Monday, October 31, 2016

#write31days | October 31st

As I wrap up this series on S I N G L E a few final thoughts, and maybe I will continue to write periodically about this topic as there are other areas I didn't address, for example online dating. Which in case you're wondering I don't online date. But that is another topic.

Perhaps you find yourself single and thinking this wasn't my plan upon graduation and looking at my life 5 or 10 years, or heck 20, years from that date. So, if it isn't what you planned, that doesn't mean it isn't good.  My life, the people in it, dating, my job, activities I participate in, seasons of ups and downs have all made me who I am.  They have also refined the qualifications and lists of traits I thought necessary in a mate years ago vs now.

Beth Moore has been an influential Bible study teacher in my life, I have completed several of her studies in small groups and had the opportunity to attend her Tuesday night Bible studies as well throughout the years. One particular time I remember her talking about her husband and their relationship. Something she said really stuck with me; how there was certainly a part of her who wished he was one to get up and read his Bible in the morning and tell her about it, that was not how he lived out his faith. He is a rugged, outdoorsman, hunts, fishes and sees God in all of those avenues. BUT, he does read the Bible, it just doesn't look like what she thought it might and he LIVES OUT his faith every day through his actions and how he loves her and their family.

I have always held onto this story, to remind myself that someone may not always be as they seem, do the exact things you expect them to, nor as you wish, but that doesn't mean they don't have the potential to love Jesus and love you well.

If we are teachable, the ones who disappoint us and don't work out, even if they had great potential, always teach us a lesson about ourselves  and about what we need and want in life. Dating is a fine balance of holding tight to your beliefs and convictions, being vulnerable to allow someone to know you (and you to know them) and learning to let go when it is time; believing you will be healed and move forward for the next time.

I will leave this series with this final quote from Brene Brown, out of all experiences of dating and learning vulnerability to learn to live with joy for the great moments,  gratitude for the things you've learned and grace for the ones who might have hurt you.

Isaiah 26:3 
“You will keep in [a]perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both [b]inclination and character],
Because (s)he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].

Blessings to you in your S I N G L E life and your dating or marriage if you are not S I N G L E. Thank you for reading, for encouraging for commenting and for sharing through this month. 

For a complete list of the #write31days series, {click here}.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

#write31days | October 30th

It is Sunday and so that means talking S I N G L E + church today.  In case you missed the previous posts, {click here for Oct 9th} and {click here for Oct 16} and {click here for Oct 23}.

God created Adam. 
God created Eve. 
God commanded to go forth and multiply. 
So, God created sex. 
Sex was created for one woman and one man. 
Bound together in marriage. 
Sex was designed to be good. 

If you are S I N G L E, or dating, or engaged and you believe the Bible you should not be having sex. It will not save your relationship and will only harm it by giving you a temporary pleasure; where so many other parts of your  relationship that are key to discerning if this is a good relationship and one worth pursuing towards marriage are masked by the physical "connection".

Adam and Eve were given minds to choose. 
The very first sin was recorded and we as a result are all sinful. 
God loves us more than our sin. 
He sent his Son for our sins. 
He forgives all of our sins. 

You and I are given minds to choose. But, you and I are loved beyond our choices by God who is a good good Father. He sees and knows our hearts.  He sees and knows our hurts. He sees and knows our shame. He sees and knows our disappointments. He sees and knows __________________.  Yes, all of it.

His grace covers sins. 
With our repentance of an honest heart. 
Who desires to live a life that is honoring. 
Of God. 
Of our bodies. 
Of our future mates. 

If you are S I N G L E you need to establish physical boundaries in dating BEFORE you are dating anyone. Those boundaries can be discussed with your significant other, but they are not boundaries for them to change. They are YOURS. If they don't respect your boundaries (this is for guys and girls) walk away.  

Sex has never saved a relationship. 
It has only torn them a part. 

Sex is one of the highest income earning industries in the US. It is exploited, cheapened and commercialized. None of which were what sex was created for.  Sex is touted as "free" and "expression of yourself". None of which are true.  Sex by design is to be a giving of one's self to another, who is bound by a covenant of marriage. There is no gray in Biblical directive about sex. 

No one says waiting will be easy. 
But nothing worth waiting for is easy. 

You are never too late in God's eyes to change your actions. And, I challenge you, if you claim Christianity and believe the Bible to examine your physical boundaries and commitment to sex for only your spouse.  And, seek wisdom and wise counsel from those who share in your beliefs. Not in a magazine who claims to give you 10 ways to the best night of your life.  Or a person who tells you "I love you" and expects that you show your love in return through sex. 

The one for you is worth waiting for. 
And, the ONE who loves your more is waiting. 

A great resource and book on relationships and God's intentions is The Mingling of Souls, God's Design for Love, Marriage, Sex and Redemption by Matt Chandler.  Which is where this quote comes from (page 86).....
If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

#write31days | October 29th

As I'm wrapping up this 31 days on S I N G L E, I thought one of the key things to offer is some resources that I use on a regular basis and might be helpful to you as well if you're S I N G L E and have days that really get you down or seasons that feel like a date will never come.  I've walked miles in those shoes and definitely can relate.

First, is truth. The world around us constantly shoots lies through media, advertising, suggesting what you should look like, how you should dress and act to catch a mate and on and on. All of these messages infiltrate the mind with lies if we are not careful. The only way to combat the lies is truth.  This comes from knowing and reading scripture.  You may not be "church type" or however you describe yourself, but that doesn't mean you can't access truth and learn it.  Here are a few resources that might be helpful and I am happy to recommend others, just leave a comment.

  • Christine Caine is one of my favorite Bible teachers. She has a daily email "First Things First" that she writes with a truth of scripture each day that you can read in 30 seconds. If you're struggling to find anything good that speaks to you, sign up for First Things First by clicking here
  • She (and HE) Reads Truth - I have had this app on my phone for a long time, and use it some days. It is a simple reading for the day and a community of both men and women reading scripture each day. To know you are part of thousands reading the same verses is powerful. I got to hear these girls tell a bit of their story last weekend at Abundance and they also have a book just released. Raechel and Amada's stories are unique, but both are from very broken places, that God has sweetly redeemed. Each day's post has comments and conversation that you can also join in or just read for additional insight.  This started out as a community for women, but they recently launched HE reads truth too. Click here for SHEs and here for HEs. If you're dating someone this could be a great resource for the both of you to prompt discussions of your faith if you're both reading the truth on a daily basis. 
  • Church - I've referenced my church numerous times throughout this series, and I don't feel that my words can accurately describe the gift of people who walk alongside me in this life that I have gained from years and years in church.  None are perfect, but all are pursuing truth of God, and encouraging each other along the way.  I have a mentor who has prayed and spoken some of the dearest words to my heart about being S I N G L E and if it wasn't for church she wouldn't be in my life. 
Second is teachers. People who are wise in study, and research on subjects related to character and dating. Most authors I read are Christians, as they align their writing to #1 (truth) vs authors of books like 'The Rules" who tell you to set the timer for 10 minutes and tell him you have to go so he thinks you're important and he has to win your time.  In case I haven't said it directly, I don't like games - I don't want games played with my heart, nor do I play games with someone else's heart
  • Jennie Allen - a book called Restless. Maybe as a S I N G L E person you find yourself lost as to what your purpose is in the world. You didn't think you would be in this stage at this age, whatever that is, and aren't sure what you should be doing. Jennie's book Restless walks you through finding the deepest desires of your heart, using the gifts you are equipped with and setting out DOING whatever it is. Being S I N G L E doesn't mean being a bystander of life. 
  • Lisa Harper - she is another one of my very favorite Bible teachers and person I admire who is S I N G L E and living out the life God called her to. She most recently became a Mama at 50+ years old to a beautiful 7 year old Haitian daughter Missy. If you want to see life lived well, follow Lisa on Instagram. If you want to learn truth from someone who has lived the years and teaches with humor and the tenderest heart, seek out a study by her. Click here for Lisa's books and studies and here for her Instagram
  • Brene Brown - you have likely heard Brene's name in various circles of literature and study. She has done extensive research on vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. A friend told me about her a few years ago and I began looking into the studies she has done, have read lots of her articles and follow her on social media. The insight to vulnerability and shame are challenging and freeing in how you view yourself and how you interact with others. She is a Houston gal and spoke at TEDx Houston in 2010 and has one of the top 5 most viewed TED talks in the world, The Power of Vulnerability that is worth 20 minutes of your time. Click here for Brene's site which includes her books, articles, downloads and more. 
  • I would be remiss if I didn't mention a Bible Study teacher who was the first teacher I had upon finally deciding I was going to really give church my intention and get involved. She is S I N G L E and wiser than me, she is someone I admire and have kept in touch with all of these years. From leading us in Bible Study, hosting us for Book Club, cheering on our class and keeping up with both her real job students and her Bible Study students she is impacting generations with truth and love because of her teaching. 

Third is community. Being involved with people in activities that bring you joy are important, they will also help you to see the world outside of just your circumstances which can seem overwhelming at times when you feel like all you are is S I N G L E. These activities are also important to keep up when you start dating someone and even when you're married.

  • Volunteer - no matter where you live and what your interests are, there is a place for you to volunteer; from coaching sports, reading to children, assisting with fundraising efforts, community impact and helping needy there is something for you. I have volunteered to plan St Jude Gala, done 3Day 60-mile Breast Cancer walks which required fund raising, Horseback Therapy, Rodeo Houston, Oilfield Helping Hands and more. All of which were just based on my interests and gave me community and friends in addition to my church friends that liked the very same things I did. Sure, I've met a few people to date through these organizations and actually this is where lots of people meet their spouses - through volunteering. 
  • Give - no matter how big or small you think the amount of money you might have to give to something, find the thing(s) that matter to you and give some money to the cause. The only caution I give is to know where your money goes and how much of each $1 you donate gets used directly to the cause. I sponsor a child in another country to have school, food, medical care and be taught about Jesus for a very nominal amount per month. I attend various charity events as invited and give to some of them as well. 
  • Family, Friends and Framily - one of the big things for me is to be mindful of time for me to do the things I need to but to keep myself out of isolation too.  As a S I N G L E person, oftentimes that requires work on my part to keep in touch with and reach out to others vs always waiting on them to reach out to me. If you live somewhere that is far from your family or perhaps have a strained family life, finding those friends who become framily are really important. Again, while very blessed with parents I see often and who love me dearly, I am doubly blessed with people of all ages that I get to live life alongside who are framily for me. They are older, younger, married, S I N G L E, parents, empty-nesters, re-married, widowed and every life stage in between. 

One final resource is the book or app Jesus Calling. I challenge you to read this book and the verses referenced on a daily basis and find that it will not apply to your life nor change your life over the course of a year.  I have a friend who texts me several times a year about reading Jesus Calling and the message of the day applying to specific events going on in her or my life.

I hope these sources give you guidance and provide a source of hope and direction when needed as well as purpose and love in your life as they have mine.  As always, please ask if there are questions or other resources I could help to find.

If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.

Friday, October 28, 2016

#write31days | October 28th

As I said at the beginning of this, sometimes I wonder why I committed around Day 15, and then all the sudden it is Day 28 and there's only a few days left, and I've thought of more topics I could write about.

One of the greatest fears it seems in being S I N G L E is committing. I'm not afraid to commit. But, I'm also not just looking for something to commit to for lack of anything else. Which are two very different things and often get entangled in dating.

As I've mentioned, in dating it's hard to find courage and vulnerability to choose to commit to something (undefined "relationship") with an unknown outcome. At some point you hope it will be the last first date, but you'll never know unless you keep going on first dates.

Knowing when to let your heart really get involved can be tricky. I've also mentioned about balance of self-protection with being open to possibility of a great relationship.

The bottom line is guard your heart. 

Which is not just a message for girls. I've seen plenty of girls use a guy, who I know has genuine interest in them while she has no intention of any type of relationship. And, as a girl, I've certainly seen this happen plenty of times to my friends by guys with no intentions.

Growing up and being a teenager in the 90's the catch phrase was "DTR", a conversation to define the relationship. Which ironically gets put into the category of "being pressured" a lot of times when you're really just asking for clarification.

Perhaps you, or they, were maybe hanging out with someone else when you met. Is it wrong to keep your walls up a little until you know you're the only one they are dating?  No. And, if someone makes you feel shamed for asking that question walk away. These are tell tale signs of character not to be missed.

A person who tells you "I just want to casually date" should be taken at face value of those words, and you should guard your heart as such. Don't assume that's not what they mean. It is 100% absolutely what they mean and are likely spending time with others or that is their "out" of some type of commitment. No one should be faulted for this type of communication, but they should be believed.

As you're getting to know one another, and dating is good, the natural progression is to date each other exclusively. Only you can know how long you can date with no "definition" and what your heart can handle. You are also the only one who can communicate those needs. Don't assume the other knows what you're thinking, feeling, wanting or maybe it's wishing for. Guard your heart until you feel like you can safely place your heart in someone else's care.

The person who is going to pursue you and leave you with no questions of "where you stand" in their life is the one you can begin to let down the guard and allow your heart to be involved. No one can say when this is "right". I've got friends that got engaged in 40 days and are well on their way to 20, 30 and more years of marriage. I've also got friends who dated for very long time, had long engagements and marriages that didn't last. Most of those people would tell you there was something that they were hesitant about in hindsight, but thought it would be ok. A very hard road to walk and one that leaves shattered hearts behind.

No matter how many books you read, or friends you seek advice of, there is no magic answer to knowing when you can let your guard down. Through prayer and discernment you will know who is pursuing you for an honest relationship and cares about your heart.

If you find yourself talking, discussing, describing this relationship or figment of "relationship" to anyone who will listen and seeking advice about where they think you might stand; it is time to stop talking around or about it, talk directly to them, and get to praying for guidance.

No one will guard your heart like you will.
Seek wise counsel and use good judgment

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Philippians 4:7
 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

#write31days | October 27th

Today is one of those days that has had all the feelings involved.... 

I started the day at a fundraising breakfast for a local school, where the flags were presented by the school's Boy Scout Troop with an elementary boy's voice beginning "I pledge allegiance to the flag". Soon after the entire room was in sync as we said the pledge. My heart soared as that child led the room of adults, most of whom are likely in knots over the current state of our great Country.

I sat outside at lunch today, grateful for the sunshine and reprieve to our h.o.t. Texas summers.

A little later today I swiped through my Facebook and saw the brother of one of my musician friends had passed away very early in the morning after complications from heart surgery. I was reminded how fleeting life is.

At work a sense of accomplishment over a project I have been working on for several weeks that finally has seen some progress.

Tonight on my walk with Auggie, complete silence at one point, not a car sound to be heard, so rare in the city. I slowed us down and just took in those few peaceful moments. It reminded me of home where the only sounds from the porch are typically a cow, dog or mower.

Oftentimes one of the question I am asked about being S I N G L E is how do you not grow bitter? Today on my walk I was thinking about this questions and how life requires endurance.

When I got home I hopped on Facebook to wish a couple of friends Happy Birthday before I started writing today's post.  Before I could click to birthdays, the first post I saw was from one of my very early friends in Houston I met through church. (Sidenote: she got engaged to her husband on the 40th day of dating & is soon to celebrate their 13th anniversary! Awesome!) But yesterday she lost her brother in law in a tragic plane crash. It's also the week of her 40th birthday, one with special plans to celebrate, now changed.

As I'm sitting here I'm thinking about the day, all of these things I've taken in by myself. Because I am S I N G L E.  Sure, days like this are the ones I would like someone to process everyday life with; one who hears me, celebrates and grieves, loves me, and also knows my heart and cares for it. Someone who I would return all of those things to as well.

The reason why I don't grow bitter: 
God gives me strength to endure. 

I am gifted with parents who never shame me for being S I N G L E, dear friends - which lots of them are more like family, a job (and I've endured lengthy seasons without), my health, a place to live that I really like, my cute dog (who I'm also currently playing fetch with) and so many other blessings.

And, above all those things God; who hears me, celebrates and grieves alongside me, loves me, and also knows my heart even better than I do and cares for my heart more than anyone ever will.

Though more than I need endurance for being S I N G L E, 
every one of us needs endurance for life. 

Endurance for the highest highs, the lowest lows and all the everyday moments in between. Getting married will not exclude me, or you, from that need. In fact, I believe it will magnify it. Marriage is a whole different type of endurance, one that requires two individuals working together as a team for the same goal.  Endurance that can only come from a hope that isn't in the things of this world.

My hope to you if you feel like there is no light at the end of the S I N G L E tunnel to take a look around you. Maybe start writing a note on your phone, or in a journal, of things to be grateful for and adding to it every day. When you feel like the days are hard, whether you're by yourself or dating or have a spouse, look back over the list, and add something new from that day.

Because, there will always be something to be grateful for. 

And know, God sees you, loves you and leads this race one step ahead of you if you're willing to follow Him. 
A couple of my favorite reminders from Scripture of endurance:  

Hebrews 12:1
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us

Romans 5:3-5
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

#write31days | October 26th

I have mentioned how much I cherish and appreciate my married friends and how important I think it is for S I N G L E S to have married friends. I had a treat of gathering with 3 dear friends from my church who I led a Bible Study with this summer, but schedules hadn't allowed us to meet up together in a couple of months.

They are married and mamas to 10 adorable littles combined (who are their own amazing little village) and also teachers to their littles through classical home school. I have such great respect for them, their lives individually, as wives, as mamas and as friends.

I had thought before we met I should ask them what are some things they wished they had known when they were S I N G L E about married life.  But, I didn't even have to ask. They encourage my writing and we were talking about this month of writing and from there the giggles of relationships, I wanted to share a few wise words from these dear friends...

While talking about what shoes to wear with a dress to an awards event for a husband, and suggesting animal print (leopard, of course #neutral) pump...

"He doesn't like animal print." 

Did you know your guys might have opinions about these things? Also, they might have opinions about leggings. Or some specific type of shirt.  Takeaway: Ask these things when dating and make them be honest in responding. These are simple ways to make your man happy, so ask him!  And, if it is an event for him especially, wear something he loves not hates.

As we were discussing nail polish and hair products and such...

"Never spray hairspray in the bathroom when he's in there." 
"He doesn't like my hairspray. I have found the ONE (hairspray) whom my soul (hair) loves! And, he can't stand it" 

I know there are lots of people who are picky about smells. But, we know, finding THE hairspray that holds our hair, hello Texas humidity to contend with, and to be told you don't like the SMELL?  Takeaway:  If he mentions something that bothers him, pay attention, talk about these things.

Of course we all have very proud moments (#sarcasticfont) that we are selfish (and admit in the midst  of and also apologize for later) that sometimes might cause a pretty big disagreement...

"Painting my nails in the car might have been our biggest fight of 2016".  

Sometimes a girl needs a boost to feel pretty and sometimes nail polish does that trick. And, sometimes painting your nails in the car (#talent) where your man is driving, and you can just SIT and let them dry, seems like genius use of your time. But, he really doesn't like it.  Takeaway:  We all do things that strike one another's nerves, be quick to recognize when selfish and always quick to apologize. Even as you hand out the Chick Fil A that's been chilling (#punintended) while your nails dry to your family after confirming the service of said car dinner won't smudge the nails.

Family budgets and girls closets might sometimes clash, but also according to point # 1 not all fashion choices are appreciated....

"It's from Anthro" is not a universal term of value.  

Where your girl friends might ooohh and ahhhh over your latest Anthro find, especially when you scored it on sale + sale, or even the one you've waited for and splurged on. #Boho isn't always appreciated by your man and sometimes he doesn't even care about the cost. Takeway: what is trendy in your closet or in life might not always be loved or appreciated by your man, no matter how cheap or expensive it is.

While we laughed over all of these topics the thing that is common amongst all of them is that they are LITTLE THINGS, that can believe it or not cause BIG DISAGREEMENTS.

One additional piece of advice one couple shares regularly with engaged couples...

"You'll have the same fight, they will just be quicker and quicker". 

The things that you fight about, you'll probably repeatedly fight about them, but as the years go by, you fight about them quicker. You're less likely to stew and pout over it, instead just bringing it right up, maybe even not at the best time. Or sometimes you'll discuss their response in your head, that you've heard a few times before, and resolve it before you even say something to them. Instead confessing that internal fight, you're over it and ready to move on. #pickyourbattles

Thankful for these friends, for laughs and for their wisdom! Remember, your man might not have too many opinions about your style or hairspray or nails, but the things he does care about, honor him. He chose you and he loves you for you.  And, we've likely made a comment or two about that certain clothing item he won't turn loose of, or the style of something he wears that we wish he wouldn't.
While these are fun stories and valuable lessons learned, I think it is important to say, these friends were never demeaning about their husbands or their preferences to the little things they have opinions about.  And, that is one of the greatest lessons of all, honor your spouse. 

If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

#write31days - October 25th

This week in my MBA course we took personality tests, 2 classes, now 2 personalities and because I'm not a vault rememberer of things like that, I have no idea how they compare to each other.  Long time ago, like probably almost 15 years ago, I took the Five Love Languages quiz and can remember all about that one.  Things that are relational are the things that stick in my mind, not tested personality facts that tell you you're the 8.7% of the population who has this combination of letters.

So, even though I'm S I N G L E knowing my love language, both what I give and what I need to receive is really helpful in any dating relationship. If you know me, this is no surprise, but my number 1 love language is quality time. This applies in all relationships in my life.  (Sidenote: I struggle at a big party, especially if it is for me, because I want to have really intentional conversations with people that are quality conversations vs just quick hellos.)

If I am a once a week check in to someone in a dating situation, it will not work for me.  It is a proven fact that people make time for what is important. So, I know 1) that I am not a priority and 2) there is no time in your life for me.  Call it your game or tactic to "go slow" or whatever you want, if you really want to get to know someone, we are all "busy" and we all make time for what we want. So, if I am a priority, time with me will be important to you, because it is important to me.  I have learned I need to express this, and without shame. If it doesn't work now, it's definitely not going to work in a marriage.

As I have gotten older I am realizing how much words of affirmation mean to me. Again, in all types of relationships. I believe this to be true because I have had a few years of people saying things that really attack my character from all sorts of relationships. So, I really appreciate someone who knows me, takes time to recognize the things I do well and in love helps me where I might need it.  Not someone who casts their own situation on me as my fault or issues that are not mine. Also one I have learned boundaries on and where I need to draw a line in the sand of someone who continues to treat me like that.

As far as giving, I know one of my strengths to be service, hospitality is one of my spiritual gifts as well that certainly naturally translates to a love language in relationships.  I also love to buy gifts for people, not large extravagant (I've mentioned about that means to woo me), but small and intentional that I find that really fit someone.  Knowing the difference between the love language you need to receive as well as the one you give balanced against whoever you are dating or married to will solve a lot of relationship insecurities.

And, let's be honest - everyone loves physical touch. It is likely #1 or #2 for the majority of the population.

If you've never done this, and if you're S I N G L E now is the time to take it and know these things about yourself.  However, if you're married and have never taken it either, will probably teach you lots about yourself and your spouse; you should both take it!  You can click here to take the quiz! There is also a book, click here for original version or here for singles edition (which I haven't read).

I love Calvin and Hobbes! :)
In case you were wondering about the personality test,Above all else, ESTJs are logical. As they apply their logic to people, places and things, they become objective organizers and terrific managers. They pay attention to details and discipline themselves to make sure their goals are met. If you want a job done, give it to an ESTJ! They enjoy working with others and are good leaders because they communicate their plans clearly.

I am an ESTJ. And, in case I want to remember this one's how this test categorizes me, which is in fact pretty accurate. :)

If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.

Monday, October 24, 2016

#write31days | October 24th

...a few thoughts, a little scattered...

I've never been one much for podcasts, but one of my besties and I were talking a couple of months ago and she asked me about podcasts. Did I ever listen to them?

I told her no, I'm not in my car for long commutes, I don't typically have "noise" on in my house, (I know, that's very weird for a lot of you #keepingitreal), don't love movies and really don't watch much tv. More than anything I turn on a playlist from iTunes or Spotify.

But, there were some people's podcasts I listen to from time to time.  Mainly the Big Boo Cast with 2 of my favorite authors.  I like this one because it's like I'm sitting in on a coffee shop catch up with two besties, one of who I know in real life. We also have a fun fact in common, but that's for another time.

I kept thinking back to my friend asking me and telling me about a few good podcasts.  And, I figured out where podcasts were accessible on my phone (#dinosaur) and searched up a few.  To my delight I found that another favorite author and teacher Beth Moore had recently been a guest with a few podcasters due to the release of her new novel.  So, I loaded those up.  Also a couple of others.

In the mornings as I was getting ready for work I would turn on the podcast, and evesdrop on great conversations with those who invite you right in where you feel like you're part of the conversation. This is definitely a gift, and one hesitation to podcasts because I don't really love talk radio either #allmycrazyondisplay, and so I found myself eager to listen in to another one.
In case you might need a bright spot in your day, where you can learn all matters of mundane to people who are literally changing the world, here's a few I recommend (all of these are links to take you to their pages)...

(I participated in one of these when I was at BB, not sure when it will air!)

If you have a podcast that you love please share with me!

Today was a break for #MondayMusings and tomorrow is back to the last week of writing for this month on S I N G L E!  I've got a few last posts to share, but if there's anything you'd like to know, ask away!  :) Two posts that I feel like are topics that come up the most often are these, click to read:

If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

#write31days | October 23rd

It is Sunday and so that means talking S I N G L E + church today.  In case you missed the previous posts, {click here for Oct 9th} and {click here for Oct 16}.

Years ago I can remember listening to a friend preach about dating and the disciplines of our lives when we are S I N G L E vs. married.  How the things we "have no time" for as a S I N G L E person will be magnified in marriage. Especially the disciplines of our lives that include our faith.

IF you are a believer in Jesus, we are called to relationship with him, and like any friendship, dating relationship or marriage, none of them are built without time spent together. Often times you might see others "lose themselves" when dating someone because it seems the person they are dating has made them into someone else.

Or maybe that's been you. 
And, maybe that's been me. 

We start to give a lot of time to that new interest and relationship. In these days checking our phones; maybe for likes or responses to social media, for texts and wondering why no text, for phone calls or plans to be made.

What did you (I) do with all of that time before they were around? 

Filled it with the things that were important to you and all the sudden you (I) don't have time because someone else has entered the picture that at times can become consuming. Or maybe they are no longer in the picture and that can become consuming in your conversations with any(every)one.

All good things need boundaries, especially at the beginning as you're in a getting to know you stage of dating.  And, they liked you because of who you are, so don't let that girl (guy) go and become someone else.

The discipline that ebbs and flows in my life is time I spend seeking the Lord, reading, studying and praying.  I know that I have enough hours in the day to make that time happen every single day. But, there are days that I press snooze excessively and then enter in a rat race to get to work, or lay on my couch in the evening and mindlessly scroll social media or just waste time. Sometimes I feel like it is justified to have some mindless time, and it likely is, we all need a mental break.

But, in my time spent working on my relationship with Jesus, I would find that same rest. He says come to me all who are heavy laden and He will give me rest, but I will choose my social media feeds instead. He says I will give you the desires of your hearts, but I will talk and over talk scenarios with my friends instead. He says ask and the door will be open, but I will choose to work on those doors myself instead.

Because most of the time I can get some type of instant gratification out of one of those areas. I like seeing what is going on in my friends lives, talking out my thoughts with friends, I feel better when I am busy and working on crossing off my to-do list.

When you're S I N G L E the silence can sometimes be hard. The questions to God of why can seem like a lack of faith. The unanswered prayers leave us to question if God is really there.

So, as much for me as maybe for someone else who needs to be encouraged. Do not give up the time of meeting with God. Seeking relationship with Jesus. He is faithful to show up. He will hear all of our questions and will deliver on his promises.

Through seasons of life this time will look different, the time of day, the place, the books you choose, the length of time you have.

But, one thing I know for certain.  
You (and I) will never regret that time when it is complete.  

Much like the workout we procrastinate starting is never a regret when it is complete. And developing these habits, protecting the time you spend in building a relationships with Jesus and continuing that discipline should never be replaced because someone new shows you (or me) some interest.

If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

#write31days | October 22nd

This weekend I had the privilege of attending the Abundance Conference in Frisco with my Mama where some of my very favorite bible teachers and worship leaders were speaking and singing. Maybe you've been to one of these type conferences or maybe you have no idea what I am talking about.

For the last 3 years or so my Mom and and I have been to a women's event/conference together for a weekend away.  It has been sweet time with her and has spoken truth to both of our lives and given us a chance to gather with hundreds, heck thousands, of other women (and a few brave men) for an evening and a morning of spoken and sung words of biblical truth.  Kind of like a mini camp for grown ups.

Oftentimes it is hard to carve out time to take away for yourself and figure out the best timing and schedule; and honestly this year we had a different one originally planned, but then found Abundance and it ended to be what we chose.

I'm so glad we did.  

If you've never been to a "church event" like this, even though it's not affiliated with a church, it can feel like church to an outsider, I can promise you that you would leave feeling a fresh wind in your sails and truth upon truth spoken to you, prayed over you and sung to you.

Today at the conclusion of Lisa Harper's talk, she spoke Zephaniah 3:17 over us: 
"Yahweh your God is among you,
a warrior who saves.
He will rejoice over you with gladness.
He will bring you quietness with His love.
He will delight in you with shouts of joy.”

When she finished those verses, she directed us to hold each other's faces in our hands and speak "He delights in you" to each other. (This might seem weird, and it is a little awkward for a moment if there's someone you don't know beside you. But I promise, it is only weird for 0.5 seconds and you will be so thankful for the truth spoken to you.)

So what does this have to do  with being S I N G L E?  Maybe you feel like there is no one, not one person, who delights in you.

That is a lie. 

God DELIGHTS in you. 

Maybe you think your shame is too much, and your guilt can never be overcome.  You are not worthy. 

God DELIGHTS in you. Yes, you. 

No matter how much of a mess we have made. 

God DELIGHTS in you.  

I pray that you would know that truth tonight. Perhaps you are by yourself, again, on Saturday night and wishing to be anywhere, even if it was a mess, it would be better than being by yourself.

Oh, but the lies of this world, vs truth of loving God.  

God DELIGHTS in you. 
With SHOUTS of joy. 
He will bring you quietness with his LOVE. 
He will REJOICE over you. 
He is a WARRIOR who saves. 
He is AMONG you. 

Yes. You.  
And. Yes. Me. 

If you are wondering about this Jesus, I would love for you to leave a comment or send an email. I am praying tonight that those who are S I N G L E (girls and guys) and lonely would feel the WARRIOR who is AMONG you, REJOICING over you, with tender LOVE and who DELIGHTS in you.  That is the truth for you to cling to.  If you want to know more about the Abundance Conference, click here, there are a few dates remaining around the country. #notsponsored

If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.

Friday, October 21, 2016

#write31days | October 21st

Every now and then you need to take a trip and do the thing that fills you up.  

That's where I am today. 

See you back here tomorrow. Happy Friday!! If you've missed a couple of days, keep scrolling and catch up! 

If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

#write31days | October 20th

You're so lucky, you're S I N G L E, you get to __________________. 
I wish I could go on a trip to ____________ with friends. 
I'm jealous, you get to ________________. 
I would love a day of nothing to do. 

If you're S I N G L E you've probably heard these things said to you on more than one occasion.

Sometimes maybe you feel like "yes, thank goodness I am S I N G L E" or other times like "I wish I had a family and was at a soccer game and a birthday party and cooking dinner for my family instead of being by myself".

Statements like this even go into body image and other comparisons of women who see someone they wish they could trade one little thing in from their life for another's. But, alas we can't. And, the life we have is the one we have right now. It could change, for better or for worse, but what we have right now is what we should enjoy. This probably goes for guys too, but they aren't near as vocal about it.

So, if you're S I N G L E and can take the trips and do the things, GO!  
If you're not, and it's important to you, figure out how to make it happen.  

Celebrate the fun things that your circle gets to do! Don't be jealous over them, doesn't matter if you're married or S I N G L E.

Planned trip? Text your bestie to have a great trip and ask how it was after.  

Day of no plans? Check in and see if they want to do something or follow up and ask how much they enjoyed their day. 

And, on and on.... 

The friendships I have with my besties who are married are no different than with my S I N G L E friends. Oftentimes the places we get to see each other are different, little league games vs tix to sports event, swimming pool vs happy hour patio, family dinner vs dinner out.  Know what? Those are some of my favorite memories with those friends because I see them in their element, being a Mom and wife. I learn from them and treasure that I get to be included in these moments. And, if their schedule permits for some kid-free time I enjoy those times too.

For me my friendships are all the same, married friends or S I N G L E friends. I work at friendships and my besties do the same. Even the ones I don't get to see as often as either of us would like.

Words matter and you never know how your words are going to affect someone. So celebrate them, no matter what stage of life your friends are in, let them know you are cheering for them and want to hear about their adventures.

If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

#write31days | October 19th

...continued from yesterday's post.... 

Oftentimes "getting back on the horse" and dating again seems daunting and it is easier to say "no" which is essentially self protection.

Maybe you've thought this....I am ok being S I N G L E and I know that status of my heart when I am single and I am happy.

Maybe you've done this....When dating, you can essentially fake it and never commit yourself to someone, and even do that if you're seriously dating.

Both of which are means of self protection. 
Protecting against disappointment. 

I was talking to a friend recently about a competition, nothing to do with dating, where her current standing is 2nd. She's happy with 2nd. Continuing to "go for it" means taking on the risk of feeling like you "got 2nd" instead of feeling like you did everything you could and WON 2nd.

But why? 

I believe as we age we know what disappointment feels like and the struggle to overcome it, so it is easier to settle, instead of taking the risk.  Not only in dating, but in all aspects of our lives.

Once you've gotten up the courage to say "yes" to giving out your number or a set up or a date, with reasonable precaution the self protection layers have to be stripped away. Not on the first date. But, as you gain confidence in the relationship.

Most often the hardest piece of self protection to let go of is the one that "they will do the same thing to me that ex, or ex, or other ex did. Believe it or not I have had the same thing happen to me by 3 different people.

So, I'm cautious. 
But, I want to give someone new the benefit of the doubt. 
That they won't do what that ex did. 

If I only expect them to do the same thing they never have a chance not to because I'm constantly looking at them through the lens of "you will hurt my heart" and waiting to "catch them" in the act. Thus proving my point.

No matter how many times our hearts have been hurt, if/when we find the one, they will still hurt our heart. They are not perfect and we can't expect them to never make a mistake. There are two sides to this coin, so we will do the same thing to them.

From my married friends, who have some of the best marriages I have an opportunity to witness, this happens. Someone's expectations aren't meant, so someone's feelings are hurt from small things to big things. And you can't just walk away.

So, practicing that vulnerability (Brene Brown is excellent resource on this) in dating is good practice for marriage. Learning to communicate if you're scared, or concerned, or nervous, or whatever emotion, is critical in having successful long term relationship.

Don't let fear of disappointment hold you back forever. 

Don’t panic. I’m with you.
    There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
    I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.
Isaiah 41:10 

If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

#write31days | October 18th

I can very distinctly remember my Dad telling me to get back on my horse after being "bucked off" in what was epic defeat to me at the time.  Reality was my horse hit some water and jumped it and I wasn't prepared and fell off. But, getting back on, no thank you. I can lead that horse back to the barn.  But, we were too far.

And, that lesson has stuck with me.  Get back on your horse. 

It's so hard to do, no matter the circumstances, but especially in dating. Sometimes just being S I N G L E seems easier, there's not a potential to be hurt, you know what to expect and there isn't a lot of risk that you feel like you have to take.

Every "yes" in regards to dating is taking a risk. 

Can I set you up with a friend?  
Would you like to go for {coffee, drinks, happy hour, dinner, movie}? 
Can I get your phone number? 

Those questions seem easy.  Without much consequence or reason to hesitate. 

Until you start dating them for a while and the questions might get harder. 

Would you be my girlfriend? 
Will you meet my parents? 
Would you be my date to {wedding, family event, trip, work party, reunion...}? 

Why does the yes get harder? Why does it bear more weight? 
Why does it feel like more of a risk to continue to say "yes"? 

Somewhere in this process we have been hurt.  
And, to get past that point again seems more and more risky. 

And, the stakes go up again the more serious you are. 

Will I say "I love you" to them?
Would I consider ______ as potential mate? 

And, fear creeps in.  
Somewhere in the past someone has hurt us. 
Will they do the same thing to me. 

They aren't the same person. 

But, they might do the same thing. 


And, "no" sounds like a better option.  
So, we won't be set up. 
We won't go for {coffee, drinks, happy hour, dinner, movie}? 
We won't give out our phone number? 

And, we certainly won't have to be vulnerable to enough to commit or meet their family and friends. That means we would really be invested. 
And that is risky. 
And means I could potentially get hurt again. 

But, you might not.

Most every marriage {unless you married your Junior High Sweetheart that you dated all through High School} has some baggage that comes to the relationship due to past relationships and break-ups. Even the "best case" of break-ups, they still leave us with hurt. 

And, if we don't say "yes" again, we'll never know if it is the final "yes". 
The last first date. 
Where "yes" eventually becomes "I do".

Have courage. 
Even when it feels like you've been bucked off. 
Get back in the saddle. 
Believe in the good. 
Do it again. 

(Make sure you're saying "yes" to the right dates, not just to avoid being alone.

If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.

Monday, October 17, 2016

#write31days | October 17th

...a few thoughts a little (a lot) scattered.... 

Today I had lunch with a friend which is always a favorite and the number of topics we covered typical for 2 girls out to lunch and catching up.  One thing we talked about for a while was a simple phrase we often say without thinking:

"I'm sorry." 

In my MBA course recently I was the leader of a class activity that impacted our whole class and someone said something to me during the feedback session to which I replied, "I'm sorry" and my additional comments.  After class when talking with my professors one said to me "Angie, never apologize for something you believe in".  

In talking about this with others a few points have come up in conversation....

Someone at work asks you for some type of deliverable and you're in the midst of a couple of things. They don't give you a deadline, but when you deliver said item, it is often given with "I'm sorry, this took me a couple of hours (day/couple of days, or whatever it was) to complete.  Why sorry?  There was no deadline.  

In making plans, "I'm sorry, can't do that". Why sorry? You (and I) have the ability to say No.  

In cancelling plans "I'm sorry, _______ happened, can't make it".  Things are out of your control and you sometimes have to cancel.  Side note: being someone who never commits/constantly cancels plans on people is a different topic.   

What we're apologizing for is our priorities!!  

And, if it is our priority (family, rest, another commitment, etc., etc.) why are we apologizing?  

Consequently our "I'm sorry" becomes meaningless when it really needs to matter. And, I caution myself and you to using #sorrynotsorry which really comes across most of the time as rude. So, why say it?    
Stand firm in your beliefs. 
Don't apologize for them. 
But be thoughtful in how you present them.

Believe in your priorities.  
Don't apologize for them. 
But be mindful in balancing priorities

Trust in your commitments. 
Don't apologize for them. 
But be intentional in your commitment. 

If you're S I N G L E, don't apologize for doing things that YOU want to do. Just because you're S I N G L E doesn't make you available for everyone else's time. YOUR time matters. YOU have priorities. YOU stand for them. 

But, when there is something that bears an apology, by all means, bear the weight of "I'm sorry" and mean it with every ounce of your being. 

If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

#write31days | October 16th

It is Sunday and so that means talking S I N G L E + church today.  In case you missed the previous post, {click here} and no I still haven't met the one at church. :)  

Being single at church can be hard. Sometimes it seems every sermon series is geared to marrieds and those raising children and it is easy to tune out as "this doesn't apply to me" and think you don't matter at church if you're S I N G L E.

Which is a lie. 

Reality is that is Satan trying to make you feel insignificant and tempt you into finding significance in something, anything, besides believing where you are is ok, that you can still gain something from church and that Jesus is near in this season.

Some of the greatest blessings in friendships to my life have come from friends I met at church. Yes, a lot of them also S I N G L E, but tons of them are married too. Finding your group of people and feeling like you belong in a church can be hard.

I've only been a member of a couple of churches my whole life; the one I grew up in, one I attended after college for a bit, one in my 20's/early 30's and where I have been a member for the last 5 years.  Finding a place and finding a group of people I thought I would likely become friends with when I moved to the "big city" took a while. I tried all of Houston's large churches, a couple of smaller ones, used "no church" as an excuse to be out of town a lot of Sundays and generally floundered for a couple of years.

I can remember attending a wedding at one of Houston's mega-churches on my birthday in 2000, and I said that night to myself "I am coming back here in the morning and trying it again". It had been easy to be anonymous and just attend when I wanted in some church around town, where there was no accountability. I had lived a lot of late nights and road-tripped thousands of miles on my car on weekends when I first moved to Houston and I was tired. I knew I needed to be involved. I needed to meet friends, I needed community, I needed to find a place to serve. No one was going to do that for me and none of what I had been doing gave me purpose or meaning to my life.

Thankfully, August 13, 2000 when I walked through those doors and braved finding a class for S I N G L E people I found exactly what I needed. A friend I met that first day is still one of my dearest friends now 16 years later, we were from opposites ends of the state but had similar stories and both needed community, as did every other person I met. As I committed to attending, I continued to gain great friendships and my calendar shifted from meaningless to events and activities that gave my life joy and also gave me purpose.

I know a huge part of who I am is because of my faith; which is stretched, challenged and strengthened through being involved in church. If you find yourself S I N G L E and looking for friends, community and activities that will bring fulfillment to your life, my prayer for you is to find a church. Try a few out, commit to being consistent, find a place to belong, figure out how to serve and I can guarantee you no matter the sermon topic, church will apply to you.

My life is forever changed because of that single decision;
ironically, while sitting in a wedding.

Remember, no church is perfect, and all churches are a gathering of sinful people, so they will fail you, even if you happen to find your one and marry. Even though I haven't found the one, that doesn't mean I quit church, just because I'm still S I N G L E, nor does it mean church doesn't apply to me. Again, the One who matters meets me both on Sundays at church and every day in between, reminding me I matter and I need to tune in because He has purpose and plans for me. He also does for you.
If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

#write31days | October 15th

A common misconception of getting older and still being S I N G L E is that you don't need anybody.

You're right, I don't need a man. 

I am capable of working, taking care of most things, having a social life and finding someone to help me when I need some help. But, that doesn't mean I wouldn't sincerely appreciate someone who complements me, helps me, does things for me, lives life alongside me and that I do all of those same things for him.

He doesn't need me either though. 

I don't need him to make me feel like I have purpose. 
He doesn't need me for that either. 
He also can't make me feel like I have purpose. 
But, he can love and encourage me in my purpose, and I can do the same for him. 

I don't need him to complete me. 
He doesn't need me for that either. 
He also can't complete me. 
But, he can love and support me, and I can do the same for him. 

I don't need him to take out the trash. 
He doesn't need me for that either. 
He also can't do all the things for me to make me happy. 
But, he can love me and serve me, and I can do the same for him. 

I don't need him to give me confidence. 
He doesn't need me for that either. 
He also can't say enough words on the day I feel less than confident to fix me. 
But, he can love me through it, and I can do the same for him. 

More than a list of what I need to be dating someone for or what I need to be married for, I need to realize that he isn't going to meet all my needs....
he is human, he will disappoint me. 
he might be out of town when I feel like I need him most. 
he will hurt my feelings and I will have to forgive him. 

So, what do I (& we if dating/married) need? 

There is another He who we both will need more than we will ever need each other. 

He will give us purpose. 
He will complete the empty place in us.
He will teach me how to serve. 
He will give me confidence. 
He will love me when I fail. 
He will forgive me. 

So, He is what I (we both) need. 
Then I will be better for him and he will be better for me. 
Together we need each other to keep drawing closer to Him. 

Jesus, we need you. 

If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.

Friday, October 14, 2016

#write31days | October 14th

This morning I attended a memorial service for a 40 year old wife and mother to 3 children. She was married to a friend of mine from early days of living in Houston and the church I attended and served in singles ministry leadership with. During the service, the preacher spoke about how they met, and fell in love and married on that very same stage that he stood to preach a celebration of her life. One cut short by cancer, but won in eternity with Jesus.

As he talked about how they met and her husband telling her, when she was in midst of deciding where to live and what to do next after returning from working in Japan, that he wanted to pursue her and a relationship with her.

No games. 
No mixed messages. 

Two days later, she asked him again, "are you sure?". And he was. 

They went on their first date to a cafe in one of my favorite small towns and a year from that first date stood in that very church and committed their lives to each other.

With purpose. 
With intention. 

Today, he spoke of his wife during the service; the mother she was, the light she was in their home and the valiant fighter she was through 3 intense years of cancer.

I thought about all of the temporal pursuits of this world. 

The things that only give a moment of satisfaction. 
The moments that tear everything apart that was bound. 

 And, I so clearly felt the Lord tell me, it is worth it

To be loved by someone who pursues me with intention. 
To be loved by someone who does not send mixed messages. 
To be loved by someone who commits for a lifetime. 
To say no to the things that offer temporary satisfaction. 

It is worth it. 

To not give in to the games and mixed messages and temporary satisfaction.
To be S I N G L E until/if that one comes along. 

Tonight I attended a Lauren Daigle concert, a packed church of people. She sang a new song... 

You say I am loved, 
when I can't feel a thing. 
You say I am strong, 
when I feel weak. 
You say I am held, 
when I'm falling apart. 
When I don't belong, 
You say I am yours. 
And I believe. 
What you say of me, 
yes, I believe. 

As I looked around tonight there were men scattered all throughout the audience, young and older. I don't know their stories like the one I know from this morning, but I was reminded when I looked back at a wife standing beside her husband sitting and praying. 

It is worth it.

To be loved by God and if it is to be, a husband who loves Him even more than me. 
That love is written from pages of truth.
Not from pieces of paper offering love as a fortune. 

If you're just joining in from #write31days, I'm so glad you're here!
You can {click here} to read previous posts.