Is Online Dating Gaining Popularity?


It happened again.

This time I was getting a pedicure and chatting with the lovely woman who attempted to produce something beautiful from my calloused, beach-combing feet. The conversation naturally turned to how we each met our husbands.

Her question prompted my response, “On an internet dating site,” and I grinned, waiting for the usual astonishment.

No way! You’re the third person that I’ve heard of.

I find I’m hearing that more often now. My husband and I know two other married couples who met on Christian Café. Online dating is quickly losing its stigma. Many folks are tired of the bar hopping want-to-go-to-my-place scene. They want more than one night; they long for something real, deeper and permanent.

According to 2012 statistics, internet dating is gaining popularity and producing lasting results.

Did you know that:

  • In 2007, 20 million people tried online dating; in 2012 40 million have jumped onboard
  • 10% of 54 million singles use an online dating service
  • Of online daters, 52.4% are male; 47.6% are female
  • 20% of current committed relationships started online
  • The average length of courtship leading to marriage for online daters is 18.5 months
  • 17% of couples who married met on a dating site
  • According to eHarmony, their site is responsible for 5% of all US marriages

Is it the best option?

While opportunities for meeting the person of your dreams through work, school, and social activities may present themselves to the majority of society, many people find the internet dating situation a beneficial one. Learning a little about someone from a profile or being matched to a compatible suitor offers a dating advantage that supersedes a bar scene or the constant conscious effort to pay attention to every potential single who may be in the next aisle at the grocery store.

Yes, liars and potential dangers do exist online.

But I’ve seen or met some fairly sketchy characters on a college campus, in a restaurant and even at church. There are no guarantees that you won’t meet unscrupulous people on an internet dating site—just as you might anywhere. It’s certainly not the only option; it’s only one of many. But I’m awfully glad I tried it.

Do you know someone who has met online? What’s their story?
 

Statistics provided by www.statisticbrain.com and www.eharmony.com

I Don’t Hate Sex


It was a startling revelation to realize that I don’t hate sex.

In fact, making love with my husband, who adores me and treats me with tender kindness, continues to be a wonderful, fulfilling, intimate event that thrills me. Who would have thought? Not I. That is a testimony to my husband, but even more to the healing power of God in my life. I once believed the lies engrained in my heart that told me I was a shameful object only worthy if I could perform well sexually. I accepted the claims that I was a prude, frigid hater of sex.

It isn’t the act of lovemaking as the result of an intimate relationship we hate, it’s the feelings of shame, hurt, rejection, loneliness and often times, physical pain that we hate. In the setting of living with an addict, sex can become a terrible chore we fear. Especially if any kindness shown us comes with a price tag of sex.

Is it surprising that we would avoid sex like that?

In a healthy marriage, intimacy is the basis for sex. Knowing the depth of our spouse and longing to connect with them creates an environment conducive to a physical union being enjoyable and fulfilling. However, for a sex addict to keep their fantasy in place and alleviate their shame, they avoid intimacy. Because of deception and secrecy, we are left only guessing who they really are. Often, the intimate information we share with them is used against us to gain or keep control over us. Obviously, we become reluctant to offer any more of ourselves.

Without intimacy, women especially, have a difficult time giving themselves sexually.

When there is only pain and unresolved conflict, our desire for physical intimacy is destroyed. This leads to emotional detachment in order to avoid feelings of being used. We may truly desire to share intimate relations with our spouse, but as they push us away emotionally while demanding of us sexually, the conflict in our heart leads us to despair.

When a wife can’t meet the needs of her fantasy driven spouse, guilt drives her.

If we say no to sex because we feel like an object, we feel guilty for not meeting his needs. (Especially as Christian wives!) If we go along with his requests, we feel the guilt of giving ourselves without attachment.  We may feel guilty for not loving him well, or enabling his addiction; but which is which? Guilt confuses the lines of boundaries, making us unable to function and driving us into depression.

All of this can lead us to seek fulfillment from other areas.

When our marriage lacks trust, intimacy and enjoyment,  it’s easy to pursue meaning and satisfaction through other means. Our children may become our emotional stability, or our work, hobbies, friends, food, shopping; we may even turn to alcohol, drugs, or adulterous relationships to feel better about ourselves and our lives. Unfortunately, that fix is temporary and can end up setting patterns that will eventually destroy us and others we love.

Life with an addict becomes survival, not living.

We struggle to get through a day, coping with a world that spins out of control. Those around us may not notice that we are barely holding on. If we believe in God, we probably wonder where he is, or perhaps we feel we haven’t figured out the right formula to make him able to change things for us. Living with an addict is not living; it is dying slowly and painfully. Most of the time we have done such a good job of pretending life is normal that no one around us suspects we are in danger of bleeding to death.

…say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come…

Isaiah 35:4

If you or someone you know is dealing with a similar situation, God is there and can help. Please comment below or email me privately at laurabennet14@gmail.com

 

 

 

Worth Celebrating?


It’s the small things.

Yesterday, I received word that an article I wrote was published online at Bucket List Publications.  I’ll confess that my heart made a little flip flop of excitement. I ran downstairs to tell my husband.

“That’s great darling! We should celebrate!”

I assured him that I thought one small article written for fun and exposure rather than pay hardly seemed worthy of a celebration. A sense of achievement did fill me with a bit of pride though.

Today, my son sent me a text saying he had read my article and really liked it. Again, I chuckled at how something so seemingly insignificant could mean so much to me.

I replied to his text with:

 It’s encouraging to have something positive happen in the direction you’re headed even if it’s a really small something.

As writers we spend so much time putting in the work: learning our craft, writing, editing, rewriting, making connections, building platforms, marketing our work—and sometimes it seems as if we’re not getting anywhere.

Will I ever make a difference? Will anyone notice? Will my message be heard or helpful?

Then someone puts your words in print (or cyber print as the case may be). A crisp breeze of relief blows through your spirit, and you think Maybe, I am making progress!

Thank you Bucket List Publications for the breeze you sent my way!

 

Do you have an adventure to share? When have you felt a cool breeze of encouragement blowing your way?

For some amazing stories of adventure and extreme challenges, check out Bucket List Publications and editor, Lesley Carter

 

Just Say Yes


An EX-Buccaneer named Baxter.

I just spent a week participating in a VBS day camp put on by our church and watching my husband, Brendan, be transformed by playing the role of a buccaneer named Baxter in the assembly portion of this event. He thrilled the audience with his lively, dramatic gestures and accent — a mix of Aussie, English and Scottish that branded his character, the soft-hearted pirate captured by a loving crew of baggage toting misfits. Baxter decided he liked being wanted and loved so he changed his pillaging ways and became an EX-buccaneer who loved his new family. The script was wonderfully written.

But what I loved best was what playing the role developed in Brendan. Confidence, faith, camaraderie, and a new freedom in allowing for mistakes. Not only that, but Brendan is hilariously funny! Truly entertaining. (You can check out the entire week’s adventure at www.coastlands.org or see Coastlands on Facebook.)

We never know what God has in mind when we agree to follow him. But it’s all good.

When Brendan and I met online, just over four years ago, I would never have imagined all that would happen to bring us together in that first year. The three years since have held so many obstacles, trials, complications and joy, healing and excitement. We couldn’t have planned it. But God did.

This has been one of the best weeks of our life together. Who would have thought?

Something so simple, and yet challenging as playing a role in a skit for kids could be used by God to change a life. Wow!

What is God using to change you?

 

Roller Coaster Writer


A piercing headache forced me awake this morning. The pain emanated from the region of my right shoulder blade, up the right side of my neck and spread across the top of my head.

What’s up with this? I thought at first and then wondered how I would make it through the second full day at the Mt Hermon Writer’s Conference with a migraine, which seemed imminent. Exhausted, even after almost eight hours of sleep, I dragged myself out of bed, took pain relievers and rushed to get ready for the day. I was already going to be late for breakfast.

I confess the desire to burst into tears. My critique class afforded great instruction and helpful, encouraging criticism, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow the writing direction I felt fairly confident of two days earlier now seemed lost to me.  What am I doing here? How am I going to make it another four days?

Even after taking more medication than I ever allow, my head continued to pound. My classmates commiserated with my pain, and I struggled to accept the fact that the writing assignment I wrestled to produce after three hours the previous afternoon would have to suffice. We would all share our work within the hour. Negative thoughts assaulted me. I don’t mean that I felt a bit insecure about my writing. I mean violent words stabbed at my heart and soul.

Your writing is awful. Everyone will hate it and tear it apart. What makes you think you have anything worthwhile to say. Besides, you can’t write it well anyway. No matter how hard you try, this is too hard! You may as well just quit now. Go home.

I should have recognized the onslaught. It was familiar to me by now; anytime I felt like I had progressed at all as a writer, amateur or not, the attack began. But with my head spinning in pain, I almost gave in. Funny thing though–everyone in my group praised what I had perceived as junk and told me it was the best writing they had read from me. They saw the real me emerge. Wow! I couldn’t have been more surprised, so convinced had I been by the lies I heard in my head.

Stunned, I almost cried. “You all can’t believe what a struggle writing this was yesterday afternoon.” They smiled with understanding.

My devoted husband, Brendan, brought me some forgetten items from home (thank goodness the conference is held close by), and as soon as I saw him, I burst into tears.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me. My head…” and the entire morning poured out with my tears. Just his being there for fifteen minutes comforted me.

Later, a friend prayed for my headache to go away. It did. During orientation, clarity about the next steps for my writing career began to settle in my mind. I sat in a workshop in which two of the Bible verses used by the instructor were the exact verses I had felt God encouraging me with earlier in the week. My heart lifted and now the tears came out of joy.  Dinner conversation further boosted my spirits. I was given the opportunity to pray for someone else who was struggling. Our evening speaker, Liz Curtis Higgs, entertained us with hilarity and challenged our hearts to trust God with everything. “Just let me love on you,” she said. Sounded good to me!

When I returned to my room, I sent a text to Brendan, and realized the pain in my shoulder and neck were gone.

Phew! What a day.  I rode the coaster up and down and corkscrewed around, but have ended the ride of my day with a sigh of relief and contentment, excited for tomorrow. Such is the life of an amateur writer. I wonder if professionals have days like this? I’ll bet they do.

 

The Desires of Our Hearts


One of the things I’ve learned about God is that he delights in giving us the desires of our hearts, no matter how small or whether we’ve prayed for them in earnest or only thought them. I believe he created us and put those exact desires in our hearts, or at the very least, knew what things would delight us. He longs to see our stunned amazement and joy when he fulfills them.

Like when we parents know about something our child wants so badly for Christmas, and we are able to provide that gift, that heart’s desire for them. When we watch our precious youngster untie the ribbon and unwrap the paper, and we see the astonished rapture on their face, our joy exceeds that of their own. I think God feels the same way about us.

Some verses in the Bible describe God’s longing to give us gifts that will surpass our expectations and joy, stating that he gives us the desires of our hearts, fulfilling them with good things (see Matthew 7:11; Psalm 37:4; and Psalm 103:5). I confess that I clung to those verses, desperately wanting them to be true. I witnessed them in small ways, but when God brought me Brendan, it was as if he said, “See, I remember every little, seemingly unimportant request or desire you have ever made whether you spoke it or just thought it. Merry Christmas, little one. I love you.”

The list of those “little” requests seems indefinite as I learn more and more about my husband. His Aussie accent; the fact that he can speak French; loves to read; teases me with playful silliness; adores children; can outshop me (yes, really!); and has become an avid hockey fan display only some of the wonderful attractions that have fulfilled my heart’s desires. Every day feels like Christmas morning with an unlimited pile of presents to open!

Amazingly, the adventure of gifts began long before I ever met Brendan face to face. Two years before he winked at me, I had begun praying for him. Of course, I didn’t know who or where he was then, but I felt a deep impression on my heart that God had someone for me who was far away (I thought maybe Nebraska or Maine, not Australia). I sensed that he would be a widower with children. Since I had always longed for more children–a desire I just couldn’t seem to dislodge from my heart no matter how hard I tried–the idea that God might have a man out there for me who would also have children thrilled me. But, I wanted to be sure that impression came from God, not just my own thoughts or wishes, so every time the thought came, I would pray for whoever it was out there who was suffering the loss of a spouse and needed God’s help in parenting his children on his own. I prayed for comfort and wisdom, and that God would take care of all his needs whatever they may be.

When I first read Brendan’s profile and found that he was indeed a widower, I felt drawn by a thrill of possibility. Later, when I met his children, I felt convinced that God knew what he was doing. Now I can’t imagine life without them all.

God is the giver of good gifts. Wow! Who would have ever thought? Never in my wildest dreams could I have expected all the good I have received. And God is delighted every time another desire of my heart is fulfilled.

How Did You Know?


Recently I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of young women from Switzerland and as usually happens when we first meet someone, the topic came up of how I met my husband. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve read how it usually goes…

Me:”We met online.”

New acquaintance: “No way! Really?”

Me: “Yep. I know…(smile knowingly here), crazy, huh?”

New acquaintance: “So how? What site were you on?”

Me: “Well, I started on eharmony.com, but I actually met him on christiancafe.com.”

New acquaintance: “Wow! That is so cool. So tell me about it…like did you email or talk? How long was it until you met in person?”

Me: “We emailed for a few weeks, then talked on the phone a couple of times, but then we Skyped.”

Both of us: “Thank goodness for Skype! I know, right?”

Me: “We met in person a little over three months after he first “winked” (like a poke on Facebook) at me. I went to Australia to meet him….”

And so continued the conversation until eventually the question surfaced “How did you know he was the one?” A very good question. Because it’s not like I hadn’t communicated with quite a number of men, asking myself over and over if this new guy was “the one.” So I’ve given that question a lot of thought, and I’ve interviewed a few people as well regarding that same question…how DID you know?

It may sound too simplistic, but the truth is that I just did. Suddenly something was different about Brendan, about the situation, about how it felt in my heart, and a certainty existed where only questions had plagued me before. For the first time, I didn’t ask if he WAS the one, I asked for confirmation that what I felt in the depths of my soul was real. And, as we continued to communicate, the conviction became stronger. It felt as if we had always known each other, even when we shared new things. Like I knew a deeper, broader place/part of Brendan that no one told me about, I just knew. A soul connection.

When I asked another person if it was the same for her, she agreed “Oh, yeah. We just knew.” She explained that on the night they met, her husband told a friend that he had just met the woman he was going to marry; even though she was dating someone else at the time. They married three weeks later and have been happily married for fourteen years.

One of my closest friends took longer to feel convinced that she and her husband were meant to be, but still she never questioned it. It grew on them a little more slowly, but the confidence grew stronger as time went by. I think she summed it up best stating, “If you don’t know, then you don’t know.” Clearly, if you don’t know, then you haven’t met him or her yet. But, don’t lose heart. It’s worth waiting for.

So, how did YOU know?

 

Where the Confessions Begin


Confessions of an Online Dater 

Enjoying Australia
Enjoying Australia

Aha” moments occur with regularity in my life. Perhaps you find yourself in that same place. You know, when sudden realization occurs. When a significant revelation bursts into your mind and/or heart with the brilliant light of dawning and immediate, deep understanding is available where you once felt blind. I confess to feeling compelled to share these insights both for the benefit of solidifying them in myself and also to offer something insightful that others will find helpful, and hopefully a bit humorous as well. I guess that is my first confession.

I have numerous and various confessions to make, but I will begin with an area that people ask me about all the time. The conversation usually goes something like this:

“So, how did you meet your husband?,” says someone I have just met.

Online, actually.” I say this as matter-of-factually as possible, but I think I feel the mischievous twinkle in my eye because their response is usually, “Oh my gosh. No way! Really??” I confess that I love the shock value. And that it opens a way for me to tell my story – which, by the way, is amazing.

But before we get into my fairy tale telling, I have more confessions.

First, let me start with this: online dating may not be for everyone. Yes, it is the wave of the future. Yes, it can have an immensely positive outcome (I’ve been deliriously happily married for just over two years), and yes, it is a great learning experience. However, it does require patience, an open mind and some guidelines for caution.

That said, perhaps my journey can help you decide if online dating is for you. Or simply sit back and enjoy my confessions of an online dater…