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    Being a Third Wheel

    Thursday, October 8, 2020

     


    Being a third wheel works - if it’s a TRYcycle. And what I mean is you have to TRY and put forth the effort. It doesn’t come naturally. It takes work, communication, and acknowledgement that things are different. 

     

    I love being a third wheel! Currently, I’m a third wheel girl to a dating friend, an engaged friend, and several married friends. I love having their significant others as friends! I mean, who doesn’t want more awesome guy friends in their lives? 

     

    Here are some tips that have helped me:

     

    > When your friend gets a boyfriend, acknowledge to yourself that things will be different. False expectations lead to disappointment, so just expect that your friendship with your girlfriend will change slightly. Change is not always a bad thing! Maybe you gain a new guy friend or learn new things from being around them. 

     

    > Allow for adjustments in how much time you expect to spend with your friend. She will be spending time with her boyfriend. This is a good thing and an exciting thing! They need time to get to know each other and to be together. If their relationship is headed towards marriage, their time together needs to be a priority. Give grace as your friend is trying to figure out a new normal. 

     

    > Become friends with their boyfriend/fiancé/husband. What does your friend love about him? Find out who he is, what he loves, when his birthday is, etc. Take interest in getting to know him. 

     

    > Hang out with them as a couple. Get to know them as “them.” Don’t just focus on your friend; make her significant other feel comfortable and welcome too. 

     

    > Schedule solo time with your friend. It probably won’t be as regular as it used to be. You might have to schedule it way in advance, but be intentional about nurturing the relationship. 

     

    > Communicate and be honest with your friend about how you feel. When I was dating, I had three or four friends tell me they felt neglected in our friendship because I was spending all my time with my boyfriend. I literally did not see it (hello infatuation stage of dating!). But I listened and tried to make adjustments. Sometimes your friend just isn’t aware. 

     

    > Learn from their relationship. What do they do that makes you comfortable or uncomfortable? Take note for your future relationship. 

     

    > Embrace the awkward. Couples are awkward and weird at times. It’s a fact. So have fun with the awkward. 

     

    > Know when to give them space. When you are hanging out for extended amounts of time, see the signs of when they need a chance to talk together and just take a moment to walk away. 

     

    > Pray. Pray God’s blessing and direction for the couple. Pray away jealousy from your own heart. 

     

    > Take this time to be comfortable being alone, exploring new hobbies, or making new friends. 

     

    > HAVE FUN! There is always going to be a learning curve when your friends start dating, but look for the positives and have fun with this season of life. 

     

    What advice do you have for being a third wheel? What is hard? What is easy?


    Taking Yourself Out On a Date

    Tuesday, October 6, 2020

    Grab a cup of coffee and join me and my friend, Cassidy Jo, as she shares about taking yourself out on a date.


    When you're in a relationship with someone you love, date nights quickly become the highlight of the week. You think about it for the days leading up, you plan an elegant outfit, and ultimately you know, you're going to get to spend undivided time with your favorite person. It's pretty much every girl's dream.


    But what if you're a single girl and date night hasn't been an activity on the calendar in quite a while. Thinking about your perfectly planned night with your perfect Prince Charming, tends to feel like a dream that's way too out of reach. 

     

    Let me offer you a little idea of hope: maybe date night or a day date, isn't only for boyfriends and girlfriends or married folks. Maybe it's for YOU too.

     

    One of the dictionary's definitions for the word [Date] is: a social or romantic appointment or engagement. 

     

    Here's the thing, I happen to be one of those single girls I talked about above. I've actually been one of those single girls for about 4 years now. But the difference is this — being forced into a season of change, allowed me to change my perspective. What I found was, my singleness was actually a chance to engage life, to engage my independence, and most importantly, it helped me to engage with Jesus so much more than I ever had. 

     

    Why do I say all this? It's because "date nights" & "day dates" have become one of my most favorite pastimes. Going to brunch and diving into my favorite bible study, book, or devotional over a warm cup of coffee and a pancake - it doesn't get much sweeter than that. Spending the afternoon shopping with girl friends or strolling a small town square by myself, brings so much light, laughter, and lots of cute new clothes to my closet. And sometimes date night is with a cute new guy I met, but usually it looks more like coffee shops and writing in my journal or oftentimes it’s curled up in my bed watching a movie and talking to God about the future.

     

    Spending time alone with myself and with Jesus really is a lot like what I mentioned in the first paragraph: I look forward to it throughout the week, it's undivided time with the One who loves me most, and the outfit selection is way more comfy. {Oversized sweatshirt and leggings anyone?}

     

    Sweet girl, I want you to still look forward to that date night that WILL be with your Prince Charming -- but until then, I want you to know you are not alone, that treating yourself to a walk in the park/ a pumpkin spice latte/ or a stroll through target really is a lot of fun, and most importantly - that you will never live a day that you are not pursued and loved by GOD.


    Cassidy Jo, is a 31-year-old Christian Blogger in Nashville, Tennessee. Her passion for Jesus & encouraging women that there is ‘Purpose for their Pain & Healing in Him’ is what led her to start her Blog “Still She Laughs” — Proverbs 31:25. Cassidy Jo loves Fruit tea, Shopping, and Spending time with her closest friends!


    Stop Calling Me Beautiful Book Review

    Thursday, July 23, 2020

    Stop Calling Me Beautiful: Finding Soul-Deep Strength in a Skin-Deep World by Phylicia Masonheimer is a much-needed wake-up call in today’s perfectly-Instagrammed, Bible-study-and-coffee world. It is a challenge to a deeper walk with Jesus and gives a greater understanding of the Christian journey.
    Phylicia recounts when she realized that “Christianity wasn’t just about me — my faith, my study, my growth, my self — but was ultimately about God . . . Until then, I’d been seeking Jesus to learn more about myself . . . When I began searching for God for God’s sake, I discovered the kind of spiritual walk Jesus came to initiate. I discovered what He meant by His promise that He had come to give us abundant life.”
    Phylicia, much like us, often found herself bound in addiction and stagnant spiritual growth. The “You are beautiful in Christ” messages she kept running into only put a band-aid on her problems. Once she started seriously devoting herself to reading God’s Word and to prayer, she realized that “the beauty of God’s people is not the point of the gospel. The goal of the gospel is to unite us in relationship with our holy, loving God, and to invite others to have that relationship through our witness in this world . . . We need to hear less about us, and more about Him.”
    Stop Calling Me Beautiful is relatable to all women. The book covers topics such as legalism, anxiety, grief, broken sexuality, community, fear of man, overcoming shame, and making a difference in the world around us.
    I read Stop Calling Me Beautiful while also reading A.W. Tozer’s Pursuit of God, and I saw that Phylicia’s heart and passion behind her book reflect that of 20th century Tozer. They both call us beyond just going to church on Sunday and living a powerless Christian life. They challenge us to dig into God’s Word and to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to truly change our lives. We were meant to experience God’s presence in our lives, to know Him intimately, and to live a life for His glory.
    Yes, you are beautiful, my friend. But you were also made for so much more.

    If the Lord Wills

    Tuesday, July 21, 2020

    How should women who are single talk about the future when marriage is desired, yet it is never guaranteed? God never promises marriage for his daughters. He never guarantees a husband, so it can be difficult to plan for and talk about the future when it is unknown.
    One reader says, “There seem to be two systems of thought: The first where you don’t mention husband/kids (outside of deep talks with a select few) because there is a possibility that it may never happen. The second being to talk about husband/kids with expectancy (as a part of life, not what you’re solely living for) because that is what you truly desire.”
    I don’t pretend to have the right answer here. This is something that I am still processing and trying to figure out myself, and I may never know the perfect way to handle this. But I know that this quandary is not limited solely to single women longing for marriage. I think of my married friends longing for a child. Or those working odd jobs so they can hopefully pursue their passion as a career. We all have areas of our lives that feel vulnerable to talk about because we just don’t know the future.
    And sometimes, honestly, it is hard to know how to allow yourself to hope for the future. But one thing I know to be true: We can safely hope in Jesus because a future with Him is secure. It’s important to acknowledge this truth first and foremost because it is the rock on which our beliefs stand. If this foundation is not there, all other areas in life will crumble. I also know that God wants me to pray and ask for what I desire. So I will ask. But then I must daily lay down my desires and future plans in surrender at Jesus’ feet. I must trust that He knows what is best for me, and even if my dreams never come true, I must purpose in my heart to believe His goodness and kindness.
    That brings us back to the question that brought us here today: How do we talk about the unknown future with others?
    I think it is good to be honest with your hopes and desires. In my early 20s, I ignored my desire for marriage because I felt a sense of shame. Why am I desiring something that God hasn’t given me yet? It must be wrong. But a desire for marriage is not wrong, and there is never shame in wanting something God designed.
    Don’t shy away from being honest about your feelings with yourself and with others. But do so acknowledging the fact that it is “if the Lord wills.” James 4:15 says, “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”
    I personally have embraced talking about my desire for a husband and children “if the Lord wills.” I believe it is good to be vulnerable and honest. But my decisions today will reflect what God has laid before me today. Though I desire marriage, I won’t wait around for a spouse before I make decisions. I have decided to live my life today based on the known.
    Believe that the Lord has a good timeline for you and that His story for you may look different. You could get married later in life. You could be married within the next year. Adoption may be your story. Perhaps you may have a quiver full of children. Or maybe you will have a spiritual lineage of children-in-Christ. Let go of expectations of how your life should look and allow God to write a beautiful story while being honest and real with yourself and others about your desires.
    (Note: In regard to God promising marriage, He actually does promise a spiritual marriage one day between Christ and the church. This post, however, is solely referring to earthly marriage which is never guaranteed by God.)

    Imprisoned in Your 20s

    Monday, July 20, 2020

    Joseph’s 20s were not how he imagined them to be.

    In fact, Joseph spent this entire decade of his life (plus three years) in prison. He did the right thing - fleeing Potipher’s wife - and spent thirteen years paying for something he never did.

    His time in prison was not easy. Psalm 105:17b-18 gives a glimpse into his time: “Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron.” I’m sure as he sat in prison, he remembered the dreams God had given him as a seventeen-year-old boy and was confused. “I thought the Lord had a great destiny for me? This is not what I envisioned.”

    But you know what never failed during that time? The Lord’s kindness and the Lord’s presence. “So Joseph was there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him” (Genesis 39:20b-21a).

    I hope your 20s aren’t spent in a jail serving time for something you never did, but maybe you are locked into a cell of discontent and anger. You can’t enjoy the freedom of where you are because you are behind the bars of “My life is not supposed to look this way.”

    What I take away from Joseph’s story is that just because my life doesn’t look like what I dreamed or hoped for, does not mean that God has left me or abandoned me. God is working out His plan - for my good and for His glory.

    Joseph’s story takes a turn when he was 30. “Joseph was 30 years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Genesis 41:46). But all those years spent in prison? God had a purpose and a reason for that time.

    He has a purpose for you too, friend. You may be experiencing an unwanted or difficult season. You may be where you never wanted to be. But God has not forgotten you.

    Pastor Nick said in yesterday’s sermon that Joseph knew that “when we feel forgotten we must shift our focus.” Shift your focus from your circumstances to your God. Trust God’s truth: He will never leave us nor forsake us. He is with us. He cares. He is kind. He has a good plan.

    Don’t allow the enemy to imprison you in a prison of lies. Free yourself to believe and trust the Word of God.

    A High Calling

    Monday, July 6, 2020


    “You’re going to be a mighty woman of God.”

    I have been pondering this topic of calling since a recent conversation with a dear friend. She comes from a large family and has always been told since she was a little girl what a good mom she would be. Now, at 32, she is struggling with infertility and feeling like a failure since she isn’t living up to her “calling”. She is realizing the lies she has believed and thought her whole life. “If God isn’t giving me what I had been told was right and good - what I have been wanting since I was little - then what’s the point of life? Am I lesser? Am I forgotten?”

    Then one day, she came across a book on her bookshelf entitled, “A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ.” She looked at the title with tears in her eyes, laughed sadly to herself, and threw it in the trash. She is thankful for God’s work in her life, despite all the pain, in showing her the lies that seemingly directed her path for many years. This “calling” had become a type of bondage in her life. She was no longer able to enjoy the holy callings she had in her life at the moment - loving her husband, faithfully serving her church, encouraging her friends, and wholeheartedly doing her job. Truly though, she has been living out a heavenly calling of being a great woman of God. But an earthly calling that was spoken over her has had a hold on her life. And maybe it does for you too?

    I remember times growing up when I would be fun or funny and I would be told, “You are going to be such a fun wife.” When I showed compassion to others, I was told that I would make a great mom. Will I be a mom one day? I really hope so. Will I be a fun wife? I desire to be. But if I let these sayings take hold of me, I can allow them to become an idol and then possibly miss out on my heavenly calling.

    It’s time to instill a high calling in one another. Let’s start speaking bold claims over the future generation. We need to begin praying heavenly things for each other - things we can live out despite the season.

    When I see compassion in my niece as she grows up, I can encourage her to use it to help the widows and the orphans. When I see boldness in my friend, I can call her to use it to proclaim the Gospel. When I see hospitality in my mom, I can encourage her to continue to faithfully use her gifts to edify the Body.

    Let’s call each other to Kingdom work. Let’s look at our nieces, our friends, our sisters, our mothers, and say, “You are called to a holy calling of loving and knowing Christ.” This is a calling that can be lived out no matter the season we find ourselves in.

    (To clarify, being a wife is a holy calling. It shows a picture of Christ and the Church. Being a parent is a holy calling. It shows the love of a Father to us as His children. Being single is also a holy calling. We have sole devotion to the things of the Lord. But labeled callings can often distract us from our main calling - and that is to know God and to glorify Him forever. Also - let’s remember the sincerity and love that were rooted in many of the things said over us. We can extend grace, but let’s be instruments of change for the next generation.)

    He’s Not Your Husband

    Thursday, June 25, 2020

    There are many struggles and temptations that can arise in a season of singleness. Some are more common and easier to talk about, while others can be difficult to share. My unmarried friend, who has chosen to remain anonymous, shares her heart on a temptation that arose in her life seemingly out of nowhere.

    I don’t know who I’m writing this article for . . . but I know this: I needed to hear this advice earlier this year, and I couldn’t find it. There was this man in my life. He was funny, godly, and intelligent. He made me laugh. He complimented my intellect. He told me how much he enjoyed my company. He even leaned on me for emotional support and advice.

    Just one glaring issue: he was another woman’s husband.

    No one looks to crush on a married man, but it can happen. If it does, how do we deal with it as Christian women?

    The advice I found online ranged from harsh articles from married women yelling at homewreckers to Christians calling for public confessions of your feelings to the church. Some recommended women quit their jobs and leave town to avoid any potential snare. Certain articles took the opposing view and encouraged girls who really loved their man to go for it, just know that the road ahead is difficult! As Christians obviously, we know that it’s wrong (Ex. 20:17, Matt.5:28), but how should we handle this sin? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as flipping off a switch. I, by no means, have all of the answers, but these are a few practical steps that have helped me along the way.

    Guard Friendships

    Every crush starts somewhere. Work, church, and various ministries require us to interact with men. This is not a bad thing! I grew up with a brother, and I’ve always felt comfortable with guys. Unfortunately, that presents unique challenges. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having male friendships, but you must guard these friendships from becoming too intimate. I have had different men in my life open up about personal struggles, and it feels good to be trusted with that information. But if they’re married, they should be sharing their fears, insecurities and ambitions with their wives. If you truly want to be a good friend, keep them accountable in this way. Try to direct conversations with “what does your wife think about that?” Tell him that you’ll pray for him (just like you would any friend), but don’t delve into his feelings or other personal details. (Side note: it is absolutely never healthy to serve as a sounding board when a man complains to you about his wife! Never.)

    The reverse is also true. Be careful in sharing personal matters with these men in your life. As fellow Christians, we should be able to bear one another’s burdens. They are our brothers in Christ. However, share some of the more intimate requests with your Bible study group or small group, your girlfriends, and your family. You don’t need to lay out your heartaches and vulnerabilities in a one-on-one conversation with your married friend. I’m not saying that it’s sin, but it may not be wise.

    Call Sin, Sin, and Confess It

    Maybe you’ve already let a friendship get a little too close. You are extremely emotionally invested. Everything he says is hilarious. Every time he smiles at you, you’re melting. Your mind wanders to him constantly. Deep down, you know that you’re in trouble.  Once you begin fantasizing, it’s sin. “But, I don’t fantasize about anything sexual just that his wife will leave him.” If you need me, I’m here to tell you . . .that’s also sin! Own it as sin, so that you can fight it as sin. “I only flirt a little.” “I’d never actually do anything.” Stop giving yourself excuses. Sin can be conquered; excuses grow into license.

    Fight Sin with Scripture

    Luckily for us, now that we know that it’s sin, we know how to fight it. I am not armed with sheer willpower but with the strength and power of the Lord (Eph. 6:10). I can pour out my heart to God and let Him know exactly what I am experiencing. I don’t have to be ashamed, but I can experience his peace which promises to guard my mind (Phil. 4:6-8). This sin doesn’t forever mar and disqualify me from serving God. I can confess the sin and with a pure conscience continue to serve the living God (Heb. 9:13). I am not the only Christian woman to experience this, and God will provide a way of escape for me (I Cor. 10:13). Don’t expect an instant victory, but by dwelling on Scripture God will transform your mind and heart.

    Get Accountability

    Nothing makes this more real than speaking it out loud to someone. Fear of judgment was almost insurmountable for me, but I finally shared with an older wiser Christian woman and one very close Christian friend. Thankfully, I was met with understanding, verses, prayer and accountability. This is so important! This godly woman I greatly admired shared a similar experience from her days as a single woman in her twenties. God was still using her past sin struggle to encourage others. My close friend kept me accountable in some of the more practical ways listed below. Both were extremely helpful for me, but please choose your counsel wisely.

    Take Practical Actions

    Don’t text him.
    This is one simple step to resetting boundaries. Take it.
    - You’re shopping and that sign makes you think of this hilarious joke you were talking about earlier. Don’t send him that picture or GIF.
    - You really should ask him this question now; it’s important. It’s 9 PM at night; it can wait until tomorrow when you see him at work.
    - He just wants to know how I am. Responding to him is harmless. Maybe for him, but right now it’s not harmless for you.

    Don’t talk about him.
    You may not even realize how much he permeates your conversations until you try this exercise.

    Don’t be alone together.
    Maybe you can’t totally avoid contact with him, but one-one-one lunches or coffees, need to stop. Don’t carpool for work or other events. Avoid situations where you are the only two in the room. This may require creativity, but please make it happen.

    Do think of him as a brother-in-Christ.
    Some articles recommend picking apart your crush’s character or focusing on annoying habits that make him less attractive. This presents two problems if he is a Christian man. One, you may actually be very attracted to his character. Two, as Christians, we are not called to tear each other down in this way.

    I would encourage you to pray specifically for your crush and his family. Practice treating him as a brother in Christ from afar while you get your thought life and feelings in check. Eventually, your relationship may normalize. God can transform your mind and emotions!

    Maybe you’re in this situation, but this man has already progressed to more than a crush. Maybe he’s pursuing you with everything he has. Maybe you’ve already sinned not only emotionally with your thought life but physically. There is still hope in Christ. The principles of fighting sin are still true. Christ still offers a clean conscience when we confess our sins to him. He is the only one who can truly change us. Call your sin, sin and confess it. Fight sin with scripture; get accountability; and experience the joy of freedom in Christ.

    Making Decisions

    Monday, June 15, 2020


    I love the freedom I have of making decisions on my own as a single woman. I can hang out last minute. I can commit to leading small groups on Tuesday nights. I can go on that beach trip. 

    But there are some times when I hate making decisions, especially big decisions. On my own. As a single woman.

    There is no safety net of “we” made this decision. The responsibility and the weight of it is on me. “I” made this decision. So if there are any consequences or hard circumstances that come of it, I am held accountable for it. 

    To be fair, I’m sure my married friends have the same love/hate relationships with decisions. They don’t have the freedom of doing whatever they want because they have to consider another person. But then they also get to fall back on the safety of deciding things together. 

    I’m planning to move to a new apartment in July and it’s a really hard decision for me. Is it the wisest financially? Is it in the best location? I feel the weight of being a single woman deciding things on my own when it comes to these big decisions. Maybe you are wrestling with big decisions too - Should I move to a new city? Should I change careers? Can I afford to go back to school? Is it wise to buy a house? 

    The hardest part for me is making decisions that involve putting down roots and investing in a certain direction. The “what ifs” haunt me. What if I buy a house and then someone comes along and I get married within a year and I should’ve just stayed in that apartment? But then what if I never buy that house and I miss out on the delights of having my own place because I am putting my life on hold for a possibility or unknown? 

    The “what ifs” can hold us back. They can immobilize us from taking steps and living by faith. They make you feel stuck in the in-between. One message of singleness I preach to myself and others is to never put your life and dreams on hold for the hopes of a husband or waiting for marriage. But I find myself still being held back sometimes by those wonderings and longings. 

    So don’t put your life on hold. Make those decisions - big and little. And believe that when you trust the Lord with all your heart, you don’t lean on your own understanding, and you acknowledge Him in all your ways, then He promises to direct your path. (Proverbs 3:5-6).

    (To clarify, I’m not saying to make decisions on your own. The beauty of the Church is that we have a multitude of counselors that we can depend on (Proverbs 11:14). God doesn’t leave you to make decisions on your own. You have brothers and sisters in Christ and you have the Holy Spirit.) 

    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 naïve 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  Brad.White@newvisionlife.com
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