Building your Singles Ministry/Personal Growth by Other Authors
Are You Done or Are You Finished by Cindi Noble
Mrs. Clara Jacobs, a widow, was sixty-nine years old and had been widowed for thirteen years. Her husband had passed after a sudden stroke and Clara had had to go to work for the first time since she’d married thirty-plus years before. She found a job at a small bakery and worked there three days a week using the only marketable skill she felt she had: baking. Clara was an excellent baker and her pies had become quite popular all around her town so she didn’t mind the work; it helped make ends meet. Nevertheless, at seventy-two years old, Clara was tired. But it wasn’t the work, it wasn’t the early mornings, it wasn’t even the loneliness–though there was that.
It was her son.
Kevin, Clara’s only son, was thirty-four years old, a “writer,” he said–although to Clara’s knowledge, he had never written anything that had ever made him any money. What he did do though was drink. A lot. That’s why Clara was tired–from the worry, from the helplessness, from the tears.
Even so, every evening at seven o’clock, Clara turned off the evening news (she did like to watch that), sat down in her ancient rocker, and began to pray. And every evening until bedtime, Clara prayed fervently for Kevin, beseeching the Lord to set him free and to heal his heart from whatever wounds he suffered–for surely, an addiction had to be heartbreaking for Kevin, so bound in the chains of his cravings and sickness that he couldn’t even admit what was happening.
In addition, Clara prayed for Kevin’s blind eyes to be opened to spiritual things and for his deaf ears to hear the voice of the Lord. She prayed for Kevin to have good influences in his life, a mentor, someone to be a spiritual father to him, and for those friends who encouraged Kevin’s drinking to move on from his life. Not that Clara wished them ill, mind you–in fact, she would have liked to have seen them all set free. But she only had so much time to pray for Kevin. Still, she’d mentioned them to the Lord.
One evening as Clara was praying, she began to feel dizzy and slightly nauseated. When her hand began to numb, she called 911. And good thing, too, because Clara was having a heart attack. But she knew that.
As she sat waiting for the ambulance to arrive, Clara felt herself become strangely calm and noted, somewhat remotely, that the physical pain of a heart attack was somewhat less excruciating than the heartbreak she experienced each night crying out to the Lord for Kevin. Every evening, the tears flowed as she wept, often sobbed, thinking about the sweet little boy that Kevin had once been. She remembered his 4th birthday party and how his blue eyes had lighted up when they’d rolled out his new bike, or how, even when he was a big boy of six, he’d climb up into her lap, snuggle in, and fall asleep. Or his first car, his very own, a seven-year-old Grand Am which he’d named Dale, and then the time he’d gotten his first paycheck, smiling with pride and then suddenly yelling, “Are you kidding me??” when he realized how much Uncle Sam had taken in taxes. His father had laughed and welcomed him to adulthood.
Tears filled Clara’s eyes. There were the times when she cried out to the Lord with questions: Where had she gone wrong? What could she have done differently? Why hadn’t He answered her prayers?? Clara sat, unmoving in her chair, without even the strength to rock. She felt her eyes begin to flutter closed–she was so tired, so done. Maybe it was time to let go. She was, after all, seventy-two years old. They’d find someone else to bake the pies…
Clara’s eyes snapped open. She looked around the room but she was alone. Yet she knew she’d heard Kevin’s voice, clear as a bell, and she’d recognized the note of panic in it. And it was in that moment that Clara knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she was all in the world that Kevin had. She knew too that the Lord had answered her prayers: if not for them, Kevin would be dead.
Taking a deep, shaky breath, Clara whispered–for that was all she was able to do, “Lord, please keep Kevin safe, guard and protect him, and have mercy on him!”
In the distance, Clara could hear a siren, rising and falling, growing louder, racing closer.
“Draw him to Yourself, Lord, and pour out Your spirit on him.”
Clara took another breath as footsteps pounded up the apartment stairs, and she whispered, her lips barely moving, “And Lord, be with Kevin while I’m away. Let him not be afraid . . .” A sudden picture flashed in her mind: Jesus, hanging on a rough cross, all splinters and blood, crying out, “’It is finished!’”
Clara closed her eyes. She remembered once when Kevin had become frustrated because he couldn’t figure out his math homework. He had thrown down his pencil and in classic ten-year-old style, balled up his paper and yelled, “I’m done!” Clara had quietly picked up the pencil, smoothed out the paper and gently placed them both back in front of Kevin. “You may be done, Son, but you’re not finished.” As medics burst into the room, a weak smile played about Clara’s lips. Neither was she finished.
Cindi Noble is a high-school English teacher and the parent of two young men who make her very proud. Cindi loves writing books and a good worship jam. In a perfect world, she would write all day on her own private beach while listening to really good guitarists on her IPOD. (She is currently praying this dream into reality.) Every evening she’d watch the NFL—and the Steelers would always win… J Her blog is at DestinyHighway.com
Dating 101 by Lisa Jackson
Dating has changed a lot over the course of the last 15-20 years. Gone for the most part are the days when a mutual friend would introduce us to someone via a blind date or relatives worked with someone who had a great son or daughter that they thought we should meet. And no discussion about dating would be complete without mentioning internet dating! Internet dating has created a “swipe” mentality, swipe to the right if you’re interested in getting to know the person or to the left if not and all this based on profile photos and a brief synopsis of what the person wants prospective dating partners to know about them, to be reviewed within a matter of minutes. Dating was scary in our teens and 20s and can still create some degree of anxiety now that we are older, but I want to share some tips that I hope will make it easier this time around!
If you are anxious about stepping back out into the dating scene, make it easier on yourself by engaging in group dating, activities geared to singles that may involve having dinner together, outdoor activities such as hikes, or other shared interest type activities. Get to know people in the group and if you spot someone you’d like to get to know better, do just that, start with casual conversation.
Be flexible with your expectations. Let me hasten to add that I am not saying to date someone who is not a believer or to lower your expectations in what you will accept in a dating partner in terms of their character, integrity, etc., I am saying that if your “date list” includes only wanting to date someone who is 5’10” or taller, and you meet this wonderful person who is 5’8”, then don’t let your expectations get in the way of what could be the beginning of a great relationship!
Check your baggage. As we get older, life happens to all of us and we have the battlescars to show it! No one is perfect, but before you embark on a new relationship, think about your past relationships or marriage(s) and issues that arose and how you dealt with them. Learning how to work through the hurts and pain of past relationships lays the foundation for a healthy relationship in the future. You owe this to yourself, you are worth it! There are many wonderful resources out there to assist with this: The Singles Network is a great resource; check out their website: www.TheSinglesNetwork.org; you can find many tools, including articles, devotionals and links here to help you in your journey as you develop your identity and fulfillment in Christ, grow in your relationships and disciple others; check out the new devotional on this website, entitled, “Singles & Relationships” which covers topics of friendship, difficult people, forgiveness, romance, etc. in regards to family and friends, and much more! Pray for a Mate is another wonderful resource for churches and ministries to start a prayer group for those who want to be married; this website is: www.prayforamate.com; At Pray for a Mate meetings, you will learn to: affirm whether you are called to be married or not; allow the Holy Spirit to reveal what needs to change or be adjusted in your life so that you have the greatest success at marriage or remarriage; heal from the past, confront your fears and concerns; learn more about yourself and God’s best for you, and build an accountable group of friends who are all on the same journey. If you are interested in starting a Pray for a Mate group, check out the website for more information! These groups are starting all over the world and people are getting healthier! DivorceCare (recovery support group to help people deal with the pain of separation and divorce), GriefShare (grief recovery support group where you can find help and healing for the hurt of losing a loved one), Christian counselors, and books written by Christian authors are other great tools to help you in your pathway to healthier relationships and maybe marriage one day! DivorceCare and GriefShare are ministries that are offered in churches and communities nationwide; local listings should be available by simply doing an internet search.
Look to God to meet your needs for completeness and wholeness. This one goes along with the previous tip: while it is critical to take steps to get yourself healthy, you also need to be able to recognize the flags when someone is entering a new relationship without doing any work on themselves. I’m sure you’ve all heard the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Many people go into relationships, looking to find someone to complete them, to make them happy. People with this mindset will most likely always have failed relationships, as they have not worked on what they need to change in themselves and are looking to others to do what only God can do! God is the only one who can satisfy our true craving for intimacy and completeness.
Create a safe network of friends who can serve as mentors, prayer partners, accountability partners, etc. The friends that I am referring to here would be the ones whom you could call at 3 AM if you needed to, the ones who will give you honest advice, even though it may not always be what you want to hear! These are the kinds of friends who have your best interests at heart. When you start dating someone that you really are feeling an attraction to, then have opportunities for your dating partner and these close friends to meet and get to know each other. The close friends will be able to see any flags for potential concerns that you may not be able to, for as the old saying goes, “love is blind.” Once our emotions and heart get involved, we often tend to see only the best in the person we are dating and don’t tend to put a lot of focus on those small things that--down the road--can create serious problems in a marriage.
Don’t rush intimacy! I mean this on all levels! The one that most often comes to mind when we think of intimacy is probably physical intimacy, but if you are truly wanting to date God’s way, physical intimacy will only happen after marriage. The other kinds of intimacy are important too! Be careful about sharing too much too soon when you first get to know someone. Emotionally intimacy can set you up to be hurt if you have shared things that are deeply personal and the relationship doesn’t work out. Another intimacy that we need to be mindful of establishing too quickly is spiritual intimacy and your first response, like mine used to be, may be to say, “wait a minute, isn’t spiritual intimacy a good thing…??!!” Spiritual intimacy is a good thing, but if it happens too early, it can result in too much pressure on the friendship before it has had time to develop. Praying with each other about each other in private, or on the phone, can cause intimacy to occur too quickly. This type of intimacy is best reserved for those in a serious dating relationship as being vulnerable and exposing your heart to God in prayer is too much to share with a new or casual dating partner. I want to mention another area related to this point and that is to guard your heart from acting married before you are married. Discussing marriage too prematurely can create pressure and stress on a budding friendship, especially when your thoughts and feelings are out of sync with where the relationship really is at that point in terms of commitment levels! Feelings can change daily or even hourly, so be wary of trusting them! Part of the joy in building a friendship is letting it develop slowly over time, building the foundation of mutual respect and trust. If you continue to date and pursue marriage, these basic qualities of the friendship are what will sustain the relationship in the hard times.
Have fun! Don’t overthink things, just get out there and enjoy making new friends and having new experiences!
I hope these tips are helpful. God wants us to have healthy relationships that are honoring to Him. While 1 Corinthians is known as the “love chapter,” I think Philippians 2: 1-5 (NASV) could be called the “relationship verses”: If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.
Lisa Jackson Lisa enjoys studying and writing about Christ-centered dating relationships and marriages. She hopes to use her part time passion to encourage others in this journey. Email: email@example.com
Heard by Single Parent Director, Holly Crain
When I heard my daughter humming a happy tune, I knew that all was right in her little world. And when I would hear the idling of 18-wheelers and air brakes going off in my son's room...I knew he was perfectly at peace with his trucks lined up across the floor. There's just no better sound to a parent than hearing our children happily playing nearby.
Well, there is a story in the Bible about a woman named Hagar who audibly heard, “Where have you come from and where are you going?” These were two well-timed questions asked centuries ago by the Angel of the LORD of Hagar, a handmaiden who found herself alone in the wilderness with her son. Unfortunately, she did not hear her son happily playing nearby because they had run out of water. Hagar's son was crying and near death. Read what happens next in Genesis 21:17-20, 17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid;God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt. So on the contrary, how hard is it to hear our children cry and have no ability to provide for their needs? Be comforted to know that "God heard the boy crying" and that He made the provision. Many times as a single mom, I grieved over the pain my children were going through. But "God heard" their cries. It wasn't a "well of water" but that was not their need. Instead it was a "well of emotional support". He made the provision of comfort through their grandparents that provided rich emotional support. Today, know that God heard Hagar's son, He heard my children and He hears yours too!
If we have not met, I want you to know that I walked into this church 24 years ago with a 5 year old daughter and a 2 month old son in tow. This church embraced me but bigger than that the gospel and what God did in my life changed this ordinary girl forever! And I know He will do the same for you! He will! Enjoy church, the SPF ministry and this SPF newsletter. Allow yourself to get excited about what God has in store for you and your children.