Posted in Reflection

In hindsight: 3 Pre-dating Tips

Hindsight is 20-20, they say. If I could rewind 8 years, back to the “me” before I ventured into the world of dating, here’s 3 things I would tell myself.

 

Number 1. Stop looking for someone.

 

Seriously. Stop. You’re so wrapped up in finding someone that you’re missing what is right in front of you. The gift of singleness. Now, I know. It’s natural to WANT someone. To WANT to be dating. To WANT love. To WANT acceptance. I remember so many times when I would call my Mom up when I was at college – and i’d say, “Mom! Everyone literally has somebody. When will it be my turn? Is there something wrong with me?” I dated in high school – starting at 16 – for about a year – don’t recommend doing that. And, then I didn’t date until my 20s. I was not the “hot” commodity, you could say. I didn’t have 17 guys talking to me or vying for my attention. My Dad – who is one of the wisest men I know – wanted one thing. For me to go to college single. I didn’t understand that – especially while I was 17 and in a relationship I thought I liked. My Dad knew the “whole” picture. And, I’m so grateful I trusted his judgement, even when I didn’t understand. You see – – If I had gone to college dating, I wouldn’t have had nearly the friendships and memories that I have today.  Dating takes up a lot of your time – that’s not always bad – there’s a season of life for it – but that’s just the truth.

 

I’m being dead serious – –  By looking and focusing CONSTANTLY on that guy to date, that relationship you want, that affirmation you think you need — YOU MISS SO MUCH. You miss life. You miss growth. You miss friendships. You miss happiness. You miss contentment. And, more times than not – you settle for less. You get your heart broke, probably more than once. You get the label as the girl who “is only at college to find a husband” or the girl who you should stay away from because she “is crazy about guys and doesn’t care about much else” – – Honestly. It isn’t attractive to guys.

 

And, let’s just say this – the moment I gave up on the thought of Travis even liking me or seriously putting more emotion into the whole idea – He started seriously noticing me. Now, it’s not like I cut myself off from him and didn’t talk to him when I saw him in class or around campus. But, I knew this. I couldn’t make it work one-sided. And, just like that – when God knew I wasn’t expecting anything – He started letting all the pieces fall into place.

 

Song of Solomon says – in Chapter 2, verse 7 – “I adjure you, Daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and the does on the field, do not awaken, or stir up love until it is ready.”

 

What I’m trying to tell you is this: No mate can fulfill eternal satisfaction. No one. Not even the perfect man. Not even marriage. So, stop. Stop trying to find him. Let it happen. Don’t worry. God tells us that if we delight ourselves in Him, he WILL give us the desires of our heart. (Psalm 37:4) But, that doesn’t mean to figure it out now. Or figure it out by yourself. Focus on the things you DO have control over. And, that leads me to my second point. . . Not only do you need to stop looking for someone. But, you need to start discovering who YOU are in Christ.

 

Number 2. Start discovering who you are in Christ.

 

What do I mean? I mean this. Stop worrying about dating and start worrying about the woman you are becoming. I don’t know all of you, but I do know this. You each are beautiful, and you were created in the image of God.

 

In fact, Psalm 139 says it this way: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works. And my soul knows it very well. . . Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”

 

God has amazing plans for you. And – furthermore – He’s already planned out what your life is going to be like. Rest in that. And, in the meantime, let’s be honest, even though we are created in His image, we ain’t perfect – or anywhere close to it. Myself included. We all have things we NEED to work on. Ok?

 

The good guys don’t want the bad girls. The guys don’t want the insecure girls. The guys don’t want the obnoxious girls. That’s just real life. It might not seem like that right now. It seems like the forward and pushy girls – or the girls who post semi-sketchy pictures on their snapchat or Instagram, they are the ones with all that male attention. Get this. You don’t WANT that attention. How about your relationship with Jesus? Is it really first in your life – – – above friendships, above school work, above goals, above guys? A guy isn’t going to solve those deep problems that you need to get taken care of. If you are insecure, dating is not going to solve that. Once you get through the honeymoon stage of dating, your boyfriend is going to probably share that you have an annoying habit or two. He is probably going to let you know that he doesn’t always like your style. And, sometimes your personality is a little annoying to him, too. That’s normal. I tell people all the time, there’s no one I love more than Travis, but there sure ain’t anyone that drives me crazy more than he does either. Are you going to be able handle that constructive criticism when you start dating? You better begin finding out who you are in God – before you try to find someone to date. From personal experience – – – Travis Stroup would not have dated Freshman year Courtney Fourman. From the time I went to college, to the day I graduated – – – I was a much different person. God had to knock some rough edges off my personality, God had to get me to the point of complete and full surrender to WHATEVER and whoever He had for me, God had to show me that dating couldn’t solve all of my problems, God had to teach me discretion, God had to teach me how to handle disappointments, God had to teach me how to handle constructive criticism that brought tears and pain and frustration into my life. I thank God for growth. And, right now that’s what YOU need to focus on. Growing. Keeping your heart. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it!” Above all else – Jesus. Get into your Bible. Start discovering. Growing. Why look for someone to “complete” you now, when you aren’t even completely sure WHO you are. I’m thankful for every moment of singleness, and I just wish I would’ve appreciated it as much then – as looking back I do now.

 

Number 3. Don’t forget about your future self.

 

Every. Single. Decision. That you are making right now is going to impact who you are in 5 years. Who you are as a girlfriend, who you are as a wife, who you are as a mom. There’s so much more to life than right now. Life is so much bigger than just you. You have to live with the person you are becoming. And, so will your spouse. And your kids. Do you have bad habits? Do you have hidden sins? Are you caught up in pornography? Are you watching shows that you’d be embarrassed to watch if Jesus was sitting right next to you? Are you a true friend – or are you a gossiper or back-stabber? Do you judge people? Do you spread rumors? Are you a different person on social media than you are in real-life? Are you obedient to your parents? Have you surrendered everything to God? Have you even done the first step of accepting Jesus as your Savior? If you are dating, are you committed to staying pure? Are you in a relationship that you aren’t proud of? Have you made some sexual mistakes? Do you need to start over?

 

God. Is. The. Answer. To all of that. He’s waiting with open arms. He has forgiveness for you. He has grace. He has a lesson or two to teach you. He has patience. He has a plan.

 

Don’t lose heart, sweet friend. Make Jesus your main focus. Everything else – including your love life – will fall into place.

Photo by Zack Minor on Unsplash

Posted in Reflection

Something I’m glad I learned at an early age.

Perhaps it’s because I’m in a new stage of life now. I’m newly married. I’m turning older this week. Etc. But, when I was confronted with this topic idea for a blog post, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. What I mean is this, now that Hub and I have our own home, our own life, and our own plans and dreams for future children, we find ourselves (rather often) talking about things our parents taught us, things we appreciate about them, things our parents represent, and things from our childhoods we don’t want to take for granted.

So, here goes.

The prompt: Something you are glad you learned at an early age.

(There’s so many things I could talk about, I know. This, however, came to my mind first.)

 

I’m glad I learned at an early age that going to church isn’t optional.

 

Now, don’t sign me off right away. I’m not judging. I’m not trying to come across as “holier than thou,” either. And, I’m certainly not preaching.

Yes, I was a preacher’s daughter. I didn’t really have a choice. We attended church every time the doors were open. Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. Three times a week. Case closed. No questions asked.

But, it was much more than that. My parents taught me that it wasn’t all about what the church or the Sunday School lessons or the services could give to you; it was also what you were going to give back. How you were going to tap in. It was (and still is) a lifestyle.

This goes beyond being a preacher’s family, though. I firmly believe that if my Dad wouldn’t have been the pastor, we still would have been attending. Every service. Sunday and Wednesday. In fact, my parents both had parents who were laymen of the church – and they believed that same way.

I know what you’re thinking. “My church doesn’t even have Sunday night service.” “I work until 6 p.m. on Wednesday; there’s no way I can make prayer meeting or even stay awake during it.” “Sometimes I just need a Sunday night to regroup before the coming week.”

I get it. I really do. I’ve even skipped a service or two myself. And, I’ve gone a stretch or two not attending Sunday school. But, that’s not my point.

My point is this: I’m glad I had parents that didn’t. I’m glad I had parents that set the bar high. I’m glad I had parents who chose to attend church, even on vacation. I’m glad my parents made it exciting to go to church and encouraged me to use my talent of singing in a church setting. I’m glad my parents loved me enough to make me do what I didn’t always want to do.

We all have our reasons. We sometimes even have excuses.  Yes, the trend now is to NOT have Sunday evening or Wednesday evening services. Have break-out and discipleship groups, instead. That’s AWESOME! I even love the idea. And, sometimes we just don’t feel good. We’re sick. We’re stretched emotionally. We need a break.

I get it. I really do.

Here’s what I’m saying, though. In a world where people are looking for an excuse to miss church, be one of the faithful few. Teach that Sunday School class, be a mentor, choose a pew to sit in and be there. Faithfully. If you have to miss, miss. Just don’t make a habit of it. Support your pastor and his family. Your pastor prays and works tirelessly to get the mind of God for the message on Sunday. And, guess what… He does the SAME for the Sunday night and Wednesday night services, too! When did we start placing Sunday morning service as “THE” service that matters and the other two services as the “ones that don’t really count.”

And… Furthermore… If you are there, be ALL there. Put your phone away. Stop paying more attention to those around you than the One you’re supposed to be at church for. Focus on God. Focus on worship.

Focus on being there.

Focus on making church THE option, not optional.

 

Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

Posted in Reflection

8 things I learned in 2018.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m pretty downright excited about 2019.

A new year. A fresh start. 🎉👏🏽

I’ll celebrate my first birthday married. Hub and I will celebrate a year of wedded bliss. I just know there will be lots of adventures coming up! And, of course, some challenges, too.

I have some a couple neat resolutions and goals that I will be putting into effect on January 1st – be looking for a post on that in a day or two! But, before I get so focused on 2019, I’m trying to do some reflecting and reminiscing on 2018.

Each year helps shape us into the person we are and are becoming!

2018 was a year to remember. 2018 held a lot for me. A lot of beginnings. A lot of endings. A lot of lessons. That’s why I decided to make a list. Here’s what I came up with.

  1. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to happen. Create the moment! I’ve experienced so much pure happiness this year. I can’t even explain. Perfect moments. Life isn’t perfect, but moments can be. It comes from letting go of expectations and realizing the life right in front of you is what you make of it.
  2. Change stinks. It’s hard. But, honestly, it’s not all bad. There’s so much good. Change forms us into new and better, stronger people.
  3. Everyone around me is fighting a battle that I don’t (always) know about. Everyone. Students, coworkers, family members, friends. Don’t judge. Be kind. Take time out of my busy schedule for others.
  4. We are each stronger than we realize. But you don’t know this about yourself until those hard conversations, difficult lessons, and stressful situations come. Until you have no choice but to face another day. Until you have to grow up. You can’t choose what comes your way; you can choose your response.
  5. I must hold people up to the standard of grace, not the standard of perfection. People let you down; they disappoint. That’s life. If you extend grace, you will grow. If you expect perfection, you will become bitter.
  6. Focus matters. Now more than ever. We live in a crazy world. God first. My family second. Family means my marriage, my future children. When our focus turns to other people and their opinions and problems, we lose track of ourselves, our progress, and our goals.
  7. Stop blowing stuff out of proportion. Little frustrations become big ones if I don’t let them go. Small stuff doesn’t need to come between me and the people I love. Life is too short for that.
  8. Life shouldn’t be about stuff. I’m super blessed. I have way more than I need and so much more than I deserve. Stuff doesn’t last. People and memories do.

 

Leave me a comment & let me know a lesson or two that 2018 taught you! We are all in this thing called life together! 💙

 

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Posted in Spiritual

Truths for your Monday blues.

  1. God’s strength is made perfect in your weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
  2. If you are a child of God, all things in your life – no matter how impossible they seem – are working together for GOOD. (Romans 8:28)
  3. When you just don’t know how to pray or what to say, the Spirit is making intercession to the Father for you. (Romans 8:26)
  4. God promises His peace. Perfect peace. Claim it! (John 14:27; Isaiah 26:3)
  5. The God of the Universe – the One who controls the Angel Armies (Hosts) – is on YOUR side! (Psalm 46:7)
  6. Your enemies are nothing compared to your big God. God’s got you! (Psalm 18:2-3)
  7. God’s love and compassion for you lasts forever. (Psalm 136)
  8. Don’t let the devil hold your past sins over your head. As far as the sky stretches from east to west – that’s how FAR God has removed your sins from you! (Psalm 103:12)
  9. If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, your mansion in heaven is being prepared for you… right now! Jesus is going to come back and get you to spend forever with him! (John 14:1-3)
  10. You serve the living God.. the Alpha and Omega – the Beginning and the End. Read the back of the Book – God wins! (Revelation 22:13)

(Photo creds: unsplash.com)

Posted in Reflection

Face another day…

Gentle Shepherd

Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us,
For we need You to help us find our way.
Gentle Shepherd, come and feed us,
For we need Your strength from day to day.

There’s no other we can turn to
Who can help us face another day.
Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us,
For we need You to help us find our way.

(G. Gaither)

 

Face another day…

 

Sometimes life gets so busy that I forget… I forget the pain. I forget the rough days, the horrible nights. Those nights when I was scared to fall asleep because Satan had confused my mind so much. Those times when I cried myself to sleep because of the fear inundating my very soul. Those days when I struggled to even want to pray because I felt that I was always messing up. Those chains that held my soul. Those moments when I was overcome with grief – the loss of a best friend. Those valleys that seemed so dark. Those hurts that were more than real. Those heartbreaks – big or small – that left me feeling lonely, confused, battered, and bruised.

I forget. And, to be honest, I am thankful that I forget. I am thankful that Christ has offered me His peace in contrast to my fear, His deliverance in contrast to my bondage, and His healing for my aching heart.

Every once in a while, though, my eyes fill with tears and my heart tugs as my soul remembers the moments of pain and hurt and fear – the times I did not want to face the next day – the times I wanted to give up. And, I believe God gives me these times to remind me of where I have been and what He has brought me through so that I could be the (perhaps) stronger, braver, and wiser person that I am today.

Trust me, friend. With Jesus – no matter how dark the day – you can face it. Don’t stop fighting your battles. You’ll come out on top.