Category Archives: Advice

All The Single Ladies (& Single Men): You Don’t Have To Pretend!

Singlehood can be a time of self-discovery and adventure, but it can also be a time of aching loneliness and discouragement. Watching loving couples around you bask in their marital happiness, decorate their first Christmas tree together, have children and post all their glorious togetherness all over social media can be tough to take in.

It can be emotionally draining being single while yearning for that lasting connection where you are now someone’s better half. Your hopes and fears are all out there with every date you go on. Loved ones see you go into and out of relationships that did not last. And while well-intentioned married friends assure you that marriage has its challenges and lonely days too, you’d give anything to have those kind of two-become-one challenges.

So, all you single people, hear me when I say this: you don’t have to pretend to love this stage. As empowering as it is to travel solo, pamper yourself and learn to love your single self, singlehood is still often a painful, challenging season in life. When others don’t understand your loneliness and need for encouragement, there is One who does. Here is how God will journey with you through singlehood.

The Practical Pain Of Being Single

There are painful moments and scenes in singlehood: the plus-one wedding invitation you receive in a time where there is no plus-one in your life, the holiday dinners around the family table when everyone is paired up and you’re sitting next to the turkey, the baby christenings you attend where you ache to be starting a family of your own.

During these painful experiences, you don’t need to pretend there is no hurt or longing involved. The psalmist expressed all his pain and longing to God when people failed him or couldn’t understand his situation: “Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8). You can pour out your heart to him as well and rely on God to not make light of your pain. He will see you through singlehood, in all its frustrations and challenges.

Your Need For Effective Encouragement

Singles are often told to learn to love themselves or even “date themselves”. But don’t forget the power of learning to comfort yourself as well (and I don’t mean hot fudge sundaes in bed or drinking binges). Real comfort comes when you can give yourself the comforting pep talk that others may have failed to give or did not know how to express.

King David would comfort and encourage himself with these words: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God”(Ps 42:11).  It’s one of the most powerful antidotes to loneliness and despair.

As an added measure of comfort, try surrounding yourself with the sounds of praise music in whatever style you appreciate most, whether it’s gospel, contemporary praise or classical hymns. These healing sounds of praise to God will ignite something in your soul, encouraging you onward. You’ll realize that you can praise Him in your singleness, and that there will be plenty to praise God for in the days ahead.

The Need For Forgiveness (For Others And Yourself)

Singlehood can be a season of learning to forgive. So often, people offer ill-timed advice and hurtful comments over your single status. Whether insensitively delivered or accusingly given, you’ll need to learn to forgive others over and over again when they don’t understand the challenges of singlehood that you’re facing.

……Read more at Christian Mingle Believe !! and leave your comments:

How are you getting through Singlehood?!

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More Than Just Friends: Advice For Those Daring To Date

The two of you laugh at the same corny jokes. He brings you pink frosted donuts on Fridays because he knows your weakness for them. You’ve gone shopping with him to help him pick out a killer suit for his new interview. In fact, you’ve even given each other dating advice or a shoulder to cry on when past dates didn’t go so well.

You may have been friends for years, or recent acquaintances from your time together at church or at work. But now the question comes up: should we dare to date? Can we go from being friends to being in a relationship?

Daring to date someone that you’ve previously had a platonic relationship with is a tricky thing. There are some risks involved once you attempt to be more than friends, but it might just be that the Proverb was right: “There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.”

Here are three areas to evaluate in deciding if you should dare to date each other.

Does Your Friendship Contain Any Chemistry?

It isn’t necessary to feel overwhelming, instant attraction for someone in order to eventually fall in love with them. Sometimes, chemistry grows as the friendship grows, and suddenly there is a hint of the possibility of romance. It might just be that when he smiles, you now notice his eye crinkles. Or when she laughs, you suddenly hear the musical undertones.

If you’re now noticing this friend with a newfound appreciation and a bit of a flutter in your heart, it could be that your friendship is more than platonic. The question is, is this happening for him or her as well? It’s time to converse about this in a way that is subtle and gracious.

Has Emotional Intimacy Developed Between You Two?

Do you find yourself wanting to share more and more of yourself with this friend? It may not even be a conscious decision to open up more, but more of an ease that grows as you two text and talk openly about your lives. Feelings can ignite on one side or between the two of you.

Many friendships between men and women get complicated in this area. The challenge is discerning whether this emotional intimacy is reflective of a romantic connection that both of you are feeling. Often, one person can feel like this emotional connection means something lasting is happening, but the other person can simply just be a very extroverted and open person when it comes to sharing their feelings. So, don’t rush to conclusions yet.

It may be time to have a conversation about what feelings are being felt and what direction you both would like the friendship to go in. It also should include a type of “out” if one of you isn’t feeling the desire to become more than friends. And yes, that can be awkward. But it’s far more painful to spend months or years hoping that the other is secretly feeling more, and then later find out that you two were always going to be “just friends.”

How Would The Transition From Friendship To Dating Work?

True friendship involves honesty and a candidness where the two people can tell each other the truth of where they’re at, even if it includes fear, hesitation or vulnerability. Be sure to talk about what changes you should expect if you decide to start dating.

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Read more at Christian Mingle Believe

Wedding Dreams and Disasters- WATCH OUR LATEST VIDEO!!

What does your wedding say about you?? It’s one of the most momentous days in your life: your wedding. Everyone wants their wedding day to be perfect. But let’s be real: the truth is, your wedding day will be as perfect and flawless as you are. Sorry for the plain truth. But don’t lost hope. All those perfect and not-so-perfect moments rolled together can create a beautiful lasting memory of a very real day when a very real couple, with real imperfections and REAL LOVE, came together and said “I Do” to Love, To lasting Commitment, to the journey of a lifetime!

Whether you’ve already said “I Do” or you’re hoping for that special day to come, join in on the fun in our latest video as Abby shares her wedding fears and I share some funny stories of disastrous wedding moments. Because even with the not-so-perfect moments, this day is about way more than perfection. It’s about your incredible future together!

Here’s to Weddings, the Do’s and the Don’ts and the “Please, Oh NO!”s

 

 

 

STOP BEING INTIMIDATED!- Video

It’s been a while but…..   OUR LATEST VIDEO IS FINALLY OUT!!

So join in on the discussion about how to fight back against Intimidation. Because it’s subtle at first, but somewhere along the way, you lost your voice, you lost your confidence and it’s time to GET IT BACK!!

 

Get Free!! INTIMIDATION Part 2

Health scares and medical crises are intimidating. Sometimes we get a great doctor and a miraculous breakthrough in our prognosis. But sometimes things are very dark and the prognosis is grim.

Add to that the imposing authority figure of a medical professional who tells you there’s no chance, there’s no hope for full recovery, or that you’ll always need to take this medication, and you can feel not only overwhelmed, but sickened with intimidation. Who are you to question this medical expert?

The rules for Intimidation to invade and take hold are as follows: you stay quiet, you back down, and don’t you dare speak up.

Or you could break the rules, break the pattern that Intimidation thrives on.

I once had the audacity to do this.

Our son had struggled with asthma for years, needing frequent scary trips to the emergency room when he was having trouble breathing, even with the inhalers and all the medicine he was on. He then endured painful allergy shots for several years, and bravely handled the treatment because he was hoping he’d become tolerant of dog dander and finally be able to have a pet. He started to stabilize at around age 12, and we grew hopeful  that now at last he could have a dog. At a follow up appointment with his allergy specialist, we brought up this question.

Dr. F absolutely refused to even discuss it.

“But you had previously said that perhaps with allergy shots, over the course of several years, that he might grow immune to some of these things. Couldn’t we re-test him and see if he would now be able to tolerate dog dander so he can get a dog?” I asked.

Dr. F was not happy with me. I was questioning and asking him to re-evaluate this situation. He wasn’t used to being questioned , and he let me have it. Alex sat on the examining table, watching me carefully petition his doctor.

Dr. F turned to me and said very sternly, “Mrs. Caldwell, he cannot have a dog. I don’t think you get it–this is a serious matter. Children die from asthma!!”

Oh, I got it alright. I was furious at him for scaring my child with those words and using those intimidating words to couch his refusal for re-examining our son. We left the office that day and I told my son not to worry about what the doctor said, that he was getting stronger and healthier every day, and that I would find a way to get him tested again. I wanted my son to know its okay to question, its ok to investigate, and to look for answers.

At the root of intimidating circumstances and encounters with people we feel intimidated by, there is that element of fear. Fear that we’ll cross that line that they’ve put down for us. Afraid that they’re right and we are really wrong. That we have no right to insert our thoughts or opinion. If we cooperate with Intimidation, we’ll lose not only our voice, but our right to speak up or speak out.

But if we decide that we are tired of becoming smaller, quieter, and powerless, then it’s time for healthy anger…and action.

Often people who are overwhelmed and intimidated have unknowingly given away their right to be angry. Whether you’ve over spiritualized this (as in, nice Christians don’t get angry) or you’ve suppressed your range of emotions and just settled in the land of panic or fear, it’s important that you realize anger is not only an important, healthy emotion and correct response to situations where abuse or injustice is occurring, but it’s also a signpost.

It points up– as in: look up, square your shoulders, take a deep cleansing breath of self worth and dignity, and speak. Speak up. Speak out.

But beyond anger, there’s something more that’s needed. You know the saying, “Don’t get mad, get even!”

Well I say, don’t just get mad– get free.

And that’s what I did. I freed us from this intimidating, egotistical doctor.  I searched for a better one. This is how I found him.

Several times when Alex had had an asthma attack late at night and we’d be on the verge of taking him to an emergency room, I would call the allergy specialist on call and once in a while I’d get Dr. K.

Dr. K would always first say, “Well Mrs. Caldwell, what do you see? What does he sound like? You’re the mother. You know him better than me.” He would consult me and dialogue with me about Alex’s condition, and he’d incorporate my mother’s instinct into the equation and make his determination based on my instinct and knowledge of my son and his medical expertise.

In other words, he respected me. He didn’t look down on me from his grandiose sense of all-knowing medical power.  He listened to me. I was heard for my insight and contribution to the picture. This was a Dr. I could respect, because he also respected me.

So we switched to Dr. K.  He didn’t see any problem with my request to have Alex re-evaluated with a skin test to see if he was still allergic to dogs.  He wasn’t very optimistic but he was willing to consider it as a possibility. So we had the test done.

When the results came back, we sat in his office waiting. Alex was quietly hopeful. Dr K walked in. He had the test results in his hands.

“Mrs. Caldwell,  this hardly ever happens. I’m not sure if it’s the allergy shots over the years or what. But your son is no longer allergic to dogs.” He smiled at us. “Alex, you can go out and get a dog.”

harry

So we did. For almost 14 years this sweet flop of a dog, Harry, was a reminder to us that we can’t just wish and hope things would be different. We can’t continue to take timid steps backward everytime someone powerful in demeanor rises before us.

We can’t let Intimidation snuff out our dreams and silence our voices.

So speak up, today. For yourself. For someone you love.

And set yourself free.

How Did I Let This Happen To Me?- INTIMIDATION! Part 1

It happens to you before you realize it, but the signs are all there: you’re feeling afraid, coerced, demoralized, bullied, held back, demeaned, and limited. You wonder, “How did I let this happen to me?”

I’ll tell you how. Because I’ve been there.

You see, Intimidation usually happens within a supposedly loving or fair or long running relationship. It can happen when you’re dating someone,  with a co-worker or boss, with your sibling or parent, with someone you thought you were friends with. It’s often a precursor to abuse and domination. And when it’s at work in the relationship, all the nice titles that previously defined your relationship don’t mean a hill of beans.

Take a hard look at that troubling situation you’re in. (Healthy relationships can stand to be examined.) You havn’t been able to put your finger on it, maybe, but you know you’re in trouble because of that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. You’re just not sure when you started to feel that way.

You see, Intimidation occurs over time and in an under handed way.  So it’s hard to tell when you fell under it. But if you put that thermometer in and take your temp, you’ll be able to see the elevated levels of discouragement, depression, and despair in your life. Those are signs that something dark and nasty is at work there. Intimidation has been eating away at you, like a necrotizing despair.

Someone, somehow, got more than just the upper hand in your interaction with them. They pushed and took control, they smiled with their mouth but there wasn’t warmth in their eyes, you sensed a  power struggle, a battle you couldn’t win– and you gave in.

You thought you just gave them that “win” in that situation, but you really gave them way more than that–because you lost your voice,you lost your confidence,  you lost your peace and your power. You lost your sense of dignity and worth.

And now it’s time to get it all back.

That one decision, right there, is the beginning of health and healing to your soul. That desire to fight for the truth of what you’re facing–not necessarily fight against the person– that right there will start to lead you out onto solid ground.

Because when you can’t fight back, when you don’t want to fight back or equalize your standing and validate your right to be heard– that is a dangerous place. That’s where that bully in your life wants to bring you, to the point of your complete loss of confidence and self respect. That way your bully has an easier time walking all over you.

I’m at a dangerous but liberating point in my life. I’m too old to be ignorant of patterns I’ve seen in people’s lives, my back is too stiff to lie down and let someone walk on me, I’m too angry about all the abuse I’ve seen loved ones endure, and I’m not willing to stay quiet and polite anymore.

I’m going for bold and loud. Loud, as in loud and clear.

So let me make this message clear: I’m speaking out against Intimidation and those who major in it. I’m taking the journey into wholeness, where people walk with self respect and quiet confidence–and they don’t have to apologize for their peace of mind and sense of dignity and worth. If you want to come on this journey with me, sit tight.

And stay tuned for Part 2.

(Watch for our new YouTube Video on Intimidation being released soon!)

The Holy “No”: Setting Yourself Free From the Fear of Saying No!

It’s natural that we look forward to the big “yes” moments in our lives, like saying yes to a wedding proposal or a great job offer. The day we say yes to God and allow Him to be the Lord of our lives is a significant turning point.

On the other hand, we generally don’t enjoy having to say no to people.

We often struggle in declining an invitation to an event or denying someone’s request for help because we don’t want to appear harsh or unloving.

We obviously can’t say yes to every request that comes our way without overextending ourselves. But learning to say no to people doesn’t have to be a negative, stressful experience.

Open Doors

Every one of us is a steward of our time; the question is, how good of a steward are we? Stewardship involves the ability to manage our time, and that involves learning to saying no. This is especially important when we are working long hours, busy at home with children, newly married and trying to get time with our spouse, or dating and talking to people online. In these and other situations, saying no can be quite challenging.

But saying no to something doesn’t necessarily mean we are closing a door; it may just mean that we are indirectly saying a resounding yes to something else, like yes to time with our family or periods of much needed rest. It also means you’re saying yes to allowing others to come into the picture who may more adequately help the person in need.

Learning How To Say No

If you struggle to turn down all those invitations or requests for help, it’s time to practice saying no. Here’s how:

  1. Begin graciously. You can still show empathy for someone’s needs while declining to be involved. Your tone of voice can reveal kindness even when you have to deny someone what they are asking for. “I’m so sorry that you’re experiencing that, but I won’t be able to assist you at this time.”
  2. …..                                                                                                                                            (Read the rest of my article at Believe )