Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

Abundant Life

burglar-157142_1280_CC0The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ~John 10:10

Life can be brutal these days. Our fast-paced lives often leave us depleted and exhausted. It is in that state that the enemy moves in, sidling up next to us and whispering lies. He is intent on dragging us down to his level.

We single women have a unique tender spot the enemy loves to prod when he moves in. He’ll spin tales of how God doesn’t love you because He hasn’t given you a husband. Wouldn’t life be easier if you were part of a couple?

Those falsehoods are just words that are blown away on the wind of God’s voice beckoning us to join Him. He offers not only life but abundant life. This life has nothing to do with marital status or bank account balance. It’s found in the resting and trusting in Him that our life makes sense, and when life is based on the sense the Lord provides, the enemy has no power.

So, the next time life gets overwhelming and the enemy slithers in, turn away. Lean into God and find the abundant life He promises.

 

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A Foolish Seduction

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.                                                                                                                                                                           ~ 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 (NASB)

Roaring Lion

Image courtesy of tiverylucky/freedigitalphotos.net.

While retreating with 200 other singles in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, NC, last weekend, my carpool pal, Jill, wore a cap with the initials SKAD on it. Of course, I asked her what it stood for and she said, “Steal, Kill And Destroy … because that’s what Satan wants to do to us.” Then I read a Facebook post along these same lines from my friend, Bonnie Cozadd, and it seemed like a good idea to share her thoughts with you:

Satan is a tricky bugger. And he has a motto: “Whatever works.” If you’re looking for him in a crowd, just ignore the guy in red tights carrying a pitchfork. That’s a fellow with serious issues, but he’s not the enemy.

No, Satan fools people best when he comes dressed as an angel of light. He comes as a friend. A pal. A Judas. He’s an entity that comforts your poor, sagging soul, pats your head and sympathizes with your problems. He’s your best bud.

You hear background whispers of, “You deserve this. No one can blame you. God will forgive you anyway. Everybody thinks it’s okay.” Then … one day … in comes the kiss. Right on the cheek. And Judas betrays you. You see him for who he is, and he isn’t pretty.

My word of caution is just this: If you are a believer, the more powerful your testimony, the more Satan will be after you.

There is a seduction, as noted in the 2 Corinthians passage above.

Yes, you are protected by God … but you may be dabbling. Instead of fighting fire, you’re playing with it. Dangerous … dangerous.

God tells us to “Test everything.”

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We have an enemy who is indeed out to “Steal, kill and destroy.” The best defense, as they say, is a good offense. Be on the alert, my friends, for “your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

How do you guard yourself against the enemy?

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Never Alone

person-409127_1280_CC0As single women, we often come face-to-face with Genesis 2:18, which declares that it’s not good for man to be alone. Yet, that’s exactly where many of us have found ourselves. Alone. Wanting to be a helpmeet. Desiring the partnership of marriage.

Sometimes this verse feels like a slap in the face to those of us singles who would rather be married. We work to reconcile this verse with our current status. For many, it feels as if God too has left us alone.

I wish I could say to you, this—this is the answer to your questions. It would be fabulous for someone to be able to explain exactly why we’re not a helpmeet yet. Sadly, God doesn’t operate that way. His Word says He knows the plans He has for us, but it doesn’t promise easy answers to our questions.

This is what I can offer you if you’re in a place of questioning and uncertainty. God’s Word says we are never alone. He is with us always. He is our answer and our consolation in times of solitude. Hold tight to this truth when your singleness feels unfair and hurtful.

The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.                                                                                                                         ~Zephaniah 3:17

 

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Reading Between the Words

Fishing by Toa55But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”                                                                                                                                                 ~Luke 5:5

Most writers have a favorite. Punctuation, I mean. I know I do—the em dash tops the list, and that pesky comma lands firmly at the bottom. I’ve never had strong feelings about the semicolon though. I don’t really give it much thought since it’s not something I need too often.

Hang in there; this isn’t a post about punctuation.

Anyway, last week I was reading the book of Luke and, believe it or not, the semicolon in chapter 5, verse 5 jumped out at me. Suddenly, because of that double-speck of punctuation, I saw something in the story I hadn’t noticed before.

This account comes at the beginning of Jesus’s earthly ministry. He’s been preaching, calling His disciples, casting out demons and healing people like Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. But it’s all new—He hasn’t chosen His apostles yet, and the men already following Him are still not entirely sure they know what’s going on. (Of course, it will be years before they start to understand.)

Then we have this brief dialog between Jesus and Simon starting in verse 4. It’s simple enough … but there’s that semi-colon, and I see more there than a pause. Maybe it’s because I’m an actor and adding nuance to the words on the page is what we do. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been reading a stack of Mary Stewart books lately. She often tells her stories with heavily punctuated dialog to let you know there’s more going on.

Take, for instance, her romantic suspense novel This Rough Magic. The main characters, Max and Lucy, have just rescued a beached dolphin and now stand triumphantly in the ocean, drenched but delighted. That’s when Max suddenly kisses Lucy. They joke, at first, and admit their feelings, then Max says, “Come here.” Lucy responds:

“Max, you’re impossible … Of all the complacent— This is ridiculous! What a time to choose …”

And we just know there’s more kissing going on under those ellipses and that em dash. Instead of describing it, Mary lets us use our imagination.

Now I see this semicolon in Luke 5 and wonder what happened in that space. Something certainly did because Simon, it would seem, changed his mind. Please indulge me for a moment as I speculate.

So they’re out by the Lake of Gennesaret one day and Jesus tells Simon to “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch,” Simon’s response seems like a pretty natural one. He says, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing …”

Just straight up facts there. Simon already knew it wouldn’t do any good to head back out. And, I imagine, he was tired, maybe a little frustrated, certainly not eager to get back on that boat. Then he does a one-eighty. Just like that. Why? It must have been the expression on Jesus’s face, right? Probably a mix of “Do you still doubt what I can do?” and “Trust me.”

I can almost hear Simon sigh. “Okay. Fine.” Well, that’s not actually what he said but his next word, “nevertheless,” sounds a bit like today’s “whatever.”

“… nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”

And he did.

And a miracle occurred. They caught so many fish they needed help from another boat … and both boats began to sink.

Simon could have just as easily put a period at the end of his response. “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing.” He could have shrugged and walked away and ignored the look Jesus gave him. And if he had, he would have missed the blessing.

How many times has Jesus called me to do something and instead of saying, “Yes, Lord,” I told Him all the reasons it was a dumb idea before turning away? How many times have I flat-out ignored Him?

In these situations, I need to pause and consider what I know about God. Like how He’s not going to ask me to do something without a plan. And sure, I might sigh and say, “whatever.” I hope not. But even if I do, as long as I still “let down the net,” I can move forward into His blessing.

As Simon Peter learned—it’s the best place to be.

What about you? When’s the last time you “let down the net” despite your misgivings?

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Are You Weary?

The pace of life these days is frenetic. We rush from one thing to the next, until finally dropping into bed at the end of the day.

I’m just as guilty as the next person. It always feels like there should be more time. I’m constantly saying, “I thought I had plenty of time. This just snuck up on me.” But that’s not really true. Things don’t typically just sneak up. We—I—put things out of my mind so that I can do something more pressing. Then this sneaks up on me.

I think we can only blame part of this on our society and the push to do more and be more. For me, the lion’s share of the blame lies squarely with me. I listen to society’s lies and push. Or I feel inadequate and put it off. Either way I end up paying for it in the end.

The thing is, I know the answer for this. I’ve known it for a long time. I just often forget the answer.

This is the answer:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.                                                                                                                   ~Matthew 11:28

If we—if I would just remember to rest in the Lord, I wouldn’t be so apt to over-schedule, be paralyzed with indecision or push too hard.

So here, in the middle of the week, won’t you join me in seeking the rest the Lord promises?

 

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Don’t Fear the Giants

Do you have a dream that you can’t achieve because you’re scared? Is there something you know you were born to do, but fear is holding you back?

Fear can be a powerful motivator — to curl into a ball and binge watch old episodes of JAG.

It’s okay. I’ve been there. In fact, just this evening.

Here’s the thing about fear, though. If you give into fear, it will rule your life. And it will kill your dreams.

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Remember when Moses sent the spies into the Promised Land? Ten of those 12 spies came back telling tales of how the land was full of giants. Only two were brave enough to tell of the milk and honey that flowed freely there. Only two trusted that God had given them the land, and there was no need to fear the giants.

Because of those ten men, the Israelites wandered for 40 years in the desert. They were at the edge of the Promised Land but fear held them back.

At. The. Edge. Of. The. Promise.

Those ten men let their own human eyes cast their focus instead of allowing God’s eyes to show them the promise.

Fear is hard. It speaks loudly. But never forget that God’s word speaks louder.

Commit your ways to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun (Psalm 37:5-6).

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Greater Love

This week’s season finale of The Flash—a show on The CW about a man with superhuman speed—was intense. Just when it seemed all was lost and everyone was going to die, one of the characters sacrificed his life to save the people he loved. A few minutes later, the Flash himself bravely faced death in an effort he was told would fail. But he raced into danger anyway, knowing that he had to at least try.

He’ll be okay, though. I heard the show has been renewed for a second season.

I love superhero shows and movies, and I think it’s this idea of sacrifice that appeals to me most. Yes, they all have a superpower, but they’re often willing to go to the limits of that power—doing whatever is necessary to save lives.

Have you noticed the Bible is full of superheroes? Samson, of course, and King David with his mighty men. Read 2 Samuel 23 and see how they’d equal the strength and stamina of just about any of Marvel’s Avengers. And Jesus gave His disciples superhero nicknames, changing Simon’s name to Peter the Rock and calling James and John the Sons of Thunder.

But the book of Hebrews gives us a whole rundown. In fact, the author spends all of chapter eleven describing amazing heroes of the faith of whom, he concludes, “the world was not worthy.” Men and women who followed God without question and, often, to death. And yet they, “having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us” (11:39–40).

What this says to me is, these people served God without question and with their lives and, because of that, He made them a promise. But they won’t see the fulfillment of that promise until we’re all together. He did this to provide something better—not for them, but for us.

It’s not “fair” to them, but it is merciful to us.

This Memorial Day, let’s remember those who gave of themselves for our freedom. Normal people, full of heart and courage, who willingly sacrificed all because they believed something. I think Samwise Gamgee said it best in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers:

Memorial Day by tiverylucky

Image courtesy of tiverylucky/freedigitalphotos.net.

It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

And Frodo asks, “What are we holding onto, Sam?”

To which Sam replies, “That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

Or, as Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Lord willing, none of us will have to make that kind of sacrifice. But we can live in immense gratitude to those who have.

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Conquering Uncertainty

It is dark and cool. The light sound of traffic and the soft chirping of night creatures drift in on the breezes through the open window. The sweet scent of the night air surrounds me and has dissipated the dry, cooped-up air from being closed all day.

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My stomach growls softly with a small hunger. I consider going downstairs to get a PBJ sandwich and a glass of ice cold diet Pepsi despite the clock reading 12:32 a.m.

I sit in the dark and snippets of life stroll through my head. The uncertainty that permeates my life weighs down like heavy blankets on a winter’s night.

It’s my uncertainty, not God’s. I find that oddly comforting.

This world hasn’t been completely certain since the moment Eve took the fruit from the tree. Uncertainty is now part of the human condition.

A friend once called me a Type A- personality, not totally A, but definitely not a B. That A minus in me makes me loathe the not-knowing. It makes me uncomfortable with knowing my plans are tentative.

One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11, which says the Lord has plans for us. These plans are to prosper us and not to harm us. I cling to this verse as a toddler clings to her binky.

I know “prosper” doesn’t mean He’s going to shower me with worldly goods and riches. I also know the hurt, pain and ugliness of this world often come along with the prospering. God’s plan for prospering me means to save me from eternal death and to bring me to heaven. Jeremiah 29:11 doesn’t promise we won’t have uncertainty. It promises that my only certainty is that, regardless of this life, I will spend eternity with Him in heaven.

So, there in the night, I lay the uncertainty at His feet. I tell Him what I would like but that I’m open to His plan. I pray I will mean those words because only in trusting can I conquer the uncertainty.

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Disappointment

“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied. “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.  Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of Him.”

 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.                                                                                                                                                  ~1 Samuel 1:15-18

Have you ever wanted something so bad you could taste it? I know. Silly question. We’ve all had those things that are good and noble, but that, for one reason or another, God doesn’t have them in His plans. Yeah, this is a blog for single women who have never been married, but that’s not really what I’m talking about today.

Recently, I’ve had several things I really wanted. I’ve worked for them and put myself out there for them. And, for whatever reason, God has chosen not to give them to me.

Disappointment is a word that romps through my life right now.

I’ve always loved the story of Hannah because she kept right on trusting the Lord. She kept believing even when it didn’t seem possible. Today as I deal with the disappointment of not getting what I wanted, I’m encouraged by Hannah once again.

My desire is to respond as she did. I pray to find favor in the Lord’s eyes, and I work on carrying on without a downcast face.

 

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If What Jesus Did Wasn’t Enough

We have a tendency to think in terms of fairness. Well, I do anyway. Why does she get a husband but not me? Why is he so successful? Why can’t my dreams come true like everyone else’s?

Easter 2015 - artur84

Image courtesy of artur84/freedigitalphotos.net

But this Easter weekend, I’m reminded again that Jesus didn’t suffer and die so I could have a fair life. He didn’t take on the sin of all humanity in order to make me happy. His sacrifice was so I wouldn’t, in fact, get what I deserve.

King David wrote in Psalm 103:

He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

I spend so much time being caught up in my needs and wants, completely forgetting to fall on my knees in gratitude. But I realize that’s like saying, “What you did on the cross wasn’t enough, Jesus. I want more. Your sacrifice gave me eternal life, sure, but what about this other stuff? What about my husband, my big house, my great job? When are you going to see to that?”

The fact is, God doesn’t deal in fairness but in holiness. My life exists for His glory, not my happiness. If my singleness brings honor to Him, then I should strive to excel in the life He’s given me and find my contentment there. Not in anything I feel I deserve.

Here’s the amazing thing: God understands us. He doesn’t condemn us for our selfishness, but lovingly and graciously gives us time to learn and grow. Yes, He addresses our sins and tells us to fear Him and change … yet I find so many Scriptures that offer us hope, even in our self-centered me-ness.

Psalm 103 continues:

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the East is from the West,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

David continues by reminding us that our days are short. Our lives are made meaningful only in our relationship and service to God. Not in any earthly thing we think we might deserve.

Because the truth is, we don’t want what we deserve.

Father, help me remember that each day of my life is a gift. Remind me of your mercy throughout the year. Your forgiveness and grace are beyond comprehension, and I am enamored of You. Thank You for Your sacrifice. May my life be a continuous expression of Your love so others may see You in me. Amen.

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