Coffee Shop Talk: Priorities, Spiritual Valleys, and Dreams

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

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What are the priorities of a twenty-something Christian woman?

Oh my, oh my. This one stumped me a little bit.

Every individual is different and every twenty-something woman is going to be at different walks in their earthly and spiritual life. Are they actively seeking God’s will? Are they stagnant in their walk? These are two HUGE factors when seeing where priorities lie. So, with that being said, I choose to answer this question based on the women that are in my own life and what I see to be the recurring priorities among us all.

We will be a bit selfish at this stage in the game. Women of this age generally are working a full time job, saving their money for future plans whether that be for travel or a home or car. We make time with our friends and fellowshipping with other women a priority. The women we spend time with may be from our work place, home church, or friends we’ve had forever. We know we need to vent.

Women need other women to listen and give affirming nods that, “Yes, it is truly terrible no one acknowledged ______ about you!” We are working our way through this life as independent, God fearing women and praying we don’t fall on our face in front of you good looking men. We generally make our friends, our job, and our family priorities.

If we are in a relationship then yes, that most likely will take the majority of our time. This is the stage of the game when dating becomes serious and we are NOT looking at just dating the next guy after the next. We are ready for commitment and “The One.” We will make a relationship a priority, but not dating. Casual dating is for chumps.

Twenty-something year old women are in the stage of “preparation.” We are allowing God to shape us and mold us into the women He would desire… to be the women He has designed us to be for our specific calling. He is preparing our hearts and minds for the day we become a wife, a mother. These years of our lives are truly spent waiting on the Lord and preparing for what He has next.

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How do you deal with “the valleys” of life?

Crying ….a lot. No, I’m not saying I have melt downs in public and fall to my knees weeping; but after a long day if you were to see me in my car or in my room, you’re guaranteed water works.

I try and pray and worship my way through it. God has blessed me beyond measure and His joy is something that can’t be stolen from me, even when happiness fades. I may be sorrowful, frustrated or anxious, but I will always have joy in the Lord. I try to either drive in silence or put on worship music and sing [even when I don’t feel like it because God is worthy of worship despite my emotions.] “The valleys” always seem bigger when I’m driving and have time to contemplate them.

Prayer. It helps to pray while I drive. Out loud. I let out all of my fears and doubts and hang ups while always making sure to speak the Truth of the Word and God’s promises and faithfulness. And then that’s when I cry… a lot. I store things up too long inside of my mind, fighting back every tear so that when I finally open the gates the floods come. One solid good cry–––or three or four–––is so helpful.

Friends. The community of believers and brothers and sisters God has put around me helps me so much. Whether they just sit and allow me to ramble on at them (while they nod to show they’re following) or if they are challenging me to press into God more; they’ve got my back. They remind me of the God I love and serve and just how BIG He is and how much He loves me. The true brother/sisterhood I have is key to how God keeps me from losing my mind and crumbling in on myself when life just sucks.

Reflect. Even when I’d rather be allowing my mind to shut off and my emotions to numb out everything around me, which I will be honest, and say both of those things happen but God is gracious; I make myself reflect on all the times before. I look and see all the moments and other “valleys” God has already pulled me through. Is He not that same God today as He was then? YES! That unchanging truth is my sanity when I feel like I’m falling apart.

When the “valleys” come, the best thing to do is to focus my eyes on The One who saved me and saves me each and every day from the “valleys” that try and swallow me whole.

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Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years I will be twenty-eight years old. Mehhhhh. Sorry… I had a small midlife crisis just thinking about that! Anyway, I truly do not know where I will be in five years. I will be wherever God has placed me and called me, but for the sake of this article, I’ll give you my dream answer.

I would see myself married to the man God has brought me to. Furthering The Kingdom side by side through youth ministry, missions, small groups, and community outreach. Reaching the sick and lost for Jesus. Grabbing ahold of high schoolers’ lives and seeing how the Gospel and Jesus transforms them. Taking those changed students and then going and reaching the community. I see myself with one child born, possibly another on the way. [I’m praying for boy-girl-boy, so if you could all pray for that too I’d appreciate it.] I would be planning future mission trips for the high school students (possibly even adults) and connecting with missionaries around the world with us to partner with as a youth group.

In five years, I’ll still most likely be in school. Slowly, but surely, getting my degree in Biblical Studies and perhaps even looking into a Master’s program (GASP!). Along with school, youth ministry, missions, and married life, the big dream I pray to see come to fruition is the prayer room. God laid this vision on my heart almost two years ago. I believe with all the I am it will happen and this will be a HUGE part of my ministry. He has shown me details of the room and what it looks like and how it will run. He has even given me the name for it too!

I will open a prayer room that will be available 24 hours, everyday. My heart’s passion is prayer and fellowship. I long for the days to go into the prayer room and put on a pot of coffee or cook a meal and share it with whoever may be there. Hearing their story. Talking about how their heart breaks. Crying with those who mourn and rejoicing with those full of joy. Praying over people for all kinds of different needs. AHHH!!! My heart races as I type all of this out. To have a place where the youth can come and seek the Lord and I can pray with them (and for them). A quiet place for adults to step away from the demands of their days and find peace in the Lord. I pray that in five years this will come to fruition.

I have big dreams for myself and my future. I know God has even bigger dreams for me. In five years, I see myself living out these dreams and grabbing the vision for the new dreams God will lay ahead of me.

until our next chat,
B.

[box_success]Send us your questions! You can do so via FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_success]

Following Blindly

Following Blindly

Do you ever feel like you’re going through life blind?

My wife and I have had many discussions lately about where the Lord is leading us to serve.  We have prayed, attended church, tried to be good stewards with what we’ve been given; tried to live a life that lines up with what God desires for us, and made sacrifices seeking His will.  Yet, I have found myself frustrated.  At times, my prayers have been along the lines of, “God, I don’t get it.  I’m trying to do what You want, but it seems like You’re not listening.  Why does it seem like all I have is questions, and no one is providing answers?”.

It is an experience which has drawn out honesty in my prayers.

The nice, neat little prayers I used to say have been replaced by a genuine conversation with God.  Joy, hope, frustration, and worry are all expressed in a true crying out for Him.

Why does it seem like there are so many times when God won’t just show me what His plan is?  Why do I feel as though I am wandering blindly, when He promises to give me sight?

Then I found a story in the Bible which hit me in a whole new way.

In Exodus 33: 12-23, there is an interesting interaction between Moses and God.  Moses has been used by God to lead the nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, he has seen God’s power first hand, and, in Exodus 33, he is worried about what’s next.

12 Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

Moses is crying out for answers and guidance, longing to be reminded that God has a plan, that God will be with him, and the Lord answers,

“My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (vs 14)

Then, Moses asks to see God’s glory. (vs 18)

Moses wants to see God.  He wants visual confirmation of the one who is leading him.  He is desperate for the reassurance that he is not doing this alone, and God provides.

19 And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

The Lord tells Moses He will show Himself to him, but that no one can see the face of God and live.

21 Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

God, essentially, has Moses stand in a corner while He covers his eyes and passes by.

So often, we cry out to God for guidance.  Many times, we long to see God and know that we are heading down the right path, and that we are not alone.  We feel as though life is hazy, and we are blindly stumbling around, in search of the next step. However, sometimes we feel blind because God is covering our eyes.

God knows we can’t handle His full glory.

If we saw the full picture of God’s plan, we’d allow pride to get in the way.  If we knew the whole of His will, we’d simply become impatient and rush toward the ending.

Sometimes, God covers our eyes and saves us from the overwhelming enormity of His glory.

[All Scripture is quoted from the New International Version]

Monday Rundown: Sends #ValentinesWeek Out With A Bang

It’s Monday, and if you’re new to Quarterlife Man (welcome), you’re new to the Monday Rundown. The Monday Rundown is a compendium of  randomness compiled over the course of each week. Enjoy…

[As always, if you’ve seen something crazy or have a suggestion, email us or tell us on Twitter (@QuarterlifeMan).]

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––I Said A Bang, Bang, Bangity Bang…: Have you been loving #ValentinesWeek?

#ValentinesWeek is incredible because we get to invite so many talented writers (from our staff or otherwise) to contribute on a topic we’re all passionate about: relationships. The amount of knowledge poured into this website through God and our contributors has been phenomenal. As such, we are going to finish with a BANG.

Society has made you well aware that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Rightly so, you can expect relationship-related posts all throughout the day tomorrow; a culmination of one incredible week of #ValentinesWeek posts. We’ll do a recap post on Wednesday morning, and then back to your regularly scheduled programming.

TOMORROW IS ALMOST TODAY.

––New Stuff From Jennifer Stoltzfus: Have you seen the article from earlier today from Jenn Stoltzfus? It’s called The Gift of Undivided Devotion, and it’s on fire. In fact, it’s so on fire that Jenn will be contributing to Quarterlife Man on a regular basis and sharing everything that God has laid on her heart. We are pumped.

––From The Female Perspective: Want to skip out on the Valentine’s Day heartache? Most of us do, too. Again coming from the female perspective, check out this article from Cindi McMenamin of Crosslife: Great (Unmet) Expectations: Avoiding Valentine’s Day Heartache. It’s a great look at what women see and feel on Valentine’s Day regarding relational happiness, and there are some things that we can see plainly too (don’t you just love that The Gospel is universal?).

Here’s another one from Madi at the Becoming Girls blog. Don’t say we never link to unmanly content!

––Oh, My Darlin’, Valentine: Ever been to Like A Bubbling Brook? Yeah, we haven’t either. Nevertheless! Take a look at this article by Lori Wagner. She masterfully crafts the story of Valentine’s Day then and now, weaves in the GIANT love story known as the Bible, and then gives us the call:

[box_light]Like the origins of Valentine’s Day, the Bible has its mysteries, to be sure. But there is no mystery in its overarching theme—it’s central message. God made the earth. God made you. He wants you for His own.

He’s issued His invitation. It’s up to us to RSVP. The way to do that is found in the Bible, too. It’s like those cards that come pre-stamped and self-addressed when you get a wedding invitation in the mail. The person extending the invitation makes it easy to respond.[/box_light]

––Showering Singleness: Courtesy of Deacon Heather Carlson and Mars Hill Church, a post titled, In Praise of Singleness. Let’s give a what-what to all the single people in the hizzy. (Never using ‘hizzy’ again, FYI) This is another one written from the female perspective, but still fruitful.

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Wait––––light bulb moment. All of the good articles are being written by women for women. Don’t you think there is a problem with that? As men, we need to yearn for the stuff more. The lack of content is proportionate to the lack of demand. Men, let’s set up.

 

The Hand-Clenching Syndrome

Based on recent events in my life, I can confidently and personally speak to something I like to call the ‘hand-clenching syndrome’.

Allow me to explain; Jesus is jealous for us. Therefore, when He gives us gifts, we like them. We like them so much that we could arguably like them more than Him. His creation, His people, His stuff. When our hearts start liking God’s stuff more than Him, there’s a problem.

Left to my own devices, I will idolize. Recently, I realized that I have not grown out of this. Honestly, I can only imagine that it is a lifetime struggle with the flesh; idolizing my relationship with my future husband, buying a home, having kids, etc. Whether it’s clenching onto the good things He’s given me, or trusting Him with the difficult things I am tempted to fret over, either way, they are idols. So here’s the deal: God strips us if He sees us getting too puffy, prideful or crazy-in-love with these things. This is NOT an article about God taking away the good things in our lives so we have to be fearful of Him. Make no mistake-God is good. In His good nature, He wants our best, which is Him. Every time I choose to go to the gifts He’s given me, I am making a choice to exalt that thing/person/whatever over the Lord.

When I think of this hand-clenching syndrome, I literally think of a hand. To receive, your hand must be open. Sometimes it takes hard work to open your hand (you have to let go of old things: hurts & old idols, and make yourself vulnerable to receive). Once your hand is finally open, and God gives, we start thinking we earned it, or perhaps worse, that the gift is OURS.

We’re so tickled with this gift, we start clenching our little hands around it. God gives you some time to decide (how much time is unique to God and you). If you are following Him, He waits. If you are trying to listen to Him in your life on a daily basis, he starts prying your fingers off-one by one. He’s waiting to see if you can be responsible with having that gift. Can you multi-task? You want this thing so badly, but can you keep God in his rightful place once you get it? If you can’t, He starts loosening your grip because He cares.

You know in your head that He’s better than gifts, but your heart is pledging allegiance elsewhere.

And before your eyes, you watch the great divide play out between your head and your heart. You can tell a great deal about the idols in your life by your heart’s reaction to their absence. If we keep God at the front and center, the only One that we are sure will never leave us or forsake us, then we won’t be terribly heart-broken if His gifts are taken away (of course that would mean we aren’t clinching to begin with!).

Just remember, all good things come from above. If you feel yourself clinching onto gifts in your life, confess it. Talk to God, and change your behavior. Practice it everyday, because we clinch everyday. It’s not weird or unusual, but it needs to be managed nonetheless. This is one important step toward freedom, like it or not.

The cool thing about it is that  since we have a tendency to tighten our grip, we can choose to clench the Lord instead of the other stuff. I believe that as we master this principle, His good gifts will begin to coexist in our lives with our God, and the multi-tasking of gripping God and loving his gifts will kick into gear.

Monday Rundown: Wakes From A Coma.

––Comatose: If you’re wondering where my boring musings went for a week, I was at the boat show in Lauderdale. And it was great. But it was impossible to write during that 70+ hour week. And then I went comatose due to lack of sleep. And then we got an extra hour of sleep due to Daylight Savings Time. And then it didn’t matter because I was awake at 5:00am to coach PBA at a tournament in Melbourne. Comatose. Maybe I’ll catch up next weekend? Next year? When I retire? When I’m dead or when Jesus comes back to embrace me in his arms? Continue reading “Monday Rundown: Wakes From A Coma.”

DEVIANT: Your Grass Is Pretty Green.

DEVIANT: How to be a real man

This morning I was all set to send out a post on battling burnout. It’s something that I’ve been dealing with, as you can tell (NO POSTS!), with the pressures of work (traveling) and lacrosse (recruiting) mounting. Alas, I will give you a spoiler for that blogpost: In Christ it is well with my soul. #throwback

I will talk about burnout at a later date in the future (maybe when we have some downtime on the blog), but I really wanted to write on something else. There were a few blogposts that were half written (such as, “Replacing God With Women,” “Dare To Be Vulnerable,” & “Are You Critiqueable”), but I saw a topic I jotted down in mid-October that had no notes or anything previously written, so let’s address it now:

Your grass is pretty green.

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Mmmmmmm. Tell yourself again. And again.

I struggle with many things (pridefulness and other characteristics come to mind), but I have an extremely difficult time with the-grass-is-always-greener-syndrome. I am a classic optimist… hell, my blog is titled after a whimsical optimist. I will always think the best of people and situations and, in turn, I believe that (for me) there is always a better and more applicable scenario. I’ll save you a bunch of digression and say the following: I am wrong!

Your grass is pretty green.

Sometimes, I can’t possibly sit still. I’m always moving forward. An “if you’re not moving with me, get the heck out of my way,” type of thing. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with that… but sometimes we need to stop and smell the roses! [Loving the garden references, FYI] Most of the time I am moving so fast that I can’t possibly see the greatness that’s right in front of me.

It seems backwards, but it’s true: The grass is never greener. Once you see that grass, you’ll look for greener grass; it’s a vicious cycle.

I always mention something along the lines of, “rule #465: never settle.” (I don’t believe in EVER settling), but maybe the right answer is slowing down just a bit. If I am going so fast that I can’t possibly see God’s greatness, then what is the purpose of moving at that speed? I know right now, God is calling me to slow down. The world is saying, “adhere to the rat race and worry about power and money and materiality.” As Christians we’re called to a higher standard.

The good news is here: that higher standard is an all-encompassing God. He is a loving, understanding God that knows your every step and is lighting the way (Psalm 119:105).

Let’s take action. Tell God: When I’m with you, my heart is satisfied. I dwell in nothing less than the sheer greatness of you, Father. I will walk swiftly, but in a manner that is agreeable to the opportunities you have set forth. I won’t bury my responsibilities in excuses and miscellany. I will embrace what I have and seek You first, letting all else happen according to your good great and perfect will. Our brazen contentedness will not be questioned or mistaken, because God, we know you’re on our side and when we are completely and wholly obedient to you, great things happen.

DEVIANT: Video Games… Fun or Foul?

Deviant

Video games. Everyone plays them, so what’s the big idea?

And I agree with those who say that… to an extent. As with many things, most video games are fine in moderation, but that’s not what I think we’re dealing with here. Like drinking, smoking, gambling, and all of the others, it’s much more than that. Rare is the man that plays one game of Madden and turns off his machine for the night. Instead, it’s 14 straight hours of Call of Duty, and therein lies the problem. Recently, I read a CNN article that mentioned:

Today, 18-to- 34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day than 12-to- 17-year-old boys. Continue reading “DEVIANT: Video Games… Fun or Foul?”

DEVIANT: An Introduction.

Gentlemen: this isn’t working.

Present-day manhood is failing us. For the first time in modern history, men at large have no idea who they are or where they’re going.

The 21st century woman has left us in the dust. 80% of jobs lost in the recession were held by men. We no longer hold a majority position in college classrooms and even the workforce. The hunter-gatherer role is long gone and men have no idea what’s next.

Masculinity is convoluted. Today’s man has a hollow identity, covered by posturing and deception. Instead of loving God and loving others first, we have succumbed to a host of societal norms that tell us all about a fake manhood. Continue reading “DEVIANT: An Introduction.”

Article: ‘Jobs Hard To Come By For Grads’

Below is an article from the Detroit News that highlights why jobs are hard to come by for graduates. Reading this, it makes me extremely blessed and very thankful to have my new career…

As thousands of Michigan college graduates pick up their diplomas in the aftermath of the worst downturn since the Depression, they’re finding that jobs remain scarce and the ones that are out there pay less, don’t offer a good career or don’t require a college education to begin with.

A survey released this week by the National Association of Colleges and Employers finds employment picking up for the first time since 2007 for new graduates, with employers planning to hire 19.3 percent more graduates in 2010-11 than they did in 2009-10. Continue reading “Article: ‘Jobs Hard To Come By For Grads’”