Something About Dating…

So, I wrote my third guest post for Devotional Diva. One thing I really love about guest posting for Renee is that it is always challenging. I’ve had to step outside the box and/or delve into some issues that I don’t spend much time talking about. First she had me write about becoming approachable… which I’m not—I’m totally not. Then she had me addressing some issues with my skinny little body… which I tend not to talk about because most people don’t understand that “skinny” isn’t a good thing. Today, I’m talking about dating… which is laughable.

But, you see, someone asked me how I felt about not being allowed to date until I was sixteen and, for the first time in my life, I actually thought about it. And the answer I came up with was really quite beautiful. It made me want to hug my dad (and I probably would have if he weren’t 450 miles away).

So here’s my thoughts about dads being involved in their daughter’s dating life: Get all up in the middle of it, please. Even if she tells you she doesn’t want you there. Because she’s lying. And here’s why I believe that.

Purity: A Journey ~ A Guest Post

When my little brother got a girlfriend last year, my sister asked me, “Rebekah, don’t you think it’s weird that Josiah has a girlfriend before you or Joshua ever had a date?”

In case you’re wondering, the answer was “no.” I didn’t find that weird at all. So what if my baby brother beat me into the dating world? I was never looking for a relationship. And maybe that’s why, when a friend of mine asked me to write a guest post on purity, I wondered if I actually had anything to say on the subject.

So I wrote and I backspaced and I wrote and rewrote, and mostly, I learned… I learned something about myself, I learned something about purity, and I learned exactly how purity and my life intertwine.

So take a journey with me to Meditations of His Love, and maybe you’ll learn something about purity along with me.

The Way I Was

About a month ago, my best friend handed me fifteen pages documenting the last year of her life–the year she was diagnosed with primary lymphedema. It was everything I thought a year in the life of Katie should be. I laughed, I cried, and I walked away with a burning to desire to tell the story of a courageous young woman who dared to embrace the life God handed her. She graciously gave me permission to share these words with you…

Strange how I thought I was in control of my life. I thought that I was in control of my dreams. Like when I was ten and knew, in the very depths of me, that I would be married at seventeen. Well, seventeen came and went.

I thought I was in control of my time. But I realized that time is slipping through my fingers. Time reminds me of the sand I would grasp as a child. I tried so hard to hold onto it. But grain by grain it would be stolen away by the wind, the waves, of the desire to let go and build a castle instead.

I thought I was in control of my body. HA! That sneaky little twit proved me wrong with all the grace and quiet of an avalanche.

Most of the time the reality of my situation seems unreal. But there are days when it hits me. When I feel like one more stair to climb is too much to ask. When someone looks at me in disappointment because I have no energy to “come with” or “hang out” or “chill.”

I’m so glad that I haven’t gone off the deep end because trouble came my way. Without God’s grace I would have. I’m so thankful that I turned to Him. So many of my friends aren’t turning to Him in their trouble… no wonder they feel so hopeless.

I hate when people say, “you’re gonna get better.” Are they God? How do they know that? People have this strange idea that you want them to make you FEEL better or FEEL hopeful, when really all you want is for them to stand by you in the suffering. It’s like those parents who make promises to their children when they’re not really sure. They pacify the need while offering no solution to the need. Why? I feel like God is so honest and open. Sure, He is Great and Mysterious but He’s not out to get me by some form of trickery. He is so crystal clear in His love for me. He doesn’t pacify with promises of “I’m going to heal you, Katie.” But He does promise to never leave me or forsake me.

There are times when I get discouraged and start to complain to God saying, “Why God? Why can’t I just feel good? Why can’t I just live like a normal person?” It is in these times that I am hit with the realization that I’m not on this earth so I can live in comfort and be perfectly happy. I am on this earth to bring glory to my God. When contemplating the suffering of the Son of God, I realize I’m not entitled to a life of ease. My Friend laid down His life for me because He loved me. I want to love Him that way.

God brought me to the place where I COULD NOT live without His helping me to live. He brought me so low and took away so much, not because He hated me, but because He wanted my blinded, starry eyes to see the truth. The truth that this, all this that surrounds us, is but a shadow of real living. All this means nothing without Him. I’m thankful for the agony because it brought me to my knees… where I should have been all along. And I don’t want to be healed if it means that I, in my humanness, go back to the way I was. You see, I couldn’t be desperate for Him until I was TRULY desperate for Him. Every day I’m asking for His help. And every day, He is right by my side.

Katie Beth sometimes believes in as many as six impossible things before breakfast, which is perhaps why she is one of Rebekah’s nearest and dearest friends. This past year, God has taken her on a whirlwind of a trip where she is learning to disappear and let Jesus shine through her suffering. The full version of her story includes a dragon, a Brazilian dancer, and Frank Sinatra… but it might also involve a murder if I dared to share those details with all of you.

The Dreams I Never Dreamed

A Guest Post by Barbara Snyder…

When my dreamer daughter asked if I would be interested in writing a guest post about dreams on her blog, my first thought was, “What do I believe about dreaming now that I have seen so many dreams fulfilled in ways so unlike the ways I first anticipated they would play out?” As I began reminiscing over the years of my life, I came to the realization that most of the dreams that have come into existence are the dreams I never dreamed. At least not directly.

When I was a teenager, I dreamed of being a wife… but I never dreamed that I would not marry my high school sweetheart.

I dreamed of singing… but never at a funeral for someone’s baby girl who blessed their lives for only a few short months.

I dreamed of having children of my own… but I never dreamed of experiencing a miscarriage.

I dreamed of being a faithful friend… but never dreamed I’d stand beside my friend as she unexpectedly buried her teenage son.

I dreamed that my children would be scattered across the world for God’s glory… but I never dreamed of the heartache that would come with the physical separation from my son who fulfills that dream on the other side of the globe.

I dreamed of writing a book… not authoring curriculum for a missions organization.

I dreamed of watching my mom grow old as she watched my children grow up… but I never dreamed of cancer or death, or that my youngest child would barely remember her.

I dreamed of impacting lives through missions… but I never dreamed God would add to my family by grafting in young missionaries who call me “Mom.”

So many dreams that I dreamed were limited by my own small perspective.

Looking back, it’s easy to see that many of my dreams were selfish and self-motivated. Dreams to draw attention to myself instead of to bring glory to God. In hindsight, I can honestly say that the best dreams that have ever been fulfilled in my life have occurred when God has asked me to sacrifice my dreams upon the altar of His will. To lay my desires before Him and trust that He would resurrect them into something far better than my own.

Recently, a friend of mine asked me for prayer as she prepared to sacrifice a longstanding dream that involved more than twenty years in a particular ministry. In her words, she was “going to Mt. Moriah with a knife in one hand and fire in the other.” And while she was unsure as to whether God would provide a “ram in the thicket” as He did for Abraham, she was going nonetheless.  And while I know that it will be hard for my friend to climb that mountain and put this particular dream to death, I’m excited for her. I’m excited because I’ve seen how God resurrects dreams. Even those that are placed before Him with gut-wrenching agony and tears, or maybe I should say especially those.

Yielding my dreams into God’s keeping has been a continual challenge throughout the years. But as I’ve opened my hands and allowed God to steer my heart and redirect His purposes in me, I’ve experienced the joy of His presence in miraculous ways.  And I’ve come to understand that my dreams are not just meant for me. My dreams, the ones that God has given, are always meant to be shared with others. The greatest dreams of all are the ones I can’t make happen – the dreams that depend upon God working through me to complete the vision that He has given. The vision that encompasses far more than my earthly eyes can see.

So with this thought in mind, I encourage you to keep dreaming. Dream those dreams that are bigger than you. Dream outside the limits of this world. Dream beyond the practical and realistic. After all, if your dreams are realistic, then they won’t require God to do the impossible. But most of all, dream the dreams that God has already dreamed for you – dreams that will bring Him glory and touch the world with the light of His love in powerful ways. For those are the dreams of eternity.

And one day when I meet you in heaven, I can’t help but imagine that we will stand together before our Savior and in awe proclaim, “Lord, I never dreamed…”

Barbara Snyder, like her daughter, still believes in dreams. She is married to her favorite person in the world and is mother to five incredible kids with a family that continues to grow as God grafts missionary sons and daughters into her life. She strives to live the moments with her eyes looking for God’s presence and hands open to His leading as she presses toward the culmination of all dreams – eternity with her King. She blogs at www.merewhispers.wordpress.com.

Dreaming or Discontent?

A Guest Post By Julianna Morlet…

Born to Fly — Sara Evans

^^^

This was my song all throughout high school. I sang it over and over and over and it even made it into my graduation montage. I have always been a girl who lives off the ground. Always dreaming about what could be. My pastor once titled it, The Architect of Vision: one who dreams the future.

I dream the future a lot. Much to my demise, but I can’t help it. Though I love my life now and I love living “in” the now, I can’t seem to keep my mind here. It seems as beautiful as everything is, it could always be so much more; it’s getting there that always stumps me.

We all, I believe, have that dreamer living inside us and, like most things in life, she can either be an inspirer or a killer.

Recently, I have recognized there is a very thin line between discontentment and dreaming. One that I’d never seen before. I’d fallen into the trap of writing my discontentment off as dreaming, when in reality, dreaming is meant to enhance your morale, not decrease it.

Dreaming makes you feel like the world is your oyster.
Discontentment
 makes you feel like the world is against you.

My dreams can sometimes lead to discontentment with my current season of life. But I don’t think the guard against that is to stop dreaming. Below are some safeguards against discontentment I’ve gleaned from older women in my life who I consider “Wise and Reckless Dreamers.”

1. Talk to God
If you’re a Christian and you believe (or are learning to believe) that God has a purpose for your existence, than asking Him to plant dreams and passions in your heart is the best thing you could do! And He will do one of two things: a) Either He will give you your requests, in His timing, because they are what He has planned for you OR b) He will begin to mold and fashion and reshape your dreams and desires to fit His purpose and plan for you. I’ve experienced both, and in both circumstances, I was over the moon excited about living out the dreams God had let come to fruition.

2. Talk to Your Mentor
Having older Christian women in my life as spiritual mothers, in addition to my own amazing mother, has benefited my life immensely. They reground me when I’m about to take flight on a harmful dream, they pray over me asking that God’s grace and love will be fulfilled in my life, and they are open to talk about anything and everything I have questions about as a woman growing up. They never let me complain (for too long) and they always work out a game plan with me. Mentorship is biblical, and so beneficial for life.

*If you don’t have a mentor and want one, Good Women Project has an awesome program set up for you!

3. Start a Journal
Keep it with you and list all your dreams as they come. Sometimes little ridiculous ideas that come to us in the middle of the night aren’t necessarily the dream. But sometimes they are markers, or arrows, pointing to the bigger picture. Kind of like a road map. An idea you were all worked up and excited about last week might seem crazy and boring next week. If I had $1 for every time I said, “I wanted to do WHAT?!” while reading back over my journals, I’d be a gazillionaire! Keep track and see what sticks.

– – – – –

Lately, my prayers have been about keeping me grounded, grateful, and gracious. The magnificent thing about dreams is that they create this hope and excitement, but the curse of them is that sometimes they have the very real possibility of breeding discontentment. I’m not discontented yet, but I can easily see my thoughts going that way. Can you?

We must stop the discontent by asking what God wants for us, talking to other women who have been in our shoes, and remembering that dreaming will always be a magical part of who we are.

Juliannais a 20-something girl who spends her time either writing, singing or talking. If you could sum her up in one sentence it would be, a visionary idealist who wishes to conquer the world before her 25th birthday. She is married to her very own music man and their love story is a mix between soap opera and fairytale. She documents nearly everything in hopes to someday make a mark on this world. She is the writer behind the blog, The Girl that Sings.

Once Upon a Dream

A Guest Post By Rachelle Rea…

Once there was a girl who told God yes.

Yes. Three letters that form one tiny word etched in ink on a rock I kept from the walk where I first whispered it. Yet yes can be a big word when breathed with the heart-voice and meant with the soul. Like a stained-glass window, that word, when spoken to an infinite God, can let in light and glory and open-mouth awe.

Once this same girl dreamed of the word go.

Go. Two letters that form an even tinier word, etched in a dream on a heart. I was inspired by Amy Carmichael, whose go meant giving up everything in India, and by Livingstone, whose go entailed following God into the depths of dark Africa. I read their stories and wondered if God would call me to go someday. Then I no longer wondered if, but when.

The dream has morphed and molded in the few short years I’ve held it close like a fresh, new pearl. Fear has caused it to shrink and shrivel. Love-light has allowed it to grow and stretch. Possibilities have put it to the test.

Not six months ago, I walked into my Sunday-school classroom before any of my kindergarten kiddos had arrived and saw the announcement. A team from my church would be going on a mission trip to Costa Rica this summer.

And I knew. My yes meant this. My go meant now.

Questions swirled within my mind until at last the only question that mattered rose to the surface. My child, will you?

Once again, this girl told God yes. And, I’m scared. And, Oh, but, what about–? And, What if there are tarantulas in the shower, Lord?

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 (NIV)

So the last week of June I clasped a ticket in trembling hands. I boarded a plane that took me to a village on the side of a volcano, a village named Tierra Blanca. We rose at five every morning when monkeys jumped on our roof. We restored electricity to the little church, distributed clothing to the people, and spoke stumbling Spanglish with the children as we played. Most importantly, we showed, shared, and saw the love of Jesus. (And zero tarantulas.)

At two a.m. on Independence Day, we landed. Home. At baggage claim I looked at all the people gathered ’round—the team that would never be quite the same again… and I felt a little like mourning. Because I would miss them. Because I would miss the dream coming true for the first time in Costa Rica.

But then, I realized that the dream coming true doesn’t mean that the dream ends.

Rapunzel asked, “I’ve been looking out of the window for eighteen years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything I dreamed it would be?”
Flynn answered, “It will be.”
“And what if it is? What do I do then?”
“Well, that’s the good part, I guess. You get to go find a new dream.”

My dream coming true this summer when I went on my first mission trip doesn’t mean this daring journey is over. It means I get to dream my dream in a new way. Because saying yes isn’t a one-time thing.

Once there was a girl whose dream came true. Now that girl smiles at the rock with y-e-s scribbled on it and dreams of saying yes again.

Rachelle Rea is a homeschool grad turned college girl, a word crafter who loves to watch the sunlight sparkle through the trees, and, of course, a daring dreamer. Visit her at www.rachellerea.com.

When Your Dreams are a Nightmare

So, I’ve been pretty quiet on most of these guest posts, content to let others share their dreams without my commentary, but I feel like this one needs to have something said about it. Because when I read Amy’s post, my jaw hit the floor and all I could say was, “Whoa.” When I asked a few blogger friends to share about their dreams, I never expected any of them to delve into a nightmare. But I admire Amy’s bravery. I love that she pursued this dream that so many of us would be too afraid to pursue. And I love that she’s here today to encourage us that sometimes our “nightmares” are part of the beautiful dream God is creating of our lives.

A Guest Post By Amy Bennett…

I get a warm and fuzzy feeling when I read about people’s dreams.  They want to write a book they’ve been thinking about since they were 6 or they’d like to move to Africa as a missionary or they can’t wait to quit their job and finally be a pilot.  Most desperately want to live out their dream.  But the story of one of my God-given dreams was more like a nightmare I didn’t care to see to fruition.

I had always been on the straight and narrow.  I was the good-girl.  The honor student.  One of the first of my friends to get married.  My husband and I enjoyed seven years together until things started imploding.  Many circumstances led me into an emotional affair that was quickly uncovered but slowly untangled.

Years past and I finally separated myself from this person, my husband and I had repaired our marriage through God’s leading and I thought I could quietly move on.  God had other plans.

He gave me a literal dream one night.  In it, it was clear that I had moved on but my job wasn’t done until I shared my story.  They very last thing I wanted to do was share my story.  No one knew about the emotional affair besides my husband and three or four close friends.  My family had no clue.

I shared this dream with my close friend and for months and months, I would talk about writing about what happened.  But fear gripped me.   I didn’t want to ruin my good-girl image and was sure stop any influence I thought I had. Family would scoff at me and friends would leave me.  I couldn’t imagine how coworkers that found out may react.

Sharing my deepest, darkest secret sounded like playing out my worst nightmare.  And it’s the exact thing God wanted me to do.

Sometimes our dreams and goals aren’t self-prescribed.  And sometimes, they aren’t pleasant and fun.  But when dreams are God-given, it’s exactly what we need.

I published my eBook Entangled last November and it ended up playing out like a fairytale.  The burden of this hidden sin I had been tormented with was lifted off my shoulders and my friends, family and even coworkers rallied around me like I never had experienced.  Through the book, people’s eyes have been open and perhaps, some marriages have been spared.

Perhaps you’re like me and scared to death of the dream God has given you.  Maybe it sounds like a nightmare you don’t care to experience.  If I could say one thing, it’d be to jump and jump big.  Sure, you’ll still experience fear and anxiety but when you wake up?  You’ll realize your nightmare was a fairytale and God was waiting to sweep you off your feet all along.

Amy Bennett is a recovering perfectionist and lover of God.  She is wife to her police officer husband, Scott and mommy to two beautiful girls, Emma and Lexi and hopefully one handsome boy soon. They reside in South Carolina, in a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina with their two dogs Mattie and Tucker and a picket fence to hold them all in.  Amy spends her day writing code for a bank and her evenings writing blog posts at Permission to Peruse.