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.

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.

Good Stewardship of Your Influence

shoes

In a sermon series, Pastor Benny Ho, a well-known pastor in the Asia region and a senior pastor of Faith Community Church in Perth, Australia said that “there is a difference between prominence and significance”, which switched my thinking light bulb on in relation to this month’s series.

Very often, we talk about stewardship of our time, talents and finances. However, one area that I find rarely mentioned (except otherwise in the context of leadership). In the marketplace, being a leader and having the authority is equated to having some form of influence. I started to think, what about ordinary folks like us?

From my observation, this is rarely discussed because majority of us feel that the season that we are currently – our vocation, relationship or social status in life and even our finances are in no way able to make any significant impact. Just like adding a drop of water into the ocean, it literally doesn’t make any difference because we are neither wealthy, famous nor attractive enough to have the platform of influence.

However, I hope to challenge your perspective as well as my own to see through God’s perspective. Although one drop of water doesn’t make significant impact pertaining to the volume (in the ocean), but what it does is that it create ripples on the surface of the water. This analogy shows me that the job that I have now, the community that I am in contact with now and my relationship status today in this season of my life truly matter to God on how I steward my influence.

Lisa Bevere (a successful preacher and best-selling author) said “God invites us to work with what He’s already given us. To those who are faithful, He entrusts more. It’s how His kingdom operates.” That is a powerful statement and inspiring.

If we are to pay more attention to the meaning of our existence and the people around us, realizing that we DO have the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something in small ordinary ways hence the proclivity of doing something silly that we will eventually regret or allowing ourselves to just drift away with the worldly concerns, comparisons and emptiness – in summary, self centeredness can be avoided.

Our significance as daughters of god is not found in the prominence defined by the world. Just because we are not achieved the ‘status’ of being a wife, a mother, a business owner, a minister or a politician does not mean that our influence cannot bring significance to the world around us.

Zechariah 4:10 says “Do not despise these small beginning, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” Your sphere of influence is what God has entrusted you with, cherish it and steward it in such a way that would add value to the world around you.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

timmie-liew Timmie

Hello, my name is Timmie and I’m from Malaysia. I am a lawyer by profession. I am a charismatic, passionate person and enjoy beautiful things in life such as travelling to different cities to appreciate the culture. I love fashion and appreciate ‘coffee time’ with people to talk about life and build meaningful relationships. I’m passionate about the things of God, the Church and authentic leadership. My deepest desire is to embrace all that God has called me to be and be a blessing to whoever that God has placed in my life past, present and future. Our God is a GREAT God, and the best is yet to come !🙂

Sex: A Work in Progress

bed

Check out my latest published article, this time back on The Mudroom!

________________________________________________________________

Scene from a popular television show: Two characters, having previously flirted for several seasons with will-they-or-won’t-they tension, figure out they are sexually attracted to each other. They grab each other, bodies grinding against each other, hands tearing off clothes, mouths practically consuming the other’s face. Cue moaning and grunting. He pushes her up against the file cabinet, and they are off to the races.  

The above is from just one show, but it’s pretty representative of what every TV show, movie, and pop song tells us sex is supposed to be. Passionate. Raw. Intense. Pleasurable. Exciting. Unleashed. Orgasmic.

For years I drank that cultural Kool-aid, all the while being committed to purity until marriage. Sex was something I both desperately wanted yet couldn’t have, like a Christmas present you had to wait to open. My best friend and I would pray against temptation and lustful thoughts, but we did not think to pray that sex with our future husbands would be great. It was a given! Plus, after all these years of celibacy, I was owed great sex, right?

Read more here!

 

You are Worth Being Single

Death_to_stock_photography_Vibrant (3 of 10

Everyone I know on earth: “So.  How’s it going?  Are you dating anyone?”

Still single me: Sigh….”No, I’m not dating anyone at the moment.  Yes, I’m still single.  No, there are not prospects in the foreseeable future or the requisite 15 mile radius.  And, yes, I’m fine.”

Them: -_-

Me: “No, really.  I’m happy and content on most days with being single.  Why?  Do you know someone?”

Them: “Oh, goodness no.  You don’t want to date any of my friends!  They’re so (fill in the blank with some incredibly strange or terrible character flaw)!”

Me thinking inwardly to myself: Why do you have friends like that?

Does this conversation sound familiar?  I know I’m not the only one who feels like I’m constantly defending my singleness on a daily basis.

And often when we look at this time in our lives, especially when you’re over 30 like me, people tend to lean more towards the negative side of the spectrum.  Towards the absence of something.  As if the lack of a spouse is a curse that needs to be reversed before the clock strikes 24 years of age.  Or worse, that God is withholding the blessing of marriage from us because of some unconfessed sin or the assumption our puny faith needs some pumping up.

Unfortunately, we take that stance as well.  That we’re missing something.  Incomplete.  Not yet worthy of the love and affection of another human.  Particularly a human who is male with rippling muscles, always smells like Christmas and ambition, opens doors, lays his jacket down over puddles for us to walk over, and picks up the tab on first dates without that awkward moment after the check arrives.

I’m not asking too much, am I?

Either way, while everyone else is viewing our situation as the glass being half empty, there’s always an alternative.  And from what I’ve experienced, seen, and heard, there are much worse things than being single.

Yes, there are worse things than the solo Netflix and Chill.

You could be dating that guy you met the other day who was hiding behind a smile and false chivalry.  Only to find out 3 months later that he  was actually a jerk who has no intention of ‘waiting’ or holding you in any higher esteem than Dana, Jessica, Tasha, Lauren, or any other breathing female.

You could have wasted 6 months of your life in a ‘text-lationship’ with that guy who sort of likes you but never really made a move to ask you out on a date.  Meanwhile, you’re holding strategy sessions with your friends to decipher his texts of “hi” or “what are u doing” with a winky face to determine what they really mean.  Because everyone knows that emoji was a sign of his undying love for you that he’s just too scared to reveal directly.

You could be with that nice guy who has a check mark next to most things on your list for years.  While inwardly feeling that sinking, gnawing reality of settling because you’re tired of waiting for God’s best.

But, at this moment in your life, you are worth being single.  You are worth resisting the temptation to fall into situation-ships as a result of your fleeting feelings of boredom and loneliness.  And you are worth being hidden by a God who knows your value.  And trust that He intimately knows the man who will see that value without being told or convinced.

So don’t lose hope because there are no prospects in the requisite 15 mile radius. You’re worth the waiting you have to endure to enjoy God’s perfect love and will for your life.  It may be painful in the interim, but the process of growing closer to Him and getting closer to what He has for you is unrivaled in possibility.

And not just the possibility of marriage and being found by someone to share your life with.  But the possibility that He is saving you from the extreme heartache and time wasted trying to do life on your own.

“You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.” Psalm 32:7

“Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.” Psalm 17:8

____________________________________________________________

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.

I am that prostitute

alley

I have nothing in common with a prostitute. 

If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve had this thought many times in your life.  Or maybe you’ve never even thought about it all.  Which is ok because It’s likely not a common comparison.  But I can tell you with absolute certainty that you, yes you, have many things in common with the ladies of the night.

And I just couldn’t believe that I was so wrong about this.  Because I tend to be right about many things in life.  Which is also a lie.

But let me tell you a story of how I came face to face with my inaccurate thought processes:  

There I was.  With all my holy haughtiness.  Sitting in the back of a van with a few other ladies and one gentleman.  Riding around an area in Atlanta known for its high rate of trafficking and prostitution.  I was excited, scared, anxious, and relaxed all at the same time.  

I was sure that I was going to venture out into the darkness to bring the light.  That I would touch the souls of men and women who felt trapped in lives where their bodies encompassed their worth.

And that’s exactly what was going through my mind as we approached the first lady to give her a rose and extend a hand out of that way of life.  But as soon as I stepped out of the van to dramatically save her soul, I was smacked by a sudden realization.  

Yes, Jesus slaps people.  Right in the face.  And it’s not a gentle nudge.  It involves all five fingers and has the weight of the Holy Spirit behind it.  And also behind that slap was an epiphany that this girl, these women, were all me.  

I am broken.  I am a mother trying to make ends meet to raise my daughter in the best way I know how.  I feel overwhelmed by circumstances.  I struggle with keeping my worth in line with my God-given value.  I believe the lie that one decision won’t change my destiny.  I have allowed tiny decisions to add up until the damage was evident to myself and others.  And that damage led me to surrender in the arms of my Creator.  

But one more decision could have brought me to those same corners where I came offering roses and hope.  One more decision could have landed me on dark stages stripping off pieces of myself to gain hurt in return.  One more decision could have seen me depending on the cheap approval of men to feel loved.

But that’s the funny thing about doing things for the Kingdom.  You walk in all high and mighty ready to change lives, only to realize that you were the one who needed changing.

And trust me, you’d much rather learn humility through service and putting on the suffering of others than have God knock you down to size.  I mean, have you read the Bible?  He’s been known to rain fire, instant death, and turn folks into a pillar of salt.  No thanks.  I don’t want to be the seasoning on anyone’s meal.

So next time you step out to share life, remember to see yourself in every single person that crosses your path and leave your piety at home. Vulnerability is more powerful than holiness.  And service is much more effective when others can see where you’ve been compared to where you are.  That is dealing hope that their lives can be better, can be different, rather than sending them the message that they could never be you.

PS – If after reading this, you are still of the mind that you couldn’t possibly be that person you’re serving, just remember three things.  One, Jesus slaps people.  Two, God can rain fire. FIRE.  And three, you are not that important (Galatians 6:3).

______________________________________________________________

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.

Check-Up

stethoscope

I felt invincible once upon a time. Once upon a time, I could eat frosting slathered cinnamon rolls without an increasing waistline. My teeth didn’t shiver when I chewed gum. I could spend an entire night watching movies without nodding off once.

But during a recent doctor’s visit, I discovered my tenure of invincibility was over.

Is this scale calibrated correctly? Those numbers can’t be right.

My iron is low? I guess that would explain why I fall asleep by 8 o’clock.

I’m WHAT-deficient? So I have eat more vegetables? Hmm, I guess french fries wouldn’t count.

Since that visit, reading ingredient labels and calorie counts are a habit. My medicine cabinet sounds like it’s full of maracas thanks to the influx of vitamin bottles. I’ve become much more aware of everything that goes in my body.

And all it took was a check-up.

Self-examination can feel sort of obsolete as we get older. Through college, jobs, relationships, and experiences, we’ve collected a bounty of knowledge and experience to fund our decisions. We no longer need parental permission for anything so there are no limits and refusals.  Our emotional, physical, and spiritual diets are in our own hands. And we can reach a point where we know what to do and how to do it well.

Or so we think.

Throughout His Word, God tells us to take assessment of ourselves, honestly, without filter. “Each one should test their own actions” (Galatians 6:4 NIV) and “don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” (Romans 12:3 NLT)

How well is your soul? Is your heart full of joy or damaged from disappointment? Is your mind where it should be? What are you feeding your emotions? How spiritually healthy are you really?

Check-ups aren’t fun. They can bruise the ego and deliver unexpected news. But through them, we are able to correct problems in the making and change course.

Make an appointment for a self-examination with God this year.

_______________________________________________________________

Jennifer Jennifer

Hi, there! My name is Jennifer.  I’m 32 and live in the D.C. area. I love Jesus, R & B music, and sugar in all its forms :-). In June 2016, I married my amazing husband, Calvin. I was completely single and waiting throughout my entire twenties. So I know the prayers, fears, and tears that come with prolonged singleness very well. I am excited to share my story and encourage single women who are waiting for God’s best!