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How to NOT Hurt the Singles in Your Church

How to NOT Hurt the Singles in Your Church

The singles in your church are hurting. Many (dare I say most?) of them have a strained relationship with the church.

There’s Pain in Your Pews

Since writing a book on singleness, I hear from singles often. Here’s what one thirty-nine-year-old woman has to say:

I’m convinced there is something very wrong with me! I feel like a complete outcast in each and every church. The weird thing is I don’t feel that way at work, which is a completely secular environment. Lately I’ve been crying all weekend and so grateful to be able to go to work on Monday morning because I know I’m valued and wanted there and I know I am contributing something as well.

This woman isn’t the only single who feels like an oddity in church. You might be tempted to think, Oh, toughen up! You think marriage is easy? But here’s why their hurt is our problem, too.

It’s a Family Responsibility

If you’ve placed all your trust in Christ as your righteousness, you’re now a tiny but vital member of His family and of His Body. There are millions upon millions of other members, and what impacts each of these people impacts you because we’re one now. Paul tells us:

But God has so composed the body . . . that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together (1 Cor. 12:24–26, emphasis added).

We have a responsibility to care for singles as we would our own families, because we’re not independent individuals anymore. We’re a part of something so much larger. Besides, in heaven there will be no individual marriage or families other than the family of God (Matt. 22:30).

So how can we care for singles as we ought? It starts with how we think about singleness.

Singleness Isn’t a Disease to Be Healed

Many people view singleness as a disease to be healed. I’ve been guilty of this myself. God’s Word, however, has quite a different perspective.

In 1 Corinthians 7, the apostle Paul addresses the whole church about the advantages and benefits of singleness. Singles, he says, are spared anxieties and troubles. (If you told a single that, they’d probably think, Ha! Paul obviously didn’t have a clue. I have plenty of troubles, and plenty to be anxious about!)

I don’t think Paul intends to minimize everything a single has to juggle in life. His point is that they’re not distracted by needing to please the Lord and their spouse. They have the freedom to be singularly devoted to the Lord.

Let’s be careful that we don’t adopt a “woe is you because you’re single” mindset when God celebrates singleness.

Let’s also be careful about how we “encourage” singles.

Today I’m writing over at TrueWoman.com. Click here to read more tips about how to not hurt the singles in your church by

  • steering clear of lousy encouragement
  • showing hospitality at church
  • showing hospitality in our homes, as well as
  • three tips to “put feet to this article.”

Thanks for reading this post and seeking to love the singles around you. Not because singles need fixing, and not because you’re the savior of the singles—but because:

  • God welcomed you into His family when you had nothing to offer Him.
  • You are now family by blood—the blood of Christ.
  • When they hurt, you hurt.

Ultimately, give yourself to them, with a genuine heart, and watch how greatly God will bless you through their friendship in the process.

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How I Lost (and Regained) My Parents’ Trust

How I Lost (and Regained) My Parents’ Trust

Have you lost your parents’ trust? It’s a crummy place to be, I know. I lost my parents’ trust my eighth grade year, and it felt like it took eons to regain it.

That summer, my family moved to a different state, and soon I started attending a new school. I felt like I didn’t have a lot of options when it came to choosing wise friends (there were only fourteen students in my whole grade!). It wasn’t long before my new friends were encouraging me to date a guy I liked behind my parents’ backs. I was all too happy to listen to them. Life was going well until . . .

One horrible, rotten day, a letter was delivered to our home (yep, that was before Facebook!). A friend from my old school had written me. But instead of addressing the envelope to “Paula Hendricks,” she wrote my nickname on the front. When my parents saw the letter, they didn’t know who it was for. So they opened it. And this is what they saw: “I can’t believe you’re dating Neil behind your parents’ backs!” (Busted!)

That was probably the first seed of distrust that was (rightfully) planted in my parents’ hearts. And then guess what they went and did? They prayed that God would help them find out whenever I was covering up my sin. He seemed to answer their prayer time and time again. It wasn’t long before they knew I couldn’t be trusted.

As much as I hated my parents at the time for reading my mail and being so strict, looking back I have to say they were right to not trust me. I was a deceiver. I lied. A lot.

Have You Lost Your Parents’ Trust, Too?

I wonder if you can relate. Have you given your parents (or others) any valid reason not to trust you? Are you one person around them and a different person entirely when you think they’re not looking?

Are you always wondering if you’ll be found out? And then when you are, do you know the feeling of having the people closest to you not know if anything you say is true? We both know that’s not a fun way to live. So what can you do?

How To Get Your Parents’ Trust Back

If you’re one of those girls who has been walking on eggshells around a couple of suspicious parents, here’s how you can regain their trust.

I’m writing over at LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com today. Click here to read how to regain your parents’ trust.

Then be sure to check back next month to learn why lying is such a big, hairy deal. ‘Cause believe it or not, we have a bigger issue than just regaining our parents’ trust. A much bigger issue . . .

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We Survived a Home Renovation . . . Almost!

We Survived a Home Renovation . . . Almost!

Four months ago our little family moved into my in-laws’ house, and our home renovation began.

As home renovations go, this one has taken longer and cost more than we expected. Our contractor told us he has seen couples divorce over home renovations. I get it. The stress is high. The decisions are unending.

It’s not just the home renovation. We feel like we’ve been in a pressure cooker for months now.

When Life Doesn’t Give You a Break

Sometimes life just doesn’t give you a break. It’s the need to finally bite the bullet and buy a new car, even as you’re dishing out money right and left for your home renovation.

It’s the trip to the emergency room in the wee hours of the morning . . . and a subsequent hospital admission. (Iren was wheezing and struggling to breathe.)

It’s urging people in our lives to turn from sin and pursue Christ. It’s that ridiculous relational squabble. And on and on and on.

My husband and I are weary. I’ve had a meltdown or two. It usually goes like this, [Sob . . . sniffle . . . “I have no friends!”] Trevor assures me I do, but I have yet to figure out how to find time to hang out with any of them in the midst of all the other demands and responsibilities.

But in the midst of all the pressure, I continue to catch glimpses of just how much God cares for me. For example, here’s how I saw it yesterday.

I was taking Iren on a walk when I looked up and saw an acquaintance. I fell into step with her and told her I need to prepare three messages for a mother-daughter retreat next week. One message is for moms, and I’ve never been a mom of a daughter. So I asked this pastors’ wife of four children what she would say to these women.

Her thoughts sparked several ideas, so I pulled out my phone and took notes as we walked. It was a reminder that God sees my overflowing to-do list, that blank Google document, the impending deadline . . . and He cares.

Would You Pray for Us?

I share all this with you to ask you to pray for us. Pray:

  • God would send us help as we move back home. Our house is far from move-in ready, but we are ready to be home, even if it means dust and disorganization for a season.
  • for refreshment for our weary hearts.
  • that this renovation will allow us to continue to grow in our capacity to extend hospitality to others.
  • I’d figure out how to prioritize and pursue friendships in the midst of all there is to do.
  • the Holy Spirit would guide my thoughts as I prepare these talks–and that I’d find the time to do so.
  • I would love and bless the moms, teens, and tweens I’ll speak to on March 16.
  • Trevor and I will continue to grow in affection and teamwork and kingdom impact. (In spite of the stress of the last few months, I love him more every day. He’s my favorite!)

Thank you, friend. Even the one I haven’t met in person yet. Thanks for reading and caring.

And know that in your own weariness and stress, God cares for you. Cling to these truths in 1 Peter 5:6-7, as I am: 

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

PS: A hearty thank you to Dale and Patti Marsteller for putting up with us for the last four months! Also, to all our friends who have pitched in at our house . . . thank you.

PPS: Photo credit goes to our friend Ryan Krahmer, who captured this photo of our dining room months ago as we were preparing to rip out the wall between our kitchen and dining room.

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Meet the Real Writer in This Family

Meet the Real Writer in This Family

I’m the writer who married the accountant, or so they say. But I’ll let you in on a secret: Trevor is the real writer in this family.

Words are as familiar to him as numbers are. (Numbers and I, on the other hand, just don’t jive. In a recent game of Wits and Wagers, I guessed that the longest highway in the U.S. was 800,000 miles long–or was it 800,000,000 miles long? I have a habit of liberally throwing in zeros as if they’re chocolate chips going into cookie batter–the more the merrier.)

This man, though . . . he can not only crunch numbers, he can whip up poems and hymns lickety-split.

Trevor often texts me a short poem to start our day. Here’s a stanza he wrote recently based on this sermon we’d listened to the night before:

Lord we confess that deep within
Desires blur and mix with sin
Wholly incline our hearts today
To seek your kingdom this we pray

And then there’s this hymn he wrote based on Romans 5 that needs to published and sung, in my humble-but-proud-wifey opinion:

 

In the beginning, God made man,

Adam lived with God in peace.

But through that man came sin and death;

Adam died and so shall we.

 

The seed of death, the stain of guilt,

Deep in Adam’s progeny,

But Second Adam surely brings

Death to sin, how can this be?

 

The Second Adam came to us,

Grace to end sin’s tyranny,

He to conquer death by death,

As You died, Lord, so shall we.

 

United to the risen Lord,

Bound to Him eternally,

The king of old is now dethroned.

As You live, Lord, so shall we.

 

Now Lord we give ourselves to You,

Christ, our Life, who set us free.

To sin we died, for You we live;

Slaves of God now shall we be.

 

There’s more though. He doesn’t just write hymns to express spiritual truth. This month I’ll share three poems he wrote and used to get:

  1. A wife (yup, that’s me). 
  2. Chick-fil-A for his wedding reception free-of-charge.
  3. People to stop leaving dog poo in our yard.

Until then,

That Writer Living in His Shadow

PS: You can follow my hubby’s tweets at @gottheology.

PPS: To be sure you don’t miss these three poems from my hubby, type your email in the box to the right under “Don’t Miss a Post!” and you’ll receive my blog posts in your inbox. (If you’re reading this on your phone, click on the menu button at the top and choose “Subscribe by Email.”) You can unsubscribe at any time.

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