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How to Help Your Hopeless, Hurting Friends

How to Help Your Hopeless, Hurting Friends

Her situation couldn’t have been much more hopeless.

She had tried it all—filled out endless forms, visited regular doctors, alternative doctors, traveling doctors, wannabe doctors, retired doctors. She’d read, researched, cried, and prayed. She had taken every medical exam known to man.

And still, over a decade later, there were no answers. Just steady decline. She was growing worse.

There were simply no options left. No more reserves to draw from. She’d spent everything she had—as well as borrowing money from every compassionate soul she could think of.

Not that she cared about the money. She just craved normal, human interaction. How long had it been now? Twelve whole years? Her disease—this never-stopping flow of blood—made her “unclean.” According to the Law, if anyone touched her, they would be defiled.

I know women and girls like her. You probably do, too. They may not be dealing with a twelve-year health struggle, but they are all too familiar with diseased desires and relationships. Stuck. Hopeless. At or nearing the end of their rope. Women and girls we are unable to heal.

Hopeless No More

Just when hope appeared to have run out, someone told this woman about a man like no other: Jesus. Maybe it was a friend of a friend who relayed what Jesus had taught down by the lake one afternoon. Maybe someone in her family knew a neighbor miraculously healed by Him. No matter . . . someone told her about Him.

And that was all it took. She heard with ears of faith. At least enough faith to do a crazy, daring, courageous thing—she elbowed her way to the front of that noisy, jostling crowd to get to Him. To touch Him. She knew she was out of line, but sometimes desperate women have to take desperate measures.

The instant she touched Him, she knew. She was whole. Healed.

She . . . came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease (Mark 5:27–29).

Jesus’ words to her confirmed it:

“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (Mark 5:34).

She didn’t know it yet, but this Jesus was going to bleed for her. In anticipation of what He was going to do for her on the cross, Jesus declared her whole.

And still He heals and makes whole.

How to Help Your Hopeless Friends

The question for you and me today is have we come to Jesus in faith to be healed of our sin disease? And are we pointing our classmates, friends, family members, coworkers, and neighbors to Him so they, too, can experience true healing?

Responding to our friends’ problems with positive thinking or self-help advice is not enough. They need to experience the healing that only Jesus can bring. What broken girl or woman can you point toward Him today?

PS: You can read the entire account of this story in two different places in the Bible: Mark 5:21–43 and Luke 8:40–56.

PPS: I love this hymn about this story in Scripture. Praying it encourages you to seek the Healer today!

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Why One Woman Left the True Woman Conference

Why One Woman Left the True Woman Conference

This post is a bit different than what I usually share on PaulaWrites.com, but I hope it blesses and challenges you. This post was originally shared on ReviveOurHearts.com, where I’ve worked for the past eleven years. After our last national women’s conference, our team received this email from an attendee named Patsy.

Patsy isn’t the only one who saw the homeless and stopped. We heard from others who stopped and listened, stopped and prayed, stopped and gave—ministering God’s grace to those on the streets of Indianapolis. To each of you, thank you.

May we not be like the fat and sassy women of Amos 4:1 who oppress the poor and crush the needy. Instead, may we reach beyond our comfort zones into places of need with the hope and love of Christ.

Why Patsy Didn’t Want to Come

I attended your True Women Cry Out! Conference in Indianapolis this past September. Though I must admit, I wasn’t looking forward to going, because I had lost my mother this past summer and had spent enough time crying. I had committed to going with a dear friend from the Dominican Republic, though, so I couldn’t back out.

From the first speaker, Russell Moore, God was tugging on my heartstrings. Two things Dr. Moore said struck a chord within me. The first was:

The problem with the church is we look like everyone else.

And the second was when he was telling the story of Jesus healing the demon-possessed man. Dr. Moore said:

If you are going to be a follower of Christ, then you must be willing to go where Jesus went.

Why Patsy Left the Conference

At that point, after a little discussion with another friend and a prayer, I left your conference. You see, on the way to the conference I was struck by the multitude of homeless people on those downtown streets.

We passed a girl on one corner with a sign saying, “I just want a happy birthday.” We passed other men and women who had varying signs asking for food or money. As we were trying to figure out how to get to the conference, one homeless woman asked if we were trying to find the convention center, and when we said that we were, she gave us directions but asked nothing in return.

We were the church on the streets of Indianapolis, and we looked like everyone else. Many times we don’t help the homeless because we are afraid or we judge that what we are doing does not help them. I knew God was compelling me to GO.

A friend and I went back to find some of the women. We found the girl who gave us directions. Her name is Alisha. We talked with her, prayed with her, asked if she would come to the conference with us. We also asked her how we could help her. She asked us for a tent, as hers had been stolen from her. We told her we would get her a tent and would meet her at 8:30 a.m. at the same corner.

Why Patsy Returned

When we got back to the conference that night we asked if we could buy tickets for the conference but were told they were sold out. However, there was a board on which people posted phone numbers if they had unused tickets. A woman named Sarah gave us two tickets. We were still hoping to find the “birthday girl” on our way back to our hotel. (Sadly, we did not locate her.)

We got up early on Friday and bought two tents. We found Alisha exactly where she said she would be with another homeless lady, Rebecca, standing near. They both came to the conference that morning with us and heard Jennifer Smith speak. Talk about God’s timing. What a perfect message for these two young women to hear! We had lunch with them, prayed with them, and listened to their hearts. Alisha came back that night and spent hours in prayer with us.

Alisha is a caretaker for other homeless people. We saw her feed others food that was hers so they wouldn’t be hungry. Rebecca sleeps on the downtown streets under the lights and cameras because she is alone, and it is not safe for her to go to the tent city. We asked them why they don’t go to the shelters, and they said they did—only when they had to keep from freezing to death. They pick up bed bugs and lice there.

Patsy’s Challenge

I am sure their stories can be told by countless people on the sidewalks in this country. That is why I am writing you. You called us to cry out in prayer for our own sins, for the lost, for our families, for our country, for our world. What if:

  • We cried out for each city that you had a conference in?
  • We stopped for a second of feeding our own spirits and feed the spirits of those hurting that we walked past?
  • In each city—you had ambassadors who were willing to go out on the streets and pass out blankets to the homeless and give out tickets that would have gone unused? I bet there were 100 tickets listed on that board that were paid for but unused.
  • You had people donate in advance to provide brown bag lunches for the homeless, and you passed them out over lunch break?

I know there may be a lot of details to doing these types of things. However, 7,000 women walked by hundreds of homeless. Did you know that Indianapolis has anywhere from 4,500—8,000 homeless people on the streets on any given night?

By the way, the conference ended up being just what I needed. Though I am still grieving my mother’s passing, what a great reminder in my life that we are called to be different.

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with attending a conference for a couple days, and the challenge isn’t for you to leave the next conference you attend to care for the homeless. But it is a good reminder for everyday life.

As you and I encounter people—homeless or not—do we see them as an inconvenience and obstacle? Or as individuals made in the image of God, in need of being reconciled to Him through Christ (Matt. 9:36)?

Is there anything you can take away from Patsy’s challenge?

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Cornerstone Transition Home Opens Its Doors

Cornerstone Transition Home Opens Its Doors

In 2003, a dream took root in Jennifer Smith’s heart. (Jennifer is a former inmate of eleven-and-a-half years and a current chaplain at McPherson Women’s Prison.) She envisioned a transition home where women released from prison could live for up to a year.

A Need Sparks a Dream

Rather than returning to a home of generational drug abuse and crime, women could live in this transition home with responsibility and accountability. They could learn how to live the Christian life on the “outside” of prison’s walls.

See, Jennifer knew well that the most common fear among inmates is that they will return to prison, because they don’t have accountability or a support system. (A female ex-felon has a 51 percent chance of re-offending and returning to prison.) Jennifer wanted to change that.

IFrame

A Dream Gains Momentum

At the True Woman ’16 Conference, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth announced that Revive Our Hearts would give 10 percent of the conference offering to the Cornerstone Transition Home. This would help with the final $25,000 needed to get the home up and running.

What you might not have heard is the end result. Conference attendees gave almost $17,000 to this project. Then Revive Our Hearts leadership sent Cornerstone Transition Home a check for $25,000 to make up the difference.

A Dream Come True

On December 12, Jennifer’s dream became a reality. The Cornerstone Transition Home opened its doors to its first three women. Fourteen more acceptance letters have been issued to women awaiting parole plans, and over fifty applications are yet to be prayed over and responded to. They hope to fill all twenty-nine beds by summer, Lord willing.

Their prayer is to see a host of women build their lives on the solid rock—Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone—and then share Him with the world around them through their changed lives.

If you’re interested in learning more, praying for, or giving to Cornerstone, visit Cornerstone’s website. You can also follow Cornerstone on Facebook to stay up-to-date.

Cornerstone Transition Home Opens Its Doors was originally published on ReviveOurHearts.com.

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Anne Steele: A Voice That Still Sounds Today

Anne Steele: A Voice That Still Sounds Today

(To give you a little context, this post was originally featured in a series titled “25 Women Who Impacted the World for Christ” over on ReviveOurHearts.com. Enjoy!) 

As cars speed past my home with windows open and music spilling out, I wonder if singers—and more specifically, songwriters—are not among the most influential voices in our culture.

A couple centuries ago—before radio, iTunes, iPods, Pandora, or Spotify—I imagine hymn writers were some of the most influential people of their day. Men, women, and children sang their songs both corporately and as they went about their everyday work.

Anne Steele (1717–1778) was one of these major influencers—the first significant female hymn writer in history and purportedly the most popular Baptist hymn writer in the history of the church.

I was introduced to the late Anne Steele a couple years ago by my hymn-loving husband. In fact, if you ever unearth her three-volume work* in a used bookstore and sell it to me, Trevor and I just might name our first child after you in profound gratitude! (Anne is Trevor’s favorite hymn writer, and this book is a highly coveted treasure.) But I digress . . .

A Humble Heart

Anne never set out to become a successful writer. She wrote for her own personal reflection until her beloved pastor-father began to use her hymns in the church he pastored.

According to John Gadsby:

From early life [Anne] was exceedingly fond of poetry, but was very unwilling for her productions to be submitted to the public eye. When at last she gave her consent, she would not have her own name attached to the volumes, but published them under the signature of Theodosia (“The Gift of God”), and gave all the profits to charity.

Anne’s hymns first appeared in a hymnbook in 1769. Her father wrote in his diary:

Today Nanny sent part of her composition to London to be printed. I entreat a gracious God, who enabled and stirred her up to such a work, to direct in it and bless it for the good of many. I pray God to make it useful, and keep her humble.

Humble she remained. In one letter to her father—whom she affectionately referred to as “honoured father”—Anne wrote:

If while I am sleeping in the silent grave, my thoughts are of any real benefit to the meanest of the servants of my God, be the praise ascribed to the almighty Giver of all grace.

Oh, how they have benefitted Christ’s Body! And not because she was perfect. Anne wrestled with doubts and assurance of salvation. In fact, that’s one of the things I appreciate most about her writing: She’s so candid about a believer’s doubts, pain, fears, and—at times—profound suffering.

Centuries later, it’s apparent that Anne’s hymns have stood the test of time. Kevin Twit, founder of Indelible Grace—an organization that produces old hymns set to new music—writes, “I find her hymns so rich, and yet easily understood even by those living 250 years after her death!”

A Deep Faith

Another thing I appreciate about Anne’s hymns is that they aren’t merely intellectual exercises. As John Sheppard, author of a short memoir about Anne, wrote, “The emotions expressed were ever genuine, and the faith which awaked them was true and operative.”

That is probably due to how much she suffered:

  • Just three years after Anne was born, her mother passed away.
  • She suffered physically, living with chronic recurring malaria, painful stomach issues, and severe teeth pain . . . as well as seriously injuring herself when thrown from a horse at nineteen.
  • When she was twenty-one, her fiancé, Robert, drowned.

And yet those who knew her personally testify that in spite of all this, she . . .

possessed a native cheerfulness, which not even the agonizing pains of her latter days could deprive her of. In every short interval of abated suffering, she would, in a variety of ways, as well as by her enlivening conversation, give pleasure to all around her (Dr. Caleb Evans).

The only explanation is her rich, intimate relationship with God. For a glimpse into her enjoyment of Him, look at just a few of the unique ways she referred to God in her hymns:

  • Thou lovely source of true delight
  • Dear refuge of my weary soul
  • Eternal source of joys divine
  • Great source of boundless power and grace
  • Father of mercies in Thy word
  • Dear center of my best desires

Personally, I wonder if the closeness she experienced with her heavenly Father was related to her relationship with her earthly father, who referred to her in letters as “dear little Nancy, more and more entertaining.”

Anne lived with her father and stepmother until her father passed away. She spent her days writing (144 hymns, forty-eight psalms in verse, and about fifty poems) and helping her father with his pastoral duties. Anne herself died at age sixty-one, after nine painful years confined to her bed. Dr. Evans writes:

She often spoke, not merely with tranquility, but with joy, of her decease. . . . she took the most affectionate leave of weeping friends around her . . . her last words: “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”

Her tombstone in Broughton churchyard reads:

Silent the lyre, and dumb the tuneful tongue, that sung on earth her great Redeemer’s praise;
But now in heaven she joins the angelic song,
In more harmonious, more exalted lays.

Anne’s hymns live on; may her legacy live on in you and me as well:

  • Are you and I thoughtful and cheerful toward others even as we’re suffering?
  • Are we diligent but humble in stewarding our gifts to bless members of Christ’s Body?
  • Is our hope fixed on that day we will be with God face to face . . . or on the trivial pursuits we experience here and now?
  • Are we honest with God and with others about our doubts and struggles?
  • Do you and I deeply enjoy our glorious God and shower Him with the praise He deserves?

I leave you with two songs by Anne, set to music by Indelible Grace. The first is for those in pain; the second for those with hearts full of praise. Enjoy!

Thou Refuge of My Weary SoulIFrame

Thou Lovely Source of True Delight

IFrameWant to learn more about Anne Steele? Kevin Twit lists several resources at the beginning of this post.

*possibly under her pen name “Theodosia”

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A Podcast Heard in a Remote African Village

A Podcast Heard in a Remote African Village
As I’ve worked at Revive Our Hearts for the past decade, I’ve often wondered what the standard “shelf-life” for a ministry is. At what point does a ministry tend to grow stale and “expire”?
 
All I know is since I came here over ten years ago, this ministry has never been “static” or “stale.” In fact, it continues to grow, and grow, and grow—far beyond our little team’s wildest imaginations or abilities.

We’re hearing these days from every corner of the globe. Passionately fiery women are convinced that Revive Our Hearts is needed in their language, in their country, for their women, and they’re willing to sweat and sacrifice and do whatever it takes to make this happen. Here’s one such story from Kubamitwe, a remove village in Uganda Africa. Enjoy!

A Whole New World

If you wanted to pop in on Danielle Hurley, it would take you approximately twenty hours to get to her house—by plane, not including layovers! As you can imagine, this missionary wife and mother of six could easily feel isolated.

But thanks to technology, Revive Our Hearts is able to drop by Danielle’s kitchen every few weeks. “It opened a whole new world for me,” she told us when she discovered our online programs.

Worth the Wait 

Danielle spends her days serving those in Kubamitwe, a remote village in Uganda, Africa, so she needs to be filled with God’s Word in order to continue pouring out to others. That’s why every few weeks she travels two hours from her small village to the capital to get the only Internet connection in the area—and even that’s slow!

It takes her about twenty minutes to download the Revive Our Hearts podcast in that little coffee shop, but it’s well worth the wait for Danielle.

She returns home with a couple of podcasts, and as she’s making dinner in the middle of the jungle, she listens to Nancy. “There has been many a day I have tears streaming down my face,” she told us, “because I’m feeling so ministered to by a godly woman who now is in my kitchen in the jungle. It’s an amazing gift.”

Spreading the Message

But what’s really amazing is that Danielle hasn’t kept that gift to herself; she’s been busy sharing it with others.

She and a team of elders’ wives are studying True Woman 101 together on Tuesdays, and then on Wednesdays each leader is taking the material to one of six surrounding villages in Uganda.

Danielle released each limited copy of True Woman 101 to these leaders on the condition that they would faithfully teach the material to their village Bible study each week. To ensure a thorough comprehension of all the material, they divided the eight-week study into forty weeks and translated each day’s homework into their local language, Luganda.

And . . . it’s spreading even further than that!

Just last month, Danielle taught True Woman 101 to over 400 young women at a National Youth Conference, and she has been given the opportunity to teach it to over 600 women at a National Women’s Conference this December.

Because of You

Thanks to your support, we can offer Revive Our Hearts programs and transcripts for Danielle to download all the way over in Uganda, for such a time as this. If you could drop by Danielle’s home, she would thank you for “the fellowship of women to listen to in my kitchen.” Somehow, I think the women she invests in each week would thank you wholeheartedly as well.

“It’s inevitable that our hearts will be revived,” Danielle says, “because that’s what the Word does, and that’s what the ministry of Revive Our Hearts is built on.”

God has provided new opportunities to speak to women around the world over the Internet.

Women around the world are being transformed through God’s Word for the first time. Would you help Revive Our Hearts take advantage of these opportunities for worldwide reach?

Now is the time to strengthen and encourage those on the front lines who are sharing the gospel with every nation on earth! Your gift by midnight tonight will not only do just that, but it will also be matched. Give now.

A Podcast Heard in a Remote African Village was originally published on ReviveOurHearts.com. 

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“I Don’t Have What It Takes to Be a Mom”

“I Don’t Have What It Takes to Be a Mom”

This post is a bit different than usual as I wrote it for Revive Our Hearts, but I still wanted to share this great story with you. It’s even more meaningful to me ’cause I’ve had the privilege of being in Cindy’s home, attending this same True Woman Conference, and seeing her and her husband just last month. 

Cindy Cabrera couldn’t see herself in the traditional roles of mother and homemaker. Her father had drilled into her that children were an impediment to professional development and financial independence would serve as her ticket out of a bad marriage.

By age twenty-one, Cindy had earned a dental degree and began working at a prestigious dental practice. Ten years later she did marry a man—and even had a baby—but she didn’t let them interfere with her work.

Cindy always said she didn’t have what it took to be a mom, so she left her son with a nanny and headed back to work a month after giving birth. Cindy was the leader of the home and the main provider. The pressure, however, was getting to her.

She got pregnant a second time, then a third time. Finally the increasing pressure in their marriage, the power struggles at home, and the long hours managing the practice drove Cindy—and her husband—in desperation to church.

A Defining Moment

While there, Cindy heard about a spiritual conference in America. She had attended dental conferences in the States, so she signed up immediately, not knowing that this True Woman Conference would prove to be the defining moment of her life.

As Mary Kassian delivered her message “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby,” God destroyed everything Cindy had believed about her life in one fell swoop and gave her a brand-new life—His life.

She returned home realizing it was time to make some drastic changes. And she did. But it wasn’t easy. Several months later, after also being saved, her husband confessed his sin of infidelity. The Lord sustained Cindy through that trial through all He had done in her at the True Woman Conference. It was painful, but as a result, God has blessed Cindy and her family massively.

A 180-Degree Turn

A few years ago Cindy and her husband released their nannies, which is unheard of in their country. More recently, God has given Cindy the privilege of teaching her children at home, and she loves the daily opportunities to disciple them.

This year at the first international True Woman Conference, Cindy was able to share her story with the 2,300 attendees. She spoke from the stage:

I always said I didn’t have what it took to be a mom, and really, I was right. I don’t have what it takes, because what it takes is the grace of the Lord Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit working in my life.

Cindy will tell you that God has used Revive Our Hearts to change her life 180 degrees. Everything in her life looks different than it did six years ago:

The Lord changed my life at that True Woman Conference, and I give thanks to Him, because He redeemed me from a way of life that was so empty.

This post was originally featured on ReviveOurHearts.com.

 

 

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Wedding Videos & More: Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Wolgemuth!

Wedding Videos & More: Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Wolgemuth!

Nancy Leigh DeMoss was in a groove. She’d never been healthier—emotionally, physically, or spiritually. She was thriving, her ministry was thriving, and then one day—out of the clear blue—she received an email from widower Robert Wolgemuth.

Most single women would have jumped right into a relationship with a man of this caliber, but not Nancy. She’d always had a very strong sense of being set apart for the Lord, and He had never “awakened love” in her heart before.

So as Robert began to pursue her, Nancy told him 1) she had to know if the Lord was redirecting her life, and 2) the Lord would then have to put love in her heart for him.

Watch this fifteen-minute video, “Unexpected Grace,” to learn how God did just that.

And if you’d like the longer version, listen to or read the Revive Our Hearts transcripts all this week to hear how Nancy grappled with issues of God’s calling for her life, knowing His will, and more; and how God led her one step at a time.

There’s more.

If you didn’t get a chance to tune in to the LIVE stream of the wedding this past weekend, you can watch the wedding here. (Yes, she’s now Mrs. Nancy Wolgemuth!)

Finally, if you’re still in the mood for more scoop on this story, watch some or all of these fifteen video clips. My personal favorites:

Wedding Videos & More: Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Wolgemuth! was originally posted on TrueWoman.com. 

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3 Reasons I Said “Yes!” to Marrying Him

3 Reasons I Said “Yes!” to Marrying Him

All week I’ve enjoyed sharing my journey from “boy-crazy to my man” with you. Thanks for being interested in the love story God scripted for us! If you’ve missed the first three parts to this story, you can read them here:

It wasn’t always easy, getting to where we are today. There were lots of ups and downs; many times I wondered if we’d make it. But my doubts never lasted long. I think this journal entry will explain why:

It seems our relationship is characterized by the most important things: Christ; communication that’s open, humble, loving, and excellent; and community. I couldn’t move forward without a single one of these.

1. Relationship Secret #1: Christ

Trevor and I are fairly different, but Jesus Christ truly is the foundation of our relationship, which is more than enough common ground. Here are two entries from my journal to give you a taste of how Trevor has consistently pointed me to Christ rather than away from Him:

Trevor prayed last night, thanking God for bringing us together from so far apart, asking that in some small way we could reflect the gospel to those around us. I realized that when I asked friends to pray that I’d enjoy God and I’d enjoy Trevor, I didn’t see those two as intersecting at all. To me, romance has always been something to hide from God, not something to share with God and thank Him for and revel in Him. (How wrong I was!)

And one more entry, from a visit I made to New York:

We played “What Am I Thinking” and “Would You Rather.” His options were hilarious. Then he asked if we wanted to pray through the Lord’s Prayer. It was hard for me to turn my mind toward worshiping God, but so sweet and needed.”

2. Relationship Secret #2: Communication

Trevor and I have had excellent communication. Sure, starting out long distance helped. Talking was our only option, other than a monthly visit. But it’s more than that.

Mostly it’s been Trevor’s humble responses and probing questions that have given me more and more courage to share openly with him. I can’t tell you how huge this has been in my life; until Trevor, I always “held back.” Here’s one example from my journal, about a Skype conversation:

As were were about to go, I asked Trevor if he’d pray for me. I got teary. I told him I was kinda anxious about his visit . . . His response was beautiful . . . He asked if there was more.

I didn’t want to tell him, but I admitted that I worry I might be getting into a relationship with an angry man. He responded amazingly and thoughtfully.

He said he was sorry multiple times.
That I didn’t deserve that.
That he didn’t want me to have to have any caution flags with him.
That he would be repenting of his sin.
That he’s still growing out of selfishly thinking his sin only impacts him and the person he’s sinned against.

He said he already has some action ideas for what to do next. And he said a lot, “Anything I say feels worthless ’til you see some change.” Although he’s also confessed he’s a sinner and this will probably be a life-long process, but he didn’t want that to be an excuse.

Trevor has modeled humility time and time again in our conversations. He has also not hidden sin from me, but confessed it. As a result, I trust him—with my inmost thoughts, fears, and struggles.

3. Relationship Secret #3: Community

The fact that Trevor is so deeply rooted in community has given me great confidence. He loves his local church body. In addition to running sound, playing guitar, and doing their books, he leads a small group and participates in a discipleship group an elder leads. Because he’s surrounded himself with people, I’ve been able to hear from others who have known Trevor a lot longer than I have what they think of him. (That’s invaluable as a girl considers marriage!)

From the start Trevor was intentional about introducing me to his friends (he even tried to get some girls to host a girls’ night while I was in town!). This has meant that when I moved to New York a couple months ago (to live with a family from his church until our wedding day), I’ve had instant community through the relationships he’s already built.

We’ve also been able to do premarital counseling with an elder/counselor, and get a wise, outside perspective on our relationship.

All three of these C’s—Christ, communication, and community—caused me to joyfully and confidently said “yes!” when Trevor got down on one knee this past April and read me a Shakespearean sonnet he’d written:

. . . I journeyed far to gain this precious rose,
By land and air through darkness deep inside.
I’ll carry her through thorns and fears below,
Held by His hand in raging storms and tides.

The rising Day will banish soon the night,
Sojourn with me ’til then, and be my wife.

How about you? Would you ever consider marrying a man without Christ, communication, and community being a part of your relationship? Why or why not?

Then, check back tomorrow for a wrap-up to this series as well as a chance to win a copy of my book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom.

3 Reasons I Said “Yes!” to Marrying Him was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Trevor Declares His Undying Love . . . Sorta

Trevor Declares His Undying Love . . . Sorta

Trevor and I met in “The Promised Land” (a.k.a. Chick-fil-A) on a Saturday night last summer. (If you’re just joining us, I’m sharing my journey from “boy-crazy to my man” this week on the blog. Click here and here for the first two posts.)

We’d never even talked on the phone before—just written back and forth on Facebook for the past four months, but it was as comfortable as could be from the get-go. He was sitting at a table when I walked in—not holding a rose like in romance novels—but reading a book in true Trevor-fashion.

We did all sorts of “manly” things together that long weekend (remember, I was trying to show him a good time!), like exploring an abandoned house, shooting guns, lifting weights, hiking through a riverbed, canoeing, swimming in the lake, and making a bonfire. We ate. And talked. That was my favorite part. We talked about what we were looking for in a spouse, theological beliefs, and past experiences.

Tuesday morning, as we met at Chick-fil-A for one last meal before he headed back to New York, I fought back tears. We’d become even better friends over the long weekend, but I had no idea if I’d ever see this guy again. I wasn’t about to put him on the spot and ask, “Sooooo . . . what are you thinking about us?”

But while I prepared to say goodbye for good, he did it. He did what God created men to do; he initiated. It went something like this:

T: “So, how do you think this weekend went?”
Me: “It was fun!”
T: “Where do you see our relationship going?”
Me: “You tell me. I’m wide open.” (I’m not sure he was expecting that answer!)

He let me know he had qualms about a long-distance relationship, so he wanted to take a few days to seek advice about how to pursue me from nine hours away.

I sent him on his way with some black licorice Swedish dogs, overwhelmed by God’s wonderful surprise and by Trevor acting like a man should. I was on top of the world . . . until the morning.

All too soon I pulled out my journal, and my sin spilled out:

Today I was ungrateful for all God has done and just wanted more. I wanted Trevor to pursue me now.

He’s seeking the Lord about how to do that, but I want and expect to be fawned over and contacted and pursued hotly from his first admission of liking me.

Thank You, God, for this training ground. I want to learn now how to thank You for what he does rather than focusing on what he doesn’t do.

So thank You for his sensitivity and leadership in texting me this today:

“I don’t know if I said this when we had breakfast yesterday, but I want to make sure I’m clear on this—I like you, too, and the question I face is, ‘How might a relationship like this work?’ So that’s the main thing I’m going to try to work through in the coming days and such. Just wanted to maintain the clarity a bit. “

I continued writing,

I also confess that when I responded to his text and admitted my struggle with him only telling me I “had a good head on my shoulders,” I didn’t think of how that would sound to him (probably like “You failed”). I wanted him to text me back saying,

“Of course! Dumb me. You must be wondering WHY I like you. WHAT I like about you. Where should I start?!” (This is where I imagined him rattling off a long list.)

Forgive me for seeking to manipulate him. For trying to gauge my worth on his praise of me.

Here it is again. I want to be worshipped rather than to worship the only worthy God. I am an idolater. A breaker of the first commandment. Rescue me, Abba.

Almost instantly I came face to face with my ugly expectations for a dating relationship. It was as if I no longer cherished our friendship; I only wanted romance . . . and now! How patient Trevor was with me as I worked through my junk. I’ve already written about that season in these two posts: “When a Fantasy Romance Seems So Much Better Than a Real One” and “My Ugly Expectations for My Boyfriend.” They’ll give you a good idea of what this man has put up with!

So . . . what gave me the confidence to move forward with this man even when he wasn’t meeting all my crazy expectations for 24/7 romance? Check back tomorrow to hear the three main things that caused me to joyfully and confidently say “yes!” when Trevor asked me to be his wife this past April.

Trevor Declares His Undying Love . . . Sorta was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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How I Met My Future Husband

How I Met My Future Husband

(Click here to read yesterday’s introduction to today’s post: “Hope Greater Than a Diamond Ring.”)

After writing Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, I had another unexpected opportunity to trust the Lord. All of a sudden, guys started coming out of the woodwork showing interest in this self-proclaimed, formerly boy-crazy girl.

Sounds great, right? But a few wise people encouraged me to have someone else respond to guys on my behalf, and I wrote and posted the following message on the contact page of my website:

A note for the guys:

Sorry, gents, I know I just put myself out there as a boy-crazy girl, but the purpose of this site isn’t to find a guy. I’m sorry I won’t be responding to personal inquiries—too busy investing in the girls.

I knew my advisors were right. As much as I wanted to get married someday, that wasn’t why I wrote Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl. So I “set my face like a flint” and continued investing in teen girls.

Seven months after publishing my book, I inadvertently started following a guy named Trevor Marsteller on Twitter.

I instantly noticed that he had 1,000 followers and a blog where he’d done book reviews in the past. I was still hard at work marketing my book (contrary to popular belief, your work is just getting started once you finish a manuscript!). At the time, I was reaching out to bloggers, asking if I could send them a free copy of Confessions in exchange for an honest review.

So of course, I direct messaged Trevor, asking if he’d consider reading and writing a review of my book. He responded the same day, and our friendship began. He wrote a wonderful review of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl, and we began to message each other on Facebook where we weren’t limited by 140 characters.

He seemed to be as busy as me, so there was more than once where a couple weeks passed with no Facebook messages, and I was certain our conversation would fizzle out (after all, that’s how the script had always gone!).

But somehow we kept talking, and after about four months, Trevor sent me the following message. (He had vacation days he needed to use up, and he’d been considering driving to Minneapolis for the Desiring God Conference.)

I wanna shoot something by you and hear your thoughts. I was thinking, “Ya know what, Desiring God posts all of their content for free from all of their conferences, and I have been to their conferences before, and I know what the experience is like. So maybe I don’t need to drive all the way out to MN. But I certainly wouldn’t mind taking a vacation in September before my vacation time expires, and one very real option is to visit this Paula girl.” So, idk, those are some super general and preliminary thoughts, but what do ya think? Is southern MI a visit-worthy place? And will or will I not consume all of the chicken at the Chick-Fil-As in southern Michigan?

Eeeeeeee! I responded,

This Paula girl thinks that’s one of the best ideas she’s heard in a long time! MI is a swell place to vacation; an even better place to live. Let me put together a list of ideas for you and see what you think.

I was excited. I liked him. Of course I did! But still, I didn’t know if he liked me as anything more than a friend. Maybe he just thought it was cool to message an “author.” I couldn’t read him. Besides, experience had taught me that I shouldn’t ever assume a guy liked me until he specifically told me so himself.

And lest you think I never struggled again after writing Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl, let me share a journal entry I wrote before Trevor visited:

Wow, God. Thank You for showing me Yourself just now as I spent time in Philippians 2 reading about how I was to “count others more significant than myself” and “look not only to my own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

After reading this I grabbed my phone and went out to weed my garden. I checked and saw that Trevor was “active now” on Facebook, so I started a conversation with him about his hunting safety course.

He responded to my questions, but he didn’t ask me any to keep the conversation going. So I stopped the conversation and got back to weeding, feeling stupid and unloved.

I wasn’t counting him more significant than me. I never even considered that he might be in a conversation with someone else or . . .

How I need Your grace, Abba, to put on the mind of Christ and make myself nothing and serve Trevor without expecting anything in return. Maybe he legitimately just wants to be my friend and nothing more.

I recognize now that I’ll gladly host him on his vacation (and mine) IF he makes me feel attractive and interesting. But if he’s just not that into me, I’ll resent him and everything I plan and do for and with him.

What if this is not Your man for me? What if You want me to humble myself as You humbled Yourself and serve him as You served me, demanding nothing in return?

Ouch, ouch, ouch! Suddenly this passage became intensely personal. Oh God, thanks for humbling Yourself and obeying Your Father so You might save this proud, proud girl. Make me like Your beautiful self. Catch me up in the romance with You, not with a mere mortal.

With that I asked my close friends to pray with me that I would love Trevor well by showing him a great vacation—without expecting anything in return. I knew that apart from God’s power that would be impossible for me.

Then I journaled,

Trevor comes this week. Do you have something there beyond friendship? Lead me so clearly, Good, Kind Shepherd.

And oh, how He did. Check back tomorrow to read about Trevor’s visit.

How I Met My Future Husband was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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