The Desires of Your Heart

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” -Psalm 37:4

That was a verse from my last blog entry and I wanted to talk about it today because there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the promise behind it.

The Heart Wants What it Wants

Each and every one of us has a deep, intense, heartfelt desire. Leave a comment and let me know what it is that burns within you because I’d like to join you in prayer. Perhaps you have a family member you hope will get saved? Perhaps it is an addiction you hope to overcome? A goal weight you’d like to reach? A health issue? A destination you’d like to travel? For me, it is the yearning for a family of my own, a loving husband and children.

Trust in the LORD and Do Good

The surrounding context of Psalm 37 tells us to wait, have patience, trust in God, commit our way to Him, don’t worry, and rest.  It speaks about trusting God’s plan and waiting to see what He will do, aligning our will with His will. When our mind is united with His mind we are becoming more like Him. His desires become our desires. THIS is delighting ourself in Him.

Delight ~ Hebrew word עָנַג

de·light / dəˈlīt

verb

  • To please (someone) greatly
  • To be exquistely happy about
  • To make merry over
  • To give pleasure to

To delight yourself in the Lord is to serve Him with enthusiasm (Ephesians 6:7, Colossians 3:23). To have exceeding joy in your salvation (Psalm 51:12, Psalm 13:5). Letting Him satisfy your every need (Psalm 23:1, Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:33).  To live contented with what you already have (Hebrews 13:5, 1 Timothy 6:6, Philippians 4:12) rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4) and be thankful (1 Chronicles 16:34, Philippians 4:6).

According to His Will

When we are delighting in God and submitting to His will, He blesses us with provisions, protection, deliverance, guidence, stability, and peace. But Psalm 37:4 is not a quid pro quo verse. Jesus said, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14). Notice He said IN MY NAME. He didn’t say, “Ask me anything and I will do it,” but only if it was according to His will.

There are many examples in scripture of unanswered prayer. For example, we read the story of Paul’s thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. Paul asked God to remove it three times but for one reason or another, God chose not to say “yes.”

Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane with droplets of blood pouring out of his sweat glands in complete anguish. He prayed earnestly, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Obviously, if God had answered THAT prayer then all of us would be going to Hell!!!

Sometimes God chooses not to answer our prayers, even when we’re delighting ourselves in Him and trusting Him with our whole heart. But because we know and trust that He “works all things together for good” (Romans 8:28) we can praise Him and thank Him even when we are experiencing great pain.

Hillary Scott wrote this song right after she had a miscarriage which was the hardest trial she had ever gone through. She said in an interview, “Even when it hurts… God’s will is what’s best. Sometimes we don’t understand God’s promises until eternity. His ways are so much bigger than our ways. He sees the whole picture.”

When we are trying to pray but can’t find the words to say we can say these four words:
“Thy will be done.” 

Be Still and Know

James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials” but it is definitely easier said than done as Scott sings in her song. How do we delight ourselves in the Lord in the midst of trials? The secret is reminding ourselves that He is God… and we are not. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). God uses trials to remind us that we need Him and to increase our faith. Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).

It’s hard to count it all joy when we’re distracted by the noise. That’s why Jesus intentionally rose early before anyone else to have his regularly scheduled time to be alone with God every morning. Jesus disciplined Himself to do this because quiet time with God was of utmost priority to Him. We can’t get lost in the business of life and put God on the back burner. We need to be open to hearing His “still small voice.” Isaiah 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” If we aren’t listening, we’ll miss it.

Where is Your Delight?

It’s frustrating when we’re still single with verses like Psalm 37:4 laying around that seem to offer so much hope. Yet despite our unanswered prayers to the desires of our heart, God has a plan for “those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose.” First I’d like to ask you: Where is your joy? Is it in a relationship with a human being or is it in a relationship with the Lord? There is nothing wrong with wanting to be in a relationship but our delight must be FIRST in the Lord. If time with God it is not a priority in your life then your joy is not in the Lord.

Second, are you “trusting God and doing good?” I read a statistic that only 5% of people are saving sex for marriage. I don’t know the statistic, but many believers choose to be unequally yoked with unbelievers and live impure lifestyles. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). God might choose not to bless you if you haven’t turned over all areas of your life to Him. When we repent of our sins and walk with the Lord, He removes our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). Then he plants His desires for us in our heart. As the old, beloved hymn goes, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus!”

Third, continue to pray, “YOUR way, not my way, Yahweh! Thy will be done. Make Your desires for me the desires of my heart.” Then be still and wait on Him. Waiting SUCKS but God tells us to wait over and over in scripture. Don’t rush. Be patient. He has His perfect timing.

Finally, delight yourself in the Lord! The Psalmist sings in Psalm 73:25, “There is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” Is that true in your life? 

There is a funny story I’d like to share with you. My roommate in college gave me a poem for Valentine’s Day. The last line of the poem reads thus:

Since from His bounty I receive
Such proofs of love divine,
Had I a thousand hearts to give,
Lord, they should all be Thine

I joked, “Can we just give God 999 hearts and save one for Mathew?” (At this time, my ex-husband was my boyfriend.) We both tilted our heads back with deep, belly laughter but then we both got quiet and serious. There is no room to give God 99% of our heart and keep 1% for ourselves. We have to give Him our WHOLE heart.

He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21). He longs to bless us with good gifts (Matthew 7:11). But first He wants us to be completely satisfied in Him (John 6:35; John 7:37-39). When He is the object of our desire, we will have more of Him! Draw close to Him and He draws close to you (James 4:8).

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When God Speaks

When we are praying, how can we know a message is from God or just our own thoughts telling us what we want to hear? There’s an old joke: When you talk to God, we call it prayer, but when God talks to you, we call it schizophrenia.

The featured image for this post comes from the Bible story in Samuel 3 when Samuel’s name is repeatedly being called in the night and he finally answers the third time, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

I do not doubt that God speaks to us today as He spoke to Abraham, Moses, Job, and Samuel, I just think it’s a rare occurrence (even though according to to a Gallup poll, 23% of Americans reported hearing a voice or seeing a vision as a response to prayer.) I can only think of one time in my life that I believe a message was truly from God and it was when I was at rock bottom at 16, feeling like I didn’t want to live anymore and God whispered to me, “I have big plans for you.”

Recently my crush told me that God said “no” to dating me.

If God said “no” then God said “no” and so that’s the end of the story. God didn’t give a reason but as my crush so eloquently and firmly declared, “We have some serious problems if that’s not enough,” which was so damn sexy because SPIRITUAL LEADER PUTTING HIS FOOT DOWN. *RAWR.*

Once upon a time a man told me that God told him he would spend the rest of his life with me. I was speechless. Here was a man who I believed at the time to be a righteous and God-fearing follower of Christ. Surely if God told him he would marry me then never mind the fact that God didn’t give me the same message. Who am I to argue with God?

As it turns out, that man was wrong because if God had really meant for me to spend the rest of my life with him, he never would have abandoned me. Right? So forgive me if I’m a teeny bit skeptical of when people tell me God told them something, especially if it involves me.

I always ask this married couple at my church to tell me their love story because I love hearing it over and over. I can see God’s hand in every aspect of their relationship and one can almost be certain God meant for these two to be united as husband and wife. The husband was madly in love with an unbeliever. He kept asking God to take away his desire for her but every day he only loved her more. He couldn’t understand why he felt so strongly because women who smoked, cussed and were hardcore atheists were the most unattractive women to him and yet here was a woman he couldn’t stop daydreaming about. He had a nasty past before he became a believer and one day he was crying out to God and demanding to know why He wouldn’t save this woman. “You forgave my sins and they were even worse than hers. Why won’t you forgive hers?” Suddenly, in his mind’s eye, he kept seeing an image of himself pulling an index card out of a cup of Bible verses in the middle of the table and so he pulled one out. It was Isaiah 43:25 which says “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Except this verse was in Spanish and it could be read in the third person as “her” instead of “your.”) He fell to his knees and sobbed. Was it a coincidence that this exact verse was written by his mother on chalk board in the kitchen earlier that day? Eventually, his wife did realize her need for a Savior. She describes her conversation as an irresistible pull on her heart that made her see the love and grace of Jesus Christ and she couldn’t refuse. 

Another story involves my friend who recently had a dream where God revealed her future husband to her. Whenever she tells someone about the dream she had she says the Holy Spirit jumps inside her. She asked her pastor whether he believed the dream was from God and he confirmed that the man in question had been speaking fondly of her to him. I don’t know whether this dream came from God or was just a product of brain activity during a normal REM cycle, but I guess we’ll find out in time.

TIME. That really is the answer, isn’t it? True love requires committing time to really know a person. Two people have to feel comfortable enough to be openly honest with one another, vulnerable enough to expose themselves to one another, and after knowing all their dark and beautiful  idiosyncrasies, accepting them and choosing to love.

So I will just keep praying for peace about God’s decision and keep asking God to take away the feelings that shouldn’t be there because it isn’t God’s will. After all, I can’t move forward in any relationships with anyone else when my heart is all wrapped up in someone I can’t have.  Because of the nature of my work, I have very little free time to spend with others and so I need to be careful about which ones I give my time to. I’ve already eliminated many possibilities due to red flags such as a lack of respect for Hebrews 10:25 and Hebrews 13:4 and even a disagreement with “happy wife, happy life.” (Deuteronomy 24:5 supports that saying by the way!)

I guess since God is being silent about the matter the only thing I really have to go on at this point is feelings. I believe feelings are neither good nor bad, they are simply our response to information and personal experience. Feelings are legitimate and must be acknowledged and understood so that they can be expressed in healthy ways. While no one is ever wrong to feel a certain way, the information one is reacting to may not be accurate or their interpretation of information may be a misunderstanding. Therefore, before a feeling is shared with others, it must be balanced against the Truth of scripture and be in harmony with facts.

My feelings tell me nothing right now except obey God and focus on being the best foster mother I can be.

Wednesday night Bible study is going to focus on God’s will and how we can know it so I’m pumped for next week!

Embracing Singleness

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I finally gave up on my crush ever returning my feelings. Okay, I’ll admit there is still a little dash of hope lurking somewhere in the dark recesses of my heart. What can I say? I’m the most optimistic person I know.

Alas, I signed up for online dating. Why? Because seriously, how long do I have to wait for you, Honey, before a girl like me can move on?

Apparently more than five months… and I’d literally wait YEARS for him if he gave me even a tattered shred of threadbare hope.

“Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without words

And never stops at all”

~Emily Dickinson~

But he is a godly gentleman and he doesn’t lead people on so he hasn’t and won’t ever give false hope. Now I’m just trying to find a man on his level of awesomeness.

 

Less than five minutes after I uploaded a picture to my online dating profile I had 147 messages in my mailbox.   I remember thinking to myself, “Self? Your time of singleness is over.” I was at first excited about this new adventure especially after seeing messages with pick-up lines such as the ones below:

  • “How does it feel to be the most beautiful girl on this site?”
  • “Seriously, how in the world are you not yoked with a man of God?! Are Tucson men just blind to how incredible you are?”
  • “You are GORGEOUS. You must have a million guys after you.”
  • “You are too good to be true. Are you real?”
  • “Your energy is contagious and your love for God shines.”

But I quickly became discouraged when none of the gentlemen in Tucson seemed to be what I was looking for.

Except my crush.

And of course the website flashed it in my face every day that were were 99% compatible and that he was online RIGHT NOW, probably talking to other girls, too.

So my rules were:

1.) No initiating conversation. Never be the first one to suggest exchanging phone numbers or meeting in person. Let the man lead.

2.) Don’t even bother to reply to messages if you’re not initially attracted to the person’s picture. There’s no need to get people’s hopes up if you’re just not attracted physically.

3.) If he doesn’t say God is the most important thing in his life or if his answers to the questions don’t reflect that, again, don’t bother replying.

4.) Don’t even waste your time with men who say “MIGHT want kids.” Our eggs is a-shrivelin’ up, Honey Chile!

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6.) Pray without ceasing. If it doesn’t feel right in your spirit, walk away. 

 7.) Remember that God desires to give me good things. He loves me and WILL provide in His perfect timing. Rest in Him. 

So the first guy I talked to seemed perfect on paper… but then when we talked on the phone he said that he was only just married last month… “but don’t worry about that,” he assured me. “I’ve grieved over the loss, my heart is healed, and I’m over her and ready to move on.” I nearly choked on my own tongue. “Thank you for being so honest,” I replied. “That’s honorable of you to mention up front. However, it’s a red flag to me that if you truly are done mourning the death of your marriage so soon after its demise. The only thing I could possibly be to you right now is a rebound. I’m sorry, but this cannot go any further.”

That was the end of that.

Then there was an amazing guy who was even more perfect for me on paper than the one above. He was gorgeous, shared many of my hobbies and interests including salsa dancing,  was intelligent, witty, musically gifted, and made me laugh.

He was very slow to meet me in person and I was growing impatient because everyone else I began talking to had already asked to meet me in person and he was the only one who hadn’t yet and also the only one I really wanted to meet anyway. I MIGHT have nudged him a little bit even though one of my rules was to let the man lead. Mistake number one. It worked though! And he asked me out the very next day.

We went on a date that I thought couldn’t have been more perfect… he actually sat there grilling me with questions and covered all the bases I could ever think of even right down to what my love language was, my communication style, how often I desired to be physically intimate after marriage, how many kids I wanted to have and when I wanted to start having them. It seemed we were compatible on absolutely everything because he kept saying, “Good! Me too,” and high-fiving me. Then at the end of the date when I said it was a pleasure to meet him he said, “Oh no, the pleasure is entirely mine. It was truly an honor to meet you.” I thought we were definitely going to make babies together–bahahahaha just kidding! (But like, maybe a little bit)

Unfortunately, I had to wait with bated breath for a text or email for what seemed like an eternity (which was really only about four days but in online-dating-time that just seems like a lifetime.) In his email he wrote that he could get lost in my “beautiful blue eyes all day long” but that he “didn’t feel God meant for us to be together.”  What a heartbreaking rejection. I wrote back that I respected his sincere honesty and for doing it sooner rather than later. I also asked if he felt comfortable sharing what made him feel that way about us but he never wrote back and so the reason for the death of our romance so quickly kindled and so swiftly doused may haunt my waking thoughts for the foreseeable future.

Then I “met” the most amazing man I may have ever met in my life. We talked on the phone for seven hours our first time speaking to one another and even though he’s from India, a culture so completely different from mine, I felt like we could have grown up together because we were so similar. (Being a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ plays a huge part in that.)  His grandfather is the founder of Hopegivers International, which is an organization that helps rescue orphans and at risk children from abuse, sex trafficking, and abandonment. They provide for all their needs, shower them in love, and introduce them to their heavenly Father. He owns some of the “Hope Homes” in his name and is truly one of the most caring and loving individuals I’ve ever met and I already told him that if it doesn’t work out with him romantically that I’m keeping him in my life forever and ever because he’s my beloved brother in Christ and I feel a deep spiritual connection to him.

I also met this sweet, adorable Asian guy who is incredibly easy to get along with and really fun to be around. I feel like we would have some amazing adventures together and I also feel like he would spoil me rotten if I ever became something more than a friend to him.

Okay so then the next guy I am meeting in less than an hour. I have seen him before a couple times at the gym I used to go to. He’s this super buff guy, 6’1″, green eyes… basically a head-turner. I never talked to him because A.) I just go to the gym to do my thang, I don’t really interact with people all that much and B.) I thought he was way out of my league. Plus C.) this was during the time I was still trying desperately to win my husband’s heart back. I know what you must be thinking, “WHY? He was so AWFUL to you, why would you want him back?” Well…

 

people always do crazy things when they’re in love.

The rest of the relationships I’m juggling are all long distance… there are no other ones in Tucson who have messaged me that I am interested in. I’m just keeping my options open at this point and keeping things really casual and nothing too serious unless the Lord whispers something to my heart.

WISH ME LUCK! *Gets purse*

………………………………………………………………..

I just got back from my date and let me tell you… it literally could not have gone any better. We seem to have all the same goals and priorities and we are attracted to one another. We have ridiculous amounts in common and whether or not this works out romantically I can definitely see him fitting into my friend group as he is someone I’d love to have as a friend for life.

He straight up told me I’m his dream woman and everything he wants. And he told me at the end of the date that he couldn’t wait to see me again. So this is either VERY GOOD if it’s God’s will to let him pursue me or VERY BAD because if it isn’t God’s will, He better tell me quick because I can see it headed in that direction unless God puts a road block in our path.

The number one thing I love about him is his genuineness. He’s extremely open and honest and puts everything out on the table. That is not only refreshing but also extremely attractive. He shared with me many of his flaws and strangely, I was not put off by them. I’m still going to keep my guard up and watch for red flags, but I’m already starting to trust him and feel very comfortable around him.

I’m relieved he didn’t try to kiss me at the end of the date. I was sort of worried he might but he probably did his homework by reading the questions in which I had answered  that I didn’t like to kiss until we were in an established, exclusive relationship. Or maybe he’s a lot like me in that mentality. 🙂

Anyway, I just wanted to encourage you that if you are still single and really want to find the love of your life, this verse may be of some comfort to you:

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” -1 Timothy 6:6

Contentment is peace and joy in your current circumstances. It is the freedom from worry, fear, anxiety, and greed. It is wholeness. It is accepting your situation and being satisfied with what God has given you. Maybe you desire more, but you’re truly happy with where you are in this time even if you don’t receive more.

As my sister told me before I started this online dating process: “Are you really trusting God to use the internet as a vehicle for bringing the one He has for you or are you trusting yourself for it to work out?

She reminded me that I have a tendency to be controlling because I like everything to go my way. I tend to plan things out and live in the future and get extremely disappointed when things don’t turn out as I had hoped. She told me to be extra careful because I wear my heart on my sleeve and get carried away by my emotions when I fall for someone.

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Doubt and fear are a direct mistrust in God’s provision and goodness and faithfulness.  There is no fear in love. If you’re worrying about being single and not finding the one you want to spend the rest of your life loving, then you are not trusting God’s sovereignty and omnipotence. If you’re looking online for handsome men you feel a connection with but you’re not bathing every second of your interactions with prayer, then you’re trying to “fix your singleness” yourself apart from God and without God, nothing can go right.


Oh, and the disappointment? Yeah. There is going to be a lot of that if you are anything like me and get rejected by someone you start having feelings for. I assure you, though, God knows best and if someone is not the BEST life teammate for you then God is going to withhold that from you because He has someone even better in mind for you than you could ever imagine for yourself.

Dating After Divorce

In 20 days, it will have been one full year since my divorce. This is the date I promised my pastor three years ago that I’d wait until before I started courting and it’s almost here! In celebration of this special day, this entry is dedicated to the strange and weird world of dating after divorce.

I’m feeling a mixture of both intense excitement and a little trepidation because lately I have been bombarded with well-meaning love advice left and right, much of which is conflicting and confusing. “You should play hard to get” and “You should just be your friendly, fun-loving self.” I should be honest and forthright about my feelings but also mysterious and aloof. I should open up and freely share who I am but also make him earn the intimacy. It’s enough to give me a headache!

I decided to do a little investigation before I put myself out there. I learned that researchers have conducted social experiments and scientifically proven that playing “hard to get” actually does increase attraction and desire but only with people that are already slightly interested in you. This theory is based on the idea that when someone is denied something they want, they want it even more. (That’s probably the reason why people you don’t want to date keep pursuing you even after you’ve told them you’re not interested.)

The best ad2c87f10d0346c0055189ca7885b1fc60vice I’ve been given is to just be direct and straightforward because it develops trust. I’m not going to play games because that’s being deceitful and I’d rather just begin my relationship on a foundation of honesty.

I still don’t know how often to initiate contact… I guess if I’ve already been “friendzoned” it doesn’t really matter how often I shoot him a message. I feel like there must be some secret formula I’m not privy to that tells me how often to communicate with a love interest that is just the right balance of not seeming overeager but still showing him that I was thinking of him. It’s a fine line I must walk between letting him know how much I care about him and unintentionally smothering him.

There is someone in particular I am thinking of as I write this and I want to dedicate the rest of this entry to this someone special who has caught my heart’s attention. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the person I marry has a lot to live up to because I already promised myself I would not settle for anything less than this amazing man I have had the incredible privilege to meet and even greater privilege to get to know.

When I actually stop and think about why I like him it’s so many reasons beginning with faithfulness. He is faithful to God, a faithful friend, faithful and diligent in his work and studies, and the Bible says “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones” (Luke 16:10).

He intelligently contributes to stimulating conversation. After I talk to him, I feel refreshed and rejuvenated rather than drained which is how I feel after I talk to most people. I feel like he’s on my intellectual level and is my spiritual equal as well and that is a rare thing to find indeed. I stated in my last entry that I had yet to find a flaw in him and as cheesy as it sounds, he’s nearly perfect as far as I can tell. He has somehow found that perfect balance between speaking the truth gently and sensitively without compromising honesty and integrity. He is the perfect combination between talkative and a great listener. He’s perfectly in-between laid back and easy-going and logical and analytical.  He can tickle my funny bone but also be serious and profound.  It saves so much time that we think similarly so we’re usually on the same page and can skip explanations because we simply get each other. He’s a deep thinker who wears his heart on his sleeve, just like me. He’s creative and has high ambitions. He has a strong relationship with God and with his family and friends. The way he speaks so highly of his family I can tell he respects them greatly and that’s very attractive to me. He is emotionally stable and feels totally comfortable being his genuine self. He knows himself and what he needs. Even though he sometimes complains about how long and tedious it’s taking, he is confident in his abilities and knows exactly where he’s going and how he’s going to get there. I love that he delays self gratification because he knows that God’s best is around the corner. It only makes me love him more that he knows good things come to those who patiently wait for the right timing. He’s kind-hearted and generous and from what I gather, has Christ-like character. I feel beyond blessed to even know such a wonderful person… and I am so grateful for the fact that he takes time out of his busy schedule to spend a few hours with me now and then. It kills me every time he smiles, oh my goodness I can barely handle that gorgeous smile. And there is something so perfectly comforting and therapeutic about his hugs. I still don’t know him well enough to know if he fits everything I’m looking for on “my list,” but I LOVE what I have gleaned so far from our conversations and I can definitely tell that he is someone who is pure with good intentions and a focus on what is truly important in life.

Yes, he has truly set the bar high for anyone I might meet in the future and I am thankful the Lord brought him into my life. He is living, breathing proof that such a person is not only here on Earth but close by.

As per request of more than a few friends, I give you: THE FUTURE HUSBAND LIST!

  • God-Fearing: A man utterly, passionately, head-over-heels intoxicated by his Heavenly Father with an insatiable desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and continue in holiness. He doesn’t want to break God’s heart but desires to serve Him, obey Him, and glorify Him. His faith inspires others and is an example to me. He challenges me in my walk with God and has a deep, reverential awe for God’s Word. He believes that Truth is absolute, knowable, and that God is the author of it. He is a godly spiritual leader… a doer of the Word who entrusts his worries and burdens to the Father’s capable hands. He hides scripture in his heart and is prepared for spiritual battle with the Sword of the Spirit. Our core beliefs and values line up in harmony. He seeks the Lord’s will in his life with all his being and follows the LORD with reckless abandon.
  • He has a vision for his life. He has a ministry I can come alongside him in to lend my support and assistance. He has goals and dreams that are in step with mine that he is relentless at chasing after.
  • LOVING. Love is patient and kind. It is selfless, gentle, humble, respectful, understanding, compassionate, not easily-angered, forgiving, truthful, heroic, protective, trusting, trustworthy, hopeful, persevering, faithful, encouraging, supportive, attentive, and nurturing.
  • Affectionate/Romantic. It really makes me feel special to cuddle and kiss for hours. After marriage only, I desire to be intimate often. (As in, more than once a day.) I would love it if he wrote me love notes, was not timid with PDA, gave each other massages, and made big deals out of birthdays and anniversaries.
  • Attractive. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; That being said, I don’t have a “type” although there are a few features I find especially attractive:
    • Hypnotizing, soulful, dreamy eyes with a gleam and sparkle in them
    • A drop-dead-gorgeous smile with a hearty, infectious laugh to go with it and kissable lips (*MUAH*)
    • Muscles are an added bonus because strength in motion is a beauty like no other
    • I like dark coloring best but I’m open to any race/ethnicity
      Non-Negotiables:
    • Has clean, neat fingernails
    • Smells good
  • Wise. Prudent in affairs with finances.
  • Intellectual compatibility is important to me. A deep, insightful thinker with an intuitive, creative mind will get along with me better than someone who is more linear. Not to be too picky, but poor spelling and grammar is unattractive to me as well as a foul mouth (Ephesians 5:4).
  • NOT ADDICTED to anything. This is extremely important. He cannot be addicted to masturbation, drinking, gambling, gaming, sports, TV, or anything else that isn’t healthy. Three things are a deal breaker: Smoking, pornography, and drugs.
  • Self-Assurance is so sexy! He’s confident in His God-given abilities but not conceited. He’s broken and contrite over his sins yet embraces grace with thankfulness and loves the man God made him to be. He knows what his talents and gifts are and uses them to advance the kingdom and build up other believers. He has the potential to someday be an elder in the church.
  • Totally open and honest with me. He says what he means clearly and concisely and never “beats it around the bush.” He replies to texts and phone calls in a timely manner and is punctual.
  • Disciplined. Lord, I pray he is motivated, determined, hard-working, responsible, and takes initiative to do what needs to be done with a servant’s heart.
  • Great sense of humor. I can’t stand crass words and prefer good, clean wit. I pray he appreciates silliness and knows when to be goofy and when to be serious and can do both well. Playfulness is a must… like speaking in funky accents and dressing up in funny couple Halloween costumes with me. Added bonus if he’s fun, energetic, and can be both well-grounded yet surprisingly spontaneous at times. I imagine him as the type of dad who one minute is giving piggy back rides and then the next minute is leading family devotions.
  • Sings and dances with me. (Even if he’s tone deaf with two left feet, God forbid.) I hope he has good taste in music and movies that we can enjoy together. I would love it if we could randomly treat life like a musical and break out in song and dance now and then.
  • Has good, healthy relationships with his friends and family. His friends are genuine people who I get along with well and his family is like a second family to me.
  • Imaginative. Maybe he keeps a journal and likes to write? Maybe he plays an instrument? Maybe he has a poet’s heart and notices beauty in the smallest of things? Maybe he builds things with wood or enjoys painting? Whatever he does, he expresses himself in some creative outlet… even if it’s just going out into nature and meditating.
  • LOVES children and wants to be the best father to both our biological children and adopted children. Foster care is dear to my heart and I’d like him to be on board with me in this calling.

Is This “the One?”

I read a Christian dating book called “Is This the One?” by Stephen Arterburn and it presented a challenge which I chose to accept called “Take-a-Break-Dating” in which you are to platonically date ten different men to expand your horizons and see what else it out there. 

So my rules were simple:

-Don’t seek out the date. Always let him ask you and no saying “no” to the date unless he gives off creepy vibes and you don’t feel safe.

-Make sure he knows it’s a platonic date right up front so you’re both on the same wavelength.

-No matter how badly you are tempted to, you must not kiss no matter how amazing the date went.

(Let me begin by saying that I use the word “date” very loosely. In the majority of these cases, our get together was very much like two friends enjoying one another’s company.)

That being said, I went above and beyond the challenge and went on 30 platonic dates. Many of the men were sweet, thoughtful, respectful, kindhearted, gentle, honest, intelligent, witty, affectionate, well-spoken communicators and great listeners. Many of them were handsome and a couple of them were drop dead gorgeous. A few of them spoiled me rotten and made me feel like a queen. However, a couple of the dates were a complete waste of time, unfortunately, and I came away having a hard time coming up with anything nice to say about the person no matter how hard I tried to think of something.

Out of the 30 dates, only a small handful I can honestly say were on the same page as me faith-wise. One of my favorite dates had this to say over dinner and I think it perfectly sums up my experience with most of the men:

“The only thing I don’t like about you is that you’re too good for me. You’re more faithful to God and more spiritual and that’s actually not a problem with you but a problem with me.”

I must be honest and admit that I didn’t follow ANY of my rules. I ended up breaking them all at some point. Please allow me to explain:

-Number 30 was someone who I absolutely could not resist asking on a date myself. I bent this rule for him only. I know that no one is perfect but to tell the truth I have yet to find a flaw in him. He is the only one out of all 30 men that I could see myself dating romantically when the time is right but he does not feel the same way about me. He has set the bar high for “the one.” He has ruined this whole game for me because after getting to know him, no one else can quite compare.

-I failed to mention on a couple dates that it was platonic. Maybe I was so excited I forgot to or maybe I was afraid of friend-zoning someone amazing that could one day blossom into something more.

-Yes. I kissed a couple of them. Yes, I, Saving-My-First-Kiss-For-Marriage Dannielle, kissed a boy on a first date. I promise to be a good girl from now on and my next kiss will be someone super special that I’m in a committed relationship with.

Without further ado, here are some fun pie charts for those curious about the statistics of my dates.

religion

 

In order to be placed in the “Christian” category, date had to self-identify as Christian but failed to correctly answer an important question about salvation that I feel would justify him being a true Christian. The ones who fell into neither category are those who straight up told me they were either atheist or agnostic which were 5 men in total.

One of my 30 dates passed the faith test but when asked who he would like to marry, he answered, “As long as she loves me, it doesn’t matter if she’s not a Christian.” You can clearly see where his heart is when it comes to spiritual intimacy and oneness. I was REALLY disappointed by this one because up until that moment, he was someone I could have seen myself falling in love with.

RaceofDate

This one is totally for funzies because honestly I believe we are all one race… the human race. Conversation I had last night with a friend:

Him: You don’t like dark meat?
Me: Oh, I LOVE dark meat… just not on my plate!  😉

My pie chart is sadly lacking in the brown sugar department.

ageofdate Wow. This one actually blew my mind. I am surprised to visually see the break down of my date’s ages.

wherimetmydates

Now this is just a heartbreaking pie graph. Notice how NOT ONE guy I dated was found in church. I supposed I could count ONE guy but I placed him in the mutual friend category instead because he was both. If you want to get technical, all the guys in the mall category were also work… I was working at the mall at the time when guys came up to me all the time and asked me for a date. But the true work category is actual co-workers. The “other” category includes fun places such as a Crisis Pregnancy Resource Center fund raiser and a storage unit, the former of which has become one of my best friends. The category where I’ve found the most amazing Christian men is salsa dancing. At this point, I have a better chance of meeting my future husband dancing than I do at church!

In conclusion, I learned a lot from my experience. The most valuable thing I learned was how to interact with the various different personality types. They are all so vastly different and communication styles that work for one will not work for another. Some personality types clash with mine such as those who are excessively sarcastic, those who don’t have a clear vision for their future, and those who don’t have an active lifestyle.

I learned that there are a lot of single “Christian” men who don’t go to church. Not ONE unmarried man over the age of 18 has set foot in my church in five years. This is a huge problem when trying to meet eligible, like-minded men with the same vision and same passion for Jesus Christ. I’d really like to know the reason for men’s spiritual lethargy.

I should caveat my next few paragraphs with the fact that I believe God desires good things for my life and is fully capable of delivering. If God wants me to get re-married, He’ll bring the right one into my life at the right time.

Now, let’s discuss the “meat market!” One report puts the number of “marriageable men” (that is, never having married, no children yet, & has gainful employment) at 152 marriageable men for every 100 marriageable women (source). According to this study, there are more than enough good men to go around. But the study doesn’t measure faith as a factor. If you go to any church, I guarantee you that most of the pews have butts in them that belong to single women. At my church, the majority of the people who attend are single women. There aren’t any single men at all… and even a couple married women members attend without their husbands. A recent study put the number at 25% of married women who attend church without their husbands in tow (source). This same source claims that a typical congregation in the U.S. is 61% female and only 39% male. The participants in activities during the middle of the week are attended by an overwhelming 70-80% of females. I have some friends in their early 40s who finally found each other and tied the knot. I have an uncle who tied the knot recently in his 40s as well… and he had to find my aunt online… and she lived in another state. Why is it taking this long for people to find their “helper suitable?”

If I keep doing what I’m doing (waiting for a guy to come along) I have a feeling I’m going to experience a lot of the same thing… waiting for a guy to come along. There are some things I could change about my lifestyle such as switching churches or joining a Bible study at another church but I REALLY LOVE my church and my schedule is kind of jam packed right now to add anything else to it. Besides, I wouldn’t want to join a Bible study with the intent to find a husband… I’d rather join to study the Bible with other believers.

The only thing I can think of doing right now is continue to pray for my future husband. Pray his faith grow and strengthen, pray for his well-being, and that he will find me soon. I also pray every day for Date #30 that if it’s God’s will, he’ll change his mind about friend zoning me 😉

It has been more than three years since my ex-husband left me and it will be one full year since we’ve been divorced on May 21st. That is when I plan to start dating romantically, should the Lord bring the right one into my life. However, I kind of promised myself I’d read through the entire Bible again before I started this journey. I better get cracking…

Part 2 of My Confessions

“Raise your right hand, please. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?”

“I do,” I answered… the same two words I uttered with all my heart as Pastor Larry asked me if I took Mathew to be my husband as long as we both shall live.

Standing before the judge, she asked me if I believed my marriage was “irretrievably broken” with “no hope of reconciliation.” I felt my whole body tremble and a hot tear streamed down my face. “The tissues are over there, honey,” said the judge softly with compassion in her voice. I grabbed a couple and wiped miserably at my nose. I explained that we went to marriage counseling with my pastor and that it hadn’t worked. That I waited for two years for him to come around, but finally decided to end the marriage legally because he wasn’t going to do it himself.

“Do you wish to return to your maiden name?” asked the judge.

“Yes, please, your honor.” Then I signed Dannielle Albert at the bottom of the divorce certificate and…

That was it. It took all of about five minutes. “You are now single,” said the judge.

I sat back down with the rest of the people getting divorced that day; a few were with their spouses and a few, like myself, were there by themselves because their other half didn’t show up. One woman was sobbing. One woman was trying desperately not to. One man was sober with a serious expression I couldn’t read. One man was cracking jokes that we were all invited to his “divorce party” afterwards with drinks all around. To me, this was nothing to celebrate. I wanted to have a funeral, not a party.

tearsAs I sat among my fellow peers, I couldn’t help but wonder what brought them here today. What were their stories? Were they anything like mine? I prayed silently and wrote two Bible verses in my journal.

“I will restore to you the years the swarming locusts have eaten; you shall be satisfied and praise the name of the LORD your God who has dealt wondrously with you.” -Joel 2:25-26


“The Lord is righteous in all His ways and faithful in all He does. The Lord is near to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them.” -Psalm 145:17-19

You know all those prayers I prayed after my husband left me? They were not a waste. And all those tears I cried? They mattered. They were collected in God’s bottle because they are a precious treasure to Him (Psalm 56:8).

The four years of my marriage were not a waste. The two years I spent waiting for him to come back were not a waste. The year I will spend healing and not dating anyone will not be a waste. I look around at all my peers who have babies and are living their dreams and it hurts so deeply because I wish that were my life, but that is not what God had planned for me. I’ve grown to accept that and be content that He allowed me to marry Mathew. He knew that it wasn’t going to work out since before I was born, even though I was certain it would be happily ever after.

Every moment of my courtship, engagement, marriage, and two years of separation were a part of God’s ultimate permissive will and I believe it was for a reason, even if I do not know why He let it happen if it wasn’t going to end in “death do us part.”

I felt stuck in a horrible marriage, but I wasn’t going to give up. Every day I gave my marriage to God and asked him to heal it and restore it. I believe my prayers were a sweet-smelling, Christ-like fragrance rising up to God in worship.

God will use my sorrow and grief and pain and suffering to mold me into a stronger believer and transform my heart into one that trusts Him completely each and every day. My sufferings in this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us one day! (Romans 8:18). I look forward to that day with eager anticipation.

Someday, I pray, my LORD will bring a godly man into my life who will be an equally yoked partner; I will be his helpmate and we will work together toward a common goal, making decisions together, discussing matters together, sharing the burden of life, supporting one another. I know without a doubt that if the good Lord doesn’t provide a husband for me, He still has a beautiful plan for my life and I will look forward and ahead, forget my messy past, press onward toward the prize and not look back (Philippians 3:13).

Uncertainty

I always seem to be in a perpetual state of confusion and uncertainty. Questions plague my mind. Every choice seems huge and every decision feels wrong. What does my future hold? What does God want for my life? Will life ever stop being so stressful working three jobs just to make ends meet? Will I ever be loved and taken care of again someday? Will I make it through this difficult time in one piece? Will I mess up my testimony if I make the wrong decision? Will I always be this lonely?

DOUBTI’ve been praying a lot lately. It seems I’m in a constant state of prayer. Verses keep coming to my mind…

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” -Proverbs 3:5-6

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need.” Luke 12:29 -31

I think for now I will hold off on getting a better apartment and a car and just wait for six months to see where my financial situation is then. I am miserable with no hot water in my apartment and I’m tired of wasting hours upon hours waiting for the bus, riding it (it takes four times as long to get to any destination riding public transit) and being late for work if it’s behind schedule. But hot water and better transportation are luxuries, not really needs. I test-drove a Camaro this past Easter weekend and I imagined how much easier it would make my life to have it. (And of course how cool it would feel to be behind the wheel of one.) But coveting is a sin and letting my mind feast on this desire for a car is wasting precious time I could be thinking about other things of more importance like God’s goodness and His grace. I have brought my petitions to God and He will either bless me with a better job or He will tell me to wait longer. As it stands now, I can afford the car payments and insurance but I would have to finance the car and I’d rather save up and pay for it in cash so that I can avoid the interest.

As to the situation with my husband, the latest news is that he still wants to get back together with me but he wants me to give up the Bible which he claims “brainwashes” me. He says that until I start thinking along the same lines as he does, there is no possibility of us ever reconciling. Even though he lost his faith years ago, he was willing to dwell with me. I have absolutely no idea how unequally yoked couples do it! There were so many problems in our marriage because my husband did not want to submit to God. Untimately, it was our major differences in worldview that caused him to leave me. (This is the answer he gave when I asked him last night “WHY did you leave me!?” .) He said we are just too different and we have absolutely nothing in common because I follow Jesus and he doesn’t.

Some of you reading this may be asking yourselves if my telling you all of this really all that necessary? Maybe not, but I still think it’s important to share my testimony. I need to. I need someone to say, “I’ve been there,” or “I’m going through something similar,” or “I don’t know what you’re going through, but I’m praying for you and I’m here for you.”

Here’s what 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 says:
“Since God has so generously let us in on what He is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.” ((The Message))