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    Single Women and the Church

    Thursday, January 31, 2019

    And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head - Christ. From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.” Ephesians 4:9-16

    Singled Out sister: in the world you may feel like you don’t have a place. But in the Body of Christ, you are a vital member. You are part of the whole body which is fitted and knit together by EVERY supporting ligament. The Body grows and builds itself up in love by the proper working of EACH individual part.

    Your church needs you.

    And you need the church.

    God personally called you to play a part in building up the Body of Christ, in unifying believers in faith and knowledge of Jesus, in maturing your brothers and sisters into a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. I hear the workings of God in my friend Elizabeth’s life as she works with the high school girls that she’s been with since the beginning of middle school. I look and see my single friends Christina and Amanda faithfully loving on preschoolers every Sunday morning. Amanda loves the church for providing “community and a place where one can use their gifts and talents to love on and bless others.”  

    The church can’t function without you and the serving you can do because of the freedom you have in this season. 

    The Church provides: opportunities to use your gifts and to serve, to cultivate community with women of the same and different generations and stages of life, small groups to fight against feelings of loneliness, and Truth to help understand God and His purposes.

    Let me speak to that last part. As women in a season of singleness, we often find ourselves like little children tossed by the waves of the world and blown around by every wind of lies and deceit. At church, we find Truth spoken in love. At church our goal isn’t marriage; our goal is to grow in every way in the Head, Christ. God looks at His Church and sees children. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ like a garment. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:27-28). 

    In the Church, you and the woman next to you are not defined as single or married. You are daughters of the King - equal access to the throne of grace, leveled by the work of the Cross.

    Maybe you are reading this and you are married or have a platform in the church. Let me speak to you. Here is how you can love on the single women in your church better: 

    Please don’t promote messages of ‘waiting’ as if we’re not complete until we’ve met our husbands.

    Please don’t lump all young adults together while focusing on marriage and family. It makes us feel like we’re behind in life. 

    Please don’t promote marriage as the end goal or the promise. Christ is the goal. Share with us the promise of Jesus and His presence.

    Please change the conversation about singleness. We don’t want to be pitied or brushed over.

    Please find a place for us and make us feel welcome. Open your homes and families for us.

    Please talk about us and mention us from the pulpit. 

    Please don’t emphasize my singleness or my dating life. Notice that I have other things happening in my life. Ask me about my passions and my goals. Ask me about my professional life. Ask me about my gifts and how I am serving.

    Please don’t tell me marriage “will happen when it’s supposed to happen” and “when you are trusting God, He will bring the right one along.” This is not biblical and it’s not encouraging. 

    Please invest in us and pour into us. 

    Please preach on singleness and not just marriage. 

    Please celebrate our season like Paul celebrates it. 
    (These are all direct quotes from single women active in church).

    Women in a season of singleness, please extend grace to those who may misunderstand the freedom and beauty of your season. And may we as the body start to see each other as one in Christ Jesus.

    Church, love your single women. You need them.

    Single women, love your Church. You need the church.

    * Thank you to the women who came to the first Singled Out Gathering and offered their opinions on this topic. May God bless you as we start to change the conversation and view on singleness.

    Prayer Over This Season

    Thursday, January 24, 2019

    It is easy to pray for what we want. But are we praying for what we have right now?

    We focus on what we desire for the future and bring it before the Lord. Oh trust me - this is a holy thing that is commanded. We need to boldly ask God for our desires. But RIGHT NOW is happening too.

    I think to what Shiloh Collect shared a few days ago as they have been preparing for the release of their new Husband Prayer Journal. “We are almost three years into marriage, and over the past few months as we began prepping for this journal, I realized how much more I prioritized prayer BEFORE I even knew my husband.” The creation of this journal revealed to them that once God blessed them with the husband they prayed for, their fervency in prayer over their husbands had lessened.

    Isn’t that true for all of us?

    We long for the future, the next thing, but once that comes, we neglect to water our future present with the same intensity of intercession.

    A few summers ago, I spent some time in Spain with a great missionary friend of mine who encouraged me to start praying verses over different areas of my life. One of these areas I started praying over daily was my singleness. While I also bring my desires of marriage before Jesus, I lay before Him my longings for a purposeful season of singleness. I pray, "Lord, as an unmarried women help me to be concerned about the things of the Lord, so that I may be holy both in body and in spirit" (1 Corinthians 7:34b). Every morning, I pray this verse over my life and it fills each day with purpose and direction. It helps me remember my purpose in this season of singleness: being concerned about Jesus and His kingdom and being holy or set apart in my body and in my spirit.
    I want to be persistent in prayer (Romans 12:12) over what God has laid before me now because I never know when the next season may come and I would regret not using the now for His glory. 

    What areas in your life do you need to pray over? What are you missing out on praying over that is happening right now?

    Singled Out Sister Lauren and Her Financial Journey to Debt Free

    Thursday, January 17, 2019

    Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and read about Singled Out sister, Lauren, and her journey to becoming debt free.

    Singled Out: Lauren, thank you so much for being willing to share your story with the Singled Out readers. There are many readers who are looking for guidance and direction in their lives in the area of finances so I’m thankful that you are sharing your journey today. I understand that you have paid off quite a bit of debt over the years! So what started off your financial journey?
    Lauren: Of course! I’m glad to share. So my financial journey started about two and a half years ago. I was a single homeowner, with $54,000 in debt, and no savings. Something had to change. I was depressed, anxious, and scared about my financial situation. I had one friend who was a Christian, and she told me about a program her pastor was talking about at her church called Financial Peace University. I signed up and started working through the steps to get out of debt. I did the debt snowball and my life started changing. Dave Ramsey teaches people how to get out of debt based on biblical principles of personal finance. I felt hope, got out of debt in less than two years, and met God through the process.  
    Singled Out: Wow. What a beautiful story. I love how God gave you freedom from finances and freedom in walking with Him! I know a lot of our readers struggle with finances and believe that they will always be like that. Overall, have finances been a strong point in your life or a struggle?
    What Lauren claims as her first big financial mistake: financing her Ford Focus
    Lauren: They had been a struggle my whole life. I grew up watching my parents use credit cards, finance cars, etc. I never knew anything different. I financed my first brand new vehicle (a Ford Focus) when I was 24. I financed furniture for my apartment with credit cards. I bought a house with a 3% down payment and financed all of the improvements with credit cards. I completely buried myself. But for the first time in my life, I am financially strong. I am out of debt, and have 6 months of expenses saved. I no longer live paycheck to paycheck. I have begun investing for my future.
    Singled Out: That is amazing! Who you were or always have been does not have to be who you are now. So you mentioned that when you started to take the Dave Ramsey class that things began to change. I’m sure that came with making some big adjustments in your life. When you started being intentional about money, what were some of the most difficult things to give up?
    Lauren with her mom and Dave Ramsey
    Lauren: It was difficult giving up going out to restaurants and giving up new clothes. I didn’t buy new clothes for 2 years while I was getting out of debt. But it was worth it!
    Singled Out: Two years of no new clothes!? That is such dedication. It must’ve been difficult cutting out restaurants too. Were your friends supportive of your new journey?
    Lauren: Honestly, I did not share my struggles with many friends, which was a mistake. I felt a lot of shame about the financial mess I was in. The friends I did share my journey with were very supportive.
    Singled Out: I’m sure Satan whispered those lies to you. I’m glad you were able to find a few friends who were supportive though. I know Dave is a big supporter of accountability and this can be a struggle as a single girl since we don’t have a spouse to go to. Who was your accountability partner?
    Lauren: My best friend happens to be a Financial Advisor. He was my accountability partner and helped me with budgeting.
    Singled Out: That’s awesome! It’s so important to have someone who is financially wise as your accountability partner. So how has singleness (meaning not being married, including if you are dating or in a relationship) played a part in your finances?
    Lauren: I felt a lot more fear about finances being single. If I lost my job, had a health problem, etc. I had no backup plan, no other income to count on. I feel a lot better now that I have an emergency fund saved. I started uber driving in addition to working my regular job to get out of debt faster. Having more than one stream of income is something I would highly recommend for a single person!
    Singled Out: Thank you for your honesty in the struggle. For me, I never thought I’d have to provide for myself. I always pictured being married and having my husband provide the income. It has been a huge journey of faith and growth learning to work and provide for myself and trust God in the process. So as a single person, community and being with people is vital. I know you cut out shopping and eating out; so what did you do and what do you do now for fun while saving money?
    Lauren: I love to go hiking! It is free and healthy. I am also very involved at my church; I enjoy volunteering - another free activity that helps others and gives me the fellowship I need in life.
    Singled Out: I love it. What a great perspective. So for those readers who are dating, can you share how finances have affected past dating relationships? And does it factor in to who you want to date?
    Lauren: Absolutely. While I was trying to get out of debt, I dated somebody who also had a lot of debt. It was very stressful because I was working hard to get out of debt, while he was accumulating more. We were not on the same page. He made me feel bad for working so much instead of spending time with him. Our values were different, and we were on very different pages with our financial goals. The relationship ended because of it. I also recently dated somebody with $300,000 in debt, and I ended the relationship because of it. It so important to be on the same page as your partner with finances – financial stress is the number one cause of divorce. It is something I bring up early in dating relationships.
    Singled Out: That must’ve been so difficult. But that is so brave of you to be wise in that aspect. Lauren, you’ve done a lot of brave and hard things. What would you say has been the biggest success of your financial journey?
    Lauren: Being able to help a friend financially who tragically lost her fiancée last year. That is something I would not have been able to do had I been in debt, and not handling my money responsibly. That is the best thing about being debt free. When God calls you to help somebody, you can show up for them.
    Singled Out: Beautifully said. I really appreciate you sharing your heart with us today, Lauren. In closing, what would you encourage other single women who find themselves struggling in their finances to do?
    Lauren: I encourage single women to pay off all your debt as quickly as you can. I encourage creating multiple income streams for yourself. Make a budget every month, and have a friend that can help you as an accountability partner and encourage you. Save for emergencies. Have a plan and educate yourself about finances!
    Lauren is a Stewardship Advisor at Ramsey Solutions residing in Franklin, TN with her two chorkies. She helps churches all across America set up, promote, and execute successful Financial Peace University classes. She is passionate about helping bring people hope in their financial lives, and helping Pastors use Financial Peace as a tool to reach the lost and introduce them to Christ.

    Here is Dave Ramsey’s website here:

    Bethel: The Lord is in This Place

    Thursday, January 10, 2019

    I just finished up the book Remember God by Annie Downs. And oh how it rocked my world. Throughout the book, she is seeking to prove to herself and to her readers the kindness of God. Not that His character needs to be proven, but to the doubting mind and the hurt heart, proof is encouraging.

    Annie talks about seeing God in circumstances and making sense of His workings. This makes me think of my bible reading this morning where Jacob wakes up from the ladder dream and says “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it” (Genesis 28:16). He names the place Bethel: house of God, hallowed place.

    I think to when I first started dreaming last year. Then I look in my closet to find the gold polka dot journal from last year - the one with the coffee spills and the laughter and the tear stains - and flipped to my entry from exactly a year ago today:

    January 10th, 2018: “My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from Him. Psalm 62:5 David knew that it is only when I learn to put my expectation in God alone that I would find true and lasting joy. Thriving comes from putting all my expectation in my good, good Father. Lord, as I look back on my life, I expected to be 28 years old, already married for a few years, maybe have a kid or two, not working but staying at home and taking care of the household. But Lord, you had a different plan for me that has grown me to be more like you and that has allowed me to do some amazing things. I’ve grown in you. So Lord - I need to let go of my dating and relationship expectations. A guy or a story won’t fill me. I wait only on God. All my hope and expectations are only in Him.”

    The funny thing is, this was when I had the hope and very real possibility of a new relationship. On the pages before and after this entry, prayers for this man and the expectation of something exciting coming leapt off the page. I look at the entries and feel the thrill of the relationship beginning to blossom. But before the thrill takes root, I remember the ending - the crushing pain of it all.

    Even in the midst of these butterfly emotions, the Lord was preparing me for January 10th, 2019 with these words of surrender (“I need to let go of my dating and relationship expectations”) and declarations of Truth (“A guy or a story won’t fill me. I wait only on God. All my hope and expectations are only in Him”).

    Bethel. Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it.

    Then I read my prayer at the end of my entry:

    “Lord, glorious Father, give me a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of you. May the eyes of my heart be enlightened so I may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of your inheritance among fellow believers and what is the immeasurable greatness of your power to me who believes, according to the working of your vast strength.” (taken from Ephesians 1:18-19)

    And I see further confirmation that the Lord truly was in this place and while I did not know it in the pain, I know a bit more of it now in the healing. While I experienced a “hope that was conceived but miscarried” (Remember God), God has answered and is continuing to answer this specific prayer.

    Since I wrote this entry last year, God has in fact given me a spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowing Him. My eyes have been enlightened in hope of what He has called me to - this blog, my small group women, using my singleness for Him, my identity. I have seen a glimpse of the inheritance of Jesus among my fellow Singled Out sisters. His greatness and His power have shined bright in my heart.

    I picture Jacob and where He was in his life when he dreamed this dream and made this realization. He had just stolen the blessing from his brother Esau and was warned by his mother to flee. He is on his way when God shows up. “Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Genesis 28:15). The things Jacob goes through after this point are difficult to grasp: being deceived after seven years of labor with the wrong bride, bickering wives, famine, loss of a son (or so he thought), and so much more. Yet he believed God’s promise and chose to see God through it all.

    Will I allow God a hallowed place in my hard spots? Will I allow my difficulties to become a house of God?

    Bethel. The Lord surely is in this place and I will choose to know it.

    Beauty Routine

    Thursday, January 3, 2019

    Estée Lauder, Mary Kay, and Clinique can only do so much. Have you ever met a woman of God whose inner beauty outshines her outward beauty? Women like this invest in a soul-care routine with a timeless beautification of the heart. The secret cream? The balm of God's Word. (Beauty routine taken from Psalm 19:7-14.)

    Here are some guaranteed results of this beauty routine:

    Renewal: “The instruction of the Lord is perfect, renewing one’s life." No one wants to look tired and worn out. Same with your soul. Are you weary and burdened? Find your renewal in Jesus.

    Wrinkle-free wisdom: "The testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise." This product is trusted and has great reviews! (Read the Bible to see what happened to those who didn’t follow God’s step-by-step instructions and those who did.) God’s Word also brings wisdom - without the age, experience, and wrinkles.

    Joy: "The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad." Nothing is more beautiful than joy. Inner joy brings extra shine on the outside.

    Radiance: "The command of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up." The eyes are the window to the soul, right? Light up those eyes and be the light of Christ that comes from the Holy Spirit within. Obey the commands outlined by God.

    Purity: "The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.” Get rid of those impurities in your life! No more fear of man, fear of failure, fear of not being enough. Those things can come to a head and cause blemishes. Fearing God, however, brings eternal purity.

    Ladies. These are intense results! This routine is desirable: "They are more desirable than gold - than an abundance of pure gold.” You want these results; they are in high demand. This routine is sweet, “sweeter than honey, which comes from the honeycomb.” It is not filled with bad-for-you products. All natural, all God-designed, all God-breathed. They even taste good!

    GUARANTEED RESULTS! "There is great reward in keeping them.” You keep up this daily routine of trusting the Lord, digging into His Word, talking to Him in prayer, listening, engaging in community, and you will reap great reward and benefits. God’s Word is full of promises! BUT in order for the product to work, YOU have to do the application.

    End your daily beauty routine with this prayer: “Cleanse me from my hidden faults. Moreover, keep your servant from willful sins; do not let them rule over me. Then I will be innocent and cleansed from blatant rebellion. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”

    Now go and SHINE beautiful woman of God!

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