Waiting on the Lord

A to Z: S is for Overcoming the Challenges of Single Life

S is for Single

Overcoming the challenges of Single life

When I was 28, I could recall a number of vividly painful moments when the world around me seemed to flaunt the relationships and opportunities I yearned for yet had not experienced. I would like to suggest a valuable piece of advice for those of you with single friends.There are certain times you should avoid telling a single woman she should enjoy her freedom and take advantage of all the amazing opportunities she has been given because she is single. Avoid these obvious nuggets of wisdom on valentine’s day, weddings of siblings or close friends, major holidays, or when 90% of her friends have just left for a special “couples only” retreat. If you are brave enough to do so, be sure to protect your face while bracing for the dreaded “Hairy eyeball” because it is coming!


Myth: I am Lonely because something is missing from my life.


For years, I dutifully attempted to exploit the benefits of “single awareness day.” Honestly, I did enjoy my freedom but many days loneliness and uncertainty pushed my faith to the edge. An entry from my journal describes the emotional battle I engaged in so frequently as a single woman.


8/27/00
“Life is so very interesting & complicated. Each day becomes a painful mirror into the imperfections and weakness of body and spirit…. sometimes I struggle so violently to cross over from knowledge to experience.” 


Crossing over

If you are single, how do you cross over? How do you transform your desires and emotions  so that they line up with what you profess to believe? As I walked through life, seeking God’s peace and direction, I discovered a truth that empowered me to cross from knowledge to experience. The key was found in my understanding of God’s name and nature.


The more time I spent in His word and in His presence, the more clearly I began to understanding that my single status did not interfere with His love for me or His desires for my life. Being single didn’t mean I was waiting for God’s best. God’s ultimate plan for my fulfillment and happiness wasn’t a gift that would be handed to me on my wedding day. Every new day of life I was given, whether single or married, would be filled with all the goodness and love God could give me. His offering of grace, mercy, peace, and love was the same to every one of His children. Our Heavenly Father does not withhold love.My marital status didn’t need to change in order to obtain purpose, peace, and happiness but my perspective did.


The Truth of the Matter

If it is impossible for God to lie, then I can cling to any promise of truth I find about himself in scripture. This brings me to how I overcame the feeling that I was missing something I needed in order to be content and happy because I was single.


Psalm 84:11-12was the key.


The Lord God is a sun and a shield

The Lord will give grace and glory

No Good thing will he withhold to them that walk uprightly.

O Lord of Host, Blessed is the man that trusteth thee.

Are you ready to have your faith supercharged? These verses will do just that, because they present an intimate glimpse into an amazing attribute of your Father’s nature. These revelations provide a foundation you can anchor your desires and dreams upon.  Verse 11b is an integral key to the kind of faith able to sustain and empower you as you accept the Lord plan for your life.


Verse 11 states that each morning the Lord is present and ready with “every good thing” you needed in order to get through the day. Christ faithfully prepares and will pour out upon you, to overflowing, all the strength, encouragement, wisdom, and blessings you need. Anything truly necessary to navigate through the trials & temptations, joys & sorrow, excess & need today is at your disposal. Your loving Father is there with it all, so that tonight you can testify to the world and for the Glory of God,


My Father has withheld nothing!”


As a single woman, some of the emptiness I struggled with was the result of an attempt to peer into the future to see if God’s will lined up with my desires. By doing so, during momentary periods of discontent, I trampled over hills and valleys paved with His Grace, Glory, and Blessings.


As I struggle to be content with my life (yes it is still a struggle today), the Lord still uses these verses to rebuke me with the truth, my emptiness is the result of a self-imposed, narrow sighted, earth-bound vision and a failure to look at life with spiritual eyes.


My prayer has become, “Today Lord,  give me eyes to see, that I might not miss even the smallest blessing that you, in love and Mercy, have prepared for me.” These verses spoke to me as a single woman and they still minister to me today. This promise sustains me as a mother of three when my days consists of mounds of laundry, disappointments, and mundane trials of life.


We should never hesitate to enter into the presence of  the God who formed and knew us intimately before we uttered our first cry. As we place our will at his feet in humble submission, may we never lose sight of the fact he has all ready given His best, His most precious and beloved Son. He will withhold nothing of lesser value.


When you have unburdened your heart and submitted your will to His, do not forget to gather up your basket with faith unmovable, and eyes set to the heavens. Purpose to recognize, accept, and receive  “every good and perfect gift” prepared for your life by the Creator of the Universe. You may be missing a ring, an invitation to a couples party, evenings with company, but you are not missing the key to happiness, peace, and fulfillment.


How full will your basket be tonight when you lay your head upon your pillow? Did you see, accept, and use all he prepared for you today?


What are some other myths about single life you struggled with? What advice can you offer to women enduring the challenges of single life?


What truth about God encourages you heart, chasing the shadows of unbelief away?
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A to Z: Overcoming Noise

Noise

A sound, esp. one that is loud or unpleasant or that causes disturbance:

I do not like noise. My ears are sensitive to misplaced, unnecessary, intruding sounds that rudely interrupt and distract from what I’m trying to concentrate upon. As much as I detest audible noise, this is not the enemy I speak of. I am referring to the silent noises of life.

Noise doesn’t have to be audible. It can come in small voiceless accusations. It is failure ripping relentlessly upon raw hearts and vulnerable emotions. It is silent reproach “You have messed up again,” “you are a horrible mother, wife, friend,” “You call yourself a Christian, you are not better than they are.”

Noise can be a look, a cold shoulder, or indifference. It is a fractured relationship that drowns spirits. Noise strains emotions like a great storm rolling across a plain, devouring everything within the reach of its icy fingers.

Noise can arrive without invitation. It steals wordlessly into living rooms, bedrooms, and even Church auditoriums. It lashes out with silent tongues of discontent, strife, anger, greed, and jealousy. Noise invades relationships, making what was once natural, effortless, and cherished morph into something awkward, unbearable, and tormenting.

Noise is the silent anguish of a grieving mother who has buried her child. It is the suffocating feeling of failure that burns deep inside the soul of the husband who has lost his job and has no idea how he will care for his family. Noise is the guilt of a teen who has given into pressure and had their innocence stolen. Noise is condemnation, heartbreak, anger, hopelessness. Noise is absence of peace.

In a world filled with so much mind numbing and heart deafening noise, how do we find the strength, grace and power to overcome?

Overcoming Noise!

Athletes provide a great example of how to overcome noise. They stand on the free throw line, the game riding upon their shoulders. Every spectator is on their feet screaming, yelling, chanting, praying, taunting, begging. The noise is mind numbing, yet that athlete can silence every voice, becoming deaf and blind to the presence of every human in the arena. It is just him and the net. There is silence in his heart and mind.

SWOOSH, VICTORY, TRIUMPH!

FOCUS!

The only way I overcome the mind deafening, crushing noise of life is through focusing on that which truly matters and the only thing that gives purpose and makes sense of life. Eternity, Forever, Hope, Healing, Heaven, my Lord and Savior. He is present through all the noise. His will is just, loving, and with purpose. Heaven and Earth will pass away, the noise will stop, and He will be there. My life is fleeting, my trials passing. All that matters is the only thing that will last. I will endure and can endure because I know the “Ending.” It is glorious, powerful, and satisfying. Eternity makes the here and now bearable, endurable, even acceptable. The only way I can overcome the noise it to

Look to the Master and Creator.

1I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The Lord s your keeper;
the
Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7The Lord willkeep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8The Lord will keep
your
going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Practical Advice:

  1. Preach to yourself don’t listen to yourself

    When that accusing voice starts whispering lies & accusations, interrupt that voice with a good ol sermon of your own. Counter each lie, accusation and hurt with truth.

  2. Claim a “mantra”

    Not an in the mystic sense of the word, but a phrase or verse of truth that specifically counters the noise. When I was single and struggle with lies like : I was missing out, forgotten, cheated… Psalm 84:11-12 was the mantra I clung to. When I felt overwhelmed by a trial, it was the Psalm “You caused men to ride over our heads, we went through fire and water but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place. ” I set my gaze ahead, and as I broke, fell, cried, and rose up to keep press on, I was a looking for that promised wealthy place.

  3. Meditate on truth

    It doesn’t work to try to just out noise the noise. You have to know, believe, and purpose to let truth and peace reign instead of the noise, lies…. I didn’t just recite Pslam 84, I meditated on it and I told myself why I wasn’t missing out, cheated, left behind.

  4. Accountability!

    If you struggle in an area find a trusted friend who will challenge you, encourage you, and kick you in the butt when you need it. (Do not ask a person struggling with the same thing)

    How do you overcome Noise?

Two quarters and a lesson

A year ago, our former pastor told a very thought provoking story. I came across a very powerful and unique verse in Matthew 16:23 that seemed to tie right into the story.
The true story goes like this….One day a father took his two children out shopping with him. When they got to the store he noticed they had a petting zoo set up for the children. He dug two quarters out of his pockets and handed one to his son and daughter and told them to go into the zoo while he shopped right outside. Seconds after leaving them at the entrance, he noticed his young daughter trailing behind him. He turned to her and asked why she was not at the zoo, petting the animals with her brother. She looked at him and replied the tickets to get in cost 50 cents so she had given her brother her quarter. This touched the father deeply because he knew how much his daughter loved animals and because of that love, he understood the extent of her sacrifice. He walked back with her to the gate and they stood together watching the son play, pet, and romp with the miniature animals. As he stood there, he reached into his pocket and fumbled with the remaining quarters still in his possession. The quarters, sufficient to buy his daughter her own ticket, seemed to be burning holes in his pocket, but what he did next is not what you would think…..for the father remained where he stood, never taking the quarters out, never offering to buy his daughter her own ticket. He not only was a loving father, but he was also a wise man and he wanted to allow his daughter to experience the joy and the reward of her sacrifice of love. Had he given in to the powerful desire to buy the second ticket, he realized he would have cheapened the value and the price of her precious sacrifice.

As I sat in the pew and listened to the story, a host of emotions flooded my heart. I imagined myself in his shoes with one of my precious children beside me, for whom I would give my very life. A battle began to rage and I experienced a conflict in my soul because, although the wisdom of his decision rang true in my heart, the desire to give “good” to a child who truly deserved a reward would have been hard not to pacify. As I sat there I wondered, would I have made the same choice? I can honestly say, I think I would have given the quarters, and while that may not have been a wrong decision, perhaps in giving the quarters the child would have received the lesser and least valuable of the rewards.

I think most of us can say we have been on both the receiving and giving end of “withheld good” As a parent, I find I am faced with this decision almost every day. An incident happened a while back in which one of my kids misbehaved in Sunday school and then throughout the week demonstrated willful disobedience and disrespect towards me. The kids had been invited to a special breakfast on Saturday with their Sunday school class and my husband and I decided we would not allow the offending child to attend with their sibling. Wow, was it hard dropping just the one child off and leaving behind my chance to get out by myself. It was even harder looking into the eyes of my child as we drove away while she sobbed asking to be able to go. I wanted to turn around, but I realized if I gave in and let her go, the lesson would not be learned and the transgressions would be repeated and left to be dealt with another day. Although my child was very repentant and show genuine remorse, my spirit and my husband counseled me to stick to my guns by withholding the “good” because I loved my child and wanted her to learn a very valuable lesson.

In Matthew 16:23 Jesus said “…..get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savoriest not the things that be of God, but those that be of man.”
These were pretty harsh words for Peter after he “rebuked” Jesus for forecasting his death. While Peter was right to be repulsed by the idea of His Lord’s murder, had his spiritual eyes been open and had he been able to comprehend the eternal ramifications of the willing sacrifice Jesus was about to make, I believe he would have closed his mouth and instead fallen to his knees humbly weeping at the feet of his master as Mary had done days before.

Have you ever found yourself in the shoes of the father, equipped with the ability, and/or power, and strong desire to give? Have you ever had the opportunity to “give” or “do” good but had the spirit prompt you respond with a second choice, the better choice, to “withhold good”?

Have you ever found yourself in the shoes of the girl, faithful and obediently following Christ, yet having a desire, need, or request withheld? Has the anguish of your heart ever been met with the still small voice of the Lord saying “Not now”, “Endure for a while”, or “Trust me”? I know people enduring through unbelievably painful trials in their marriage, work, and life. Their desire is pure and they have faithfully served him and what makes it tough is that they know the Lord could simply utter the words and make it all go away, bringing healing, peace, or restoration. Yet for some reason, in his infinite wisdom and love he withholds the “good” and instead gives just enough strength and grace to endure.

There is a woman I barely know, whom I have never met personally, yet her life, struggles, and testimony has greatly impacted my life and walk with the Lord. I think of her daily and pray for her, that the Lord would reward her faithfulness, her long suffering, and her commitment to the truth no matter the cost, by bringing her out of her present fire and into the wealthy place place he promises awaits her an the end. At the same time, I wonder at the eternal impact her life, struggles, and story has made upon countless women all across the country. Her spiritual growth and maturity, and the wealth of knowledge and insight she is able to share, is priceless. I look at her life and I am reminded and admonished to not doubt when the Lord chooses to withhold the “good” so he can eventually give me something far greater that that which my soul longs for.

My life verse is Psalm 84:11-12
The Lord your God is a sun and and shield
The Lord will give grace and mercy,
No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly,
O Lord of Host, Blessed is the man that trusteth thee.

He can pour out blessings and goodness like the sun pours down it’s rays, but he can also withhold and in withholding shield and protect us from not just evil but also second best. No matter his decision we know it is made with Love and mercy and it is accompanied with grace to endure.

Psalm 66:12
Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads
We went through fire and through water,
But thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

If you are going through a trial where you are simply waiting for an answer He is there. If you find yourself painfully thrust into the refiners fire over and over again as you pray for an end to the hurt, He is there. If you find yourself in a vast and lonely ocean, fighting waves of despair and hopelessness, as you use all your strength just to keep your head above the water, no matter the trial no matter the pain, our Saviour is still there. He stands quietly with us feeling our present pain, understanding our present yearning, and our seeing our present need and he stands there with two quarters is his pocket. As our Lord passes with us through the fire and water, remember he also stands there with us in our future deliverance, our future healing, and our future blessing, and knowing all and seeing all, his hand remains where it rest and he lovingly and with omniscience withholds the “good” so that he can eventually give us of his best.

He who withheld not the most precious gift he possessed, his only and beloved son, will not withhold anything of lesser value. Why settle for just quarters when we can own the entire bank!

Are you willing to let go of the quarters and allow him to give you of his best, when and where he deems it best?

God’s amazing timing

Trying to get back into the swing of things, but three children 6 and under make finding time hard : ) I have had a few request regarding the “Just water the camels” story and my courtship story so I thought I would repost the story that I have had published in a few magazines and try to piggy back from there with excerpts from my book.

My love story actually starts with a story…

January of 2002, I was sitting in our living room with my parents and brother. My dad and brother worked for the same company a few miles down the road and they came back to our house every day for lunch. Our lighthearted discussion switched to the not so cheerful topic of the upcoming tax season. In the middle of our discussion, my dad exclaimed, “Brian, have you changed your number of dependents?” In less than a second, dad’s innocent question triggered some rather astute female intuition. The resulting effect was a very excited and harmonious exclamation from mom and I “You’re having another baby!” Brian scowled and turned red, while my poor dad apologized profusely for letting the secret out. Questions flew at my brother faster than he could field them but soon, the wall clock chimed mercifully providing my brother a means of escape from the barrage of questions that rained down upon him. Mom followed Brian out to the car, pumping him for any other information he had about grand baby #4. I remained in the house, cleaning up the mess left over from lunch. As I placed the dishes inside the washer, my mind was a whirl of thoughts and emotions. Suddenly I found my excitement for Brian and his wife veer unexpectedly, changing to feelings of sadness, longing, uncertainty, and anger.
When mom returned to the house, she was practically floating on air, her excitement over grandbaby number four radiating from her face. The tears and emotions that weighed heavily upon my heart made me feel guilty and frustrated and I kept my back to my mom attempting to hide them. Her female intuition kicked in again, and sensing something was wrong. She walked to the sink and gently put her arm around me and said “What’s wrong sis?” I turned and with tears flowing freely exclaimed, “When will it be my time?” I would turn 28 in a few months, and contrary to my dreams and aspirations, I found myself the lone child still living at home. In the span of 3 years, I had watched my best friend court and marry my brother. I had been a spectator as many other friends I knew courted, all of whom were younger than myself. It was hard to sit back and watch as romances bloomed, engagements were announced, weddings showers were thrown and babies followed. My mom was married at the age of twenty, and I had always expected that by 25 I would be married and holding babies of my own. As I neared my 28th birthday, I began to realize marriage may not be in the near future and possibly not in my future at all. My single status became the source of sever trials and saddness in my life. Many times I felt as if I had fallen overboard into a vast and dark sea. I was exhausted to the point of despair from fighting the waves of dashed hopes and expectations that assailed me on a daily basis. More than anything else in life, I wanted to be a wife and mother, but it seemed this gift was being bestowed upon everyone but me.

I was almost twenty eight and as the possibility of marriage seemed to fade, a new struggle emerged. If I was not going to get married, what was my calling in life? Where I was supposed to invest my time, energy, and money? My parents suggested I find something I enjoyed doing, so I got a job at a hospital and began the process of enrolling in a local medical program so I could finish my nursing degree. The Lord was faithful and gave me grace and strength as well as an amazing family that encouraged me. The Lord did given me a peace in my heart concerning my single status, but the emotions and longings never went away completely. I experienced days of amazing contentment and joy, but there were times when the desire awoke in my heart and the longings overwhelmed me. The day Brian announced the anticipated arrival of Biddle #2 was one of those days!

I remember hearing about the concept of courtship and embracing the idea of allowing God to bring the right one along in His own time. I decided to trust Him, but I think I had the expectation that doing so would get rid of all the longings and struggles the single life posed. The decision to wait and trust is in some ways was harder because it takes great faith to relinquish the role of seeker/finder while taking on the role of one who “waits.” When I dated and moved in and out of all the church single groups, my focus was always upon finding the next “possibility.” When I committed to waiting on the Lord I was forced to shift my focus. My gaze had to turn from what I wanted and did not have, to what I did have and what I could do with it. I had placed my trust in the Lord and in exchange, he required I become a worthy steward of the blessing and gifts He chose to rain down upon me each day because I was single. The verse that became my anchor during my early to late 20’s was Psalm 84:11-12

The Lord your God is a sun and a shield,
The Lord will give grace and glory,
No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
O Lord of Host, Blessed is the Man
That trusteth thee.

My daily challenge became this-

Seek the Sun and appreciate the shield. The sun gives light and direction and it provides life and growth. Accepting God’s “not now” was accepting his plan of growth and purification in my life through the trials I faced as an older single girl. Accepting God as a shield was also accepting and trusting His protection of my heart and soul and future. As God said not now to me and my dad said no to young men, the years of waiting was preserving me for God’s amazing best, not the feeble and limited “best” I day dreamed about.

His Grace and Glory. Our lives are meant to bring Glory to God and God alone! Regardless of our state, whether single or married, as long as we accept His grace and carry our burden in faith, God will be glorified and we will be strengthened.

No good thing. Most importantly, the Lord showed me that He prepared for His goodness to be showered down upon my life so much so, that it could be said every day, “On this day, God withheld nothing that I needed for happiness or success or survival!” My challenge was to find, claim, and treasure each blessing He gave. The fullness of my basket at the end of the day depended upon the eyes I choose view life with, and whether my hands accepted with grateful obedience what chose to give. If I was distracted by the desires of the future, I would become blind to and miss the blessings of today. If I looked at life with limited, blind, and earthly vision, not only refusing but also unable to take what the Lord chose to bestow, I would find my basket empty each day. It was important for me to not loose site of the fact empty baskets weren’t because God didn’t hear my pleas, was unable to grant my petitions, or because he simply failed to give, but because I failed to accept what he lovingly chose to give. God knows what is best and “His Best” is ALWAYS what he gives to his children when they live their lives in faithful obedience to him.

– – – Now, back to the story. 🙂 Flash back about 6 years to the summer of 1996. I was sitting in a hotel room with my mom and two other ladies. We were all on our way to the North Woods where my brother was a drill sergeant for a basic training. Both mothers had a son in unit 12 and we were having a sweet time of fellowship as each woman discussed the changes they had seen in their boys over the space of the eight week basic. I remember one mom in particular. She talked about her handsome, smart, athletic son named, David. Her description sparked my curiosity but that only lasted until she disclosed his age, he was 18 years old and 5 years younger than myself. I don’t recall ever seeing him during the promotion and I spent my time visiting all the friends I had worked with in the kitchen the previous year. His mom and his existence totally slipped from my memory when we left the North Woods and returned home, but as it turned out their family started going to our church.

Ironically, the following summer I was asked by our pastor’s son to help run the game time during VBS and wouldn’t you know it, David was in charge. I remember my first impression of him was one of extreme frustration. The guy would not say a word to me. Each day I would approach him and ask what we were doing and what he wanted me to do but my efforts were rewarded with indistinguishable mumblings. While I struggled to make myself useful, I kept myself busy chasing away a handful of young flirtatious girls who kept finding their way out to the game field with some excuse or the other so they could be within eye sight of this new guy fresh back from ALERT. Although he never batted an eye at them or reciprocated their childish advances in any way, I was sort of disgusted with him and how foolishly these young girls were acting over this kid who did little more than mumble and who never said more than 5 words to me.

On the evening VBS was wrapping up, Pastor Scott called me over and completely bowled me over when he apologized for all the rumors that had been flying. I looked at him totally clueless about any rumors so he enlightened me. Apparently, because of our close proximity with each other during VBS, it had been assumed that we were an official item and a courtship was brewing, if not all ready happening. I burst out laughing over the absurd idea. How could this annoying “kid” and I being the source of such ridiculous rumors?! I assured Scott no offense had been taken and once again I ushered the existence of David from my thoughts.

– – – Flash ahead a few years to the day David’s dad announces his courtship to another young lady at our church. I remember not being surprised because it had been pretty obvious they were headed in that direction. Even thought I added their names to the growing number of younger friends who were courting or newly married, I was truly excited for them. In the swirl of emotions, I was left wondering “Would anyone ever notice me?” “Would I ever know what it was like to have a person ask for the opportunity to win my heart?” Not surprisingly, while romance was flying through the church, my struggles with being single got harder. I struggled and fought to keep peace and contentment in my heart, but it was HARD!

Over the next year or so David’s courtship and eventual engagement began to unravel. In the beginning of 2002 his engagement was called off and the relationship ended. Because of David’s friendship with my brother, I knew a little about his struggles and hurts during this time. I felt badly for him and the pain he had experienced during his relationship. I greatly respected him for how he handled the situation. I had seen a growth and sensitivity develop in his life through his own fiery trials, and a maturity which our pastor had commented exceeded some of the men he had pastord. I remember standing alongside my mother the day his mom quietly asked us to pray for him. She explained the engagement was over and he was in Arizona with a friend seeking the Lord guidance and some healing…

Her words evoked a number of emotions. One was sadness and an other concern. I had known many men who walked away from the Lord when their relationship with a lady fell through and I felt a burden for David and felt prompted to pray the Lord’s protection over him. Funny enough, as I prayed that the Lord would bring healing in his heart aI also asked that the Lord bring the right “young” lady into his life when it was time. Never for a moment did my heart awaken to the possibility of relationship with him, in my mind I think I still saw him as an 18 year old kid.

David will tell you he remembers sitting on the ledge of the Grand Canyon being overwhelmed by its beauty and grandeur. He remembers musing upon the fact that the God, who made the landscape before him, was also the God that had made him. David knew this amazing God could take care of him and the desires of his heart. He told the Lord he believed he had placed the desire to be married in his heart, but that he was not going to go looking. He exclaimed to the Lord, almost in frustration or a dare, that if God had someone for him, he would have to put her in his back yard… The Lord is amazing and does not work according to our time table, and this became evident as my future love story was written. The year David and the young lady from church started courting, the Lord had pretty much placed us in his back yard!!! We moved into his little town and were just 5-7 minutes away from his home depending upon who was driving : ) After we moved, our family had been placed into the church Shepherding group his Dad was a leader of, and our family went over quite frequently for outings, bible studies and cookouts. I had also enrolled in a gospel doing chalk art class, and happened to be in these classes with his little sister. So, the entire time David was away, courting this girl and spending time with her family, his family and ours got to know each other very well and we became close friends.

May 25th 2002, four months since asking my mom “when will it be my time?”. I had just worked the night shift at the hospital and was supposed to drive to my sister’s house so I could help her get the kids dressed and to church. After falling a sleep at a red light, I realized I was too exhausted and decided to head home to sleep. When I got home my parent’s were in their room so I down at the kitchen table and ate a bowel of cereal. My parents, completely unaware of my arrival, bantered back and forth about something as they went about their Sunday routine but I was too exhausted to notice. I never heard a word they were saying and without any thought of their extremely erratic and hyper behavior, I went to bed. When they returned from church I was all ready up. They both continued to act very oddly and almost in unison asked me to accompany them on the back porch swing. I accepted the invitation, my foggy brain still clueless anything was out of the ordinary. (those of you who have worked split shifts know how tired and out of it that kind of schedule makes one : ) The phone rang and my dad jumped like he was expecting someone and he sprinted inside to answer it. A few minutes later, he stuck his head out the door and told us he had to go on an errand and would be back soon.

He left and mom asked me to walk with her so we strolled around the yard making small talk. About fifteen minutes later my dad returned, they once again they ushered me to the back porch swing and asked me to sit. As soon as my backside hit the padding, my dad jumped up and exclaimed, “shall we tell her?” With that he disappeared into the house returning with an Eddie Bauer bag. With a smile on his face he exclaimed “Jody, someone has asked if you would “Water their Camels.” This question is a whole other story and there is no time to go into it, but it comes from the story of Isaac and Rebekah and it was a challenge my mom gave me back in 1995 concerning my single years. This simple statement was their way of letting me know someone wanted to court me.

To my surprise, dad announced that the man was David Watkins. (At this point I had forgotten the age difference) As I sat shaking, holding the camel in my lap, my dad explained how everything had taken place, including meetings I knew nothing about. He asked if I has any questions and he answered everything I asked about David. I trusted my father and wanted to be open to his wisdom or insights in my life and future marriage so I had asked my dad’s counsel regarding possible suitors. Dad’s approval of David spoke volumes to me and I if Dad thought him worthy, I was willing to give him a shot at my heart, so I agreed! My parents and I went out to eat to celebrate and afterwards dad made a phone call to poor David who had lain on his bed awaiting an answer the entire time. Our courtship began May 25th 2002, we were engaged July 9th, and on November 2nd 2002, we were married. (I was 28 David was 24 : )

– – – Fast forward to the following year, January 2003. I stood in the living room of my parents home, almost exactly a year to the exact day that I asked my mom “when will it be my time?”. I handed her a Boyd’s bear figurine of a grandma bear holding a grandbaby cub and let her know our first child was growing inside my belly and due in September!

Nothing was ever withheld, I had at times just refused to hold what my sweet Savior wanted to give. His timing was perfect, the wait without regret, the story and man I received a beautiful and amazing story and gift. Look for the treasures each day, they are there!

Go Get Engaged…….

Engagement, it is an event most girls dream of. A life altering moment in time when a man pledges his love, faithfulness, and life to the one he has asked to become his wife. This arrangement signifies an amazing transformation in the lives and relationship of the couple who seal the exclusive pledge between themselves through the giving and receiving of a ring. In an instant, a young woman’s status changes from single to unavailable as she is thrust into a flurry of preparation for the day her promise becomes reality and she joins heart, soul, and body with the man she loves. While the change in status from single to engaged can take mere minutes, the process of “engagement” starts long before the question is “popped” and the ring is placed onto the finger of the “Bride-to-be.”

As I think about engagement, one thing that stands out is the process two people go through to get to the point where they are willing to “forsake all others.” When a woman proudly takes up the title of “Engaged”, bestowing upon her lover exclusive future rights to every aspect of her life, she become both a servant to and master of the other. As I approached my 28th birthday, very single and very much alone, I would have given all I had to taste the joy and wonder of a love as compelling as this. If you are a young lady and find yourself in the same shoes I did at 27, I want to encourage you with the challenge to “Engage your heart” in the one and only place where you will experience the love, joy, and peace you soul truly seeks and desires. Marriage might be right around the corner for you, or it may be years away, but regardless of the “when”, “right now” there is one seeking to woe your heart and your affections.

Jeremiah 30:21b says,
“I will cause him to draw near,
and he shall approach unit me;
for who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto me?
Saith the Lord.
And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
I want to draw your attention to the initiator of this amazingly divine and sacred dance between the God of heaven and the one he passionately loves and pursues, you! Lord states “I will cause him to draw near.” Do you feel unlovely, alone, worthless? Stop and quiet your heart and listen! In the stillness of your aching and troubled heart, do you hear his voice? Can you feel him pursuing you driven by a passion deeper than any ocean, unfathomable, unmeasurable? He is there whispering your name. Don’t let the world’s perception of love and your desire to find earthly love drowned out the voice of one who seeks your love, affection, and devotion.
How does the Lord cause us to draw near? By revealing the source of the aching void in our heart and soul, quenchable only through his pure and holy love. He reveals this void and need through testings and trials which burn away the dross leaving very little for us to hang on to or glory in. Stripped bare and exposed by our weaknesses, with little to glory in or become proud of we become acutely mindful of our desperate need for a love relationship with him.
As you travel the path the Lord has called you to, realize that the trials and difficulties you face as a single woman are one of many ways the Lord will reveal his love and power, compelling you to draw near to him. He desires to, and is at work bringing you to a place where you not only recognize your need to “engage your heart to him”, but are also filled with a driving desire and passion to seek, find, and experience the transforming and fulfilling wonder of the love of Jesus Christ in your life.
In the next few weeks I want to focus on “engaging our hearts to draw near to God”, and how exactly God seeks to capture and win our affection and what our responses should be to our suitor, the God of Heaven.
Please read Jeremiah 30:21b and look for other verses regarding the Lord as a lover pursuing us.
I would like to leave you with a thought and some questions:
*Would you pledge your life to a man you did not know or would you inter into a relationship with someone you knew nothing about?
*Do you truly know and understand who the Lord is?
*Is he a familiar friend or a distant stranger?
*What do you know/understand of His name and nature?
*If you are finding your relationship with him distant and strained, and if so,is it because you do not truly know or understand him?
This might date me, but imagine you were on “The Married Couple”, a popular TV game show where couples are asked questions about their significant other and then given points based on their answers which reveal how well they know each other. If it was you and God on that show together, how well would you do? Would your answers be correct? Would they be lifeless and canned, based on what you read or what your pastor or parents taught you about God? Could you give answers gleaned from personal experience and an active relationship with Him? Would your answers be uttered with the love and devotion of one who had a true understanding of who your God was?
Where is your heart right now? Who has your heart?

Watered any camels Lately?

I thought I would begin my first post by explaining where the phrase “Just water the Camels” came from. This challenge, by my mother, to become a keeper of camels was one of the turning points in my life as I struggled with the various trials common to young and older women alike who desire to be married, but also desire God’s best in their lives. Questions like: Why am I still single? What do I do with my emotions and desires? What am I supposed do do with my life right now, prepare as if I will get married, or assume I will not and just move on?…….

For today, here is my story of how I assumed the role and position of Keeper of Camels.

At the age of 23, my mother asked me to accept the challenge a woman thousands of years before me had fulfilled, and to pour my life into doing it with all my heart and strength. The woman was Rebecca, and my mom’s charge, taken from her life, revolutionized how I viewed my single status and the future ahead of me. Mom read the story of Isaac and Rebecca in Genesis 24, pointing out that Rebecca was preforming the mundane task of watering her father’s camels when her life was changed by a single decision and an act of humility and love. On that day her actions and the charachter that drove her to offer assistance to the stranger changed the course of her future.
The day Rebecca headed to the well to fetch water for her family, I am guessing she never entertained the possibility she was going down to meet the servant of her future husband, yet this is exactly what happened. By choosing to be a servant and by offering water to the stranger and to all his camels, Rebecca unknowingly became the fulfillment of a prayer uttered by another who was looking indeed looking for a spouse. She left with a bucket to fetch water and returned with jewelry on her wrist and future bride of a powerful and famous man in Biblical history.
After reading the story, my mom handed me a figurine of a camel, and challenged me to just “Water my camels.” By this she meant, to faithfully preform the daily tasks and jobs the Lord asked of me each day, believing and trusting that in His perfect will and timing, my Isaac would come.

I want to pass along the same challenge to you, asking you to discover and accept the “Camels” the Lord has entrusted into your hands today. Accepting the job of caring for and keeping them until the day the Lord takes them from your hands and gives you another position.