Tag Archives: growth

“What’s Next?!” Might Not Be the Best Question to Ask…

I recently read an article called “26, Unmarried, and Childless.” I’m 32 and married, but I can still relate. My favorite part of this article is the following quote: “…instead of asking me what’s next, ask me what’s now. Ask me what God is teaching me, ask me what I’m struggling with, or what brings me joy. I am learning, I am growing, and I am happy. I would love to tell you all about it.”

The above article was written with a female’s perspective, but since then, another article has been posted to their site. It’s called “29, A Guy, and Single.” Yes, guys struggle with singleness too, but the point made in this article that resonates the loudest with me is to not isolate others when they’re not in the same stage of life as you.

I got married just before I turned 25. We’ve been married almost 8 years now and  still don’t have children. And we’re okay with that. It’s what God has for us right now (obviously). For the first three or four years, we got lots of questions about kids–even accusations and hurtful comments from some. Fortunately, we’re past that “stage” (if you will). Do we want kids? Sure, if that’s how we can best be conformed to Christ and glorify God. Will we have kids? I don’t know (and please don’t ask me–if you really want us to, tell God and let Him decide if and when). Do we love the next generation? Absolutely! If we didn’t, we wouldn’t serve in the Children’s Ministry at our church and hang out with the teens at church suppers and ski trips and help the junior high-ers bake cupcakes for a church wide shindig. Will we have biological kids? Foster? Adopt? I don’t know. (Is that question even relevant?)

Not everyone is meant to follow the same path. Not everyone fits in a fixed pattern or norm. It’s okay to not be in the same stage as your peers. God’s plan for each of us is unique…just like the gifts He’s given us. (Not to mention that certain personal questions just ought not be asked by casual acquaintances in the first place.)

Bryan and I have plenty of friends who are married with kids…one, two, three, four…or even nine or more! Some are new parents, others are parents of teens, and then there’s the empty nesters–not to mention every stage in between. We also have lots of “DINK” friends (Dual Income No Kids–yes, it’s a real thing), some by choice and others because of infertility or miscarriage. And we have lots of single friends–guys and girls, men and women, anywhere from high school into their retirement years–some who desperately want a romantic relationship and others who are fine with their current status. Some who are dating, others who are widowed, and some who have experienced the pain of divorce. But regardless of the status, gender, age, ethnicity, career path, or number of kids, one thing is constant: we all need God! And we need each other to point each other to Him.

Did you catch that?! We need each other, folks. The church wasn’t built of any one particular  demographic–or it would’ve been rendered extinct a long time ago. We need to stop letting our gender or stage in life define us and starting letting the name “Christian” define us. As Christians, we are all called to be followers of Christ and members united in Him. There is beauty in diversity, and there’s no reason we can’t share diverse backgrounds and still delight in unity.

Sometimes I wish we would go back to the days of calling other believers “brother” and “sister.” Many cultures still do, but it’s fallen out of common use in our American culture. It’s sad, really. Maybe if we started seeing each other as brothers and sisters in Christ again, we wouldn’t care so much about status and we’d focus more on loving one another and caring for one another and sacrificing for one another–like we do for our blood relatives. After all, it’s the blood of Christ our Savior that bonds us–isn’t that a greater connection than even familial bloodlines? If we would love our biological siblings despite their flaws and faults and “let love cover it” and even defend them “to the death” when others speak ill of them, should we not treat our heavenly siblings in a similar manner?

One of the saddest things to me is when a friend tells me that they had a “best friend” but that best friend got married and now they don’t hang out because the other friend is “still single” and “that’s just life” or “it’s only natural.” Or when one friend has kids earlier than another friend and they no longer interact because of nap schedules and early bed times. There are ways around this. We just have to be flexible–on both sides. I understand that there are certain things that can’t flex–babies have to be fed and cared for, and parents get tired, especially new parents, and we do need to rest. I just want to encourage you not to give up on a relationship because part of your situation changed. Relationships take work, and they’re worth the effort.

There’s no reason to not ask someone in a different stage of life than you to come over for dinner…or meet up for coffee…or host a game night. If they have kids, you might have to plan further in advance so they can schedule a babysitter, or better yet…just get together at the house with the youngest children, so the kids can still go to bed and the adults can stay up and talk. It works. Trust me. The perfect example of this is our Shepherding Group–we have 16 people when we’re all together, and we range from infant to senior saint. The backgrounds of where we grew up, where we went to school, whether or not we have kids, etc., are SO diverse, yet God has done something really cool by bringing such a random group of individuals together into a tightly knit group.

Maybe it is “natural” to fall into easy conversation with people in your same stage of life, but we are called to live “supernaturally” by the power of the Almighty God! So, fight what’s “natural” and choose to branch out of your comfort zone. Make friends with someone in a different age group than you. Or rekindle a friendship that’s fallen by the wayside because of different career paths or life choices. Mentor a younger brother or sister in Christ. Seek out a more mature brother or sister to mentor you. Share with them what God is teaching you…and ask them, “What’s God teaching you right now?” instead of “What’s Next?” And rejoice together in our Amazing, Unifying God!

Commitment: Definition and Challenge

I’ve been meditating on what it means to be a committed Christian recently. So, I thought I’d start with a simple dictionary definition. Commitment is “the act of binding yourself (intellectually or emotionally) to a course of action; the trait of sincere and steadfast fixity of purpose; a message that makes a pledge.” To commit is to “give entirely to a specific person, activity, or cause,” in this case, Christ. Then I came across this poster on Pinterest and thought it had some good ideas.

So, how committed are you? I challenge you to take an inventory of your own life. Take the 10 commitment areas above and rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 for each. Then pick one of the areas that had a lower score and ask God to grow you in that area over this next month.

I’m asking God to grow me in the area of being more committed to prayer. I’d love to hear what area you’re asking God to grow you in this next month! God bless!

The Inspiration Behind the New Banner

In celebration of reaching 10,000 hits on the blog, and in a continued effort to simplify, I decided to create a new banner and change the background of my blog to white. Here’s the banner I designed and a little insight into each image it contains:

1. Rest.

  • We all know how important rest is. If we don’t have it, our bodies and brains don’t function properly. Each of us requires a slightly different amount of rest each night. For me, that means a minimum of 7 hours. 8 hours is preferable, and I love Saturday mornings, when I can soak in 9 or 10 hours in one night! Too bad America doesn’t instate siestas for people past the age of 5.
  • Sleep deprivation is a real and rapidly spreading problem in our impulsive, instant-gratification society. So many of us come home and run straight for entertainment to “detox” from the demands of the day: TV, Facebook, video games, and the list goes on. We live in a digital age. It’s not all bad, but throwing quickly moving images in front of our eyes doesn’t help us rest; it just adds more “noise” to our lives. Know when to unplug. Plan to turn off electronics a good hour before bedtime, so your brain has time to decompress from the day.

2. Good Nutrition.

  • “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” right?! Healthy eating is a necessity to live a balanced, whole life. Food is fuel, and if we want to “live long and prosper,” we need to be conscious of what enters our systems. But who says healthful food has to taste bad?! Think about this: God wants the best for our lives. Meanwhile, God created us to need food to survive. Every good gift is from God, food being one of those gifts. He’s given us creative minds and tons of different flavors. So, let’s praise God by creating delicious, beautiful meals that are full of nutritional value, and then use the energy from those foods to bring Him glory.

3. Fellowship, Support, Communication.

  • What is fellowship? If you’re not familiar with the Christian term, you may be familiar with the classic trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings. Part I is The Fellowship of the Ring. The Fellowship was a group of people who joined together over a common goal. In the Christian worldview, the one thing that binds us together is Jesus Christ. So, when we fellowship, we are joining together over the union we find in our Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • God knew what He was doing when He put more than one person on this earth. We need each other. We need support; we need love; we often need correction. We need each other. It’s important to have a support circle, a small list of close friends and family you know you can count on if your car breaks down a thousand miles from home, if you need a shoulder to cry on or a solid kick in the pants, or if you need to ramble at 2AM. Most of us won’t have more than 5 of these in our lives, so when you find them, hold them dear and be mutually supportive.
  • It’s also a reminder to practice communication, just like any other skill in which we want to excel. We need to communicate with each other, always remembering the perfect balance of truth and love. And we need to communicate with God through prayer and Bible reading. God created us to be dependent on Him. But it’s more than a dependence; it’s a personal relationship that He desires to have with each one of us. And it’s amazing!

4. Environment of Growth.

  • I liked this picture because it’s in an office setting, which encompasses things like working (and blogging: see the computer in the background), but it also contains new life being nurtured. Create an environment, at home, in the office, in your car, wherever you are, that is an environment of growth. Eliminate things that hold you back or distract you, and encourage things that push you to be the person God wants you to be.

5. Exercise and Hydrate. Two more vital necessities in life.

  • It’s a constant battle to get off the couch or out of the house and just move, but we all know it’s important. Not only does it help us burn calories, it releases endorphins which lift our moods and help us keep a balanced perspective on life. You don’t have to join a gym or spend lots of money on fancy equipment. Just be endeavor to live a healthy lifestyle.
  • For years, doctors and educators recommended 6-8 glasses of water a day. Today, they’ve increased the recommendation to 9-13 glasses per day! The majority of our bodies is comprised of water; it’s essential for every function of our bodies. It’s important! It’s really important! So, hydrate! And when you’re exercising, remember the trifecto: prehydrate, hydrate, and rehydrate.

6. Refresh.

  • Carve out a block of time each day, even if it’s only 15 minutes, that’s set aside to reboot. Soak up the word of God and give yourself time to meditate, pray, and apply what you’ve just read. Go on a short walk, listen to music, read, practice some yoga, or just sit still. Your body and mind will thank you.

This is My Journey to Lean. And it can be yours too. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the journey! ~Melissa