Grounded Podcast

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Created for Intimacy

You were made to experience rich, authentic friendship and community. How do you attain that intimacy, especially if you’re single and facing the challenges of physical separation? Our special guests will address how you can pursue intimacy with Christ and each other, regardless of your relationship status. Kimberly Wagner joins our hosts to talk about this topic and some ways to combat loneliness. You’ll also hear from a panel of wise women who will talk about singleness and answer some of your questions.

Connect with Kimberly:

Instagram: @kimberlywagner7



Episode Notes:

Share your good news here.

“The Cost of Intimacy” blog post by Kimberly Wagner:

If you would like to support Grounded and the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, you can donate here.

Erin Davis: Good morning Welcome back to Grounded a podcast and videocast recorded live every Monday morning from Revive Our Hearts. We're sure glad you're here. I'm Erin Davis. 

Dannah Gresh: And I'm Dannah Gresh. It is time for our weekly infusion of hope and perspective. And of course, we're approaching Valentine's Day, so we have a love emphasis all month long.

Erin: We sure do. And here's a jumping off point for our conversation this morning—newsflash— men and women are different. You may have already known that this morning. And that means we're being affected by the ongoing pandemic in different ways.

I found some interesting research this week. Both men and women are equally likely to report that we're feeling more anxiety lately; that we're feeling heightened stress. In fact, our stress levels are about the same. But what's causing that stress is very different. Men are saying that is economic and professional anxieties that are weighing on them most heavily, and women were saying it's our relationships—that family, social wellbeing connection with other people, the connections we've lost. How do we get back to the connections we had? All of that is causing us to feel some stress right now. 

Dannah: Well, were you just like a fly on the wall in my house this weekend? Because that sounds like the Gresh home. Bob spent almost the whole weekend working on some big financial decisions for us . . . so economic stress. 

Erin: There we go, there's the men's side. 

Dannah: There you go. But me, it was all about missing my family. So last night was the Super Bowl. Did you watch it?

Erin: I watched it. 

Dannah: Of course, you did. Well, it was just me and Bob. And I don't . . .

Erin: That’s not much of a party. 

Dannah: No, it wasn't. And here's the thing. Poor Bob, he did not marry a football girl. 

Erin: Yeah.

Dannah: It's a sad thing for him. So, I decided since he doesn't have football friends to enjoy a Super Bowl with, although I was kind of intrigued by the quarterback storyline, you know, that was pretty intriguing for me. He always brings me in with the storylines. He's like, “This guy is the best ever, and he's really old!”

Erin: I want to know: Is he married? Does he have kids? Is his grandma sweet? That's the kind of stuff I want to know about the QB. 

Dannah: Exactly. But I thought, Well, what he did marry is a cook, so I will make him wings. 

Erin: Okay.

Dannah: Erin Davis. I cannot make wings. 

Erin: They're hard. I leave that to the pros.

Dannah: Anyway, I missed the family. I missed the connection last night. I miss my mom deeply. We always talk about the Super Bowl commercials together. I missed my kiddos since January. Erin, one of my adult kids at any given time has had COVID, so we haven't been together. And here's the thing I learned yesterday. I made scones with passion fruit butter. 

Erin: That's a unique Super Bowl food. 

Dannah: That is like so fancy. Right? 

Erin: It's pretty fancy.

Dannah: And this is where I needed a girlfriend. 

Erin: Yeah.

Dannah: Because my husband didn't understand how fancy . . .

Erin: Because we had on our party wings, pulled pork, meatball sliders, and ribs. We had the man version. No one had any scones. 

Dannah: Bob would have been excited about that. But I needed a girlfriend to say how long did it take? Where did you get the recipe? These are amazing! I didn't have that. It made me really just miss my girlfriends. In fact, my husband keeps saying, “Honey, you need to call a girlfriend. Sometimes even dials Chizzy Anderson and says, “Chizzy, Dannah needs to tell you about her scones.”

Erin: Yeah, I understand. 

Dannah: So anyway, all this is causing some loneliness. I've recently read a definition of loneliness. It's a lack of emotional intimacy. It's not being alone, because I love being alone. You know, I like me, it's some alone time. But it's a lack of emotional intimacy. I miss it. It's no joke. It’s a significant contributor to anxiety and depression that you're just talking about. It actually creates some health risks for us. There's some really interesting medical research that says feeling lonely for a long period of time can have the same impact on your body as, listen to this, fifteen cigarettes a day.

Erin: I believe it. I’ve felt it. 

Hey, we’ve got a new puppy at our house. We're in the, “Oh, what have we done?” phase. We put her in the crate so she doesn't party on the floor, right? But she doesn’t want to be in the crate. She whines because she wants to be with us. 

I've been thinking that I'm actually a lot like that puppy. I don't want to be away from my people. I want to be with my people. I feel sad when I'm away from my people. Sometimes I even whine like that puppy. We're all a little bit like that. We're wired to be close. 

The theme of this morning's episode is that you need intimacy; I need intimacy. 

But that's not it's not an easy thing to have right now. I'm not sure it's an easy thing to have ever. But it's especially not an easy thing to have right now. We're struggling. Almost as scary as the virus is fear of quarantine. I mean, we are afraid that we're going to get separated from our people again, or that our people are going to get separated from us. 

A group of women that I think have been hit really hard in recent months, and we just want to reach through our cameras and love on you this morning, is single women. Their social connections might be strained or fractured. And here's a question, and I don't know that I know the answer. But I hope we discover it together this morning. How can we pursue intimacy from six feet apart? 

Dannah: It's a hard question to answer, and here to help us today is author Kimberly Wagner. She's a familiar name and face to the Revive Our Hearts community. She's faced some special challenges that her husband and she have been experiencing before the pandemic. It's been kind of exacerbated by the pandemic. They’re experiencing some extended seasons of isolation. But here's the wonderful thing, even in that Kim always points me to Jesus, and she does it with others. She's going to talk to us about how to pursue intimacy with Christ and each other.

Erin: I'm ready. Single friends, this episode is for you. Married friends, this episode is for you. Wherever you are on the spectrum, whether you have a lot of people in your home or you've been living alone, through all of this, this is our valentine to you. 

We've got some really wise friends who are also going to join us. Some of them are single. One of them was single much longer than she wanted to be. And they're here to answer your questions about singleness, intimacy, connection relationships, about scratching that itch that we all have for intimacy with God and with others. 

We'd love for you to start dropping those questions in the chat. How can you have intimacy when you don't have a significant other? What can you do if you're in a prolonged season of loneliness? How can God minister to your heart if you're like my puppy, and you just don't want to be isolated, but those are your circumstances. So, go ahead and drop those questions in the chat. We want to tackle as many of them as we can. 

Dannah: I love this, that we're putting all of our friends out there in the seat of being the interviewer.

Erin: I know; you're passing the mic. 

Dannah: Yeah, we're doing something new. Hey, if you're encouraged with the hope and perspective that we share each Monday morning, would you share right now the fact that Grounded is on? Share it on Facebook, share it on YouTube, text your friends. And be sure when you hit YouTube, to subscribe, because that way every time we go live, you will be notified. Why am I asking you to share? Because if we are going to experience loneliness, let's be alone, together. 

Erin: I like it—alone together. Well, here's a little Valentine's poem for you. I'm no poet laureate, but here we go. Roses are red, violets are blue. It's Monday morning, so I need some good news. Portia, we have some good news this morning. Listen, our tech team always gets in trouble, mad at me, because I go towards my screen when I get excited. But this is how excited I am.

Dannah: Oh, no, you just made them cringe.

Erin: I did. They hated it. But it's really exciting. Good news. So, Portia. What's the good news this morning? 

Portia Collins: Well, listen, girl, they're going to be mad at me. Because when I get excited, I talk with my hands. And if you notice this, right, they mess up the camera focus. But y'all we love it when our good news comes from you. 

Today's story comes from a Grounded viewer named Katherine. Katherine submitted her good news using our good news form (a link that we talk about every week). And so, I was like, crazy excited. I know Erin was. But anyway, Katherine lives in the UK. I have a thing for accents, so I can't wait for you guys to hear her speak. I'm excited about that. 

She's in the UK. She loved her job as a school teacher. She had many Christian friends look at those beautiful pictures of puppies and her. She enjoyed an active and full life. 

Erin: That is, until her liver started failing. She's been battling a rare autoimmune liver disease since 2011. Her condition caused her liver to slowly deteriorate and stop functioning. There is no known cause and no known cure for what Katherine has been battling. Those health challenges eventually forced her into isolation. Even before the pandemic, she had to take a medical retirement from her job as a school teacher. She had to leave her strong Christian community where she had many friends, lots of connections, and move back in with her parents, which was 400 miles away from that community of Christians that she loved so much. 

Portia: Yeah, Katherine turned forty in isolation at the beginning of this year, and she hasn't been able to leave her home except for medical appointments . . . since March. That's a long time y'all. Although she wants to be married and have kids, the isolation and illness makes that unlikely.

Erin: Katherine wrote to us. 

“I am not of this world, because Jesus has already overcome. He has won the victory over this disease, over my symptoms, over COVID. These are all just little battles, skirmishes, but the war itself is already won!” 

And she puts an exclamation point there, and I put so many exclamation points there. Amen. 

“In the past years, my disease has progressed, and COVID has turned the world upside down and has kept me physically isolated from others. God has been truly teaching me what it is to find His strength in my weakness. 

Portia: Amen, amen. Despite Katherine's illness, even in isolation, God has met her need for connection in part through you Grounded viewers. She has never missed a single episode of Grounded. Katherine said, “I've never written in a chat, but I feel the love and friendship of our Grounded sisters all over the world.” 

Erin: I love that so much Katherine. Well, Katherine's story is good news, in part because she has used her very difficult circumstances as an opportunity to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus with others. She told our team that this terminal illness, that there's no cure for it, has opened the doors for her to share the gospel with others over and over and over. 

Portia: You know, I love that, Erin. Well, though her life has not gone as planned, and her hopes for a husband and children have not become her reality, Katherine has experienced knowing and being known by Christ, which is the best thing ever. And that, my friends, that's good news. I am so inspired.

Erin: Me, too. In fact, we were so inspired by Katherine's story, that I just found her email on that Grounded good news forum. I emailed her on a lark and said, “Katherine, you want to be on Grounded?” And she responded, and so live from her hospital bed in the United Kingdom. Katherine, welcome to Grounded.

Katherine: Hi. Thanks, Erin. Thanks, Portia. 

Erin: We're so glad to have you with us this morning. We would love to hear a health update from you, because there's been some developments in that house. 

Katherine: There has, so it's true. Yes, I've had this disease for ten years now and am slowly deteriorating. And as you said, I gave up all the things that I loved. But God helped me through that in an amazing way. I was put on the transplant waiting list. And then because of COVID, that got set back, and they stopped doing transplants. I think I emailed you like a week or two ago because I turned 40, on the 20th of January. And then 10 days later, I got a phone call at one in the morning. I just turned and looked at my mum and I knew what it was. They had a liver available for me. 

We drove up through the night in a taxi to the hospital in London, where I have to come to for the surgery. It is five hours away from where I live. I have now had a liver transplant, which is just the most amazing gift of new life. An awful lot has happened in the last 10 days, I think. I'm running out of how long it's been now. 

Erin: Well, hospitals do that. 

Katherine: Yeah, I've got no idea what day it is. I know that I've been through an awful lot that at some point I will need to kind of process through. But Jesus has truly just held me every step of this way. It is awesome and amazing. I am overwhelmed by His sacrifice for me. It's helping me through the rubbish and the pain and the “I can’t sleep, I’m in so much pain” and the what have you, because I can just picture Jesus on the cross. In fact, I do that every time. I'm needle-phobic. It was very hard for me to have had needles. As one of my consultants said a few years ago, “Well, we haven't cured your liver disease yet, but we've done wonders for you needle-phobia.” 

The only way I can do needles is I just pictured Jesus on the cross. I know he's been through that for me. He was pierced for me. And actually, I can just experience that a tiny little bit. That's the only way I can get through these needles and things like that. 

Erin: So, I praise God for that goodness in your life. what a 40th birthday present you received! I want to know if you've experienced some extreme isolation. I imagine you're there in the hospital, now that can be very isolating. Your condition has caused you to have some isolation from friends. I want to know specifically as you've been physically separated from others, how has the Lord met your deep need, since He gave you your deep need for intimacy?

I think that's a hard thing. I was thinking about this earlier today. We, of course, have this deep need for intimacy because God created us. He created us from what He created, and He created each of us from each other. We have this deep need inside of us to be connected to each other, but to be connected to Jesus. I think often we don't really realize that, and this is really showing through all this pandemic time and in the UK. I don't know so much about where everyone else is in the world, but in the UK we are in lockdown again. You can't be near people at all. It's been a hard thing because I'm a huggy person. I need hugs, and I can't hug many people. Since the beginning of March last year, I distinctly remember the last friend I went and visited and saw and actually hugged in person. 

We could see what was happening, what was coming. I live now with my mom and my dad. And so, anyone who's feeling old and you want to feel younger, move back in with your parents, to feel young again. It's amazing. We decided we would lock down earlier, and I've been shielding since then. And yeah, I’ve visited hospitals and doctors, surgeries and things for appointments. But obviously, they don't hand out hugs. My sisters very sweetly at different points through the year got tested so that they could come and visit, specifically to give me a hug. So that's been quite special. 

God has blessed me in such an amazing way with an amazing women's prayer group. In fact, it's called my prayer group. It is just inadequate. They are just a group of women that God had already put together. They were already meeting together. They’re called Grace Ladies.They’re not far from where I live down here in Devon. Oh, well, I'm in London at the moment. But I live in Devon regularly. 

When I first moved back this way, I didn't know any other Christians down here. I didn't have a church down here. And one of them just came up to me after I'd gone and visited one of the Sunday services. She said,”Do you want to come join us?” 

And I was like, “Yes, I need Christian women around me.” 

I've known these women for just over a year. Some of them I've never met in actual life, because we've only met through Zoom. I haven't seen most of them for almost a year. But the friendship that we share because of the intimacy that we have through Jesus is so much longer than that physical length of human time that we measure in. You saw a picture some of them when you showed the photos. 

We meet every week on a Friday. In fact, they were the ones who first introduced me to Revive Our Hearts and to Grounded, and which just became a lifeline for me. All my Grace Ladies, when we could actually meet together, that was our Christmas meal, 2019.

So Grace Ladies on a Friday and Grounded daily when you first started was just keeping me going and. It was so, so, so special to just be able to share the love of Jesus with others. It compelled me then to share it with my own friends. I think people grew slightly bored of me sending links to watch Grounded. But I think they might watch this one. I've got lots of friends all over the world now who I know are keen watchers, if that's the word.

These women just held me and kind of caught me in the word. We pray together. And we just share a deep, deep connection that is so special that I think you can only really get maybe with a bunch of women. I've been in home groups before where you've got its mixed men and women, and that's great as well, and that's really important. But sometimes when you have a group of Christian women, you can just be so honest, and so real, and share so deeply the struggles that you're having. And I think that's the most important thing to be so honest.

Erin: Amen, Katherine, and that's what Grounded is. We're so grateful for the ways it's ministered to you through more challenges ahead for you. You've told us it's no guarantee that this liver transplant is going to be a cure-all. In fact, you've got a hospital transfer coming up today. We're so grateful that you popped in. You've ministered to my heart. Thank you so much. Keep watching Grounded.

Katherine: Thank you, bless you. God bless you all. Thank you.

Erin: Dannah.

Dannah: I sure hope Katherine has a chance to check out the comments, because she's getting a big global hug from all of our friends. Meg wrote, “My jaw is on the floor in reference to Katherine’s story. My heart is overflowing at the sisterhood we have because of Jesus with the whole rest of the world.” I love that. 

You know what else I just have to say? Did Portia just say she loves accents? Is it possible that girl doesn't know she has one? Anybody think that? Okay, just me. 

Oh, there she is. She had to come back to defend herself. She's like I'm here. I'm here. All she can do is laugh. All right. 

Kimberly Wagner is the author of Fierce Woman. She offers spiritual instruction and emotional support as a life-change consultant. Today we thought we'd asked her to consult with us on the issue of so much loneliness. Welcome, my friend Kim. How are you today?

Kimberly Wagner: Hey, Dannah is so good to see you. 

Dannah: It's good to see you. Kimberly and I are known to travel with a pack of women that love each other very much. We get to be roommates a lot. So, I miss you, roommate.

Kimberly: I miss you, roomie. I can't wait until we can do that again. 

Dannah: Me too. Kimberly, you were in the middle of a significant and sad life change when the pandemic hit. Tell us about that. 

Kimberly: Yeah, actually, my husband and I, he had been sporting the masks since 2017. So my son says that his dad started the fashion trend. 

Dannah: He started the trend, who knew your husband was so fashionable?

Kimberly: Right. So, in 2015, he started having these weird symptoms. And just listening to Katherine’s story, I could relate to a lot of it as far as multiple hospital visits and suffering and physical pain.

It took really two years before they came up with a diagnosis for him, which was an autoimmune disease that attacked his spinal cord and destroyed portions of his spinal cord. And because of that, it's left him crippled. And it has significantly changed our lives. 

We went into partial isolation the year he received infusions, which would lower his immunity, because it was that his antibodies were so hyper, they were attacking a spinal cord. And so, during those infusions, I would even wear a mask at times when I went grocery shopping, this is long before masks were common in America. I would have my mask on, my gloves on to be able to shop so I didn't catch anything out there that I would bring back to him. 

Dannah: Yeah.

Kimberly: So, we had limited isolation through those years. 

Dannah: And of course, the pandemic has further contributed to that new isolated lifestyle for you and LeRoy. But that's something that wasn't new to you. It's been so sad for me to watch. You walk through this, my friend . . . You're a woman who has been deeply connected to other women as a pastor's wife, as a mentor, walking them through their loneliness living. 

And now the irony of you living in isolation. Now, it just seems so unfair to me. But you've demonstrated true depth of character. You started a life-change consultation service, kind of at the beginning of this pandemic, to get women through the difficulties of isolation with some of the lessons that you've learned. What are you hearing from those other women that you've been consulting and discipling about loneliness and isolation? 

Kimberly: They need friendships. 

Dannah: Yeah.

Kimberly: They reach out to me to ask for practical help, just in how do I cultivate friendships during this season. Many of them struggled with developing friendships before the pandemic. And now a lot of them can't even attend a church or Bible study. And so, I'm very thankful for technology, Zoom, and FaceTime, and duo calls, and things like that. 

And so, even though I'm isolated, it has not limited God's ability to open up opportunities to minister. It’s just that we have to be creative. There's different ways to connect now. I do more letter writing now than I did before. It's been incredible to hear back from people who say, I haven't received a handwritten letter and so long; this meant so much to me. So, we as women can apply just what we know—simple tasks to minister to others in that way is to connect with others and develop intimacy in creative ways now. 

Dannah: Yeah, and those creative ways are evidence that we are, we want, we crave, we need, we were created for connection. God made us for that. Okay, consult with us, my friend. What's the big opportunity in what's happening right now? What are you learning? 

Kimberly: Well, the big opportunity is to be still before God. That we begin our day that way. And I know for some women, beginning their day isn't practical. But for me, I'm just stating this for me, I learned years ago, and thankfully, I learned as a young mom of toddlers who loved sleeping in. I’d tell the toddlers come here, just climb in bed with Mama, let's snooze a little bit longer. 

I found out that I was going to need to meet with God first. God needed to deal with my heart and and get me ready for the day in the Word—just hearing His gentle conversation through the Word, through prayer. It was training me and preparing me by having that intimate time with Him. And as I grew in my time in the Word, then out of that overflow, God opens the door to be able just to converse with women about what he's teaching me, to be able to share with them through sending a text or an email or a link. 

I love Grounded. I love being able to share your link. It really does give an infusion of hope and perspective to women at a critical time. So I was cheerleading y'all as you were beginning this and all through it. It's morphed and changed and keeps improving. And so that's ways that we can connect women with the Word.

Dannah: Yeah.

Kimberly: With other women. Yeah, we can't get those hugs that we do need. But there is this virtual hug and this richness that comes from communing together with our Father, with our Savior through the Word and talking about the Word.

Dannah: You'd mentioned a minute ago about how your time with the Lord flows into your relationships. I have been thinking just this week about how I am craving more intimacy. I'm missing my friends that I haven't had . . . like when we would get together and be roommates, we would just dive deep. We might not have talked face to face for six months or a year. But we would dive deep. And there hasn't been a lot of those deep dives. 

But I have found that the same principle is true. If I am filled up on my intimacy with Jesus, then when I do have opportunity to interact with my friends, whether it's through Zoom or a quick phone call or a deep dive, that there's some richness there. And when I don't have intimacy with Jesus, it's like I'm just hitting a wall. I'm thinking maybe I could plug my heart into this spot, but it's not going to actually meet the need that's in me. Does that resonate? 

Kimberly: Oh, absolutely. We were created for God's glory. We were created to commune with Him. As you, Dannah, you are my sister. It goes much deeper than being a blood sister. And so, when we, when we commune together with the Spirit that God's placed within us, there is no more exciting, tangible, real close intimacy than that you're one in the Spirit. 

Dannah: Yeah. intimacy with God. I was noodling around on your blog, because it's rich, my friend, You write about intimacy, being costly intimacy with God, being costly, and this blog just hit me right here. Why is it so costly to be intimate with Jesus? 

Kimberly: Well, and I'll just start basic for me. When I was a young pastor's wife, I remember we were moving, and I picked up some journals and started flipping through them. I would see my entry dates of meeting with God or studying the Word. Here would be November 11, November 12, and then all of a sudden, December 20. What happened? Where? God was there wanting me to meet with Him but I didn't show up. I was AWOL. So, what did I miss? 

So I learned that I had to cut something out. And this is real suffering to get up early. I remember in those early days as a mom of toddlers that I couldn't even stay awake to read the Word. I could not even stay awake. That's when I started drinking coffee. I had my first cup of coffee so that I could meet with God. 

And yeah, there you go, I still drink it. But as I used some tools that were helpful, like Bible studies . . . I'm so glad y'all are offering Ruth right now. I needed some tools that would help me. I couldn't just pick up the Word and really understand everything I was reading, even though I have a Biblical Studies degree. I needed that mentor or that friend to come alongside, I needed Nancy speaking into my head and heart and encouraging me. 

And so, I use tools; I use devotionals. But I needed to cut out time, cut out something. For me, it was throwing off those bed clothes, those blankets and sheets, and climbing out into the cold world to begin my day earlier. Now, for you it may be at the end of night; you need to get away from the family and have your time in the Word at night. But that is our food that is our life. 

Dannah: Right.

Kimberly: Not many of us go a day without eating physical food, how can we think we would survive without the food from the Word the life-giving water from our Christ? 

Dannah: So, you're suggesting that we have to choose how we will invest in our intimacy with God. That might be turning off your phone, that might be saying no to some of the social things that you need or want, because we do need those things. But you can't have all of them if you're also going to have intimacy with God. But that the cost of intimacy that was really interesting to me, in this blog, and we'll drop the link, because it's really good. It's called the “Cost of Intimacy” by Kimberly Wagner, is a cost that we don't choose. And that is that sometimes suffering is the currency with which we are able to purchase, if you will, intimacy with God.

Kimberly: Absolutely. Last year, a Scripture verse for the year for us was 1 Peter 5:10, where God gives us this promise, that after you suffered a little while, that the God of all grace, and He is the God of all grace, He gives us grace to walk through whatever He has appointed for us. He will restore. He'll confirm. He'll strengthen. He'll establish us. Those are four beautiful, solid promises from God. What did He say? When do we get that? After we've suffered a little while. 

One young woman I'm discipling, when we first started, we're going through the book of James together. And when we first started it a few months ago, she said, “Well, I'm not really suffering any trials.” And then the more she started talking, there were things, there were conflicts in her life. There were sorrows, there were desires for marriage that wasn't happening. 

And so, when we say suffering, it doesn't mean you may not be in the position I am as a caregiver for my husband and watching him physically suffer. He does physically suffer daily, which causes me to sorrow for him in that fact, but we don't sorrow as those who have no hope. 

But that young college age girl, she is suffering, in a sense, and she's come to realize, yes, I do have that trial in my life. And so, she can claim this verse as well. That after you suffered a little while, but in that suffering Dannah, what is so important as we do is like I saw Katherine sharing at the beginning of this video. We hold it with an open hand, and we come to God daily, like Psalm 103, instructs us. I just want to plug Psalm 103. Right now, if you are going through a season and a time of suffering, go to that psalm where David is counseling his own heart, to bless the Lord, oh my soul and all that is within me. 

He goes through that song and begins counseling his own heart. Literally, the Hebrew word there for bless is a positional word. It is kneeling prostrate before God, to adore Him in gratitude and praise. And so, we begin our day that way.

Dannah: Yes.

Kimberly: We begin blessing the Lord. He orients our hearts and mind where suffering really is able to be seen as that short, short time, that short work that God is doing, because this is not our home. 

This is not where we end up. There is good, good things coming. And this season is a gift from our good Father; He only gives good gifts. But it doesn't feel good right now. It's hard. But the goodness of it is that it is preparing us for future glory. It is allowing us now to glorify Him in ways we would not glorify Him if we were not walking this road of suffering that He has appointed for us. 

Dannah: Yeah. And that's the key, isn't it? He's chosen this. And that's a hard thing to swallow. Kimberly, you are such a blessing. I could talk with you all day and be encouraged. I think 1 Peter 5:10 is going to be my meditation today when I get off of Grounded, to go and really just look about that. What is the gift of after having suffered? I think the gift is we'll find more of Jesus. Thanks for reminding of that today, my friend, Kimberly Wagner.

Erin: Thank you, Kim. Hey, Portia, and the rest of our guests, we want to hear from you. We've gotten some great questions from our Grounded audience. We want to tackle as many of them as we can in just a few minutes. So, take it away, Portia. 

Portia: All right. So I am super excited about this segment. Our team has committed the entire month to the topic of love. But we don't just mean romantic love. None of that.

We know that many of you are single or single again, maybe after the loss of a spouse or maybe a breakup. And we want to kind of flesh out what does it look like to pursue intimacy with God and others when you aren't married or maybe you don't have children, and especially if you are living alone during a pandemic. 

So we recruited a little bit of help with this. I'm gonna invite a couple of friends to pull up a chair to the Grounded table. First up is Paula Marsteller. And please forgive me, Paula, if I totally messed up your last name. 

Paula Marsteller: You nailed it. 

Portia: Good. Well, Paula is a writer, Bible teacher, and author of the book Confessions of a Boy Crazy Girl. She was single, much longer than she planned to be. She's married now, but she's going to share some insight with us today. So welcome, Paula. 

Paula: Thank you, friend.

Portia: You’re welcome

Paula: Happy to be here.

Portia: Good deal. Next up, we also have Staci Rudolph. Staci is the lead teacher for True Girl. She is single, living alone during a pandemic. And so I'm sure she has lots to say as well. Welcome, Staci. 

Staci Rudolph: Thank you so much. I'm happy to be with you guys. Looking forward to it. 

Portia: Good deal. And last up we have Robyn Bush, Robin found herself single again, after the unexpected death of her husband four years ago. Robyn is so full of rich wisdom. Some of you may remember she's been on Grounded before. I'm excited to have her back. Welcome, Robyn. 

Robyn Bush: Hey, so excited to be here. 

Portia: Good deal. All right, girls, let's get to it. So at home if you were watching live, I've been looking at my phone all morning because I have been capturing . . . well, Erin is feeding me the questions from the comment section. We have this wise team here that we've assembled with lots of wisdom about singleness, and we're gonna filter through your questions. All right, so I'll kick us off.

What are the unique challenges that you face as a single woman? And so, I guess I'll punt this to Staci first. And then Robyn and Paula, you can add in?

Staci: I think it has to do with my personality as well. I am more introverted. I think as a single woman, it's harder for me. Like Kim was saying to be creative to reach out when I need intimacy, develop friendships, hang out, and kind of take that space, because I am so comfortable with just chillin’ with me hanging out by myself. So I think that's one of the things I face in particular with my personality.

But I think too, as a single woman, it gets hard to find a community that looks like you. I do get invited to different groups and things like that. But then it's little kids running all around me and families, which is great, don't get me wrong. I love it. I'm all about the family. But I'm like, it would be nice to have a community of those who are going through the exact same thing that I am, who kind of have a life that looks like me more. I'm not trying to puzzle piece myself in, but it's just kind of a community that represents what I'm going through a little more. Does that make sense? 

Portia: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Robyn or Paula, either of you want to piggyback on that?

Robyn: Well, I think just being single again is very much like Staci was saying, figuring out where you fit, when part of your life has gone away. I think that has been a challenge for me. There were things that my husband and I did together, we could minister together. And so, after he was gone, suddenly it was like, wow, that part of my life kind of ended abruptly. And so, trying to navigate this becomes a challenge. 

Portia: Absolutely. As you mentioned it, I want you to tell us that, and you've shared this before. You said you're single again, a widow. When did your husband pass away? And just give us a little bit of quick backdrop on that.

Robyn: He got a regular, old virus and started throwing up one night. In the process of throwing up, he tore his left carotid artery and ended up having a stroke and went into the hospital. After three days, he passed away. He passed away on December 22. He had signed up to be an organ donor. And so Christmas Eve, they harvested his organs that were brilliantly healthy. And Christmas morning, all of those folks got new organs. It was devastating on our side of things and so challenging. And honestly, the process of it was really painful, but so grateful on the other side of it for those lives that were affected. So that was what our story is. 

Portia: All right, so Paula, I'm gonna throw a dating question to you. 

Paula: All right. 

Portia: So Aubrey asks, “How do you avoid guilt for feeling lonely? When you look around, and you see how hard this pandemic is on moms taking care of their families, and things like that?” I feel like you've experienced both sides of this. I think you would give a unique perspective. 

Paula: Well, Aubrey, I think it's so sweet that you're even thinking about moms and aware of their unique struggles. So it just shows a maturity. I think it's okay to be honest with the fact that we all have different struggles during this time. I'd say as much as possible, as you're able to go over and talk with moms about your unique struggles, and they're able to share with you, just doing life together as much as possible during this time. But there is no condemnation for you, no guilt. It is hard. I love how someone said that God is so humble. The fact that He would create us to actually need other people and not just need Him, it just shows His beauty. So okay, no guilt for you, girl. 

Portia: I understand I get it. Alright, so next one.

Jessica asked, “How can I help a friend who just went through a hard breakup? Who is now struggling with loneliness.How can I be a better friend? I am constantly praying with her and for her.” And whoever wants to jump in first. 

Staci: Can I jump in on that one? 

Portia: Yes, Staci go ahead.

Staci: I think one of the big things sometimes we do as friends, sometimes we miss it, is encouraging our friend to dive into that, and to kind of experience that loneliness really feeling. I think sometimes we jump in too fast with a Band-Aid, when we need to encourage them to discover: What is God showing me during this time? As I'm lonely, how can I see God in a different way? How can I connect with Him more right now than I would be able to in a different circumstance? So I would first say to Jessica, maybe encourage her friend to do that a little bit. God always has a lesson for us no matter what we're going through. And then I would say, step in and be that intimacy for her, but in a balanced way. Where you're not hopping in and being everything, but you're pushing her towards God and also kind of holding her at the same time. Hopefully that helps you.

Portia: Absolutely. Robyn or Paula, did you guys have anything that you want to share? And I guess I would even ask: how would you speak to encourage a woman who maybe has been in your unique situation? 

So, for you, Robyn, you’re someone who is single again. There are several people in the comments who have experienced the loss of a husband. I want to make it really quick because we're wrapping up, but I would love for you and Paula to share a bit of encouragement as well to the viewer. 

Robyn: I think the biggest thing that I have experienced Christ in in the last four years in a way that I've never experienced it before is as my Bridegroom and finding Isaiah 54:5 where he says, “I'm your maker and your husband and understanding.” That's a promise to the bride of Christ and to Israel. I'm a part of that Bride, so I can look to Him as my Bridegroom to be my provision, my Protector. He is intimately with me all the time. He desires oneness with me. So experiencing Jesus in that unique way, even in referring to Himself as our Bridegroom.

A bridegroom doesn't forget his bride. A bridegroom is all about going and preparing a place for his bride. So I have just stepped into that beauty of Christ, and it just helped my heart feel such intimacy with Him. That would be my encouragement. 

Portia: Amen, amen. Well, thank you ladies so much for being with us. This was excellent. We’ve got to do this Grounded roundtable again. 

Erin: Well, Alejandra is not with us this morning. But I tracked down another co-host. Here she is. 

Dannah: Oh, that is the cutest little puppy.

Erin: The puppy who doesn't want to be separated from her mom.

Dannah: He just snuck in. He broke through the door.

Erin: I think I'm on to the dogs y'all. 

It's a powerful episode. Dannah, Portia, you got a last thought lingering in your heart after listening to that firehose of truth coming from those ladies? 

Dannah: Absolutely. I think I think we each have marching orders. Each of us knows someone who's facing an intimacy deficit right now. It could be a single sister. It could be somebody like Kimberly, who has a family member in their house with health needs, and this pandemic wasn't the beginning of their isolation, it's just a continuation and a complication. I'm always so blessed by Robyn. Wow, what a powerhouse of God's truth. But she had to fight for that peace that you see in her after a season of grief. There are lots of women grieving right now. 

Who do you see around you that needs intimacy? Invite them to go for a walk, call them, and pray for them. As soon as we're done here in a moment, if you can put on some masks do something, but just meet that need. 

Erin: And that's my takeaway fight for intimacy, this ache that we're feeling. It's an alarm going off in us that the Lord placed in us that we need each other. So married, single, isolated, I hope you'll be encouraged to fight for that intimacy. 

Hey, Dr. Julie Slattery is going to be with us next week. She says that marriages are struggling. Amen. Don't say amen Portia and Dannah. Don't agree. We’ll talk about it next week. Under the weight of the stress, we're all feeling she's gonna point us back to God's Word to help us thrive. 

So, don't settle for isolation. You were made for intimacy. Let's wake up together with hope next Monday, on Grounded. 

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About the Hosts

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Portia Collins

Portia Collins

Portia Collins is a Christian Bible teacher and writer/blogger who enjoys studying and teaching Scripture.  Portia is the founder of "She Shall Be Called" (SSBC), a women’s ministry centered on helping women understand and embrace true biblical womanhood through solid study of God's Word. To learn more about SSBC, visit  Portia and her husband, Mikhail, have a daughter and currently live in the Mississippi Delta. 

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.

Alejandra Slemin

Alejandra Slemin

Alejandra is a sinner who believed in Jesus at the age of seven in her native country, Dominican Republic. She is a wife and homeschool mom. She's passionate about Christ, studying the Scriptures, discipling, teaching, and learning alongside women. Currently, she supports her husband as he serves as a church planter in Victoria, BC, Canada. Alejandra loves herbs, designing headbands with her daughter, being outdoors, and serving her community.

About the Guest

Kimberly Wagner

Kimberly Wagner

Kimberly Wagner’s passion is Christ, and she desires to ignite women's pursuit of God's glory. She's the author of Fierce Women, and is a frequent guest on the Revive Our Hearts radio program, as well as a regular contributor to the True Woman blog. She enjoys sharing with women and hearing from them about what God is doing in their lives.