I Met My Man On Twitter & I’m Writing You a How-To Guide On Dating

Hearts are messy places, and when you try to merge two of them, it tends to turn two human beings into living, walking wreckage.

I really shouldn’t be writing a How-To Guide on dating, seeing as the man I’m dating I met on Twitter, and our first 30 days together in person have been 30 days on a road-trip to nowhere.

I don’t recommend this for everyone. Unless you want your first child to be a carplant that you name Howard and like waking up with no idea what city you’ll be sleeping (or showering) in that night. I happen to want this a lot, but I understand that I’m “special.”

But seriously. I believe that truths come over time, and they are to be learned in all places in all things.

And I’ve realized in the last 24 hours that I can tell you exactly how to land yourself a good man and a good relationship:

You let God do it.

(And you stop selling yourself short.)
You can’t follow steps 1-10 and waltz through a neat little structure of dating rules, and find yourself in love. But you can cling whole heartedly to truth and fight for what you desire most.

My inbox is yet again full of girls and women who are asking me for relationship advice, and wrestling through some of the most both painful and apathy-ridden scenarios I could stage for you. And every single time I feel under-equipped and hypocritical in all of my answers.

But, in my mind, the years of confusion, frustration, high highs and low lows that I went through happened in order to put truth and empathy in my heart and hands. And I’ll be damned if I waste all that pain and exasperation.

So, here goes.

1. Stop telling me that there are no good men left. What you’re really saying is, “I know he’s out there, but I can’t find him, and I’m tired of being lonely.” And about half of you are using that as a free pass to being less of the woman you could be, because you don’t have a good man in your life. I know you’re doing this because I’ve done it too. Stop saying this, and you’ll find him. There are exceptions to everything, but it’s much easier to find a good man when you’re not swearing against them all.

2. You don’t have to choose between What You Want and What You Need. If you are dating who you want but not who you need, you’ve either bought into the no-strings-attached ticking time bomb, or you’ve traded what you’re worth for immediate satisfaction. And if you are dating who you need but not what you want, chances are you don’t actually know what you need. Because what you need is a man who is everything you need AND want.

3. Give it back to God. I’ve always hated when people told me this. For me, giving a relationship to God always meant breaking up with a guy. Usually, this is an easy way for someone in the church to guilt you into singleness solely to get you to put a stop to the “ultimate sin”: having sex. Or it’s an easy way for someone to pat a desperate single woman on the head and say, “Well, God just has to fix a few things first in your life before he can bring you the perfect man.” No. What I mean is that your future marriage will fail and fail hard if you don’t put it in God’s hands, so you’re much better off learning how to keep your heart and someone else’s in God’s hand while you’re still dating. Or still single. This isn’t about changing things, it’s about deciding to want what God wants and believing with your body, mind and soul that what he wants is good. The exact kind of good that you want more than anything else in the world. Your God is pro-relationship. He wants that for you.

5. Everyone is allowed a no-strings-attached period of time. No. This is a lie. And it will wreck you. I would have given a limb for someone to walk up to me on the street at a very specific point in my life and just say, “no strings attached is a lie.” Sex can either build or destroy – and it will do one or the other, not both. If you are sleeping with a man who is everything you want but not everything you need – or the other way around – get out. You’re destroying yourself from the inside out. No more justification, logic, thought, giving-it-more time, excuses, or trying-to-work-it-out. Close your eyes and rip off the band-aid. Today.

6. You’re single because God is still fixing you. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you’re single because the timing just isn’t right. For him, or for you, or for one of any 238520 possible life variables. I dislike this statement because it implies that you are more broken than you should be. And if you’re on year three, seven, or ten of being single, this is devastating to believe. I’ve noticed that it begins to create brokenness that isn’t actually there, “because it must be.” The truth is that everyone is broken. And you don’t need “fixing.” You just need God, and the life he’s already got planned for you. And God has a life-altering, fireworks-on-display, crazy-love plan for you — which will come precisely when he wants it to.

7. I can save him. (Or I can fix him. Or he’ll change.) Thanks to Max, I can end this entire discussion with his words on the subject: “You must run at the same pace. Otherwise, you will either slow the other down, or be slowed down.” Life is too short. Date someone who is running at the same pace as you, or it will end up being very detrimental to someone’s life. Also, don’t pardon stuff like this. Yes, people can change, but you don’t want to be the one responsible for making it happen. Plus, I’m a woman, and I really just don’t feel like training a man. Not my job.

8. If he’s not crazy about you, it’s not going to work. I’m not married, and you could probably find some sub-par, dispassionate men that will get you 30 years of commitment and a wedding band, but after reading dozens and dozens of submissions to the Good Women Project, and investing some serious time speaking with married women this year, I’m pretty confident in my statement. My previous relationships back this up statement up too. Besides, when it comes down to it, do you really have what you want right now? Date a man who is crazy about you. Puh-lease.

9. If you don’t respect him, it’s not going to work. That’s it. If you don’t brag about him, respect the decisions he’s making, love the man he is, and trust the way he sees the world, you’ll end up with a mess of problems that will raise up a mess of pain.
10. Make it God’s problem. Stop thinking about how to make it work, or how to find the man you want to marry. Tell God it’s his responsibility, and be done with it. Every single time I tried to figure out how I would find the right guy within my parameters of my environment, combined with the statistics of good men left that worked against me, I would immediately become overwhelmed, give up, and start making bad decisions. But when I removed myself from my daily life and reminded myself that God will give me an incredible man, I could live, breathe & move again. Make the mental decision to trust God stubbornly for this. And live it out.
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When Christianity Says You Aren’t Enough + Update On The Trip

“I thought the world was diseased, and that I could save it by living, breathing, and dying in a vacuum called The Righteous & Holy Life. That the rebellious would see how good and clean and white I was, and would press their faces against the glass, crying out to God that they too wanted to be saved. So that they might live, breathe, and die in this sub-world, utterly void of sin.

They were destined for hell. Sons of liars, thieves, and all things wicked and perverse.

Not to be touched.”

Read the rest of my post on DeeperStory.com today >>>

Max & I are in Richmond, VA at the moment — we’ve spent the last couple of weeks in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, West Chester, DC & (I think?) we are headed to Raleigh, NC this evening!

Cities coming up: Greensboro, Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston, Savannah, Atlanta, & anywhere in between! We would love to meet you, or crash on your sofa! Or you know, both.

I’m still updating See The Cities with our photos! Also, you should read Max’s post, “If We Reach The Cities, We Will Reach The Nations.

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Creating A Life That Allows For The Daily Good

Note: I am traveling the country with Max Dubinsky. You can read his blog here, and you can follow my photos documenting the trip at seethecities.tumblr.com. If I’ve met you on the trip: hello, and welcome to the blog. Thank you for what you have taught me and how you have loved me.

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It’s been hard to write lately.

I am seeing so much.

I am being called out daily on how poorly I’ve been living my life. On my priorities. On what I’ve both chosen to ignore and have accidentally not seen.

Studying what it means to be created by God, created in Jesus to do “good works,” which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

Finding I’ve sacrificed my daily “living well” for a one-day “live the best.”

Observing others’ lives silently, from city to city, confronted with the sharp contrast between those living for others and those living for themselves.

They speak differently, they listen to you differently. They ask different questions.

I found Jesus today in a couple of young men and women who never mentioned any ultimate life plans – who barely talked to me about jobs and college and family and church and money.

They just woke up in the morning, like every other morning — quietly braced to help victims of crime learn to speak the language so they can hold a minimum wage job, and help single mothers correct the mistakes the government made in assigning their food stamps so their children can eat.

I sat on the floor of a nearly empty building, sorting through stained children’s clothing – because stained is better than none on the streets.

I caught myself half-praying for the little boy who would end up wearing size 5T jeans with holes in the knees, half asking myself when was the last time I did anything this real. This simple. This wholly good.

Good works.

Submerged in the fight against legalism in the middle upper-class white suburban church, I have come down hard against “good works.”

Because it is by grace we have been saved. And I have had my fill of being broken and watching brokenness caused by a never-satisfied list of requirements for a faux-salvation.

No one is asking you to do good works – to be perfection – to be good enough for God.

Because Jesus says, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.” (John 6:29)

To believe is enough for you. For Him.

But it’s true. We do take it and leave it at this. We accept and struggle and wrestle through this salvation, and fight hard to keep Jesus at the center of our life. In our church, our family, our school work, our career choices, the $30 we give to sponsor a child every month.

But now, this isn’t enough. It’s not enough for me. Because that isn’t daily Jesus. If I’m being perfectly honest with myself, I haven’t been living the way Jesus has asked me to live. I’ve merely dropped Jesus into my life, and asked him to stay there.

I’ve taken him nowhere with me. I’ve done very little simple, wholly good.

What are you doing with your life? How are you living?

Are you doing what God created you to do? He created you for something.

For something simple, but so powerful it will change humanity.

And slowly but surely change the way the world sees Christians. Followers of Jesus.

Daily love. Daily giving. Daily other-focus. Daily community. Daily God. Daily broken you.

Daily anything that says to another human being, “I was created to do this: to love you.”

That is what we were created for.

That is what comes first, not second. What we build the rest of our life around, not what we fit into the gaps.

Doing good isn’t not-doing-bad. It’s doing good.

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Right now we are in Harrisburg, and headed to Philadelphia today — and DC next. Let me know if you are there. ♥

New Photography, Calling All Cool Moms, Pittsburgh & Ephesians.

The past couple days I’ve been near Youngstown, Ohio, visiting the boyfriend’s family. I got some awesome pictures of Julie & the kiddos, and Max’s feet. I also just re-designed Julie’s blog, Calling All Cool Moms (!!!!), which you should definitely check out. That woman is hilarious. And super hot. You can follow her on twitter too, at @juliannegulu.

Tomorrow we are headed to Pittsburgh and I am SO excited to see Laura (SecretAgentL) and find out whatever God is doing there. If you’re in Pittsburgh, let me know!

If you want to change your life, decide to read the book of Ephesians every day for 7 days. The whole thing. There are only 5 or 6 chapters, and every time I’ve done this, my life has turned upside down. We forget so easily what following Jesus is supposed to look like, and how simple our faith is — Ephesians is an incredible reminder of this. Seriously, please do it. And if you do, leave me a comment or email me to let me know. And tell me what changed for you. I’d love to hear.

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But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were useless and in the dark — it is by grace you have been saved. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that you cannot say, “I have done this on my own.” – Ephesians 2.

Life Update: Quitting My 9-5, New Boyfriend, Blog Design, Life On The Road & Your New Pornography

I realize that less than 2 weeks ago I posted a Life Update post…however it is time for another one! Because SO MUCH IS HAPPENING.

1. I quit my 9-5 job! Yep. Last week. I am now freelancing full-time. I’m SO excited to start selling prints, art, & jewelry again. And to be able to really invest in photography, as well as design & writing. And all the other incredible things God has up his sleeve! I hope to be putting my shop back online in about a month…which brings me to point #2 (and all the rest, really)!

2. Boyfriend! In case you haven’t picked it up from our painfully obvious tweets yet, @maxdubinsky is my man. He’s the one I wrote A Good Woman’s Guide to the 21st Century with a bit ago. If you follow his blog you know that he’s roadtripping indefinitely across the country. I’ve joined him for the moment, and am writing this to you from Chicago! God is already doing amazing things. I love Him. And Max. And I KNOW you girls all want pictures so here he is. Go ahead, tell me how good looking he is.

3. Adjustments. Being not-at-my-house, quitting a job, doing some major personal upheaval, & dating a homeless writer has thrown my normal routine into somewhat of a haphazard mess. Hence the spotty tweets, blogs, writing, slowing down a lot on photography and the Good Women Project over the last 2 weeks. Please consider this my apology and a request for some grace in my adjusting to the new lifestyle & getting all of my crazy ducks in a row.

4. Blog Design. Yep I’m officially doing it. And here’s the deal. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be rolling out a standard set of pricing packages for blog design. BUT until then, you can name your own price! Yep that’s right. I can do Blogger & WordPress. Want me to re-design your blog? Do this: Send an email to laurennicolelove[at]gmail.com and include 1) a link to your blog 2) what you’re willing to pay and 3) a set of photos/things that you love, so I can get a feel for what you want your blog to reflect. That’s it! We’ll negotiate and we will make it happen. (Note: If you have already emailed me, please email me AGAIN with your quote/inspiration folder. Sorry, and thank you so much!)

5. Your New Pornography. Max is launching a fiction project today! I designed the site (if you want proof that I can actually do what I’m selling – ha) and you should go poke around a little bit and read some awesomeness.

6. On the road. Max and I are in Chicago right now, and headed to the East Coast. Are you there? Leave me a comment or send me an email if you want to grab coffee, book a photography session, or want to invite us to your church! We also love to crash on sofas. And beds. 🙂 Max has been speaking at colleges and churches along the way and it’s amazing, so if you want him to speak for your group/org/church….let us know. We want to meet you. If you want to support the trip (gas money and food YAY), or read about it some more, you can check it out at MADAcrossAmerica.com. ♥

7. This is unimportant and silly, but I’ve been sick for over a month now and have been to the doctor three times for this never ending cold/sinus infection/bronchitis/everything else – and it’s getting really tiring, so if anyone would like to pray for my health, that would mean the world to me.

I honestly could write a massive blog post on all of these bullet points, but I desperately need to sleep. I love you all. Thank you for reading, listening, speaking, loving, everything.

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But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. – Jeremiah 1..