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Trevor Declares His Undying Love . . . Sorta

Trevor Declares His Undying Love . . . Sorta

Trevor and I met in “The Promised Land” (a.k.a. Chick-fil-A) on a Saturday night last summer. (If you’re just joining us, I’m sharing my journey from “boy-crazy to my man” this week on the blog. Click here and here for the first two posts.)

We’d never even talked on the phone before—just written back and forth on Facebook for the past four months, but it was as comfortable as could be from the get-go. He was sitting at a table when I walked in—not holding a rose like in romance novels—but reading a book in true Trevor-fashion.

We did all sorts of “manly” things together that long weekend (remember, I was trying to show him a good time!), like exploring an abandoned house, shooting guns, lifting weights, hiking through a riverbed, canoeing, swimming in the lake, and making a bonfire. We ate. And talked. That was my favorite part. We talked about what we were looking for in a spouse, theological beliefs, and past experiences.

Tuesday morning, as we met at Chick-fil-A for one last meal before he headed back to New York, I fought back tears. We’d become even better friends over the long weekend, but I had no idea if I’d ever see this guy again. I wasn’t about to put him on the spot and ask, “Sooooo . . . what are you thinking about us?”

But while I prepared to say goodbye for good, he did it. He did what God created men to do; he initiated. It went something like this:

T: “So, how do you think this weekend went?”
Me: “It was fun!”
T: “Where do you see our relationship going?”
Me: “You tell me. I’m wide open.” (I’m not sure he was expecting that answer!)

He let me know he had qualms about a long-distance relationship, so he wanted to take a few days to seek advice about how to pursue me from nine hours away.

I sent him on his way with some black licorice Swedish dogs, overwhelmed by God’s wonderful surprise and by Trevor acting like a man should. I was on top of the world . . . until the morning.

All too soon I pulled out my journal, and my sin spilled out:

Today I was ungrateful for all God has done and just wanted more. I wanted Trevor to pursue me now.

He’s seeking the Lord about how to do that, but I want and expect to be fawned over and contacted and pursued hotly from his first admission of liking me.

Thank You, God, for this training ground. I want to learn now how to thank You for what he does rather than focusing on what he doesn’t do.

So thank You for his sensitivity and leadership in texting me this today:

“I don’t know if I said this when we had breakfast yesterday, but I want to make sure I’m clear on this—I like you, too, and the question I face is, ‘How might a relationship like this work?’ So that’s the main thing I’m going to try to work through in the coming days and such. Just wanted to maintain the clarity a bit. “

I continued writing,

I also confess that when I responded to his text and admitted my struggle with him only telling me I “had a good head on my shoulders,” I didn’t think of how that would sound to him (probably like “You failed”). I wanted him to text me back saying,

“Of course! Dumb me. You must be wondering WHY I like you. WHAT I like about you. Where should I start?!” (This is where I imagined him rattling off a long list.)

Forgive me for seeking to manipulate him. For trying to gauge my worth on his praise of me.

Here it is again. I want to be worshipped rather than to worship the only worthy God. I am an idolater. A breaker of the first commandment. Rescue me, Abba.

Almost instantly I came face to face with my ugly expectations for a dating relationship. It was as if I no longer cherished our friendship; I only wanted romance . . . and now! How patient Trevor was with me as I worked through my junk. I’ve already written about that season in these two posts: “When a Fantasy Romance Seems So Much Better Than a Real One” and “My Ugly Expectations for My Boyfriend.” They’ll give you a good idea of what this man has put up with!

So . . . what gave me the confidence to move forward with this man even when he wasn’t meeting all my crazy expectations for 24/7 romance? Check back tomorrow to hear the three main things that caused me to joyfully and confidently say “yes!” when Trevor asked me to be his wife this past April.

Trevor Declares His Undying Love . . . Sorta was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

How I Met My Future Husband

How I Met My Future Husband

(Click here to read yesterday’s introduction to today’s post: “Hope Greater Than a Diamond Ring.”)

After writing Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, I had another unexpected opportunity to trust the Lord. All of a sudden, guys started coming out of the woodwork showing interest in this self-proclaimed, formerly boy-crazy girl.

Sounds great, right? But a few wise people encouraged me to have someone else respond to guys on my behalf, and I wrote and posted the following message on the contact page of my website:

A note for the guys:

Sorry, gents, I know I just put myself out there as a boy-crazy girl, but the purpose of this site isn’t to find a guy. I’m sorry I won’t be responding to personal inquiries—too busy investing in the girls.

I knew my advisors were right. As much as I wanted to get married someday, that wasn’t why I wrote Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl. So I “set my face like a flint” and continued investing in teen girls.

Seven months after publishing my book, I inadvertently started following a guy named Trevor Marsteller on Twitter.

I instantly noticed that he had 1,000 followers and a blog where he’d done book reviews in the past. I was still hard at work marketing my book (contrary to popular belief, your work is just getting started once you finish a manuscript!). At the time, I was reaching out to bloggers, asking if I could send them a free copy of Confessions in exchange for an honest review.

So of course, I direct messaged Trevor, asking if he’d consider reading and writing a review of my book. He responded the same day, and our friendship began. He wrote a wonderful review of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl, and we began to message each other on Facebook where we weren’t limited by 140 characters.

He seemed to be as busy as me, so there was more than once where a couple weeks passed with no Facebook messages, and I was certain our conversation would fizzle out (after all, that’s how the script had always gone!).

But somehow we kept talking, and after about four months, Trevor sent me the following message. (He had vacation days he needed to use up, and he’d been considering driving to Minneapolis for the Desiring God Conference.)

I wanna shoot something by you and hear your thoughts. I was thinking, “Ya know what, Desiring God posts all of their content for free from all of their conferences, and I have been to their conferences before, and I know what the experience is like. So maybe I don’t need to drive all the way out to MN. But I certainly wouldn’t mind taking a vacation in September before my vacation time expires, and one very real option is to visit this Paula girl.” So, idk, those are some super general and preliminary thoughts, but what do ya think? Is southern MI a visit-worthy place? And will or will I not consume all of the chicken at the Chick-Fil-As in southern Michigan?

Eeeeeeee! I responded,

This Paula girl thinks that’s one of the best ideas she’s heard in a long time! MI is a swell place to vacation; an even better place to live. Let me put together a list of ideas for you and see what you think.

I was excited. I liked him. Of course I did! But still, I didn’t know if he liked me as anything more than a friend. Maybe he just thought it was cool to message an “author.” I couldn’t read him. Besides, experience had taught me that I shouldn’t ever assume a guy liked me until he specifically told me so himself.

And lest you think I never struggled again after writing Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl, let me share a journal entry I wrote before Trevor visited:

Wow, God. Thank You for showing me Yourself just now as I spent time in Philippians 2 reading about how I was to “count others more significant than myself” and “look not only to my own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

After reading this I grabbed my phone and went out to weed my garden. I checked and saw that Trevor was “active now” on Facebook, so I started a conversation with him about his hunting safety course.

He responded to my questions, but he didn’t ask me any to keep the conversation going. So I stopped the conversation and got back to weeding, feeling stupid and unloved.

I wasn’t counting him more significant than me. I never even considered that he might be in a conversation with someone else or . . .

How I need Your grace, Abba, to put on the mind of Christ and make myself nothing and serve Trevor without expecting anything in return. Maybe he legitimately just wants to be my friend and nothing more.

I recognize now that I’ll gladly host him on his vacation (and mine) IF he makes me feel attractive and interesting. But if he’s just not that into me, I’ll resent him and everything I plan and do for and with him.

What if this is not Your man for me? What if You want me to humble myself as You humbled Yourself and serve him as You served me, demanding nothing in return?

Ouch, ouch, ouch! Suddenly this passage became intensely personal. Oh God, thanks for humbling Yourself and obeying Your Father so You might save this proud, proud girl. Make me like Your beautiful self. Catch me up in the romance with You, not with a mere mortal.

With that I asked my close friends to pray with me that I would love Trevor well by showing him a great vacation—without expecting anything in return. I knew that apart from God’s power that would be impossible for me.

Then I journaled,

Trevor comes this week. Do you have something there beyond friendship? Lead me so clearly, Good, Kind Shepherd.

And oh, how He did. Check back tomorrow to read about Trevor’s visit.

How I Met My Future Husband was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

Hope Greater Than a Diamond Ring

Hope Greater Than a Diamond Ring

Someone asked me if I’d write about my journey from “boy-crazy to my man.” (If you haven’t heard, I’m getting married!)

I didn’t respond to this person’s request for a while, because I was hesitant to share my “love story.” Not because I’m not excited. Boy howdy, I am!

It’s just that I remember all too well how I used to ask married and engaged couples, “How did you get together?!” I’d lean in, soaking in every word, listening attentively to learn the secret.

As they’d share the details of their story, my hopes would rise or fall based on how similar my current circumstances were to theirs (as if God only has one love story script!).

That’s why I want to be careful about how I share this story with you. I don’t want you to hear, “I finally got a guy who stuck around . . . so surely there’s hope for you!”

‘Cause speaking of hope . . . I’ve noticed that lots of you are struggling not to give up hope.

Emily titled her email to me, “Is there any hope at all?” Here’s an excerpt:

My single girlfriends and I grew up in wonderful Christian homes where strong godly marriages were modeled, and we grew up dreaming of being wives and moms someday. We never dated around or tried to attract attention to ourselves and have even been told by lots of people that they don’t understand why we are still single. Neither do we!

I think the reason that we still struggle with boy-craziness is simply out of desperation. It’s not like we each have a hoard of guys hovering around us, and we just have to pick one. Nope, there really aren’t any guys—at all.

So whenever there is the smallest inkling of hope, we promptly do the “spiritual” thing and start praying for him every day, conniving ways to be where he is and give him a chance to observe us in a group setting, and get our hopes up . . . only to be disappointed when there really wasn’t much of anything there in the first place. It’s terrible.

Emily says it’s terrible because there are two kinds of hope—and she has the wrong kind.

I realized that there are two kinds of hope the day I read 1 Peter 1. Check out verses three and thirteen:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . .

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

As I read about the “living hope” we have because Christ has been raised from the dead, I realized that there are also “dead hopes.”

And although I’m commanded to “set my hope fully on the grace that will be mine when Jesus returns for me,” I realize that much of the time I set my hope on so much less: a relationship or success or [fill in the blank].

There is hope—not because you’re currently surrounded by hoards of Christian guys (or even one!), not because you’re the most beautiful girl in your circle of friends (or a close second!)—but because Jesus Christ is returning for you, and you will live forever with Him.

There is hope. But there are two kinds: the dead kind and the living kind. Which kind do you have? (You’ll know by thinking about what sends your emotions soaring . . . or plummeting.) What specifically are you setting your hope on? I’d love to hear.

If you can see that yours is a dead hope, dig into 1 Peter 1. As you do, ask God to lift your eyes from your present situation to Him. Repent of (turn from) your dead hopes, and ask Him to help you begin to set your hope fully on Christ, your Living Hope.

Then click here for the skinny on the love story He’s scripted for me. Just promise me that your hopes won’t rise and fall based on it. Deal?

Hope Greater Than a Diamond Ring was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

Does Erotica Help . . . Or Hurt?

Does Erotica Help . . . Or Hurt?

Dear Single, You don’t have the love (and sex!) you want, so does that mean erotica is a good outlet for your sexual frustration?

Before I answer that, let me tell you how I define erotica. Erotica is art, literature, or movies intended to arouse sexual desire. It doesn’t have to be a harlequin romance novel or an X-rated movie to count. I can hear you protesting, But when I read a book or watch a movie, I’m not actually having sex myself. So isn’t that the lesser of two evils?

This Valentine’s Day, the world offers you a solution: You don’t have to have sex yourself; you can watch someone else have sex, or you can read all the steamy details through erotica like Fifty Shades of Grey. While that might initially sound better than having sex yourself, don’t believe for a minute that erotica has any place in a genuinely born-again believer’s life.

Is Jesus a Killjoy?

Jesus clearly taught us that any kind of lust is sin:

“Everyone who looks at a woman [or man] with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her [or him] in his heart” (Matt. 5:28).

Was Jesus just being a killjoy? Quite the opposite! Did you know that great sex was God’s idea?! (Gen. 1:18–25). If that blows your mind, that’s because,

“Sex has been dragged through the mud so thoroughly that most people can’t even comprehend that it is intended to be something holy.” —Dr. Juli Slattery

By the way, “holy” does not equal “boring!” God designed loving, passionate sex to be enjoyed in the safe context of a covenant commitment between one man and one woman. (I can’t wait!)

But if you—like me—aren’t yet married, than you do know what it’s like to wait! And wait. And wait. And wait.

Why Erotica Is Not the Solution

Here’s why Dannah Gresh shares that erotica is not the solution for your sexual desires:

While erotica might originally heighten sexual feelings, over the long haul it erodes something much more important—intimacy. Whether you are married or single, you are longing for more than sex. Your body, your mind, and your spirit were created to crave intimacy. The Old Testament [word] for sex [is] yada—to know, to be known, to be deeply respected. Transcending the physical act, God’s language speaks of the deep emotional knowing you ultimately long to experience. The physical aspect of sex is just one part of the equation, but our culture tends to hyperfocus on it with no attention to the ultimately more fulfilling aspect of yada—emotional intimacy. Sexual activity by itself is an empty substitute for true intimacy, and will never be enough. Erotica places undue emphasis on the physical and disables your ability to connect emotionally.

The Tragic Ending Erotica Doesn’t Tell

If you’re still skeptical, take it from a girl who’s been there. Dannah and Juli share this girl’s story in Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart,

I am single and erotica has ruined my life. I have been addicted for ten years, and I am only twenty-five. No one knows that I have lived an isolated life because I have found more solace in fantasies aroused in my mind by erotica than in real relationships.

Erotica seems harmless because it’s just words on a page but it brands your mind, creates false expectations for future relationships. I can’t even maintain real relationships because I feel like a shallow pretender hiding one of the biggest parts of my life. Erotica perpetuated my “need” for meeting people online because I didn’t know how to develop or maintain relationships with people outside of the screen.

Eventually, I decided to take my online relationships into reality. Many of the stories I read portrayed rape or power-struggle situations as exciting. A no didn’t always mean no because, in the end, the girl always seemed to end up just fine. So when I met one of my first guys offline, I was thrust ever too quickly into a scenario I had read about but, unlike the stories, I didn’t end up fine. My no didn’t mean no, and I was sexually abused by a man who did the same things to me that I had read about in those erotic stories. But in my story, there wasn’t a happy ending.

Ever since then, I have carried the weight of shame and guilt from putting myself into that situation six years ago. Erotica makes it seem normal for us to be used and abused, but it’s not normal.

Dear single, erotica is not the answer to your longings for intimacy. Christ is. He’s also provided community so you can experience emotional intimacy right now. And if and when He provides you with a godly spouse, the physical intimacy of sex will just be the icing on the cake of the friendship and emotional intimacy you already share together. (And if you’re married, erotica isn’t for you either, for all the reasons mentioned above. It will erode your intimacy with your husband, rather than enhancing it.)

I’d love to hear from you. Here are some ways you can join the conversation:

  • Do you agree that erotica doesn’t belong in a born-again believer’s life? Why or why not?
  • How do you see the difference between sex and intimacy?
  • Got any great ideas for how single girls can cope with unmet sexual desire? Please share them!

5 Ways to Pray for Your Future Husband

5 Ways to Pray for Your Future Husband

You asked me to write a post about how to pray for your future husband. I’m happy to do that, but first, two disclaimers:

  1. Marriage isn’t a guarantee for any of us. God is not our personal genie. That’s why I like to pray these sorts of things for the men who are currently in my life (my dad, brothers, brothers-in-Christ, coworkers, etc.) and then I tack on, “And my future hubby, if such a man exists.”
  2. Just because you’re praying these grand characteristics for your future husband does not mean you’re free to date and marry just anyone, and that they’ll somehow magically materialize into this person after marriage simply because you’ve been praying “spiritual” things. Wrong! Choose a man who—while not perfect—is already obviously headed in this direction.

Okay, with that behind us, here are just five ways to pray for your future husband. (If you’re already married, these are great ways to pray for your husband. And if you’re divorced, by all means, pray these into your ex’s life!)

  1. Pray that he would re-believe the gospel every single time he hears it, rather than believing it once and then leaving it far behind (1 Cor. 15:1–3).
  2. Pray that he would be captivated by God’s beauty so that saying no to lust would be like turning down a McDonald’s hamburger in favor of a grilled, New York strip. Pray that he would be ruthless in fleeing sexual immorality and would fly to Christ instead (Ps. 27:4, 1 Cor. 6:18).
  3. Pray that when he gets angry he wouldn’t sin. Pray that he would be angry over the things God is angry over and not angry over petty irritations (Eph. 4:26).
  4. Pray that God would prepare and empower him to love you as much as he loves himself—to cherish you the way Christ cherishes you (Eph. 5:28–29).
  5. Pray that he would not be lazy or a workaholic, but that he would work wholeheartedly for God in order to provide for his family. Pray that God would keep him from greed. Pray that he would have wisdom to know how to balance work, service, rest, and play (Col. 3:23, 1 Tim. 6:10).

Obviously, there are so many more ways to pray for a future husband. Would you add your prayer(s) by commenting below?

5 Ways to Pray for Your Future Husband” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

Before Getting Married, I Wish I’d . . .

Before Getting Married, I Wish I’d . . .

Last week I shared some mail I just couldn’t keep to myself. You were so encouraged that this week I want to share more advice with you from married women. So . . . I asked a group of married women of all ages the following question:

What do you wish you’d done before getting married (either to prepare for marriage or just to take advantage of your singleness)?

You may be wondering, Why should I care what a bunch of married women think? Well, did you know God’s plan is that we learn the ins and outs of marriage from women who are “older and wiser?” Titus 2:3–5 says,

“Older women are to . . . teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands . . . that the word of God may not be reviled.”

Part of that training takes place before you’re even in a relationship! With that in mind, here’s what several married women wish they’d done before getting married:

“I wish I had spent more time growing as a Christian instead of assuming that I would ‘follow’ my husband spiritually. I would have spent more time being myself instead of being simply available.” —Myranda

“I wish I hadn’t devoured literally every Christian romance novel and countless romance movies. The men portrayed in these stories seem to be near perfect and have caused disappointment in marriage stemming from dangerous, unrealistic expectations. It contributed to me looking to a man to satisfy my every longing when the only One who can do that is the sinless, perfect Jesus Christ.” —Kimberly

“I got married at age twenty, and I can think of a dozen or more things that have crossed my mind over the years (manage finances, finish school, travel, etc.) that if I had done before marriage would have made so many things easier. But when it gets right down to it, we have had a blast growing up together. The best marriages aren’t necessarily easy; they are committed. I am thankful for one thing I did do before marriage: moving away from home. I think that gave me a crash course in dependency upon the Lord for everything, which laid the perfect foundation for marriage.” —Julie

“I wish I would’ve taken time after high school to find out who I really was aside from being under my parents’ authority before I got married.” —Hannah

“I wish I would have enjoyed my single days more instead of concentrating on finding love. I also would have wanted to be more prepared for the reality of marriage; the work, the responsibility, the pain that is there among the joy. Forever is a much bigger commitment after all the celebrations have calmed down from the engagement and wedding and it is just the two of you left . . . you and sixty years. Single girls, MAKE SURE you marry someone you like, not just love. It has been said many times, but you really do need to marry your best friend! Let God lead you to each other.” —Heidi

“I wish I had really thought about how I’d find purpose and joy in the responsibilities of being a wife and mom apart from my other interests, which had of course monopolized my single life. ” —Laura

I wish I would have lived as a godly woman when I was single instead of thinking, I’ll be like that when I’m married. I went through a very challenging first year of marriage until God graciously showed me I can’t keep saying ‘tomorrow,’ I need to obey today! Also, I wish I would have learned how to be an organized person, how to cook meals and grocery shop, and how to live within a budget. It would have made the transition to marriage easier had I already been experienced at taking care of myself (versus trying to figure out how to take care of two people).” —Emily

“I wish I’d learned more about how the marriage covenant is a picture of Jesus’s relationship with His bride, the church. It also would have helped to be involved more in service in the church, especially where no one could see me and there was no immediate recognition. It would have helped diminish my ego as a single woman!” —Aileen

“I wish I would have traveled more, gotten involved with more ministries overseas, even spent time living overseas!” —Kara

“I wish I had learned much earlier about submission in marriage. I never really grasped that until the last several years. I marvel at the difference it has made, learning to let my husband truly be the head of the family, even when I don’t agree with every move he makes. By over-powering my husband in the early years, I caused so many issues I didn’t even realize.” —Sheila

“I wish I had lightened up and had more fun.” —Jeannie

“I wish I would have spent more time with a mature mentor couple for the purpose of laying out our expectations for marriage. We’ve grown, and after sixteen years, are still becoming one. Learning to communicate clearly about the outcomes we are expecting before we begin a project has been huge. It’s so hard to backtrack. Clarity upfront helps work out some differences before they become huge mountains to tackle.” —Jennifer

Which piece of advice resonates with you most, not-yet-married-girl? What one thing can you begin to work on today as you anticipate marriage someday?

Before Getting Married I Wish I’d …” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

A Lighthearted Interview on Singleness

Enjoy this lighthearted interview that Brenda from Triple Braided Life did with me. 

Brenda: First, tell us a little about yourself – your name, age, where you live, and where you grew up.

Paula: Hey there! I’m Paula Hendricks. If you’d told me as a teen that I’d be 31 and single someday, I think I would’ve said, “Shoot me now!” What a journey it’s been . . .

I live in Michigan (you should too; it’s lovely!). I grew up in the Midwest, surrounded by cornfields (not a fan).

Brenda: Where do you work, and how did you get started in your job?

Paula: I serve as Writing & Editorial Manager at Revive Our Hearts, a women’s ministry calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. I’ve practically grown up here, as I started working at ROH over nine years ago, fresh out of college. It’s a real God-story how He led me here, but unfortunately too lengthy for this post. Ask me about it sometime if we ever meet!

Brenda: Tell us one thing you LOVE about being single and one thing you hate (or your biggest struggle) about being single.

Paula: I love the quiet. “Silence is golden.” It really is.

It’s also nice not to have to wear makeup everyday or worry that my armpits stink or . . . ut-oh. You just asked for one thing. Oh well, that was getting pretty personal anyway.

What I hate: going to church solo on Sundays.

Brenda: Do you ever get mad at God because you are single? When bitterness, discontentment, confusion, and even jealousy creep into your mind, how to you deal with it? Do you have a go-to person or scripture verse or something else that helps?

Paula: When I’m tempted to think wrong thoughts about God, I talk to myself and pray. It usually starts out something like this: “Thank You, God, that You’re not capricious. You aren’t cruel; You’re not trying to tease me. . . .”

Brenda: What is your biggest pet peeve about the way single women are perceived?

Paula: There’s this lie Christians have bought into that if a single woman will just relinquish her strong desire for marriage, then . . . poof! God will give her the gift of marriage. As if we’ve ever earned His gifts . . .

Brenda: Do you struggle with finding community in your local church? How do you find community in a world that seems coupled up?

Paula: If I’m looking for people who are just like me, yes, I struggle. There aren’t many older single females my age left. But if I’m open to God providing community through people who aren’t necessarily in my stage of life, then I realize how incredibly rich I am.

Brenda: Our perception of you is that you are living a fulfilled, purposeful life as a single woman. You’re not waiting around for marriage, but fulfilling God’s call on your life now. What would you say is your secret to doing this?

Paula: Actually, if I weren’t involved in meaningful kingdom work right now, I’d probably be pining away on my couch with a romance novel and a big bag of candy. I’m so grateful God allows us to play a part in advancing His kingdom here on earth. Not only is it crazy adventurous; it’s an awesome antidote to self-pity. You don’t need a public position to do this: volunteer at your church, rake that widow’s leaves, babysit for your neighbors . . . the opportunities are endless.

 

Brenda: What words of advice do you have for other single women who want to live with purpose now and not wait for marriage to start their lives?

Paula: It’s not original to me, but if you’re not content single, you really won’t be content married. Begin to live fully in the moment. It may seem God isn’t answering your prayers, but He’s not just answering them the way you want. Ask Him to help you see the incredible ways He takes care of and loves you each day!

Brenda: And some fun stuff!

Brenda: Which do you like best – Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest (or all of it!)?

Paula: None of them. I honestly think I belong on the prarie making homemade soap and fighting off wild bears. But since people are on Facebook and Twitter, I’ve caved and joined them. You can find me @PaulaWrites678 and Facebook.com/PaulaWrites678. (The “678” is reminiscent of Romans 6–8 as the truths in those chapters changed everything about me several years ago.)

Brenda: What’s your favorite drink?

Paula: That’s tough. Right now apples are in season, and I have some mean fresh apple cider in my fridge. Yum!

Brenda: Where would you want to live the rest of your life – beach or mountains?

Paula: Beach. I have a dream of owning a house made of sand—well, at least having a bed of sand with sand floors so I’d never need to sweep the sand off my floors.

Brenda: Do you read more fiction or nonfiction?

Paula: Probably more nonfiction, but my true love is fiction. I’m working my way through the classics now; the last one I read was The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Brenda: Are you an introvert or extrovert?

Paula: 50/50, according to the tests.

Brenda: What’s something quirky about you?

Paula: I “pluck” (a.k.a. demolish) my bread. I really shouldn’t be allowed out of the house . . .

Brenda: What else do we need to know about you? Where can we connect with you online?

Paula: You can connect with me at PaulaWrites.com to learn more about my book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, to read my blog posts, and more.

Should a Guy Pursue a Girl Like a Dying Man Looking for Water in a Desert?

Should a Guy Pursue a Girl Like a Dying Man Looking for Water in a Desert?

I asked a few guy friends this week:

What would pursuit of a girl look like for you personally? I ask ’cause a teen girl recently told me her fave quote is:

“The next time a boy pursues you, he better do it like a dying man looking for water in a desert. When it’s the right guy, you’ll know, because he’ll cherish you.”

Might be me, but I just don’t think that first sentence is realistic, and I don’t think it’s gonna necessarily be that obvious. Am I wrong? Please help a girl (scratch that—lots of girls) out.

—Paula

Here’s what they had to say:

Trevor J: “That’s over the top. I want Christ to be my top priority and then if He brings along a girl, then that’s good. I certainly want to cherish her but not like a dying man. For me personally, pursing a girl looks more like becoming good friends with her first, and when the time is right, with permission from her parents, taking that relationship/friendship deeper.”

Trevor M: “As the other Trevor said, I think that picture of pursuing a girl is a bit over the top. The picture in Jeremiah 2:13 of forsaking the fountain of living waters (God) for broken, dusty cisterns (anything that is not God) comes to mind. My thirst needs to first be satisfied by God and then by a wife (Pr. 5:15–23).

“For me, pursuing a girl looks like befriending her, seeing what her trajectory in life is like, speaking clearly about exploring the possibility of marriage, and then moving forward from there, certainly keeping her parents in the loop all the while.”

Mat: “Haha yeah, I’d say that statement is a little extreme. The start of pursuing a girl for me is more about getting to know a girl and seeing if there is even any mutual interest. Extreme desperation is probably not the best place to start.”

Now, I will say God does challenge men (specifically husbands) to cherish their wives, to follow Christ’s example and lay their lives down for her in the daily grind of everyday life:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . .

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church (Eph. 5:25, 28–30).

But expecting a guy to leap from admiring you from a distance to pursuing you with the zeal of a dying man looking for water in a desert seems unrealistic and unhelpful (and quite possibly unhealthy) to me.

How about you? What do you think?

Fact is, there is a man who pursued you all the way to death, the God-Man Jesus. He didn’t do this out of desperation for your love, (Acts 17:25 tells us He doesn’t need anything!) but out of obedience to His Father and out of pure, selfless, sacrificial love that was looking out for your best interests:

God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

How have you responded to His pursuit of you? With an a) “I’m not interested, thank you very much,” or with a b) “I can’t fathom how you would love me, but YES, I give all of myself to You!”

Should a Guy Pursue a Girl Like a Dying Man Looking for Water in a Desert?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

Excuse Me? How We’ve Gotten the Motivation for Purity All Wrong

Excuse Me? How We’ve Gotten the Motivation for Purity All Wrong

I’m pretty big about communicating winsomely. But would you mind terribly if I ranted . . . just a tad? (Pretty please?)

There’s a “truth” I hear tossed around Christian circles that makes my stomach churn. It goes something like this:

Marriage is the ultimate reward for living a life of purity right now.

Come again? Marriage is a great gift, but it is not the ultimate reward!

It can be hard to believe, but God really is the ultimate reward; not a guy, not a relationship, not marriage.

Then there’s the line that:

The ultimate reward of oneness in marriage will be worth every moment of loneliness.

Yikes, that’s a looong time for tween and teen girls to wait for their reward—especially in a culture of instant gratification where the average marrying age for females is 27–30.

God really is the ultimate reward; not a guy, not a relationship, not marriage.

So a girl’s to pine away in loneliness for three long decades? And then, suddenly, it’ll all be worth it? I don’t see how that’s good news.

But this, on the other hand, is: You and I don’t have to wait until marriage to experience the happiness we’re looking for today! It is ours for the having—right now.

Single or married, sixteen or senior citizen, joy is found in God’s presence, which can be experienced anywhere, anytime:

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).

Our hope for the “good life” isn’t tied to marriage; it’s tied to the One to whom marriage faintly points.

At least, that’s what I thought . . . until I was corrected by Matthew 5:8. You know, the verse that says:

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall snag a great husband.

(Oh, whoops, I grabbed the wrong translation!) Let me try that again:

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

There. That’s right. Seeing God is purity’s reward. God-gazing is the greatest reward that exists.

David got that. In Psalm 27:4 he asked for just one thing,

“One thing have I asked of the Lord . . .”

What one thing would you ask God for? For most of my life, a husband would’ve been at the tip-top of my list. But when we read the context of Psalm 27, we learn that as David writes this wish, he has an enemy army encircling him. You’d expect him to ask God for weapons or a divine rescue, right? But instead, He asks to be able to gaze on God’s beauty,

“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”

Let’s make sure we’re not misleading our girls. God is their reward; not a guy, not a relationship, not marriage.

And you, if you’re single, or you, if you’re in a miserable marriage, you, too, can experience the happiness you long for. Today! It’s found in His presence.

Excuse Me? How We’ve Gotten the Motivation for Purity All Wrong” was originally posted on TrueWoman.com

But How Will He Notice Me If I Don’t Flirt?

But How Will He Notice Me If I Don't Flirt?

 

Hey, girls,

Last week on the blog I shared what Christian guys think about flirting. After reading that, I anticipate a lot of you wondering, Yeah, but if I don’t flirt, how’s a guy ever gonna notice me? So I asked the same guys to answer that question for you in advance.

The way you act now as a single is how you’ll act as a married woman. You don’t need to “dangle.”

For starters, here’s a comment a married man happened to leave on the blog this past week:

To my single sisters, the way you act now as a single is how you’ll act as a married woman. You don’t need to “dangle.” My wife attracted me with her conduct and her heart. —”Book314″

And from the single guys:

A girl can show she’s interested just by responding with interest when I talk to her or by being casually, but clearly, open to do something with me—even if I just invite her to do something in a group.

I’ve learned that most girls naturally show they’re not interested just by not showing interest when any opportunity, no matter how small, arises for us to get to know each other more. If she’s interested, I’ll usually see a smile when I ask her to hang out with other people, or she’ll love spending time talking to me whenever we’re in the same place (or at least not seem like she just wants the conversation to end). Those two things are huge.

She could just be friendly and feel like I’m a safe guy, but her interest shows she’s open to me as a person. It allows me to initiate further to see how interested she is. —Justin

From a guy’s perspective, a girl speaks more through nonverbal than verbal: the way she dresses (modesty), carries herself, and interacts with people speaks much of her character. It is those qualities that “attract” or pique interest in a guy that is seeking a God-loving woman. —Tony

It’s a good thing to be friendly and kind instead of far off and distant. Some girls can have it so strongly in their minds not to be a flirt that they end up overcompensating and coming off as cold and uninviting to guys.

If a girl doesn’t act like she even wants to be around me, then I usually take that as a strong indication that she is not someone I should ask out on a date. On the flip side, when a girl is obviously being flirtatious and trying to gain attention, it tends to turn me off. I want to date someone who is grounded in Christ and not looking for their affirmation in a relationship. —Trevor

If a girl is interested in connecting, but I haven’t initiated conversation yet, I usually know she’s at least interested in learning more about me if she doesn’t immediately look away when we meet eyes—even if it’s just for an extra half second. I appreciate little signals like that that are obvious but would go unnoticed to someone else in the room. Otherwise, just trying to initiate out of thin air is difficult because, as strong as us guys can be, we’d like to limit the amount of rejection we get, if possible. —Justin

I wish I could tell this to every girl I meet: In 1 Peter 3, Peter talks about the beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit. This is not the beauty of a quiet and gentle personality! Many girls seem to get hung up on this and try to be sedate and not talk and end up being miserable.

When a girl knows who God is—I mean really knows, not just talks about Him—she will have a peaceful spirit. She knows God will see her through and she trusts Him, so she is not going to “give way to fear” (1 Pet. 3:6). Therefore, she is not clingy to guys. She looks to God to satisfy her first and knows a man never fully will.

This is beautiful and incredibly attractive to mature Christian guys! It is hard, because you cannot see what God has in store for you, but God does not need your help (a.k.a. flirting) to bring the right guy along. —Andrew

Great stuff, huh? Now you’re probably wondering, What now? What do I need to change?

I can’t answer that for you since I don’t know you personally, but here are a few questions for you to think through or ask someone who sees you interact with guys:

  • Do I “dangle”? Is God’s love real and personal to me, or am I seeking attention from any guy who will give it to me?
  • Am I afraid to talk to or smile at guys I’m interested in? Have I gotten the idea that it’s more “spiritual” to stay far away from them and hide the fact that I like them? (Check out Proverbs 27:5 if so.)
  • Am I:
    1. flirty and manipulative?
    2. friendly and kind?
    3. far off and distant?

But How Will He Notice Me If I Don’t Flirt?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com