When Worlds Collide: Some Thoughts On Christian Dating

I’m going to be honest. I have a serious weakness for romantic comedies/dramas. 

Like a lot of people, I love movies like Sweet Home Alabama, A Walk To Remember, and Sleepless In Seattle. Not to mention pretty much every Christmas movie that they play on Hallmark in December.

I love seeing both characters grow through their relationships. I love seeing the thrill of first love. And of course, I love happy endings to a perfectly fitting soundtrack.

But, if there’s one thing that most of us know, it’s that love isn’t always as simple as it is in the movies, is it? There are bumps in the road. There are complications. There are a lot of Taylor Swift songs. And there are a a lot of really hard decisions to make, forcing us to ask, “What is God’s will in the midst of all this?

Since I’ve graduated high school and started college, I’ve seen more and more friends move into relationships and ask really good questions. Questions about knowing if they’re ‘the one’, navigating fights, dealing with emotions, and establishing boundaries. Even as a single girl, it has become pretty clear to me that relationships can be hard. And, if we don’t come at them from God’s perspective, they’re only going to be ten times harder.

I’m going to be honest, I don’t claim to know everything about this. I’m not an expert and I certainly don’t have any kind of relationship-certification. But as Christians, we do have two things that we can always turn to with our questions: God and His Word. If we continuously go to God with our questions about this, He’ll lead us in the right direction. And, as I’ve been seeking to better understand God’s will for relationships, I’ve come across some advice that I believe is a good starting place when it comes to dating.

The first thing, which many of us are familiar with, is to be equally yoked. I can’t stress enough the importance of this one. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” This is not to say that we should never interact with unbelievers, as Christians we are called to be salt and light in this world (Matthew 5:16). But, our closest interactions should be with those who share our values. And in dating, our boyfriend or girlfriend should always share our core beliefs and convictions. 

The second, is to pray about the person that you are dating (or, the person that you would like to potentially date). Ask God what His will is for your life and ask Him to reveal it to you. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Here’s the thing guys, God has a plan for your life. I don’ t know what it looks like, but He does. And if marriage is part of His will for you, than He’ll reveal the person that you’re supposed to be with when the timing is right. In the meantime, trust Him with His perfect timing.

The third thing is to look at their character. What kind of person are they? What do they care about most? Do they love God? Are they kind to those around them? What kind of father (or mother) would they be (assuming you want to have kids)? These are all vital questions to ask yourself when you like someone. A love for God, a love for people, and a desire to live life God’s way are some of the most important qualities to look for in a person. These things will all affect how they treat you and how they treat those closest to you. Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” These are all important qualities to consider when you’re looking to date (or court) someone new.

The fourth thing is to understand their personality and yours. As human beings, we are all fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image (Psalm 139:14). We were each made for a divine calling and purpose. And we are all given different strengths, gifts, and personalities. And more than likely, your boyfriend or girlfriend is not going to look exactly like you. Thus, it is so important that we take time to understand the other person. Are they introverted, or extraverted? Do they make decisions based on logic or emotion? Do they like to have a schedule, or are they more spontaneous? With personality, there is no ‘wrong’ way to be, but it is important to understand both yourself and the other person in a relationship. Romans 12:6-8 addresses how we are all created differently, with different strengths, as it says “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

Fifth, listen to the input of your friends and family – Oftentimes, our first instinct is to be defensive of the person that we like, and ignore the input of others. However, as Christians, it is so important that we listen to what our friends and family have to say about the person that we’re dating, because oftentimes, they can see things that we can’t. I would even advise asking common friends about them before going out with them, asking if they see anything that could be a potential red flag in a relationship. Proverbs 16:20 says, “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.” The people closest to us will always have our best interest at heart, and if they see a lot of red flags in the relationship, than it is best to listen to them.

Sixth, work on the other important relationships in your life – There is so much more to life than romantic relationships and dating. And though there is often pressure from society (and sometimes, even other Christians) to get into a relationship, it is totally OK to be single! Singleness is not a curse or something to be ashamed of – Paul was single and so was Jesus! And whether married, dating, or single, it is important that we make our relationship with God our top priority! It is also important that we maintain strong relationships with our family and friends. Not to mention, grow in knowledge, faith, and compassion as human beings. Marriage temporary, but our relationship with Christ is eternal. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31.

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How about you guys? What advice would you give about relationships and dating? And what do you believe are important qualities in a potential spouse? Let’s start a conversation about this in the comments section below!

 

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B.A.S.I.C. – A Post About Love

“He said come to the table, come join the sinners who have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior now, sit down and be set free. Come to the table.” – Sidewalk Prophets 
Recently, I have been challenged to write a post about love. The challenge came up on Sunday night, as I was talking to a group of friends at church, and one of them mentioned that she had recently read a devotional about love. Thus, she gave me this challenge, when I asked for blogging suggestions: write about love. 
And in that moment, I accepted the challenge.
Initially, I wasn’t quite sure which kind of love to write about (According to C.S. Lewis, there are four different kinds; storage, philia, eros, and agape). My first instinct was to write a post about God’s love, but I had just written about that two posts back, in #RelationshipGoals. My other thought was to write about dating relationships, which is something I’ve been studying lately. But, that didn’t feel quite right for this post either, although I would like to eventually touch on that topic more in the future. Finally, my mom gave me this idea, as I was talking with her the other day.
Write about B.A.S.I.C. – what it means to be brothers and sisters in Christ. 
And, as you can see by the title of this post, this is the topic that stuck. 
For as long as I can remember, the vision of every believer being part of the family of God has always captivated me. Growing up as an only child, there were often times when I used to imagine what it would be like to have a brother or a sister. I would watch my friends interact with their siblings, and wonder what it would be like to have a sibling of my own. Thus, when I accepted Christ and read Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:50 that “Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”  I was immediately intrigued.
Since then, I have grown to see more and more the beauty of this teaching, and how it directly relates to the real-in-the-now moments of each of our lives. How it changes the way that we see and interact with those around us, and how it gives us a vision of hope and love to live out in a world that seems to grow a little more cold, isolated, and autonomous every day.
Every person that we meet is a person that is, or has the potential to become our brother or sister in Christ. And God desires that each one of us would choose to become a part of this big, diverse, worldwide family. He wants to adopt each one us as His sons and daughters, and wants each of us to turn to Him as our Heavenly Father.
What would happen if each one of us chose to truly live this teaching out to its full? What if each one of us really chose to see each other this way, and treat each other like family? What if we chose to embrace one and other with this kind of radical love in a world that is too often governed by division and hate? What would change in our communities? Our cities? Our nations? Our world?
And how incredible of witness would it be for our faith? 
Right now, the world is starving for something real. In a world of shallow connections, airbrushed images, and competitions for the most ‘likes’,  we are desperately in need of real love, family, and community. One that will be there for us when things get hard and the odds seem stacked against us.
What if we, as Christians, made the choice every day to love?
To love God.
 
To love our brothers and sisters in Christ?
 
To love those who God wants to bring into the family?
What if we made the words of John 13:35 our mission statement? Where Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
What if we chose to become world changers—loving every person that we meEt the way Jesus did, living out the mission and heart of the Gospel in every interaction we have; changing the world through God’s amazing love—one life at a time? 
What if we really chose to be B.A.S.I.C.? 
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Twenty Lessons for Twenty Years

So…today is the big day. My twentieth birthday. 

And if I’m totally honest, I feel no different than I did yesterday.

Nonetheless, in the tradition of posting a blog-per-birthday, I decided to write about twenty things that I’ve learned over the last twenty years.

And I hope you enjoy reading them!

  1. Trust God – I know that I used this one last year, but it is still so relevant! Every year life changes, and we are faced with new challenges, trials, and oppositions. Nonetheless, in the midst of this God is always constant. He was, and is and is to come (Revelations 1:8) and He never changes or acts inconsistently. Through all of life’s trials, we can always turn to Him for guidance and direction.
  2. Hold onto your true friends – As we go throughout life, it’s likely that we’re going to meet tons of people. Some are going to enter our lives and some are going to exit. Nonetheless, through all of this it is so important that we keep our true friends close! Friends are hard to come by, and when you come across the ones that will stand by you no matter what, don’t let them go! They’re one of life’s rare gems.
  3. Stay true to yourself – God has crafted each one of us into something unique and special. We were all created with innate worth and potential. And, in a world where everyone is trying so hard to fit in, it is so much better to stand out – making the choice everyday to be true yourself and live your life with confidence in Christ!
  4. Stay close to family – The older you get, the more you realize how important your family really is – and how short of a time that you have with them. Make the most of the time that you have with your parents, grandparents, and relatives. More than likely, they have a lot of wisdom that they’ve obtained over the course of their lives – and they’ll always be your biggest cheerleaders!
  5. Appreciate the small moments – Because one day, those small moments will be big moments.
  6. Chase your dreams – In the words of a song by 33 Miles, “You only get just one time around, you only get one shot at this…one try, one ride, one life.” Don’t be afraid to make this life everything that you want to to be – and go after your goals with the confidence that you can achieve them.
  7. Working hard pays off – Sometimes, hard work isn’t easy or fun in the moment, but it pays off in the long run. Put your all into every project, every job, and every assignment that comes your way. I promise you won’t regret it!
  8. Make a difference – Every day we are given the chance to make a difference in someone’s life – no matter how small it might seem. Don’t waste the opportunities that God has given you to be a light for Him, and make someone’s day a little brighter.
  9. Hard times never last forever – Each one of is going to face trials and tribulations in this life. It’s part of living in a fallen world. But we’ve all been there, and it will get easier. Don’t forget to reach out to God, family, and friends during these times. Sometimes, we all need to ask for help, and we all need somebody to talk to.
  10. Don’t be ashamed to rest – None of us were made to keep going 24/7. There’s nothing wrong with resting, and taking a break after a day of hard work. We all need rest sometimes, so we’re refreshed to keep going in our daily lives and tasks.
  11. Life is more than the things you post – In the modern world, it can be so tempting to constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to post a picture on Instagram, or a quote on Twitter, but life is so much more than that. Don’t forget to live in the moment, and forget about your social media for a little while.
  12. Age is just a number – Sometimes, once you get into your teens, birthdays can get a little scary. You’re faced with the realization that you’re getting older, and you have a lot of life decisions ahead of you. But sometimes, it’s best not to focus on the number, and just do what you need to do each day, which brings me to my next point…
  13. Take one day at a time – Jesus actually gives this same piece of advice in Matthew 6:34. He says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” If you take one day at a time, life becomes a lot easier to handle.
  14. Find something that you love to do – For me, hobbies have always been a great way to relax and have fun. They help us to de-stress from the responsibilities of the day and give us an outlet to pour our energy into. Personally, my main hobby is writing—but for you, it may be any number of things, from singing, to sewing, to soccer. Find out what it is – I promise you won’t regret it.
  15. Don’t make a SO your whole life – For those of you who don’t know, ‘SO‘ is a trendy term for a ‘significant other‘. And the reason I use this term is because it’s not just a girl problem—guys do this too. Since I’ve gotten to college, I’ve seen more and more people get so consumed in a boyfriend or girlfriend that they forget about everything else around them. There’s nothing wrong with dating, but never get so wrapped up in the person you’re dating that you forget the other important areas of your life.
  16. Stand up for what you believe in – Never be afraid to use your voice and stand up for what you believe in. It can often be scary to share your views, whether they be a belief in God, a political opinion, or a cause that you feel strongly about, but it’s so worth it. Speaking up can make a real difference, and they say that one spark starts a fire. Never be afraid to speak out.
  17. But do this with gentleness and respect – Branching off of the last topic, as important as it is to stand up for your beliefs, it is also important that you do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). It is important that we respect those around us, and present each of our beliefs and views with love.
  18. Don’t be afraid to try new things – I’ll be the first to admit that I hate change. Nonetheless, sometimes change can be good. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things.
  19. Take the time to appreciate beauty – Every day we are surrounded by beauty in this world – whether it be a kind word or a beautiful flower that we see outside. Take the time to appreciate these things, or as the old saying goes, ‘take time to smell the roses‘.
  20. Celebrate life’s accomplishments – You know, like writing a post to celebrate getting older. That sort of thing.😉

There you go! Twenty lessons for twenty years! I hope you enjoyed reading these, and if you have anything that you’d like to add, feel free to write it in the comments section! I’d love to hear your thoughts!😃

Growing Up On 1 Timothy 4:12 Girl

Hi everyone, I hope that you had an awesome Easter and a wonderful stuff-your-face-with-candy-day-after-Easter! I know I did, and if you want to see some of the pictures, you can feel free to see them on my Instagram page here.

For those of you who don’t know, or who are new around here, I’ve been publishing blogs on this site since I was seventeen years old. As a college student who’s now almost twenty (eek!), I’m pretty proud to admit that!

Nonetheless, with time comes change (Even though as an ENFJ with a hard J, I’d prefer nothing changed—ever!), and the older I’ve gotten, the more stumped I’ve become for topics. For those who are worried, I’m not planning on breaking up with this blog anytime soon (love you guys!), but I am planning on making a few changes around here.*

You see, over the past three years, I’ve mostly used this blog as a place to publish articles on all things faith, growing up, and living. I’ve addressed a pretty wide range of topics too, ranging from social issues, to politics, to relationships, to friendships, to living confidently in Christ. However, going forward I would like to expand my horizons. Rather than making this blog soley about various challenges and issues that we face as young Christians, I’d like to make this about all-things-life.

My goal has always been to keep this blog real, and lately, I feel like I’ve been struggling to do that. Because if I’m honest, there is so much more that I’d like to share with you guys besides just articles. I’d like to share about my random thoughts and musings. I’d like to share about that-really-awesome book that I just read the other day. I’d like to share about what God’s teaching me, and interesting experiences going on in my day-to-day life. I’d like to make this blog a journey—where we both travel to figure out the Christian life together. 

The last three years have honestly brought about so many changes, challenges, and new things that it’s hard to believe that it’s been just three years. Somehow, I’ve transformed into a high school senior just starting to grow into her own skin to a young adult—making decisions about college, life, and my career. I’ve graduated, had my first part-time-job, worked my first internship, made new friends, and experienced many ups-and-downs of life. It would be a lie to say that I’m exactly the same person that I was when I started. It would also be a lie if I said that my blog hasn’t already evolved into something much different than it was when I launched it back in 2015.

So let’s keep growing. Keep learning. And keep traveling together.

One step at a time.

Trusting God all the way.

*As you may have noticed, I already changed the layout to a pretty sweet new one! 

A Prayer For Christmas

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This Christmas let us remember the reason for the season.

Let us, in the midst of the cooking, the wrapping, and the shopping, take some time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.

Let us reach out to others, remembering to put them before ourselves and helping those who are less fortunate.

Let us pray for the homeless, the veterans, those away from family, and all those who have situations much more difficult than our own.

Let us remember those closest to us, and spend some time with friends and loved ones as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Let us never take anything for granted but be thankful for what we do have, as we anticipate a new year filled with hope, resolutions, and promises.

Let us take some time to enjoy the little moments, those small nameless moments that get pushed aside for the glamor of Christmas, because someday those small moments won’t be so small anymore.

Let us remember those we miss, be thankful for those that we do have, and move forward with the hope and knowledge that someday we’ll be see our deceased loved ones once again.

Let us put aside our busyness, our stress, our fear, and our worries, remembering that in the midst of all of the stress of life, we have a Savior who understands, and a peace in the midst of chaos.

Let us deck the halls, enjoy our Christmas dinner, exchange gifts, and surround ourselves with love, because this season only comes once a year.

And, despite the fleetingness and busyness of this season, let us keep its spirit in our hearts, so that in some ways, this holiday may last all year long.

* * * * *

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, see, the angel of the Lord came on them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said to them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:8-14

 

Thoughts And Ramblings of The Christian Writer (Part One)

“The Christian in the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.” 
― Francis A. Schaeffer

From the time I was a little girl, I’ve been an author at heart. I have always loved telling, creating, and reading stories. Whether it be a book I found at the library, a movie that I just saw at the local theater, or a real person’s growth and testimony, stories fascinate me beyond belief. Being a storyteller is an integral part of who I am.

As most of you (hopefully) also know, faith is an integral part of who I am. If I was to rate each part of myself, faith would always come up on top, as my relationship with God is the most important thing in my life. And while there are many great Christian authors who do not include their faith much in their stories, I cannot imagine keeping my faith out of my stories. One way or another, Christianity is bound to play some sort of role in my writing—it is simply the way God has called me to write.

Nonetheless, like many other people have pointed out, Christian art doesn’t exactly have the best reputation right now. Some may pin it on the fact that we live in an increasingly secular society and others may blame it on small budgets, but a fact still remains.

Oftentimes, faith based stories come out sub-par. And as a Christian and a writer, this is something that I find quite sad. 

I don’t think it is because Christians are inherently bad at storytelling. I also don’t believe that it’s because Christianity makes for a weak storyline—look at the Bible! I believe most of our problem is in our approach, and that with a little hard work, we can create stories that are both well made and and reflective of the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

Thus, I have decided to create a short series on writing good Christian fiction—and the first part of this series will be on writing good characters.

One of the most important things in writing a good story is creating a strong cast. For me, characters are the first thing that draws me to a story. That said, one of of the biggest problems that I’ve seen in (some) Christian fiction is that the characters exist for the story—not the other way around. 

In real life, we live amongst a wide variety of personalities, narratives, and temperaments. Ask me to name my five closest friends and I can point out specific traits that make them unique and special. However, in a lot of Christian novels, I have only seen a few personalities represented—and they’re often in extremes for the point of showing a character come to Christ.

Elaborating on this, many character only have struggles that are dramatic, cliche, or too-subtle-to-notice. I have seen female protagonists who come across like a damsel in distress, but rarely female protagonists that battle stubbornness and hard-headedness. I seen male protagonists who struggle with lust or anger, but rarely male protagonists who struggle with overeating, or self image.

Furthermore, I haven’t often seen characters who have quirks or interests that aren’t essential to the story or lesson. In The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants, Tibby loves filmmaking, Bridget is impulsive, Carmen is introspective, and Lena is noticeably introverted. Those details aren’t necessary to the book (though, I suppose Bridget’s impulsiveness could be argued as essential in the first book) but they added life to the characters. They made them feel real and they made them relatable to the audience. Meanwhile, in The Hunger Games, there was a guy named Peeta who’s a baker. Corny? Maybe. Memorable? Absolutely.

In short, it is important to know your characters intricately, and for them to be written as if they have a life outside of the story. It’s important that they feel like characters we can get attached to and relate to. And, considering the vast diversity that we have in our churches, it is important that they represent a variety of different personalities and people. The kind of books that I love the most are the ones that  make me feel like the characters are my best friends. This is something we must do if we want our stories to feel real. Interview your characters. Stick them in various situations and see how they react. Consider how they would think or fall in love. Or how they would dream.

The kind of characters that become the most memorable are the ones that feel the most real. It is our job, as authors, to breathe as much life into them as we can.

Christian books/series/movies that get this right.

  • The Christy Miller Series by Robin Jones Gunn
  • The Left Behind Series by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
  • SouledOut Sisters Series by Neta Jackson
  • There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones
  • October Baby 
  • Do You Believe

How about you? Do you have any tips on how to create good characters? And have you read any books that you feel do an exceptional job with this? Feel free to share in the comments section below!

 

 

A Life Update And A Lesson Learned

Hey everyone, sorry for the long-time-absence. I promise that nothing has been wrong, other than my sheer busyness and procrastination. Nonetheless, there has been a lot that has been going right lately, and I wanted to share it with you guys.

Recently, I have made a career change and I feel really good about it.

 I have realized that God is calling me to become a teacher. 

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Interestingly enough, this was my original plan all through high school—and truth be told, I’m honestly not sure the desire ever went away completely. I watched shows like Glee and imagined how cool it would be to leave an impact on the lives of others—the way Mr. Shcue does in his Glee club.

I also thought back to my own high school years (which honestly aren’t that long ago) and how much the classes I was in affected the person I am today for the better. I went into high school shy and insecure, but left confident and with a group of friends better than I could have ever imagined. I would love to the chance to play a small part in helping other students grow—and create the kind of classes that they’ll remember for years. Though you can make a positive difference in journalism as well, I realized that as an extravert, I really need a career where I’m around people—as I’m pretty sure I’ll go crazy otherwise.

Since I’ve made this change, I’ve been feeling much better about life and the direction that it’s taking. Furthermore, I realized a mistake that I made for most of my freshman year of college—I realized that you can’t live your life by another person’s script.

Because I was in the midst of such a drastic change, I fell into a pattern of looking to others for what I should do in life. I wanted some kind of direction or path from those who have gone before me.

In doing this, I failed to see the beauty in my own story, and my own unique journey.

I switched to journalism because one of my favorite authors became the successful fiction writer I wanted to be through that career. I was down on myself for not yet having a license to drive on my own—when I was sure I’d be further ahead by now. I felt like something was wrong with me because I didn’t have a boyfriend (or an interest in getting one, for that matter) when literally everyone I knew started dating—even though I was in the process of getting over a really long-term crush.

Now, with that year behind me, and a few lessons learned, I’ve realized that my story isn’t the same as everyone else’s and neither is yours. God has different plans for each one of us, and that’s OK. We should never copy someone else’s path because it worked for them—we have to find our own path, and stay connected to that still small voice in the process.

As much as I sometimes long for a step-by-step checklist, life doesn’t usually work like that—and sometimes we have to find our story one piece at a time—trusting that God is writing something beautiful with our lives.

If we do that, than we might just be on the right path after all.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6