Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sparks and Fireworks!

Hey Girls...

Relationships are fun aren't they? They're exciting and new and spontaneous! The initial meeting the guy brings so many sparks and butterflies that's it's hard to keep you're head in it and not just get caught up in every sweet moment-other times, we're confused and unsure if it's right and good. It is an emotional rollarcoaster and sometimes the wildest ride of our lives because relationships have the capacity to change our lives forever!

This is why it's important to keep our heads in it, with our hearts. Dating can start out with many sparks but if that's the main attraction- it won't last for long. Some people continually chase after the feeling of a new crush because their addicted to the butterflies and that's plain unhealthy. Sparks come and go over a long term relationship- it's just natural.

Often at the start of a relationship or even a short ways into it, you're impacted with so many emotions that it's hard to think clearly. This can produce negative results- it can rush the intmacy too far or sabatoge something that has very good potential. The important thing to remember is to pray. Always pray. Pray with your boyfriend- this is essential. From the start you and your boyfriend should be in the regular habit of praying together and even if it feels uncomfortable or awkward- do it anyway! This is the most important part of your relationship. If you begin you're relationship with both of you focusing on God, you'll have the assurance that both of you are looking for God's direction and you won't have to worry so much about the situation yourself. You can be confident that your boyfriend is seeking God's will and direction, just like you are. Not only that, but it keeps God at the center of the relationship- where he should be!

Nevertheless, relationships are emotional. You're learning to trust someone physically, spiritually and emotionally- some people find one area harder than the other. Learning to trust your boyfriend is another difficult part because you don't always know how he will recieve the information or intmacy you give him. What if he reacts badly when you pour out your heart to him? There are risks we take in love but the fact is, we have to take them otherwise we can't get close. You'll be the best judge of when you can reveal things to your boyfriend and when you feel you have established the right level of trust. But you have to be prepared for a not so good reaction- sometimes he needs to work through the things you tell him but it doesn't mean that he doesn't love you anymore. And same with him revealing personal things to you. Sharing your deepest self with each other (not physical intmacy mind you) bonds you together- it creates those sparks that keep your relational fire alive- ha, there's a cheesy sentence! It creates commitment and that must always come first.

My personal recconmendation would be that there is no secrets between a couple when they prepare to take marriage vows. In my experience, my husband and I knew everything- all the good and all the bad- about each other before we got married- and this emotional attachment, just helped to make our physical intmacy that much more meaningul. Secrets destroy a marriage- dating is the time to work through those things because it prepares you for the harder struggles that come with marriage.

Dating can be really hard because of the myrid of emotions and learning that happens between a new couple but it's worth it to jump right on into the mush and sort through all the tough stuff. Don't shy away from sharing your inner feelings with your guy- when you're at the stage in the relationship where you have established trust- because the sharing you two do, will create the bond that will last all your lifetime!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dating and Parents!

Hey Girls,

There is a lot to getting to know a guy and having him come to know who you are. And there are so many other things involved with it too, like getting to know the parents, or dealing with conflicting life plans or just managing the drama that comes from everyone having an opinion about your relationship. There is a lot of stress that can build in the early days of a relationship.

I find this a little tricky subject matter because I wasn't a fan of dating (most of it was long distance anyway- which sucks!!!). So I invite any comments or suggestions about this topic and things you'd like me to blog about to give me some ideas- jog my memory a bit..haha.

So, I thought I'd start at the beginning, dealing with the parental influence in the dating relationship. After all, there seems to be a definite trend now where young people live with their parents far into their 20s. Now, I believe that dating rules do change once you graduate high school. Sorry all you teen girls out there but rules are stricter for you! And when you're older, you will understand. Such as 'be home at 11' or you're parents have to meet the guy (and know the two of you as friends first) before dating can start.
 But then, 18 rolls around, legally you're an adult but I think that until we move out of our parents house- we do have to live by their rules. It only make sense. We're not on our own yet and they are still caring for us, so they are still responsible. It's their home so we are under their 'house rules', their moral guidance. The Bible firmly tells us to honour our father and mother. Ephesians 6:2-3 "Honor your father and mother"—which is the first commandment with a promise— "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."

Okay, so we're older now. An adult but still living at home and attempting to maintain a relationship with a guy we really like and feel that God has in mind for us to be with. He meets the parents (and hopefully you're parents have been praying for the right guy for you so their feelings towards him confirm yours) but what if they don't approve? All I can suggest is a lot of prayer.
 As a teen, you're parents do have control to forbid you to date but I believe that with maturity comes a level of responsibility. You're responsible for your actions but you also have to respect your parents. A lot of difficulties with parents can be dealt with through prayer and honest discussions, and sometimes you just have to respect them for a time so they can learn to trust you. Even with the little things, like if you're parents won't let you stay the night at your boyfriends (without his parents there) and you're like 20! Sometimes strict rules like that can really suck but in an example like that- just bring your boyfriend to your house. After all, we know to avoid temptation so going away for a weekend alone with your boyfriend (as awesome as it may seem) is probably a bad idea in the long run. Parents have a tendency to know these things, having learned from their own mistakes.

Yet dealing with parents is tough because often when they do impose limits and rules on your personal life, it really sucks! How can you get to know your significant other if your parents keep interfering? The more you bring the guy around to your home, when you're parents are around, the more comfortable they can get with him. Same goes for you and his parents. It is important that both families support your relationship because you don't want to have the strife that comes otherwise.

Then there are those girls who are already living on their own, and totally responsible for themselves. You've removed yourself from your parents and so all these decisions come right down to you. You're on your own. Yet your parents will still have influence over you. Their opinions do count for something and while you don't necessarily have to do what they say, you do still need to act respectfully toward them.

What about when our parents are wrong? Or when his parents are wrong about you? It's sooo tempting to tell your significant other to rebel against what their parents say because you know in your heart that it's wrong. How can you honour your parents then? Or say you're parents aren't Christians, and give you harmful advice or don't respect the fact that you want to date another Christian? The truth is, the Bible still tells us to honour them. Although Ephesians 6: 4 does say "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Parents have a responsibility in how they instruct and treat their children. So what do you do? First and foremost, we have to obey God. And he will tell us in our hearts how to deal with these difficult situations. 

Sometimes our parents just do not understand the way we are and how we deal with things in the relationship because they are not directly involved. This is tough because you want them to trust you because you think you know the circumstances better than they do- and maybe you do but on the other hand, you're parents think that they know best. It's difficult dealing with this. Yet for me, the question comes to mind that if there is so much trouble with the relationship or with something you want to do with your boyfriend between you and your parents- maybe you and God need to have a long chat. God does not want discord in the family and he wants you to have a fruitful life/relationships as well, so  he knows best.

After all, the key to any successful relationship is keeping God at the center of it. 

In essence, if you are living by the support of your parents, than you do fall under their guidance (they're accountable). If you are on your own, taking care of yourself, your decisions are your responsibility (you're accountable). In both situations, avoidance to sin is vital and listening to God is first. If God really wants you to spend your life with that guy, trust him to make it happen. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Good Busy or Bad Busy?

Hi all,

Are you too busy? How often does it happen that you have to say no to a friend or an event because you're just too busy and don't have the time? The Bible tells us not to the lazy and slothful but when does activity become too much?

I think the story of Martha and Mary is a good portrayal of this (if you know of any other verses on busyness, let me know). Luke 10:48-42 says, "As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!' 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'"

Martha was busy, full of activity, working hard- she didn't have time to visit. Yet Mary was relaxed, leaving the work for a time to be with Jesus. Jesus only was able to visit them now and then; Mary knew to take full advantage of the short time they had together. Sometimes I wonder if we rush about doing so much stuff and miss what is really important. What about when a friend calls us up and asks to go out that same day? How often do we just have to tell the person that we can't, we're too busy! And even more importantly, how often do we tell that to God? I'll go to church next week when I don't have so many social events on the weekend or I'll make personal time happen with Jesus tomorrow or the next day, today I just have to finish my project.

STOP! Breathe. Take a moment to be still. The world will not end if you don't complete every task or fulfull every obligation. I know it seems sometimes that the things we have to do are so vitally important that nothing can get in the way of getting them done but it's really not true (I mean, sure sometimes there are exceptions to this but overall...) because God should have the control. He's got the whole world in his hands remember? He will help you to complete every task when it needs to get done. He knows best. After all, we need to lean on him for strength and not on our own abilities. God knows what is essential to doing better than you do!

1 Timothy 6:7 says, "After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it." And the Bible tells us more than once not to "... not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?" (Mathew 6:25). Okay, so based on this, we need to relax and not stress about our basic needs because God knows what they are (so overtime at work? you have to be kidding). Neither should we continually strive after things. Our busyness shouldn't be about getting more stuff or gaining the ability to get more stuff- it all stays behind anyway.

Work is not a bad thing though. God created work by telling Adam to care for the garden and there are other verses throughout the Bible that discuss blessings because of doing work. Such as Colossians 3:23-24 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." So being busy because of our working lives is not a bad thing as long as we don't get consumed by it so it becomes first and foremost concern in our lives.

So where is the line between good busy and bad busy? I think it really has to do with time management. Do we still have time to be by ourselves (personal time) ? Time to journal, worship, talk to God? Time for family and friends? If an average day allows you to do all these things- I'd say it's good busy. But if you're day looks more like a hurried routine- wake up-work-sleep (eat if you remember) than that's a bad busy. Obviously there is variation between the two and everyone should know what is the right level of busyness for them (without stressing them out).

No matter what though, it's really important that we remember who we are busy for- God, and that all our worldly positions will stay behind when we die but it's our relationships with people that will last forever.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

God Will Be Faithful!!!

Hey Girls,

Have any of you been praying about something for a really long time? Asking God repeatedly for something and then time goes by and you keep waiting and waiting...I think a lot of us are probably in that situation because part of trusting God is waiting on his timing and not acting on our own. It's tricky sometimes to know the difference.

God's faithfulness is an important theme for me, and I guess it always has been. Before I met my husband, I spent YEARS praying for God to bring the right guy into my life. Ya, we dated amd married quickly but we didn't meet quickly. I spent a lot of time by myself, watching my friends have relationships or seeing other happy couples- kinda tortureous really. But then one day- it just happened. God proved his faithfulness. Genesis 2:18 says "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'" (Women included I'd say). What I wanted, God had designed from the beginning of creation so it was up to me to trust him and wait on his faithfulness. (just a side note for you single girls- have you ever thought that maybe you were meant to be alone? I believe God does call some people to be single- with a specific purpose though. If you have a heart for marriage- than keep praying your man to you).

God will be faithful to us. Sometimes it is just really hard to wait and not to doubt. Doubt is a terrible thing- one of the worst forces against us. We just can't let any doubt in.

Here are some verses to hang onto:
Psalms 36:5 "Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies."
Psalms 86:15 "But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness."
Psalms 37:4 "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalm 89:33  "...but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness."
Galatians 5: 22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control..."
Lamentations 3:22-24 "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."

I hope these verses are encouraging to you. They are definately encouraging to me.

God's faithfulness lives in us everyday through his Holy Spirit. We just need to continually pray for patience to wait on his faithfulness to come to fruitition. That's what I am doing. We all probably have some BIG things in our lives that we continually seek God for (financial blessing, prayers for family members, life direction, healing etc.) and we can try to take these things into our own control but let me tell you, it won't work out and you'll end up with a pile of stress. As much as you think you have the solution to your own problems- you don't! (unless of course, it's a God given solution). God has the solution. He always does. No matter what problem we have, God is BIGGER! He loves his creation. He can certainly take care of us better than we can take care of ourselves.

So, no matter what you're praying for, we're all in this together, waiting on God to reveal his faithfulness to us. And he WILL be faithful girls! Now, let's be faithful ourselves and not doubt God's ability to take care of us.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tell God Your Plans!

Hey Girls,

Ever heard that saying if you want to hear God laugh, than tell him your plans? I think that's a stupid saying. It bothers me that people would even believe something like that. Why would God laugh at the plans he puts in our hearts? I mean, sometimes I bet we do tell God some ridiculous things sometimes but when something is actually near and dear to our hearts, God would never laugh at us. God gives us desires and ideas for the things he wants us to accomplish. I mean, sometimes sure, we come up with things that have nothing to do with God, which is why we continually need to seek out his will and surrender to his control over our lives.

It sometimes seems that people have a lot of misconceptions about God and believe things that are of their own making, or told to them by someone else but aren't really true. Such as that God doesn't really have a sense of humour. Some people are so serious about God. I think God laughs, not to mock us but to laugh with us! After all, Nehemiah 8:10 says the joy of the Lord is our strength and the pslams are filled with references to joy. Luke 10: 21 says "At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure." God is joyful and he always wants good things for his creation. I think there is a ton of happiness in Heaven, after all, there are no tears there.

I also believe that God understands and sympathizes with the pain and trouble we experience on earth. If you ever read the old testament, it's very obvious how much mercy God has on the Isrealites and how frequently he promises to restore them and deliver them from their trouble.  Revelation 21:4 says, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (In reference to when God comes for his people at the end times). This demonstrates to me, and I've felt it during the times when I've been sad, that God is sad too. He cries when we cry; it hurts him to see those he loves so much hurting too.

God is always just and righteous, fair, and punishes for evil. He is completely pure and can't stand anything that tarnishes. I think it's for these reasons that people often take a very harsh view of God and miss out on knowing the lighter side, the part of him that laughs, and acts playfully sometimes. God says we need a childlike faith and if you've ever spent time around kids, you know how silly and plain happy they can be. God is like that. He wants to have fun with us, play games with us. While it's always important to remember God's holiness and strive to remain pure ourselves so as not to disapoint God, we need to embrace the joyful side of God's personality. I firmly believe that God wants us to laugh, play and have fun with him and that when we are doing these things, to thank him for it.

So tell God all your plans today, everything in your heart and then invite him to join you today, and, perhaps, if a good joke comes to mind, tell it to God who loves to laugh!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Adam and Eve

Hey all,
Did it ever bother you to hear someone preach about Adan and Eve, the fall of mankind and blame it all on Eve eating the fruit? Was Adam just an innocent bystander that got sucked into Eve's sin? My question for that is, if Adam was so innocent, then why did he recieve a curse? recap, let's quickly read over the Bible story.

Genesis 2: 6-7 "The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.  At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves." Then God finds them in the garden and asks why they hid from him. They confess it was shame over their nakedness and God knows they ate from the tree he told them not too. Verses 12-13 says: "The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.' Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?”' "The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”" After that, they recieve punishment for their disobedience.

Where was Adam when Eve reached for the fruit and fell into the serpent's trap? He was right beside her. He kept quiet and did not speak up to stop her. Then later, Adam blames God and Eve- 'the woman you gave me..' Both Adam and Eve sinned and both were punished because of it. The first couple on the Earth were having some relationship problems.

Ephesians 5:21-26 says "And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy..." Everyone must be humble and submit to one another but specifically, women need to obey/submit to their husbands. But husbands need to love their wives just like Christ loves his people and gave himself up. Husbands need to give of themselves, sacrifice for their wives. I think these verses are basically saying the same thing to both husbands and wives. Both have to submit and respect each other.

So since God designed that Adam (all males) should take spiritual leadership over their wives, giving of themselves to make her holy. Adam failed in that regard. He did not stand up to the serpent tempting Eve. He allowed the temptation to continue and got sucked into it himself. Imagine what would have happened if Adam told the serpent off- what would Eve do? Would she submit to her husband's leadership or rebel and face the curse?

So what do Adam and Eve teach us? That us girls should just do everything our husband's say? What about when their wrong? Can women teach men? There is a lot of debate in Christian circles about women holding leadership roles (specifically over men) but the fact is, God did call some women into leadership- look at Deborah in Judges. I firmly believe that women can be leaders, can instruct men, we are all 'one' in Christ after all. I think that the focus on submission and male leadership is there because we need to be reminded of our unique abilities that come from our genders. For example, we have to admit that we are often prone to controlling our men, we know what's best or at least we think we do, we take that control- nagging wife?? eh? Well, that's not good. That's not submitting in the least. Men sometimes need our encouragment to take control but girls, having your husband run aspects of the relationship and home, is not a bad thing. God knew women were prone to becoming stressed, worrying too much, overly concerned about things. We have to trust our men and allow them to be the leaders, take the stress off ourselves so we can concentrate on doing our best as wives. Men will do their best as husbands when they feel that they are performing a vital function in the relationship, a needed, necessary, can't function without, type of position. Maybe Eve was prone to taking control and so Adam sat back, thinking he wasn't needed or feeling that he wasn't good enough to take care of his wife.

We all know there are abuses to this functioning too. Where men control everything and make life miserable for their wives but that's not Godly, not Christlike. Christ died for the benefit of his church, a man acting in that capacity is not helping his wife. When leadership becomes a power trip- it's not proper leadership- leadership comes from giving of oneself. The best leader is also a servant. Look at Jesus, washing the feet of his diciplines. The fact that husbands are called to be leaders, means that they are called to be servants- and that's something that's often forgotten.

Anyway, big topic, definately some stuff to mull over. Think about it girls...there is more to the story of Adam and Eve than just the explosion of knowing evil spreading over the world.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

God Not Us

Hey Girls,

Did you ever meet someone who called themselves a Christian but acted or spoke in such a way that you were immidiately disapointed and disgusted with them? Did it turn you away from going to their church? Or make you think about God negatively? Well, non Christians and Christians do that all the time with us. They judge God by the example we set. If they see us doing something they don't like, often they sometimes think that if that's the way followers of God act than they don't want any part of God. It's not a good situation for anybody. It makes us Christian feel like we have to achieve an unreal standard when we are human, prone to screwing up like everyone else but at the same time, we know that we have to set the best example we can.

However, all of us have to admit that we do look at other people. Our eyes are on people way too much and not on God enough. Hebrews 12:2 tells us "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." We need to watch Jesus and look for his example. Other Christians can easily misdirect us but by keeping our eyes on the perfecter of our faith, we will grow. We can't look for examples of righteous living from each other. We can only get that from God and the instructions he leaves us in his word (although positive examples from other people greatly aid us).

Yet we do have a responsibility to show a good example to others. We are Christ followers and we want to inspire others to do the same. 1 Cornithians 8:12-13 tells us how important our example is "When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall." This is tough stuff. We have to be so careful about what we do so that we do not lead other Christians, our 'brothers and sisters' (not just non Christians) into sin. We want to point other Christians closer to God, just as with non-Christians.

The Bible tells us that our example has to be different from the world. John 15: 19 says "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." The world rejected Jesus so it makes sense if the world rejects us too, meaning, what we do, most often will not gain approval by everyone. We stand against homosexuality, abortion, violence..etc, things the world often embraces. It's not a popular standpoint to have but it is one we must come to terms with having.

How many of us girls just blend in? We don't stand out as Christians and we don't make waves. We try not to offend but at the same time we still hope to remain true to our beliefs. How will anyone recognize you're a Christian when you look and act like everyone else does? What makes you different? Jesus offended a lot of people. It's hard to follow in that example and know that you may be ridiculed because of it.

I'm not saying go find a street corner and start preaching or tell all your coworkers that the world is evil. But what I do believe, and this is kinda tough, is to be open to hearing God. When God gives you a nudge to go pray with that lady you briefly met at walmart or sit down in your lunchroom at school on your knees to pray, I hope that you will be faithful to that. God sometimes does call us to do embrassing things and I hope that I would be faithful too! At other times, being different just means we stand true to our beliefs; when someone asks our opinion on a subject, we can't shy away and give the generalized 'not to offend' version but we have to come out and say exactly what we believe. Often times it's things like that, the little things, the speaking out when we'd rather keep quiet, that has a tendancy to show others our faith (or lack of).

My prayer is that all of my fellow Christians out there will stand strong in their faith. Apathy is perhaps one of the greatest battles we face in our society so must let our examples speak of God's love and care so that others will see and know, without a doubt, that, yes, God is there.