Monday, November 30, 2009

To Date Online or Not to Date Online...

Today I was browsing good ol’ Google, when a pop-up ad filled my screen. The ad was for a Christian dating service. After my initial reaction- which was to laugh and click the “x” to close the box- I started to think about the whole idea of online dating. I couldn’t help but wonder what God thinks of the whole thing. Is it ok to join an online dating service? By joining one, am I showing a lack of trust in God? Does God even care?

Before I dive into this touchy subject, I want to put a disclaimer on my thoughts:

These are just my thoughts. I do not claim to be right in my opinions, and I pass absolutely no judgment on any individual whose views are different than mine…these are just some ideas that the Lord has placed on my heart. My only desire is to challenge other singles in their walk with the Lord and the path that He desires for them when it comes to dating.

That being said, let me dive into this whole idea of Christian online dating…

I know that online dating works for people. I know a number of people who have done it and have found the one they are going to marry. I couldn't rejoice with them more for the blessing that God has provided in their life through a relationship. Despite the fact that we live in such an information/cyberspace age, the idea is still somewhat foreign to me for my own personal dating experience. I still can’t seem to wrap my head around the idea of “dating” someone through online conversation…even if it is only at the outset of a relationship. It’s strange in my brain to think that you can find the one God has for you through the internet. Call me old fashioned…but I don’t want a computer-generated husband :)

But beyond my personal weirdness about it or any safety issues that might become a concern, I had to stop and think about how God views it.

Is it ok to join an online dating service? I don’t feel it’s wrong to do this. Just like it’s not wrong to use the internet in general. Times change, methods of doing things change…I get that. So the concept of an online dating service is not inherently wrong. I really believe it comes down to your heart and the motive behind why you are joining an online dating service.

By joining an online dating service, am I showing a lack of trust in God? Again, this is where I feel that it comes down to your heart and the motive behind why you are joining. I have found that many people join a dating service because they are exasperated with the whole “dating scene.” Countless dates and no results…so they figure “what have I got to lose?” Many want so much to be in a relationship that really, online dating just opens up more options. Let someone else do the hard work of matching personalities to weed out the really bad dates. Save time and emotions to get to the right one, right? But my question has always been to these individuals, “Are you trusting God or man?” If you are, and you feel that God is leading you to date online- go for it! Who am I to stand between you and what God has called you to? And plus, who’s to say that God can’t use the internet for His glory and His plan? God can use whatever method He chooses.

But I have to ask you to truly search your heart and be honest…because I fear that many would find that they are joining out of the wrong motive: impatience, personal satisfaction and desire, or lack of trust in God. They desire so much to be in a relationship, and traditional ways have failed, so why not try online dating? I know that it would be that way for me. Our culture would say “Go ahead! Date online. It’s the way people are dating now. Take control of your own dating life.” And yet the Bible is filled with commands to be counter-cultural because He is holy and we are called to be holy. Consider these verses and ask God to show you His desire for your dating life:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.” – Proverbs 3:5-7

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9


“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” – Romans 12:1-2

Does God even care whether or not I join an online dating service? God created us, loved us enough to die for us, and cares very much about every detail of our lives. As followers of Christ, we are to walk with Him daily, constantly conforming to the image of His Son. Our lives are to be in a constant state of submission before a holy and righteous God. In the words of John, “He must become greater and I must become less.” (3:30). God should be the one in control of our lives, which includes our dating life. It is a grave error to think that we don’t have to apply these truths to how we date. I believe that God cares very much how we choose to date. And I believe that He wants us to trust Him with the result of our dating life- whether that means to remain single for just a little longer, or even if it means that He is best glorified by calling us to live the blessing of a life of singlehood. Do you trust God that much? Are you willing to trust Him with every aspect of your dating life? Even if it means waiting longer? By joining an online dating service, are you trusting God to bring you that significant other, or are you trusting in the ways of men?

Again, this was meant as a challenge for myself and other Christian singles desiring to honor God in their dating life. Feel free to comment and/or share a differing opinion. My heart’s desire is to do the will of my Father, and I am constantly working toward what that actually looks like in practice. It’s all part of my journey to the heart of God…
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thankful for Thanksgiving!

I am sitting in my living room, my Christmas decorations are up (for the most part), Christmas music is playing, and I can't believe that tomorrow is Monday. The much anticipated Thanksgiving break is over all too quickly. But I am so thankful for the wonderful holiday I got to spend with family and friends.

My parents got into town on Wednesday, and we got to spend some really good time together. I covet sweet family time, mostly because I don't get it that often, and it always seems so short of a time. Thanksgiving morning, we enjoyed sleeping in a little and enjoying some morning coffee together. Then my mom and I got to work on the meal! Everything turned out wonderful, and we had such a relaxing day- eating turkey, playing games, taking naps, watching football, but mainly just enjoying each other's company without having to rush off anywhere. Yes, I enjoyed Thanksgiving in my pajamas and LOVED it. Haha.

Friday we ventured out for a little bit of shopping, but avoided the stores with all the frenzied shoppers. Laura was able to join us, and we enjoyed lunch, the Galleria parking garage, exhorbitantly overpriced pillows, and a movie ;) Saturday we had lunch with my aunt, uncle and cousins who live in Murphy, as well as my cousin and her family who live in Ft. Worth.

Saturday night, we had our Singles Thankgiving Potluck. Clint made the turkey and hosted at his house, and everyone brought a side dish or dessert to share. We had such a blast! As I stood in the kitchen listening to all of the conversations going on, I just had to enjoy the moment and thank God for the sweet group of friends He has brought into my life. I couldn't help but smile thinking about where our group was a year ago when we were only few in number and it was like pulling teeth to get people to talk- LOL. What a blessing for the Lord to have grown our group and helped us develop relationships in Him. It's just interesting to me the places, the circumstances, and the people that God blesses us with at varying times in our lives. I am blessed beyond measure, and I praise the One from whom it all comes!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holiday Excitement!

So yesterday was a fun day at work...probably because I didn't actually get much work done at all! Haha. I got to work super early so that I could leave later in the morning to go pick up the turkey for our family Thanksgiving. I thought I was being smart by getting there when they opened, but apparently I missed the memo of special holiday hours and was unable to avoid the crowds after all. So I ended up standing in cold in this long line...


Oh the price we pay for convenience. Oh well. Although there is a part of me that wanted to go full out and do everything on my own, I know come tomorrow I will be appreciative of the Honey Baked Ham Company who will be helping me this Thanksgiving ;)

I made it back to the office just in time for our Thanksgiving Potluck! It was a fun time with my co-workers, hanging out, eating the yummy foods everyone brought. I know I have said this numerous times, but I am so grateful for my job. I am so blessed to be a part of this company, and I thank God for the sweet people that I work with. It really is like a small family, and I feel blessed to be a part of it. I brought a Pumpkin Roll to the potluck, and I am happy to say it was a baking success! I got the recipe* from a sweet friend in my 20s group, and everyone loved it! I was a little nervous about it, because this was the first time I had made it, but it turned out great and it really wasn't that hard to make!


Oh and it totally looked like this too ;) Ok- maybe not this perfect, but not too far off. It at least looked edible enough for people to be excited about trying it!

In addition to our office potluck, we also celebrated my boss's birthday :) The excitement of the holiday is buzzing around the office, and everyone is ready for the Thanksgiving break. We got our official "Early Dismissal" email from HR yesterday, so we get to leave early today! My parents are on the road heading for Dallas, and I am really looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with them here. This is the first year we are missing big family Thanksgiving, so it will be a little strange not to be with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and crazy family drama :) But I am looking forward to the quiet of the week with my parents and brother.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! :)

*Here is the Pumpkin Roll Recipe if you are interested:


Ingredients

Cake:
1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
1 c . Granulated sugar
2/3 c. Pumpkin
1 c. walnuts, chopped (optional)

Filling:
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 c. powdered sugar, sifted
6 T butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)

Directions

FOR CAKE:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

FOR FILLING:
Beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel when rolling up the cake so it will not stick.

Enjoy!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

GREAT is His Faithfulness!

God woke me up early this morning, and He placed this song on my heart...

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!


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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We Are Family

I am so thankful for my family. I am truly blessed by the amazing parents and brother that God has given me. I praise God for a family that loves and seeks after Christ. And I also praise God for the sweet relationship I have with each one of them.

I praise God for my earthly father. He is truly an example of steadfast faith and devotion to the God we serve. He is the humble and gracious picture of my Heavenly Father. My dad has taught me how to work hard, but more than that...to work as though I am working for the Lord. My dad has taught me the meaning of generosity and sacrifice. My dad loves me unconditionally, and he has shown me what a man of God should look like.

I praise God for my sweet mother. She is truly an example of faith in its purest form, and she is the epitome of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. My mom loves me in spite of myself, and she is always there to pick up the pieces in my mess of a life. She speaks truth in grace and love, and she knows exactly what to say at the right time. My mom has taught me the meaning of patience and sweet service to other people.

I praise God for my brother, my friend. He is truly an example of fearless faith, and he has shown me what it means to live out your faith with boldness and perseverence. He speaks truth with courage and clarity, and I learn so much from his wisdom. He truly has a heart for others, and he is the picture of humility and selflessness. He has taught me the meaning of loving my neighbor as myself.

I love you and thank God for you!


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Monday, November 16, 2009

Fresh New Look!

I have been playing with my blog design, hoping to achieve a fresh new look. Just felt like a change. I also decided I wanted to add a signature to my posts. What do you think?
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Sunday, November 15, 2009

To God Be The Glory...

This weekend I had the opportunity to go home to celebrate Bible Study Fellowship International's 50th birthday. It was such a special evening of praising God and being reminded of His faithfulness. It was so incredible to see how God has grown a humble ministry of 5 women to nearly 1,000 classes with 200,000 class members in more than 30 nations! I was so blessed to be there and be apart of the celebration. I got to meet more of the board members and Foreign Resident Ambassadors who are faithfully serving and teaching God's Word across the globe. It was also such a sweet blessing to reconnect with old BSF staff members, leaders, and friends from growing up. Here is a picture of me and my brother...we meant to take more pictures, but the evening was just too full :)

Not only was it exciting to look back at all God has done, we also got to hear about the vision of BSF for the years to come. It is so exciting to see the direction that the organization is heading as it moves toward fulfilling its aim of teaching God's Word to future generations. One of the most exciting things is seeing how God is working internationally. The founder of BSF, A. Wetherell Johnson, was originally a missionary to China before coming back to the states to start her humble Bible study. Her hope and dream was for God's Word to be taught to Chinese nationals. In recent years, BSF has had restricted opportunities to open classes for expatriates. Now, not only can BSF offer classes to Chinese nationals, they have the government's blessing to do it! Praise God!

It will be exciting to see how God uses such a faithful and servant ministry to reach the world for His name and His glory. To God be the glory GREAT things He has done!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Nostalgic Kind of Day

I don’t know why, but today I found myself missing things from my past. It’s like it hit me all at once, and I suddenly missed everything…

Baylor. I miss Baylor. I miss being a student, walking across Founder’s Mall and Burleson Quadrangle, going to football games, seeing Lady and Joy, and yes…even eating at Penland and Memorial Halls. I didn’t make it back for Homecoming this year, and I just miss being on campus. I wouldn’t ever want to go back to school, but I do feel nostalgic for those 4 years I spent at Baylor.

Summers. This is one of the sad parts of being an adult. Long gone are the blissful days of summer vacation. Even when I was in school, I worked through my summers, but somehow it was just different than working through the summer now. I think because even though I was working, it was still a change from the work of school. Now, work is the same…all. year. long. Haha.

Field Trips. Remember those? I had some really awesome field trips growing up: the zoo, the rodeo, the Alamo, countless museums, Spanish class field trips to Mexican food restaurants downtown, the USS Lexington, living history field trip, the Texas capitol, Natural Bridge Caverns, Sea World...my school would even take an all-school retreat to a camp for 3 or 4 days every year. I am not sure what made me think of field trips, but I miss them, so they go on my list.

Home. I haven’t been home since August. I know that doesn’t sound like a long time, but I live only 4.5 hours from home. And it seems as though the last few trips I have made have been quick overnight trips with a purpose. Things are crazy hectic and then I have to turn around and drive back. I really haven’t been able to enjoy being home in several months. I am so looking forward to going home this weekend! It will be a short weekend, but I hope to make the most of every moment I am there.

Family. Along with missing home, I just plain miss my family. My parents have been great to come up here to see my brother and I, but I still really miss them. And I know that I am really missing family when I even miss my crazy extended family- LOL. I hope to be able to see my grandparents, aunt, and cousins this weekend, especially since I won’t be going home for Thanksgiving.

Mexican Food. I’m sorry, but there is just not any good Mexican food up here. Some of the chains are decent, but nothing beats the hole-in-the-wall Mexican food of SA. Mexican restaurants are not on every street corner here like they are there. I definitely plan to get my fill this weekend. (Nicki, I know my pain does not compare to yours…at least here they attempt and sometimes come close to making good food; I’ll make sure to eat some tortillas just for you).

Margaritas. Ok, seriously, don’t laugh. This is my nostalgic day, so I am allowed- haha. When I joined leadership at BSF, I was asked to refrain from alcoholic beverages. I have never been much of a drinker anyway, so it wasn’t that big of a deal for me. However, margaritas are my absolute favorite, and I have had the worst craving for one. I definitely miss them…

Baby Sasha. I love my dog- anyone who knows me would probably say that I am slightly obsessed with her. She’s my sweet baby girl, and I absolutely adore her. The other day I was looking through her baby pictures (I know she’s a dog. Don’t judge.) and I just miss her tiny size. Sasha has grown to be such a big girl- 80 lbs (but on a diet plan to get back down to 75 LOL). But looking at the pictures of the tiny ball of fur that I first brought home…I miss little puppy stage. I miss when she actually fit in my lap and I could pick her up in my arms. She still sits in my lap, but it’s just not quite the same experience for me…

Am I reaching that point in my life where I am going to start thinking about "the old days"? Haha. Have you ever had a nostalgic kind of day?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

God, Please Break My Heart

I don't even know where to begin. I don't think that I can begin to unpack all that God whispered to my heart this weekend. God has been speaking to me for several months now...little bits and pieces here and there. I knew that something needed to change in my life; I just didn't know where to begin. For awhile I have been feeling as though there was something more, something missing; I think part of me was fearful of what that "something more" would like like. But after this weekend, I can't ignore God's tugging on my heart.

I don't know what this is going to look like. And I am terrified of what it's actually going to mean. But I am committed to pray about what God would have for me. I apologize for being vague; I am still trying to work through some things in my heart. But I felt the need to write it down for the world to see. It is my first step toward this new journey. I am praying specifically that God will break my heart for the things that break His. I need to search the depths of my heart to understand why this doesn't just come naturally for me. I hate this part of myself; have I really become so self absorbed that I am unaffected by a hurting world around me? There are times when my heart is moved and filled with compassion and heartache...but I am ashamed to admit that I have hardly ever acted. I can't do that anymore. I have to do something.

I am also praying that God show me where I can be His hands and feet. I do my best to faithfully serve Him in different areas (BSF, our 20s group, etc.) But all those places are comfortable. And we are just not called to live a comfortable life. As much as I don't like hearing that, it's the truth. So I am praying about new opportunities to show God's love to a hurting world. I have been convicted lately about sharing the gospel. Someone asked the question, "when was the last time you shared the gospel?" And all I could do in response was cry. Because, again, I am ashamed to say that it's been too long. I could come up with all kinds of excuses. But they are just that: excuses. What excuse do I have to not share the amazing love, grace, peace I experience through a relationship with Christ?

So I am committing to pray. I am committing to lay my heart open before God and say, "do with me what You will, Lord." I would appreciate your prayers. My heart's desire is to draw closer to the heart of God; this is the next step in that journey.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fun Upcoming Events

How is it that one minute you have endless free weekends, and the next....not a free one in sight? Haha. My weekends are filling quickly with lots of random things, and it's really just a sign that the holidays are approaching. And that makes me VERY happy :) Here's a look at a few fun upcoming events that I am really looking forward to:

FUSION DALLAS+09
I am really looking forward to this conference. I will be going with my 20s group from church, and I can't wait! The Fusion Experience is an event for all 20 & 30 somethings in the DFW metroplex who love Jesus and want their lives to reflect their faith. I almost didn't go, but at the last minute felt like God really wanted me there. So I am excited to hear how He is going to speak.

BSF 50th Anniversary Gala
BSF is celebrating it's 50th anniversary, and I am excited to be able to attend the Jubilate Gala they are hosting to praise God for all the great work He has done. This is going to be a special evening of praise for the powerful work of God's Word across the globe in the past 50 years. It will be a special evening for my dad and the sweet staff at headquarters who have been such a big part of my life. I am so grateful for the faithful ministry of BSF; it has meant so much to my family and my own personal faith and growth in the Lord.

Thanksgiving 2009 in Dallas!
This year my parents are coming up here to spend Thanksgiving in Dallas with me and my brother. While part of me is going to miss the big family feast, I am super excited to have a nice quiet holiday with my parents and brother...just the four of us. Holidays tend to be so rushed and packed full of things to do when I go home, so I am looking forward to a relaxed Thanksgiving here...and not having to travel! :)

Laura's Birthday!
My sweet friend Laura's birthday is coming up in early December. I don't know yet what we are going to do to celebrate, but I am excited about celebrating with her! We will have to be sure to do something special to honor her special day :)

Christmas Parties!
Ok. I know it is just now November, but I already have 3 Christmas parties that I am planning to attend. And it just makes me so excited for Christmas! It's hard to think about Christmas, considering that the high on Friday is supposed to be 80 degrees...but we'll get there ;) I do have to throw this thought out there: while I am looking forward to Christmas, I have no intention of celebrating anything Christmas-related until the day after Thanksgiving. It's just not right. Why would you want to skip over the fun and blessing of Thanksgiving? Those of you who know me know that I have VERY strong feelings on this issue...absolutely NO Christmas music or decorations until AFTER Thanksgiving. I adhere to a very strict order of events ;) This is just a peak at the things I am looking forward to...

Skydiving For My Birthday
Since we're looking ahead to the things I am looking forward to...I REALLY want to go skydiving for my birthday!! I have always wanted to go skydiving; it's one of the things on my list of things to do before I die. My next birthday is a milestone year, so I wanted to do something special. So what better way to celebrate than to jump out of a plane?? I have opened it up to anyone who would like to jump with me, but even if I am the only one who jumps, I hope to be able to do this in February :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Weekend-O-Fun

I was finally able to take some vacation time...I am only extending my weekend 3 days, but it's nice to have some time without having to think about work. Friday I had a leisurely morning; I slept in, enjoyed coffee and the Word in my pajamas, talked with my mom...really, I could have done that on a Saturday, but I enjoyed it 10x more simply because everyone else was at work :)

That night, I hosted our singles night, and we had a BYOP (Bring Your Own Pumpkin) Pumpkin Carving night. We had such a great time just hanging out and having a friendly competition with our designs. Here are some pictures from our night-o-fun:


Kelly and Clint hard at work

Smile for the camera!

Oh Laura...

Sweet Lindsey!

Melissa and Nathan cleaning out their pumpkins

Cutting wicks to get ready to light the finished pumpkins!

Look how fun our designs are! Can you guess which one is mine?
Last night, our 20s group was the clean up crew for the church's Kids' Karnival, and afterward we headed over the Cafe Brazil to hang out and enjoy the rest of Halloween. Today was a great Sunday, and I am looking forward to to having 2 more days off!