August Challenge: Taming the Tongue!

tongue

This isn’t my favorite, I’m not gonna lie.

All my life I have struggled with my tongue.  Saying the right thing.  Not saying the wrong thing.  Slipping up and saying the wrong thing anyway.  Half the time purposefully.

In my younger years, I was known for being sarcastic.  Didn’t really care if it was hurtful if I could get some laughs from others.  (Never mind if it was really because I felt insecure myself, putting others down to draw attention away from my own flaws.)

Then I became a Christian.  It was far from an overnight transition, but slowly my words became sweeter.  I would think about the impact on others before I spoke.  I realized that my sarcastic jokes actually hurt my friends and I stopped making them.

This change made a huge difference in my relationships.  In the past, thinking I was oh-so-hilarious, I would make the same sarcastic jokes with guys, and then wonder why they didn’t reciprocate my affections.  Wasn’t I hysterical?  Didn’t they get the joke?  Probably they did.  But they didn’t want to spend time around someone from whom every other word was harsh.

When I met my husband, I knew I needed a different strategy.  He is a sweet guy who, like anyone, appreciates kind words and encouragement, not jokes at his expense.  I try to be his biggest cheerleader and affirm him at every opportunity that I can (full disclosure: he still thinks I’m sarcastic, so I guess I have some ways to go).

Score one for relationships, but oh boy, work is a whole other matter.  I get angry and frustrated.  It rises up within me like a tidal wave and I find myself going from zero to sarcastic in less than 60 seconds.   I am right.  They are wrong.  How can they not see it?  Are they stupid?  Do they just want to make my life difficult?

See, taming the tongue is really an issue with its root in the sin of pride.  It is putting our feelings – our sense of justice or our desire to be seen as “funny,” our belief in our own rightness or our belief that our right to free speech matters more than someone else’s right to not be hurt – ahead of everything else.  We are so wrapped up in our emotions that we can’t see beyond them to someone else’s point of view.

To draw a contrast, Jesus did not get sarcastic.  He got angry, but in His anger, He did not let the sin of pride overwhelm Him.  He did not let emotions get the best of Him, or let his anger become a personal attack on others.  He was controlled and measured in His response, always remembering empathy and caring, even when He was persecuted.

I confess that I am not there.  But I want to be.

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Five Things We Should All Stop Doing (and I mean now)

heart book

Sigh.  I miss the good old days.  When we could leave our cell phones, our (un)social media, and our myriad of electronic devices at home without going into a total panic.  I mean, we could actually spend an entire day having conversations with actual people and needed to have pocket change if we wanted to engage in non-face-to-face interactions.

But no.  Not today.  Today we have the opinions of every idiot, smart person, and ‘expert’ being constantly downloaded into our spirit.  We pretend as if continuously being fed the opinions and images of others won’t hurt us, but that in itself is a dangerous assumption.

And no one has change.  Ever.

It’s no different when it comes to dating.  We listen to our hearts, our thoughts, our friends, our family, our Instagram feeds with their #relationshipgoals, Google, our *ahem* baby making organs, and possibly even these blog posts.

Allowing these things to influence my decisions in the past (and also the present) has only crowded out God’s best for me.  And possibly yours too.  So here’s a list of the top five things I’ve lended an ear to that I think it’s time we give the boot.  A “Don’t Do This” sort of list, if you will:

1) Don’t listen to your feelings.  Your feelings are about as truthful and trustworthy as a 2-star rated Uber driver with no seat belts.  Would you climb into that car?  Then don’t you dare ride your feelings into a relationship without the peace of the holy spirit.

2) Don’t listen your heart.  This may seem counterintuitive.  The world is constantly telling you to listen to your heart.  Follow your heart. But the word tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9).  Ouch.  And your Father made your heart, so he understands everything you do (Psalm 33:15).  When our hearts are full, we can sometimes act without thinking.  Rash things are bad and prickly on your body, and also on the heart.  Don’t scratch that itch.

3) Don’t listen to your thoughts.  Your thoughts tell you you’ll be single forever. Your thoughts tell you you’re lonely.  Your thoughts give you ideas about how to manipulate your way down the aisle.  Your thoughts open the heart to lies and the whispers from the enemy.  Let’s not live our life based on only what we think of ourselves, but what our Father thinks of us instead.  We are loved.  We are desired.  And we are constantly being pursued.

4) Don’t listen to your sex drive.  I feel like this one is pretty self explanatory.  But just in case it needs further clarification, pre-marital sex clouds your judgement.  It causes you to stay in relationships longer than you should.  It makes babies.  It causes you to start relationships that should’ve stayed in the mud because you have a “connection.”  Honey, that “connection” is a soul tie and it will drag you, chained and bound, all the way to a broken heart.  For further reflection on lusty things, reference #2.

5)  Don’t listen to everything you read on the interwebs.  You do realize that anybody can have a webpage, right?  And everything we read is filtered through someone else’s life experiences and biases and made to look perfect for their benefit.  Not for His glory.  I even expect you to scripture check and comment below if you feel like this post gets your spirit of discernment all in a tizzy.  Just make sure that discernment is still on guard when scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, or following the links to the latest “how to keep your man” advice from Cosmo.

But what if we truly listened to the guidance of the holy spirit?  When Christ physically left this earth, he did not leave us to fend for ourselves.  But for some reason, most of us are flailing about our single life (and married life) as if the Advocate’s voice doesn’t exist.

We end our prayers acknowledging the trinity, but live and behave as if God is a duo.  Or worse yet, a solo act.  And those thoughts only succeed at making God small, shortening his reach to the clouds above, and limiting his kingdom to heaven.

From what I remember, we are called to bring his kingdom down to earth.  Through how we love, how we live our life as a single person, and how we display the agape love of Christ in our marriages.  And you can’t do that without making space for the holy spirit in every single second of your day.  Every single one.

So step into your purpose as a single as if your confidence, beauty, and marital status were in the hands of a loving Father.  Receive the grace and forgiveness for your past mistakes as if Jesus, the Son, actually died for them.  And continue to make room for the gentle whispers (and sometimes hard face punches) of the holy spirit as if he actually exists.

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor, Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you]…But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth [full and complete truth].”

John 16:7, 13 (AMP….emphasis mine)

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roz Roz

Hey there!  My name is Roz.  I’m a full time working, single, homeschooling mother to the world’s funniest 5 year old on the planet.  I’m an introvert who is obsessed with bacon.  I like to play music extremely loudly in my car and will keep singing at full voice even when you turn to stare.  I also blog occasionally over at beautyfullyflawedblog.wordpress.com where I write words about Jesus, homeschooling, and the beauty of imperfections.  I look forward to sharing my imperfections with you, as well.

Unexpected Conversation with Jesus

girl

Loves Jesus? Check.

Respectful? Check.

Good breath? Mostly.

Has a sense of humor? Uh, something like it.

Six feet tall? No, he’s precisely 1.7 millimeters taller than you.

Makes six figures? Well, not exactly.

Owns a home? The way his life is set up right now.…

Wait wait wait, Jesus.  I think you got my order wrong.  Maybe you misheard my prayers?  Because I was very specific and I was sure that the man of my dreams would line up with your will.

No, I heard you.  And I know what you desire and what you think you want.  But more than that, I know exactly what you need. 

What you want can sometimes be based solely on what you know.  Things you’ve done before.  Things you’re comfortable with.  And how many broken hearts have you gathered in the name of comfort up until this point?

But I am going to do a new thing.  Something that will stretch your faith and test your trust. However, believe that what I desire for you will soon be something that you desire even more.  Something that you didn’t even see coming.  But something that will bring more glory to my name and more joy to your life than any man from a list could ever do. 

What I’ve created for you will be infinitely better than what you could create for yourself.

So don’t be afraid to seek me when someone may not fit all of your criteria.  Or when someone you’ve noticed, and who’s noticed you, has asked you to try new things.  Or when your list opens your options up to everyone under the sun. Or when your list narrows your options down to, well, just me and Moses. 

As long as I’m in it, different won’t always mean unattractive.  New won’t always beget fear. And your ‘type’ will be exactly who I’ve chosen as my best for you.

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roz Roz

Hey there!  My name is Roz.  I’m a full time working, single, homeschooling mother to the world’s funniest 5 year old on the planet.  I’m an introvert who is obsessed with bacon.  I like to play music extremely loudly in my car and will keep singing at full voice even when you turn to stare.  I also blog occasionally over at beautyfullyflawed.com where I write words about Jesus, homeschooling, and the beauty of imperfections.  I look forward to sharing my imperfections with you, as well.

What if God Doesn’t Send Your Boaz?

WhatIfGodDoesntSendBoaz

Jen found this amazing post that speaks to the heart of many MRP readers!  Maybe your new thing that you try this month is broadening your vision of who the right man is for you!

So often, I hear within the single Christian women community to just keep working in my field. I hear that Ruth was found working and busy doing her purpose when she positioned herself to be found by this man of perfection, Mr. Boaz. So many women post statuses about being found by this famous man and even caption photos that tell the story of her wait. We’ve been sold this lie that when it comes to singleness, Boaz in all of his manliness, will come and rescue us from our singleness.

But I must ask you, “What if God doesn’t send you Boaz?

It’s clear that he’s a hot commodity and millions of Christian women are a part of the rhetoric that if we just position ourselves, flow in purpose, and know who we are, that our prize at the end of it all would be marriage with our Boaz.

But what if God sent me a Moses?

A man who is a leader, but sometimes emotionally driven and in need of my assurance to stand in the fullness of who He was called to be? Although Moses was called, He still felt extremely inadequate and battled insecurities that almost caused him to forfeit the leader that the Lord was trying to pull out of him. What if it were my responsibility to encourage him into his identity?

Read more here!

Ticket to the Gun Show

ticket

What is the strangest place you have ever gone on a date?  Mine was going on a second date to a gun range.

I met him off of Christian Mingle.  He was just a few years older than me, handsome, and a graduate of Michigan Law.  Our few email exchanges had shown him to be smart and funny.  My hopes as I went into the first date were high.

We met at a local restaurant/bar – I frankly don’t remember if he picked it or I picked it.  It wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t bad.  I found him sitting at a high top table.  Okay, maybe not as handsome as in his profile picture, but still cute.

And then he started talking…and talking…and talking.  I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.  Some of what I learned was good.  I learned about his job, his childhood vacations, everything up to his favorite color.  He was Orthodox Greek and very traditional, which wasn’t my faith, but at least he was a Christian!

Then he told me about the guns. Let me just say that I don’t like handguns.  They were designed with one purpose – killing humans – and I don’t like them.  And he apparently loved them.  Said that he always carried at least two on him and made sure he had one in every room.  Horrified, I tried to imagine living like that – what if we had kids?

After we left the restaurant, he asked me if I wanted a second date.  I weighed the pros and cons.  Christian, Michigan Law, smart, professional, handsome…this kind of guy doesn’t just fall from trees.  But could I handle the guns?

So I did what I knew I needed to do to see if I could really fit into his world.  I took a risk.  “I will go on a second date…if we go to the gun range.”  I didn’t want to, I had never been to one, had no desire to go, but I thought, why not?  It was an adventure.

His response: “Will you marry me now?”

We went to the gun range and while nothing terrible happened, the short story is that the guy didn’t get a third date.  Maybe it wasn’t going to work right from the beginning.  But I took a chance, stepped out of my comfort zone, and gave it a shot (literally).  I am proud of myself for doing it.

In dating, I have tried out new restaurants, gone to sporting events and festivals, and attended museum exhibitions.  If someone had a passion or interest, I wanted to see it.  The person might only have lasted for a date or two.  But these experiences made me a better person with a richer history and more memories because of it.

June Challenge: Try New Things!

Pat Hike

Over Memorial Weekend, my husband and I did something we had never done before: we went camping in a tent (the above action shot is to prove I am not making this up).  We went with a group of friends (my former church small group) and for the most part, it was fun.  Sitting around a campfire, roasting smores, fellowshipping – most of it was all that camping should be.  But the actual tent part?  It was muddy, there were bugs, and neither of us got much sleep.

Trying new things this month means not just doing something you haven’t done before, but stepping outside of your comfort zone.  By its very nature, it’s going to be uncomfortable at times – sometimes literally!  I mean, I am STILL scratching at bug bites that I can’t scratch in polite company!

But when you open yourself to new experiences, you will discover new things about yourself, others, and the world that you just never would have had the opportunity to see before!

As I mentioned yesterday, my new favorite obsession is the show First Dates.  For all of those people, going on a nationally televised show to be set up on a blind date was a HUGE risk.  I don’t think I would have done it!  Think of the potential risks – that the date would be awful, that they would be embarrassed, and that the whole thing would be watched and judged by millions across America!

But for some of them, that first date turned into a second date, and then a third.  Is it the most likely way to meet your soulmate?  Perhaps not.  But they put themselves out there, took a chance, and for those people, they met someone.  Even some of the ones for who it didn’t work out still talked about the value that they saw in doing it.

For myself, starting online dating was a big new thing that I tried.  Granted, I knew it could work because my roommate had met her boyfriend (now husband) the year before.  It was uncomfortable – you have to make a profile and talk about yourself, answer cheezy questions, and face the reality that real people would be scanning through your profile and making a judgment.  But I took the risk.  It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually, I met my husband.

I am not saying that you have to start online dating this month!  But so often we are caught in our own little ruts, never branching outside, never meeting anyone new.  How are you going to meet anyone that way?  And what’s more, what kind of interest do you hold as a person if you are never doing anything new?

As this month’s challenge verses will show, God expects us to do new things.  So use this month’s encouragement to step outside your comfort zone and try something new!

Boundaries Vs. Intimacy Finish!

boundary

My new favorite obsession is the show First Dates.  If you haven’t watched this yet and you are a single, dating person, you are totally missing out.  This show, portraying a series of blind dates, is a tutorial in human behavior and why dates work—and don’t work.

In the latest episode, a beautiful Nashville country singer shared in the pre-date interview that she waited for sex until her first marriage.  Now divorced, she stated that she wanted to wait again.  She is set up on a blind date with a slightly awkward, nerdy guy who tells her that he has never been kissed.  Never.  Not once.  The show cut to a commercial and I thought, well, that’s it.  She’s not going to find that attractive.  It’s one thing to wait for sex, it’s another to be an adult man who has never kissed anyone.

But when the show returned from commercial, the singer’s reaction was much different than I expected.  “That’s so endearing,” she said.  She later agreed to a second date and before the credits, it was revealed that they are dating.

In the series this month, we talked about boundaries – generally, boundaries on physical intimacy.  Such boundaries – even just the concept of them – are completely countercultural to today’s hookup society.  They make us seem like prudes, out of touch, and backwards.  Worse – like adult virgins, which is exactly what we are.

So we expect rejection.  I don’t want to be seen as a weirdo.  We put up walls, pretend falsehoods, refuse to show our true selves.  I would talk about relationships and sex with friends like I was just the same as them.  I can think of only two guys that I even brought up the topic of not having sex before marriage – one of them I married.

But in doing so, we shame and devalue the boundary in our own eyes.  Equally important, we lose the opportunity to be a witness that we might otherwise have had.  There are many ways to be a light to the world – one of them is simply to be brave enough to show our true selves to others.  

I can’t promise that it won’t come without a cost.  There may be lost dates, strange looks, and awkward conversations.

But that’s a small price to pay.  When you find the one – the right one – he or she will not judge you or mock you for the boundary.  Instead, he or she will value you and respect you all the more, hopefully because he or she shares the same boundary.  It will be one more signpost on the path to true love.