Back to Me

If we’re friends on any type of social media (except for Snapchat because my roommate and I are still bitter over how it ended our super-awesome streak last year so I’m rarely over there), then you’ve probably heard I spent 10 days in Israel recently. I haven’t blogged about it yet because I’ve got a few other trip-related things in the works, but I am in the process of sharing mini blog-type posts along with some pictures over on Instagram (click here to go to my profile).

Anyway, Israel is 7 hours in the future for me. For example, when the clock struck midnight and everyone rang in the New Year on the East coast, I was already at the breakfast table in Jerusalem. I texted my family and told them 2018 was pretty great so far, but it took them a few extra hours to see that for themselves.

That kind of time-jumping means you end up with a serious case of jet-lag after your trip. For several nights after I landed back in the states, I was wide-awake at 3:00am playing Panda Pop on my phone, and then up before dawn each morning.

On the bright side (no pun intended), I’ve seen a lot more sunrises than usual recently.

One morning after I returned home, I woke up before the sun again. Because the coffee pot wasn’t set to automatically come on for another hour, I decided to spend time doing something the busyness of life had kept me from doing recently: I decided to write for fun.

Not for an audience, not for a product I want to publish, just something in my journal. A poem. A written prayer from my pen to God’s eyes.

As I worked on the poem, I felt myself coming alive. And I didn’t even have that coffee yet.

I was reminded how writing is the thing that makes me feel most like me. The Creator wired me with this creativity as a way to worship and praise Him.

It’s so easy to get distracted by social media or texting or Netflix. It’s so easy to let time slip by and all we’ve done is stare at a screen. So this year, I want to change that in my life.

I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions – I’m more of a Word of the Year person – but in 2018, I want to take more time to do something creative. Maybe that looks like a poem, maybe that’s digging out my painting supplies, or maybe that’s scribbling some dialogue I overheard to work into a story later.

The main thing is that it’ll be a way for me to worship my Creator in a creative way. Because when I’m making something out of what God has given me, I feel like I’m truly getting back to me.
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What about you? What makes you feel the most like who God created you to be? What excites you or makes you feel alive? How will you prioritize that in 2018?

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With Us

A few nights ago, my mom and I settled onto the couch to watch The Nativity Story. It had been a few years since I’d seen it and, so I decided we needed to see it again.

My seven-year-old sister saw the DVD case when I brought it downstairs. “Can I watch that?” she asked.

We’d planned to watch the movie after she went to bed (it’s easier to focus that way), so I told her I’d watch it again with her in the morning.

But then, as Mom and I watched the story unfold, I realized it might be a little much for a kid who plays with a Little People nativity set.

The movie pulls no punches. We see the Massacre of the Innocents – when Herod ordered his soldiers to kill every baby boy who could possibly be the Messiah. We also see bodies hanging on trees after being crucified. And we see childbirth pre-medicine.

So the next day I explained to Ellen that she might need to wait another year or two before watching the movie. Then I had a genius idea: I remembered a music video on YouTube that includes scenes from The Nativity. I gave her my phone and let her watch that.

A few minutes into the video, I remembered why I straight-up sob every time I watch it. Toward the end of the song, after the clips of Joseph and Mary and the newborn Jesus, and after the scene with the shepherds at the manger, it shows clips from The Passion. You know, the really realistic movie about Jesus’ crucifixion.

I quickly told Ellen what was about to happen and that she could stop the video, but she was already drawn into it.

I spared her a childbirth scene, but she saw a messy crucifixion instead. Go ahead and hand me the Big Sister of the Year Award.

Later that day, Ellen and I went out to the garage to look through the big freezer. Worried about her, I asked, “Are you okay? Did that video scare you?”

She thought about it for a minute, then shook her head. “It didn’t scare me,” she said softly, “I just didn’t realize it was all so serious.”

Abandoning the quest for the Pillsbury, I turned to her. “It was very serious. But it’s real. Jesus did all of that because He loves you, El.”

For the first time, she caught a glimpse of a manger scene that wasn’t cozy and warm.She saw Mary and Joseph as actual people, not little cherub-faced plastic figures. She saw a picture of a Savior not clothed in a white robe with a smiling face and children sitting on His lap, but stripped of His garments with a crown of thorns shoved onto his bleeding head. She saw the journey Mary and Joseph had to take and the life Jesus lived and the death He suffered because He loves us.

And while those scenes are just an interpretation of what it might have been like, they quite literally give flesh and blood to history.

They show us the reality that Jesus came to us as a human being, fully God yet fully man. And they remind us of how great the gift of Jesus really is.

Because without Jesus, mankind is separated from God.

When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God said,

“’You may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live…Look, stand near me on this rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.” – Exodus 33:18-23

God also dwelled in a place called The Holy of Holies – the most sacred place – where ordinary men and women were not allowed to go. God spoke through angels and prophets, but not face-to-face with His people.

To see God’s face equaled death because no one in their imperfection could stand before a perfect God and live.

Until one night, when a young girl and her betrothed welcomed a baby boy into the world.

Until the baby’s mother snuggled him warmly in strips of cloth and cradled Him in her arms.

Until she kissed His soft head…
ran a finger over His round cheeks…
…and looked directly into the eyes of God.

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All at once, mankind could see God face-to-face. Experience His presence without hiding behind a rock or standing outside a temple curtain. Feel His nearness. Hear His voice.

Can you imagine? Bouncing the God of all creation on your shoulder to calm His tired cries? Counting the fingers that sculpted man from dust and made woman from man’s side?

Swaddling arms that would one day stretch out on a cross to rescue us?

It’s so easy to gloss over what it was like when God became a person. When the incarnation happened, it wasn’t squeaky clean and pretty. That’s what people were expecting.

Instead, A young virgin conceived. Her betrothed planned a divorce. The government ordered a census. A ruler murdered babies. The King of all kings and the Lord of all lords was born in the darkness and nestled in a feeding trough.

It’s the opposite of what we like to imagine, isn’t it? Completely upside-down.

But at the same time, there’s comfort in knowing that, whatever darkness we face, Emmanuel has been there. He’s felt our pain. He came to us as one of us so we could one day live with Him forever.

This Christmas, may you take time to step away from all of the wrapping paper and Christmas cookies and movies, and come close to Jesus, remembering how He came close to us.

May you reflect on the true story that changed the world. And may you let it touch your heart in a profound way, as you consider the reality of Christmas. The Savior stepped down into chaos and subjected Himself to a humble birth and a brutal death to be with us.

Because He loves us.

“All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means, ‘God is with us.'”
– Matthew 1:22-23

Merry Christmas,
Anna

Every Longing Heart

God’s people waited for Him to answer the deepest desire of their hearts. They longed for rescue. But more than that, they desperately longed to hear Him say something – anything. 

Because God was silent.

Israel was a nation in distress. God called them His chosen people, but they found themselves living as slaves. Then they found themselves wandering around in the desert. They were oppressed and weary and waiting for rescue.

For years, the people heard God speak through the prophets, reminding them that He had not forgotten them.

The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
” 

The prophets promised a Rescuer would come from the line of King David.

For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
Isaiah 9:2-7

But then, the messages stopped.

Silence.

God no longer spoke through the prophets. He no longer reminded His people of what was coming.

For four centuries – many generations – God’s people heard nothing.

It looked like they were left in their longing.

***

Elizabeth longed for a baby. Just one baby. She desperately wanted to be a mother. Everyone wondered why she didn’t have a child. They whispered about her behind her back, and she knew it.

She didn’t understand. She was following God. She was faithful and had a pure heart. But still, God did nothing. She remained barren until it was too late to have a baby. It seemed like God had decided to ignore her deepest desires.

Then one day, her husband came home, his eyes wide.

“Zechariah, what happened?”

He waved his hands frantically, but didn’t say anything.

“What’s wrong?”

She knew he had gone into the temple to burn incense before the Lord while people prayed. It was a great honor. But why couldn’t he speak? Why was Zechariah silent?

She later learned that God had spoken to Zechariah through an angel. God spoke through an angel. After all these years of silence, an angel talked to Elizabeth’s husband.

Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John.  You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. 

But Zechariah didn’t believe him. Why would he? They were decades too old to have a baby, so how could it happen now? Besides, God had been silent their whole lives. Why would He speak with this kind of announcement?

“‘How can I be sure this will happen? Im an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.’

Then the angel said, “’I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! But now, since you didnt believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born.’ Luke 1:13-20

Weeks went by, and nothing happened. But then, gradually, slowly, Elizabeth knew it was happening. She, a woman old enough to be a grandmother, felt a baby stretch and grow and kick. And nine months later, Zechariah announced the birth of John.

John, the one born to declare the coming of the Savior. A new kind of prophet. He was born to tell God’s people help was on the way. It wasn’t over for Israel. They weren’t left in their longing. They just had to wait a little longer.

***

Shortly after Elizabeth held her baby in her arms for the first time, another new mother welcomes her firstborn child into the world.

But this mother is much younger, and she never planned to have a baby now. Before this moment, she was preparing to marry a carpenter. Gathering her things to go live in his home and be his wife.

But then the angel spoke to her.

“’Dont be afraid, Mary, the angel told her, for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!’” Luke 1:30-33

And now, in the corner of a room used to house animals, she gives birth to a Son.

The whole world holds its breath in the quietest, stillest moment in history.

Until the baby inhales for the very first time, filling His lungs with air.

Until He lets out His first, wobbly cry, shattering four hundred years of silence.

Though an angel had spoken to Zechariah, and though he’d also spoken to Mary, this moment marks the first time in centuries that we directly hear the voice of God.

And when we hear it, it’s not a loud charge or a command. It’s a Baby’s confused whimper.

Though His cry is frail, and though His chin quivers as His limbs are exposed to the chill of earth, it’s a declaration of love.

To every waiting heart: I have not forgotten you.
To every doubting heart: I keep my promises.
To every mourning heart: I am with you.
To every longing heart: I love you.

 To every heart, the Baby’s newborn cry is a love song.

A resounding reminder that God is with us.

 ***

What are you longing for?

What keeps you up at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering if your prayers are really reaching heaven?

What makes your heart ache? What causes warm tears to drip down your cheeks and onto your pillow?

What fills your dreams? What do you find yourself thinking about in the middle of an ordinary day?

Maybe you’re deeply lonely. You long for a husband, a baby, or even a true friend. You long to be understood, to be truly known and yet still deeply loved. You long for a lost relationship, to take back wrong words you’ve said, to find restoration, to feel hope again.

You long for true joy.

And yet, maybe God seems silent. Maybe you haven’t heard from Him in years. Maybe you’re wondering if He’s even listening, much less if He’ll ever answer.

When heartache holds on tight this Christmas season, look to history. Look to His story. See how, though the night seemed endless for God’s people, at just the right time, the Light of the world entered into humanity. Not how we were expecting Him to come. Not loudly and forcefully. Not relieving every pain all at once, but providing His presence to be with us in our distress.

Soft, small, and quiet. Gentle, meek, and humble.

A promise kept, though the answer looked different than expected.

Jesus is our Comfort, our Hope, our Answer. He is with us. He is the joy of every longing heart.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy People free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israels strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

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From the Beginning

Their mouths are still sticky from the fruit when God goes for a walk in the garden.

They hide behind leaves, leaving behind friendship with their Creator in exchange for deception.

What was good and pure and holy moments ago is now a source of shame.

“He’s coming! Hurry! Hide!”

“Adam, where are you?”

“Stay quiet. Maybe He won’t see us.”

“Adam, come out.”

They slowly step out from the maze of trees, the man made from dust and the woman made from his side. Space now between them.

“I heard you coming and I hid because I was afraid and naked.”

“Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat the fruit I told you not to touch?”

The man glances over at the one sculpted from his own flesh and bone. “This woman you gave me. She told me to eat it.”

She dips her head, letting her hair curtain her face.

God turns to her. “What did you do, Eve?”

“That serpent tricked me.”

The serpent lurks in the shadows, his eyes gleaming.

God sees him and says, “Because you did this, you are more cursed than any other creature. For as long as you live, you will slide on the ground, eating dust. I’m putting hostility between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

***

The first chapter of the true story of the world is beautiful. Breathe deeply and you can smell the sweetness of the flowers. Listen carefully and you can hear a brook trickling through the garden. Tilt your head and feel the warmth of the afternoon sun on your face. Taste the pure, clean air.

Then turn the page. Feel the chill race down your spine as the serpent wraps himself around the tree. Let your nose burn as you inhale the aroma of the freshly-bitten fruit. Feel your eyes open wide as you realize your humanity. Feel shame flood your face as you realize God is coming.

The story is now stained with sin. Darkened by deception. Hiding and lies are a part of the plot, and the earth is cursed.

But notice.

Even in the curse, there is a promise.

He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.

It’s called the Protoevangelium: The First Gospel. The first time we learn that rescue will come.

Eve’s offspring will crush Satan. It will be a painful, long journey, but He will come to overcome evil. Thousands of years will drag on as the consequences of that garden choice spiral deeper and deeper into darkness.

But then, after centuries of prophets declaring this is not the end, Eve’s consequence is lived out in the body of a young woman. With great pain, a baby is born.

In a small town, in a room where animals sleep, the Offspring breathes for the first time. His tiny heart beats wildly and color fills His face as His skin meets the chill of the outside world.

They wrap him tightly in strips of cloth and they lay him in a feeding trough because there’s nowhere clean for them to go.

The baby gradually falls asleep.

The enemy lurks in the shadows, but the promise will not be broken.

Every scraped knee the baby will feel as he grows, every bloody nose, every time a bully taunts, the promise remains.

And then one day, it will look like the curse wins, like the serpent’s offspring has crushed the woman’s offspring for good.

They strike him and spit on him. They strip his clothes from him, and a crown of thorns crushes his head.

“If you were really God, he would save Yourself!”

“Let’s see what kind of King you are now!”

“Don’t you have angels who could come down to help you?”

Then they stretch his arms across wooden beams and drive nails into His hands to hold Him in place.

They raise the cross.

His heart breaks.

He dies.

For 3 days, He is lifeless. Cold. Unmoving.

Then…

Life pumps through His veins, His heart beats, and He crushes the enemy’s head.

The promise wins.

Way back in the garden, we had a taste of what would come.

Now death, shame, and fear are defeated.

Through one man, death entered into the world. Through another, life.

Through one woman, pain entered the world. Through another, the promise.

His name is Jesus.

Come out of hiding and come to the One who paid the price your sin demanded. He gave His life so we would never have to experience death or be forever separated from Him.

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned…Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come.

But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ.

And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins.

For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.

Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.” – Romans 5:12-19

This was the promise from the beginning.

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Beloved – Anna

IMG_9602Anna Schaeffer is an author and blogger who writes to inspire teen girls and women to embrace God’s purpose for their lives. She’s the author of All of This, a YA novel, and is earning an M.A. in Ministry to Women at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can usually find Anna on campus or in a coffee shop, jotting story ideas in the margins of her class notes. She’s also into laughter, random adventures, and all things bread-related. Find Anna on social media (@aschaewrites) and hang out with her online at www.annaschaefferwrites.com.

I’d known Him since I was seven, but I kept pushing Him away. I wanted independence, wanted to prove I could do everything on my own. I wanted to take credit for it. I wanted Him to look at me and be proud.

All along, Jesus was right there waiting for me. He listened as I complained about how no one would ever want someone like me. He listened while I ranted about the life I had and wished for a different one.

He stayed. He patiently let me take my time and come to Him. And that’s when everything changed.

See, every girl wants to be pursued. Every girl wants someone to win her heart. Yet our natural instinct is to run.

We want true love, but it scares us. So we turn to imitations that only let us down. We want the real thing, but it feels like Prince Charming forgot to update the GPS on his white horse and we’re surrounded by plenty of frogs to kiss.

We want that tale as old as time, but we’re afraid we’ll be as old as time when it finally happens for us. So we start to feel sorry for ourselves, start to wonder if there’s something wrong with us, start to take inventory of every single flaw.

Here’s the thing about my relationship with Jesus: I didn’t always know what it meant to be His. I thought I needed to do the right thing, say the right thing, be the right thing and I was good to go to heaven.

Oh, no.

Jesus doesn’t pursue us so that we can earn that pursuit. He doesn’t rescue us so that we can work as though we’re desperately trying to save ourselves. He doesn’t call us friend so that we can try to prove we’re worth hanging around.

He saves us so that we can be His. And with that comes a deep knowing that we are never alone and His plans are for His glory and our good.

If you want to see Someone relentlessly pursue the one He loves, look no further than Jesus.

He came as a baby. Became a man. Walked around in this dark, devastated world. He was mocked and hated and, ultimately, He gave His life. He died in our place.

Then, in coming back to life, He gave us life. So if we turn to Him, He makes us His own.

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
– Romans 5:6-8

And do you know what He calls us? His beloved. His chosen ones. His bride.

You may not be married, but you have a Groom who has gone to prepare a home for you to live in forever.

He’s coming back for His beloved.

“When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”
– John 14:3

In the meantime, we wait. If we’re His, His Spirit lives inside of us so that we’re truly never alone. Like an engagement ring, His Spirit is a reminder of the promise our groom is returning for us.

“…And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.”
– Ephesians 1:11-14

Sometimes the waiting is just so hard. We wait for the day when He comes back for us, but we also wait on things our hearts desire in the meantime.

But our waiting isn’t wasted.

While we’re waiting for what’s next – whether we’re longing for a husband or a family of our own or even a true friend – we’re called to tell the world about the Groom who defeated death so we could be His bride.

It’s the ultimate kill the dragon, save the girl scenario. Except the Knight in Shining Armor became weak. He came as a servant. He came as one of us so that we can be confident He understands every single struggle, temptation, and doubt we face.

If you don’t belong to Jesus, know that as long as you have breath, it’s not too late. Know that His death paid for every mistake, every wrong decision, and every struggle you’ve ever given in to. Because of Jesus, you don’t have to be separated from God for another second. You can be His. Just come to Him. Tell Him you’re finished waiting for happiness because you believe ultimate joy comes from Him. Tell Him you realize your sin keeps you from Him, and ask Him to forgive you. Tell Him you want to live for Him for the rest of your life and be His girl, whether you’re single for a while or you get married next semester.

Single girl, you’re His. Spend your beloved, precious life telling others about the truest love we’ll ever know.

It may seem strange, but your waiting can be worship. Your single days can honor Jesus as you live fully right where you are.

Here’s the truth, single friend: If you’re loving Him and living in a way that honors Him, then you can know you’re right where He wants you. You’re in the place that brings the most glory to His name.

That’s the ultimate goal of everything: His glory.

So if you truly want Him to have the most glory possible out of your life, and you’re single, then you can trust this is His very best for you. This is the way He wants to show the world who He is through your life.

I often bristle when someone says singleness is a gift. But when I think about how God chooses to shine His glory through my single life, how can I disagree with that?

One day, this may all look different. But for today? Know God is working all of this together according to His perfect purpose.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” – Romans 8:28

He’s got His glory and your ultimate good in mind. You’re His beloved.

You are deeply loved. Adored. Cherished. Prized. Treasured.

You are His. And though some days may be difficult, and some days you may find yourself on your knees asking how He can really be honored in your longing, know this: His church is His bride. And one day, the groom is coming back for His bride. He’ll sweep her off her feet and carry her to a forever home. A home where there’s no more wondering. No more weeping. No more waiting.

Until then, worship in the waiting. Honor Him with your one, single life. Live out His love wherever you go and in whatever you do.

Because there’s no greater joy – no bigger comfort, no deeper satisfaction – than getting to be His.

By His grace and for His glory,

Anna

P.S. This is the final post in “To Be His – A Series on Singleness.” To read previous posts, click here.

Dear Single Girl in Ministry – Kaycee

IMG_1692Kaycee Lookingbill will be graduating in May 2018 from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master’s in Ministry to Women. She is a Generation LINK resident in Raleigh, NC, at Open Door Church where she serves in women’s discipleship and college ministry. Although she’s been in NC for 2 years, she is still an Okie at heart and most days you can find her at a local coffee shop, laughing with friends, & Insta storying (@kayceelookingbill) about the awkward random things that happen in her life. 

***

Dear Single Girl in Ministry,

Oh, how I wish I could sit with you over coffee and chat all things ministry, Jesus, and singleness. I’m sure we’d laugh and cry and get fired up with passion. There are so many things I wish I could tell you, but I’ll try to keep it short and sweet.

First, I’d tell you that I get it. I get the excitement and joy of ministry. Seeing girls coming to know the Lord and growing deeper in Him. The joy of pouring your life out into the church and using your gifts to build the Kingdom. I’m convinced that besides knowing Jesus in a deeper way, there is nothing better than using your gifts and talents to edify the church like only you were made by Him to do.

I also get the frustrations, loneliness, and pain that come with it. I understand the frustrations of being a woman and trying to find your place. I understand the sting of loneliness that comes from being single in ministry. You come home and there is no one to share your day with. There is no one there to cry with you or to celebrate the victories. Most days you are content being single, but there are some days when you’re driving down the road and you just want someone there to go anywhere with you—even if it’s just the grocery store. You dream of days that consist of doing nothing with someone. I get that little yearning you feel when you see couples you love serving together and you wonder when will you get that.

Oh sister, I understand all of the emotions you feel. Sometimes it’s overwhelming and you feel like you’re on a roller coaster (and you don’t even like roller coasters).

I want you to know, God sees you. He sees it all & He cares. Oh my lanta, He cares. So cry out to Him. Seriously, He can take it. (I’ve told Him the “deal” plenty of times, and I know He hears because He’s been answering so many of my prayers. Not always like I think He will, but He’s faithful).

And what you’re doing, it matters. It’s eternal. Kingdom work is eternal. Please do not give up. Believe me, I know you’ve thought about it. I’ve thought about it. I’ve realized I am so much quicker to choose the lesser things in life. That’s why I resonate with the lyrics, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. “

That’s why I am writing these words on my heart from 1 Corinthians 15:58 which says, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Sister, hold fast. Stand firm. Endure. Persevere. Don’t give up. Continue laboring.

And for the love of all things good, DON’T WASTE THESE YEARS. Cherish every single moment. Do all of the things that you can do because you’re single and have the time. Have college girls over to spend the night. Invite staff members and their family over for dinner. Travel and see the world. Get a puppy. Buy a Kitchen Aid mixer (you don’t need a husband to get one).

Fix your eyes on Jesus, love deep, serve hard, & laugh at all the awkward moments.

XOXO,

Your Single Sister

(P.S. to read previous posts in this series, click here)

The Gift of Firsts – Ruth Anne

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Ruth Anne Crews holds a Masters of Divinity in Youth Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Bachelor’s in Journalism from Samford University. When she isn’t chasing around little kids as a nanny, she’s hanging out with middle and high school girls teaching about God’s love for them. She loves writing, reading, and all things pop culture. Follow along with her adventures on Instagram (@ruthannecrews) and her blog, Walking in My Shoes (ruthannecrews.com). 

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When I was in middle school, the “I kissed dating goodbye” movement reached its peak and one of the most influential voices in my young life began to say that she wasn’t going to kiss her husband until their wedding day. So naturally, it became something I would say. A few years later, she admitted to kissing her now husband before their wedding. I remember saying—or at least thinking, “If she can’t do it, neither can I,” and that was the end of that.

But then I graduated high school without ever having a boyfriend. Freshmen year turned into Sophomore year, then junior year, and eventually senior year, and there was never a boy. When you go to a “ring by spring school,” you can name 15 girls off the top of your head who are engaged, it can feel like the whole world is married. During that time, I began to say that I wanted to be able to tell my husband, “You’re the only man I’ve ever kissed.” And it’s even more true today as 26-year-old who has yet to ever even go on a date.

Here’s the thing: It’s one thing to say that. It’s quite another to live it out. I have no idea what that looks like. I don’t know if that means it’ll be when I know that I know that I know that I’m going to marry this guy. Or if it’s when he’s down on one knee with a ring in his hand saying, “I love you, will marry me?” Or if it’s when the person marrying us says, “I now pronounce you man and wife, you make kiss the bride.” Or if it’s sometime that weekend before the wedding because having my first kiss in front of bunch of people sounds like a terrible idea.

So, why did I tell you all that? Because I want to brag on myself and tell you how holy I am because I’ve never kissed a boy? No. It’s taken me a long time to get here and be okay with still having all my firsts.

Listen, I’m 26 and literally still have all of my firsts. It’s really easy for me to get caught up in that, feeling like I’m so far behind everyone else around me. But after having multiple conversations with friends, I began to realize that having all my firsts is not a bad thing, but a gift. A gift to the man I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. The man I’ll have all my firsts with.

Maybe you’re single and reading this thinking, “I wish that was my story. I wish I had firsts left to give.” Sweet girl, the Lord’s forgiveness is great and it covers any mistake you may have made with a boy. But any first you have with the man you’re going to spend the rest of your life with will be special because it’s your first date with him, your first kiss with him, and everything else.

Whatever first you do have left, really think about it and begin to see it as a gift to your future husband. And any boy who tries to take that first from you is NOT worth your time, trust me.

(P.S. to read previous posts in this series, click here)