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    Goodbyes

    Tuesday, March 31, 2020



    Today I am grieving goodbyes. 

    Goodbyes are never easy. But I think there is a gift in goodbyes, something comforting, a bitter sweetness in the closure and finality. But the goodbyes that unsettle you are those that are either unspoken or unknown. The goodbyes that had the original intent of “see you later” or “see you soon.” 

    Unfortunately, unsaid goodbyes tend to be common as a teacher, especially for me as an ESL teacher in a low-income school. My students are always in transit, picking up suddenly and switching schools or unexpectedly having to return to their home country. These transitions are difficult because I hate to see my students go. 

    The worst goodbyes are unexpected deaths. This past December, Stephen, a student of mine, passed away. His life was gone too soon for his earthly family and friends. I would have never imagined the horrors that would face him that very Friday night as I said “Have a great weekend! See you Monday!” I never did see him on Monday. Or any Mondays after that. But the comfort I draw is that because Stephen was a strong believer and proclaimer of Jesus Christ, I know one day I will see him again in Heaven.

    The unspoken goodbyes I am processing through now are those of my students, specifically my seniors. The thought of possibly never seeing them bound down the halls with their cheerful hellos (ok or the more realistic “I’m too cool” head nods and slight smiles) hurts my heart. I miss them. I want to see them soon. I already struggle with the planned goodbyes that graduation brings, but to have this unexpected separation prematurely? Heartbreaking. (As of now, we are still planning to resume school later this semester.)

    My heart was not prepared for these goodbyes. 

    I think of the disciples and followers of Jesus. Jesus tried to prepare them ahead of time, but their hearts did not understand. And then, the sudden arrest, trial, and crucifixion. No goodbyes. For Peter, a parting of denial and guilt (we know what he did not know - of the resurrection).  As for the others, they ran away in fear and shame. I am sure the dark days before the resurrected Jesus appeared to them were days of grief and intense sorrow at this ripping away of their Lord and Savior. At Christ’s ascension, this marked goodbye was life changing for the disciples. Peter was emboldened and became the rock on which the Church was built. His other disciples continued His ministry and went on to write letters and spread the Gospel.

    I think of my students. I wish our last day together could have been different. I would give them each a hug, tell them to wash their hands, and assure them that it is going to be ok. We would laugh about the fun things that have happened this year and express concerns and fears about what may come. Instead of hurrying off to another weekend, we would linger a bit longer before saying goodbye. Adiós. Bidāẏa. ثانوي. 

    When life returns to normal after this virus, I don’t want to live in fear of “what if this is the last goodbye?” Instead, I want to give thanks to God every day for the mercies anew, for another sunrise that brings opportunity, and for the beautiful souls surrounding me each day. The hellos and embraces will be so much sweeter since we have tasted of the painful goodbyes.

    Guest Post: Singled Out Sister Abi

    Wednesday, March 25, 2020



    Cozy up on the couch with a hot cup of coffee and prepare to be blessed by Abi as she shares her heart and her singleness journey.

    I’m not where I thought I would be in my life by now.
    How did I even get here? I’m not sure how.
    Three years, three breakups, three holes in my heart
    Three times I was head over heels from the start.
    Hoping, praying - “this is the one,”
    But every loss felt like losing the sun.
    Where did I go wrong? What did I do?
    It’s hard not to blame yourself when the common denominator is you.

    “I’ll be 22 when I get married,” I used to always say.
    Now I’m 24, single, and praying for my wedding day.
    It seems impossible now and I wonder if I’ll find him,
    When the odds you’ll find your person seems so slim.
    Waiting is painful and incredibly hard,
    And when he does come along, he’ll have to break down my guard.
    I’ve accumulated a fear that everyone will leave,
    Finding someone to stay - that’s hard for me to believe.

    I’ve prayed for my husband since I was 12 years old.
    12 years later and my heart’s starting to grow cold.
    “Have patience, your time will come,” they say,
    But they don’t understand I’ve been praying for 4,380 days.
    But I’ll keep praying, praying, and praying some more,
    I’ll wait for the day when he walks through my door.
    Because as much as I loved the men from my past,
    I’ll love my soulmate even more than the last. 
    Because I’ve been praying for him for thousands of days,
    And when the time is right God will whisper to him my name.

    But there’s still work to be done in this season of waiting,
    Even if the wait is extremely frustrating.
    But it won’t last forever, this I know for sure,
    Even so, my husband won’t even be my cure.
    The LORD is the only One to truly satisfy my soul;
    He’s the only one who can heal my heart’s hole.
    So even though I’m waiting for my husband to come,
    I realize I’ve already been the Lord’s bride all along.
    His love is the only One who will truly never fail,
    And through every season His faithfulness will prevail.

    Singleness is such a difficult topic for me to discuss, but I do have a lot to say on the topic. Singleness is hard for some, yet comfortable for others. Some women are so strong in their identity and “don’t need no man,” and I think that is something to applaud in today’s age. However, I am not one of those girls. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been the girl to be so miserable as a single woman. I am quite independent and even when I am in a relationship, I still live my own life. 

    So let me try to explain. I remember laying in bed one night when I was 12 years old. I felt the LORD leading me to pray for my future husband. This was an intense feeling and the first time the LORD ever spoke to me. From that moment on, I knew I was called to be a wife. I’ve prayed for my future husband ever since that night. I’ve prayed hard before any relationship I’ve gotten in. I take relationships and marriage very seriously. Because of this experience, I truly believe God has a specific and special man chosen for me. He told me to pray for him when I was twelve. I’ve been faithful to that for twelve years now, even when I was in other relationships. 

    I’ve waited for my calling to come true for over 12 years now. Yes, I understand you can’t get married when you’re 12, but that doesn’t mean the pain - the yearning for your calling to come true isn’t there. I’ve been waiting for my calling to come true for 12 years, and y’all, that’s hard.

    People don’t understand that. People think that I just want to be married and YES, of course I do. But it’s more than just that for me. It’s been revealed to me that I would be a wife one day, and waiting for that is hard. 

    I was close to marriage a few times in my life. I could see it. The guys I have dated have been good men. They all loved Jesus. They all loved me. Losing them all was like losing a piece of myself. Because I prayed before I got into those relationships, I believed they were the “one” for me. Because I invested so much energy into believing they were, it brought a lot of heartbreak for me when I found out they were not. So ladies, I’m going to tell you something that I tell myself: NOT EVERY GOOD, GODLY MAN IS THE MAN FOR YOU. Just because you pray about a relationship and God says, “yes,” to that relationship, doesn’t mean He says “yes” to them being “the one.” I think that was the hardest part for me. My last three relationships, I received a clear “yes” from the LORD. I interpreted that to mean “yes, this man is my husband.” However, this is not the case. I needed those relationships for the times of my life. I needed to learn valuable and incredibly important lessons from all three of them. 

    So what now? I’ve been single for almost a year now. Y’all, let me be the first to tell you I’m not the same woman I was last March. Not even close. And I’m BEYOND thankful for that. The LORD has done so much work in my life by being single. He’s literally rebuilt me from the ground up - physically, emotionally, spiritually - all of it. I moved two times, began seminary, traveled to places I’ve never been, seen friends I haven’t seen in years, removed myself from a mental health disaster, and sought help that I needed. I could not be more grateful for the past year of singleness. 

    What has God been teaching me now? Well, let me tell you! He is teaching me contentment. For many years I believed God was holding back from me. I dangled a piece of my future - a good part of my future - in my face only to laugh as I waited for Him to give it to me. And oh I am so sadly mistaken by that picture. There’s a verse in Psalm 84:11 that says, “For God will not withhold any good thing from he who walks uprightly.” God is not withholding good from me. God is not withholding anything good from you either. He has given you EVERYTHING good that you need right now, in this moment. Everything in your life and in my life is for our good RIGHT NOW. 

    I don’t want to spend these years of singleness being miserable and longing for a husband. I don’t want to look back and say, “I wish I would’ve _____ in those days.” Because ladies, we were not created to marry a man. We were created to worship the One true King who died for you and who died for me. That’s what I’m learning right now. Even when I get married, my problems won’t completely fade away. I will still have generalized anxiety disorder. I will still cry. I will still be sad. I will still be lonely. Being married doesn’t fix all those problems. Jesus does. Jesus is the One who will truly only satisfy my soul. 

    God is completely faithful and trustworthy. He will fulfill every promise that He has made, but He will do it in His own timing - not mine. His timing is good. He’s given me and will continue to give me good things. Though I am called to be a wife - and God will fulfill that calling - I was created to be the bride of Christ, first.

    Abi just recently moved to the Nashville area and works full-time as an Administrative Assistant for a company called CLEAResult. She feels her calling is to work in the community and spread the Gospel; therefore, she is currently attending seminary online at Fuller Theological Seminary to get a Master’s of Theology and Ministry degree. She loves fitness, movies, painting, hanging out with friends and family, and her dog, Max. As an Enneagram 2, she has lots of emotions and loves people deeply. She claims to be a hopeless romantic and can quote any scene of The Notebook.

    Create in Me a Clean Heart

    Tuesday, March 24, 2020


    “What is your heart saying to you?”

    My friend asked me this last week. She asked me to write down what the enemy whispered to my heart. You know how it is. Over the years, the lies build up like plaque in the soul. Heartbreak. Rejection. Not being noticed. Feeling forgotten. 

    She challenged me - “Speak the lies out loud; tell God how you feel and what your heart has been saying.” So I grabbed a pen and wrote them down. 

    It was ugly. 

    As I finished writing them down, the Spirit nudged my heart: “These are not thoughts a daughter of the King should ever think.” 

    I FaceTimed my friend and we searched scripture for the Truth that counteracts each lie. Then we prayed. 

    It was beautiful. 

    The uprooting process of lies has begun. It’s an ongoing process, this practice of weeding. But now I’m planting. I’m planting seeds of Truth. And I’m so excited for the harvest to come, to reap what I’m sowing. Because this heart of mine is going to become a garden of Truth from the Father.

    You Don't Want to Follow This Blog

    Tuesday, March 17, 2020



    You don’t want to follow this blog. 

    To be honest, I don’t want to write for this blog. 

    I mean, for most of you, you’re not thinking “Yeah! Singleness! Woohoo!” When God called me to write this blog, I definitely didn’t have the praise hands up. I was praying and fasting for direction after a heart break and God spoke so clearly, in an almost audible way to my heart, “I’m not done with your singleness.” 

    WHAT?! Like I thought He was going to say, “Thank you for waiting. I’m bringing your husband soon.” But instead He only confirmed that my season of waiting was to be continued. 

    Let me tell you friends, just like many of you, I don’t want to be here in this season. I wish God called me to a blog on marriage, motherhood, working out, or posting cute outfits. But God HAS called me here. And here I am. And here I will rejoice and be thankful for where I am. (All praise to Jesus working in me.)

    Can you raise a hallelujah right where you are? Or are you going to grumble and complain and resent God? (While this isn’t a beauty account, here is a beauty tip: no Mary Kay or Estée Lauder can fix the ugliness of a complaining heart.)

    You don’t want to be here in this season. That’s ok. Tell God how you feel. Say it out loud. Ask for Him to give you what you long for. Pray for it. But today, you are where you are. So praise God and give thanks. Raise a hallelujah because, for today, God’s not done with your singleness.


    Guest Post: Georgia Brown

    Tuesday, March 10, 2020


    Pour some coffee and lean in close as my sweet friend, Georgia Brown, shares her heart on singleness.
    Hi, there! My name is Georgia Brown! I go to MTSU and I study songwriting. I love my life, but I used to struggle with feeling like something was missing. A guy. 

    In this season of singleness, the Lord has opened my eyes to show me that it is okay for other people’s eyes to be closed. For so long I thought I was being overlooked.  But in reality, God is hiding me.
               
    As a girl in college, this season has brought me so many gal pals. All of us are in the same yet different seasons, and it’s really sweet to see how the Lord is knitting our stories together. Some friends are wearing a shiny ring on their finger. Others can leave your head spinning because you can’t remember which guy she likes this week. Some days it’s hard to hold fast to the truth that Jesus is enough. I have to remind myself of it daily. 

    The truth is — a boy won’t complete me. Jesus makes me whole. I’m worth the wait. I am still in progress. And honestly, the truth is, I am enjoying this season.

    The Georgia Brown 6 months ago probably could not say that statement confidently. So just because it feels good . . . . I’m gonna say it again!

    I AM ENJOYING THIS SEASON. 

    For far too long ago when a boy would come around, I would lose my vision. Naturally, being a 2 on the enneagram, I want to help and love you more tomorrow than I did today. I would see all the potential. But that was it. I’ve had to learn the hard way, many times. You don’t date potential. You date — and deserve —  a man with proven character. This is what every past, “guy friend I’ve had an interest in, that kinda turned into an unhealthy friendship” experience has felt like.

    This can quickly become unhealthy, as multiple times I’ve tried to be their savior. (Anyone else out there tried this?!) 

    This was definitely not what God intends for me to do, that’s His job! So when it came to guys in my life, I’d always find myself with someone I could push along, trying to make them better. It’s not always a bad thing to want to inspire others to be better. Scripture tells us that iron sharpens iron, but it’s not my job to sharpen you if, on the other end, my sparkle is slowly losing its shine. 


    Let me paint a picture for you…

    Say you and your guy are looking at the big, open, sky at night. You’re sitting in the bed of his shiny red truck, (or finishing a picnic on a blanket, whichever is cuter in your mind is fine with me) and you ask him a very simple question,
                                                               
    “How do you see the sky at night?”  

    And all this boy talks about is how dark it is outside.

    As he answers your question, you forget to lean in and listen because you were so in awe of the stars. How they sparkle. How they’re so far away yet they shine so bright. How the same God that numbered the stars, chose to breathe life into you, created YOU, His child, in His image. 

    Now, naturally being the sweet young lady you are, you want to share your amazement of this side of glory with your cute lookin’ “friend”. If you had a pair of glasses that could make your “friend” see what you see, you’d hand them over, right? So let’s say that you do! You take off your glasses that capture a clear heavenly view and place them across his freckled face.

    He can see.
    But now, you can’t. 
                                                   
    What once was clear, is now fuzzy. 

    Have you ever lost your vision? 

    Maybe you’re in a season right now where you feel lost. Or you just need a reminder. Sister, it’s time to reclaim your sight in Jesus’s name by fixing your eyes upon Him. 

    Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

    “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1b-2).

    “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

    Jesus makes our vision clear. 

    No longer will I take off my glasses for a guy & I pray you will not either. 

    Keep running your race. Keep looking at the world like Jesus would, and someday, He will bring you the man who you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life with.

    You won’t need to fix him or let him borrow your glasses . . . he will have his own. 

    May your sights seek Him. Your Heavenly Father. Your Maker. Your Friend. Let Him love you, lead you, and protect you in every season, especially this one:) 

    His ways and thoughts are higher. (Isaiah 55:8-9) 
    He wants GOOD things for His children. (Matthew 7:11) 
    He loves you. (John 3:16-17)

    Sister, you’re not being overlooked, You are being hidden. Keep those glasses on girl. 

    With love, 

    Georgia Brown 

    Buying A House

    Tuesday, March 3, 2020


    Join me in rejoicing with my sweet, Singled Out for Him sister, Elizabeth as she shares about buying her first home as a single woman in her 20s. 
    Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a clear desire in my heart to create, decorate, plan, organize, entertain, and surround myself with anything lovely. I also have a strong desire to see others’ lives be changed and transformed by the Holy Spirit. In 2016, God revealed to me that I could merge these two desires and use them for His glory. One way I saw myself being able to use these gifts was to own a home to be able to meet with and disciple young women, host small groups, and love on people.
    I tried to purchase a home in May 2016 and was not able to get a loan because of my debt-to-income ratio. Basically, that just means that I had more debt than income, and the bank was concerned about lending me money (as they should be). After that wake-up call, I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. FPU (and Jesus) helped me pay off all my debt in 14 months. After that, I began working really hard to save up a substantial amount of money for a down payment on a home. I knew from trying to buy before about how much I would need, so I set a goal and went to work. I continued my “gazelle intense” mentality and kept my 8 extra jobs I was working on top of teaching full time. In just 6 months, I was able to save a 5% down payment, money for closing costs, and enough money to purchase furniture, décor, etc. for my first home. It took a lot of sacrifice, hard work, and dedication, but God was faithful.
    I bought my first home in December 2018. Since then I’ve been able to host friends who are hurting and needed someone to love on them, disciple the sweetest teenage girls, host a group of freshmen girls for my church’s outreach event, lead and host a small group, and host book clubs and dinner parties. I am using it to make His name known and transform lives for Jesus. My home is filled with joy, love, warmth, and the Holy Spirit. Praise Him!
    With God’s grace and self-control, I was successful. I was able to buy a home by myself at the age of 28. I didn’t have to wait until I was married. I didn’t have to wait until I was older. With God’s help, I was able to get out of debt, save up the funds needed, and buy a house by myself. He has been so faithful in providing everything I’ve needed with my home. He was faithful then, and He will continue to be faithful moving forward.
    This was my dream, and this was how God worked in my life to open the opportunities for me to achieve it. For any other single women, my encouragement would be for you to seek God’s will for your life, submit to Him in any endeavor you pursue, and be obedient to the journey He has set before you. Your dream may not be to own a home. If you feel called to be a missionary, buying a house would not be a wise financial decision for you. If you are in debt, buying a house would not be a wise financial decision for you either. My hope for my story is that it encourages you to spend time in prayer and in God’s Word seeking His guidance and direction for your life. Don’t be afraid to start that dream now. You don’t have to wait until you’re married or until you’re older. If you know that you have a gift, a passion, and a calling, use those for God’s glory right NOW. He will honor your obedience. Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith! I’m cheering you on and so is Jesus.

    Elizabeth is a teacher living in Murfreesboro, TN. She enjoys curling up in her comfy clothes with a good book and entertaining friends at her home. She also loves Jesus with all her heart and is so thankful for who He is.
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