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). 

***

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)

Awakening Love – Alexa

19990452_10213839150599407_4638873803231438421_nAlexa graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in May of 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies. She is currently attending Southeastern to receive her Masters in Ministry to Women. She has a deep desire to love broken and insecure women, and to come alongside of them to help them seek or restore their identity in Christ. When she isn’t doing all things seminary, you can find her with her nose in a book, chasing a sunset, or adventuring with her friends.

***

Song of Solomon is probably a book that you have skipped over before. Don’t worry, you are not alone in this. The book is so saturated with sensual descriptions and praises that it is no wonder we squirm while reading it or avoid the book all together. It is a common misconception that Song of Solomon is reserved just for those that are married or dating, but we don’t realize the merit that it has for those who are single.

In the book, one of the main characters is an unnamed woman who is awaiting her union with her betrothed. Over the course of the text, she implores the daughters of Jerusalem three times to “not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.” Other translations replace “pleases” with “the proper time” or “until the time is right.”

In context, the woman is talking about remaining pure until marriage. She longs to be intimate with her lover but recognizes the importance of her waiting. Her deep longings cause her to warn other women to be careful with their own sexual desires and to not act on such desires before marriage.

As single women, it’s easy to succumb to sexual desires before marriage. When we turn on the TV our eyes are met with images that make sex tempting and seem inconsequential. When we turn on the radio our ears are met with lyrics that condone one night stands and promiscuity. It is all around us. The loneliness we feel for a relationship and the desire to feel loved can cause us to fall prey to instant sexual gratification.

However, stirring up love doesn’t have to be sexual. It can be anything that causes you to awaken feelings and desires of love before God’s appointed time.

Believe me, this is hard not to do when you’re single. We want to know someone and be known in return so badly that it causes our heart to ache. Our cravings for intimacy can cause us to give our hearts away to someone that has no intention of taking care of it.

Simply put: giving your heart away before the proper time can be just as destructive as giving your virginity away

Why? Because both reap consequences.

In her article about Song of Solomon, Vivian Padilla-Chapman explains how romantic awakenings lead to thoughts that lead to actions. She writes: “If these awakenings happen during a season when they can’t be righteously fulfilled, they often lead down a path of hurt and regret, not only a loss of virginity.”

These awakening of love can be anything such as allowing or responding to flirtations because you admire the attention, sharing intimate details and feelings with someone you have no intention of pursuing, or settling for a relationship with someone simply because you are lonely.

Physical and emotional intimacy too soon and too fast can lead to a broken heart and a misconstrued idea of what true intimacy looks like. While emotional intimacy doesn’t necessarily have to wait until marriage, if you find yourself engaging in any of the examples above, you are trading the intimacy that God wants you to save for the person he has for you for a substitute that only partially fulfills.

So how do we avoid awakening love before its proper time?

1) Guard your heart

Yes, I know this phrase has been overused and misinterpreted before but there is truth in it. This does not mean to avoid any contact with guys all together or build walls with them, but to act wisely and carefully when you do engage with them. Don’t hand over your heart to the first guy that gives you attention and don’t disclose the deepest parts of your heart to someone who isn’t pursuing you romantically.

2) Avoid temptation

Setting boundaries is huge. If you know that a particular person is only interested in you because of your body, stay far away. If you know that a guy is only texting you because he wants to be flirtatious and nothing more, don’t give him your attention. If being alone with someone causes you to want to act on feelings that you know you shouldn’t, avoid situations that leave you two alone. It might sound silly, but surrounding yourself with romance can also create temptation. Avoid watching movies or reading books that stirs up feelings of bitterness or heartache. In her article on singleness, Calley Sivils writes, “Doing this can easily irritate wounds and give a foothold for envy and comparison to wreak havoc on your emotions.”

3) Seek God’s will in your relationships

Like I mentioned earlier, emotional intimacy doesn’t necessarily need to wait until you’re married, but it’s important that you wait to awaken it with the right person. In a season of singleness, you can guard your heart, avoid temptation, and be praying that God will lead you to the right relationship. Stirring up love before its appointed time results when we take matters in our own hands and refuse to listen to what it is that God wants for us. If a relationship isn’t on your horizon yet, spend time asking God to show you the qualities of a godly man that you should be looking out for. This doesn’t mean to hold every man you meet to an impossible standard, but to look out for the qualities of a man that will take care of your heart well and bring you closer to Christ. If a relationship is on your horizon, spend time in earnest prayer that it is God’s will for that relationship to occur, and ask for wisdom and discernment about whether he is the right man to pursue.

4) Remember your first love

No, not Jeremy from high school. I’m talking about Jesus. In a season of longing for a relationship, don’t forget or neglect your relationship with Him. We are reminded how to act wisely and righteously when we are in God’s Word and continue to come before him in prayer. Temptation is fought effectively by a woman who fears the Lord. Spend time in His Word, bring your struggles and lay them at His feet, ask Him for his help and direction. Remember that God’s love is vastly more important than any love we have here on earth.

So sisters, just as the woman charged the daughters of Jerusalem, I give you the same charge. Don’t stir up or awaken love until it pleases, and continue to walk in wisdom as you journey down the path God has laid for you.

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

 

The Third Wheel Chair – 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 http://www.annaschaefferwrites.com.

When my sister, her boyfriend, and I moved to North Carolina for school, we knew very few people. So in those early days, we did what any other trio of young adults would do: we spent our Friday nights at Josh’s apartment watching Veggie Tales.

At this point, Josh and Abby were seriously dating, and I was a party of one. Also known as the third wheel. You know, like on a bike. You really only need two wheels to ride the thing. The third one’s extra.

We had family dinners once a week where we’d share a meal and catch up on each other’s week. When Halloween rolled around, we made last-minute costumes, ate dinner, and watched Nacho Libre together.

One evening, when I showed up at Josh’s apartment to hang out with the two of them, I was introduced to what became affectionately known as The Third Wheel Chair.

Josh and Abby sat on his couch, and I sat over in the corner in one of those mushroom chairs that squeaks awkwardly anytime you shift your weight. While they held hands and talked with each other, I sat in my chair, texting friends and eating popcorn.

It didn’t take long for us to make new friends (clearly, we’re the cool kids), so those nights of third-wheeling became less frequent. We still saw each other regularly, but we also had our own groups of people to hang out with.

Then one afternoon last August, Josh got down on one knee and asked my sister to marry him. Abby said yes. They got married in June and now they live in a cute little home where I still pop in for dinner once a week.

Truth: Sometimes I had to pray away jealousy when he took her out for Valentine’s Day dinner or when I heard about the sweet things he did for her. Sometimes I didn’t feel like walking behind them while they held hands and bent their heads together in conversation. Sometimes I wished so hard for a date to bring to family dinner. For someone to hold my hand and have those moments where all you have to do is look at each other to have a whole conversation. For someone to take me to the fair, ride the Ferris wheel with me, and walk me to my door at the end of the night.

But want to know something?

Those days were special for several reasons. I had people to turn to when a new school in a new city in a new state became overwhelming. I was able to spend quality time with my sister and the guy who’s now my brother-in-law. And I had the gift of observing.

See, watching Josh pursue Abby and win her heart set the standard even higher for the guy I’ll one day marry (sorry, man). I learned a few things, and I want to pass them on to you:

  1. Wait for the guy who serves

Josh holds the door open for Abby. He opens her car door. I don’t know if he’d put his coat over a puddle for her to walk on because she’d probably rather splash in it, but he does all of those other acts of chivalry. He’s gentle and kind and patient.

I’ve watched this over the past few years. I’ve watched his commitment to lead her by serving. To follow Jesus’ example and metaphorically wash her feet.

In the book of John, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet as an example for us. The perfect Son of God stoops down to wash the calloused, mud-caked feet of His followers. Then He tells us to do the same:

“When Jesus had washed their feet and put on his outer clothing, he reclined again and said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done for you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are speaking rightly, since that is what I am.  So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you.’” – John 13:12-15

Josh doesn’t lead Abby in a way that asserts his own choices, but he walks beside her. He leads her by serving her.

  1. Wait for the guy who sacrifices

Every day, he works to provide for her. He lets her call the shots when it comes to home décor and indulges her moments of creative inspiration. He never puts her down when he’s talking about her to others. It’s so evident he’s crazy about her.

In Ephesians 5:25, Paul tells men:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

How did Christ show the church (believers) that He loved us? He died for us. He laid down His own life so that we could live forever with Him.

In small ways, Josh makes sacrifices for Abby, and he’d sacrifice his own life if it meant protecting hers.

  1. Wait for the guy who stays

I don’t just mean wait for a guy who isn’t going to walk out when things get crazy, but I mean wait for one who’s going to invest in you and genuinely care about the people already in your life.

I’m Abby’s sister. Josh never had to befriend me or hang out with me or ask how he can be praying for me. He chose to. He loves my sister and her people are important to him, too.

I value my friendship with my brother-in-law. I love hanging out with him. We text each other cat memes and have pun wars. He’s a great guy, but I also know he’s got my back and loves me like a sister.

Romans 12:10 says,

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

My brother-in-law does this. Bless his heart, when he married Abby, he gained three sisters-in-law. We were all amazed at his tenacity when he started dating her because the Schaeffer sisters can be a lot sometimes.

Is he perfect? Nah, not quite. But I’ve watched him strive to live out these qualities every day.

I also learned some things from watching my sister, who, actually, strives to live out the serving and sacrificing and staying, too.

I’ve got a pretty good view from the third wheel chair. As much as I love hanging out with the two of them, sometimes that longing does creep in. Not to have exactly what they have, but to have a love story of my own.

But it’s just like God to not let me waste my waiting. He’s used this time to teach me to pay attention. There’s so much joy, encouragement, and anticipation in watching God write love stories that glorify Him.

I’ve watched people enter into and fall out of relationships. I’ve seen hearts break and mistakes be made and I’ve stared at a Facebook relationship status update and just marveled at how some people manage to find each other.

But I’ve watched Josh honor and cherish Abby since long before they exchanged vows. And I’ve watched her do the same for him.

So if you find yourself in the third wheel chair, use it as an opportunity to learn. Notice the qualities that make a godly husband. Take note of what’s most important.

And then? Take that list to God. Pray for whoever the guy may be who might one day pursue your heart, that he will embody those qualities and be a servant leader. A guy who’s gentle and kind and will always stay.

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

Above and Beyond – Kim

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Kimberly is an international world traveler who grew up overseas in Eastern Europe. She loves skiing, reading, and most of all, coffee! Having worked as a teacher, Kimberly loves children of all ages and hopes to teach the Bible one day. As she continues in her creative writing, she hopes to encourage young women and teenagers to develope a deeper walk with the Lord.

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“May he give you all the desires of your heart
and make all your plans succeed”
Psalm 20:4 (NIV)

One of the many things I love about God is that he always surprises me by blessing me in ways that I could never have asked or imagined. For those of you reading this that have been privileged to understand and know the grace of God and what he has done for us in the Lord Jesus Christ, isn’t He absolutely amazing?

Jeremiah 29:11 says that God knows the plans He has for us, plans to prosper us; plans to give us a hope and a future. We all know that verse, but do we really believe it? Do we really know, down to the very depth of our souls, that God sees the big picture? He has it all mapped out, down to the very last detail. God even cares about the things of your heart. He sees those deep places that you hide from everyone else. He loves those parts of you!

The story I’m about to tell you is mine. It happened ages and ages ago…when I was in high school. Just kidding, it wasn’t so long ago. I struggled though many of the same things I’m sure you struggle through. Being a Christian girl in a public high school wasn’t always easy. Everyone knew I was a Christian, which was good, but basically meant that all the boys pretty much completely avoided me. Or so it felt like. Later I would come to see that God did this to protect me, but I remember feeling unworthy, ugly and, well, alone. It came to a head my senior year as I started thinking about what’s on the mind of every senior even today: prom.

If the guys ignore me… will any of them ask me to prom? Am I supposed to ask someone? I can’t do that…Can I? Who in the world would I ask? What if I’m the only one without a date?

These were just a few of the questions I wrestled with as I pondered what in the world I was going to do. I remember being pretty shy around cute guys. You know the feeling. When you see him and your heart starts pounding. You start twirling your hair, trying to find something clever to say, but you end up feeling like you were your worst self in that moment that mattered the most.

Well that was definitely me…The problem was, and still is to some extent, that all my emotions show on my face! It used to be almost impossible for me to hide when I liked a guy or thought he was cute. Now I’ve gotten a bit better at it, but still! There really wasn’t anyone in my school I wanted to go to prom with anyway.

I was one of the older girls in my youth group and kept trying to join the college and career group, but was still considered too young. They finally decided to let me go to some of the events. As I looked around at the guys in my youth group, I slowly checked them off the list. None of them liked me and I just couldn’t bring myself to ask any of them anyway.

Next, I decided to think about some friends that I knew from other places outside of my town. I was even willing to fly a friend of mine in from Mexico!

Finally, when nothing worked, I did what I should have done in the first place: I asked God for help. I don’t really even remember specifically praying, but still God knew what was in my heart and, more amazingly to me, he cared! God knew me. He saw that I felt so confused and awkward. God knew that my heart was hurting because I was feeling rejected. The next thing he did surprised me more than I can say.

Every year my youth group had what we called a “progressive dinner.” We picked a theme and all dressed up. Several families from the church would host in their homes. We went from house to house and ate courses of a meal that went along with the theme. Finally, we came back to the church for dessert. The theme that year was, “Countries of the World.” I remember trying to dress like an African woman, but failing miserably with an assortment of random items that made me look pretty silly. I didn’t care, though. I had a blast!

When we got back to the church at the end of the night, I got in line to wait for desert. There was this guy in front of me. I had seen him around before and assumed he was new to the church. I would later find out that he had been there many years before with his family. He opened his mouth, and girls, let me tell, you my heart did a little flip-flop. Out came the most charming Australian accent I had ever heard. I don’t remember much about what happened during that conversation. All I remember is that I must not have hung out with him much that night because I was too busy having fun, dancing the “Macarena” with my friends.

A short time went by—I think it was the next week—and my sister came home from college. I was so excited to see her and couldn’t wait to spend time with her. One day, as I was checking Facebook, I noticed a new friend request. When I clicked on it I saw it was the guy I had met at the church event. I started to get excited. The cute Australian guy added me on Facebook! We started chatting, and at some point during the conversation, he asked me if I wanted to go get coffee before college group.

Did he just ask me on a date? Is it a date? I’ve never been on a date before. What do I do?

My sister was there so I talked to her and decided that I really wanted to hang with her, so I asked the guy for a rain check. The next time I went with my sister to college group, he was there, and I remember talking to this other guy that I had planned on asking to prom. He told me he couldn’t take me, but Australian Guy was there. To my horror, the other guy said loudly: “You should ask him to take you!” I got red to the roots and avoided looking either of them in the eye.

In the end, we did go to coffee together on another day. I was so nervous! We met at Starbucks and as I usually do when I get nervous, or really just in general, I chatted up a storm. He and I were sitting outside, and I must have been telling him a story or something, because as I was hand gesturing wildly, I knocked his hot coffee right in his lap. I was mortified! To this day, he still hasn’t let me forget that moment.

The more we hung out after that date, the more I started to like him. As the school year came to a close, I did end up asking him to prom. He was so happy to go with me! I remember feeling so special when he showed up at my house with a beautiful wrist corsage. His mom had helped him pick out a tie and corsage to match perfectly with my dress. My hair was all styled and curly, and I was wearing the most beautiful sparkly purple dress. It felt magical. We went to prom in his old van and I loved it! His dad had even made sure he knew the way by driving it with him before.

That night with him by my side, I felt so special. It ended up that there really wasn’t a need to worry about not having a date at prom. Plenty of girls went by themselves and there was absolutely nothing wrong with that. What I loved, though, was that God cared about something that in the big scheme of things is silly: having a date to prom. My God used someone special to remind me that He thinks I am beautiful.

“Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him for he is your lord.” (NIV)

God decided to answer the unspoken prayer of a desperate teenager who was struggling. He cared enough to hear a prayer that meant so much to my heart. The Father knows me inside and out and his plan for me is greater than I can even imagine. Psalm 139 talks about how deeply God knows us because he created us in our mother’s womb. It says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

So why do I tell you this story today? I want to encourage you if you’re struggling with feeling like God just doesn’t care, or even with wondering why sometimes it seems that God couldn’t care about the details. He definitely does! So when you are tempted to worry, I want to challenge you to instead look to the one who made you and trust in the fact that he’s got you and cares deeply about whatever circumstance you are facing. Not only does he care, God is the only one who understands the deepest parts of your heart and knows exactly how you feel.

Trust him with you heart and your life today. God cares about the details.

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