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Date Ideas for the New Year

The new year is upon us, and if one of your resolutions was to go on more dates, maybe you’re wondering how to get started. Let’s assume there’s someone you already have your eye on. Now what? Here are five date ideas for the new year.

The join-me-and-my-friends date. This can be the perfect way to get to know a girl (or guy) in a comfortable setting. Just before I began dating my husband, Kevin, he invited me to a game night with some of his friends.

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You Have Permission to Be Happy

If you’re like me, this past year has felt like, well … an exercise in embracing “from bad to worse.” Not only has the world stage seemed to have more than its fair share of “downs,” but myself and many people I know have faced a myriad of rough circumstances in 2016. (Can I get an “Amen”?)

Recently my pastor was preaching on joy, and he made the very astute observation that Christians are pretty good at making a distinction between happiness and joy.

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The Gift of Advent

The other day, I was standing in worship service singing one of my favorite worship songs, “In Christ Alone,” and something dawned on me: Singing that song felt different than it had when I sang it years before. When I was single and sang, In Christ alone, my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song … I remember feeling utterly desperate, almost clingy. At that point, I had at least one tangible unanswered hope…the hope of a spouse.

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Forsaking the Idol of My Own Opinion

My finger hovered over the “post” button. As much as I felt like I had something to say, something held me back. Finally, I deleted what I’d written and closed down the browser on my computer.

This wasn’t the first time I’d bitten my tongue on social media in recent months. With opinions flying about everything from politics to social issues, it had been tempting to engage in the many “discussions” happening online. But when I saw the division some of these opinions were causing—even between believers—it made me think twice about adding in my two cents.

People gathered around a table of food

The Life-Changing Power of a Table

A few years ago, Kathy Fletcher and David Simpson discovered a unique way to reach their son’s teenage friends: Invite them over for dinner. In “The Power of a Dinner Table,” David Brooks highlights this couple’s practice and the difference it’s made in the lives of teens.

The kids who show up at Kathy and David’s have endured the ordeals of modern poverty: homelessness, hunger, abuse, sexual assault. Almost all have seen death firsthand — to a sibling, friend or parent.

A Luke's Diner sign

How to Not Be a Friend Hoarder (Don’t follow my example)

Last month I did something really fun. A few friends and I got up at the crack of dawn to stand in line for a free cup of coffee at “Luke’s Diner.” As part of a nationwide Netflix promotion for the upcoming “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” reunion show, coffee shops across the country transformed into the iconic diner owned by Lorelai Gilmore’s grouchy on-again-off-again love interest, Luke Danes.

As the five of us stood in line, laughing and chattering about our shared love of all things Gilmore, I noticed a young woman standing in line alone behind us.

A man staring at the ocean while holding a baby

Divorce to Blame For Young Adults Leaving the Church

A few years ago, everyone was speculating about why Millennials were leaving the church and their Christian faith. Reasons given for the mass emptying of the pews ranged from churches being antagonistic toward science to churches inadequately addressing sexuality. Most of us have dealt with our own qualms with the church, and we could add to this list.

A new study from the Public Religion Research Institute has found another culprit for the exodus: divorce. A Washington Post article, “How Decades of Divorce Helped Erode Religion,“ reports on the findings of the study that examined the upbringing of Millennials rather than their cultural preferences:

People whose parents divorced when they were children are significantly more likely to grow up not to be religious as adults, the study found.

A shelf of Oreo cookies

Dating: Are There Too Many Options?

Last week I was grocery shopping and happened to peek down the cookie aisle. What met my gaze was a wall of Oreo cookies. It was more like a fortress, really. When I was growing up there were two kinds of Oreos: regular and Double Stuf (which were far better, of course). But along this Wall o’ Oreo, I glimpsed mint creme, birthday cake, chocolate chip, s’mores, peanut butter, lemon, red velvet, cinnamon bun and pumpkin spice.

Stained glass window in a church

Going to Church: Is It Worth It?

There was a time I quit going to church.

It wasn’t an intentional decision, exactly. I just stopped getting up in time to go. I was a senior in college and struggling with some serious health issues that left me tired and in pain. I was attending a limited number of classes during the week, and on Sunday I just couldn’t (or didn’t) force myself to go anywhere.

At the time, I wasn’t connected to a specific church body, so nobody noticed I’d dropped out.

Two women speaking in a kitchen

I’ve Got a Low Success Rate When It Comes to the Great Commission

I have been a Christian for a long time. And one thing that has bothered me from time to time is my low “success rate” when it comes to the Great Commission. You know, Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Though I have shared my faith with many people and invested deeply in a few of them, I don’t have a lot of “success stories” to show for it.