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Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. –Psalm 27:14

When we first started this blog, I was a single woman still grieving a breakup that had happened a couple years prior. I struggled to move on from that relationship even though I knew it wasn’t God’s will for me. Every year that went by became more distressing as I saw my chances at motherhood waning.

There were times during this period that I was blissfully aware of God’s presence and provision. I was content to wait for His best for me. I recognized that my singlehood brought unique opportunities to serve Him. Yet, there were painful stretches of time where I failed to see Him through my loneliness and despair. There were many difficult days. The years of being alone weighed on me. I constantly felt guilty because I knew that He was everything that I needed, and yet I still desired human companionship.

Today I am a married woman with three beautiful step-children. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for these precious gifts in my life! My husband is so loving and caring. He is very attentive to my needs and treats me far better than I deserve. He treats me so well that I have trouble accepting it. I never quite believed that anyone could care about me enough to treat me the way he does.

My step-children are sweet and respectful. They accepted me into the family almost immediately. Growing closer to them has probably been the most fulfilling aspect of my life to date. It was the day I met them that I knew my relationship with their father could work. I would not allow myself to fall for him until I knew I could love his children too. Really love them. It would not have been fair to the children or their dad if I could not.

I wish I could go back and tell my single self that she will be okay. I would tell her that the years of singlehood will be worth the wait. That God is setting everything up and not to lament the period of preparation. I would tell her that I couldn’t have met my husband sooner because neither of us were in the place we needed to be yet, but that it would make our meeting that much sweeter when the time came. People tried to tell me this, but I struggled to believe them.

That’s not to say that marriage and step-parenting is all sunshine and rainbows. It’s hard work. It’s draining. But it’s so rewarding. It is so beautiful. It is everything I hoped it would be.

God has been by my side through all of it. Through the lonely days that came before and the sometimes all-consuming days I experience now. God truly has our best in mind. He sincerely takes care of our every need. He loves us more than anyone else ever has or ever can. He is all in all. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him.

If you are single (or in some other period of waiting), please believe me, God is working things out for your good. He sees your struggle. He knows your tears. He’s allowing this trial in your life because He knows you are growing through it. Lean into Him and give Him all your cares. Put your trust in Him. His timing is impeccable.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

 

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Meeting Isaac

I have been woefully neglectful in keeping up with this blog. In fact, it has been over a year since my last post! And what a year it has been! I have MUCH to update you on. In my last post I was lamenting my long time single status and sharing that I was intentionally putting myself “out there” a little more to better position myself to be found by the one God had chosen to be my partner in this life.

Amazingly, just days after that post was written I met him! It was sort of by accident, though not by coincidence. After waiting years for the right guy to just show up at my church, I dreadfully joined a couple of Christian dating sites that espouse the doctrines of my local congregation. I was always against meeting someone online, but being very introverted and having no single guys in our church I finally started opening up to the idea. It was a pretty horrible experience. I talked to several men, all of whom were clearly not the one. There was the guy who outright told me that I was ugly. There was the guy who upon a Google search (yes, guys, we google you) was found to be on several porn sites in addition to the Christian dating site. There was the guy who rejected me because I wasn’t a virgin (I didn’t become a Christian until my mid twenties). He told me that he knew my past was under the blood, but he just couldn’t get past it. Then there was the guy who seemed great on paper, but in all of our conversations, he never asked me a single thing about me. I was good enough to date, but not good enough to actually get to know. His thinking was that I would be his helpmate which meant that I would be helping him with his ministry and therefore my dreams and goals in life didn’t matter. He was not interested in who I am as a person at all. I was very frustrated by these encounters and had almost resigned myself to being single forever.

Then one day one of my friends (who writes tech reviews for a living) asked for some volunteers to download a new app and tell her what we thought of it so that she could write a review. It was not a dating app, it was just a platform where ideas could be exchanged.  I decided to help her out and give this new app a try. Someone on the app posted something and I posted a response. While I was responding, someone else also responded. This sparked a conversation between the other responder and myself. The original poster never returned to the thread, but I hit it off right away with the other guy that had also responded. We talked all night long. In that very first conversation he already knew more about me than the last guy had learned in all the time we had been talking. We chatted for hours the next day too. And the day after that. I vacillated between being utterly drawn to him and holding back out of fear. There were a hundred different times that I almost ended the conversation because it seemed crazy that I was talking for so long to a stranger. He could be anyone. He could say anything and I would have no way of knowing if he was telling the truth. I was very nervous about the entire thing. I always jump ship even when there is no sign of a leak so I kept having to remind myself that he hadn’t said anything wrong yet. I kept reminding myself that I had committed to putting myself out there a little more and that until he gave me a legitimate reason to end the conversation there was no need to do so. He didn’t know where I was or any identifiable information about me. The worst thing that could happen would be that I would have wasted a few hours of my life.

I learned that this man was raised an Orthodox Jew, but had converted to Christianity in his early adulthood. He had attended Bible College only twenty minutes from where I lived and that he lives only about 15 minutes from where I go to church. I was intrigued! Eventually, I gave him my number so that we could text directly. After a while he asked if he could call me. I said yes, and then didn’t answer the phone when he called! At this point, he still didn’t know what I looked like. I was sure once he saw me that he would run for the hills. I didn’t want to get my hopes up only to have them dashed. We ended up connecting on Facebook. It was after we connected there that I could see he was probably being truthful about the things that he had told me so far. His Facebook page had been created years prior so I knew it wasn’t likely to be a fake account. It also confirmed the things he had told me and it started to put me at ease. Amazingly, he wasn’t scared off by my profile picture. Ha! Eventually, we met in person (in a public setting of course). That’s when things got real. He and I were a great fit! Only a couple of weeks before we connected I had made a list of all the qualities I would like in a husband. I wrote down 32 items and he perfectly matched 31 of them! Interestingly, the new app didn’t last long. It was shut down only days after we met. We like to think it only existed for that short time so that the two of us could meet.

We often joke on this blog that we are “looking for our Isaac.” Wouldn’t you know that this man’s Hebrew name is Isaac! There are many things that my “Isaac” had been prophesied to be. I never put much stock in these prophesies because I think that people tend to fit them to what they want rather than what is, but here was this man fitting every one of them!

I spent much time in prayer as I was getting to know him. I kept asking God to close the door if he wasn’t the one, but every time I asked this, the door kept opening wider. He began attending my church shortly after we met and has been faithfully attending since. I watched prayerfully as he interacted with my friends, family, and brothers and sisters in the Lord. I spent a lot of time on my knees while we were dating. I took some time off away from him to be sure he was the one.

Things moved quickly for us. Within a few months he had given me a promise ring. A few months later and we were engaged. Now a year after meeting him, we have just recently been married!

I never imagined that my life would change so quickly, but it has been an amazing journey. He is thoughtful and sweet. He treats me so well that I have trouble accepting it at times. He is not without flaws, but nothing has ever felt so right as knowing he is the one God meant for me. He is the one I have been waiting all these years for.

I cannot describe how glad I am that I waited. There were many times where I considered settling. There were times that I was tempted to compromise my holiness and standards. There were times when I was so lonely that I almost wished I lived somewhere where they do arranged marriages. That thought frightens me now. I could have missed out. I might have missed all of these blessings.

If you are still waiting for your Isaac. Please don’t give up or do anything you might later regret. If God has not said no to marriage for you, keep waiting for God’s best for you! Do not give up or give in to temptation. Keep waiting!

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

Single and Seeking

CoupleI have previously mentioned on this blog that there is a lack of single Christian men in my church. To be precise, there are zero single Christian men in my local congregation. The truth is that there is a serious lack of single Christian men in the American church at large. A 2011 PEW Research study showed that there are eight single women for every one single man in the average congregation. Being a long time single with few talents and little beauty, that’s a pretty disconcerting statistic. How I could ever attract a man over the barrage of other single women available is beyond me. It is beyond me, but it is not beyond God. Yet the harsh reality is that unless things drastically change in the makeup of the church, there is a large number of women in churches today that may never marry.

For a long time I assumed that if I loved God and waited patiently, that He would just send the right man to me. My husband would just show up. The Bible says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing” (Proverbs 18:22), which implies to me that the husband does the finding. He should pursue after his bride. Therefore, I’ve never looked for a husband. I’ve longed for one, but not actively looked for one. But recently, a member of my church opened my eyes to the fact that my future husband cannot find me if I don’t position myself in a place to be found. The Bible doesn’t just say to ask, it also tells us to seek and knock (Matthew 7:7). I had asked for a spouse, but I hadn’t really sought for one. While I take all of Matthew 7:7 to be a reference to prayer, there is a difference between asking and seeking. Seeking implies some kind of action. The sister in my church asked me what I had done, what actions had I taken in finding a spouse. Not many. I have prayed. I have been faithful. I have waited patiently in the pew for almost eleven years for my husband to walk through those doors.

If we were to compare this search to looking for a needle in haystack (which is what it feels like), I have mostly just circled repeatedly around the same haystack expecting the needle to suddenly reveal itself to me. I have not dug down into the haystack pulling out individual straws in my search. I felt that actually looking through the straws meant I was not trusting God to reveal the needle to me. If it’s His will for me to be married, He will send a man to me, right? Well, yes, and no. He will send me a partner when the time is right, but it’s not likely to happen without any participation on my part. In the Bible, Rebekah had to participate by watering the servant’s camels. Ruth’s participation was even bolder. Ruth purposely went to Boaz (at Naomi’s suggestion) and uncovered his feet while he was sleeping, and lay upon his feet. I won’t take the time to go into the historical significance of what she was actually doing, but it was very forward. She was clearly making her intentions known to Boaz. She wasn’t passively waiting for him, she actively went to him.

This brings me to where I am now. Along with the sister who helped me to see that beyond asking, I should also seek and knock, several other well-meaning Christians have recently asked me what I have actively done to find a spouse. In another post I will expand on some of the things I have done and am doing to try to place myself in a better position to be found. I have sought to form a closer relationship with God, worked out a hidden root of bitterness over the way my last relationship ended, and went through a very intense spiritual battle to fortify myself against a particular weakness I have.

Reluctantly, I have also made myself a little more visible on social media. None of the other things I’ve done do me much practical good when there aren’t any prospects in my church (or even in my district), so I decided I needed to do something to widen the circle. This is fraught with a lot of uncertainty and not a few painful rejections. I’ve seriously been considering going back into hiding, but then I think of Rebekah M and her new found interest who she met through social media and I think perhaps it’s worth trying to stick it out awhile longer. I haven’t quite figured out where the line is between not doing enough and pushing too hard. In the end, it’s up to God. I still believe when I am ready and the timing is right, He will send me a companion. Until then, may God grant me the grace to keep waiting.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Survived Another Childless Mother’s Day

Phew, I have survived another Mother’s Day! Honestly, I feel guilty even writing that because I know there are many people for whom Mother’s Day is a much more painful event than it is for me. Especially for those mothers who have lost a child. I cannot imagine how unbearable that would be. And don’t get me wrong, Mother’s Day is a wonderful day to honor our mothers and all that mothers the world over have done for us.

But I struggle with it, and I know I am not alone in that struggle.

I wavered about whether to post this or not. It feels whiny, oh, poor pitiful me, and entirely too self-focused, but in the end I decided to go ahead and post it anyway because we strive to be real on this blog. My feelings – right or wrong, are very real, and as I mentioned, I know that I am not alone in these feelings. Perhaps another woman will read this post and know that she too is not alone in her pain.

When I was young, like most girls, I assumed that I would grow up to marry and go on to have children. In all the times I “played house” I never imagined a scenario where children would not be part of the equation. Recently I read an article by Melanie Notkin called My Secret Grief. In it she discusses the hidden pain of circumstantial infertility. Unlike the pain of medical infertility, circumstantial infertility is not caused because of some biological issue, but rather because (as the name infers) circumstances never lined up to make motherhood a reality. Notkin put down in words many of the things I’ve never been able to say.

If you are childless (not by choice), it can be difficult to express the feelings that go along with it. If you try, well-meaning people will say all kinds of things which sting and cut at you in ways they cannot comprehend.

As a Christian I struggle with the sadness it brings me. I know that I should be content with what I have (see Philippians 4:11, 1 Timothy 6:6, Hebrews 13:5), and mostly I am, but there are hard days. Really hard days. For the last few years, Mother’s Day has ranked among the top for really hard days.

I vacillate between trying to face reality so I can move on from my desire to be a mother and trying desperately to hold on to the hope that it may one day still happen. I don’t know how to give up my hope of being a mother, but I think I might be happier if I could figure out how to. The Bible says that “hope deferred maketh the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). As a never married, single, childless woman I know the truth of that verse all too well.

As My Secret Grief points out, when you get to a certain age if you are still childless it is assumed that you either never really wanted children or you just didn’t try hard enough. I have had countless people tell me I should just go out and find a guy to make a kid with. “Why wait for marriage?” they say. This world doesn’t understand the concept that fornication is a sin. Or they tell you that you should just get a sperm donor, or adopt.

Here’s the thing: I honestly think my child deserves to have two parents. They should have both a mother and a father who is present and active in their childrearing. I understand that this is not always possible and there are many many wonderful single parents out there, but it seems selfish to purposely put your child in the position of only having a single parent. Again, please do not think I am disparaging single parents out there. The majority of them work tirelessly to provide good lives for their children and should be commended for that. But to deliberately deny a child a father just because I would like to be a mother is unfair to them. Perhaps I could manage to get pregnant (this is still medically questionable) or adopt (financially prohibitive) without the presence of a husband, but for the sake of my children, I wouldn’t want to do that. In the eyes of the world this is seen as not wanting it bad enough. Trust me; I’ve heard enough comments to know the reality of this view. The truth is that I do want it that badly; I just don’t want it that selfishly.

I struggle with how heart-broken I am over being childless. I feel guilty because I think my desire shows an inherent lack of gratefulness for what I do have. And I have been blessed! Abundantly blessed! But the sadness and longing remain. God designed women to be mothers and most of us feel that pull to our very core. The Bible gives us seven examples of barren women in the Bible who later went on to give birth. What strikes me about them is that they all cried to the Lord over their situation. Granted, it was tougher in Biblical times because women were mandated to give their husbands children and those who could not were seen as cursed. It was a much more dire situation, but I have no doubt that the tears they cried were much like my own. The Bible says that Hannah prayed with great weeping (I Samuel 1:10). The King James Version says that she was in “bitterness of soul” and that as she prayed she “wept sore”. This was a woman who knew the heartache and sorrow of being childless.

Yet, all seven of these women had husbands. I cannot cry to the Lord for a child (though I have) until I first have a husband. And time has so quickly passed me by. I had to give up an ungodly relationship when I was saved – knowing confidently that the Lord would provide for me. I waited five years to meet a man in the church, but there just weren’t any. I found a sweet man who became a Christian. I wasted five more years of my life on that man and he ended up getting another woman pregnant while we were together. Heartbreaking.

We are told not to be unequally yoked, but there are literally NO single men my age in my church. I know of a total of two single men (both younger than me) in our entire church district. I know dozens of single women in this same age group. And I am not confining myself to a man within a few years of my age. I’m talking within a 15+ year age range; there just aren’t any available men. Let alone a man that would be a good match for me and I for him. It’s difficult to remain hopeful.

Well-meaning friends and relatives tell me that they miss the single life. They wish they had more time for themselves and for the Lord. I have no doubt this is true. If I were married with children, I too would miss my current single life at times. But most of the people who have said this to me weren’t single for all that long. They moved out of their parent’s houses and within a few short years they were married. They never had that much time to themselves. I moved out of my parent’s house seventeen years ago. Seventeen long years ago. I’ve come home to a silent, empty house day after day, week after week, month after month, for years and years and years on end. Most of the time, I’m okay with this. Most of the time, I am content in the Lord. But there are days. Really hard days.

Mother’s Day is especially difficult because I feel I am mourning the family I never had. My pastor, bless his heart, loves to make a big deal out of Mother’s Day. I actually really appreciate him for this because mothers deserve to be recognized for their endless hours of tireless sacrifice for their families. The work they do is acknowledged far too little. Mother’s Day is the one day that people set aside to honor them. It is wonderful and important. But it is difficult. More than once I have been the only adult woman left in the congregation after he calls all the mothers to the front. I want to sink into my seat and just disappear when that happens. I don’t want anyone to see me sitting there by myself and pity me. For the last couple of years, I have made it a point not to be in the sanctuary when this happens because it is just too painful for me.

Is it selfish? Yes. Yes, it is. Mother’s Day is not about me. I should be there to encourage and honor the godly women in my life who give so much for their children. But I hide. I hide because I can’t stand the feeling. I can’t stand how every year someone will say to me, “Next year” when next year never seems to come.

But the day comes and goes and I find after it’s over that I have survived. I’m still breathing. I’m okay. The Lord has granted me strength to get through another day. He is my Provider. He is my Comforter. He is my All-in-All. And after all the feelings have passed, I am reminded that faith is not a feeling. I am blessed. The Lord is MIGHTY in my life. He is my Strong Tower. He is my hope. He is my Loyal Friend and Husbandman. He is enough. I so love and appreciate Him for that. When I feel I am alone, I am never alone. He is with me day after day, week after week, month after month, for years and years and years on end.

And He is with you too.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

A Vision and a Prayer

So, as I have walked through New York City, following a fairly steady route throughout the winter, spring, and summer (between February and August, and less frequently starting in September), there have a few people who have become staple parts to my daily commute. One in particular is a homeless man named Bradley. Sometimes he’s more awake than others, and sometimes his words are more slurred than others, but no matter what kind of day he’s having he is easily one of the most personable people in New York. He might be filthy, but he is always smiling and always cheerful. He talks about his past with fond remembrance rather than bitterness, though he is from another part of the country and it’s been a long time since he’s had contact with any loved ones.

I don’t know exactly what happened in his life and what issues he’s faced that caused his decline from then, when he had a wife and a stepdaughter he still refers to as his princess, until now. We have a game we play, where he gives me a name, I look up its meaning on my phone, and he relates the meaning of the name back to the person they were. I don’t know most of the names he gives me or who these people were in his life, just a few snippets he’s given me.

I do know that the first day I met him I was hoping to pray for him, but before I could even ask he was expounding on how the government was a big conspiracy and how Jesus wasn’t real, His miracles were impossible and the whole Christianity thing was just a made-up story that people get fed today because the governmental powers that be think we’re dumb enough to follow it.

That was the one and only time I’ve seen him agitated. Suffice to say he was not receptive to the idea of prayer. But, That said, he has been heavy on my heart lately. I have been vaguely praying for him as God has led me, and praying into God’s plan for him, but the past few days God has gotten much more specific in how I’m to minister to him. Basically, He told me He wants me to do a bible study with Bradley, and gave me a specific place in the city where he wants this to happen. It’s near where I always see him, and it happens to be on some ground that I claimed for Jesus a few months back (possibly a story for another day, but long story short: God is pretty cool). He also told me in no uncertain terms that Bradley won’t willingly go there with me, and certainly won’t willingly read the bible with me (had God consulted me first, I easily could have told Him this part and spared Him the trouble of sending me the vision, but I digress). That being the case, my next direction was simple: if he won’t come with me, I am to go to him. Sit on the subway floor, by his side. If he won’t do a Bible study with me, I am to read my bible by myself, as I sit next to him. I am to simply talk to him. To seek God for wisdom and discernment on every word that comes out of his mouth. To seek wisdom and discernment over his heart. To let God fill my mouth with the words to minister to those places, and to supply the bible verses as needed. Eventually, there will be more direct bible interaction. God promised this, if I follow His guidance. In short, I am to go low and slow here.

I have never done anything quite like this before. But I’m game if Jesus is. Interestingly, I haven’t actually seen Bradley since this has been revealed to me. Either way, I thank Him for what He’s shown me, and I stand expectant and believing for Him to do a work here. And so today I just ask that you pray into God’s will over this man and my role in his life. That I would hear God clearly throughout and fully lean on Him to guide my steps. That most of all, He would move in this man’s life and do a work in him until he is walking in the fullness of the identity God has for him. Umm…..and also that if I am meant to move on this, I would cross paths with the guy. Or at least be told where he is so I can go find him. The city is huge, and there are lots of places where a homeless man might go when the weather cools – sometimes it would be so nice if directives from on high came with a GPS. Or a major clearing of the NYC smog so I could use the north star like the wise men, but honestly at this point I think dropping a supernatural Bradley-tracking device in my lap is the easier option.  Umm…..and since wherever Bradley is, it’s probably somewhere like the subway floor (where I normally see him – he even makes himself comfy and goes shirtless and shoeless down there) or an alley, prayers for my protection would also be appreciated. Though I have to say, there’s nowhere safer than in God’s arms!

I will keep you posted if, after all this subway-sitting and alley searching, I also need prayers to supernaturally boost the strength of my washing machine.

Meanwhile, thank you all very much, and God bless!

~Rebekah A

The God of the Impossible

I have been talking to a Buddhist man at my job about Jesus for awhile now. He always listens to what I have to say and compares and contrasts my beliefs with his own, but I was never really sure if he took anything I said to heart. To me, it seemed that he wasn’t really interested in Christianity beyond an academic understanding.

Today something interesting happened. This man’s son stopped by my office (his son also works for our company). I rarely talk to the son because we don’t work in the same department and most of the decisions for this family are handled by dad. The son asked me a couple of work related questions, but each time I thought his question was answered, he hesitated about leaving. Finally, I asked him if there was something else he wanted to talk to me about. He took a deep breath and gave me a half nod. He said, “you’ve been talking to my father a lot recently, right?” He then stuck his head out of my office door to quickly look down the corridor to make sure no one was around to hear what he was about to say. I suspect he was double checking to make sure his father wasn’t within earshot. When he determined the coast was clear he said, “My dad wants us to ask Jesus to reunite our family.” You see, my co-worker and his sons are in the United States while his wife and two daughters remain in his home country. For legal and political reasons they have not been able to return home, nor bring the rest of the family to the US. Apparently my co-worker told his son, “We tried our home country’s government and that didn’t work, we tried this country’s government and that didn’t work, we tried lighting incense, we tried burning paper and none of it worked. What harm can come from trying Jesus?”

So the son asked me if I told his father that praying to my God would bring their family back together. The son was very nervous and careful with his words, but it was clear that his family has been through a lot and he didn’t like the idea of me giving his father false hope. He feels it is useless to keep pining away for something that is impossible and he does not want to see his father’s spirits crushed by yet another disappointment.

I can understand that he wants to protect his father from further pain and I admire him for his effort to do so. The thing is that I never told his father that Jesus could reunite their family. To be honest, his father never talks about the family back home and as insensitive and naive as it might sound, it actually never occurred to me that this was something he would consider. All I have done is share the testimonies of things Jesus has done in my own life. The fact remains though, that Jesus can bring his family back together! He is the God of the impossible! It is when things seem most impossible that Jesus can move. It is often when we have tried everything else and we are most desperate that God can show us who He is and what He is capable of.

Please pray with me that this man and his son will step out in faith to ask Christ to do the impossible in their lives. Pray that God will honor that faith with a mighty move to reunite this family. Pray that they will know without a doubt Who it was that answered their prayer and endeavor to follow the One True God. God is able!

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

Song of the Day: Your Presence is Heaven to Me by Israel & New Breed

I’ve been asked to play drums at my new church twice already and then tonight I was asked to do a special next Saturday. I can’t help but feel that God is making my life okay. All day I was suffering from back pain and although not 100% better yet, some within says that God will make sure I have the strength to make it through my first day of work on Monday as a doctor.  I know that His presence, which is heaven to me, will be with me all day.  I know assuredly that He will walk with me through what would seem like a terrifying day of realizing that lives are truly in my hands and I’m only human. This I know that- He will never leave me and that I can do all things through Him!

So Lord, Your presence is heaven to me- assurance, security, hope, and strength.  I praise You God! I thank You Jesus!!!!!!

Rebekah M.