said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung out and possibly broken.” Some months ago “along the way” of life (mentioned here first), a big “firework thought” went off in my head. Every one of the fruits of the spirit requires vulnerability. Every one of them. Yikers! No wonder the Christian life is so hard! So I’m starting a series on each one of those fruits of the spirit. I believe this is going to be eye-opening on many levels. The fruits of the spirit are found in Galatians 5:22-23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. They get their name from the hope that if we live our lives according to God’s way the result should be this fruit in our lives (read the rest of Galatians 5 too). This is all good and sensible. It has been taught for centuries because there is such practicality in it. Some people you meet do exhibit these fruits in their lives—and you admire them. You would even say they are […]
After a life-changing epiphany, there’s always a high. The first few days following are magical. Nothing could ever break you, nothing could ever bring you down, everything is going to be aligned. This high wears off shortly when you realize that changing your life actually takes work and is rarely something that is fixed in a moment of positive emotion. When this happens, you have to make the choice between falling back into old patterns (i.e. the easy route) or fighting tooth and nail until you start seeing changes (the hard route). And so here I am. The high from my epiphany earlier this month has worn off. It would be so much easier to let it go, like every other potentially life-changing experience I’ve had. Just wait for the next emotional transformation. Yes, that would be easy, but my mind has grown to be more practical. Life is not run by emotions. If I actually want to become a new person, I have to make sacrifices and lifestyle changes. The epiphany was the launch; the progress afterwards comes from flapping my wings. I refuse to continue waiting around for the next emotional high. I will not be a slave […]
Actually I never hated dating. Yes, I did have my heart broken, and smashed twice. But I always loved dating. And I still love dating my husband. But I hear from many people that they hate dating. Is this you? I loved dating because I got to get to know new people. If a guy was brave enough to ask me out (I hear I was a handful), I considered him worthy to have a story I could hear and learn from. And that proved true time and time again. I loved dating because I knew I had someone’s attention for a set time to hear my story. And I loved the life I was living. I had many stories I wanted to share. I thought I was interesting. I thought my life story made me attractive. I loved dating because I got to try new restaurants. I simply love food. That is still definitely a part of my dating life now. I loved dating because I knew that the success of the date didn’t define me. I loved the life I was living. If he didn’t “get” me, no big deal. I long practiced the core practice of brave […]
This past week has been a week of considerable joy for me. This is not a feeling I can say that I have been used to recently. Generally speaking the winter months come with a time of depression for me, an additional layer of gray and dulling fog over my already delicate emotional state. This seasonal affect compounds with feelings of unworthiness and unloveability when February comes around and when I find myself faced with yet another Valentines Day alone. Before I go any further, let me just say I hate Valentines Day. It is a commercial holiday invented by greeting card companies to handle the post Christmas lull in business. Personally I would rather have my significant other bring me flowers and chocolates because it’s Thursday and when he was at the store he saw them he then thought of me. Or take me out to dinner because its Saturday and he wants to paint the town red with me. So why then is my body, my mind, my soul, and my emotions at peace and filled with joy when I am in the middle of winter and still single over Valentines weekend? Well I don’t know exactly why […]
Yes, the Father’s heart is all about healing. The best Biblical story about that is a story we hear again and again and again—the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). It’s a beautiful parable of a father on the lookout waiting and waiting for the prodigal one to turns towards home. Then the father makes up the space distance by running to the prodigal, embracing, and healing. This parable Jesus told does sum up the heart of God the Father. The story I’m going to tell you is from a Brennan Manning book, The Furious Longing for God. (Note the word furious in this book title. Too often we associate furious as a negative emotion, one of scary anger. Yet this book makes that emotional beautiful. Read the book!) He told this story about one of his students who was short, extremely obese, had terrible acne, had a bad lisp, and wild hair and was a hippie who wore no shoes. He also called himself an “athgnostic” and yet was in Brennan Manning’s class for college. The story I’m about to tell you is what Larry got for Christmas one year. Christmas came along for Larry Malaney and he […]
I clipped this quote many many years ago. “‘For the first time in the history of the world,’ the New York Evening World announced in 1899, ‘it is possible to see what a kiss looks like.’ In 1933, one boy told an inquiring savant that the Lotharios on the screen had taught him ‘to kiss a girl on her ears, neck, and cheeks, as well as on the mouth.’ A girl confessed that she closed her eyes when being kissed–it was what actresses did.” —U.S. News & World Report, June 1, 1998 Can you imagine? There was a time when people kissed with their eyes open? Hollywood has taught us a lot about kissing. About relationships. About love. About sex. Is there an image in your mind about any of those that doesn’t come from some scene in a movie or show that you watched? What I’m saying here is nothing new or brave. Hollywood has been carrying this blame—and trophy?—for a long long time. This is far from the plans God intended for us. Not the part about kissing with our eyes open or closed. The part of where we get our standards. So imagine yourself hearing Paul’s message […]
If you’ve read my other blog posts I’m hoping that you’re seeing a common thread….. Choose Joy. Those two simple words have changed my life in more ways than I can count. Several years ago I had them tattooed on my wrist as a daily reminder, but they have been seared on my heart long before that. Each day I have to “choose joy” and keep choosing it. Most days for this happy go lucky girl, it’s easy to find the joy. When things are going well and all is right in my world, it’s easy to choose joy. But we all know that’s not really when it counts. It’s where the rubber meets the road and deep in the trenches where choosing joy is where it matters most. When life hands you a sucky hand of cards and you’re not seeing any way out, it’s darn hard to choose joy. 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 says…. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Give thanks IN ALL circumstances. (Which I read as…..crappy, hard circumstances. The ones where it’s never easy to give thanks. Notice we’re supposed to give […]