No Shame

confident woman

Last week, someone I work with dismissively tossed in my face the blogpost I wrote on married sex life.  He said that it was being spread around the department.

For a moment, shock paralyzed me.  I was completely unprepared.  The attack had come out of nowhere.  Then I started talking—word vomit is more like it.  I said I was proud of writing it, that I wanted to break down boundaries.  Then I left.

Despite my words, embarrassment flooded through me.  The thought that he and other people had read the article and were even thinking about me and sex was horrible enough.  But that they were perhaps laughing at it and judging me?  People who I had to work with?

It brought back all of my insecurities and conflicted emotions about waiting for marriage for sex.  While the church preached abstinence, an adult virgin was a joke in the modern world.  As I got older, I would think of the movie The 40 Year Old Virgin with a wince.  That would be me.

And even though I knew that it was a lie, my decades-old insecurity whispered—you’re only a virgin because no one wants you.  You’re ugly.  You’re fat.  That’s what everyone is saying.  They’re laughing at you.

I made it through the end of the day and went home, able to hold back the tears until I got in my car.  I had published the blogpost because I had wanted to help other women, just as reading a similar article had helped set my expectations before I got married and calm my fears when things didn’t go as planned.  But maybe it had been a terrible mistake.

Finally, a coworker helped me reframe what happened.  “He had been trying to shame you,” she said.  Just putting a name to it helped.  She was right.  There’s no real answer as to why he would do that – I heard later that his girlfriend had applied for my job and maybe he was just pissed she hadn’t gotten it and wanted to bring me down some way.  Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter why he did it.  Naming what he had been doing helped me put it in perspective: he was using my own story to try to get power over me.   And seeing it for what it was helped me take back the power.

Because I am not ashamed of who I am.  I am proud of who I am.  I am proud of my choices.  I have integrity.  I am who I say I am and my private life reflects who I say I am publicly.  I am also proud that I am brave enough to put my life out there in public, even the vulnerable parts.  In this Facebook-frenzied, filtered, and airbrushed world, there’s a real need for what is genuine, warts and all.

So be brave.  Yes, you might face opposition and derision, just like I did.  But I survived; you will too. Be confident in who you are.  Call it by its name when you face that opposition and feel the power of the truth.  Be not ashamed to share your story, your light, and your truth with the world.  We can’t wait to meet you.

Good Stewardship Means Saying No

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A few years ago, there was a newfangled notion that got a lot of excitement for revolutionizing people’s lives: saying YES to every opportunity.  If you felt stuck in a rut, this was the concept that was going to change your life!  Say yes to every business opportunity!  Say yes to every date!  Say yes to every invitation from a friend!

Magazine articles and books were written about it, and there was even a Jim Carey movie that took it to the extreme – Yes Man.  New doors would be open to you if you just invited opportunity into your life!

I am a person who has mostly subscribed to this theory.  I love taking on challenges.  I embrace responsibility and am excited by new opportunities.   But the unfortunate reality is that this also means that I can quickly get overwhelmed.  The one extra day a week I had that led me to commit to five different projects is suddenly not enough and I am running to catch up.

As a married person, I have had to put up some boundaries to protect my marriage.  Every hour away from my husband outside of work – volunteering, serving, happy hour with friends – is an hour that I am investing in other things than my marriage.  Before committing to an activity, I now ask myself, is this worth the time taken away from investing in my marriage?

Evaluating every activity this way has helped me make important decisions about where I put my time.  Yes, it is always uncomfortable to have to tell someone no – particularly if I had already said yes before – but people have been understanding.  My marriage comes first.

Even as I am writing this, I have a confession to make – I have been willing to put my marriage first, but I have not put my even more important relationship with God first in the same way.  What if I asked that same question for every activity that took away from investing in my relationship with God?

As a single person, the challenge is even greater.  People assume that if you are not married and do not have children, your free time is at their disposal.  I often felt guilty for saying no to activities, many of which were worthwhile.  I would instead run myself ragged and then be so exhausted on Sunday that I would stay in bed for most of the day.

Jesus, of course, knew how to protect His relationship with God.  The Bible tells us that even in the midst of His ministry, even when He knew His time on earth was limited, He still took time to invest in His relationship with God.  In Luke we read:

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:15-16)

Imagine that pressure!  Sick people from all around – people in real need of a savior both physically and spiritually – were coming to see Him and be healed!  But He recognized that His first obligation was to the Lord.

Good stewardship means setting priorities and remembering to put first what matters most.  Take a look at your weekly schedule and ask yourself, are all of these activities worth the time away from God?  Try saying no to some things and create a space for God to fill.

March Challenge Finish!

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We made it to the end of another month – how did you do??  Were you encouraged?  Did you have at least one moment where you saw your true beauty and value?  I hope so!

I love to listen to people’s autobiographies/memoirs, particularly when the author read it themselves.  In this month, I listened to both Megyn Kelly’s and Padma Lakshmi’s memoirs.  What struck me about both of these women’s stories is that both of them talked about feeling unattractive.  And these women are GORGEOUS.  It reminded me again that our FEELINGS of unattractiveness and unworthiness are completely not based on reality.  They are based on what is in our heads and hearts.

If that is the case, then the only thing that will change our negative feelings about ourselves is not running after some tangible, outward change – if I lose weight, if I volunteer, if I make all As, if I get that promotion – but working on our inner beliefs.  Don’t get me wrong – I love goal-setting and meeting goals can definitely improve your self-confidence.  But they are not going to get you to long-lasting change.  You need to confront that inner belief.

Stop listening to your own internal monologue that tells you that you’re not good enough and start listening to what God says.  HE says that you’re beautiful.  HE says that you’re chosen.  HE says that you’re worth everything, even the death of His son.

The challenge for this month was to do something that would help you know that you’re worth it – worth love, worth value, worth being the apple of God’s eye.  What did you do?

For me, this challenge manifested in an unexpected way.  I started a new job at the beginning of February.  Academics and then work have always been idols for me and my latest job has a big salary and a lot of pressure – in other words, the type of job I would normally expect myself to completely stress out about as I worked hard to prove myself to everyone else.

But as this post is going live, I am actually in Ireland with my husband.  We scheduled this vacation months ago and had been looking forward to it, but having just started a new job, it was the last time I would want to take a week off.  Moreover, it happened to fall on the same week as the annual national organization conference.  I felt the pressure to cancel the trip.  But I didn’t.  I chose me.  I chose my husband.  I chose not running after an idol, and instead having the confidence to put myself first.  I am worth this vacation.  I am worth people’s respect in the workplace even if I don’t drop everything for the job.

What about you? Respond below and be entered to win a free book!

Proverbs 22

lion

Proverbs 22:13 “The lazy person claims, ‘There’s a lion out there!  If I go outside, I might be killed!’”

Ok.  So I know that I’m supposed to be talking to all the single ladies.  All the Ruth’s out there waiting on their Boaz.  But for some reason I feel led to address the men first.  The guys.  The brothers.

Because if you were to Google the term “Christian dating,” “being single while christian,” or just plain old “dating,” 99% of the returned results would be geared towards women.  As if we’re dating or getting married to some invisible, non-existent species.  Or worse yet, that men are in no need of dating advice.  Which would be false.

But here’s what really grinds my gears.  I know so many incredible women who are being taught and inspired to wait.  To wait on God.  To wait on men to pursue.  But for some odd reason men are not being taught to actually do the pursuing.  Or even just the approaching of humans of the opposite sex.

Many times when you go to singles events at church, it looks more like a desert safari than a room full of grown people itching for a date.  Men on one side staying as far away from the imaginary entrance into the lion’s den of female hunters on the other side.

And that analogy may seem a bit far fetched, but you get what I’m saying.  Many men are fearful.  They’re afraid of rejection.  Afraid they might get ‘hurt again.’  Afraid they’ll look like a fool or less of a man if they put their pride on the line to pursue a woman intentionally.

Well you know what?  You might get rejected.  You might get ‘hurt again.’  And you will have to lay your ego down in order to let God take the forefront in your relationships – over and over again.  But don’t let the laziness or fear keep you from the great things God has for you because you’re afraid.

Because in the arena of dating, when you step outside of your comfort zone and take chances to get to know women God has placed in your life, it may not exactly be a confidence builder.  She might cut you with her words.  She might shoot you down with a nasty glance and a mean side eye.  She may not answer that text in a timely fashion.  But it is still your responsibility to take the risk of being rejected, cut, shot down, and sometimes even wait on her as long as you’re walking in obedience.

Now to my ladies.  To my Ruth’s still waiting on their Boaz.  Do not take that man’s fear as your opportunity to pounce.  A man who is too afraid to ask you out or take that chance in just saying hello doesn’t need to be coaxed out of his man cave of trepidation.  That’s where the ambiguous ‘friendgirls’ and ‘textlationships’ live.  And we all know how those stories end…Or how they go on forever and ever with no end in sight.

God did not call you to become less of yourself so as not to threaten the timid.  You were called to be dangerous for the Kingdom.  And the man who is not scared to take on the challenge and privilege of loving you will be drawn to, not fearful of your purpose.

So whether you’re trusting in the wait or following God’s lead in the pursuit, you can know for certain that there is no such thing as immunity from challenges or human rejection.  Faith is the epitome of freedom but it is not safe. There are lions out there, and you will learn a few lessons in humility.  But staying in the confines of fear is not an option when you walk with an almighty God.

Join the conversation! Are you afraid to face your lions? Or what struck you from Proverbs 22?

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roz Roz

Hey there!  My name is Roz.  I’m a full time working, single, homeschooling mother to the world’s funniest 5 year old on the planet.  I’m an introvert who is obsessed with bacon.  I like to play music extremely loudly in my car and will keep singing at full voice even when you turn to stare.  I also blog occasionally over at beautyfullyflawed.com where I write words about Jesus, homeschooling, and the beauty of imperfections.  I look forward to sharing my imperfections with you, as well.

Proverbs 16

path

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.~Proverbs 16:9

My plan was to be married at 22 or 23, and to be a mother by the time I was 25. No part of that plan happened.

Nothing appeared to be happening on the marriage and motherhood horizon, so I set 28 as my goal age for marriage and my first child. 28 sounded sophisticated and mature.

Well, as we all know, our perspective shifts as we grow older. We learn that plans are often out of our control. Soon I will turn 28. I am single.

I no longer have any age that I peg as my goal age for marriage or motherhood. Now I can see clearly that it is our amazing God who has established and continues to establish my steps. The Lord had bigger plans for me than what I hoped for myself. I have been working as a social worker and able to minister to many individuals. If I was married and a parent, I would not have had the same amount of time to minister as I do as a single woman.

Not only does our Father allow us a longer period of singleness for ministry, but He also gives a period of singleness as a gift to us. Singleness has given me many opportunities to travel and to learn new skills. He has drawn me deeper into my life’s specific purpose. The Lord has revealed many other plans and dreams for my life that I would have missed had I settled down early and become a mother.

What has God revealed to you in your singleness?

We can set goals for ourselves and have visions of how our lives will turn out. It is important to set goals and work toward them. A life without goals and vision is directionless. Yet, we must constantly seek to align our will with the will of God. We must surrender when our plans are different than His.

Jesus is walking with us, whether or not our plans align with His. He is using our path to serve others and to minister to them. Not only that, but He has actually blessed us with a gift in our singleness! What are we missing out on by clinging to our own plans, instead of steadily walking the path that Christ has laid out for us?

Join the conversation!  Has God changed your plans? 

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lianna-headshot Lianna

Hello! My name is Lianna. I am 27 years old and live in Cleveland, Ohio. I am a case manager for refugee mothers. My favorite things are traveling, learning other languages, singing, and journeying with others. I blog and hope to inspire others at sunflowersojourn.wordpress.com.

Proverbs 14

tunnel

Proverbs 14,30 : “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” NIV

As I’m approaching 30 (which is really scary that in less than a year my life would have spanned three decades), I can measure my life, and my single years, in decades. I started to do some inventory of my life. This included of course one of the most frustrating part of this season – lack of a ring on my finger. I must confess, I’m pretty contrary in my approach to this fact.

First, I would really (and I mean really really) like to be married. I have a problem with the fact I’m single and never dated and I have tons of insecurities about it. First and foremost – if nobody ever was interested in me in a romantic way then there is high probability that no one ever will. And that is depressing. “Whyever would you make me this way with this desire if me being this way is against fulfilling this desire?” I asked the Lord this question many times.

On the other hand, I feel really close to the Maker and His Son. I go to them with everything and I love to lay my tears at their laps. The combination of the two mindsets makes me a little weird, doesn’t it? 🙂 The first is surely based on envy in some part – you can see how it disrupts my relationship with the Lord.

Pinballing between my grief in being single, being constantly rejected and going to God with my sorrows I understood one day, that it is true – I MAY NEVER GET MARRIED. And you know what? It influenced my life in a profound way. Maybe there was really nothing to wait for. Maybe this was it – my single life may be all there is in the future.

Then came the decision – to live life fully now, without waiting for some grand event to start living. This meant revising my dreams and starting to realize them right now.

So I started writing and some other things. The thing is – our desire for marriage makes us discontented and envious of others that had what we long for. Also hateful towards the life we life now. As soon as I started to fight with that, my life regained colors.

Life is precious at any time. We were given life to live it. Love God, love other people to give them as much God’s love as we can. And to be happy as much as we can.

Don’t let your singleness be just a time of waiting and envy, that, as the Proverbs author reminds us. Let God help you find peace in the middle of your hard single reality – HE CAN. Then hold onto this peace, which will give you a chance to live this life to the fullest.

Join the conversation!  Can you empathize with the above or what struck you from Proverbs 14?

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anna Anna

Hello everyone! I am an almost 30yo single woman living in Europe. Professionally a civil engineer, off hours I live to write and sleep 😉 . After struggling a lot with my singleness I try to live the fullest live that God gives me. Medieval reenactment is also a part of my life so I consider my life filled by the Lord to the brim.

Proverbs 13

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I love that Proverbs 13 is called “Walk With the Wise”. It’s so fitting for these little nuggets of truth and wisdom! There are so many amazing verses in chapter 13. (I mean pretty much ALL of Proverbs is amazing!) So I wanted to share just a few of my favorites.

These verses encompass wisdom that not only single women, but all women (and all Christians) should be writing on their heart. Meditate on these few verses and allow our Father to speak to you through them.

In verse 4 we learn about spiritual laziness. “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”

It is not enough to say you’re a Christian and go to church. But are you living everyday with the overwhelming passion to follow God’s commands? This is truly the most basic principle to living a life full of joy in the Lord! Are our souls diligent in working to become closer to Him and to look more like Him every day? Are we focused on Him and His plan, or are we praying we get what we want while at the same time feeling defeated because nothing seems to be working out? Seek Him – diligently, daily, hourly. Forever. And He will make known to you His plan and He will prepare your heart for whatever He has for you.

I just love verse 5: “The righteous hates falsehood, but the wicked brings shame and disgrace.”

The lies of the world will tell you that you need to be married to enjoy a full life. Hold on to the truth that you are complete in Him! Hold on to the truth that you are His bride no matter your marital status! When everyone else is getting married and starting a family and you feel empty and lost (I knew this feeling all too well!!) know that this is the enemy creeping in. Do not believe the lie that says you are not whole and wonderful and important in Him. There’s a song by Far Flung Tin Can called “I Am Defined” and the second verse is my favorite.  It says “I am not defined by what man sees, He sees my heart He lives in me, I was created by His hands, I was created for this romance.” You, friend, were created for HIS romance. All other love is second!

I have verse 9 written on a sticky note at work because it’s such a great reminder: “The life of the godly is full of light and joy, but the light of the wicked will be snuffed out.”

He promises you love and joy, y’all! It’s okay to want a relationship, to want to feel a connection with someone and have the desire for children.  BUT don’t allow that to rob your joy. Don’t allow that to become more important than living every day for Christ. Allow Him to fill you with His joy!!

Verses 13 & 18 & 20 are kinda “mic drop” verses if you ask me! I love the strong truth here: “Whoever despises the Word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded….Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored….Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

It’s so important to be in your Word every day! To seek His scriptures for wisdom and guidance! It’s also so important to have a handful of Christ-centered friendships to encourage you and push you to Christ. In times when you may be doubting God, doubting His plan and His sovereignty, they will remind you and lift you up in prayer. If you were to look at the five people you spend most of your free time with, can you say that they are pointing you towards Christ’s truths? Be willing to be corrected and steered in the right direction with His Word and the words of Godly counsel.

I pray that you find your joy and peace in Him before seeking out any other. I pray that you allow God to prepare your heart for whatever may come: If that involves marriage, I pray that He shapes and molds you into a Godly wife. I pray He prepares your heart for the constant battle of selfishness that is so plainly seen in marriage and that He molds your mindset to become about how your marriage can be used by Him. If His plan doesn’t involve marriage for you, I pray that He will bring you comfort and peace regardless of your marital status. I pray that you follow the direction of Paul and lead a life with the sole purpose to bring glory to His name with no other distractions!

Above all else, remember that you are His treasure. You are HIS bride!

Blessings,

Keri

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Josh&Keri Keri Underwood

I’m Keri! I’m a lover of Christ and receiver of His unending grace. I love all things book related and might have an addiction to white cheddar popcorn and Dr. Pepper. I am recently married to Josh who, frankly I just don’t deserve it. Isn’t God GOOD?! Most of my life my passion has been children’s ministry but the past few years God has been shaping my heart for women’s ministry. My sister and I started Little Light on a Hill with one goal in mind: women. We want to challenge women to dig deeper into their Word and to create a community of all different types of women who can lean on each other and help each other grow. I hope you join us there!