Category Archives: From Outside Sources

Shared Post – Seeking Solace in God

As I was browsing through my usual reads at the office today, I stumbled on this and couldn’t agree more. Today, I’m choosing #6. Lent is just around the corner (wait for that post to be uploaded — I’m calling for acountability and community here). Here’s to living life to its fullest!

6 options for godly single women wanting to marry

I am currently preaching through Malachi and talking about Living for a Legacy. While the book does say that God is a Father seeking “godly offspring” through his people, my concern is that singles will feel isolated or overlooked in this series. So, I wanted to supplement the sermons with some additional thoughts for singles.

“Daughters . . . Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”

–Song of Songs 2:7 (NIV)

These are tough times for godly single women who want to marry.

There are some single women who remain single for no good reason. I know plenty of them. Some have never married. Some married only to have their husband die. Others have been divorced by a guy who did not appreciate what he had and did not want to invest the energy it takes to make a great marriage. These are women who are friends of Grace and I, people we know well, women who are very godly, actively serving others, and well known in their church community. Of course, the world is also filled with singles who are not mature, godly, or stable, but I’m not talking about them.

As for the godly single women wanting to marry, however, I’m meeting more and more women like this recently. They often ask me for advice on what they should do. Those who are over thirty are sometimes beginning to wonder if their hopes to marry and become a mother will be fulfilled. For some, this leads to near panic. For others, a constant despair with seasons of dark depression lingers like a chronic ache.

Admittedly, I am not the best person to give advice to a single woman about specific ways to navigate the path of holding out hope while being realistic regarding planning for one’s future. But, I am a pastor and a dad. I do love the women in our church, and I love them like a spiritual father. Also, I am the father of two girls whom I absolutely enjoy and adore, the oldest of which is sixteen. So I think about this a lot.

For the godly single ladies reading this blog post, I know that sometimes the drama and details of relationships (or the lack thereof) can become confusing, cloudy, and cold. Sometimes, pulling back from a situation, particularly one that is emotionally expensive for you, helps you see that even though the specific choices you are making are not what you would want, they are the best in light of the options you have. This dawned on me recently while talking with a woman at an event where I was teaching. In that conversation, I told her she really only had six options.

Option #1: Sin

You can decide that God has not come through for you, so you take matters into your own hands. You decide to be a gal who parties a lot, casually dates a bunch of guys you’d never marry, sleeps around, moves in with a guy, or does other things that will really hurt the one relationship you have with a great man: Jesus Christ. If you take this path, you will eventually come to feel horrible for what you have done and miserable in the world you live.

Option #2: Surrender

You can give up on ever meeting someone worth marrying. You can just stop taking any risks, meeting any people, or trying in any way. Often this is because you are sick of getting your heart broken and would rather lock it away in a vault than take another risk. But when you shut down your heart to life in general, you are not just foregoing marriage but also hope and joy.

Option #3: Settle

You can lower your standards to the point that nearly any guy can meet them. Single men and women are prone to have a list of what they want in a spouse that is way too detailed, long, and unreasonable. But, it is also possible to keep editing your list to the point where “godly man” eventually becomes “believes in a higher power of some sort,” and “I respect him” becomes “I think I can put up with him.” This may get you a man, but not a long-term, joy-filled, God-honoring marriage.

Option #4: Suffer

You can allow your singleness to become the devastating, discouraging, and defining aspect of your life. You can let it make you feel unwanted, unloved, and unworthy. You can allow it to haunt you, pushing you into shame, isolation, and despair. You can let your singleness be a club for Satan to beat you with over, and over, and over, and over . . .

Option #5: Strive

You can start to obsess over doing literally everything you can to land a husband. You never leave the house without looking like you are ready for a pageant. You count every calorie and spend more time at the gym than the treadmill does. You start an account for every Christian dating site that exists. You attend every church with a decent number of single men, and never miss a singles ministry event at any megachurch within a two-hour drive of your home. The center of your life is no longer Jesus, but some guy you are determined to attract to fill his place.

Option #6: Solace

You can take comfort in God’s love for you and that Jesus is the Man in your life who sympathizes with your singleness. You can allow your singleness to explain you but not identify you. You can allow your singleness to be an aspect of your life but not the essence of your life. You can remind yourself that you worship a God who was single, and that the early church was nearly the polar opposite of today’s: singleness was considered a virtuous, preferable life by many in service to God. You can live your life without waiting for someone else to show up and make it worthwhile. You can retain your desire for marriage without drifting into desperation. You can be open to a relationship without putting your entire life on hold until one occurs. You can pour your desires for a family into your extended family and/or church family.

To my single sisters wanting to marry, I do not want to discourage you in any way. But, the truth is that it is harder to be a single woman than a single man as a Christian. Every poll I have ever seen says that single women are generally more mature and responsible than single men. Men are waiting until around 30 years old to marry for the first time, if they ever do. And, they are going for younger women, according to the statistics. Across Christianity, there are far more single women than single men, which means that the odds are not in the favor of godly single women. In addition, for theological reasons, many Christian women do not want to be the dating initiator, asking guys out and taking the lead in the relationship.

All of this together means that godly single women live in a complex world that is increasingly more difficult for those who want to marry and have children with a godly man. Love, prayer, friendship, support, counsel, and community are needed more than ever.

Being single is not easy. But neither is being married. They are just difficult in different ways as God uses everything in our life to make us more like Jesus, who happened to live a perfect life while single.

Shared Post: 3 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Single by Debra K. Fileta, shared at RelevantMagazine

It’s not every day that you stumble on something that makes you pause and go, “Huh…I hadn’t thought of it that way.” Thank you to Debra K. Fileta for shining light on a time in a person’s life when we tend to forget the greater purpose.


I dusted off one of my old journals the other day. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t such a good idea.

I half-laughed/half-cringed while reading through the pages, listening to my 20-year-old self talk about life and dream about the future. I had a pretty good head on my shoulders (or at least I thought so), but even so, looking back I realize I had so many things wrong in my mentality as a single person.

There are so many things I know now that I wish I knew then—so many things that would have spared me heartache, grief and straight-up saved me time! I spent so much time dreaming, worrying and thinking about things that would never actually happen. I invested my energy in the wrong places and my emotions in the wrong people.

I get that some life-lessons have to be experienced in order to be learned, but I don’t always think that’s the case. Sometimes, I think someone who’s “been there, done that and learned from it” can give us some perspective and steer us in the right direction. As I reflect on my time as a single, here are some things I wish someone would have told me:

The most important person you could ever get to know is yourself

Sound obvious to you? Than you’re better off than I was. Back then, I probably would have told you that I “knew who I was,” but I really didn’t. The truth is, I didn’t take the time to get to know myself until far too late in my life as a single. And I don’t think I’m alone in that.

We can spend so much time trying to find the right person, that we actually lose ourselves in the process.

So many times, our years of singleness are spent focusing on who we’re going to be with, rather than who we are. Countless hours and limitless energy are poured into getting to know the person standing before us, many times, at the neglect of ourselves. We can spend so much time trying to find the right person, that we actually lose ourselves in the process.

I wish someone would have clued me in on the fact that getting my stuff together was a huge piece to the puzzle of a nourished relationship. Instead of fixating on relationships, I wish I would have invested more time in developing interests, understanding my personality, working through my past and wrapping my brain around my identity in Christ. Because at the end of the day, you can’t really know what you want in a relationship until you know who you are.

You will always attract the kind of person you believe you deserve

The truth is that we all come with some sort of a price tag. We rely on so many superficial things to measure our value and our worth by: appearance, intelligence, success. But no matter how you choose to calculate it, your price tag is determined by one thing and one thing alone: Yourself.I wish someone could have told me that you get to determine the price that you will place upon yourself. But more so, I wish I would have known the reality that the price I choose is also the price at which I’ll be purchased. I spent so much of my life undervaluing my worth, thinking I wasn’t good enough, smart enough or cute enough. I made decisions based on what I believed I deserved, and my inability to see my true worth took me down some roads I wish I never would have traveled.

It’s important to get real with the price we place on ourselves and realize how valuable we are, because we have been made by a God who said so. A God who saw we were worth so much and paid a high cost just to prove it. One thing I wish someone would have told me is that if you want to attract someone who values you, you’ve first got to value yourself.

Your story has far more to do with who you are, than who you’re with

It’s hard not to be single-minded when you’re on the search for love (no pun intended). It’s easy to focus in on your desires in the here and now. But the truth is, finding a relationship is just part of God’s bigger story for your life. I think the most foundational truth that I’ve learned now that I’m a married woman is that my life has far more to do with finding my purpose than it ever did with finding someone to marry.

Seek to find your purpose and pursue your God-given passions while standing alone.

I love my husband, and I’m blessed by the marriage we have, but I realize that this relationship is just part of the bigger picture God has for my life. My purpose, my security, and my value weren’t resolved in the arms of my spouse. There is so much more that God has made me to do and to be, and so much more that I want to become.

Finding love is just part of the equation of my story, and it’s only part of yours, as well. Seek to find your purpose and pursue your God-given passions while standing alone. Because one thing I wish I would have known is that you’ll never regret investing in God’s bigger picture.

No matter who you are or what you’ve been through, my prayer is that you learn from my mistakes, because sometimesa simple perspective change can make all the difference in your life—and in your relationships.

An earlier version of this article appeared at

And can be found here.

Shared Post: 20 Things Every Twentysomething Should Have by Jesse Carey, Relevant Magazine, January 15, 2014

Your twenties have been called the “defining decade”—it’s the time in your life when you not only make big decisions about your career, relationships and finances, it’s also when you figure out what being an adult is about.

Obviously, there’s nothing magical that happens when you turn 30 (or even 40 or 50 for that matter), but being well equipped when your starting out as a real-life grown up can help set the course for decades to come.

Here’s our look at the 20 things every twentysomething should have.

A constantly growing library

Maintaining a growing library of books that you’ve read (whether it’s on your Kindle or iPad or, you know, one of those actual “shelves” that old mansions in the movies have), is a good habit to get into at any age. But, if you can make the time to constantly read good books in the busyness of your 20s, you can do it at any age.

Someone to hold you accountable

The difference between a temptation and a mistake often just comes down to accountability. Having people in our lives who’ll let us know when we’re making poor decisions can end up saving us a lot of heartache. This also goes for fashion accountability. A true friend is one who can tell you that you’re just not pulling off that Heisenberg hat.

Something you can wear to a job interview

If you already have a job you like, go ahead and substitute “job interview” for “wedding,” “corporate event” or “Lower Eastside masquerade ball” (hey, you never know). Owning a good suit/dress is part of being an adult, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be fun. Buy something you’ll actually enjoy wearing and be willing to invest in quality, even if you’re not the type to dress up often. (ProTip: Guys, your job interview outfit should not include a Heisenberg hat.)

Someone who looks up to you

Finding someone you can be an example to and speak into doesn’t just benefit the other person—it can help you grow as an adult and actually make you want to become a better person yourself.

A journal

Your twenties are arguably the most formative decade of your life. It might be a good idea to have some written record of it that doesn’t just exist on Twitter.

A pastor who knows you by name

Even if you’re a member of a church, getting to know a pastor personally can encourage you to do more than just get involved—it builds a relationship with someone you’d be comfortable talking to and praying with in times of need.

A bike

It’s impossible to not have fun when you’re riding a bike. Don’t believe us? Go for a bike ride, and thank us later.

A passport

Passports aren’t exactly cheap (for a first-time traveler, they’ll set you back about $135), but obviously, if you ever want to travel abroad, you’re going to need one. You may not already have a trip to Bali booked, but it’s a good idea to go ahead and get one anyways: They take a few weeks to process, so if some sort of international opportunity/vacation/mission trip arises, you’ll be ready.

A friend you’ve had for more than 10 years

Maintaining friendships isn’t always easy. But with the rise of Facebook, there’s no excuse for not staying connected to people from your past. Keeping old friends not only reminds us of where we came from; it can also help to show us the people we’ve become.

A friend you’ve had for less than a year

You’re probably out of school now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still meet new people and make new friends. Get plugged in at your church, join a sports league or actually attempt the ancient and forgotten practice of meeting your neighbors. Making new friends is just as important as keeping your old ones.

A good pair of running/athletic shoes

Ask someone in their thirties or forties, and they’ll tell you: Eventually, your metabolism slows down, your joints start to ache and all those late night nacho sessions start to catch up with you. Start a lifestyle of fitness when you’re in the twenties, and you can prevent a lot of health problems before they get a chance to start.

A hard copy of a Bible

Don’t get us wrong, YouVersion and digital Bible tools are great and put tons of valuable research resources right at your fingertips. But nothing can replace a good old fashioned, ink on paper, bound copy of the Bible. Write in it. Highlight it. Bookmark it. But whatever you do, make it your own and make it personal.

A 5-year plan

The best way to try to get to where you want to be in five years is mapping out a plan to get there. Figure out what career, ministry, education or travel opportunities you want to take, write out a doable plan and start making it happen.

A willingness to throw your 5-year plan out the window

Plans are great. A lot of successful people got to where they are today by sticking to a masterfully-crafted 5-year roadmap. But sometimes, life changes and new opportunities arise. Don’t be so married to your own plan for your life that you become unwilling to see what else God puts on your path.

A savings/retirement account

It’s never too late (or too early) to get started saving. And once you get an emergency savings account established, the money you put away for retirement starts to add up fast.

A big dream

Want to start an innovative company? Find a way to help people in need? Publish a book, sell a script or release an album? In your twenties it’s easy to let old dreams fade as the daily realities of adulthood set in. But there’s really only one way for your life dream to die—and that’s if you let it.

A back-up alarm clock

Preferably one that is placed out of arm’s reach from your bed. Because that snooze button on the iPhone is one thing that Apple made a little too intuitive.

A social cause you believe in

Find an organization, cause or social need that moves you, and get involved. Twentysomethings have a massive cultural influence—use it for something good. Get educated on an international need, social justice mission or ministry opportunity, and become an advocate for a cause that is important to you.

A parental figure you can trust

There’s a high likelihood that you’ll encounter some major milestones between the ages of 20 and 30: Accepting your first “real” job, deciding between buying and renting a home, getting married and even becoming a parent are very real possibilities. Being able to talk with someone who’s been there before—whether it’s your own parents or someone older who you trust—can make some life’s hardest decisions a little bit easier and your twenty’s biggest moments less stressful.

Subscriptions to a few quality magazines

Obviously, we’re biased, but finding a few magazines who say smart, trustworthy things about topics you care about is still the most reliable way to maintain an evolving, informed perspective of the world around you. Do a little research and find a few publications worth committing to.


For more information, check out Relevant Magazine here.

Shared Post: Relationship Mistakes Not to Make in 2014 by Debra K. Fileta, c/o Relevant Magazine

Relationship Mistakes Not To Make in 2014

By Debra K Fileta
January 2, 2014

Debra K. Fileta is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in Relationship and Marital issues. She, her husband and two children live in Hershey, PA. She is the author of the new book True Love Dates (Zondervan, 2013), challenging young men and women to do dating in a way that is psychologically sound, emotionally healthy and spiritually grounded. Visit and follow her on Twitter to get your dating questions answered and to learn more!

A few ways to avoid unhealthy relationships this year.

Like any year, 2013 was filled with both ups and downs.

For many, those highs and lows included some catastrophic things in the area of relationships. While some of you experienced the joy of love and healthy relationships, many others experienced a lot of pain, heart-break and the emotional ups and downs that beg for the start of a brand new year.  

Like the rest of you, I’m all for the new-ness of 2014. I’m excited to say “good riddance” to a painful year and usher in the hope of a new one. But one thing I know to be true—when it comes to relationships in particular—you can’t do the same things in the same way and expect different results.  

No matter how much you hope, pray and dream for good things this coming year, for many of you, good things will only come when you learn to make better, wiser and healthier choices.

If you’re still holding on to the hope of better relationships in the year to come, there are some mistakes that you may need to acknowledge, and then take ownership of as we approach the new year.

Here are four relationship mistakes to stop making in 2014:

Stop letting the wrong people into your life

One of the biggest relationship mistakes people make has less to do with what they do in a relationship, and more to do with who they choose to enter a relationship with.  

We can spend so much time thinking about what we want in someone of the opposite sex without ever taking the time to think through what we don’t want—and what we won’t settle for.  When it comes to finding love, there are some red flags that simply cannot be ignored for the prospect of a healthy relationship.

Think through the people you allowed into your life this year and ask yourself if they were the kind of people who built you up, or tore you down. Healthy relationships will always add more to your life than they take.

Don’t allow your physical relationship to lead the way  

As Christians, it’s easy to get sick and tired of hearing the “waiting until marriage” rhetoric. But we’re not just talking about sex here.

When it comes to dating, it’s easy to allow the physical interactions of your relationship to take the lead before you know what happened. But time and time again, I hear from both married and unmarried couples alike about the harm that encompasses those who allow their physical relationship to lead the way.There is certainly a time and place for physical affection in a dating relationship. But letting the physical lead the way will always skew your judgment, heighten your emotions and fool your concept of commitment. When the physical attributes of your relationship take control, they have the power to ruin a relationship. That’s something worth avoiding in 2014.

Stop believing that you are worth less

There is so much truth to the concept that you will always attract the kind of relationship you believe you deserve. Maybe part of the problems you had in 2013 is that you didn’t believe you are worth more. As you move into the new year, take the time to consider what you are worth and how that plays into your relationship choices.

Don’t avoid talking to God about your relationships

It’s embarrassing how simple yet profound this statement is. Why we don’t take the time to talk to the Almighty God of the Universe who knows all things and can make all things happen is simply mind-boggling to me. 

He knows what’s best for our lives, and He knows what we need to get us there. Why not go to Him for wisdom, for hope and for healing? Why not seek Him with our questions, our pain and our problems? There are many different ways you can pray for your relationships in 2014.

Don’t downplay the importance of emotional boundaries

We talk a lot about the dangers of the physical in a dating relationship, but we don’t talk much about the emotional. But in my opinion, emotional intimacy can be just as damaging as physical intimacy if we’re not careful to proceed with caution. 

As you approach 2014, maybe it’s time to take inventory of your emotional health and the boundaries you’ve put up to protect your heart. “Emotional Sex” has ruined many relationships, because your heart is precious, and something that needs to be handled with care.

Seek to set emotional boundaries in your life and protect your heart this coming year.

We’ve all made mistakes. But it’s most important that we learn from those mistakes, and then strive to never let them happen again.  

Here’s to 2014. May it be a year full of love, laughter, joy and the hope of healthy relationships.

*This article is adapted from concepts in my new book, True Love Dates.


If you liked what I shared here, please check Relevant Magazine out.

what true friendship looks like, a shared post

A Millennial’s Guide to Meaningful Friendships by Christine Organ, shared here

Being grown-up, out of college and independent is great. Really, it is. But let’s be honest, entering the “real world” also comes with several hard truths.

There is the hard truth that nothing—and I mean nothing—can prepare you for being a parent. The hard truth that we might be turning into our own parents—and that it isn’t necessary a bad thing. The hard truth that college did little, if anything, to prepare us for our first job.

And there is the hard truth that, after you’re out of school, there are new rules and new ways of interacting—and friendships often take a whole lot of work.

Marriage, moves, children, increasing responsibilities and changing priorities all make it more difficult to sustain friendships that were once so easy to maintain. Common interests, shared living quarters and an abundance of free time all made friendships seem so much easier and natural in our teens and early twenties.

And as obligations and responsibilities increase and free time decreases, friendships can run the risk of falling further down the priority list. Unless, that is, we recognize the rules have changed and that we must change, too.

So here are a few tips on how to build and maintain meaningful friendships during the turbulent times of your twenties and thirties and beyond:

Find common ground

Commonality is easy to find when we’re young. We go to the same school, we share the same extracurricular activities, we love the same music. But as we get older, differences become more numerous.

Some friends get married earlier than others, some have kids later than others or not at all. Some people go back to school, while others jump right into their professional career. All of these differences can begin to add up unless you choose to find common ground—shared beliefs or social causes, a shared past or simply your mutual respect for each other.

Be authentic. Always.

In our teens and early twenties, labels get thrown around like red solo cups at a frat party. Athlete. Nerd. Slut. Christian. Hippie. Fortunately, as we move into our later twenties and thirties, our lives become a melting pot of complications and divergent obligations and as we begin to realize that we cannot—and should not—fit into neatly packaged, labeled boxes of preconceived stereotypes.

As this happens, authenticity becomes more important than ever to being a good friend (not to mention personal happiness, as well), since it is impossible to have a real relationship if one or both people are pretending to be something they aren’t.

Be vulnerable

Vulnerability is uncomfortable. There is no way around it. But to be authentic, you must also let your guard down and let yourself be vulnerable. Although vulnerability creates the possibility of disappointment, vulnerability also breeds intimacy and opens our hearts up to infinite goodness.

Become friends with your family

As they say, friends are the family we choose for ourselves. But family can also be the friends that we choose for ourselves. After all, they’re always going to be related to you, so you might as well find ways enjoy the time you’ll spend together.

Let go of any sibling rivalry. Get over the fact that Mom and Dad might have gone to your sister’s volleyball games more often than your drama club meetings. Stop being jealous that your brother got into an Ivy League school. You just might find a really good friend somewhere in there.

Focus on what you can bring to the friendship, rather than what you are getting from the friendship

Whether it is humor, a shoulder to cry on, a bottle of wine or solid advice, focus on what you can bring to the friendship, rather than what you can take from it.

Forgive easily

Even though we might be more mature, responsible and levelheaded, it is important to remember that we are all still human, each with our own flaws and shortcomings. Friends will disappoint you and let you down. And, at some point, you will probably disappoint others. Forgive them. Forgive yourself.

Get out there

Making new friends is a lot like dating—you just have to get out there. Introduce yourself. Endure awkward first conversations. Struggle through that awkward getting-to-know-you process. Most friendships aren’t just going to drop into your lap—you sometimes need to proactively look for friends.

Know when to let go of a friendship

This doesn’t mean that you need to “break up” or stop communicating, but it is important to know when a friendship has run its course and is no longer worth the personal investment so you can focus your time on the ones that are worth it.

Let go of the past

You are not the person you were in your teens and early twenties, and neither are some of your old friends and acquaintances. Understand that people can change. An acquaintance that you may have had nothing in common with while you were in college together may now be a potential friend due to new interests and maturation. Keep an open mind and let go of the past.

Put in the time

Like all relationships, friendships take time and energy. As a result, the quantity of friendships might need to decrease in order to maintain quality friendships.

Find your communication tool

Communication methods differ for different friendships, so it is important to find the optimal communication tool for each of your friends. With some friends, it might be frequent emails. With another friend, it might be less-frequent, but longer, telephone conversations.

Whatever the method, just find the communication tool that works for the relationship and keep at it.

Do good together

Whether it is volunteering for the church fundraiser or serving a meal at the local homeless shelter, few things can cement a friendship like doing good together.

Practice intentional hospitality

Open your home. Open your heart. Open your mind.

Remember birthdays

Fortunately, Facebook makes it easy to keep track of friends’ birthdays. But it is nice to celebrate more than the Facebook birthday. Pick up the phone and call your friend on his birthday. Send a card. Make lopsided cupcakes. Just do something that makes your friend feel extra special.

Don’t let online friendships replace real-life friendships

Sure, it is easier and more convenient to email or text, but there is not replacement for in-person, face-to-face communication. We live in a Facebook-ready, photoshopped, Instagram world, and we run the risk of using status updates and 140-character sound bytes as our primary means of communication.

While technology certainly makes it easier for us to keep in touch on a regular basis and might be the appropriate communication tool most of the time, personal communication is essential. Pick up the phone. Meet for coffee. Write a letter. Hug, laugh and cry together. Be there for each other. Not just in virtual way, but in a real-life way.

Shared Post: The Before You’re 40 Bucketlist by Jesse Carey, Relevant Magazine

I stumbled on this article a while back and thought, why not share it? I’ve done some of these and I’m not quite pushing 40…30 maybe, but not 40 yet. That means, I’ve got almost 10 years to accomplish the remaining items on this list (and maybe repeating a few)….see those I’ve completed below.


Your twenties and thirties are two of the most important decades of your life. You’re figuring out what you want to do professionally, determining what you believe spiritually and establishing yourself as a real-life grown-up. But don’t let your young adult years slip by without making an under-40 bucketlist—a list of things-to-do before you hit the big 4-0.

Here are 20 things to accomplish before your 40th birthday:

Read the Entire Bible Cover-to-Cover

Reading the Bible from front to back may sound like a daunting task, but with read the Bible in year resources like the YouVersion app, it’s a manageable goal. Even though you may have already read most of scripture throughout the course of your life, reading it as a linear narrative, one book at a time, gives you a new perspective on the story of the Gospel.

See Your Favorite Band Live at Least Once

One day, you’ll want to tell your kids, friends or family about that time you drove all night to see U2 play a stadium in Chicago, found tickets to a sold-out Sufjan Stevens show at a small venue in your hometown or saw Sigur Ros under the stars at an amphitheater. Concert tickets can be expensive, but it’s worth it to see a great band live.

Run a Marathon (or Some Kind of Endurance Race)

No matter what your current fitness level is, there are lots of options for you to take part in an endurance race. Whether it’s a 5K, Tough Mudder or a full-length marathon, choose a distance you’ll actually have to train for a few months to complete. Part of the joy of the accomplishment is looking back at all of the hard work you put in.

Watch Every Film on the AFI Top 100

Back in 1998, the American Film Institute polled 1,500 leaders in the film community and asked them to help assemble the top 100 American movies ever made. The list (which was updated in 2007) contains some movies that you’ve probably already seen (like Rocky, Forest Gump, Star Wars and Jaws) but its the deeper cuts (like Rear Window, Stagecoach, Duck Soup and All Quiet on the Western Front) showcasing the evolution of filmmaking and American pop culture, that make the task of watching each film such a rich experience.

Pick a Country and Go Visit

Before you turn 40, pick at least one country that you’ve always wanted to visit, and make it happen. Create a plan to save a little money and store up some vacation time to go to the one place you’ve always wanted to see.

Speak a Second Language

If you are picking a country to go visit, why not try to also learn the language spoken there?

Write Letters to the Five People Who Have Most Impacted Your Life

Don’t make the mistake of not telling the important people in your life how much they’ve impacted you. Even if the letters are short, sometime before you turn 40, think of the five people who have helped shape you as an adult, and let them know what they’ve meant to you.

Watch Every Season of a Few Great TV Shows

We are living in a golden age of television, in which critically acclaimed shows are the new Great American Novels. Pick out a few of the shows that will be remembered for making serialized TV important again, and watch them in their entirety. Marathon through a series like Arrested Development, The Walking Dead, The Wire or Breaking Bad, and see how the medium of television was reinvented in your generation.

Give Away Something Really Expensive


Before you turn 40, you should know the feeling of giving something away that costs a lot of money. Maybe you pool money with a couple of friends to buy a car for a single mom in need. Maybe it’s plane tickets for friend to go on a mission trip. Maybe it’s a bunch of really nice Christmas presents for kids who wouldn’t get any otherwise. At some point in your twenties or thirties, make it your personal goal to save enough money to give someone else something amazing.


Make Amends With Any ‘Enemies’

Once you hit your late twenties, you are officially too old to still harbor bitterness toward anyone else. Before you hit 40, make an effort to make amends with anyone in your life that you have any ill feeling toward. As Christians, there’s no excuse to carry unforgiveness—especially through adulthood.

Apply for Your Dream Job

Don’t look back later in life with regret, wondering what could have been. Even if you don’t think you’re qualified for the job you’ve always dreamed of, at some point in your twenties or thirties, apply for the job you’ve always wanted. It may not lead to any dramatic career choice, but unless you give it a shot, you will never know.

Take the Stage. Alone

Preach a sermon. Try stand-up comedy. Deliver a TED-like lecture. Find an opportunity to be alone on a stage in front of a crowd with nothing to move them but a microphone and your own thoughts. Public speaking can be terrifying—but it can also be exhilarating .

Go on a Road Trip of at Least a Thousand Miles

There’s something philosophical that happens when you’re on the road for more than 15 hours, exploring America through highways and interstates. Just consult the work of Jack Kerouac and you’ll see that the journey isn’t about the destination—it’s about the road trip.

Write a Short Story

Everyone has a good story in them. Take the time to craft at least one good short story at some point in your twenties or thirties. You don’t ever have to publish it or even share it with anyone else, but it’s an exercise of self-analysis that everyone should go through at least once.

Go On a Mission/Humanitarian Aid Trip

Sure, sometimes “short-term mission trips” have been criticized for offering short-term solutions to long-term needs, but if you find the right destination and the right cause, it can be a life-changing experience. But remember, the point of a trip isn’t to teach others about what you know—it’s also about allowing them to teach you from what they have been through.

Learn to Play an Instrument

Grab that old guitar sitting in the attic, pick up a harmonic or go ahead and purchase that drum set you’ve always wanted. Who knows? Maybe you even a have a hidden talent that’s just waiting to be discovered.

Find a Mentor and a Mentee

You’re never too old to learn from someone older than you—and to teach someone younger.

Memorize the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, the Great Commission and the Beatitudes

By memorizing these relatively short items, you’ll be able to recite four key principles of Christian faith—how to pray (the Lord’s Prayer), your calling (the Great Commission), the teachings of the Gospel (the Apostle’s Creed) and how to live (the Beatitudes).

Face your fear

Whether it’s public speaking, an aversion to water, the fear of rejection or a dislike of flying, you don’t have to totally conquer your fears in your twenties or thirties, but you should face them. Sign up for swimming lessons, go to Toast Masters or even seek counseling. Taking steps to control your fear as an adult will make sure it doesn’t have to control you.

Sponsor a child

There are a ton of organizations (World Vision, Compassion International, ChildFund International), that will let you sponsor a child in need for less than your cell phone bill. Sometime between before your 40th birthday, commit to a year—the letters you’ll receive alone make the whole experience worth it.



  1. Read the entire Bible, cover to cover – a work in progress!
  2. See your favorite band live, at least once – Needtobreathe — Been there. Done that. Twice.
  3. Run a marathon (or some kind of endurance race) – I hate running, but I see a 5K or a walk for diabetes/cancer in my future.
  4. Watch every film on the AFI Top 100 – of those, I’ve seen Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, E.T., To Kill a Mockingbird, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Sound of Music, The Lord of the Rings Trilogyr, West Side Story, M*A*S*H*, Rocky, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Saving Private Ryan, The Shawshank Redemption, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Silence of the Lambs, Forrest Gump, Titanc, The Sixth Sense, and Toy Story
  5. Pick a country and go
  6. Speak a second language – my Spanish is a bit rusty
  7. Write letters to the five people who have most impacted your life — something to add to my “Acts of Kindness” list for this year? We shall see!
  8. Watch every season of a few great TV shows — I’ve completed Ghost Whisperer and Lost, working on The Walking Dead, Arrrested Development, Breaking Bad and Duck Dynasty.
  9. Give away something really expensive
  10. Make amends with any “enemies”
  11. Apply for your dream job
  12. Take the stage. Alone.
  13. Go on a road trip of at least 1,000 miles
  14. Write a short story
  15. Go on a mission/humanitarian trip
  16. Learn to play an instrument
  17. Find a mentor and a mentee
  18. Memorize the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, the Great Commission and the Beatitudes – Thanks to my grade school upbringing…and plan it to keep them memorized too.
  19. Face your fear – a work in progress!
  20. Sponsor a child

For more infomration, click here.

Shared Post: 25 Ways to Have The Best Christmas Ever by Austin Sailsbury, c/o Relevant Magazine

Rejoice, it’s finally Christmastime! And that means parties and Santa and a possibly fatal dose of “family time.” Around the world there are shoppers out shopping and caramel corn that needs popping and stockings being hung by chimneys with care.

And while its true that nostalgic traditions are a huge part of what makes Christmas that most magical time of the year, why not make this the year you start some new traditions of your own? Here are 25 ideas to help you get started on making this season the brightest (and most creative) one yet.

  1. First things first, buy Vince Guaraldi’s jazz classic album A Charlie Brown Christmas and put it on repeat. Never before has a cartoon soundtrack been so classy and so perfect for so many different occasions.
  2. Brew up some joy by making a festive “aroma pot” (orange, cinnamon, apple cider, cloves) early one Saturday morning and let it simmer on the stove all day long. Then sit back and let the Ghost of Christmas Delicious fill your entire home with seasonal smells.
  3. Surprise a neighbor, colleague or stranger with a freshly baked treat. But no fruitcakes, please.
  4. Go ahead and actually read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol this year. Go beyond the Muppets (God bless them) and get to know this oft retold (but too often watered down) story of salvation. And if you’re really brave, try Dickens’ other seasonal classic, The Cricket on the Hearth.
  5. Incorporate more candlelight into your home and soak up the chilled-out winter ambiance. Candles somehow make everything prettier.
  6. Find a way to smell some good old-fashioned woodsmoke—a campout, bonfire, fireplace or even a metal trashcan full of Home Depot scraps. Just make it happen, whatever it takes.
  7. Put on some cozy house slippers and commit to a new winter-friendly (in other words, indoor) hobby: knitting, wood carving, finger painting … you’ll figure it out.
  8. Spend a day volunteering at a homeless shelter and rediscover what it really means to be thankful and generous.
  9. Tie a little 99 cent Christmas bell to your keychain or front door handle and let the jingling begin (as a bonus, you’ll be winning big time with all the angels hoping for promotion this year).
  10. Try making homemade hot cocoa mix (and homemade ‘mallows): then add hot milk, sip, share and repeat.
  11. Create a flash mob of generosity. Make some Salvation Army bell ringer’s day by coordinating a group to fill that little red bucket with rapid-fire ascending donations: “here’s a quarter, Merry Christmas!” “Here’s a dollar, Merry Christmas!” “Here’s a check for two hundred dollars, donated from our college Ultimate team, Happy New Year!” Then dare that kindly bell ringer not to be filled with goodwill toward men.

    Take a long walk out in the cold just to get that good rosy cheeked feeling. Then see number 10. 

  13. Plan a “Christmas Remix-Mas” themed talent show / game night with friends or family: featuring charades and the restaging of beloved Christmas movie scenes (“Griswold!”)
  14. Savor Peppermint-flavored everything. Especially those beautifully fleeting light-green packaged M&Ms.
  15. Learn to play and then fall in love with the riotous Danish Christmas game “Pakkeleg” (think ‘white elephant’ at 100 mph).
  16. Go Christmas caroling. In the right setting, and with the right ensemble (and just a dash of Christmas courage) your chorus of festive voices can change someone’s world.
  17. Make sure to get outside and play in the first snow of the season: no matter what time of day or night. Don’t forget to catch a snowflake or two on your tongue and ”taste the happy.”
  18. Find someplace you can take a carriage ride, then just do it. It’s not cheesy—it’s Christmas.
  19. Try your hand at “Guerilla Decorating.” Identify something bland, ugly or Scrooge-ish in your office, city or neighborhood and give it the Buddy the Elf treatment: a little TLC, a smattering of glitter and a strand of twinkling white lights can save any old humbug!
  20. Watch a few non-traditional “Christmas movies” that focus on the beauty of redemption. Obviously start with The Royal Tenenbaums.
  21. Attend a Christmas concert at a local school, church or community center. But only if they promise to play the handbells (call ahead and ask about this. Trust me, there is nothing worse than sitting through two hours of amateur choral music and then getting no handbells. The only prescription is more handbells!).
  22. Read The Night Before Christmas aloud to a child (but be prepared for him or her to ask you “the big question” about Father Christmas.)
  23. Four words: freshly roasted candied almonds.
  24. Resurrect Santa for Mom and Dad. Surprise your parents by doing for them what they did for you all those incredible years: make Christmas morning magical. Get up early, spread out gifts, light the fire, brew some coffee and hang those stockings by the chimney with care! This is a guaranteed memory-maker.
  25. Lastly (and this is bordering on heretical), try buying no presents this year. I guarantee you that the people you love the most will treasure quality time, homemade gifts and the memories made much more than anything you can get from Amazon Prime. Plus, this way, you can avoid that whole “The Drone Who Stole Christmas” scenario, and replace seasonal materialism with something a little closer to the True Meaning of Christmas.

Read more here.

The Parable of the Shopper – Author unknown

I stumbled on this rather touching story – enjoy:

My feet were tired, my hands cold, my arms exhausted from the weight of the packages, and it was beginning to snow. The bus was late. I kept rearranging my packages, trying to hold them in a different way in order to give my poor arms a rest. I still remember that day as if it were yesterday, and yet fifteen years have gone by. Nevertheless, when Christmas rolls around, I remember that day on the bus.

I was tired. I had been Christmas shopping all day long. When the bus finally arrived, it was packed with holiday shoppers in the same exhausted mood as I. I sank into the only vacant place, near the back, by a handsome gentleman. He politely helped me to situate my packages and even held some of them himself.

“My goodness,” he said, “did you leave any merchandise still in the stores for the rest of us?”

“I don’t think so,” I moaned. “Worst of all, I still haven’t made all of my purchases.”

The woman in the seat behind us joined in my grief and added, “No, the worst thing is that the day after Christmas we will be carrying this same armload back to the store to exchange it.”

Her comment brought a general chuckle from all those within earshot, including my seat mate. As the laughter subsided, he began in a quiet, melodious voice, deepened with experience, to teach me a lesson that I have never forgotten:

“Hear now the parable of the shopper,” he said, speaking gently and indicating my packages. “A woman went forth to shop, and as she shopped, she carefully planned. Each child’s desires were considered. The hard-earned money was divided, and the many purchases were made with the pure joy and delight that is known only to the giver. Then the gifts were wrapped and placed lovingly under the tree. In eager anticipation she scanned each face as the gifts were opened.”

“‘What a lovely sweater,’ said the eldest daughter, ‘but I think I would prefer blue. I suppose I can exchange it?’

“‘Thank you for the cassette player, Mother. It’s just what I wanted,’ said her son. And then aside, secretly to his sister, he continued, ‘I told her I wanted the one with the automatic reverse and an extra speaker. I never get what I want!’

“The youngest child spoke out with the spoiled honesty of her age, ‘I hate rag dolls! I wanted a china doll. I won’t play with it!’ And the doll, still in the box, was kicked under the couch.”

“One gift still lay under the tree. The woman pointed it out to her husband. ‘Your gift is still there.’

“‘I’ll open it when I have the time,’ he stated. ‘I want to get this bike put together first.’

“How sad it is,” continued his soft, beautiful voice. “When gifts are not received in the same spirit they are given. To reject a thoughtful gift is to reject the loving sentiment of the giver himself. And yet, are we not all sometimes guilty of rejecting?”

He was talking not only to me, but to all of those on the bus. They had all gathered around. The bus was parked.

He took a present from my stack.

“This one,” he said, holding it up and pretending to open the card, “could be to you.” He pointed to a rough-looking, teenage boy in a worn denim jacket and pretended to read the gift card. “To you I give My life, lived perfectly, as an example so that you might see the pattern and live worthy to return and live with Me again. Merry Christmas from the Messiah.”

“This one,” he said, holding up a pure, white present, “is for you.” He held out the gift to a worn-looking woman, who in earlier years must have been a real beauty. She read the card out loud and allowed her tears to slip without shame down her painted face. “My gift to you is repentance. This Christmas I wish you to know for certain that though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Signed, your Advocate with the Father.”

“That isn’t all. No, here is a big, red package.” he looked around the group and brought a ragged, unkempt, little child forward. “This package would be for you if He were here. The card would say, ‘On this Christmas and always, My gift to you is love. From your brother, Jesus.'”

“One final gift,” said my seat mate. “The greatest of all the gifts of God–Eternal life!”

He held our minds and our hearts. We were a hungry audience. Though our shopping had left us drained, now we were being filled by his words.

“How we receive these gifts, these precious gifts from the Babe of Bethlehem, is the telling point. Are we exchangers?” he asked. “Is there really anything else we would rather have? It is what we do with a gift long after we have opened it that shows our true appreciation.”

With those words he was gone. That was fifteen years ago, only a wink in time. But not even an eternity could erase the sermon, or the man.

Shared Post: Putting Thanksgiving Into Practice by Rebekah Bell, Relevant Magazine Online

When most people hear the word “thanksgiving,” they inevitably conjure up images of turkey dinners and extended families. Thanksgiving is something Americans tend to relegate to one day a year, but it becomes a life-giving and life-changing process when we incorporate it into our daily lives.

Committing to a lifestyle of thanksgiving and joy is a beautiful and transformative process that can truly change our outlooks, emotions, perspectives and lives. As Henri Nouwen said, “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep on choosing it every day.”

Here are a few ways to choose joy and make gratefulness an active part of your life:

Practice Communal Thanksgiving

The church I attended as a child reserved a special part of the weekly church service for praises and prayer requests. There was something incredibly enriching and profound about this form of community celebration. It kept us accountable to appreciate God’s goodness and implore His mercy as a body instead of as isolated members.

It’s important to find meaningful ways to share the blessings and burdens of life with our communities. Maybe you and your friends will create lists of blessings and share them with each other. Maybe you’ll host weekly dinners where you share prayer requests and blessings together. Maybe you’ll create a shared scrapbook of the memories you treasure the most. No matter what you do, commit to experiencing thanksgiving in community.

Celebrate Your Loved Ones

It’s far too easy to take our family and friends for granted without letting them know how much they mean to us. So let’s commit to intentionally showing our loved ones how important they truly are.

Send a note to your parents communicating the things you most appreciate about them. Surprise your roommate with her favorite Starbucks drink. Treat a friend to dinner at their favorite restaurant. Don’t wait for a birthday or Valentine’s Day to do something special; plan an unexpected surprise for someone just because they matter to you. Often the simplest things can brighten someone’s entire day, so let’s find creative ways to show our loved ones how much we care all year long. Being close to a loved one a privilege many people around the world do not have. Don’t take it for granted.

Be Others’ Reason to Be Thankful

The holidays have a magical way of making us feel unusually generous. We’re more inclined to drop some spare change into the Salvation Army bucket or donate an extra dollar to charity. Once the feel-good cheer of Christmas has passed, however, we sometimes become stingier with our time and wallets.

Instead of limiting this spirit of giving to the holidays, let’s seek to extend it to the rest of the year, as well. We can start with something small, such as buying someone’s dinner, and then transition into something more consistent, such as volunteering weekly with a youth group or sponsoring a child through Compassion. No matter what we choose to do, let’s remember that joy is best experienced when it is shared.

Record Your Gratefulness

During my senior year of college, my roommates began writing down daily blessings on colored Post-it notes and putting the notes into individual mason jars. After beginning a joy jar of my own, I began to appreciate things I would have missed otherwise: a good conversation with a new friend, a beautiful sunset or my favorite kind of ice cream.

At the end of the year, I took my mason jar, which was filled to the brim with colorful Post-it notes, and read every recorded blessing from the past year. The notes reminded me of days when my heart was so full of thanksgiving that my words couldn’t be contained on a mere Post-it note, and days when I struggled to come up with one single thing to write down. But the decision to find joy in both the monumental and the mundane taught me the beauty of practicing thanksgiving in all seasons of life.

You might prefer to keep a joy journal, or create a collage of words that represent things you’re thankful for. Being mindful of daily blessings is a great way to choose joy, even if circumstances aren’t going the way we envisioned that they would.

Anchor Your Thankfulness to Something Besides Circumstances

Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again: rejoice!” I used to think that this was Biblical hyperbole. After all, how can someone truly rejoice when life’s circumstances are not working in their favor? Surely Paul is taking literary license here, promoting a feel-good brand of Christianity that can’t be lived out in a fallen world.

The reality, however, is that the Christian concept of thanksgiving is a way of life rather than a set of circumstances or a time of year. The Psalms provide a beautiful analogy of an honest individual who both grapples with the world’s imperfection and celebrates God’s goodness in the midst of it. The practice of thanksgiving reorients our hearts back to the God who is good, even when life’s circumstances are not.

A lifestyle of thanksgiving reminds us that our joy is rooted in God, not in the temporal pleasures of this world or our ever-shifting emotions. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast … Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”

With the Thanksgiving season upon us, it’s natural to focus on the topic of gratitude. But instead of reserving thanksgiving for one day a year, let’s commit to integrating it into our daily lives. Ann Voskamp wrote, “When I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me.” So let’s seek to count our blessings daily, in order to become more mindful of God’s presence in our lives. Instead of celebrating Thanksgiving once a year, let’s make it a way of life.

Full article found here

Shared Post: What God Can Do With Singleness by Jessica Morris

Article found here.


It sometimes seems like singleness is regarded as some sort of disease, often even by those who are single themselves.

The elusive search for the husband or wife can sit at the forefront of our minds. It has motivated many us to attend camps, workshops and Sunday services.

If we are to look at things realistically, Christian singles (sadly we even have our own category) have few places to go to find their future spouse. Most bars and clubs are out, and the majority of our week is taken up by work and church-related activities. It therefore makes sense that church camps and young adult “retreats” have become the norm for finding our soul mate.

But what happens to those of us who have reached that late twentysomething age and still haven’t found a suitable partner? We have attended the conferences, read the books and perhaps even have a list of qualities we are seeking in a future partner that we pray about daily. Yet every time we walk into the Sunday service alone, we are acutely aware that God hasn’t granted us this desire as of yet and are forced to sit next to the loving couples or our single friends we are simply not interested in.

As a twentysomething Jesus-loving, Bible-reading, church attending female, I am aware that I have already failed to meet the expectations of the older generation and even my peers by not having a significant other, and, to be quite honest with you, I don’t even know who I want him to be yet.

Passionate about Jesus and others? Check.

Authentic, full of integrity and a good leader? Check.

Great fashion sense and the ability to play guitar? Well, I’ll take what I get.

But I could not give you a name or even an image of the person I believe I am meant to live the rest of my life with. And as a twentysomething Christian, that can sometimes be a little embarrassing.

I have come to realize that God may just be happy for me to stay single for a time yet.

Perhaps it is the innate need in most of us to be intimate emotionally, spiritually and physically that drives us to desire a significant other; in Christian circles this can often result in marriage at a young age due to our values surrounding intimacy. In any case, it can seem that if in our mid twenties we have nothing to show of the future son- or daughter-in-law and (gulp) grandchildren our families and the church congregation seems to expect, we have passed our use-by date.In all this, it has occurred to me that perhaps there is a reason I am still single. And unlike our culture, which tells us we “need” a partner, I have come to realize that God may just be happy for me to stay single for a time yet. Here are some reasons why it may be beneficial for us to stay single until we meet someone truly worth giving our hearts to:

We can focus on fulfilling God’s will in our lives

By not having a significant other, our motivation to seek after God’s plans for our lives can be concentrated, as we do not have to divide our attention with a relationship. This means we are able and willing to act quickly when asked to move or dramatically alter an aspect of our lives for Christ.

We can learn to love ourselves

Females can chronically look for affirmation in males, so how can we expect our future husband to love us completely when we don’t even love ourselves? Males and females alike can use their ‘single years’ to truly learn their own self-worth and appreciate who God has made them to be.

We can grow in maturity

When the time comes and we do meet the right person, we hope to be mature enough to have a healthy relationship with them and with God, making for slightly less baggage when we get out of the “honeymoon” stage.

We can learn to take care of ourselves

The time we spend waiting and seeking God before meeting our spouse is more valuable than we realize.

By increasing our strengths and developing our weaknesses, we will one day be able to contribute to a healthy marriage and know we capable of doing things when our spouse is working or out of town.

We can learn to fully find our identity in God

By refusing to seek a partner due to our insecurities, we can focus on knowing Christ more intimately, thus having a fuller knowledge of our identity once we enter into a relationship.

Considering the positives to the single life and the fact that God values it does not mean we should devalue the notion of marriage or even our desire to meet and do life with someone. Rather, it can show us that the time we spend waiting and seeking God before meeting our spouse is more valuable than we realize. Therefore, I feel I can celebrate my single status, because it shows that God is still working on my behalf as He prepares my future spouse and me for the day we begin life together.

So, if you are like me and are one of the seemingly few “singles” left in your church, do not despair. As C.S. Lewis said, “There are far greater things ahead than any we leave behind.”


More on Jessica Morris: Jessica Morris is a 23-year-old Aussie living in Melbourne, Florida. She is a freelance journalist and is passionate about popular culture and how this intersects with the Christian faith. You can view her work at