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    100 Days to Brave by Annie Downs

    Saturday, December 29, 2018

    To be honest, I was a bit skeptical. I am not one of those ‘100 days of devotionals’ or ‘365 days of motivational sayings’ type people. I always thought their purposes were to replace time in the Word of God and of that I’m not a big fan. But when I was starting up Singled Out for Him, my blog mentor said “You need to get 100 Days to Brave by Annie Downs and start reading it along with your journey of starting this ministry. It will change your life and challenge you.” And girl, was she right!

    Because I’m one of ‘those people’ about devotionals, I would start my time with Jesus in the morning by reading Annie’s devotional of the day (2-3 pages long). As the coffee started kicking in, Annie had me either laughing real hard (apparently this can be done at 5 AM) or moved to tears, and I felt like I was sipping coffee next to my best friend and sharing our hearts. After reading, my soul was refreshed, my mind was awake, and my heart was then ready to dig in to Scripture. Seriously - supplement your daily reading of God’s Word with this challenging and fun book. It’ll start your day off right.

    No matter what your 2019 goals look like - new business, new job, breaking bad habits, serving in a new way, starting that Bible study - 100 Days to Brave is the perfect way to get you started. We could all use some more courage in our life, right? "For the next 100 days, I want to show you that you are braver than you know, and with that knowledge in your back pocket, you can change your world" (Annie Downs, 100 Days to Brave).

    Annie is leading a massive social media book club and I’m doing another round of bravery with her. Join Annie on Instagram at anniefdowns and start with us on January 1st! Who’s in?

    Life After Christmas

    Thursday, December 27, 2018

    As I clean up the wrapping paper, fold up the gift bags (any bag reusers out there?) and listen to my Michael Buble Christmas album one more time, my mind considers Mary and what her life looked like after that first Christmas.

    It’s always bittersweet after Christmas, isn’t it? Half of the joy of Christmas is the anticipation, the waiting, the celebration of the “almost not yet.” But the day after Christmas always comes.

    Just like when our families pack up and return home after a holiday, Mary’s company left her as well. The shepherds “returned, glorifying and praising God” (Luke 2:20). The wise men “returned to their own country” (Matthew 2:12). Mary is left with her humble husband, newborn Christ child, and her pondering heart. She reflects on all that had been. I believe God had allowed this time of reflection for Mary in order to prepare her for what was to come.  

    Did you continue reading after the Christmas story? . . . Joseph is warned in a dream about Herod. So they flee in the middle of the night and escape into a foreign country, running for their lives. Unsettled.

    Herod “gave orders to massacre all the male children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under” (Matthew 2:16). Death.

    The truth is that the message of Christmas continues after December 25th. But this message isn’t always wise men worshipping with expensive gifts, angels heralding anthems of glory, or shepherds praising God in the stable. This message includes death, running, rejection, denial, suffering. And resurrection. And “I’m coming again soon.” And hope.

    Just like Mary, we may never know what is to come. But God knows (“then what was spoken through [Jeremiah/Isaiah] was fulfilled” Matthew 2:17/3:3). When the difficult times come and they will come, hold onto those ponderings in your heart. Ponderings of what God has done and what God has promised.

    Mary had a lot happen in her life after that first tender Christmas in the smelly stable. But she clung to what had been, what will be, and Who is.

    As you put away your Christmas decorations and send your loved ones off to their homes, hold on to the Ponderings of Christmas all year round.

    Advent Reflections

    Thursday, December 20, 2018

    Advent, described by Merriam-Webster as two events: “the coming of Christ at the Incarnation; Second Coming.” The first Advent of Jesus’ birth has come and we are anxiously awaiting the second Advent of Jesus’ return.

    I ponder the years of waiting the children of Israel experienced for the first Advent. From the promise made to Adam that a serpent-crusher would come to the Hope declared through Isaiah of the Mighty God and Prince of Peace. Then 400 years of silence where not a word from God was spoken.

    400 years. Silence. Waiting.

    Earlier this year, I wrestled through a period of silence from God. My heart had been broken. My hope deferred. My confidence shaken.

    And I longed for the advent of hearing God speak. I waited. I prayed. I read His Promises.

    Finally, like a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, I received an answer. "I'm not done with your singleness." These exact words were spoken to my heart by the Still, Small Voice. And I cried.

    This meant my waiting was not over yet. My longings to be married would not be fulfilled in the timing that I had wanted.

    “Advent is a painful and necessary reminder that in ways both big and small, all is not yet right in our world . . . It’s here in the undefined waiting and wandering that Advent challenges us the most. This season reminds us that God has not promised us every little or big desire of our heart - instead, he promised us himself” (Brianna DeWitt, What Advent Waiting Means for Singles).

    Waiting for marriage is an earthly desire that may or may not come true. But truly all longings reveal deeper longings that Jesus has placed there. My yearning for marriage mirror the Church’s yearnings for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. This waiting will be fulfilled and is for something that was promised. Much like the Israelites, I am longing for Advent. I long for Jesus to come and claim His Bride, the Church.

    After God spoke, bringing news I didn’t really want to hear, He also delivered something else. Peace. A wave of calmness and strength from the Lord. Reminders that the promise for me isn’t earthly marriage but is truly the marriage of Jesus and His bride, the Church.

    Sister, we are not guaranteed that our desires to be married will be fulfilled. We are not promised a happy, healthy life. But in the painful waiting for the Second Advent, we are promised something far greater - Jesus. Wait for Him with the knowledge that He will come.

    “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

    The Privilege to Speak

    Thursday, December 13, 2018

    “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge. There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard. Their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun.”
    Psalms 19:1-4 HCSB

    Natural revelation. Creation is telling others about God - without words. They are declaring and communicating God! As I was reading this, I got chills (they're multiplying 🎶 ), the Lord spoke: 

    You have an even greater calling. You get to declare and communicate about me WITH words. You get to extend creation's story with Truth of Scripture.

    Creation tells of a Creator of the world. We tell of a Creator of relationship who sent His Son as a baby to live a perfect life in order to die on our behalf.

    Creation paints beauty in the midst of this messy world. We paint beauty in the midst of our messy sin. 

    Creation magnifies God and His power. We magnify God and His power to sanctify us and give purpose to our lives.

    How are you using your calling to declare and communicate God today to those around you?

    Declare Something

    Thursday, December 6, 2018

    The sun is slowly rising, hues of blue are peeking their way through the trees. And I open to Psalm 19. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge." The sun knows that when it rises it has one purpose: declare God’s glory to the world. 

    Will it be through reds and oranges today? Or blues? Or pinks?
    The skies must capture the wonder of the ever-busy humans. 

    What can I do to get them to look up?

    The heavens and skies cannot choose who it will and will not display to: "their message has gone out to all the earth; and their words to the ends of the world." From sunrise to sunset, the skies live with the purpose of making God great through beauty displayed.

    When you rise, what do you declare? 

    Do you declare your self: your desires? Your insecurities? Your complaints? Or do you declare something greater: God's glory? the Gospel? Truth?

    How do you capture the attention of those around you and cause them to look up? Maybe it's through beauty like the skies - beauty of your words, your work, your encouragement. Maybe it's how you take a stand for Truth or how you work hard at your job. Maybe it's how you purposefully choose to live your season of singleness for Jesus.

    When you rise, you declare something and your message goes out to all people. May the beautiful skies around you be a daily reminder to declare Him.

    Singled Out for Him Sister: Katherine

    Tuesday, December 4, 2018

    Enjoy an honest and open conversation between two Singled Out Sisters as I share with you my time with my friend, Katherine.

    Lauren: Each season comes with difficulties and challenges. What struggles do you have or have had that are specific to your current season of singleness?

    Katherine: I don't think that my struggles with singleness are much different than what other friends or girls have shared with me. But for me, the biggest ones are just desiring and feeling like I've been created to be a wife and to have a family, and somehow feeling like I've been missing out on that part of my calling so far. Obviously the comparison game doesn't help this at all - seeing friends go through the processes of dating, engagement, marriage, and then starting a family and somehow feeling "left behind" or that I'm missing out on really deep and valuable life experiences.

    Lauren: Yes. Being married and having a family is a desire of mine too, and I can totally identify with the feeling of being “left behind” or missing out.

    Katherine: Also, I struggle with just feeling a sense of loneliness. Though the Lord has blessed me with an incredible community and close friends, I can feel the reality that we're made to be in close relationship and do life together day-in and day-out with a partner. Specifically, I feel that void without a husband, just desiring to really "do life" with someone - to share daily ups and downs, to challenge, encourage, laugh, and just experience life together in a deeper way than other friendships/relationships.

    Lauren: I think all singles have dealt with feelings of loneliness before. For some reason, we believe the lie that we are the only one with this feeling of loneliness. We see other friends who are single and it seems as if they are having the time of their lives while we are over here needing to get it together somehow. Now, let me ask you about dating. How has dating affected your season of singleness?

    Katherine: The rollercoaster ride of dating relationships is difficult. It's an emotional experience to walk through that process of getting to know someone else and then either experiencing rejection or having to be the one who might cause emotional hurt to someone else, even if not ill-intended. It can be an exhausting experience to go through again and again.

    Lauren: YES! Sometimes I find myself thinking “is it even worth it to put myself out there again?” I don’t believe this is a right perspective though.

    Katherine: Possibly the biggest struggle, though, is just trying to have a balance in my heart of contentment yet being "ok" with a desire for a husband. I know that desire isn't wrong - God created marriage and put that desire for relationship in our hearts. It just feels difficult at times to wrestle through having an unmet, godly desire but remain satisfied in the Lord.

    Lauren: My friends and I talk about that all the time. This is something I believed for the longest time. I even went through seasons of not praying and asking God for a godly husband and asked for Him to take away my desire because I believed that since He wasn’t answering my prayers then it must not be a good desire. This is such a lie from Satan. The desire to be married is not ungodly!

    Ok. So every season has its fair share of struggles, but each season also has abundant opportunities for blessings. What are the joys of your singleness season?

    Katherine: I absolutely love the freedom the Lord has given me in my singleness to build so many deep relationships with others in my community that just would not have been possible had I been married. It's a healthy truth of marriage that your focus, outside of your relationship with God, is first on your husband. So as a single woman not having that responsibility, I have the opportunity to minister to and build relationships with a lot of different people in various stages of life.

    Lauren: Agreed. There are so many friendships that I’m blessed with right now that would not be as deep as they are now if I were currently married.

    Katherine: I also get to enjoy fun activities and opportunities like traveling, girls' trips, spontaneous coffee dates with friends, spending time with my nieces and nephews and the rest of my family. There's a freedom in singleness that is a definite blessing that will change once I enter marriage. I feel grateful that I've been able to enjoy that freedom!

    Lauren: YES! There are plenty of fun things to do!

    Speaking of blessings, how are you using your singleness for the Lord? What are you doing now that you could not do if you were married?

    Katherine: The Lord has given me so many amazing opportunities to serve in my community and Church - to be fully devoted to the work of the Lord.  In the last 10 years, He's really confirmed and established the calling that He has spoken over my life. I've loved serving in leadership for the youth/young adults ministry, leading House Church, organizing the internship program at church, doing overseas work and being able to work with Out of Darkness and other ministries in Atlanta. Specifically going overseas with IJM and living in the safe house for Out of Darkness are two things that I would not have been able to do had I been married. I can see how He's led me into so many opportunities to minister to His heart by serving others. I'm sure that I will still be active in serving in some of these ways once I'm married, but there's a wholeheartedness that I get to offer to the Lord as a single woman that will change once I'm married and also devoted to my husband/family.

    Lauren: That is so beautiful. And I can truly testify that you wholeheartedly pursue serving the Lord with your singleness. In what ways has the Lord grown you in your singleness?

    Katherine: Hands down the biggest thing that I feel the Lord has built and grown in me is a dependence and trust in His heart towards me as my Father, Friend and my Bridegroom. I've learned to trust Him for His protection, financial provision, comfort, His guidance and leadership in big life decisions, and just His heart of love towards me. I've not had a man/husband to lean on or make those decisions for me, so I can truly say that He's been my "Husband" as He has been the one protecting, pursuing, providing, comforting, leading and loving me.

    Lauren: Wow. So beautifully put. Thank you so much for sharing, Katherine. And thank you for your season of being Singled Out for Him. Your testimony shines bright in my life and in the lives of those around you.

    Katherine is an Atlanta native with Canadian blood. She works as a Social Worker in hospice care providing support to patients and their families at end of life. She's passionate about living out Isaiah 61 and sharing Christ's love with the forgotten, hurting and oppressed. In her free time, she enjoys trying new coffee shops with friends, traveling, playing tennis, hiking and baking.

    The Hands of God

    Thursday, November 29, 2018

    My dog, Jackman, loves playing tug-of-war. 

    This involves me sitting on the ground where he brings me his "green monster" toy. He then pulls the toy back-and-forth and back-and-forth, trying so hard to get it out of my hands. The funny thing is, once he finally gets the green monster, he quickly puts it back in my hands like "let's do it again!"

    Last night we were playing this game and a spiritual analogy hit me: 

    This is what I do to God

    I bring Him an area of my life - my singleness, my work, my relationships, my desires, my struggles - and place it in His hands only to want to pull and yank it back. 

    I want Him to have control over this area and I want to trust Him, but I really don't want to let go. 



    However, if God were to really "let go of it,” I would quickly place it back into His hands with the realization that I don't really want it. 

    God isn't interested in playing tug-of-war with you. He wants everything of yours to be placed in His hands in complete trust. 

    In Proverbs 21:1, Solomon writes that “a king’s heart is like streams of water in the Lord’s hand: He directs it wherever He chooses.” If a king - a ruler of a nation - should place his heart in the Lord’s hand, how much more should we? The Lord takes our hearts and directs it to flow where He knows best. He has rich goodness in store for us.

    I am also reminded of a passage in the Old Testament where Isaiah is speaking to the Israelites and prophesying about their restoration.  “You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.” (Isaiah 62:3 ESV) 

    When Israel is completely surrendered to God, they are pictured like a beautiful crown or jewel in God's hand. God takes that "green monster" and turns it into beauty and grace.

    Whatever your "green monster" is that is so hard to give up, humbly lift it up to the Lord today - and every day - and surrender complete control to Him.

    “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time.” (1 Peter 5:6)


    Wednesday, November 21, 2018


    It is natural to start cultivating thoughts of gratitude and blessing this week. It’s easy to draw the hand turkey (I’m a teacher, ok? and we definitely did this yesterday in class) and write: I am thankful for family, friends, church, and God.

    But this Thanksgiving season could you add another area of gratitude? 

    I am thankful for my singleness.

    Are you grateful for your singleness? Are you counting your blessings of this gift?

    We are often quick to see the blessings of those around us but miss out on the blessings of our own. 

    We see #blessed all over social media:

    "I just bought a new house. #blessed."

    "I just got engaged! #blessed."

    "I am on vacation in Italy with my girlfriends. #blessed."

    While all these things are fun and good, let us remember that being #blessed also comes in the form of difficult times, unwanted seasons and disappointments of life.

    Consider these verses:

    “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12 ESV)

    “But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed." (1 Peter 3:14a ESV)

    “Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” (James 5:11 ESV)

    We don’t typically see:

    "I just lost my job, but the Lord is using this trial in my life to really depend on Him. #blessed"

    "I'm really struggling with lies of loneliness and doubt right now, but the Lord is using those struggles to get me to press into Him more #blessed."

    “I am remaining steadfast in my joy of singleness. #blessed”

    I love the quote from author LeighAnn McCoy: "Blessed is not where you find yourself but where you put yourself."

    You can't control where you find yourself in life. But you can control where you put yourself. 

    Are you putting yourself in God’s Word? Are you putting yourself in a community of people who love Jesus and will speak Truth to you? Are you putting yourself in opportunities of serving others? Are you putting yourself in gratitude?

    Decide today that despite where you find yourself this Thanksgiving, you will purpose to put yourself in a place of being #blessed.

    "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV)

    Happy Thanksgiving, Singled Out Sisters! I am #blessed by you and your journey.

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