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)

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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.

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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)

Being a Good Girl – Ruth Anne

DSC_0390.JPGRuth 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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There is a part of my life that I don’t really ever talk about online because it’s never changed: My dating life. I’m 26 and I’ve never been on a date or had my first kiss. I like to say that I’m throwing off some statistic somewhere because, in this day and age, that is highly uncommon.

I want to be clear here: I was never that girl who said I wasn’t going to date—it just simply didn’t happen. I graduated high school without a boyfriend and I assumed that my husband was waiting on me at Samford University—which, really and truly, was not an unrealistic expectation for the ring by spring school that Samford is. So many of my college friends are married to awesome, godly Samford guys. But that wasn’t my story.

This is mine: freshmen year creeped by and there was no boy. Then all of a sudden I was a senior with my whole life laid out before me, and I didn’t have a prospect for a boyfriend. In my 21-year-old mind, the one that been surrounded by college students and white candles for four years, I just decided that I was never getting married.

Oh, senior year of college Ruth Anne, I know it feels like your life has to be defined when you walk off Samford’s campus in May. But you could not be more wrong. You, little girl, are but an infant in this thing called life. So…take a deep breath and keep walking in Christ.

Anyway, things changed and I realized I was being dumb. I remembered that the world is so much larger than the Samford bubble. Then I went to seminary. So, here I was a 20-something single female in a Southern Baptist Seminary with a unique calling on my life and the desire to get married in my heart. I didn’t understand what the problem was.

I grew up in the church. I was there every time the doors were open and my youth minister said that if there was microphone you could find me behind it. I learned so many great truths. But I also feel like I was taught that if I was a good girl, if I did all the right things, if I followed Jesus, and if I lived my life for Him, then I would be rewarded with my husband because being a wife and mom is most godly thing a female can be, right?

But here I am, 26 years old, and I’ve been a good girl. I’ve never done anything crazy or even wanted to. In the story of the prodigal son, I’m definitely the older brother. This might sound a little crazy, but I’ve had to grapple with the fact that my sin problems are just as bad as someone who has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. I am a good girl. I don’t drink, smoke, or go with boys who do. I have spent the majority of my life following Christ. That’s not to say that I haven’t had my struggles because, believe you me, I have. But they are just more internal than others.

Because I’m a good girl, my reward is supposed to be the world’s greatest husband who loves me like Christ loves the church 24/7, and who I never fight with. We also should have the most well-behaved children on the planet. Is that unrealistic? Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I think I made my point.

So, if I’ve done all the right things, then where is my husband? Does not being married make me any less godly that my married friends? NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT! In fact, in 2 Corinthians 7, Paul says that unmarried people only have to worry about pleasing the Lord, not their spouse and the Lord, so it’s probably better. Does that make singleness any easier? No, but I can do so many things my married friends can’t, and that’s important to keep in perspective.

My relationship with the Lord should not be determined by my relationship status. And because I’ve never been in a relationship, it’s not. My relationship status with the Lord is based on how much time and effort I put into it—just like every other relationship in my life.

So even though I’m a good girl, I haven’t gotten married yet. But I’ve learned that being married isn’t the end all, be all to life. In fact, marriage is hard…ask anyone who’s married. We are all selfish people and being in a relationship like marriage with another selfish person isn’t easy. I’ve been single my whole life, so I know being single isn’t easy, either. I think we can tend to put marriage up on this pedestal that says, in order to be the best Christian possible you have to be married and that’s simply not true. You become more like Christ when you live according to His Word and serve Him on a daily basis. Guess what? Neither of those things require having a ring on your left hand.

Take up your cross and follow Him. Don’t wait until everything is perfect because it will never be. You can do just as much for the kingdom as your married friends can. Go on that mission trip, disciple those girls, spend money on the things you need for the work the Lord has called you to do. Spend time with Lord and let Him show you how He loves you.

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

 

The Shepherd and My Singleness – 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. 

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At the beginning of this year I tried to decide what my “word” for the year was going to be. You know, some people choose words like: obedient, faithful, and hospitable. Then spend the year intentionally growing in those areas. I usually pick a word early on and then I’m ready to go.

But this year was different.

I really felt the Lord telling me 10 words:

“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.” – Psalm 23:1

Little did I know, I would enter into the loneliest season of my life four months later.

The thing is, if you looked at my life you wouldn’t think, “Man, she must be really lonely.” I have a really full life. I am a full-time student, do ministry full-time, have solid community around me, and get to travel and do things most singles would love to do. I am so thankful for the opportunities that I’ve had to serve the Lord in my singleness, but it’s still there: the deep desire to do life and ministry with someone.

And it comes in waves. It’s not always constant and at the forefront of my heart & mind. And it’s not always a wrong desire to have. It’s NOT wrong to desire to do life and ministry with someone, unless it makes its way to the throne of your heart.

This season hasn’t been lonely just because I don’t have a husband or that everyone and their mom is getting married. I’ve felt it in ministry as well. I feel the loneliness that comes with being a single woman in ministry, who looks around and wonders where her sisters are. Loneliness doesn’t discriminate. It can come in any season & hit you in different ways.

Even though this has been a season of deep loneliness, it’s been one of the sweetest. I have been learning what it means for the Lord to be my Shepherd. And sisters, as a single woman there is nothing more comforting than that.

I just turned 25 this year. I’m like SO old now. I’m apparently an adult, but don’t always feel like it. I’m also finishing up my Master’s degree next May and I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing.

Helllooo quarter-life crisis. (Why did no one warn me about this?)

As I was making life decisions and financial decisions (yuck), I found myself thinking if I just had a husband this would be a lot easier. And that’s a lie. A husband will not fix everything. I found myself desiring to have someone there to lovingly lead, guide, and protect me. I wanted the sense of security he would bring.

But isn’t that what the Lord does?

The answer is yes, if you were wondering. I felt the Lord whisper to my heart, “Kaycee, I am lovingly leading, guiding, and protecting you. I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep. I know you. I see you. You are not alone.”

Here are 3 things that I have learned while walking with the Shepherd in this season:

  1. There is nothing you lack

Some versions say, “I have all that I need” or “I shall not want.” The Shepherd provides for his sheep. He promises to take care of us. It seems simple, but my heart needs to be reminded of His care for me- I can bet that yours does, too. He has not forgotten me. When I look around and see all my friends in relationships or I see friends moving away or I see friends who seem to know what they’re doing – He has not forgotten me. The lot He has given me is good.

And He has not forgotten you. The lot He has given you is good.

  1. You are not alone

Deuteronomy 2:7 says, “For the Lord your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these forty years, the LORD your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.”

Sometimes singleness and, let’s be real—life—feels like a wilderness. As I read that verse I immediately realized I am a lot more like the Israelites in the wilderness than I think I am.

I often grumble and complain through this season.
I forget what the Lord has delivered me from.
I forget His promises.
I forget His faithfulness when my selfishness creeps to the surface.

But even in this wilderness, He has been with me and I’ve not lacked a darn thing. Sisters, He is providing and caring for us. I’m learning it often just doesn’t look like how we think it should.

  1. You are heard & known

Psalm 116:1-2 says,

“I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.”

Sister, He hears you. He hears the cries of your heart.

John 10:14 says,

“I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me…”

He knows you.

And because He knows you, He knows the deepest desires of your heart. He cares deeply for them. And because we know Him, we can trust Him.

This past week I had the opportunity to gather about 12 girls around a table with our Pastor to share with him the ways we struggle being a single woman in or pursuing ministry. He listened. He encouraged. He spoke Truth. He vowed to be our advocate.

Oh, my heart. I couldn’t believe it. The Lord was answering my prayers.

Of course the answer didn’t come in the form of a ruggedly handsome, Jesus-loving man who was ready to accept my weirdness and addiction to coffee.

You know what, though? I preferred the way God answered. He knew my desires better than I did.

Sister, don’t give up. Press in to the pain. He’s there in the midst of it bringing healing.

And who knows, God just might use it to spark a passion in your heart.

 

(P.S. New to the series? click here to start at the beginning!)

 

 

To Be His

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I knew the question was coming, I just didn’t know who would ask it first.

It happened as I stood outside fanning the back of my neck, confident I was about to melt and soak into the grass out in the South Carolina summer sun.

One of my relatives – a third or fourth cousin or a great uncle or none of the above (I have a big family) – came up to me as I pulled my hair into a bun.

“So you’re not married yet?”

Boom. There goes the dynamite. The go-to question for single twenty-somethings.

Smile, Anna, I told myself. I looked at my relative and replied with all the good church girl persona I could muster, “Not yet.”

After that grand revelation, I stepped off by myself, pulled out my phone, and texted my friend Kaycee: “I even get The Question at a funeral…”

The guy was just trying to make friendly conversation, and I definitely wasn’t upset. But it did make me whisper to God: Why am I not married yet? What are you doing up there?

See, I’m a planner. I have a bullet journal, I love a good school syllabus, and I adore sticky notes. I like to know where I’m going and how I’ll get there.

When I started college, I had my love story all mapped out, and it was perfect, in my opinion. It looked like this…

Freshman year: Get the hang of college. Meet professors, make friends, pass classes.
Sophomore year: Get involved in campus organizations. Make more friends. Meet a guy friend.
Junior year: Fall in love with said guy friend.
Senior year: Get engaged. Plan a wedding.
Summer after graduation: Get married. Live happily ever after.

According to my carefully thought-out schedule, I should be a few years into a marriage with Tall, Dark, and Handsome right now, probably painting a nursery, or at least daydreaming about what we’ll name the kids.

In my carefully planned world, tonight I’d light a candle and have friends over for coffee, then my husband would come home from work, we’d have a home cooked meal (yours truly can rock a crock pot), hang out watching a movie or reading on the couch, then go to bed.

Except not.

God had other plans, and they didn’t exactly match up with mine.

I’m writing this while sitting in my twin-sized bed, wearing an old t-shirt and gym shorts, and stuffing my face with popcorn. It’s not my most attractive look, but it’s definitely not a bad situation.

But still. I’m super single. Honestly, I don’t talk about it a lot on the internet (But if you follow me on Instagram and see how frequently I post pictures of my cat, you’ll know my relationship status). That’s on purpose. I don’t want to admit I get tired of independence. Or that, while I’m full of joy when my friends fall in love and get married, it’s not all happy tears. Or that sometimes I’m tempted to believe God has overlooked me and my biggest dreams.

I’m earning a master’s degree in ministry to counsel and teach and encourage women. I love the life God has given me, and I desire for others to know the joy of Jesus, too. And yet sometimes I’m just not 100% on board with where I’m at in life.

Recently, though, God’s been telling me to share my story. To be real with where I’m at, in hopes of encouraging those of you who find yourself in a similar situation.

So I talked to some of my closest friends – single girls whose wisdom I trust – and we decided to dive into this single thing in a blog post series.

I can’t promise you it’ll be pretty, but I can promise you it’ll be real. I can’t promise you we’ll offer a solution for those lonely days, but I can promise we won’t give you the standard singles “encouragement” (you know the stuff).

We can’t promise you’ll be married by your next birthday or that some guy will kiss you at midnight on New Year’s Eve, but we can promise to walk beside you.

Some of us have been in relationships before, some of us have been on our share of coffee dates, and some of us haven’t done any of that. But we’re all single twenty-somethings. We’re not into cliché answers or fluffy feel-good statements. We’re in it with you.

We definitely don’t have it all together (I’m currently modeling a scar on my neck from an unfortunate encounter with my curling iron…), and we don’t have all of the answers, but we each have a story. And we’ll share them with honesty, humor, and heart (and possibly cat GIFs).

Ultimately, we desire to point you to the one, single thing that matters most. We all believe our relationship with Jesus is hands-down the most important, fulfilling relationship we’ll ever experience. Sometimes we stumble, but there’s so much joy in this journey of learning To Be His.

So welcome to this series. We’re excited to live life with you, sister.

For His glory,
Anna

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