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    Guest Post: Freedom from Pornography and Lust As a Woman

    Thursday, May 14, 2020

    Walking in freedom from pornography and lust is not an easy thing. People don't want to talk about the struggle of lust, especially as a woman. The enemy brings in lies and shame. But God is bringing light to this darkness. He is using people, like my friend Taylor, to share their stories and encourage others in their walk to freedom. Pray and ask God to work in your heart and mind as you read how Taylor wisely advises how to break free from pornography and lust. (Read her testimony here.)
    Lauren: When you gain victory in an area, the temptations do not easily go away. What mental boundaries do you have in place and how do you enforce those?  What do you think of and remind yourself of in moments of temptation?
    Taylor: Getting free was one thing, but staying free throughout the stages of being single, dating, engaged, and most recently, married, has been a journey of its own. Regardless of my relationship status, I decided that I had to a) have strong mental and physical boundaries, b) be honest and real with myself and my accountability about my weaknesses, and c) planning accordingly, every single day. Essentially, I have to put on the full armor of God every morning, even in marriage! My husband Alvin and I have both had similar struggles with porn and masturbation addictions, so we have an agreement in our marriage that we don’t watch anything with nudity. It’s like 1 Peter 5:8 says: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (ESV).
    Lauren: This is a hard topic to be open and vulnerable about. What are some important tips in seeking an accountability partner? In what ways do you have accountability?
    Taylor: A key part of Alvin’s freedom from pornography was accountability, even though I never had an accountability partner. He had a group of friends he would talk to, as well as spiritual leaders that he could go to when he was struggling. He will tell you that accountability was essential to his freedom.
    Lauren: How did it feel when you were dating someone with a pornography addiction? What advice would you give?
    Taylor: When Alvin and I began dating, I was already walking in full freedom from pornography and masturbation. However, it was still something Alvin was struggling with, and while he was up front and honest with me about it, it was still really hard to hear. Yet, because it was something I had dealt with, I had more grace for him. Shortly into our relationship, Alvin took a week to fast and pray for freedom. Ultimately though, it was his heart for Jesus and his heart for me that helped him become free.
    Something that we agreed on really early on was that lust wasn’t going to enter our marriage, so before he proposed, he had gotten completely free. When you’re serious about getting free and going after God, He will free you!
    I’d say to anyone dealing with pornography in a relationship to look for the red flags: 
    - Are they seeking freedom and do they truly want to stop? 
    - Are they taking practical steps? 
    - Do they have accountability in their addiction?
    If your partner isn’t doing these things, that’s a red flag. A pornography addiction isn’t necessarily the cause for a breakup, but if your significant other isn’t actively chasing their own freedom, taking practical steps, and finding accountability with someone other than you, that is major cause for concern. You should absolutely never be your girlfriend/boyfriend’s accountability partner, because it will eat at your own sense of self-worth and eventually destroy your relationship. On that note, when you’re in a relationship where someone is dealing with a pornography addiction, it’s important to make boundaries with that person - both physically and emotionally. Remember, you are not Jesus! It’s not your responsibility to save that person.
    Lauren: In your experience, do porn and masturbation always go together? What if you have gained victory in your struggle with porn but still struggle with masturbation?
    Taylor: In my experience, when I would watch pornography, I would always masturbate . . . I mean, that’s kind of the point! But it is easy to masturbate without porn. In my case, masturbation became a crutch that I depended on for comfort, which meant that I wasn’t going to the Holy Spirit, who is literally the best Comforter there is!
    Masturbation can definitely be more difficult to stop than watching pornography. There’s a lot that you have to wade through mentally when you’re trying to get free from masturbation - lies like, “I’m not watching porn, it’s all in my head, so I’m not hurting anybody.” But that’s a really slippery slope, I mean, Matthew 5:28 says, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (ESV). It’s still a struggle, which is why you have to have someone in your life who is willing to speak the truth of God’s word into your struggle. Proverbs 4:21-22 says, “Your words … bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole flesh.” (NLT).
    Lauren: So much wisdom and truth. I’m so thankful that God has helped you gain victory. What would you say has changed in your life now that you have experienced victory in the area of pornography?
    Taylor: Everything has changed now that I’ve experienced victory over pornography! My life has changed. My eyes were opened to the fullness of my calling, and I live everyday shameless, guilt free, and with a greater understanding of my own worth. My relationship with Jesus has been so elevated because I understand God’s love and grace for me at such a deeper level than I did before.
    That God would still love and use me for the freedom of others is incredible, especially since I “broke my promise to get free” so, so many times. God showed me that He desires freedom for me even more than I do, and because of that, I have been able to forgive myself. The best part is that now I get to encourage and pour into other young women who struggle with the same thing, and I get to help them see victory in their lives, which brings me so much joy!
    Thanks to Taylor and her team for sharing these responses to the SOFH community’s questions. Taylor is 21 years old with a passion to see the captives set free. Her heart is to see those addicted to pornography set free as well as those trafficked and abused in the porn industry. Staying silent about the things that matter is not her thing. She currently works for a missions organization called “Circuit Riders” and is residing in Huntington Beach, California with her husband Alvin. 

    A Testimony of Freedom from Pornography and Lust

    Wednesday, May 13, 2020

    No one talks about being a woman and struggling with pornography and lust, but according to research, "one-third of all internet porn users are women." So who will break the silence and start the conversation? My friend Taylor steps up and shares her story of being addicted to pornography and how Jesus set her free.

    I was exposed to pornography at 8 years old by a friend, when I was too young to know that what I was seeing was wrong. Every time she came over, we would watch it together, which is when I learned what masturbation was. Watching pornography and masturbating soon became an addiction as I learned how to look it up for myself. I didn’t think about why I was watching porn or why I was masturbating, it just became a habit. I was young and na├»ve when I was introduced to pornography, and it quickly turned into a habit.

    When I was 11 years old, I heard the word “pornography” for the first time at youth group and realized that what I had been turning to for comfort for over 3 years was wrong. The only thing I heard was - “this is wrong”, and in turn, felt like I was undeserving of God’s grace. At that point, a lot of shame and guilt fell over me, and I promised myself that I wouldn’t tell anyone; I would get over my addiction to pornography and masturbation by myself. Of course, that didn’t work, so two years later I brought it to God - and He told me to tell a specific adult leader. I was terrified of what that leader would say, since I was also a student leader, so I told God no. God didn’t stop nudging at my heart though - I would fall again and again, and I knew what He said to do. After wrestling with my own shame for a while, I got the courage to tell her, and the first thing she said to me was “I’m proud of you.”

    I thought that would be the end of it, but I kept struggling with it. It was then that I realized in order to be truly free, I would have to take practical steps. So I asked my mom to take my TV out of my room - even though I told her at the time that it was because I wanted to watch less T.V. - and I stopped sleeping with my phone nearby. It was clear that pornography and masturbation were things that I turned to when I was lonely, or needed comfort, so I took steps to find comfort in Jesus and Godly community instead of in porn, but progress was slow and felt impossible. Even with all of these practical steps, I kept slipping into habits formed in my childhood. It truly felt like a hopeless situation - like I would never get free.

    It wasn’t until I found out about the crossover between human trafficking and pornography that I truly got my freedom. At 18, I was in the midst of raising money for a safehouse in Nepal, where girls who had been trafficked and exploited could be rescued and rehabilitated. God absolutely broke my heart for the victims and survivors of human trafficking, and I couldn’t bring myself to watch pornography any longer.

    The truth is that shame keeps you quiet, and it keeps you bound in sin. Once you expose what is hidden, God can put His light on it and set you free from it, no matter if your freedom is immediate or a process over time.

    Taylor is 21 years old with a passion to see the captives set free. Her heart is to see those addicted to pornography set free as well as those trafficked and abused in the porn industry. Staying silent about the things that matter is not her thing. She currently works for a missions organization called “Circuit Riders” and is residing in Huntington Beach, California with her husband Alvin.

    Rethinking Sexuality Book Review

    Tuesday, May 12, 2020

    “Sexual issues are ultimately spiritual issues . . . When the body of Christ is not willing to engage in these conversations, we allow the Enemy to build strongholds in people’s lives. Their most private temptations, struggles, pain, disappointments, and shame represent their doubts about, resentment toward, and mistrust of the character of God.” Rethinking Sexuality by Dr. Juli Slattery

    For some reason, the church seems to be silent on the topic of sex while the culture around us is shouting about it. The silence of the church can lead to feelings of shame about struggles, misunderstandings of desires and how to fulfill them, or lies that sex is dirty and gross. But truly, sex is part of God’s good creation and we as Christians should not shy from talking about it because sex displays His desire to know and love His people. 

    Sex was free from guilt and shame before the Fall. Adam and Eve “were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). But sin entered the world and the fig leaves of shame created doubts of God and His goodness and - can how He designed things really be trusted? Satan has been distorting sex ever since. Why wouldn’t he? Slattery says, “God intentionally created our sexuality to tell the story of His covenant love . . . We will never grasp the spiritual significance of sexuality until we understand its link to covenant love.” Satan wants to ruin anything that portrays the love God has for His people. 

    Dr. Juli Slattery’s book Rethinking Sexuality leaves you with a greater understanding of God’s design for sex and a deeper love for Him. Slattery writes on hard topics and talks through difficult questions. Why would God give us sexual desires as singles and not allow us to fulfill them? How can I, created as a sexual being, be obedient to God in singleness? What do I do with unfulfilled desires? Above all, she reveals the goodness and love of our Creator. This would be a great book study to do with friends. There are some great questions in the back to get the discussion going. Don’t avoid talking about the good things that God has created!

    Guest Post: Unbroken by Loneliness

    Monday, May 11, 2020

    Grab a cup of coffee, settle down somewhere cozy and open your heart to hear from my Singled Out sister Josie as she shares what God has done and is doing in her heart during her season of singleness.

    When my sweet friend says of my prolonged singleness, “I don’t know how you do it…” I smile.  ‘Tis like she is insinuating that I have some sort of superpower that no one else has.

    But, I know.  I remember.  I remember some of those hard moments.  Those moments that happen each Sunday, when I watch everyone at church get in their vehicle and go home with family.  And I walk away by myself.  I go home and eat lunch alone.  Oh certainly sometimes a friend or three join me, but many many times they don’t.  Yes, I think of the countless times when my friends felt distant, and I wondered if they’d forgotten that I existed.  I remember those times when I’ve checked my phone multiple times in the hour, hoping that someone would connect with my heart’s plea for friendship.  I’ve wondered too about my past guy relationships.  Did I make good choices there?  Should I have done something… anything… differently?  I mean, I honestly don’t want to be single for the rest of my life.

    But at the age of 34, I’ve learned one main thing, about doing this singleness thing well, about enjoying this season of my life, however long it might be.

    The number one thing that has kept me from being broken by singleness is a simple revelation really.  It’s grown stronger in me the past couple of years.  It’s held me in those hard places, even when my heart felt that it might not be true.  That revelation?  I’m not doing life alone.  In fact, I’m not ever alone.

    When I was a young girl I remember hearing a sermon about “practicing the presence of God” which was in short treating God as if He really is with you every step of the way.  That message stuck.  Today, it’s no longer a message.  It’s a lifestyle.  I’ve finally realized that God really meant it when He said that He would never leave me (Hebrews 13:5).  He is really right here with me every. single. moment. of every single day.  I can sing to Him all day long.  I can drive to see a friend by “myself” on a long road trip and worship my King the whole way and have so much fun doing it, and feel so on top of the world, in love with my very best Friend, Jesus.  It’s He who has kept me; it’s He who has held me; it’s He who will continue to hold me all of my eternity.  It’s the truth… an absolute.  Jesus is always there.

    And so in those moments “alone” when my friend didn’t invite me, when my other friend declined my request to hang out, and when it seems I’m the only person that knows where I am, I hear Him whisper, “I’m here, Josie.  I promised I would be until forever, and my promises never fail.  It is I that have held you, that have kept you, that have molded you, and it is I that will never walk away.”  He is my Provider, my Healer, my Lover, my Strength, my Song ... my Everything.  I turn to Him again … and again … and again… and even when I’m discouraged and frustrated and thinking about it all wrong, He’s right there by my side, lovingly, patiently turning my heart back toward Him, the One that’s never left.  And that is precisely what has kept me from being broken by loneliness.  And whether you are surrounded by a family of ten or a family of none, whether your last profile picture got a hundred likes or two, God sees you.  He knows right where you are.  He is watching after you and whispering to your heart, “I see you.  Turn to Me.  I will take care of you and fulfill your deepest heart’s desires.”  So that’s it.  That’s my superpower.  Now that I’ve revealed it, you go and be SUPER too.

    Josie is currently a teacher and an administrator at a Christian school in Missouri.  She’s a country girl at heart but loves being around people too much to live too far from civilization. Outdoor activities are her favorites, and if she’s not doing school, you will likely find her hiking, biking, kayaking, or taking naps.  Above all, her greatest passion is introducing others to Jesus and helping them to discover their powerful place as a Child of God, loved by Him, and led by His Spirit.  He is oh so sweet. 

    Addressing Pornography

    Thursday, April 23, 2020

    Pornography is not an easy topic to discuss. But the enemy is using this addiction to destroy relationships and walks with the Lord, and the only way to gain victorious ground is to address it with grace and Truth. 
    In a dating relationship, it is a topic that needs to be discussed since more likely than not that the man you are dating has or is struggling with porn. Research conducted by the Conquer Series shows that 68% of church-going men view porn on a regular basis and 76% of young Christian adults (18-24 years old) actively search for porn. While porn is often stereotyped as a male only struggle, the number of female users has rapidly increased. The Conquer Series also found that while “only 13% of self identified Christian women say they never watch porn, 87% of Christian women have watched porn.” So there is no doubt many women reading this find themselves struggling with porn. 
    A friend of mine, Brad White, has agreed to answer some tough questions regarding pornography. Brad is on staff at my church and has recently written a book on pornography. God is using him in great ways to speak into the lives of those struggling with this sin. 
    Lauren: Brad! Thank you so much for being willing to answer questions from the Singled Out for Him community. Before we jump into some specific questions, I think it’s important to know why we are even talking about pornography. How is pornography a sin? Why is it harmful? And why is it even important that we talk about it?
    Brad: In Matthew 5:28, Jesus says “But I tell you that if anyone looks at a woman lustfully he has committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus makes it clear here that if we are even looking at a person lustfully that we have committed adultery with them. I think for many of us we would consider the one in adultery to be a physical line; however, we see here that Jesus has drawn one that is marked in our hearts.
    Pornography is horrible on so many different levels. First and foremost it is a sin. So if we are engaged in it, we are continuing to live in sin. Christ called us into a life of freedom not into a life of bondage. Secondly pornography is harmful because it causes unrealistic expectations. I have sat with too many couples who are struggling in their sexual relationships due to pornography being a part of it. The third reason I would give is because pornography is so addictive. Pornography interacts with our brains similar to a drug like heroin. When we interact with pornography, our brain releases a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that makes us feel good. When this chemical is released, our brain reacts so that we will begin to seek out that behavior again. This is why pornography is so addictive. 
    You can ask anyone who struggles with pornography. Whatever it is that they started watching is not what they are currently watching. Their usage will progress. This is how a person can go from softcore pornography such as playboy, to finding themselves being arrested for trying to hire prostitutes. Sin is a slippery slope. One of my favorite quotes is “Sin will take you further than you want to go and will cost you more than you wanna pay.” This is so true of pornography.
    Also, I believe that pornography is the silent killer of the church. We’re happy to get up and talk about lying, cheating, and stealing. However there’s so much shame that is attached to the subject of pornography that often times the Church shies away from it. But when we look at the statistical data we see that there’s a higher percentage of people who are engaged in viewing online pornography than those who are not. If the church sits back and remains silent, we will see this epidemic destroy marriages and families and homes across the country.
    Lauren: I am so thankful that you are willing to be obedient and step up and talk about it within the church. While it needs to be discussed in our churches, it also needs to be brought up in our relationships. The main concern, since there is so much shame attached to pornography, is how to bring it up in the right way. Can you advise how a girl can ask her boyfriend if he is looking at porn without seeming nosy or judgmental? What’s the best way to bring the topic up in a relationship? On the other hand, what should we NOT say or do when asking about this topic?
    Brad: First and foremost I think there has to be some significant trust built in a relationship before this ever comes up. I don’t think this is an appropriate second question! This would be a question that I wouldn’t force; I would follow the lead of natural conversation. I also believe that vulnerability breeds vulnerability. So if you and your significant other are having a deep conversation about your personal struggles and areas in which you were hoping that the Lord will continue to renew your mind and grow closer to Him, potentially you won’t even have to ask and he might share it with you on his own.
    If however I am being forced to answer the question, I would maybe phrase it this way - “How are you protecting your eyes and heart to make sure that everything that you are taking in honors God?” A second option would be - “How can I help you in keeping yourself pure before God? I know that God has hardwired men to be visual, so I want to know how I can be praying for you in this area.” This way you’re leading with a question that sounds like he is already being successful. It doesn’t sound accusatory.  It is super important to note that if he confesses his struggle to you at this time that you do not become angry or defensive. This will make him shut down and he will not bring the subject up with you again. You have to understand that his viewership has nothing to do with you and everything to do with his own insecurities. Respond to him as if he said to you “Hey I struggle with eating five Twinkies every single night.” 
    I would also say to not flat out ask them if they struggle with pornography. This comes across as accusatory and will most likely lead to a fight or to his lying to you. You have to allow the conversation to come up naturally. If he confesses that he does struggle with pornography, I would not suggest asking what he is watching. I’ll explain it to you this way: say you are a brunette, and he tells you he looks at redheaded women. From that point forward, every time you see a woman with red hair, you are going to feel overly self-conscious, and wonder if he is checking her out. I do not think that you need to know all the details of his struggle. I think it is best for you to have a 100,000 foot view, and allow his accountability partner or pastor at church to be on the runway with him.
    Lauren: You mentioned not making this the second question to ask - obviously, but when do you advise bringing up the topic of porn in a relationship?
    Brad: This question kind of leads back to the last two. I think this has to come up organically in a relationship where trust exists. I also think that this has to be a relationship that you feel is moving towards marriage. I don’t think these are conversations that you have with a casual date.
    Lauren: Ok . . . so say you have a good conversation regarding his struggle with porn and he admits to struggling with it. How do you move forward in this relationship when you find out that he struggles with porn? What is the best way to deal with it?
    Brad: Above all, you have to understand that the struggle has nothing to do with you. This is a struggle but it is all about them. I believe the best thing that you can do is be in prayer for them and encourage them to spend time with an accountability partner that can walk with them
    Lauren: We have talked about relationships and men struggling with porn, but despite stereotypes, I know that many of my Singled Out for Him sisters struggle too and are looking for help in their addiction as well. What are some practical boundaries you recommend for believers - male or female - to set to continue staying pure in their thought life? Are there any apps/content filters you would recommend? 
    Brad: The best advice I can give them in this area is to have an accountability partner that you are checking in with regularly. This has to be someone with which you are having honest conversation with and sharing your struggles with. There are several content filters that can be used. Triple X Church, and Covenant Eyes are two of the top that I recommend. For iPhone users, you can set up content blocks through the settings of your phone. It is possible to completely limit all adult content. It’s also important that the accountability person is checking up on the phone to make sure that apps are being utilized well. Obviously in the day and age that we live in there are multiple avenues via apps that pornography can be accessed. This is where conversation has to happen between accountability partners of what apps are used and how.
    Lauren: Sometimes the hardest part of making a change is taking the first step. How do you start detoxing from porn? What’s the first thing you recommend doing?
    Brad: For people who struggle with smoking they can get on a nicotine patch that slowly steps down their nicotine needs. This simply isn’t the case for pornography. You cannot stairstep your pornography use to nothing. It simply does not work. Pornography must be stopped cold turkey. As the brain has worked hard to wire itself to seek out more and more shocking content, it will take several months for the brain to rewire itself to get back to a place of normalcy.
    Lauren: You recently wrote a book on the struggle of pornography. Can you share a little on the name of the book, what the book is about, and how our readers can get a copy?
    Brad: The Little Book on the BIG Lie of Pornography was written out of my own struggles with pornography and the journey that I began to walk with other men as they found freedom. It’s a short, direct book that shares my story, the harms of pornography, some practical application steps, and then really getting to the root of the issue. Pornography so often is singled out as a person’s problem. It is, however, only the tip of the iceberg, the behavior that we see. Below, at the bottom of the iceberg, is a belief system that is driving that behavior. Once the belief system changes then the behavior will follow. The book can be purchased on Amazon and is also available on Kindle. 
    Lauren: Brad, thank you so much for being willing to answer our questions today. I pray God will continue to use you in a great way to help our brothers and sisters in Christ fight against this area of darkness in the Church. 
    If you have further questions, feel free to email Brad at

    Guest Post: SOFH Sister Marlene

    Thursday, April 16, 2020

    Grab a hot cup of coffee and join me in listening to my SOFH sister, Marlene, share her heart on singleness and dating.

    I have a fear of dating the wrong person.

    I have a fear of being hurt emotionally by a guy I give time to by sharing my hopes, dreams, and fears. I have a fear of being rejected by the guy that I think is cute and seems to be a good match for me.

    I was 15.

    I thought the guy liked me, So, I googled, “How to tell if a guy likes you?” because well that seemed like the ideal thing to do, right? I just wanted to make sure my gut feeling was right.

    Once the internet agreed with me and I could pinpoint specific times that I saw him “stare at me or always be around in close proximity” (which meant he of course liked me), I started thinking of how I was going to tell him I liked him or at least give him hints to pursue me.

    The time came on Instagram (because that’s what I thought would be best; but where did I let God in on this potential relationship?). He posted on his feed, “Honesty Hour: Tell me something that you’ve always wanted to tell me”. I thought that this was the perfect time to tell him! Right!? So I got the courage to DM him. (Again, without consulting my Father in Heaven.)

    With my palms sweating and heart beating, I typed I like you” to my crush.

    The response I got typed back to me was, “I think that you are a great girl. We go way back, yet I have never seen you in that way, but you are a great girl.”

    The response in the moment stung . . . and felt like a compliment. Even though he validated that I am a great girl, I still felt the rejection of only being seen as a friend while I saw him as a potential boyfriend.

    Again, I was 15 years old, and he was 15 years old. I was also using Google to order my steps into a godly committed relationship rather than the other Big G!! GOD! Google has valuable resources for singles. It's just for me as a 15 year old, I got into the idea of going for “How to tell if a guy likes you” kind of resources instead of “How to hear from God in your season of singleness.”

    Being 20 years old now, I have had time to mature (and am still in process). I still see this godly man at church meetings. My prayer to God had been that it would never be awkward between us and that he would even forget I ever told him I liked him at midnight on Instagram through DM. I have no way of really knowing if he forgot, but I do know for a fact that the awkwardness is gone. I can look him in the eyes, talk without stuttering and ask him for prayer requests. He is a great young man and I pray only blessings for him.

    I, at the age of 15, was in no way ready for a dating relationship. The rejection gave me time to focus on my relationship with the Lord. Even in my time of focusing on this guy, God was still showing up in my daily life. This also gave me time to pour into knowing and becoming more like Jesus. I learned that I need to let God in on my love life. Even at the age of 15, God still cared about what guy had my attention. All the time I spent swooning over this guy was taking away the time I could be devoting to God, praising him, and worshiping him. Kirk Franklin once said, “God never competes for our attention.”

    I learned that no season is wasted by God. I want to pour into my relationship with Jesus every single day. Even though I thought time was wasted on just seeking a guy’s “yes” to liking me, God was still pursuing my heart. I read my Bible all the way through for the first time by July of the year of 2015. (I told the guy I liked him in September of 2015.)

    Honestly, I still need time to understand who I am. I need time to know who God created me to be, with my specific DNA. God created me with purpose. He says that I can “praise [Him] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; [His] works are wonderful, I know that full well,” (Psalms 139:14). I want to continue to discover, explore, and spend time with God. I want to pursue God’s will for my life. I want to pour into passions that are ordained for a great work in God’s kingdom.

    During this season, I want to travel (Hawaii is on the list!). I want to go to Haiti where my parents were born and connect with my family there. I want to learn how to speak French fluently. I want to learn more instruments (I play the clarinet, bass clarinet, and piano, but I want to learn the trumpet, violin, trombone, and drums). I want to grow in my purpose with the Lord. Specifically right now, I want to take this season of being home and doing online school work to continue getting close to my family, studying my Bible, worshiping God more intimately and praying fervently.

    In this time, I am thankful for the joy of being single in Jesus.

    This is time for me to allow Jesus to fill the emptiness that troubles my soul. This is the time that I can truly let Jesus be the lover of my soul. Like Jonathan McReynolds says in his song, “Lover of My Soul”: What I lack, you are full of. Where I’m broken you are whole. What I doubt, you are sure of. So I’ll trust the lover, the lover of my soul. Jesus is the lover of our souls y’all. He loves me - He loves you! The Lord loves us so much. He thoughts towards you are good.

    Thank you, Jesus, for your grace. We pray that the Truth of your dying for our sins reminds us that our pain is never too small or big for you to make a miracle in the midst of what we call our mess. Man may reject us, but God, you never will. You choose us every day; help us to choose you.

    Cast your cares upon the Lord for he cares for you! 1 Peter 5:7

    Marlene is a Florida-born and Kentucky-raised Haitian American gal. She is currently in her second year at Berea College where she is planning to major in Chemistry and minor in Dance. She loves unity within community and thus, Psalms 133 is the heartbeat of her everyday life. On any given day, Marlene enjoys chatting with her friends and family, doing Zumba-cardio workouts, jamming to Kirk Franklin, and reading the Word. You can catch Marlene rocking her bright smile, her pep in her step and her flowy dresses. Marlene wants you all “to be encouraged and go out and be lights of the world!”

    Unknown Endings

    Tuesday, April 14, 2020

    “The dog dies at the end.”

    This is 5th grade me to my classmates sitting in literature circles at the start of a brand-new book. I got in so much trouble.

    I didn’t really know about *spoilers* then and I wasn’t trying to ruin the book. But when I saw the dog on the cover, I immediately flipped to the last page to see if the dog was still alive. I was NOT to be tricked again. I knew how these dog books worked! You grow attached to the dog in the story and then bawl your eyes out at the end when the dog dies.

    I wanted to warn my classmates so they could emotionally be prepared and separate their hearts a little from the dog. Not get too close.

    I got called to the teacher’s desk and learned my lesson.  I mean, I was just trying to help a friend out over here. 

    Ok so I thought I learned my lesson. But 5th grade Lauren isn’t too different than today’s Lauren. While I know not to ruin movies or flip to the last page in a book, my approach to books about dogs and to relationships aren’t really much different. When I start talking to someone, I want to know right away how it ends. I hate the risk. I want to put all the walls up to protect my heart. I want the least amount of attachment possible so I get hurt the least. Because I know how these relationships work - you grow attached and have fun and then there is heartbreak and pain on the last page.

    The thing is, no matter how the story ends each time for me and relationships, I can be confident that my relationship with Jesus won’t end in the same way. In fact, with Jesus, our first page started with death. He died for me. And I know each page only has great love for me. I can trust my loving Jesus with my relationships.

    With relationships, I am trying to leave my skepticism aside. I pray and ask God to take these fears and worries. I thank Him for being the good and loving Author. I trust Him with the mountains and the valleys, the fun and the pain. I take a deep breath, and then I turn another page.

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