Category Archives: God

God healed my electronic device.

I prayed over an electronic device today, and I’m writing this while standing in the forever-long Chipotle line.

It’s probably the most Generation Z I have ever felt and probably will ever feel when there is always a teenager two steps away to point out a gray hair or remind me that I better get married before cats eat my face. I don’t have a cat, but they are genuinely concerned.

Back to the electronic device. It’s true. All day I worried why our supposed-to-never-fail external backup would not connect. The campus expert assured my worry-wart self that it was indestructible. That’s what they said about the Titanic, bee-tee-dubs. Anyway, I began to panic. So I walked to the storage closet housing our little Buffalo (I don’t know who named it) and laid hands. It felt silly. It felt contrite. It felt insulting to put such a trivial thing on God’s to-do list, but after thirty seconds I pulled my hands away and the sickly blinking blue late burned a constant neon blue of health.

God healed my external hardware.

Even typing that feels silly. But I can’t sit here and deny that God fixed it. I stood there in awe and heard a whisper so sweet in my spirit reminding me that He is in the “little things.” If how I needed to see His sovereignty was in the healing of an electronic, then that’s How he would move.

I am thankful that He doesn’t have a triage system because His mercy and grace can and will cover it all. That’s hard for me. I triage. In everything, I make a to-do list of least to most important. My brain is forever befuddled that He only has one category: most important.

Pretty rad.

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A tiny note on the not-so-good-day.

It feels good to return to this place. It feels good to bring my heart to this page – even if this page is electronic. Call me crazy, but while the act of handwriting notes is lovely, I am a sucker for fonts. I love to see my words come alive in a land of serifs and sans serifs, bold and italics.

Especially after today when the Enemy (who can best be described with Comic Sans) crept into my business.

In between sobbing in front of my boss (classy, huh), consoling a vomiting teenager, and answering 8,000 panicked phone calls and emails, I became his prey. He sunk his teeth in deep and proceeded to thrash me around.

It’s my fault – I left the door to my heart open.

It’s not like he came in like a thief in the night. In all reality, I welcomed him in – like a friend our mother’s told us to avoid but we didn’t because we were too strong for any kind of peer pressure or social coercion. Or so we thought.

Little by little, I let my guard down. Stopped talking to God. Traded church for no-alarm-clock mornings. Nodded and said the right “Christian” things to my friend even when I knew the words were stripped bare of beauty and meaning like trees in winter.

I stopped growing, and when you stop growing and blooming, the enemy starts destroying. Today, and really the last few weeks, provided the tangible proof that I needed help.

I needed rescue from this barren place where I found myself. And in a big, “let’s walk on water” kind of way.

I found myself in the Word tonight. Not knee-deep in crashing waves, but treading the shoreline with a warm cup of Chai. It all begins somewhere right? Coming back to the Word after an absence is a strange mixture of emotions and feelings. The letters and syllables kiss your soul a million times over and welcome you home, but the truth bombs dropping all around your physical, emotional and spiritual being are a bit terrifying and harsh.

I guess that’s what makes Him sovereign and so wonderful – His perfect balance that makes us whole in Him.

Today was not good – there is really very little positive to take away. And, sometimes, we have to admit that a day was just bad. But I’m thankful He keeps His promises. I’m thankful for soul sisters who rush with loving words and intercession. I’m thankful for surprising wisdom and love that erupts from teenagers in moments of crisis. I’m thankful for colleagues and bosses who step into my panic and help carry my burdens. So that’s the positive – that people are inherently good. That writing about my day will make me feel better. That a moment creating with fonts will make my soul sing a tiny song which the enemy can’t silence.

Even in bad days – it’s good to be alive.

His.

In the swirling, hectic busyness of my life lately, He grabbed my attention. He used three simple words to catch my heart, stop my mind, and breathe life into my spirit.

“I have you.”

He looks past my frazzled, anxious, whiny exterior and loves me to my very core. And while I weep in His presence from fatigue, confusion, frustration, and so many other emotions, I beg Him to answer why He accepts this hot mess of a woman.

It’s then that I realize He doesn’t JUST accept me. He is not a sorority and He doesn’t care anything about my “qualifications.”

HE CHOOSES ME.

He actively pursues me through every door I slam in His face. Through every ignored helping hand. Through every spiteful word or hateful thought. He chooses this woman. He chooses me.

I’m stumbling through this life in my own stubborn, independent way but He catches me every time. When I am too fatigued to walk forward, He carries me but let’s me believe I am doing it on my own because He knows how important that is to me. He looks at what I create every day and smiles.

He approaches every second with me the way a father does a child. Because I am His child. In the midst of my determination to do things right and become a successful adult, I forget I am still a child in the eyes of my Creator. He gazes at me with affection and warmth when I succeed and grieves when my spirit and heart grieve.

I can never grow up and mature beyond God.

And I realize in this moment I never, ever want to. I will never outgrow being His.

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Surviving the Terrible Two’s: Dolla Dolla Bill, ya’ll.

Today is the last post in our 20something series. I have been so honored to do this with Micaela. Her spirit and appetite for life inspires me to embrace adventure. I love that Kiwi and am quite sad to see this series come to an end.

Our last post tackles the topic of FINANCES. Money falls into that same category as politics and religion of “things you shouldn’t talk about in public.” Well, consider us rebels because we are talking about it.

Her post, which you can find HERE, is so relevant and perfectly honest. Make sure you check it out and subscribe to her blog. You won’t want to miss any of her future posts. She’s a world-changer, that one.

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I live in the land of many smells. Most of them are quite unpleasant. There’s the stench of oil wells, oil refineries, and, when the wind blows just right, the smell of dairies or feedlots.

The older generations say “that’s the smell of money!” I’m sorry, but I would rather my money smell like the leather of a new Kate Spade bag (preferably this one) or Steve Madden boots (these). And it always struck me as funny that anyone would associate such a ratchet smell with money. It seems that wouldn’t do much for money’s reputation.

Not that money has a very good reputation as it is.

When preparing to write this blog, I spent a lot of time reflecting on money in my life and money in the lives of others. I found plenty of differences; obviously, some people drive Lexus, BMW, and other luxury brands and I don’t. But I found one constant – at some point we have all become frenemies with money. Whether our argument with money is because we have too much or too little, there is a point in our lives where we become dissatisfied with its existence and the strings attached to it.

And it seems to me that our fall-out with money happens at some point in our 20s.

I have had my fair share of money issues. I did not grow up in an affluent home. We had everything we needed and most of what we wanted but never in excess. I was perfectly content with life in the middle class until it came time to face college expenses. After being laughed at by those FAFSA jerks, I became displeased with “enough.” I didn’t want just “enough,” I wanted more than enough so that I could pay for college. There was even a point when I wanted less than enough just to receive grants. I was bitter toward money and I still am. When I consider grad school and the ridiculous cost of higher education, I begin to despise money all over again. I pay my loan installments on time every single month but always with a grimace and an expletive.

That doesn’t stop me from loving what money can give me though. How paradoxical.

I can’t answer financial questions. I don’t keep a specific budget. I pay my bills as soon as I get paid and hope for the best for the rest of the month honestly. So, I often turn to men and women I admire for advice on the topic.

What my Dad taught me:

  • Have a savings account. Always. Even if you only have $100 in there – it’s helpful.
  • Be generous. Always tip and tip well – regardless of service.

What my Mom and sisters taught me:

  • Buy pretty things you can afford – ask Dad for what you can’t afford. (That’s my favorite advice.)

What Lore taught me:

  • Tithing is not just writing a check. It’s a calling from God, and it doesn’t have just one face. I encourage you to read her powerful words on the topic of tithing here and here.

What America taught me:

  • Don’t live beyond your means. Credit isn’t the devil, but he often hangs out there.

What I can do better:

  • Start focusing more on what I NEED rather than what I THINK I need.
  • Give more of myself but also of my resources.
  • Stop worrying. I’m not going to wake up one morning and all of my money is gone.
  • Most of all, trust in God. He is concerned in all aspects of my life – my bank account included. I often think “Oh, He doesn’t care that I overspent this month.” But He does. I think “He is too busy to be bothered with my financial woes.” He’s never too busy. I don’t know when I will finally get that through my thick skull, but hopefully one day. My greatest wish is that I will believe in His power and sovereignty in my own life with as much faith as I have in Him in the lives of others.

I don’t think money and I will ever be good enough friends to gab over a pint of ice cream or have a “Friends” marathon, but I’d like to at least coexist in peace. Every single day is a new lesson in finance, and I hope I can apply every lesson toward creating a better tomorrow for myself and maybe a future family. Until then, I am avoiding Dave Ramsey like the plague because I’m pretty sure he won’t like what he’d see in my bank account, and he kind of scares me.

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SWL!!!

Rather than making resolutions this year, I opened myself up and asked God to challenge me. And one of those challenges was to put more effort into my writing and step back and watch how He would work through it. What blows my mind is that when God gives us a challenge, He’s already holding a trophy because that’s how great His love and confidence for us is.

God is never wrong, and to prove it, I’m pleased to announce that I am a guest writer for So Worth Loving today! I have admired the wonderful people behind SWL for a while now, and I’m so honored that they have welcomed me into their family. They have given me the courage I needed to quit hiding behind humor and silliness and finally bare my soul.

Check out my post on their FABULOUS site. And buy a shirt too! Here’s the linky-link. 🙂

 

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Surviving the Terrible Twos: I’m single and it’s complicated.

Here we are for week two! This week, Micaela and I are talking about DATING. And, no, I don’t have a Taylor Swift lyric for this post because, despite my love for her, T. Swizzle has a terrible dating ethic and one I do not support. TAKE SOME ME-TIME, TAY.

Check out Micaela’s post HERE. Xoxo.

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If this were the age of typewriters, the floor of my bedroom would be littered with crumpled sheets of paper full of rejected drafts. Lucky for rainforests and myself, my struggle with this piece is not harmful to any ecosystem. So I’m good there. But it doesn’t change that this piece has a deadline, nor does it help me write it any faster.

I’m stuck because I’m making this too damn complicated. That’s right, I’m making a simple blog post about dating culture in your 20s too complicated. Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on me either.

So let’s uncomplicate (pretty sure that’s not a word) things, shall we?

My students often come to me with their life problems. Not because I am full of wise, meaningful advice, but because I am in this stage of life that makes me approachable. I am not really an “adult” in their eyes but I’m not a “peer” either. I’m not ruined by the harsh cruelties of the grown-up world, but I’ve moved beyond petty, high school drama. Honestly, they’re pretty idealistic about life in your 20s, but I’m not going to burst their bubble. Yet.

Dating advice is what they most often seek. Which, given my lack of a dating history, they are really barking up the wrong tree of information. I rarely have answers to their questions. But like I would admit that! So I ask them “what about this situation do you know to be true?” 1) It sounds super smart and counselor-ish and 2) it doesn’t show that I have no idea what to tell them.

I’m going to use the same tactic here. I don’t have all the answers about dating, nor do I even have a tried-and-true method of scoring yourself a hottie. I mean, I still haven’t managed to get Ryan Gosling to break up with Eva Mendes. That says it all. But these are things I know to be true.

Self-help books about dating are, in fact, not helpful.

This is dating propaganda, and it’s not helping. Christian books can fall into this category as well. That just offended somebody, but it’s true. These books create an idea that there is one way to date, and that if you follow the “rules,” you’ll have your mate in no time. Let me blow your mind – THERE ARE NO RULES. People are different, and thank God for that. You are not going to find your mate the same way that your best friend did. It will be unique to you. All of these old adages of “don’t text him first” or “wait for him to ask you out” are archaic and useless. Make your own rules. And for the love of Prada, stop listening to Cosmo magazine. Absolutely clueless.

Lists are for grocery shopping – not dating.

Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. “The List.” The list you’ve been curating since you were 6 years old and fell in love with a Disney prince. It’s been through every stage of your life and once you hit your 20s, that list is truly something to behold. You’ve put more time and effort into that thing than our Founding Fathers did when drafting the Declaration of Independence. You’re proud of it. It fully encompasses what you’re looking for in a man. The man who meets this list will be your soulmate. BURN IT. Seriously, torch that damn thing. That list is a monster. We compare every single man to that list, and it’s not fair to ask them to compete with a fictitious being. I’m not saying “lower your expectations.” Please, NEVER lower those or your standards. But it is time that we stop assuming that we know what or who is best for us. If you were to ask those blissfully happy married friends of yours if their significant other would fulfill every single “requirement” they were looking for in a mate, chances are they would say “no.” On a Biblical note, I’m pretty sure Gomer was nothing like Hosea’s list, but he loved her despite. (That was a bit of a Jesus juke.)

Singleness isn’t the end of my life. It’s actually the beginning.

If complaining about singleness was an Olympic sport, I would be Michael Phelps. Mmmm… Michael Phelps. Sorry, back to the issue. I’ve often thought this part of my life was a curse or punishment for something I did terribly wrong. It’s not. And being single doesn’t mean something is wrong with me either. I’m not defective or broken. I’m just single. In the past year, I’ve learned to embrace this as a gift and the freedom and independence that comes with it. Most of all, I’m learning how to be happy alone because if I can’t be happy with my own company, how can I ask someone to enjoy my company? And I’m learning the importance of being more concerned about meaningful and lasting relationships with people rather than a fleeting courtship with one person. My whole life can’t be wrapped around a potential mate, and, much in the same way, I can’t center my growth as a person and woman of God around becoming a wife. That would be cutting my potential substantially. Being a wife sounds wonderful, but it won’t be the completion of my life or journey with the Lord. I often hear women say “I really feel the Lord is preparing me for marriage.” Truthfully, His work in our lives goes far beyond someone putting a ring on our fingers. I don’t want to miss God moving in my life because I’m overly concerned with taking a step toward the wrong altar.

Of all the parts of life in your 20s, dating is definitely the roughest road. The heartbreak is harder. People are harder to understand. And, honestly, it’s just plain complicated no matter how hard we try to uncomplicate (again, made up word) things. I guess the one thing I know to be truest about dating is that single doesn’t mean “alone.” True, no one sent me flowers on Valentine’s Day, but I was showered with love from my friends and family. We do life together as a community. And instead of being jealous of all the married people, let’s be jealous of ourselves and this awesome, independent adventure we’re on together. However, I will totally abandon this ship and all of you when Ryan Gosling finally discovers that I am his one true love.

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Good enough. Important enough.

Before I could even walk, I had two trophies to my name. My mother entered me in a baby beauty pageant because she was very proud of my blue eyes and chubby cheeks and quite proud of herself for helping to create an aesthetically pleasing baby that was only slightly coneheaded. I’m still pretty coneheaded.

While my mother never made me do another pageant, my competitive nature was sparked and I threw myself into any activity available. In the midst of this, a seed was planted. A lie was told. An addiction was established.

What I did became who I was. Winning became an affirmation of my importance. I needed accolades to survive.

I tied my identity, body and soul, to whatever activity I was in the middle of. Why? Because I was afraid that without a label or title I would not be good enough. How could anyone love me if I wasn’t always in the limelight? I threw myself into every activity with the intention of winning. Winning first place, winning your attention, and then winning your love. When I was winning, I felt complete. Second place was never good enough; that was just the first loser. Winning made people notice me. Winning made people care about me. Winning made me important to people.

Talk about a lie from the pit of hell.

But it’s what I believed. I didn’t win for the gold medals or blue ribbons or because it made me feel good. I didn’t join every activity on the planet because I was some prodigy. I did it because I needed people to notice me and to feel that I had made them proud. Every attagirl was like a drug. I craved it. I needed it. I wanted people to need me. I needed them to need me.

Somewhere in my childhood, Satan planted a seed. He became a constant voice in my ear singing me lies hidden in kind words.

“You can do it. Win that contest. Then they’ll see how important you are.”

“You need to win. They won’t respect you if you don’t.”

“Join another activity. Exhaustion is worth being the best.”

“No one cares about your feelings. They care about how YOU make THEM feel. Don’t bother them with your emotions.”

As a result, all of my worth was invested into my performance. And the saddest part? I didn’t even realize it. I truly believed that someone was only as good as the awards they could lay at the foot of the Throne. I had this image that at the end of my life, I would stand before God and He would take stock of what I had done for the world rather than who I reflected to the world.

My favorite story in the Bible is also the one that wrecked me to my core. Martha and Mary. In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus comes to visit the sisters. Mary sat with Jesus to soak up every moment with Him possible. Martha, on the other hand, was pulled by what she felt was her duty to the Lord. Of course, homegirl gets pissed. Here she is in a hot kitchen cooking up a feast for The Messiah, the Son of God, and her sister is just chilling with Him. Martha storms into the living room (pretty sure they called it something else then) and demands that Jesus notices her labor and her sister’s lack. Jesus, being the raddest of all dude’s in existence, acknowledges Martha’s work because He sees the importance of that to her. But then He explains that she is cooking a feast He never asked for because HE is the feast. He didn’t want sandwiches or cheese and crackers – He wanted her to sit and feast on His presence.

THAT’S IT. ALL HE WANTED WAS TO MEET WITH THEM.

There have been many lies in my life, but the biggest one was that I had to earn God’s love and grace. I have spent my life trying to pay a debt and earn a spot in His presence when He already paid my debt and has a spot reserved just for me.

If you’re struggling with this lie, allow me to assure you that He sees you just as you are loves you unconditionally. His love for you is not tied up in your performance or in how the world sees you. Your importance to Him can best be summed up by the Cross. If you were the only person on the planet, Jesus still would’ve gotten on that Cross and defeated death for you. FOR YOU.

I wish I could say with confidence that I have overcome this lie. But I haven’t – not completely. I think I’ll always want the world’s acceptance and to feel important, but will I need it? No. Because every day the Lord is romancing my heart and reminding me that He has a purpose for me. And while the enemy will continue to dress up his insults in fancy clothes to distract me, I have been given the authority to turn away. Jesus will never hide Himself or His goodness. His love is ever-present and available at any moment because of how important we are to Him.

I don’t remember what it felt like to win that baby beauty pageant, but it doesn’t compare to the fact that I never have to compete for God’s love.

This is a guest post for Overcome the Lie. Check out their Tumblr, Twitter, or Facebook and get involved!

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Circumstances

I often struggle with the goodness of God.

I know He is good. I trust He is good. But I don’t understand why He is good to me?

An old adage is “Jesus accepts me for who I am but He loves me too much to leave me that way.”

It’s cliche and trite at times, but it wouldn’t be as popular as it is if it didn’t hold some water. It’s the second half of that sentence that really gets me. He loves me too much to allow me to be complacent and comfortable. He loves me too much to allow me to be less than what He has planned for me.

It gets me every single time.

Instead of deeming me a “lost cause,” He looks at me and makes a plan to make me better. That’s where circumstances come into play. I have spent a great deal of time looking at circumstances and wondering why. I have also spent a great deal of time looking to see how I can change or mold my current position instead of really taking a step back and looking at it all through His eyes.

My new favorite quote is from “Love Does” by Bob Goff. Which by the way, is a must read. I am not an avid reader of devotionals or anything non-fiction, but this books is literally wrecking everything I thought I knew about love and God’s love. Please read it. Plus, he’s hilarious and within the first half of the book he tells a farting story. Clearly the way to my heart.

Anyway, in his book he says “I used to think I could shape the circumstances around me, but now I know Jesus uses circumstances to shape me.”

Wow.

Talk about a concept that completely shifted my thought processes at the moment. Truthfully, I have experienced a rough month. Things have not gone as planned, and I have spent a lot of time wondering how I can change things. Maybe I’m not meant to change this. Maybe this is all part of becoming who I am meant to be. While I fervently believe that God is perfect and is not the giver of bad gifts, I have also seen that God believes in me more than I believe in myself. I have used the words “I’m done” more in the past two weeks than ever in my life only to be met with God’s patient response of “Not yet.”

I can’t change the circumstances I am in at the moment because I can’t control every small detail or every person in my life. All I can do is pray through it and look to see the lesson in all of it. God uses all things for His glory, and He won’t waste a single moment of my life despite my desperate attempts to.

In the midst of my ugliness and bitterness, He continues to seek me. Instead of backing off and letting me “cool down,” He pushes me to overcome and face the things that threaten to tear me down. He does not delight in my struggles or pain, but He believes in me.

And that’s all part of His goodness. Which I’m still struggling with because I can’t see myself the way He sees me. But in the middle of circumstance of sometimes pain, I see His goodness. I see His love falling down on me and His grace pushing me through it all.

 

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Costumes and hiding

In my lifetime, I’ve worn a lot of costumes.

There were homemade costumes created by my cousins and I (with the help of our grandmother) for our productions of Aesop’s Fables or when we decided to rewrite “Crybaby.” On a side note, I can’t believe my parents and uncle let us watch that. It’s super inappropriate. Funny as hell, but inappropriate.

There were also Halloween costumes either bought (eh) or made by my mother from an idea born in her crazy mind (my favorite). I have spent hours upon hours in dusty costume shops searching for a turban or perfect wig for high school theatre productions, and now I am an assistant theatre director.

Costumes have consumed a great deal of my life, obviously. And I’ve pondered why that is. Truthfully, I just enjoy the escape. Letting loose of myself for a moment of time and pouring my energy into another persona was a way of “taking a break.”

What I never realized until recently was that I’ve done this my entire life – with or without a costume.

I am guarded. 

And let me admit to you that I have made a lot of jokes out of that statement. A LOT. And I’m not proud of it, but, yes, I am the girl who has rolled her eyes pretty much every time someone said that on “The Bachelor” or in a church small group.

My thought process always went something like, “What does that even mean? Guarded? You’re guarded because you think it sounds angsty and cool. Geez, that’s dumb. I’m not guarded. I don’t hide behind anything. I’M A STRONG, INDEPENDENT WOMAN.”

False. That’s just one big lie I told myself for far too many years.

In the past year, God has revealed that I hide behind too many things. Which was actually news to me. I really thought I had it all together. Honestly, I did. I knew that I had some struggles, but I was actually of the opinion that I was just fantastic. Well, I still think I’m fantastic, but you get the point. What I didn’t realize was that my relationship with Him was at a complete standstill and actually going backwards. Why? Because I was stubbornly hitting a wall planted firmly between myself and Him but still ignoring the existence of the wall. Which is just strange, you guys. If you ever see someone hit their head firmly against a wall repeatedly and then say the wall isn’t real, get them some help. Something is very wrong. And something IS very wrong with me.

  • I hide behind my family. I let them be my source of comfort when things are going wrong. Anytime I’m hurting or stressed, I run home to let them numb the pain and distract my heart and mind. Leaning on my family is not the problem. Burdening them with the responsibility of fixing my problems and putting them on an emotional pedestal that should only hold God is the problem.
  • I hide behind activities. An idle mind thinks and ponders and worries. To avoid that and, ultimately, myself, I keep myself busy. Whether it’s a full TV schedule or leaving every single weekend to go anywhere but here, I hide my heart in the art of busyness.
  • I hide behind humor. If I’m laughing, you can’t tell that I’m hurting. I thank God for my ability to laugh and be silly, but one of my favorite things is also one of my most commonly used masks. When I can’t face the hard truth that things are just plain crappy, I dive into laughter. And over-the-top laughter. I need it. I need someone to affirm that I made them laugh. I need that affirmation. NEED. But that’s not true. That’s just what I want. What I need is the Word. What I need is the presence of the Lord. What I need is to fall down before the Throne and let Him hold my heart and soul.

All I need is Him, but that requires me letting down my guard. Therein lies the paradox, friends.

But the first step is recognizing the problem and admitting it. That sounded like the beginning to a sobriety speech, but I guess in a way I am getting sober. Instead of alcohol or drugs, I’m working on giving up the thing I’ve depended on for so long – my comfort zone.

God has called me to turn in my masks and costumes in favor of having a more fulfilling, complete relationship with Him. And it will not be comfortable. Obviously, comfort is what got me into this mess – comfort and a crippling fear of being raw and vulnerable in front of the world.

Feelings are messy. And my insides feel very much like what happened in Matthew 21:12. Jesus is all up in my life flipping tables and stirring up all that doesn’t honor and further His Kingdom, and it’s because He loves me and values me that much. Super cool dude. I’m a fan.

There is no space in my life for the metaphorical costumes and masks in my life, but I’m keeping my badass Native American headdress and Hedwig costume. Those I ain’t givin’ up.

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Content

I am content in my singleness. 

If you imagined me saying this while taking a deep sigh of relief, then you hit the proverbial nail on the head.

If you gasped when I said that, then you have probably witnessed one of my meltdowns about being “forever alone.”

This blog is not easy for me to write. I am not one to bare my soul easily. I wish that weren’t the case because I often wish I could be raw and vulnerable in front of others. The truth, however, is that such emotion gives me anxiety, and I begin to look for the nearest exit out of Hormone-Land.

But I am going to do my very best to be raw and vulnerable in front you today, friend.

Being single is no easy feat. It’s the obvious loneliness mixed together with plenty of social pressure, and it’s exhausting. Really, being single should be an Olympic sport with all of the anxiety and pressure tied to it.

I’ve been single for a LONG time.

Because, five years ago, God asked me to step away from dating. Mind you, when He asked, I laughed out loud because I have never even had a “real” boyfriend.

Ouch, that hurts to admit.

There were two boys I considered “boyfriends,” only to find out too late that they never considered me their “girlfriend.” It all seems rather technical, but what I mean is that I was committed to them, but they weren’t committed to me.

At 24, I realize how foolish I was and refuse to count those as viable relationships. In my head, I chalk this up to a WIN on my part.

Back to the point, when God asked me to step away from the dating life, He asked me to step away from men almost completely. He encouraged me to cultivate my friendships with my female friends rather than the male ones I was cultivating by being their caregiver, homework helper, dinner cooker, etc.

He showed me very clearly that my friendships with males (one, in particular) were unhealthy because I was allowing myself to play the role of “girlfriend” without ever asking or demanding the same in return.

I was a doormat.

I couldn’t appreciate the real friendships I had with males and females because I was focused on the unhealthy ones. So, I had to step away.

What I’ve learned:

1) How to be a friend

This is one of the biggest lessons I have learned through this process. I once let a boy so consume my mind and time that I let almost every single one of my friends slip through my fingers. I let him say terrible things to one of my best friends and break her spirit. I thank God every day that she showed me grace and forgave me and welcomed me back. I’ve learned that friends are more than someone to shop with or change my tire because I’m delicate. I learned to surround myself with people who love me for who I am and not what I can do for them. I learned to be open to new friendships but also that sometimes we need to be picky about who we share our life with.

And, most of all, I learned to be a friend to myself. It became so clear that I was expecting a boy to love me when I didn’t even love myself. That is flawed logic. I was setting a poor standard and a low expectation for him to meet. Essentially, my relationships with boys were doomed from the very beginning.

I had some changing to do. I started with treating myself with respect, and doing my best to honor my body and mind with my words and not tear myself down like I had spent the majority of my life doing. I prayed that God would change my mind and spirit to view myself as He does. That was revolutionary. I began to love and appreciate the body, mind, and soul that He created. I began to love myself. And it has been a truly beautiful experience.

2) I learned how to be a woman

Of course I knew how to be a girl. What I mean is that I grew up. I became an adult. I became a woman. I became a Godly woman. I became the woman who God had created me to be.

I learned that I’m a bit of a feminist (who knew?) and that I am more passionate about encouraging women to reach their potential and know their worth than I have been about anything else in my life. I learned how to stand on my own two feet and be independent. This included not running to Daddy every time my car made a funny noise or my credit card got a little out of hand. I still call Daddy, but now I call to ask how his day was. That blew his mind. Independence changed me and, because of it, my relationship with the Lord grew and flourished in real and tangible ways.

I might not have ever learned any of this if things had worked out the way I hoped they would when I was 19 years old.

3) It’s all worth the wait

What a cliché thing to say, right? If you stopped just then and thought “I am so sick of hearing that,” I’m with you. It’s trite and usually not at all helpful when coming out of the mouth of your blissfully happy married friends’ mouths when it seems they didn’t have to wait at all. Trust me, I’ve been there and still am, honestly.

But God is not a God of tradition. He doesn’t map out the same life plan for all of us. And hallelujah for that!

Truthfully, some of our friends have bounced from relationship to relationship, seemingly unscathed, to find the man or woman of their dreams easily and early. And we have those friends that have been dragged through relationship hell and are still married before us. (We’ve all been a bit angry about this.)

And it’s frustrating.

It’s frustrating to understand why God hasn’t chosen that for those of us cooking dinners for one and asking our pet dog, cat, or fish if our outfit looks good. I spent five solid years harboring a deep bitterness toward Him for this.

Ouch, also really hard to admit.

But His plan is just plain bigger than mine. And while I don’t always understand it, there is a reason I’m single.

I’m thankful that He has held my heart so preciously in His hands. Despite my greatest attempts to give it away to someone undeserving and the damage and ugliness I have put it through, my heart still matters to Him.

I am content in my singleness because being courted by the Lord is unlike anything I have ever known before. He unfailingly has my best interests at heart. He loves on me when I’m downright rude to Him. He forgives my mistakes and washes them away. He encourages me and is always my biggest cheerleader.

He has set the standard for what my husband will be in my life because now I can never accept love that doesn’t mirror His.

The Lord has created someone especially for us. We don’t fall together by chance or coincidence. He has betrothed us since birth to the one person that will fit to us just like a puzzle piece.

I hope you know how beautiful and wonderful you are. And how worthy you are of being loved recklessly and passionately. Please don’t settle for a love that doesn’t measure up to the quality of person you are. Please wait on His timing. Please love yourself.

To wrap it all up, waiting isn’t always fun. But in this waiting period, I’ve learned to love myself, love others, and how to be a bit of a badass.

So, yeah, I’m pretty content with being single.

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