Batir we go to EarthX!

Batir we go to EarthX!

Most people consider us a ‘granola’ family. We compost, recycle, make our own baby food, use cloth diapers, wear natural deodorant, have a urban garden, backyard chickens, etc. So obviously, us going to Fair Park to spend a day at EarthX 2019 is a no brainer. I tried to no avail to get friends and coworkers excited about this annual event, but not a lot people know what to expect. So let us show you! Welcome to a day at EarthX 2019!

img_1267

EarthX is the LARGEST ‘environmental experience’ in the WORLD! Right here in Dallas, Texas and it’s free! Usually aligning with Earth Day (this year it’s April 27th & 28th), Fair Park is taken over by planet-friendly vendors and environmental enthusiasts dedicated to helping the average earthling better understand how they can make a positive impact on the planet. PLUS, they give out a ton of free goodies to help you do so.

We started our day at Big Tex’s house. He isn’t there when the Fair isn’t going on but

img_1255

it made a great meeting place to rendezvous with my mom who decided to join us. Then we headed to the main exhibition hall which is full of over 200 vendors!

Though overwhelming, this is where you get your goodies. Joe likes to talk to every vendor and sign up for giveaways, raffles, you name it… which can take quite a while but when he comes back with free stuff, I can’t blame him! Check out the slideshow below to see just a taste of the stuff you can get throughout the park:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next, we checked out the tiny house exhibit. There are a group of tiny houses on display that people actually live in full time. As you tour their home, you can ask them anything you like from how much the house cost to how they are able to fit everything they need in such a small space. There was a family of 7 that converted a school bus into a home for $20,000! That’s crazy!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next, it was lunchtime, so we headed toward the food trucks. On the way, we passed by some goat yoga. Still don’t understand what the hype is but the yogis seemed to be enjoying it.

 

There are a ton of food options for you to choose from and they usually have a lot of vegan and veggie friendly trucks there if you are interested in trying something different. We grabbed chicken and waffles because, why not? We set up Jake’s portable highchair and let him snack on some blueberries while we munched away.

img_1259

img_1274
Painted rocks from Grandma!

With our bellies full, we did a final walk around, got some free Tehuacan carbonated water (the new Topo Chico) and headed home. Since Jake is so young, we weren’t able to fully appreciate all the kids activities they have at EarthX. The entire Food & Fiber pavilion is full of arts and crafts, hands-on science experiments, and there are even animals to interact with. Another thing we love about EarthX is hearing from different vendors on new technology, cool new products, and updates on what’s new in DFW. Here are a few highlights:

 

There was this portable/instant/biodegradable grill that was really cool. For only $15/piece (2 for $20 at EarthX), this grill heats to 600 degrees in only 5 minutes and burns for almost 6 hours, allowing you to cook a full meal and have heat left over for smores. We thought this was such a neat idea for camping because it doesn’t require any clean-up. You can either throw it away or use it as kindling in your bonfire.

Coca-Cola has had a tent for the past two years showcasing what the company is doing to to be more sustainable. That’s cool and all but the thing we love about their tent is that they give away free rain barrels used from old corn syrup containers! A standard rain barrel can run anywhere from $60-$100 dollars so this freebie is definitely the best one at the convention.

We also stopped by Texas Outdoor Family’s table. Texas Outdoor Family teaches families the basic outdoor skills needed for a great camping trip. TOF is run by Texas Parks and Wildlife and after surveying the park visitors, they realized that the typical park campers are middle aged white men, which isn’t the best representation of the demographics of Texas. But camping can be intimating to families. Either they don’t know where to go or they can’t afford all the gear. So the TOF program encourages families to get outside explore all the awesome parks we have in Texas by providing all the gear you need and all the park fees for only $65 per family for the weekend. They even have a bunch of cooking supples you can pick through to make your camping trip a success. You just return everything when you are done. As avid campers ourselves, we thought this was a really neat idea.

img_1272

Overall, it was another successful year at EarthX. Tomorrow is the last day so be sure to check it out! Register online for free at their website (Earthx.org) or pay $5 at the door. And remember, it doesn’t take much to be more planet-friendly. Reducing your carbon footprint just a little bit makes a world of a difference. Happy Earth Day, earthlings!

 

 

Failure to Thrive 3: Tokyo Drift

Failure to Thrive 3: Tokyo Drift

If you missed the Fast and the Furious reference and thought this was going to be a blog about us going to Tokyo… then I suggest you go watch the Fast and the Furious movies.

We had our appointment with the Pediatrician this afternoon. They measured Jake’s height and weight and he is back on track!! He is back on a curve and no longer in the 1 percentile for weight or height. We are so relieved to no longer have to count calories and worry about the amount of food he is intaking. Now, our Pedi will send Jake’s data to the GI at Children’s Medical Hospital and he will officially give us the thumbs up and clear us. There is a chance that the GI will want to do one final blood test to ensure Jake’s liver enzyme levels are back to normal (the last two tests were high). So we may have one more test to go but the Pedi said everything looked great!

In the midst of the good news, I found some more things to worry about. The Pedi said that Jake “needs to get at least one tooth by 12 months” and so of course I spiraled just a tiny bit. When do parents ever stop worrying about their kids?! Joe was quick to remind me that we don’t need to worry about anything. Again, the reoccurring theme: God is in control and we are not. So as we say goodbye to the Failure to Thrive diagnosis, we enter the great unknown that is Jake’s life. We are excited to see what God has in store for our little guy and how he will sanctify Joe and I in the process.

Failure to Thrive: Part 2

Failure to Thrive: Part 2

I have been overwhelmed by the thoughts and prayers sent our way since our family update in January. We are seriously so blessed to have the support of friends and family! So thank you for reaching out! It has been 4 months since Jake’s “failure to thrive” diagnosis and we take him for his 9 month check-up on Friday. This is a standard check-up that all babies have but for us, it’s a bit different. They will take his height and weight measurements and will let us know if he is tracking well or if they want to do further testing. Needless the say, we are hoping for good news!

The last 4 months have been a growing opportunity for us, teaching us to trust the Lord with our kids. I know being pregnant, all I did was worry that Jake was growing like he should and that he would be born “healthy”. Now that he is born, this season has been a very real reminder that we are not in control of anything and “healthy” is subjective. I have been so thankful that the Lord has taken away any anxiety or worry and allowed us to just enjoy this life stage. From our perspective, he is happy and ‘thriving’ and we have enjoyed ever second of him!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” – Proverbs 3: 5-6

We are trusting that God is in control of Jake’s life and health and that whatever the results may be from his appointment on Friday, God is still sovereign. We appreciate all the prayers and ask that you continue to pray for Jake and for us.

-The Batirs

Reflections from 10 years of Student Ministry

Reflections from 10 years of Student Ministry

In a few weeks, my time leading high-schoolers will come to an end. I’ve been serving with Watermark’s student ministries since 2008, when I was a freshman in college. Working with middle and high-schoolers has honestly been one of the highlights of my life and something I will truly miss. I am very passionate about this age group because I feel that they have been largely misunderstood and undervalued by our society. It’s such a precious time of coming of age and the time you really start learning what a personal relationship with the Lord looks like. I’ve learned a lot by watching my girls grow from gangly 6th graders to opinionated 18 year olds and now that I am a parent, there are some things that I want to make sure I remember about this stage of life:

Being a teen doesn’t make your feelings invalid.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of middle school? Hormones. It’s a crazy time of changing bodies, hormonal swings, and ridiculously short dating relationships. However, I think it’s really dangerous to disregard teenager’s emotions as just hormone swings. Teens are typically a lot more open with their feelings than adults. They just don’t know how to process them yet. So when a teen is hyper emotional about something, don’t dismiss it. This is a great opportunity to help them learn how to process their emotions by talking about them and teach them how to deal with their feelings in a healthy way.  You may think whatever they are going through is the stupidest thing in the world, but it is VERY real to them. Just because they are a teenager doesn’t mean they aren’t old enough to be taken seriously. Meet them where they are.

thumbnail-7

Students deal with very real and tough situations. 

I’ve heard time and time again, “you’re only 16, how hard can your life really be?” Very hard actually. I have walked through situations with students that I wouldn’t wish on anyone: Sexual assault, death of a parent, abandonment, rejection, suicide… the list goes on and on. Tragedy and evil do not discriminate against young people. To qualify how hard someone’s life is by how old they are is naive and dangerous. We live in a sinful world and that sin has horrendous effects on the lives of children. When tragedy strikes, they need people in their lives who will treat them with dignity, jump in the trenches with them, and point them toward Christ.

Social media cannot be avoided.

It is no surprise that social media is having a negative affect on kids of all ages. In my community group, the top parenting topic we always discuss is how to protect our kids from technology and I’ve seen how dangerous Instagram and Snapchat have been in the teen girls’ lives. However, I don’t think we need to keep our kids away from social media. I think we need to equip them to use it properly. Tools are only dangerous when used in dangerous ways. The key is to have open conversations about what tech kids are using and being educated on what those platforms can be used for.

I think we get caught up on the fact that Social media provides access to porn, bullying, body image issues, comparison, jealousy, online predators, etc. Those are all things we obviously want teens to avoid but these things have existed much longer than Instagram and will continue to exist long after. At the end of the day, we live in a sinful world and until Jesus comes back, that isn’t going to change. If a teen wants to access something, they are going to find a way to do it. They are way smarter than us! We just have to equip teens to deal with sin in a biblical way and train them on how to avoid falling into sinful habits.

thumbnail-11

If you lower the bar, they will go lower. 

It’s hard to motivate a teenager to do something they don’t want to do. Bribery and compromise as parenting tools start young (my 9 month old is well acquainted to them). But I found that when challenged, by and large, teens will rise to the occasion. They want you to challenge them. They want to be pushed beyond what they think they can achieve and if you set the bar low, they will under-deliver every time. Why would they want to give their best when you aren’t expecting the best from them? I think it can be so easy as a small group leader to dumb down the curriculum or decrease the amount of ‘homework’ in the hopes that it will guarantee that the students will do it. But you are ultimately cheating them of the opportunity and cheapening the activity. Ultimately, challenging them sets them up for success.

Care about what they care about.

When my girls were in middle school you know what I did? I made sure I knew the names of the members of One Direction and the top shows on Disney Channel. Now that they are in high school, I am up-to-date on who Logan Paul is and the current teenage slang (“Weird flex but ok.”).  Why? Because when you want to get teens talking, you talk to them about stuff they know and are interested in. If you belittle their hobbies and their fandoms, you are essentially calling them silly and unimportant. Educating yourself on what’s popular at the time is a great way to stay connected and to stay aware of what your teen is filling your brain with. A win-win!

thumbnail-10

Don’t expect change overnight. 

It can be so frustrating to teach the same thing week after week for years and years and not see any change. But as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Sometimes it takes years of teaching for things to click. Everyone learns and grows at their own pace. Don’t rush the process. I think it’s so easy to blame yourself for someone’s lack of growth, especially spiritual growth. But as a small group leader, you just have to be faithful to show up, teach, and trust that God will do the rest. It’s really up to the student on whether they want to take what they have been taught and apply it. Ultimately, a relationship with the Lord is a personal choice that each person has to make for themselves.

Time. 

They may be angsty, they may be moody, and they may not want to but spending quality time is so important. Actions speak louder than words so being physically present speaks volumes. That means going to games, going to plays, having late night phone calls, coffee meet ups, etc etc. Make them a priority. That way when they need to talk to someone, they know that they can call you and you’ll pick up the phone. Being physically there means you’ll be emotionally there.

Share your life.

A lot can happen in a decade and my girls have had a front seat at the major moments of my life. They watched me date my would-be husband. They watched me plan a wedding. They passed our programs at the wedding. They were some of the first people to know I was pregnant and are now watching me learn how to be a parent (not to mention the life that happened in between!). My goal was to live a life that I wouldn’t be ashamed to tell the girls about. This kept me out of trouble and (hopefully) allowed the girls to get an honest look at the highs and lows of adulthood. I pray that my son has someone in his life who he can watch pursue Christ and be honest at how hard it is to pursue Him well.

thumbnail-8

HAVE FUN. 

My favorite memories of the last 10 years are the silly times. The bad jokes, the Disney jam sessions. The farkles and the really bad Halloween costumes. Life is hard so have fun doing it. Being silly and having fun brings people together and creates lifelong memories. The last 10 years have been challenging, rewarding, and SO FUN. I’m just so thankful that God gave me this opportunity. It’s been one of the greatest joys of my life to love on my girls. They have changed me in ways they could never know and for that I am forever grateful.

thumbnail-9

My Top 5 Mom Tools

My Top 5 Mom Tools

I’ve been a mom for 8.5 months now which means I am absolutely NOT a professional. Most days I am questioning my ability to keep my tiny human alive. However, I have collected a few tools that I feel have been essential to my motherhood journey. And so I give you, in no particular order, my top 5 mom tools:

1. Hairbands (AKA – A Temporary Mom-cut)
Look. Not all of us can pull off a pixie cut but we also can only take our kid pulling/chewing/eating our hair for so long. So for those of us who are actively trying to avoid being mistaken for Kate Gosselin, a pack of run-of-the-mill hairbands are a life saver.

 

img_8719

2.  A buff. 

You don’t need to be a Survivor fan to see the many uses for a buff. When our son was still sleeping in our room, we had a nightlight so we could make sure he was still breathing (any other new parents out there constantly check to see if their kid is still alive?). I slept with my buff as a sleep mask which was perfect for nighttime feedings. When it was time to feed Jake, I would push the buff up and it would keep my hair out of my face. Dual purpose, am I right? (*high fives self*)

The sky is really the limit when it comes to practical

kelley-wentworth-5-things-to-know-ftr

uses for a buff:

  • use as a sleep mask
  • hairband
  • burp cloth
  • run out of diapers? got you covered.
  • baby had a blow out and no change of clothes? BOOM.

Ok… so I’ve yet to try the last two so someone try it out and let me know how it goes!

 

3. Carabiners. 

Parenting is an adventure and as the boy scouts say, “Be prepared”. One of my go-to tools for preparedness is my trusty carabiner. Carabiners aren’t just for rock climbers. Anyone can utilize this simple yet convenient tool and, as parents, having an additional hand is always useful. I keep one on my car keys and have used it so many times when I need some extra help. The trick is to get yourself a hefty one, not that $1 one you got from Wally World. Those break quickly and when dealing with kiddos, the last thing you need is your groceries to fall to the ground while your baby is screaming. So invest in a $5 one from REI and you’ll be good to go.

SB_SMITH_2017-13

4. Cloth diapers. 

Now hear me out on this one. I am not advocating cloth diapers for all. They are not for everyone or all lifestyles. However, I do think everyone needs a couple of cloth diapers as back-up. We intermix both cloth and disposable (cloth while at home during the day and disposable while we are out and about as well as at nighttime) but we have always appreciated the fact that we never have to worry about running out of diapers in the middle of the night because we forgot to run to the store earlier that day. We always have a way to keep our baby’s butt covered and dry. Cloth diapers have come a LONG way since we were babies and they are way easier to use than ever before. I definitely recommend making the investment and saving them for a rainy day. They also make good transitional diapers for potty training!

diapers

 

5. A car power converter.

img_0771I’m a working mom and so pumping is part of my regular routine. Due to the nature of my job, I’m in my car A LOT and so my power converter has been worth it’s weight in liquid gold, allowing me to pump on the go. I’ve pumped behind sketchy warehouses, in grocery store parking lots, while driving… you name it, I’ve probably pumped there! PLUS – it works for literally anything with a plug so once I stop pumping, this vital tool will live on for a multitude of uses.

 

Failure to Thrive: Part 1

Failure to Thrive: Part 1

Time for a family update.

IMG_9582
5 day old Jake!

On the 18th, Jake will be 6 months old… which is kind of crazy when I take the time to think about it. A lot has happened in his little life. When Jake was born, he was 7 lbs 10 oz and 21 inches long. 97% for height. Joe and I were shocked. How did we average height folk produce such a future basketball prodigy?!

IMG_0448

He continued to track pretty tall for the first few months and was packing weight on like a champ. Which is a lot to say for a baby who is a champion spitter. I’m talking exorcist baby.

At each of his appointments, he was tracking well, hitting his milestones, etc. After the two month appointment, the next one isn’t for 2 more months.

IMG_0086
So proud of outgrowing his swaddle.

Jake was doing great. He was already standing up (assisted), trying to talk, growing out of clothes, all typical/normal things to expect was a growing baby. So when we got to the pediatrician on November 19th we were looking forward to seeing how much he had grown. Turns out… he hadn’t grown at all. In two whole months, Jake had only grown .25 inches and gained less than a pound of weight. The pedi wasn’t too concerned and gave us a prescription for Zantec, an anti-reflux medicine to help the little guy keep his food down, and scheduled us for a weight check in a week. One week later… some improvement! Looks like the meds helped him pack on a few more ounces. Just to be safe, they had us come back in two more weeks for another weight check….

And…. he got taller! But no change in weight. He was tracking in everything developmentally but just wasn’t gaining weight. So they sent us to Children’s Medical Center to meet with a gastrointestinal doctor to see if there was something more serious going on.

56677408126__1E164997-09BF-4892-91CD-E313FEFE56A0

IMG_0404

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me tell you… putting that infant hospital gown on my son was pretty surreal. I’ve known friends who have had to admit their children to the hospital for pretty serious matters and I cannot imagine the strength it takes to see your child in that place day after day. But for now, Jake was having fun in his new outfit and almost rolled over for the first time on the hospital bed waiting for the doctor to see us.

The doctor was super nice and kind. The said that Jake looked super healthy. He had chubby legs, was active, alert, engaging… all good signs. He actually wasn’t concerned about the weight… what he was concerned about was the height.

“Um… excuse me?”

You mean the one thing Jake has going for him? His height? How on earth could that be an issue? He then proceeded to tell us that while taking his vitals, they measured him and did not get the numbers our pediatrician did. In fact, they show he hadn’t grown really at all height wise in more than 2 months. Below you can see the highlighted dot… that’s what the hospital got when they measured him. As you can see, his growth pattern is a hot mess…. and it appears that he shrunk. height

The GI told us to meet with his dietitian after the exam to discuss feeding options and that he wanted to get full blood work done, a skeleton scan, and get Jake an appointment with an endocrinologist.

Jake had officially been labeled “failure to thrive”. It was quite a lot to take in.

We immediately scheduled the skeleton scan (the little guy got 23 x-rays taken) and the blood work done as well as started his new diet of highly concentrated formula during the day while I was at work. The endocrinologist couldn’t see us until April so we waited for the results…

X-Rays: NORMAL.

Blood work: NORMAL.

Which was a huge relief. Poor Jake had been through the ringer. He was getting Zantac twice a day. All those x-rays, his blood drawn. Being poked and prodded. On top of that he had a cold and had started teething. Not to mention the fact that we found out he was tested for alopecia… We were glad to be done with it.IMG_0429

And then the doctor called.

“His blood work looks good. All normal. But he did have elevated liver enzymes… now this isn’t something to be alarmed about necessarily. The liver processes everything in the body. So for example, the enzymes would be elevated if say he was fighting a virus [he had a cold]. But to be safe. I want to schedule him for a sonogram of the liver.”

You have got to be kidding me.

And so that is where we are. Trying to schedule a sonogram of a 6 month old’s liver. It’s really hard not knowing what’s wrong (or if there is anything wrong at all!). We’ve been tossed back and forth between doctors who all think something different. One thinks his weight is an issue but to the height. The other thinks the weight is fine, but the height is worrisome. Start him on solids early. “DON’T START HIM ON SOLIDS YET!!” “Everything looks normal but let’s just double check…”

Truthfully, this has all been exhausting and, ultimately, this has been a rough reminder that we are not in control. God is. The Lord knit Jake inside my womb. He knows every hair on his NOT HAIRLESS head (I swear he has eyebrows!). He has counted his days and knows exactly what is happening in his tiny little body. We can rest in knowing that no matter what happens. God is with us. We don’t know what 2019 holds for Jake or for our family but we know that we serve a good and loving God who knew 2019 before the he created this planet and that is a comfort indeed.

Ladies, Find Yourself a Joe

Ladies, Find Yourself a Joe

I don’t brag about him enough but I won the marriage lottery when I married Joe. He is funny and caring and godly and not to mention a stone cold fox ;)! Lately, I have been super impressed by how he has stepped up in his role as father. Since the day we got pregnant, he has been incredibly helpful and willing to do anything and everything to help me out. dadDuring my pregnancy, he did his research and was generally interested in the process. At my appointments, the doctor and nurses were regularly surprised by his thoughtful questions about me, the baby, and the pregnancy in general. He came with me to my breastfeeding class and TOOK NOTES which proved to be super helpful when Jake was born. He gave me nightly foot massages when my feet swelled up and talked me off the cliff when the idea of  motherhood seemed too overwhelming. For the birth, I had to have an unplanned c-section which meant Joe had to do double duty. He changed diapers, burped, and basically did everything that I couldn’t do since I was bedridden for 48 hours. When we got home, he continued to wake up with me during nighttime feedings to helpfamily as my incision healed and has continued to get up with me even now and share the burden of sleep deprivation. Now that I am back at work, he is a full time dad and honestly ROCKING AT IT (follow his instagram for some hilarious #daddydaycare posts at @bikecommuterjoe). Even though it’s not the ideal situation for our family, he has stepped up to the plate and filled the stay at home role flawlessly. Jake and I are truly blessed to have him as a husband and father.

I don’t know who would be upset about a father taking care of his kids but this week the internet caught fire due to a comment Piers Morgan tweeted about Daniel Craig (AKA, James Bond) using a “papoose” to carry his newborn daughter:

Capture

And THANKFULLY Piers was promptly yelled at by men across of the globe who stood up for 007. I don’t know about you, but I am so glad that men in our society have embraced the wonderful world of Fatherhood. Gone are the days of the 50’s household where parenting was “women’s work”. Fathers are more and more engaged in their children’s lives and well being which is enormously important! I am so thankful that Joe isn’t

Capture

emasculated by taking care of his son and, not only willing but actually WANTS a hands on role in his upbringing. Ladies, I highly encourage you to find yourself a Joe or a Daniel Craig. Find yourself a partner who is your teammate when it comes to parenting because it is SOOO hard (though wonderful). Shout out to all those dads out there who wear

“papooses”, burp babies, change diapers, cuddle sick little ones, and make diaper runs. Y’all are great. Keep it up!

The Great Unknown

The Great Unknown

Every since Joe and I met, he has been a student working on his Phd is Geophysics. The past five years have been quite an adventure to say the least. An internship in Midland which meant 3 months long distance….Multiple trips to Alaska to collect data…Hours spent writing and submitting papers for publication. I’ve spent countless hours on a 30-year old couch in the SMU geology lab while Joe slaved away working to achieve his goal. Tomorrow, he will walk across the stage at Moody Colosseum and be hooded, officially becoming Dr. Joseph Batir (but sadly not a rapper which is what it sounds like). What seems like the ending of one adventure is really the beginning of another and as excited as we are, it’s scary!

Joe and I have been clinging to Proverbs 16:9 these last few months: In his heart, man plans his course but the Lord determines his steps. Joe knows what he wants to do and we know where we want to be but, with an industry that was is crisis just a year ago, getting there won’t be easy. We ultimately don’t have control of a lot of things: what job Joe will have, if we will be able to stay in Dallas, what our income is going to look like, etc. We have to trust that God’s plan for us is far better than our plan. He is not surprised by downturns and recessions. He isn’t surprised by delayed graduation and few available opportunities. In fact, He knew these were the situations we would be facing at this very moment in our lives. The great unknown is scary but it is also full of amazing opportunities and adventures and there is no one I’d rather be adventuring with than my husband, Dr. Joe (working on his theme song.. stay tuned!). So here is to new adventures!

Stranger Danger

Stranger Danger

Lately, I’ve been struggling with people pleasing and negative interpretation. If you also struggle with these things, then you will understand having to battle all the lies that your brain tells you throughout the day. I have never been very good at capturing these intrusive thoughts and turning them over to God. I tend to set them free on the hamster wheel inside my head and they keep going, and going, and going… until I believe the them. So, yesterday, as I was reading John 10, verse 5 smacked me in the face.In this Chapter, Jesus describes himself as the Shepherd and his followers as his flock. He explains that his sheep “will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers”.

I immediately remembered a video I watched in school about Stranger Danger. I remember this video very clearly because of how dramatic I thought it was. In the video, a little boy is walking himself to school when a car drives up beside him. The driver rolls down the passenger window and says to the boy, “Well hello th–“. Before the man could finish, the little boy looks at the him and screams at the top of his lungs, “BACK AWAY. YOU ARE NOT MY DAD!” and runs for his life in the opposite direction. I remember laughing at this video because I thought it was fascinating how the kid didn’t even let the man finish. He didn’t take time to stop and see who the man was at all. He just screamed and ran. So as I read verse 5, with this video in mind, it hit me: why do I follow and believe the lies in my head when I know they are not from God?

In verse 5 it says that the Lord’s sheep will “never follow a stranger” instead they will flee him because they “don’t recognize the voice of strangers”. Just like the boy in the video, I want to immediately flee and run from Satan’s lies and deceptions. The moment I pause and entertain those thoughts, I am allowing myself to be kidnapped. But how do I learn to differentiate the voice of strangers from the voice of God? The only way I can do this is to know what my Heavenly Father says about me and believe them. He says that I am:

  • His daughter (Romans 8:15)
  • Loved (John 3:16)
  • Valuable (Matthew 6:26)
  • Never alone (Isaiah 41:10; Psalms 118:6)
  • Designed (Psalms 139:14)
  • Redeemed (Romans 3:24)
  • Set free (Romans 8:2)
  • Made new (2 Corinthians 5:17)

So as crazy as it sounds, every time intrusive thoughts enter my head, I need to tell them to “Back away. You are not from my Heavenly Father”, flee from them, and run toward Truth. I need to not even let the Stranger finish. Just the like the boy, I want to be abiding in Truth so much that my first reaction is to run for the hills.

All the Single Lads

All the Single Lads

 

I’m coming up on 2 years of marriage (crazy!) but the majority of my friends are still single. I have been so impressed and encouraged with how they have handled their undesired singleness. They have decided to take this season of waiting and turn it into a season of serving and working on their relationships with the Lord. But let’s be real: singleness is hard especially when every other day you either see a wedding announcement or baby announcement on Facebook.

At my church, we have a very large young adult population, hosting the largest Young Adult ministry in the metroplex. With such a large amount of young adult singles, the joke has always been that you often find your spouse at The Porch. And it’s often true. I found my husband at there. So with such a large group of Christian young men looking for wives and Christian young women looking for husbands, you’d think it would be easy to get a date or at least be asked to coffee. Apparently, not. Lately, the topic of discussion between my single girlfriends and I have been the lack of dating in their friend circles. Tons of solid dudes and tons of solid ladies, all looking for love, but no dates. So recently, I’ve had a few girlfriends dip their toes into the world of online dating just to see what the fishes in other ponds were like. SPOILER ALERT. They were shocked to see that the very men online looking for love were actually the men from church and in their social circles.

Look. I get it. Dating sucks and its hard. I’ve already told Joe that if anything happens to him, I will gladly become a cat lady in order to avoid the messy crap that is modern dating. But COME ON DUDES. There are literally hundreds of young, single women at your own church with admirable qualities who are chasing after the Lord’s own heart and are the epitome of a Proverbs 31 woman and you are on an ONLINE DATING SITE? WHAT!? This is completely unacceptable. The Porch preaches every year on dating and always challenges the guys to step up, to not be passive, and just ask a girl to coffee. So why aren’t the guys putting it into practice? In the Church, Christian women are taught that their role is to be pursued and the guys’ is to be the pursuer. So dudes: PURSUE. It is literally impossible that you’ve looked around your church of 15,000+ people (including 5,000+ singles) and decided, “I can’t seem to find anyone of quality worth taking to coffee. I should try [insert dating site here].” If you disagree with me, let me know and I will set you up on a date this weekend. My husband and I will even pay. Seriously. Take me up on the offer. I dare you. I have a long list of eligible Bachelorettes who would love to grab coffee. And they wouldn’t have weird jobs like “Aspiring Dolphin Trainer” or believe you can find true love on a reality show. These are real women who love the Lord.

To the guys out there: I get it. Rejection sucks. It’s about the only thing all humans can agree on these days but I think possibly missing out on ‘the girl next door’ is even worse. Online dating should be your last resort to finding love. All you have to do is ask a girl to coffee. I’ve surveyed my single friends and they have all said that they would not turn you down for coffee unless you remind them of a serial killer or a episode of Law & Order: SVU. So you have pretty good odds at this point. So take a look at yourself in the mirror, give yourself a good pep talk, and get after it.