Joan Reynolds

Real Faith, Real Life & Real Joy
Browsing Bible Study

An Update On That Dating Thing!


Just wanted to bring this blog and anyone who follows it up to date on the outcome of my excursion into the Christian dating scene. The past few months have been really exciting, but more because of the way God has brought me closer to Himself than for anyone I met while making myself approachable online.

What happened was that several men I met, spoke with or corresponded with all asked me the same question: You have an amazing testimony. What are you doing with it?

Hmmmm. That was a tough one, but it had an easy answer. Nothing.

I had stopped blogging, I was not volunteering in any capacity except hospitality at church, and although I regularly attended and shared at my bible study group, I wasn’t doing anything with the story of my adventures with the Lord.

Could it be that what I got out of the dating site was a direct road back to the love of my life? Actually that is exactly what happened.

I asked God to go with me and indeed He did, and facing my past head-on where men were concerned, helped me to find a few places that still needed forgiveness and God’s healing touch. Had I not gone there, I may never have known there was still some crusty residue in the heart of this vessel. As the months progressed, I felt as though I was finally willing to let go of all hurts where men from my past were concerned and come back into God’s loving arms with a clearer love and yearning to know Him than I had ever had the previous thirty years.

I was able to choose Him completely, knowing He had already chosen me, no matter which way my head had turned toward gentlemen at any given point in time. I have to say, this journey did start out with me wondering if I had yet found the love of my life and ended with me knowing for certain that yes, I had already found Him, and He was going to remain with me into the eternity He has promised. There is nothing safer and more certain, nothing more exciting than that! Nothing.

Feed My Lambs, Feed My Sheep!


I am back in the Bible study, trying hard to hear God, and yet not believing what He is saying, although I am getting confirmation so fast it makes my head spin sometimes. Today I was reading in John 21:15-17, the part where Jesus is telling Peter what to do. Peter is being questioned about his love for the Lord, to which he replies of course, you know that I love you, but the Lord is commanding him three times: then Feed my lambs, Shepherd my sheep, feed my sheep.

He has given me a ministry to be an advocate for working Christian single moms. They are His heroines, and He doesn’t want them forgotten, as they go about their daily struggles, rarely asking for any help besides prayer, relying on His provision for their needs and those of their children.

Meanwhile, I am still trying to figure out how I proceed with what He has asked of me, worrying about providing for my own bills and obligations and needs. He keeps impressing on me to step forward and do what He has asked, even though I cannot see how that helps my circumstances in the least. The drum in my head only beats louder. Follow me!

Sometimes, and frequently in the past, I must admit, God’s instructions have seemed crazy. They would seem to make me look irresponsible to others. He continually brings me back to “why do you care how it looks to others? I want you to see how it looks to me. I don’t have a back up plan. You are it! If you don’t put your puzzle piece down on the table, no one else can come and attach theirs. You will never see the whole picture if you don’t begin with the piece I have given you!”

Please don’t think He is yelling at me, because He isn’t. Like a parent who has reaffirmed the same thing several times to a child, He is only being firm, and perhaps a little frustrated. He knows I know better. I have already seen His provision for over 27 years of my life raising two children. I know His timing is perfect and He will never abandon me. So what am I waiting for?

Embrace the rain today and make the calls. Start the newsletter and let Him bring others to help complete it. I am beginning to think it may rain for forty days and forty nights if I don’t start right now! I am remembering Jonah on the ship and the high seas that nearly overtook them. He finally said to the sailors, its me. I am causing the trouble by not being obedient to what God has asked of me.

Lord knows, I sure don’t want to come face to face with my own big fish!

Caution….Well Meaning Christians!


In the past few weeks, as God struggled with me and I with Him to really hear His directions for my life, I was caught by one recurring theme. How often well meaning Christian friends seem to play ‘devil’s advocate’ in my life.

Not that they were meaning to, exactly. I found that if I shared what God was doing in my life, or the crossroads at which  I found myself, several of them responded quickly from their own flesh, and very often added advice that was really harder to process than if it had come from a non believer. I wanted to give it weight, as I knew they loved the Lord, but God warned me to be careful of listening and taking that advice to heart.

I used to say, when I was much younger and still hoping to find the guy who would fill my heart and complete my family, that I would almost prefer to  have my heart broken by someone who didn’t know the Lord, than by someone I had met at a Christian function. It was much harder to get over being hurt in the name of Jesus, than by someone who didn’t even profess to know him.

I think that is still difficult. I now have mostly Christian friends, but I have to be very cautious in whom I confide when I am trying to hear God’s voice clearly. I have only a handful who have the discernment not to offer advice from their flesh, about how they think I should proceed or what they think I should do in a given situation. I am very blessed to have those few and I thank God for them daily.

I get excited about what God is doing in my life and often rush to share with sometimes total abandon with the first person I talk to after something I think is amazingly the Lord. Often the person I am confiding in does not have enough experience in the things of the Lord to know how that could seem even vaguely exciting to me. This is where God is training me in discernment. He has given me a large dose of that often for others who ask me for counsel, but lately He is really working with me on better protecting myself and the gifts, challenges and passions He has placed within me.

He  may also use complete strangers, speakers, books, sometimes even a tiny text message and I am sure a Tweet on occasion to confirm His directions to us. He can also use non believers in ways that speak to you loud and clear and focus you like a laser beam right to the path He wants you to see. What I have found is that sometimes friends may respond completely from their own fear of losing where I am in their life, or because they wouldn’t want to do what God is asking me to do, so they caution me against it, slightly framed as though it were a word from God. It seems to have a little more conviction that way, and don’t we all want to keep things from changing when they suit us; it’s really hard to resist that temptation, isn’t it? It happens to all of us, so we have to examine our motives, don’t we?

Words that seem to counter what we feel God is saying are harder to hear from well meaning friends, but as my ear gets more finely tuned to God’s voice, I hear can hear them almost before they are said. I am getting very private about the people to whom I turn for counsel. If they are not grounded in a community of worship, a Bible study and fellowship, a daily practice of meeting with God, but even more important: If I don’t hear and see them turning to God for direction in their own life, but merely asking Him to bless the direction they want to go, I know they are not where I should turn, and instead I keep his communications with  with me private and guard them in my heart. He will tell me with whom I am safe to share them.

Again, more listening. God made me a talker and a sharer, incredibly vulnerable with my openness to others. Deep listening and keeping things to myself have come with much difficulty for me. More counsel is not necessarily better counsel. I have had to learn that many Christians(who wouldn’t think of eating without first asking His blessing on the meal) will not pray, even silently, before they speak to another Christian, and may do great harm or even cause a setback, from the direction that God is leading someone else. I believe we are part of an immense trust when we speak for God into someone else’s life. We are meant to be encouragers and to lift one another up. Unless we hear God definitively, and we have been asked for our wise counsel, sometimes we also just need to listen and then continue to ask God in our private time with Him to direct that friend or loved one.

We need to use our words carefully, and  His even more prayerfully, if we are tempted to quote scripture, as we do not want to cause one of his chosen ones to stumble from the path on which He has put them. It is not our path, so we need not be afraid. If He asks them to do something, He will provide the means and the way. He will not allow them to come to harm. There is a much higher price they will pay in their own walk with Him if they follow our advice instead of His. Just a word for all of us to remember, we never want to be used as advocates of the devil in our well meaning for Christ.

The people we love and care about most deeply may be the ones where this will be most difficult. Let us continue to hold them up in prayer first, last and always, as God truly knows best. And for those of us He may have asked to go into a difficult or unknown place, breaking God’s heart by refusing to go where He has asked us to go would be the deepest hurt of all.

I think this could all have been said much more succinctly, but as I am working it out as I write, I will  probably come back and make more sense of this. God is always acting as proof reader and nudging me to make changes, so usually I publish right away and make changes for the first one to five hours after. If I didn’t publish right away, I would probably think of a million reasons never to publish it at all. Once done, it just gets modified a bit. Kind of the way God works with us in everything . It all boils down to the best thing any Christian can offer anyone else is the extension of God’s grace….in any circumstances, in any place or any time. That is the gift that keeps on giving, that is accepted by everyone, like the perfect credit card! No one ever returns it, they just pass it on. How cool is that? Probably food for another blog thought…this one is way too long. They are getting like book chapters, hmmmmm, God’s next?

The Log In My Own Eye!


I have had a tic in my eye for the past two or three weeks. I cannot explain how annoying it can be, but if you have ever had one, you know.

I am presently in a Bible study about Jonah and running away from what you hear God tell you to do. I have begun to think of the tic as God’s way of calling my attention to certain things. Even though I am paying very close attention to Him right now, I could be missing the very things He wants me to see. That’s why I am really noticing when the tic is going and when it has stopped.

I think my trouble is that He is asking me to focus on where He wants me to go next, and sometimes I come up with all kinds of other good things to distract me. This is not a big running away, but perhaps many small ways in which I am detouring from the path He has ahead of me. Actually it is pretty clear, and I have a discerning sister in the Lord who always seems to call just about when I am noticing the tic getting totally obnoxious. After we talk and she offers insight into where I might be detouring, I notice that if I take that information into my spirit, the tic has amazingly stopped. When it starts up again I sometimes miss the exact moment, but all of a sudden it is back and I am at another crossroads, because I have questioned whether what I am hearing makes good sense. It makes God sense, and that’s all that really matters.

Since I believe God is doing a new work in me right now(updating previous directions), I am not at all surprised that I have this fluttering reminder. Little things are much easier to overlook than big ones, and yet can rob us of the final prize just as easily. When financial planners urge us to start saving something on a regular basis it is because they recognize the  merit of this principle; Little things done regularly do add up to big things.

Today is the day I have finally noticed the direction I believe God wants me to go. Now I need to put sticky notes everywhere to remind me to stay on the path. Or ,I could just keep this tic around for awhile longer to remind me!

Are We Plugged In?


I recently had occasion to visit a friend at their home several hours from here. This friend is very much a Christian, and attends Church on a regular basis.  Bible study is also a part of their weekly practices. This person is very careful about their finances, and it brought up some interesting points for me to consider.

There is careful, and there is stingy. Which one, if either, represents our stewardship of God’s money? I believe that while this is very much a matter of our own personal relationship with God, we must be careful that we also represent the way other perceive our faith and reliance on God. On the other side of this coin I have Christian friends who are way too generous with what God gives them, and never worry about taking care of themselves, being very willing to take care of others. Which is a better advertisement for our Lord, or is either one really accurate?

Another thing I noticed about this particular friend was how they unplugged every single lamp or appliance in their home when not in use. This supposedly conserved energy and also cut way back on the electricity bill. What I noticed, as a guest in their home, was that when I awoke early and wanted to read my Bible study for the day, I was bumbling around in the dark, trying to find not just a light that could be plugged in, but also an  outlet to source the power to it.

It occurred to me that this way of conserving power and currency was also a way I perceived this person’s faith.They would ‘turn God on’ when they decided they needed to. Certainly not in every situation, nor one where they had their own agenda for how things were to go. They would ask God’s blessing on their food, and thank Him for His provision. When it came to how to spend or how to choose most things in their life, they were very much OK with the way they personally decided to do it.

There is something about being poor enough to have to turn to God for almost every provision in your life. It becomes more of a habit. When you cannot afford to make a wrong choice, you really want God’s help in making the right one. This isn’t always the one you expect or even want, but if it is in the direction He is taking you, then you might as well get on the train going to that station as on one going the other direction. In the end, there is so much more ground you have to recover if you went the wrong way!

Many of us have found this to be true and as a result have found the older we get, the faster we turn to him for directions. Unlike my GPS system, I have rarely found God’s directions to be incorrect. I have never thought He got it wrong. Also unlike my GPS, I have yet to end up on a dead end street going “What???” I usually go “Ah ha! That’s why you sent me this way instead of the way I was going to go!”

I see so many friends struggling with directions for their life right now. I am right there with them. The only difference is that some of us are actively seeking God on a daily basis to see if we should “Turn right, then stay on the motorway.” Sometimes His directions are only given one step at a time and we don’t have anything that will show us how many miles we have to go or time until we reach our destination.

The wonderful thing is, we will never regret those moves that had everything to do with Him and His plans for our life. I ask the question, are we plugged in to the source all the time for our marching orders, or only when we feel lost or in unknown territory? Are we bumbling around in the dark when we have total 24/7 access to that source? And are we conserving His energy for when we need it more? If so, why? Did He ever tell us there was a limited supply and we need to conserve it?

Like God’s love for us, the more we turn it on, the more there is to give away. The more we accept and receive, the more we have to give willingly and freely to others He puts in our path. He is the source who never raises His prices nor looses His power. Our light will never be turned off…. unless we do it ourselves. So my question remains, are we plugged in?

In His Name


I recently had occasion to re-evaluate something that happens, yet we often don’t even realize it for what it is. I had a situation at work where we were aware of another company where I had formerly worked, shutting down their local operation. They had many Realtors working there, so it meant they would all be shuffling around possibly frantically, trying to find a new place to hang their license.

Having gone through this process myself several times over the past 20 years, I immediately thought of the people I had known there and what they would be going through. The people whom I had known and who came to mind were mostly women over fifty and single, no great surprise there!

While I am not a natural recruiter, and even though my company gives a reward for bringing in good new talent, those things don’t motivate me as much as knowing that if someone hadn’t called me to tell me about this small and wonderful firm, I would have been at the mercy of the big conglomerate offices, which really never suited me very well.

I called my Broker to tell her I was going to email and or call a few people, only to get her husband on the phone who told me had just sent out an email to everyone at the company and he had used my name. Now you gotta know I love this guy and he is a dear Christian and a very motivated and helpful marketer for our office. There was just something about “using my name” without me knowing how or giving permission that struck me as a little uncomfortable.

I did go on to call and write those people whom I knew personally, and left it in God’s hands as to whether they made an appointment to go meet and speak with my broker. Yesterday, while talking with another Christian friend I somehow got on the subject as it related to a situation her husband was going through at their church.

Often I think we forget to realize what is involved when we are using God’s name. We may even subconsciously include it to cover a ministry situation,  when we are leading a Bible study or even when disciplining or advising our children; our intention is to be saying or doing what we think He would have us say or do. However, how often do we really stop to ask His permission for our well intentioned words or counsel? Do we do it every time, or just once in awhile? I wonder if He ever feels like I did,  pausing to think that while I trust you and I know you love me, is what you are saying exactly what I would have wanted you to say?

All the thoughts,  feelings, motivations and passions of my life are embodied in my name. Is Christ any different? Only more so, if you ask me. So my thought for the day is, when considering what we say and do in His name, shouldn’t we first remember to ask His guidance and input on what we are about to say and do in His name? If we follow through on that, every time, I don’t think we will get out of alignment and then need  His correction further down the line.

Keeping His Seat Warm!


I offered to lead a Bible Study that was starting at our church last night. I have been on the receiving end of so much growth in the previous three that I have attended, and I felt God was leading me to step forward this time. I was thrilled with the enthusiastic turnout that greeted me at my table, and definitely felt I was the fortunate one as none of these women need leading (maybe corralling for all of us?).

As we proceeded through the getting to know you phase that always opens the first night, I saw I had a group of rebels and thinkers, they are way ahead when it comes to finding a way to get to the heart of the matter and simplify the route! How refreshing that was. I am known for a bit of that myself, and here I am surrounded by a tribe of gifted rule breakers!

I am thrilled with the upcoming opportunities for all of us, and as I told them, I am just keeping God’s seat warm, ready to turn over the reigns whenever He shows up at our table… He will frequently do. Since there were more women than chairs last night, He may well need my seat! I know that when women turn their hearts to Him, He always shows up and has incredible things to share with us. I am always thrilled that “I’ll take a rain check” is not part of His vocabulary!

I apologize for being somewhat off the radar getting this New Year off to a great start by doing the things that always drag me down first (getting tax stuff compiled for my accountant, etc.) But having done that, I expect to be way more present for the things happening daily in my life and the things God points out that I might share with you. I am wishing all my friends and readers a spectacular new year, full of new possibilities for dreams come true!

Commitment…..Oh My!


I learn so much from my weekly Bible study. Just showing up is the single most important task. Get myself in the room and in the chair and I will definitely learn something new about myself. That is the way God works. He uses those in community with us to be our teachers.

The funny thing is, they don’t know they are teachers, or they wouldn’t show up. You’re talking way too much responsibility. They wouldn’t think they are good at it. We only go because there is someone on the video who carries that title. However, the learning  really happens at the table.

The word commitment came up during our discussion this week. Those of us, who had been married and were no longer, seemed to recoil at the word. I thought it was interesting and I noticed that the woman, who had expressed that reaction as not being one of her strengths, was one of the most committed women in the room. Barring a family or work emergency she was always present when we met. She had a leadership role and never failed to be prepared. She was introspective, encouraging and insightful about everyone else who shared. She was raising her son to be a godly and compassionate young man. She maintained a job and a home by herself. Where did this uncertainty come from?

We all decided that commitment had a somewhat negative connotation and we really weren’t sure why.

The wonderful thing about a group like this is that we go home with the information and let it marinate in our thoughts. It is because we care and are committed to the others in the group that we can turn the thought around and around in our mind and see what else comes up. Partly because it isn’t ‘personal’ we are committed to seeing what else might be involved; we want to excavate the deeper reason behind the thought itself. We want to see if it still has value in our perception of ourselves or each other today; if, in fact it is even true for us today. We do this mainly because we care about that other person so we can study it somewhat objectively.

I have realized that for me it is now a good word, one that I am worthy to put on my list of self-descriptions. While there may be a failed marriage (or two) in my past, it takes two people being committed to make marriage a strong and healthy environment. One cannot do it alone. Relationships cannot survive on the commitment of one person. If I were the only person who showed up for our meeting each week I would only leave with exactly what I brought. Instead it is multiplied many times over by the number of people who honor their commitment. Those who don’t show  miss a lot, even if it necessary. We can never share with them what they missed. You had to be there to get it.

So show up! Be fully present. You will be amazed what God can do with even that much commitment. Not such a scary word anymore, is it?

I Have No Small Talk


I was reminded yet again, that the safest way to make more acquaintances, and stay on good terms with many people, is to never delve into any area conversationally with any depth. That way, no one’s feelings get hurt and no one puts themselves at any risk (by no one, I mean me).

I have come up with a list of the possible things that are OK to talk about. I am going to venture out of my comfort zone this week and try them out, particularly with people who seem to like to stay on those topics.

1) What I ate. 2) Where I ate. 3) With whom I ate. 4) Plants and flowers and 5) Rate the weather today from 1-10. There. That’s it. If I stay on those topics I will probably triple the number of people who will want to talk with me daily.

From there perhaps I can start to follow a team of some sort, and then with all those in my repertoire, I may become proficient at lasting more than a week on a singles dating site.

Is it that I am really deep, or that the world appears sometimes rather shallow? I have a friend in my Bible study working at having deeper thoughts. She is finding it quite a struggle. I, on the other hand, am grasping at straws for some really surface comments about life.

Cheerios, standing in my kitchen, my dog Gypsy, no garden at present, 9+….(OK, I really think the last four days have been 10’s, but does that make me a Pollyanna? Someone told me it rained one afternoon, but I didn’t even notice it!  I mean this weather is fabulous!) Oops, there I go again…off into the wild blue yonder of thought and enthusiasm….now stop that. It might lead to meaningful conversation. Perhaps food conversations could do that also…? Maybe I am missing something!

Shell Shocked!


I was speaking with a good friend and sister in Christ today, grateful that she was yet another wounded warrior who has graced my life over the past twenty seven years. I had the vision of her as suffering a kind of post traumatic stress, having been hurt by her church a long time ago in the aftermath of a divorce from a Christian husband.

Whether we like it or not, very often some of the harshest blows to a believer have been delivered by other well meaning believers. One of the greatest sorrows I have seen is the one of someone who loves God but is terrified of His church.

My picture of her, when I met her almost twenty years ago, was of a woman who was shell shocked. It was as if she had been wandering in a mine field and was not sure where to put her foot next. I had been given her name by a man in my church, and I went to see her with her permission. Both recognizing a fellow traveler we began a friendship, albeit tentatively, that has stood the test of time and many misfortunes, because at the center of it was our mutual love of God.

She and I share a heartache for those who often go unnoticed in a church, those who may come one Sunday, only to sneak back out the way they came in. We often don’t have eyes to see those who have been hurt by other churches, perhaps even by our own. I believe it takes a person who has walked a similar path to notice the body language of that person. As much as they want to be there, they are somewhat fearful of the well-meaning of others.

I believe there is a huge calling for the wounded healers to come back to the Church right now, to give it another chance. I also  believe that the church needs to value the people that God calls there, and try to discern by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, why they might be there. I believe they do not come in their own strength(because they have been worn down), but in His, and they have a great deal to offer the church right now. I believe my friend is one of those we should listen to, because God is saying something through her story that we need to hear.

I pray that her church will not only receive her, but welcome her with open arms.