One of devil’s most attractive packages is convenience.

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5 Lessons I Learned from Month Three of Not Dating

Sheesh, that means I have nine months to go! God continues to show, shape and guide me in my understanding about relationships. To my surprise, the recent lessons from a purposeful season to NOT DATE, have nothing to do with dating. Instead, the Lord used this time to help me heal from issues that have plagued me since my childhood but I kept limping along life with those burdens because, well, frankly, I didn’t think I could ever unload them.

Here are five great lessons that the Lord has shown me in the last couple of months. I hope you’ll find a blessing in them for yourself! 🙂

1. What might seem like the second time around will be different, if Christ is involved. 

I have situations that resurface but I notice that I don’t react to them with the same anxiety or avoidance because I now can rely on Jesus to confront them with me.

2. People don’t always want to hear what you think. 

Okay, does this defeat the purpose of the blog? No no, I’m kidding. This was a gentle lesson that the Lord mercifully brought about through observation. On occasion, I will run into people who feel compelled to give me advice because I’m a single mom and somehow that means a portion of my brain is either missing or malfunctioning. (People just say odd things, like, needing to remind me that I have a daughter. Oh! so THAT’s who was on my taxes..scratches head).

Actually, the real lesson for me is that it’s okay to ask if it’s okay to express the point of view. I noticed that some people aren’t always ready to hear it. People appreciate being asked for their time and attention, instead of a blindsiding brain dump that they might not have been ready for.

3. Other people are watching how you live your life, whether or not you know it, whether or not you want them to.

The loudest testimony is our lifestyle. I learned that, even with a naturally guarded disposition, I can’t help who is watching me and my choices from afar. This ended up being a blessing. Instead of exhausting myself on trying to hide, the Lord just met me and guided me through what would have been very stressful situations.

4.  The dating story is different in our thirties. 

Or forties. Or sixties. The natural span of life experiences will make for a different template on the dating wire. God also showed me how some people move a lot of the chatter out of the way because they have the maturity to be able to communicate about deep things without hesitation. This was a big comfort.

5.  My timelines versus God’s timing.

Have we all done this? Tell God how long we think we need to endure? I almost caught myself to want a commercial length lesson, but the Lord is holy and He will not accept less than His own best. God is never late. He is always on time. He showed me things that I would have missed if I had rushed out of this process.

I was blessed to have the Lord reassure me that there was no need to rush, that He is walking closely with me through this commitment to hear from Him. He has so many other things to show me, that are greater and higher than I could imagine for myself. But the reward comes from being in His Word, being around God’s people and consistently deepening my efforts at prayer. Every day, I’ve got to trust Him. And every day, I can be amazed.

More lessons to come.

Blessings,
Mahal

P.S. For 5 Lessons from Month One of Not Dating, click here!

Healing through my first client. How God brought me back to work.

I took on my first coaching client after almost two years of focusing on recovery and getting my life basics in order. I probably didn’t feel completely ready but the Holy Spirit told me to “Just listen.”

After receiving her the first completed assignment, it was clear that she was in her own season of renewal. On our first call, I asked her if she was healing from something. The extended pause on the other end was validation. She proceeded to tell me about the recent events of loss that come along with the new life stages, as we get older.

I had to thank the Lord again on how He used this return to coaching as a way for me share my own healing. What a clever and wonderful God who knows exactly how to get me back to work! 

I hesitated for months before deciding to coach anyone. I felt so inadequate, weak and clumsy. I began doubting what I could possibly contribute in a conversation with another person when I felt like everyone else’s life was more “together” and orderly. But God’s grace picked me back up and sent me this client in a way that was only possible through His power.

I also want to share with you how GENTLE the Lord was in bringing this new situation into my life. He didn’t force it, or slam it in my schedule with a jolt. It was almost effortless and the timing went so smoothly and without pressure. I used to compartmentalize work from my faith, thinking it was an area of life where I had to push and perform. Thankfully, the trials in my life have shown me that God is eager to manage everything. Psalm 119:71 reads, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” I find this to be true. That it is good that I discover the beauty of God’s grace in the workaholism that I so viciously guarded as my own.

The result of this blessing is that I’ve also added “healing” as one of the facets of my coaching practice and I’m appreciating that I’m in a tender place to build it, one brick at a time with God’s loving, helping hand.

I pray that you can ask God to intervene in the issue of work, time off, leave of absence and even returning to work without feeling overwhelmed. We are in such a rush for normalcy and it can put us in a vulnerable place of inadequacy. But I pray that you can seek the Lord and remember that He is enough.

Blessings,
Mahal

2 Points on Joy. 2 Days to Prepare. Yikes!

With two days to prepare, in the midst of a frenzied workload, the Lord showed me a lesson on JOY.

I’m humbled when my Sunday school teachers ask me to speak. It’s usually on something short, around 4 minutes long. They give me a topic with guidelines and what they would like to be communicated. Then, I usually do some research, jot down the first few truths that come to mind, search for supporting verses and then try to overlook the anxiety that seems to intensify the closer I get to the speaking time.

I don’t mind the short notice. God can work in any timeframe. 🙂 This time, it was 2 days notice. The event was for the ladies of the church to put together gifts, note cards, cookies and other crafts for other members of the church, needy families and a non-profit pregnancy clinic in the neighborhood. The devotional was to cover the three gifts from Jesus’ birth (no, not the frankincense, myrrh stuff. I know. I thought the same thing when she first told me). Rather, it was Love, Hope and Joy. Ohhh, THOSE gifts. (light bulb dimly lit above my head). I was assigned to speak on the topic of Joy.

But may I share the wonderfully simplistic lesson that the Lord showed me as I tried to prepare? There is also a sweet little story in it.

Purpose: The birth of Jesus gives us purposeful joy, a purposeful life. Joy isn’t a feeling or a burst of emotion. It is a genuine, personal, sustained sense of hope and peace and excitement all mixed. But it must start with salvation. Consider that God humbled Himself to go through what we went through, from the actual birth as an infant, the process of maturity, then sacrifice, then death and His victory over sin. Joy has a Source and the story can begin by remembering how Christmas plays out. Yes, there are gifts, budgets, parties, lists, families. But let’s not forget that our joy has purpose, including the hope of heaven, the serving of others and to glorify God.

How that purpose unfolds for us in our daily lives really depends on how willing we are to get to the know the Lord. We’ve got to be consistent in reading His Word and purposing to be in His house. Psalm 51:12, though typically used in the context of repentance, also plainly names the element in salvation, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”

For those of us who may be more mature in years and have enjoyed more Christmasses than others, may we never tire and yet continually cherish the joy that is inherent in salvation.

Pattern: Christ set a pattern for joy. If you’ve heard of joy as an acronym (J stands for Jesus. O for Others. Y for You), you’ll even see the recipe for joy by prioritizing Christ, others then ourselves. In His ministry of sacrificial giving, Jesus consistently showed us how serving others was a priority. He demonstrated a pattern of joy for us to follow by being in the middle of God’s will and loving others in the process. After the humble act of washing the apostles’ feet, Jesus states in John 13:15, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” How He cared for His apostles was a pattern that we could follow to have the joy in serving others.

Four minutes can feel like 45 minutes when you’re facing an audience of 80 women, some of whom you know to be godly women with way more experience in their Christian walk than you do. [cue my hot flash from nervousness here, sheesh]. But the Lord was so gracious to ensure that I was able to share His truth about joy, even with new women in the audience, who haven’t attended a church service yet, but were there for the gift-wrapping event. What started as a harried talk was also an opportunity to witness to others.

And…Do you know who put my notes together? My daughter!

I was scrambling through verses. As I blurted out topics, she typed a brief outline and had it printed and ready before I rushed out the door. (She wasn’t able to attend with me that evening. She stayed home to win over a cold). In preparing to give a talk on joy, the Lord made sure I got a dose of my own joy by allowing my daughter to be a part of this experience in her own special way.

I pray that we don’t walk too quickly through this preparation for Christmas. I pray that we remember this as the beautiful beginning of what God has done for us and how the gift of salvation and the life we choose to lead with the Lord has so much more hope, love and joy than we could possibly imagine.

Blessings,
Mahal