Posts tagged singleness
What It’s Like to Live Fully in Singleness While Still Hoping for Marriage
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A few weeks ago, I sat across from a friend at my little dining room table, coffees in hand (of course), talking about life, faith, callings, and building God’s Kingdom from wherever we are. At one point in our conversation, my friend looked at me and said she thought I was living a wonderful and full life for the Lord. She saw God’s work in all I was doing. And she celebrated where I was and the opportunities He had given me.

Her words meant so much to me, because sometimes, as a single woman, one of the greatest challenges I face is devaluing where I’m at in life and what God is doing in and through me. I haven’t hit the major milestones our culture puts so much emphasis on — milestones I long for — like getting married and having kids — and so it’s easy to compare what God is doing in my life to others’ lives and feel both left behind and lacking purpose.

But I am realizing that no one season or calling has more value than another when our hearts are focused on making much of this life for Him. We all have the same call to know Him and build His Kingdom, and realizing that has been bringing me so much freedom.

I’ve also realized that I can both make the most of my singleness and also still hope and pray for marriage. The two are not mutually exclusive. I don’t have to suppress my hopes and dreams for marriage, or be embarrassed by them. And I also don’t have to hinge my life around them...

If you'd like to read the rest of this post, head on over to Chelsea's blog Trials Bring Joy. I am both honored and excited to be included in her current series What It's Like To.

Cultivating What Matters: 2018 Powersheets Prep
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Powersheets time is one of my favorite times of the year, and I'm excited to be making some space these last few weeks of 2017 to dig into my 2018 Powersheets and get equipped for the new year ahead. The snow is falling outside, my tree is twinkling, and I'm drinking a hot mug of coffee from my favorite Birds Don't Worry mug.

I'm ready. :)

2017 was one of the hardest years I’ve had in a long time. It was a season of broken and redirected dreams, but through it all, I have seen His faithfulness to me, and I know He has been growing me and strengthening me.

I know the best is yet to come, and my story isn’t over yet.

As I began writing my celebration list for the year, I realized how much GOOD truly did come out of a year I'm tempted to label BAD. It was a hard year, but it wasn't a bad year. God is good on the mountaintop and in the valley. And He doesn't waste a thing. I'm praising Him for ALL the goodness He brought, even in the midst of challenges.

HERE'S WHAT I AM CELEBRATING ABOUT 2017:

  • New adventures (my trip to Nashville and getting to reconnect with a sweet friend)
  • Learning and growing (I read and was encouraged by so many good books)
  • Praising through the pain (I got to worship with my sister and with some of my favorite worship artists this year: Rend Collective and Elevation Worship)
  • Bold prayers (even in the face of disappointment, I found God prompting me to keep praying boldly, and I’m excited to see the ways He answers each of those prayers)
  • I went deeper in my Bible study and am so excited to continue this more in-depth study in 2018
  • I redesigned my website!
  • I began writing my women's devotional Expectant Faith (coming in 2018! Stay tuned!) :)
  • I grew STRONGER - emotionally, spiritually, and physically
  • I started working with a personal trainer in September and have been strength training twice a week for the past four months —  I'm so encouraged by this progress!
  • I completed the Whole30 program
  • I shared my story in Laura Dudek's Written Bible study (releasing in January 2018)
  • I have another piece of writing being published, too (I'll share where in January!)
  • I took another God get-away in June, and it was such a sweet and refreshing time

AND HERE ARE A FEW LESSONS I LEARNED IN 2017:

  • I want to practice praise more often. Doubt, discouragement, and comparison stole my focus and my joy much too often this year. I want to live so fully surrendered to God that I trust and praise Him even when the story looks like it has gone terribly wrong.
  • I want the story that gives Him the most glory — even if it looks different than what I (or culture) expects.
  • Doubt often leads to discouragement and despair. It's so important to remain anchored and immersed in His truth. I want to focus on studying and praising His attributes this coming year.
  • I can trust God with my dreams and desires — even when it feels or seems like I can't.
  • I can do hard things. But not because of my strength. Because of HIS.
  • Waiting is a disciplined refusal to act before God acts (Eugene Peterson). God ALWAYS knows best. So often I trust myself, rather than trusting Him. But I want to wait for the story He knows is best. I want to trust Him even when things don't seem to make any sense.
  • Chasing dreams — even God-given dreams — should never replace chasing God.
  • Prayer changes things — and it changes ME.
  • I am a Teacher, or Light Giver, in the Kingdom (Five-Fold Ministry Assessment); I want to study and teach His Word, using my creativity and curiosity to build His Kingdom.

I'm going to end with a great question Lara asked in her 2018 Cultivate What Matters goal-setting series:

What’s the one thing you most want to cultivate in 2018?

The thing I most want to cultivate in 2018 is an expectant faith. I want to trust God completely with my most precious dreams and desires (like marriage and family and teaching and writing for Him). And I want to live with the kind of hope in Him that NEVER gives up, the kind of hope that knows He’s a God who can flip the script at any time.

How are you doing today, friends? I would love to hear from you in the comments. Tell me about your year, what you've learned, how God's worked...I'm cheering you all on as you reflect on the year behind and look forward with HOPE and FAITH to the year ahead. :)

Navigating the Now and Not Yet: Lessons in Dating, Waiting, & Singleness

Being the curious person that I am, I love to read all the books and blogs, watch inspiring sermons, and listen to thought-provoking podcasts. It's been such a season of learning for me that I thought I'd put together a post summarizing some of what God has been teaching me (especially when it comes to dating, waiting, and singleness). I've organized everything into four main lessons God's been teaching me.

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1. Focus on seeking first the Kingdom, and go deeper in your life of worship and faith.

I'm listing this lesson as #1, because it's foundationally important to navigating any and every season we face, whether it's singleness, dating, marriage, parenthood, etc. Seasons of waiting and transition offer us unique opportunities to deepen our roots of faith, and trust our Good Father in new ways. Ask Him what He's calling you to do or learn in this specific season of life (even if it's unwanted). How is He calling you to serve? How is He equipping you for where you are (and possibly what's ahead)? How can you be faithful right where you are? There are so many things happening behind the scenes that we can't see. But no matter what season we find ourselves in (and no matter what season we may be longing for), He's inviting us to discover who He is and all He is capable of doing in and through us. Get lost in that discovery process and allow Him to change you in the midst of it.

2. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind and the refining of your character.

This isn't an easy one, I know. But as I mentioned in lesson #1...God cares about our growth and transformation. In fact, as Nicole Reyes said in one of her videos on following God's call on your life, God cares more about inward transformation than He does about outward promotion. Be open to His work in you. Ask Him what areas He wants to grow and prune you in. Focus on filling your mind with His truth, His wisdom, and not what the world tells you. There are so many lies I've believed that have caused me to live (and date) from a place of discontent, discouragement, fear, and frustration, rather than hope, faith, and victory in Christ. As a single, if we can learn to cultivate a mind that overflows with joy and hope and faith, we will then be able to produce that fruit in dating and marriage, too.

3. Become a good steward of your emotional health.

Pain from our past can prevent us from living in freedom and stepping into all God has for us. Unresolved pain and bitterness in our lives becomes bondage. Ask God if there are any places or areas where you need healing. Then take the time to do what's necessary to truly heal where you need to heal, so you are fully ready when God does bring the right person into your life. I think it was Steven Furtick who said that if you're not ready, you can turn the right person into the wrong person. That was convicting for me! I've also been learning it's important to be a good steward of our emotions while dating. This means keeping in step with the Spirit, as well as dating in community, so we aren't tempted to rush ahead, and we aren't blinded by feelings of romance or infatuation. Being a good steward of our emotions means being aware and able to recognize what we are feeling, but also knowing how to put our emotions in their proper place and be guided by faith over feelings.

4. Be faithful and FLOURISH!

Seasons of waiting and transition have gotten a bit of a bad wrap. And I get it. I'm the first one to admit that I'm certainly ready to leave the season of singleness behind. ;) But I also know God desires for us to be so rooted in Him that we can be faithful, fruitful, and flourish in all seasons, not because of whatever circumstance we may find ourselves in, but because we are trusting and relying on Him fully. He is the one variable that does not change. And He promises to give us all we need for this day. And the next. And the next. Whether we are single or married.

One of the ways I focus on flourishing in my faith is by setting goals. I use Lara Casey's Powersheets process to set a vision for my year and then set Christ-centered goals that support that vision. Doing so helps me to cultivate what matters and know I am doing all I can to live this life as fully as I can for God's glory, right where I am. It also gives me a vision for my future that I can focus on when I'm making decisions and determining where God is leading me (and this includes dating!). For example, I know I want to build a marriage that's centered on Christ, and that I want the main mission of my marriage to be to seek and serve God together. That vision is going to influence who I choose to date and what I'm looking for in a partner.

I love what Danny Silk said about having a vision and building relationships around vision in his book Keep Your Love On: "When two people establish the pillar of vision in their relationship, they share the knowledge of one another's identity and calling, as well as their joint vision, and remind one another of these things on a regular basis. When seasons of difficulty, pain, or loss come up, the pillar of vision strengthens a relational connection and protects it from being thrown into survival mode."

Even in singleness, the vision we have based on the unique way God has created us will influence the decisions we make and help us to persevere through the hard and dry seasons of life.

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I think all of these lessons could be summarized simply as this: be faithful and obedient right where you are. I've been spending a lot of time in the book of Ruth, and I think her life is such a beautiful example of that. Even facing loss and hardship, she was humble and faithful and trusted God to provide and do what only He could do. She did all she could with what was right front of her, remaining loyal and steadfast. Our faith often requires us to do and act and trust before we know what the outcome will be. But we know who DOES know the ultimate outcome, and that frees us up to keep moving forward in obedience. We can be like Ruth and do all we can with what is right in front of us, trusting our Father with where we will go from here.

I hope these lessons are an encouragement to you today.

(And I'd love to hear what God's been teaching you lately, too!)

Resources that inspired this post: videos from Nicole Reyes, Instagram encouragement from Jessica Hoffman Shakir, and books like The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller, The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas, and Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk

5 Things God's Been Doing in My Life & Heart

I recently read Jess Connolly’s birthday post Five Things God Did and Five Things I'm Asking For and was inspired to create one of my own.

 

I ushered in year number thirty-three a few weekends ago, and it was a weekend packed full of people and things I love.

It also inspired me to reflect on my thirty-second year and take a bit of an inventory of how God was moving in my life and heart.

I think in a lot of ways I lived out my word for 2016: OPEN. Thirty-two seemed in many ways to be a season that pushed me to be more open to where God had me and where He was calling me, a year that asked me to let go of my own expectations and plans, in favor of His.

So on to the list (because I really love lists...)

5 Things God Did in My Life & Heart This Year

  1. I moved— A LOT (both home and work and church will be next). And in all the shifting and the moving and the pieces slowly beginning to settle again, I realized how much my life needed that freshness, that uprooting. And while I think I'm still in the replanting part of the process, it's been hard and good and inspiring. It's shown me God's plan is often so much bigger than we can realize and comprehend. And that sometimes, we get a little too settled in our circumstances, but in His grace, He calls us to keep growing and going new places with Him.
  2. God continued to show me the importance of cultivating community. I could not be more grateful for the amazing people in my life who walk alongside me, laugh with me, cry with me, encourage me, strengthen me, and seek the Lord with me. This past year that community has only grown and deepened, and I am so humbly thankful for the gift of those relationships in my life. My sister and I have also grown so much closer in the past year, because we made it a point to understand one another better and really work on some of the areas that were stumbling blocks in our relationship. I am so thankful for the hard work we've been doing and all the sweet fruits we have seen as a result. I learn more and more that relationships don't just happen. They are faithfully built, tended, and grown with love over time.
  3. I fell more in love with my city and state. I did quite a bit of exploring and adventuring this past year and loved every moment of it. From farmers markets to local boutiques to art events to celebrating the Cavs' championship win, I found myself uncovering more and more things to love about calling Ohio home.
  4. I started dating an amazing guy (!). This was such an unexpected blessing of the past year that it still surprises me at times. If you've hung around here for any length of time, you've likely read one of my posts on singleness. It's been quite a journey of surrender and trust for me. But this new season of dating is so special and sweet, and while it's still new and uncertain, I know God is right in the midst of it, leading the way. (And P.S. I promise to post more about this story soon. It's a fun one!) :)
  5. I shared (and surrendered) more of my story. One of the highlights of my year was teaching an Influence Network class called Trusting God With Your Story. That was such a stretching experience for me, but true to form, God didn't leave it there. Many months later, I read a book that loosened my grip on my story even more, shaking up some of the dreams and expectations I had been carrying around and waking me up to the freedom of true surrender.

Thirty-two was good. It was stretching, and it was refreshing. It surprised me, too, and I'm thankful for those surprises, because they've pointed me back to the truth that God writes really really good stories that are never predictable. And that's kind of exciting, isn't it?

And Here are 5 Things I'm Praying For in The Coming Year

  1. I'm asking God to show me how to be a better steward of the good gifts He's given me — including my love and desire to create. This little blog of mine has become more and more neglected, and while I love regular Instagram posts, they just aren't the same as really sitting down and intentionally creating and crafting something. So, I'm asking for clarity and guidance and space to create more for Him, in whatever way would glorify Him most.
  2. I'm praying to date intentionally, trusting God with this new relationship I've been blessed with. Being a good steward applies here, too, and honestly, I think that phrase/prayer is going to be a larger focus overall for me when it comes to this next year. But when it comes to dating, I want to really enjoy this season without too much worry or wonder for what's ahead. I want God to lead everything and have His way, because I know that whatever His way and His will may be, it is the very best possible outcome.
  3. I'm praying to continue to cultivate community. I've seen so many blessings in this area in the previous year that I want to keep going deeper. I want to tend to relationships well and be intentional when it comes to investing in those God has placed in my life.
  4. I want to really KNOW God more by spending more time with Him in His Word and more time with Him in prayer. I recently shared on Instagram that I want to focus on pausing and pressing in, seeking margin and space just for Him. I love talking to Him throughout the day, but I also want to have those spaces of quiet set aside just for Him. Time just for reading, for praying, for listening. 
  5. I'm going to end with repeating that I'm praying to be a better steward of God's good gifts in all areas, because as I mentioned, that really sums up where my heart is as I look ahead to this next year. That prayer includes focusing on my health and wellness, surrendering more and more each day, and really continuing to live fully for Him in all areas.

And if I may quote Jess one more time...

"Thanks God for all you did and all you're doing...have your way in year 33."

When Freedom Writes Our Stories

I recently did exactly what Lauren Daigle sings so beautifully about in her song Trust in You.

I let go of every dream and laid them at His feet.

And I discovered a freedom and a hope I'd truly never experienced before.


A few months ago, I discovered the book I Don't Wait Anymore by Grace Thornton. The question on the back was about the only incentive I needed to pick it up.

Have you been waiting for life to turn out the way you expected?

If I was honest, I had.

In all my years of wrestling with God over my singleness, I hadn't realized just how tightly I was still holding on to my own dreams, ideas, and expectations for my life.

I almost don't even have the words for how good this book is. I've already recommended it to so many of my friends (and not just those who are single). I Don't Wait Anymore is a hope-filled invitation to freedom, an invitation to see just how big and good and wise our God is and just how great a plan He has for us.

In I Don't Wait Anymore, Grace inspires you to seek God more earnestly and to seek Him for Him — not just for the blessings or answers He can bring.

Her words are raw and honest, but also full of poetry and possibility.

 

The section that may have impacted me most was when she asks her readers to consider what unmet desires are hidden in their hearts.

She goes on to encourage them to ask this question: "If [God] never fulfilled that desire, would I be able to be content? If I walk a road where those things never happen, would I be filled with joy knowing I would get Him at the end?"

As I got quiet and good and honest with myself, I realized that while I had been living that yes on the outside, the answer was still a no inside my heart.

But there was hope.

Her next invitation?

To ask myself why God was smaller in my heart than the life I wanted.

And to ask Him to show me who He really was.

This beautiful book is a journey through that process, and I honestly can't recommend it enough. Grace brought me back to who God really is. She shook up the dreams and expectations I've been carrying around and woke me up to the freedom of true surrender.

And it was truly different than anything I'd ever felt before.

Because when God gets in our hearts and replaces our dreams with Himself,  "our hearts become blank canvases where He can paint pictures of His love, fill us up with His Spirit, and change our desires and hurts from the inside out. It feels different. We begin to see Him write a new story. One with a whole lot of freedom."

AN INSPIRED SEASON | Resources & Inspiration for Singles

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Thursday, July 23rd. // Who are others you admire WHO are living/celebrating a similar season well? What resources/books/posts have encouraged you?

These amazing ladies are some of my favorites to follow in this season of life, and I'm excited to introduce them!

MEET CARRIE: Carrie's Instagram is full of colorful encouragement! She has the sweetest, most giving heart, and I'm fairly certain that even though we've never met, we could become fast friends, bonding over bright colors, polka dots, and living each day with thankfulness and joy!

MEET NATALIE: Natalie Metrejean has created an incredible devotional for single ladies (see below), and she is daily encouraging other single women to embrace their season and live a full, meaningful life. So lucky to call her a dear friend!

MEET NATALIE (YEP, TWO NATALIES!): Natalie of Good Girl Style is fabulous in so many ways (and another lady I am so lucky to call a friend). She's stylish with a fantastic flair for vintage, a fellow latte lover and coffee enthusiast, an amazing and inspiring poet, and above all, she loves the Lord in a really brave, beautiful, and faithful way. She's currently walking through an incredibly tough season, but she still shares with honesty and joy.

MEET BAILEY: Bailey has become such a sweet online friend, and I absolutely adore her heart for living fully and savoring her season. Her blog and Instagram are just chock full of creative inspiration — from books to read, quotes to remember, adventures in life and theatre, and crafty Project Life pages that celebrate God's goodness and all He is doing in her life. She will encourage you to live, dream, and create with courage!

MEET EMILY: Emily reminds me often what it looks like to be beautifully content in the Lord. She is an encourager, a cheerleader, and such a sweet spirit and friend. You'll find peace, rest, and inspiration in each of her lovely posts!

MEET ALI: Ali has written some pretty spot-on blog posts about what it's like to be single in your 30s (see link below). This girl is living proof of how to rock the single life, too! You'll love following her adventures in food blogging and making the most of life! photo 2

Photo credits: Left to right, top to bottom: Natalie of Good Girl StyleEmilyAliNatalie Metrejean  

Looking for more inspiration? Here are some of my favorite reads and resources for singles:

So, who's been inspiring you lately? And if you know of other single ladies who are living life to the very fullest, I'd love to be introduced! :)

I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring.

This post is dedicated to all those who find themselves in a season of quiet, question marks, and, at times, restless expectation. This post is especially dedicated to my single friends who are figuring out how to embrace where they are and live each and every moment to its fullest, trusting God to pave the path they are traveling. IMG_3107

A few days ago, I read an awesome page in Jesus Calling. The very first sentence was (in all caps); YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH.

Wow, did my heart need those words — more than I even realized!

And then this powerful reminder from Him followed: Listen more to me and less to your doubts. I'm leading you along the path I've designed just for YOU.

It can be so hard to keep our eyes on our own path. But when we compare, when we doubt, when we question, we are MISSING OUT on all God has for us right where we are.

Comparison cheats us of the opportunity to see and appreciate the adventure to be found in the dips and turns and twists of our own journey.

And when we doubt and fear and question, we are taking on burdens we are not meant to carry.

If we are following Him, we can trust that we are where we are meant to be. We can trust that He knows what today AND tomorrow holds, and that He is working to bring the best out of our current and future circumstances.

I'll be honest, I have reached the point in my own season of singleness where really the only thing left to do is truly let go and let God.  I have listened to others' success stories and tried what they've tried, I've read the articles, and I've prayed the prayers — all to no avail.

But I'm beginning to think that maybe I'm not meant to plan or pray or work my way out of this season. Maybe I'm meant to really look at it with new, grateful eyes that are free to see the possibilities it holds. Maybe I'm meant to embrace it with excitement and faithfulness and HOPE.

I used to fear that if I was too content or "successful" in my singleness that maybe God would decide to just leave me in it forever. It seems silly now to believe such a thing, but I have, time and time again. And tonight, I've realized that when I'm believing lies like that what I'm really doing is listening to my doubt more than I'm listening to God.

So, tonight, I'm ready to say goodbye to all of that doubt, and I'm ready to listen to what HE has to say about my season instead . I'm ready to fully surrender my hope for marriage to Him (trusting that in His perfect time and way He will lead me into whatever new season awaits).

I'm ready to turn my attention back to today — to the stack of books waiting to be read, the new paints that will soon brighten up a blank canvas, and the words that might find their way into a poem.

Today is right in front of me, exactly as He designed it, planned it, and purposed it. Today is right in front of me, and I choose to call it good. I'm ready to embrace it and make each of its moments count.

I am ready to be and go and do exactly what He has planned for me in this beautiful and sometimes unexpected season, ready to live both with contentment and expectation (if I may borrow that phrase from the fabulous Lindsay Sherbondy).

And it's true that I may not know where I'm going from here, or when or how I'll get there...

But He does.

And I promise it won't be boring.

Neither will today.

P.S. I snagged this post's title from a piece of art in the new Messy Box from A Beautiful Mess.
When You're Single on Valentine's Day

Image In years past, I have rolled my eyes at Valentine's Day, wanting to ignore it completely or say something snarky and sarcastic about its arrival.

Sometimes, Valentine's Days can harden both your heart and your hopes.

But, as silly as it sounds, God's been redeeming my view of the day, right along with this season of life, and honestly, is it really a surprise?

How could I not delight in a day that's filled with chocolates and sparkle, hot pink and hearts? How could I not love passing on bits of encouragement, letting all my dear ones know just how much they're appreciated and loved? And how could I not simply enjoy celebrating every joy I LOVE about my own life, every blessing the Lord so generously gives?

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Yesterday, when I flipped the calendar page to February 14, I decided to celebrate. I wore hot pink and sparkles (thank you Ban.do and Baublebar!). I treated myself to a latte, a pastel pink strawberry macaroon (and maybe even a few chocolates later in the afternoon). ;)

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Because I do not, for one moment, believe that Valentine's Day is a day just for couples.

Just like any other day, Valentine's Day can be what YOU make it.

Tonight, I'll be spending the evening with a group of girlfriends, noshing on chocolatel-y treats and celebrating everything we love about friendship. I have been so blessed in this season by inspiring friendships that add so much joy to my life, and I can't wait to celebrate and give thanks for that tonight.

Whether you're single or part of a couple, I hope you feel the LOVE that surrounds you this Valentine's Day weekend, and I hope you have fun celebrating the life that's yours with the people you're blessed to share it with.

P.S. And just as a little reminder, even if you don't have some sort of fancy date planned... Never forget:

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;)

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Why My Prayer in Singleness Has Changed
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In my dating experiences this past year, I've discovered that I want to change my prayer for my future marriage — well, more like simplify it.

While I still have a lot of hopes and dreams for what that relationship might look like, I just simply want to marry my best friend. And within that friendship, I do truly believe there will be many of the things I used to earnestly pray for...understanding, shared creativity, and a desire to learn, grow, dream, and live life fully together.

But I'm no longer complicating my prayers.

In 2014, I'm simply surrendering one very humble and heartfelt prayer: to meet and marry a man who will be my best friend.

I feel a certain freedom in praying that prayer, leaving the other details up to God. I almost feel as though this prayer pushes me to trust more fully, making more space for God to move and less space for me to worry and fret and try to make things happen in my own way and timing.

And that's a big focus for me in 2014 — making space for God to move. I've been learning lately that God doesn't force us into new seasons or adventures. We open our hearts, and He's waiting to lead us to new possibilities. And while I do believe that ultimately His Will prevails, I also believe we can partner with Him to follow His path and purpose for us.

And why wouldn't we want to partner with Him, opening our hearts and hands to receive His best? There have been far too many moments in my own life where I've clutched onto broken pieces, rather than releasing them and making space for God to do something new and beautiful.

Do you have any new prayers for 2014? Or prayers you're praying in a new way? How are you readying your heart for the new year and making space in your life for God to move in mighty ways?

:: image by Max Wanger; Text by me ::

How has He shaped your heart?

dreams I was talking with a sweet friend over the weekend, and we landed on the subject of dating. At one point during the conversation, I said I had hopes to marry a man who would dream with me. For whatever reason, I said that was something I really hoped I could share with my future husband — dreaming for the Lord together and pursuing those dreams together.

I felt silly sharing that, I said, but she firmly encouraged me, saying God placed that unique desire in my heart. I could be confident in it and confident in Him to fulfill it. She said He has purposefully given us all different hopes and dreams (for example, some dream and hope of finding someone who shares the same passion for overseas ministry). Listening to her words stirred up my gratitude for the unique shape of the hopes in my own heart.

God has shaped all of our hearts differently, and not only does He gift each one of us with our own unique talents, hopes, and dreams, He also orchestrates beautiful relationships and community throughout our lives that helps us grow and use those gifts and dreams to serve Him. (From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Eph. 4:16)

Why should my future marriage be any different?

Sometimes, I struggle with whether something is from me or from the Lord. I doubt my own hopes and dreams and fear attributing them to Him. But in listening to my friend, I realized I want to become more confident in believing what He is putting in my heart. And not only do I want to feel more confident in those hopes, I also want to pray over them, daily returning them to Him for safekeeping until He either fulfills them in His own perfect way, or in time, reshapes them, molding them into something new for His glory.

Part of that process means recognizing He made me a dreamer — and an encourager of dreams. It's woven into who I am. I don't want to be too shy to embrace the unique parts of myself and live them out with confident belief that He made me to love and do those things. It also means I'm not afraid to continue to hope that my future husband wants to dream for the Lord with me. Who knows, there might even be a man out there who is praying over the same things... ;)

How has He shaped your heart? And how are you using those beautifully unique aspects of yourself fully and for His glory?

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::For the month of October, I’m participating in The Nester’s #31Days blog writing challenge. My topic? Big BELIEF. For the next 31 days, I’ll be writing about three main things: 1. BELIEVING in His good plan for my life, 2. BELIEVING in the dreams He’s placed on my heart, and 3.BELIEVING in who He is and what He promises. So, what do you say? Will you join me? Will you open your heart to Him and allow Him to grow your belief over these next 31 days? You can read all my #31Days posts,here.::

 
When We Risk for Love

path This post is dedicated to all of my single friends — to all those who find themselves in a place that's similar to the one I find myself in — a place that's tender and delicate, unsure and uncertain, but also wildly hopeful.

Lately, I've been reminded of the importance of not shutting down our hearts, of not settling, and of never letting go of the hope we hold. 

I've been reminded how risky love is — but how you can't experience it fully without that risk.

The truth is we've all been hurt before, but the real triumph is turning our backs on that hurt and saying we'll never stop risking, never stop loving, because we know it's worth it.

I love this post by Stephanie May of The Lipstick Gospel. She writes: "Love is the greatest risk we can take because it’s the one that impacts us the deepest. Love buries its way into a place that no other battle or act of bravery can."

I've found that much of the time risking for love is about keeping open hands and hearts to God's best for us. It's also about brave communication — being honest with ourselves, with God, and with the people we're in relationship with.  And it's about being confident — even in the uncertainty of waiting — because we know that He is good and He has a good plan for us.

I've learned to be confident in the desire He's given me for marriage — to BELIEVE in the things He's placed on my heart. And in the waiting, He's been faithful to show me the kind of connection I hope for and the kind of friendship, love, and marriage I know I'll risk my heart for.

The waiting is still difficult, but I don't doubt His hand in my story or the fact that when the time is right, He'll give me all the strength, clarity, and hope I need to take the right risk for love.

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Blessed is she who believes.

unsplashsunset Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.

This little line in Luke 1:45 has become a source of big hope for me. It's been just the reminder I've needed that the dreams and hopes He's planted in my heart are in safekeeping with Him.

I've written this verse on my mirror, so every morning, my heart is reminded of that truth, and every evening, my confidence is encouraged.

For the last few months, I've been praying for Him to help my unbelief — especially when it comes to my singleness — and He has been faithful to bless me with fresh hope and belief.

Choosing to believe takes courage, but thanks to His grace, it's a choice my heart will always strive to make.

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