What have we done to our men!? Singleness in the church!

The topic of singleness in the church is a big one. I don’t claim to know everything about it, but I have had a number of conversations and experiences that help me form part of this blog post. There aren’t many parties or events, where you’ll find a number of  (christian) singles congregate where this topic doesnt come up, and after debating, discussing and talking it through, I thought I’d put some thoughts to paper (or keyboard) in an attempt to centralise the thoughts and conclusions I’ve seen posed. As someone who has been single a while its a matter of personal interest to me, but as a sister in Christ, mentor and friend it has also become an issue of concern. The amount of conversations I have had on this subject are too many to number and the debated issues are the same over and over again! There seems to be a theme! Being; There are no good women, or there are no good men in the church..or the men don’t approach the women or there are too many women so the men are overwhelmed. The men are boring, the women are unfriendly. Men/women in the world are more attractive! I could go on! But to be quite honest I have had enough and I want to see a change this year in the issues that are hindering good men and women of God finding each other and creating Godly happy families! Although that may not be the thing that bothers you most about it (creating Godly happy families), I do believe it’s a valid reason for concern! I believe there has been a huge strategic attack on the Christian Church (spiritually speaking) causing single men and women to not get together. Why would that be an issue? Because usually, culturally speaking, and according to biblical principles, men and women getting together, usually (eventually) means creating Godly families, Godly families (should) usually mean producing more Godly, moralistic, positive contributing members of society and spreading Godly and biblical principles throughout all sectors of society…which of course will never happen if we dont get together! Too deep? Well read your bible and get back to me on that one. Ok so setting aside the spiritual element, why is it that there is such a big issue in christians firstly finding each other attractive in the first place and then acting upon that attraction! Well here are two of the possible many reasons, in my opinion 1) A warped view of attraction 2) Pansification (my own word) of men in the church! 1) A Warped view of Attracttion- lets face it, men will always be visual, that’s the way God made them and it’s the way they primarly operate. If you look good, you stand a better chance of being approached by a guy, if you don’t…it may take longer..or a far less superficial guy who has time on his hands to get to know a women he is not initially attracted to physically! This is a reality I think alot of women need to accept! Having an  ‘Oh but why can’t he see me for who I am’ approach usually comes from,  long term single, not in good shape often christian women. Men certainly need to learn to look deeper, but we aren’t doing ourselves any favours if we dont look our best! Anyway, I digress! That being said, in my experience there are a plethora of women who do not meet the previous description and are STILL struggling to get good christian men to pursue them! Why? Well one usual but often forgotten suspect is, the Media! This of courses covers the likes of the Beyonces, Rihannas and airbrushed magazine images, but how about PORN? How many men use porn as a subconcious decision maker in finding a mate? We all know it’s as big an issue in the church as it is outside our four walls! So, how many men plague their minds with images on a daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly basis subconscioulsy expecting every women they meet to stand up to the unrealistic expectations of a porn star or magazine model? And sadly how many women buy the lie and try and meet that standard? Too many to mention I am sure. This may all seem a bit extreme but with the rise and desensitisation to pornographic material, I cant help but wonder if it plays a part in how men are making a choice regarding a partner….thus leaving more ‘normal good girls’  (and guys) on the shelf? Maybe… Lion Running 2) The Pansification of men- yes a new word for your vocabularly! Learn it and make sure you never become or create a man subject to it! To me the pansification of men is all about the common tendancy, in the church world to soften the roar of men in the church! They are taught to be ‘nice guys’, everyone likes the ‘sweet brother’ (never mind no one wants to date him!!) everyone teaches him to ‘turn the other cheek’ and lay down his life for his friend, which although are valid and necessary attributes, when not taught from an angle of strength I believe they help him lose that hunter spirit and get up and go that GOD created him to have! These are some small examples generally speaking, but when this underlying pansified attitude (when not coming from an angle of these attributes being a strength) is applied to dating life in the church, I think it looks like this:  being afraid to approach a girl for fear of rejection, oppressing your God given sex appeal (or over expressing it) for fear of exciting ‘wrong’ desires in your sister (or using sexual desire as your only weapon). Losing your roar and fight to pursue a women wholeheartedly for fear of getting it wrong, or what others may say and not being willing to be a little vulnerable in an attractive and neccessary way! ‘Seeking God’ for 15 yrs for the ‘the one’ and doing nothing practical to go and find her!  Becoming everyones friend but nobody’s ‘lover’! Making no eye contact, not being able to hold her gaze or show a girl you like her, for example by winking, not being confident enough to say I LIKE YOU, or you’re beautiful, not being blatant, purposeful and bold in your pursuit! Not asking anyone out for a date, coffee or meal because you are being driven by fear of rejection (or thinking she’ll think you’re are proposing!?!) lame excuse! The list is endless! But do I make a point? Challenge me if not! But take it from someone who has walked this path for many years and talks to alot of single people (men and women), (and constantly pursued by non Christians) and these, dear brothers are the issue that come up over and over again! Now before you all stone me and tell me I am bashing you, I promise you I am not! My hope is to actually stir you to action! Because I tell you what, you are losing us good, christian women, who will love you unconditionally and raise your children well,you are losing us one by one! You see I’ve found something else in my research, there is a new breed of man on the scene, he may not go to church and he may not express his relationship with God in the same way you do, he may not ‘lift up holy hand’s every sunday, but he IS attracting YOUR wives! He is stealing them, he is profusely pursuing them,he WANTS a Christian women and is attracted by our passion, and our standards and faith! He is turning them on by stimulating conversation and displaying ambition not always seen in men in the church! He is asserting his metaphorical roar…. and it’s attractive! Dont lose the woman God made for you because you are too passive and fearful to go and get her! Stop being intimidated by lists and pre requisistes and be bold enough to show who YOU are! After all, a list is only necessary when we don’t see a better option embodied before us! Think about it… Men of God we love you, we want you, we are attracted to and turned on by you, but you MUST get your roar back! No one wants a retired lion! I’m sorry you’ve been mis-taught, or shown nothing at all about how to even have a roar as a Christian, but I am praying for you, we are praying for you, that your eyes will be open soon! You have the most attractive, powerful, inspirational being living inside you, and I know he has formed some characteristics, attributes or values in you, so PLEASE for goodness sake let them out! Show us! 99% of Christian women I speak to are regularly pursued by men who are not (atleast overtly) Christian We (women, daughters of God) are losing hope, we walk out of our front doors and are made to feel like beauty queens with the attention we are shown, then we walk into church and become invisible…leaving us feeling unattractive and unwanted by our own men..something isnt right brothers…something isn’t right! May God open all our eyes to see the role we can play in doing more to see more Godly couples form! till next time….

Defend, Nurture, Inspire!

Greetings readers! 🙂

Hope this message finds you all in good spirits! I’m just waiting for my apples to cool before I make my homemade sugar free apple sauce :), so thought I’d compose a quick blog as I havent written in a while! So whats been happening? Life is good, that’s the first thing to note. Last time we met things were hopeful, but the struggles of re-entry (returning to your home country after an extened time abroad..also known as reverse culture shock) were very real and apparent. I was dealing with emotions I didnt know what to do with or how to process! After all, this was the first time I’d come home knowing the door had been closed to going back…and let me tell you, that was tough to deal with. But thankfully I was able to take up some good advice and get some mission debrief and coaching sessions which helped greatly! I highly recommend this if like me you are returning from work abroad and going through an emotional time…maybe this is the first time you’ve even acknowledged that things dont feel right and normal. Well, what you are feeling is VERY normal and there is help and hope available! Don’t suffer alone!

So as part of these sessions, we were able to address and look at forming a new identity. This can happen at any time in life I guess, but I am referring to struggling with identity when you have left home or worked in another culture, or on the mission field for a period of time, when you are not sure how to separate your who from your do! This is a very real insecurity and issue that can arise when you return home, and re-defining your identity is a very important part of the process of returning. In order to do this I was given a number of exercises to do that really helped me re -affirm what I am, have and do..well! I was able to remind myself who I am and to celebrate that and learn how to reapply that in a very different context!  Here’s an example: Helping:  there is a difference between helping street children, and helping people buy a pair of shoes! Are they the same? One feels more important than the other right? Well to a degree you are right, but they both tap into the part of you that likes to help and only you decide to what degree you desire to help at any given time. This deals with working out your core process (or processes in my case) I’ve also been able to establish my values and understand why certain things do or do not concern me as much. All very interesting and important elements, especially when needing to re-define your identity after years of focusing on a very specific path!

So I wanted to share what I came up with as a way to define me! What I am, what I do, what’s important to me. This in no way reflects everything about me, but its a pretty good way or defining what I believe is my basic desire in life/life purpose. I couldn’t think of a catchy metaphor, so I came up with three words;

DEFEND,NUTURE,INSPIRE

The more I read it the more I love how it helps express so much by saying so little!

In what ever capacity God has me working in life, may I always endevour to Defend, Nuture and Inspire in everyway He calls me too! 🙂

Till next time blogging pals….

Helping Street Kids One at a Time-Pray for Alfredo

Unfortunately I can’t find the original post I referred to, but this will also give some insight in the meantime!

Life after Helping Street Kids One at a Time

Yesterday I received a copy of an article that gave an account of the murder of Alvaro. If I haven’t mentioned before, Alvaro was shot in the head by what was said to be a Brazillian guy, in what seemed to be a drug transaction gone wrong.

There were a few wittnesses to what took place, one of them being a young boy called Alfredo, or mostly known by his street name Chocolates. Many of you will remember the music video I showed of him rapping about the saddness of street life and I know like myself the first time I heard it, you were moved to tears.

I saw another article written after Alvaro’s death and Alfredo was the first face I saw in the photo taken. As I saw him, as always my heart sunk, thinking Lord please no, dont let this be his fate too. I literally…

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Why I love Chocolates – She loves me!

For those of you who found this blog by googling justifications for eating your way through that pile of chocolate in your cupboard…shame on you! 😉 Its definately nothing to do with chocolates..atleast not the edible kind. But stick around, maybe you’ll find something more meaningful to read about!

Many years ago my regular readers may remember a story about a young boy called Chocolates (choco-lattes) He’s one of the sweetest boys I’ve met and one of the few I was able to gain a unique insight into how awful his ‘home’ life was. I will re post the story after this post. I have looked for him every time I have gone back and I have often wondered how he was doing. Today I heard from a friend about him and I cant tell you how much joy it brought me! She didn’t send a long message giving graphic details about his well being..but what she said gave me hope that he remembers me and he remembers one thing, she simply said He sent lots of hugs for to you and said ‘Senorita Rehanna loved me alot right?’ and she replied ‘Yes she did’ knowing this young mans story I can not tell you how much it means to me that as he sleeps under possibly one of the most dangerous bridges in Bolivia tonight, He knows I love him!….I’ll re-post the story which may explain why this means so much! Today I felt like I could burst with the desire I have to be a mother figure to children in need..so this message couldnt have come at a better time! 🙂

till next time…

He’s a personal God!

A few weeks back I had an experience at church that I want to share, not because its unsual, because its very common for God to do things like this for me, to show me his love and care! But to enocurage you in someway regarding Gods character. I’m a firm believer of a real and tangible relationship with God, infact I cant see or do life any other way! I have always felt that if God is real, and its possible to know him…I want to know him in that way! Why settle for anything less!? God speaks to me in many ways, sometimes dreams, sometimes scriptures and sometimes the prophetic word/word of knowledge (when some says something to you they beleive God wants you to know, or they speak prophetically to you about something that God will do!) As I say I’ve had both and there’s nothing quite like knowing that the God of the universe took time to come and speak to you!

While in church, on my 3rd week back, I sat and listened to the speaker address the congregation on a number of things he felt God was saying in general. They were encouraging words that no doubt spoke to and helped alot of people. But then something amazing happened. I heard the speaker say just before his message the following: He felt like there was one more person specifically who had just come back from overseas. They weren’t able to build a foundation over there and they weren’t feeling very hopeful about 2015. I could have skimmed over the first one, but as he kept talking it all felt too coincidental to ignore. He asked for whoever it was to come up for prayer at the end of the service. I knew I related totally to what was said but I couldnt believe that out of 1000+ people, God would choose to speak to me! At the end of the service, still slightly unsure if God would really do that, for me, I decided to take a risk and go to the front for prayer. I explained that what was said really resinated with me, even if it wasnt meant for me! There were two people who prayed for me that night and I was so touched by the spot on prayers they prayed and additional words of wisdom and encouragement that they spoke to me. It was an incredibly encouraging moment and helped me see how very personal God is with those who believe in him!

I could share many more moments when God has made himself very real and relevant to me, but I say this to say that God is a very personal God. He isnt aloft, overbearing and judgemental, he is a Father, one who cares enough to come down to our level, call us out and let us know he cares about our well being! I know this isn’t everyones testimony of God all the time, but I cant tell you how much I needed that and I believe its been like an anchor during this season!

Know that you are loved and cared for by God and if you are in a time of distress or need, may He show you how much he cares and loves you too!

till next time…

Support your (ex) Missionares! Ramblings and Honest reflections!

This year, like any other has had its ups and downs, good and bad parts. Sadly its ended and started in quite a farmiliar tone, but I do believe brighter days are ahead! Its been a real eye opener of a year in so many ways. The best part of the last 10 years have been spent following God whole heartedly and helping others in the process. This year as many know that ‘season’ came to a quick and sudden end. Am I upset about it? Not really! Am I clear about what this means from now on? Not at all! And there in lies the problem and some of the frustration of uncertainty. Being a missionary is nothing like going on a holiday, its not simply travelling or moving overseas, its taking a frontline position on a spiritual warfare battlefield and weathering a ton of assaults until your armour wears too thin to fight anymore. If God has more for you to do, you come home, you replenish, refresh and you go back out and you fight some more! And you keep that going until the ‘season’ ends! Might sound blunt and slightly pessimistic but I want people to know the realness of being a God led and directed missionary! Its HARD work!

So, as Its the end of the year, I’m in a real time of reflection and processing what everything means, what life is about for me now and quite frankly how the heck to do this next ‘bit’. The most important support network for me at this stage is probably friends and family. Ideally church should come first in that list, but in my case, nothing could be further from the truth..which I why I changed mine recently. So friends and family it is, which is great when they want or know how to help you, but its a different ball game when your processing highlights a whole other level of stress that not even you know how to deal with! But there is hope!

Friendship/Relationships

I tell you if you want to know who your real friends are, go through a tough time, or have a need and it will soon become very apparent!This area of relationships, is by far the hardest part to deal with when dealing with returning missionary complexities. Unless you’ve been there, you will never know how complex this area gets! The changes in friendship while you are out there and again when you return. People change, life moves on, and most importantly YOU (the missionary) changes and that changes your perspective on things. I actually found this last trip taught me everything I need to know about friendship during hard times. I’ve heard it said, God has placed people in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime! I’m much more a lifetime girl, but I am seeing more and more how some friendships or relationships really dont belong in your life for longer than the lesson they teach you or the season you can serve them, especially if they dont really ‘serve’ you. Before I left I was amazed by how many of my old friends heard I was going away and literally came to find me to , see how things were and generally support me during what can be a very difficult and emotional time.  I also saw how many people really proved to be nothing more than convenient aquantainces. I was a popular girl in my church at one point,  I was great when I was giving out free cupcakes, being a listening ear, giving lots of myself or offering lifts home, but the second my needs were identified, tumble weed was the only thing I could see into the far distance! Support was almost non existent from those ‘friends’! Then there were those who barely knew me, yet something in them trusted, cared and loved enough to be used by God to bless (emotionally, financially and spiritually) not only me but many others. Those are a particular and delightful type of surprise and make you realise maybe you’ve been investing time in the wrong type of friends!

All these things made me realise something while I was away,  there is so much value in real, genuine and mutal friendships, I know I especially need more of those in this season in my life! (It goes without saying its a two way street 🙂

Since coming back I have battled feelings of depression, loneliness, anxiety, inadequacy, feelings of not fitting in, and a whole plethora of heavy things that I’m told are very normal for a returning missionary to deal with, and also are expected symptoms of post traumatic stress. It’s been particularly painful to realise I didnt have some of the friends I thought I had (not giving out enough cupcakes!?), even those that I thought went deeper than the superficial… I realise it doesnt help when you are 38 and single and have many 20 somethings that form the bulk of your social life, maybe no one wants to hang out with the old girl! I find being over 30 and single produces a much less selfish and superficial type of friend! People are far less concerned about how ‘cool’ you are to hang out with or your facebook kudos when they are over 30!

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For those interested or concerned, I will be doing some debrief/counselling/coaching in the new year which I’m grateful God miraculously provided for! But this blog is definitely a form of processing for me and you never know who it might help! I do want to say that if you are a returning overseas worker/missionary and reading this please don’t suffer alone! Speak to a friend, pastor or family member and get some missions debrief counselling. You may be experiencing some major difficulties now, but it may help to know that it normal to go through emotional upheaval and if you need some advice and tips please let me know and I can direct you to the right place!

If you are a friend, family member, pastor, organisation or church who knows a returning missionary and you’ve seen some issues arising there are those who can support or help them! Get in touch and I may be able to help!

Well this is a different one for you today, but if nothing else it helps put thoughts to paper for me, and I hope lets someone else out there know you are not alone, there is help available and you ARE normal 🙂

till next time…

The ‘final’ post

This will be my final post as ‘Helping Street Kids One at a Time’. Not that my call, my heart or my desire to help has changed, it just helps to identify the end of era for me! If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that God’s ways are not our ways, nor his plans or thoughts our plans or thoughts, so even when I look back in slight confusion or catch a painful glimpse of unfulfilled dreams, I’ve learned to go along with the flow and adapt and adjust as necessary trusting that He knows best.

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This blog started at the start of a journey 10 yrs ago, following God wholeheartedly, seeking His will for my life and choosing to obey what sometimes felt like crazy, unconventional, non status quo type instructions from on high. I’ve received praise to persecution, walked on a path of faith to what sometimes felt like a path of failure and gone from walking through open doors to fleeing closed ones! But through it all, if nothing else, I have come to know God in a way I know I would NEVER have known Him, or seen Him move, had I lived the ‘normal’ life I was headed for 10 yrs ago!

I thank God I got to go back and close the door to this season, and ‘pass on’ the children I worked with to people who can take them to the next level, even if it feels liked I peered heavy hearted, through the metaphorical window of an empty house, on my way out wondering what could have been. But as it says in 1 Corinthians 3:6

” I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase”

So, I can now sit back and watch God do, what He will do! I’ve said to others, for many years I’ve lived in two countries, last time I was in Bolivia I literally left half my heart there, this time it feels like I went there to bring it back home! I can finally say it’s over, all the craziness that took place in that distant land! I thank God for the spiritual lessons learned and all the amazing miracles of provision, breakthrough and the biggest miracle which was the change in me! I thank God for His peace and other’s testimonies of how He operates, which helps me make sense of things. I thank God for a totally changed perspective on life and even a horrifying experience that made me see His grace and life itself in a whole new way!

tearfulgoodbye

Tearful Goodbye

I have no idea what the next step is and I confess I was scared my heart would close to helping others, in a biblical and holistic manner. But after watching a film last night that identified the huge need and pain of so many hurting people in the developed world, and being moved to tears, I’m confident that my heart is still very much on track to where God wants it to be! I’ll be slightly changing the name of this blog and the posts will obviously reflect the next step in my journey, as well as other random ramblings! Thank you to those of you who have commented on and told me privately how much you enjoy reading my blog. It’s amazing to know that something that started as my ramblings to help me process the beginnings of this amazing journey has reached and touched so many people. So stay tuned for more postings and I hope you’ll stay with me on the journey of Life after helping streets kids one at a time!

Till next time my faithful blogging pals….

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