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Dating

My Long-Distance Relationship with Trevor (An Interview)

Good morning! I’m responding to a few questions about my long-distance relationship with Trevor at DatingAtADistance.com today. Questions like, How did you:

  • Grow in your relationship with God while you were in a long-distance relationship?
  • Make the decision to move to the city where Trevor lived before you were married?

And:

  • How did the two of you manage conflict and communication?
  • What advice would you give to someone just starting a long-distance relationship?

Here’s a short sample:

How did you grow in your relationship with God while you were in a long-distance relationship?

In the same ways I had while single. By digging into God’s Word daily and communicating with Him through prayer—though definitely in a more distracted state!

I was also challenged to search the Scriptures and reconsider some beliefs I’d always held. Trevor had differing views and more freedoms than I was used to—specifically when it came to drinking alcohol. Another biggie was his understanding of how to discern God’s will, which was quite different from mine. That has resulted in much greater freedom in my life. If you’d like to read more on this, here are some posts on decision making.

Trevor has also been such a tangible picture of God’s steadfast love for me, even when the ugliness of my sin has been laid bare.

Catch the rest of the interview at DatingAtADistance.com

A Call to Careful Matchmaking in the Church

A Call to Careful Matchmaking in the Church

One Dinner Party and Two Weddings Later

One of my greatest highlights from the last couple of years was successfully matchmaking two couples—at one dinner party, nonetheless! The dinner party setup and subsequent party one week later allowed Jordan and Ethan to get to know Amanda and Gabby—at least enough to know the pursuit was on! They took it from there, and this summer, Trevor and I attended both of their weddings, just two weeks apart. Only God!

I believe you, too, can experience the joy of being used by God to help a Christian man and woman find and get to know each other. In fact, I believe you are needed.

Finding a suitable spouse to marry today seems . . . impossible. Where can you meet him or her if not in a bar or on an online app? Where and how can you possibly get to know them in a safe, casual, comfortable environment? That’s where you come in. But first, one very important disclaimer.

Beware of Unwelcome Matchmaking

Please, only offer your matchmaking services to those you know want to be married and who would love some help getting there. If you’re not sure if they want your help, ask them. One single guy told me,

“I went through a period of time in my early 20s where I had resolved myself not to date as I was too busy and working on sins and struggles in my life. But every other week people from church would pull me aside and suggest I date someone they knew. There were lots of uncomfortable conversations.”

Similarly, a mom of a single young woman told me,

“My daughter’s biggest frustration is the need to fix her up with the one other single in her congregation.”

Let me be clear. Singleness isn’t a disease; it’s a gift.

At the same time, marriage is a gift as well. If it’s a gift your single friend longs for, here’s how you can help.

Tips for Matchmaking Well

  1. Care for Christian singles. Don’t try your hand at matchmaking ’cause you could use a little romance in your own life, or ’cause you hope to have a good story some day. Matchmake because you care deeply about your single friends. Extend yourself out of love for them. At the same time, matchmake not for their ultimate happiness (marriage isn’t about that!), but for God’s glory. Matchmake so that one more couple can show those around them the beauty of the gospel (Eph. 5:22-33).
  2. Listen well. You are not looking for someone you like; you are looking for someone your friend will like. Do you know what your friend wants in a spouse? Don’t blindly set them up with someone just ’cause they’re the only other Christian you know in twenty miles. Get to know your single friend. Ask lots of questions. What does he or she desire in a spouse? What does he or she need to complement them?
  3. Pray for wisdom. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Ask God for wisdom. Pray that He will establish your steps. Ask Him for success.
  4. Brainstorm together. Talk through the people you both know—even married people—to identify the sorts of characteristics they are looking for. Make sure you’re on the same page. Then begin to brainstorm singles you know who are similar. Let your single friend give input on whether they’re interested in getting to know this person better or not.
  5. Open your home. Invite the person your friend is interested in getting to know better over to your house. Don’t be awkward about it. In our case, we invited Amanda and Gaby over a Facebook message, simply telling them we were “having a couple other friends over.”
  6. Open your home again. Continue to open your home so your single friends have other opportunities to hang out and get to know each other. We followed the dinner party up with another party one week later. And that wasn’t the end for us. Currently, my husband and I are seeking to create opportunities for one single male friend to slowly get to know a specific Christian woman in the context of an informal, group setting.

Those are just a few ways I believe you can matchmake well. Do you have anything to add? Have you tried your hand at matchmaking? What do you think contributed to your success or failure in that area?

PS: If you liked this article, I’m pretty sure you’ll appreciate “How NOT to Hurt the Singles In Your Church.”

PPS: This photo was taken a few months ago, when a group of us got together to celebrate Ethan and Gabby’s engagement. You can see the two new couples here. From left to right: me, Trevor, Amanda and Jordan, Ethan and Gabby.

Should I Move to the City Where My Long-Distance Boyfriend Lives?

Should I Move to the City Where My Long-Distance Boyfriend Lives?

“Should I move to the same city where my long-distance boyfriend lives?” That is the question on the table for today. The topic came across my radar when I received this email:

I am currently in a looong-distance relationship (me in Norway, him in the States). Long story short: We are both serious about this relationship heading toward marriage, and what we are looking at is me moving to the States after I finish school. From what I understand you also moved to where your husband lives.

Moving across the world and into a new culture is a huge step of faith for me, considering being away from family, church, and deep friendships on a permanent basis. I’d love to hear your story. Bet it’s a great opportunity to lean hard on the Lord.

(I’m going to assume that this girl is talking about finishing college, not high school.) That said, let’s dive in.

Four Questions to Consider Before You Move Near Your Boyfriend

Dear “I’m considering marriage . . . and moving across the world,”

It sounds wise that you plan on finishing your schooling before you move. Here are just a few questions for you to think through before you take this big step:

  1. Have you visited each other in person?
    I would definitely recommend several in-person visits before you make such a big move. Use these times to make sure he’s the same guy you’ve been getting to know online. (Trevor and I took turns visiting each other about once a month.)
  2. Is your boyfriend a fellow believer in Christ alone for salvation? Is he actively pursuing God? Do you trust that he wouldn’t put you in a bad situation?
  3. Have you thought about who you would move in with? Or would you live on your own?
    I’d recommend living with someone else rather than on your own for several reasons: You’re going to need help adjusting to a new culture, and it’ll also be helpful to have a place to hang out with your boyfriend with other people around for accountability.
  4. Is your boyfriend involved in a solid church where you’d be able to find friends and community?

Should One of Us Move? (Our Story)

You asked about my story. Before Trevor and I were engaged—but knowing that was coming—we talked and prayed about when it would be appropriate for one of us to move to live near the other. (Near, not with!)

We were older, we knew we were intentionally moving toward marriage, and we wanted some time to observe each other doing life on a daily basis. It just seemed like a good idea to be close enough to see how the other navigated dynamics like family, flat tires, and stress when considering something as serious as marriage.

We talked lots about whether he should move to Michigan or whether I should move to New York. While some would say that the guy should always take the risk and move to the girl, for me and Trevor, it seemed to make the most sense for me to move.

Trevor was committed to his city and church. If we were to marry, I knew we would be living in his city. I understood I would face a ton of change all at once if I married him, so I wanted to get a jumpstart on things like building new friendships, getting involved in his church, and learning my way around a new city. I figured it would be change enough to dive into my brand-new role as a wife a few months later.

Also, Trevor had a good job in New York, and my work place was flexible, allowing me to work off-site. Besides, I’d been living in a small Michigan town for a decade and had been itching for a new adventure for a while.

My Move to New York

In April 2015, Trevor asked me to marry him, and a few days later I trailed the yellow moving truck he was driving to New York in my Toyota Avalon. (I just may have locked my keys in my car at a rest stop somewhere along the way . . . Pennsylvania, maybe? But that’s another story for another day.)

When we finally arrived in New York, we were met with a group of people from his church who unloaded the moving truck and welcomed me to my new home for the next five-and-a-half-months. My roommates consisted of a kind married couple from his church who invited me to stay with them rent-free!, another girl who was engaged to be married three weeks before me, as well as two dog and three cats.

Looking back, I have no regrets. It was the right decision for us.

May the Lord lead you to make the wisest decision for you, your boyfriend, your relationship, and ultimately God’s glory.

Was it risky? Sure. I knew full well going into the move that it was possible something could come up and our engagement could be broken off. It was a risk, though, that I was willing to take, because the benefits outweighed the risks for me.

Hopefully my story will help you as you think through a potential move. Your story will probably look different than mine, and that’s okay. Be sure to be seeking God about such a huge decision and listening well to advice from older, wiser Christians in your life. May the Lord lead you to make the wisest decision for you, your boyfriend (or fiancé), your relationship, and ultimately God’s glory.

Blessings,

Paula

“Should I Move to the City Where My Long-Distance Boyfriend Lives?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com

A Q&A on Marriage

A Q&A on Marriage

Hey, girls! Since it’s the day after Valentine’s Day and love is still in the air (or at least on our minds), I thought I’d share this interview with you from GospelMag.com. I hope my responses will help you as you think about someday possibly moving from singleness to marriage. Enjoy!

Q. Since you wrote Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl, you got married. Congratulations!

A. Thank you. God gives great gifts. I was starting to think I’d be single for the rest of my life; I’m still amazed I’m married . . . and to a wonderful man!

Q. What changed in your life when you met the man who would become your husband?

A. At first not a whole lot, other than that I spent a lot more time on Skype. As I look back over the past two-and-a-half-years since I’ve known him, though, I can see that I’ve changed a lot. Trevor has challenged and changed the way I think about a host of issues. He has pushed me (in good ways) in areas where I felt fearful and inept. He has been a tangible picture of God’s steadfast love for me, even when all that is ugly is stripped bare and out in the open.

Q. How did you meet him?

A. Seven months after publishing Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, I inadvertently started following a guy named Trevor Marsteller on Twitter. At the time, I was reaching out to bloggers asking for honest reviews of my book in exchange for a free copy. When I followed him on Twitter, I saw he had over 1,000 followers and had also done book reviews on his blog. I asked if he’d like to review Confessions, he said yes, and we kept talking from there. (You can read all the juicy details here.)

Q. Did things change right away, or has your relationship gradually become special?

A. I’m not the only one who has changed. Trevor has become more and more kind and affectionate since we first met. In fact, he puts me to shame with the way he loves me! I’d say our relationship has become more special over time, through tears, hard conversations, forgiveness, kindness, and love.

Q. Did God show you in one way or another that Trevor was the man you should marry?

A. I believe God communicates to us through His Word. In the Bible, He has made it clear that believers are not to marry unbelievers. But other than that one stipulation, He has given us freedom to make our choice based on wisdom.

God didn’t “speak” to me and tell me to marry Trevor. But as I got to know Trevor, as I asked others who knew him well questions, as I saw how he loved me and how I could just be myself around him without needing to impress him, it became obvious. This man loved God, loved me, and was pursuing me. It was a no-brainer.

Q. What would you say to girls who want to marry and don’t know on which basis to make their decision?

Stop looking for handwriting in the sky telling you that this guy is “the one.”

A. Stop looking for handwriting in the sky telling you that this guy is “the one.” Is he a believer? One who is serious in his pursuit of God? Is he pursuing you? Are you comfy with him? Do you communicate well? Do your family and friends think he’s great?
Make a wise decision based on the Word of God, wise counsel, and common sense. God has given you a ton of freedom. Choose wisely, and as you do, be blessed!

Q. We often tell people who aren’t yet married that they need to date, meet more people, and subscribe to dating websites. In this, we lead them to understand that they have to do more to make it happen. What do you think?

He is the One who gives us every good gift. Pursue Him. Serve Him. Trust Him.

A. I was given the same advice over the years, but I think it falls short. Ultimately, most of us underestimate God’s sovereignty. He is the One who gives us every good gift. Pursue Him. Serve Him. Trust Him. This area of life is not ultimately something you control; it is all under His wise, good, sovereign control.

Q. We often say to girls that they will find someone when they least expect it. What do you think?

A. I think it’s very unhelpful advice. People probably mean to be encouraging when they say it, but as a single I always felt this enormous pressure to somehow trick my emotions out of longing for marriage. It sounded like if I could succeed in that, then marriage would somehow just fall in my lap. But there’s no such prerequisite in God’s Word. He gives us undeserved gifts freely; we do not earn them.

Q. How did you find your smile (joy) back when you went through moments of discouragement regarding romance?

A. It took a long time, but as I got to know God’s character through His Word and by sitting under solid sermons Sunday after Sunday, I grew in my knowledge of God. And as my knowledge of God grew, so did my trust in Him and my enjoyment of Him.

Whenever I sign my books, I include Psalm 16:11: “In your presence is fullness of joy.” True joy is not found in our circumstances but in spending time enjoying God, which we can do anytime, anywhere.

I’d love to hear from you. Did you learn anything new through this interview? Anything you disagree with? As you think about marriage, are there any questions you want to add?

A Q&A on Marriage was also published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

How Can I Know If He’s ‘The One’?

How Can I Know If He’s ‘The One’?

“How did you know Trevor was the one for you?” a seventeen-year-old asked me. “I struggle with knowing if a guy is right for me. Every day I ask God to help me figure out my confusion.”

Believe it or not, it’s surprisingly simple. Let me share with you what I’m learning from Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View by Gary Friesen and J. Robin Maxson.

1. Determine if you have the “gift” of marriage or singleness.

Dr. Friesen explains it like this:

The decision to marry or remain single lies within the area of freedom. The apostle [Paul] had a definite preference for [singleness] that he “wished” all others could choose. But he knew he could not give his desire the force of a command. For not everyone “has the gift.” God graces each believer differently. It is likely that Paul’s meaning is that some are “gifted” to enjoy singleness while others are “gifted” to enjoy marriage with its extra responsibilities (1 Cor. 7:7).

The first issue for you to work out is whether it’s best for you to be married or single. Surprisingly, “there is no command from Scripture one way or the other.” That means you don’t need to spend hours trying to discern God’s “still, small voice.” You don’t need to determine whether God is calling you to marriage or singleness.

Since both marriage and singleness are gifts from God, and since you are free to serve God as a single girl and once you’re married, both are good options. (You can read 1 Corinthians 7 for the pros and cons of both marriage and singleness.)

Now is a good time to think through this, even if there’s no guy knocking at your door yet. It will be less for you to figure out when a guy does come knocking.

2. Determine if your prospect is a believer.

Now—assuming you desire to be married, and there’s a guy pursuing you—you first need to ask if Scripture says anything about choosing a spouse. (And it does!) Scripture is clear: A believer in Christ may only marry another believer in Christ. This is vitally important. As Dr. Friesen explains:

The point is that not only are the believers’ values, goals, standards, motivations, and means of enablement for living incompatible with those of an unbeliever; they are diametrically opposed! They are serving two different lords that are archenemies of one another.

God has given you a whole lot of freedom beyond this one command. Don’t disobey Him here. Look first and foremost for a godly, Jesus-loving guy.

3. Seek wise counsel.

  • What do your parents think of this guy?
  • What does your pastor say?
  • Once you’re engaged, get some premarital counseling, and listen well to what your counselor thinks of you two.

Those around you will be a lot more clearheaded than you will with romance clouding your brain. Heed their counsel.

4. Use common sense.

Do you two share the same values? Here are just a few things Friesen encourages you to note: age, finances, employment, education, personal goals, personality traits, birth control, principles of child rearing, hobbies, family background, socioeconomic background, and possessions.

My Story

I didn’t always understand the freedom God has given in wisely choosing a spouse. I used to try to figure out if it was God’s will for me to marry a guy by praying and then watching for “signs” from God. And it was confusing! Here’s an example from an old journal entry:

I was talking on the phone with Dad tonight when Jim texted. Actually, at that particular moment, Dad was praying that my future husband would find me, when I heard the text come in. Coincidence, or God at work? I don’t know . . .

Jim was also confused, because after months of sending me confusing signals, he told me that as he’d prayed about pursuing me, he “sensed a yellow light.” He didn’t have a “red light” from God, but he also didn’t have a “green light.” He also told me that as he asked God whether now was the time to pursue marriage or not, God had been “annoyingly silent.” I think that’s because God had already given him the freedom to decide himself.

Needless to say, I ended up telling Jim goodbye (you can read how that went down in chapter 15 of my book). And oh, I’m so glad I did.

Because a few years later, God plopped Trevor Marsteller in my lap. Well, in my Twitter feed, to be exact. As I began to date Trevor (he was a believer, so he was fair game), I kept my eyes wide open and used the wisdom God has given me through His Word and community.

Make a wise decision based on the Word of God, wise counsel, and common sense.

It’s not that there were zero concerns. But as I brought those to God, to Trevor, and to wise counselors, in the end they weren’t game changers. Although Trevor wasn’t perfect (no guy but Jesus is!), I could see that he was “perfect” for me in so many ways. These three main things gave me the confidence to continue moving forward to marriage. And if you’re wondering, six months into marriage I am so grateful I chose him!

Back to you now, though.

Bottom line: Stop looking for handwriting in the sky telling you that this guy is “the one.” Make a wise decision based on the Word of God, wise counsel, and common sense. God has given you a ton of freedom. Choose wisely, and as you do, be blessed!

I’d love to hear from you. Does this sound surprisingly . . . simple? What questions do you have after reading this post?

How Can I Know If He’s ‘The One’? was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

How to Know if You’re Ready to Date or Court

How to Know if You’re Ready to Date or Court

When should you start to date (or court)? Here are three tell-tale signs (among others) that you’re ready:

1. Your authority figures give you the green light.

I heard from a girl recently who wrote:

I like this dude, and he happens to like me back. One day after school, we talked, and he told me that he likes me, and so I told him I like him, too. I have heard from many people that he is going to ask me to be his girlfriend . . . and that’s where things get crazy.

My parent will NOT let me date. And if they find out that I am dating . . . let’s just say that I will die. LITERALLY.

I am not dating him right now, but I just have a feeling that he will ask me . . . and I don’t know what to do. I really like him, and he likes me. This is very rare!!! When ur crush likes u back . . . Rare. My friends are like, “Just say yes, and just don’t tell your parents,” but I am like, “They will find out!!!”

I can relate. I told her:

We have a lot in common. My parents had the same rules . . . plus some. Growing up I thought they were totally unreasonable, and I dated behind their backs (and was always discovered).

Now, looking back, I can see that God was protecting me from myself through my parents. It sure wasn’t fun in junior high and high school, but now I am SO grateful I wasn’t allowed to get my way. I actually ended up dedicating my book to my parents. Here’s a little taste:

“[Thank you] for keeping such close tabs on me during those tumultuous teen years! At the time I thought you were just plain ol’ mean, but now I can’t thank you enough for sparing me a harvest of regret.”

You’ll end up being grateful, too, for those strict parents. Even though you feel anything but gratitude now, know this:

  • God promises to bless those who honor and obey their parents (Eph. 6:1–3). And He always keeps His promises! It’s not just
    a suggestion; He commands it. If you disobey your parents, you’re ultimately disobeying God.
  • If this guy really, really likes you, he will wait for as long as it takes. And if he is the kind of guy you want to end up with long-term, he will
    NOT encourage you to disobey your parents.

God promises to bless those who honor and obey their parents. And He always keeps His promises!

Please, please trust me. Going behind your parents’ backs will only end in regret. And if you already have, it’s not too late to get out.

(Psst . . . If you’re struggling with your parents’ rules, here are some posts I’ve written in the past that may help.)

When Your Parents Say NO
How To Get Your Parents’ Trust Back
How I Lost My Parents’ Trust
Dear Parent Hater

Let me add that just because an authority figure says you can date whenever you want doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Maybe this authority figure isn’t currently making the wisest decisions. In this case, ask yourself if you’re ready for marriage. That’s right. Marriage.

2. You’re ready for marriage.

That’s the point of dating, after all. Ben Stuart explains it like this: “Dating is not a status. It’s a process (of evaluating a person for marriage).”

That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily feel completely ready for marriage, as in, “Oh, yeah, I got this covered, no sweat.” But you’re actually at a point in life where you’re old—and mature—enough to get married. You don’t have something else you have to complete first, like a big chunk of schooling.

Scott Craft (a contributor to Sex and the Supremacy of Christ) says:

The practical advice I give the singles at our church is, if you cannot happily see yourself as a married woman in less than one year, then you are not ready to date.

But what if I met someone super special, you ask? And they actually like me? Shouldn’t I do something about that?!

Why would you, if marriage isn’t even a possibility?

I’ve gotta side with Scott and with the writer of the Song of Solomon on this one. Over and over throughout the book the warning is given, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires,” or until the appropriate time (2:73:5; 8:4).

Song of Solomon 8:7 explains why: “Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.” And as the verse before says, “It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.”

God knows that if we don’t wait to experience true love in the safe context of a God-blessed marriage, we will get severely burned.

Can you imagine a blazing forest fire that several rivers worth of water cannot extinguish? That would be one intense firestorm. God knows that if we don’t wait to experience true love in the safe context of a God-blessed marriage, we will get severely burned.

Better to build healthy ways of relating with all guys and to pursue your relationship with Christ at this stage in life. You will not regret it. Promise.

Another way to know if you’re ready to date is . . .

3. You have pursued and served God wholeheartedly as a single, and now a godly guy is pursuing you that you think you could be even more effective in serving Christ with as a team.

In the biggest section of Scripture on singleness and marriage, Paul writes,

In whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God (1 Cor. 7:24).

I like how Gary Friesen explains this in Decision Making and the Will of God:

Make it the goal of your life not to change your status, but to serve God as effectively and energetically as possible in whatever state you are. The contemporary poster says it well: “Bloom where you are planted now!”

In declaring this principle Paul was not forbidding marriage for single people or freedom for slaves. If the opportunity comes along and it is expedient to take it, do so (7:21). His point was that people tend to concentrate on the wrong things. They pour their energies into changing their condition for their own sake rather than into changing the world for Christ’s sake (p. 293).

I’d love to hear from you. Do you think you’re ready to date (or court)? Why or why not?

How to Know if You’re Ready to Date or Court was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.