Proverbs 16

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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

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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 10

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I was sitting at home, casually perusing through Facebook when I noticed a pattern on my feed.  All of my friends were posting photos of their date nights, snaps with their husbands for a night on the town, and those strange mirror selfies while getting dressed up for dinner.

My first thought was “Seriously?  Why are all of these people going out on a weeknight? Ugh!  Don’t they have to work tomorrow?  It’s after 9:00 for goodness sake!”

Me second thought after realizing it was Friday, and therefore perfectly acceptable to do such things past 9:00pm was “Wow. You’re getting old.  You should get out more.”  This thought was quickly forgotten as it was almost my bedtime.

My third thought?  Fear.  Absolute fear.  About what, you ask?  I’ll let you take a guess.  Better yet, maybe you can just answer yourself.  When it comes to your singleness, what’s the biggest fear that you have?  The biggest fear that most of us have?

That we’ll die alone, never having known the pursuit of a godly man.  Or even just a sane man with good credit, a solid career, and all of his teeth.

Either way, a lot of us walk around with holy smiles on our face.  Pretending as if we’re content in our single life, when inside we are absolutely petrified.  We quote scriptures about guarding our hearts, tell our married friends and family that we’re patiently waiting on our Boaz, while our hearts are screaming with jealousy and trepidation.

We are overcome with doubt that the desires of our hearts will never be met.  That we’ll be that old cat lady instead of the woman growing old with the man of her prayers and dreams.

And I have to admit, I sometimes get caught up in the allure of fear.  See, that’s the thing that people don’t tell you about fear.  As much as some claim that fear is some evil, dreadful place to wallow, it is so incredibly comfortable and attractive to stay there.  I mean, isn’t it much easier to live in fear and manipulate your way to ‘happiness’ than to allow God to bring his promises full circle in His time?

But when we live in fear, we know what to expect – nothing (Proverbs 10:28).  There are no promises, no increase, no surprises, no change.  We get exactly what we feared in the first place.

When we live in the hope of God’s will, however, that’s where things can get tricky.  When we stand on the promises of God, we should expect the unexpected.  In fact, we should expect that we’ll never know what to expect.  Except that He can make the impossible possible, even for old ladies like me who go to bed before 10:00pm most nights.

And choosing to believe His will more than our own is not easy or even permanent.  It is a day to day, and sometimes moment to moment decision to trust that what He has for us is infinitely better than anything we could manufacture on our own.

So the next time you’re scrolling through Facebook on a Friday night, or resorting once again to a solitary night of Netflix ’n’ Chill, just remember to keep smiling and practice being content when fear threatens to darken your joy.  Guard your hearts and keep speaking the promises of His word over your life.  And keep telling your family and friends that, yes, you’re still patiently waiting because our God is always faithful.

After all, you are what you fear.  So will you fear Him or the monotonous makings of your own imagination?

Join the conversation!  What is your response or what else struck you from Proverbs 10?

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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 4

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“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23

I have never been good at guarding my heart.  In the fourth grade, I fell head over heels for Jeff Smith, a little boy I probably terrified with my vocal adoration.  In the ninth grade, it was Dustin Burnham, about whom I secretly penned poetry and spent hours upon hours imagining as my husband.  In college, another, and in law school, yet another.

With each new phase of life it seemed, my heart would catch hold of a new person and kaboom! I was in love.

Unfortunately, almost none of these infatuations turned into actual relationships.  My years of mooning over these young men resulted in nothing more than tears and frustration.  But with each one, my heart became a little harder, a little more bitter.  I developed a belief that my relationships would never work out, that no one would return my love.

In turn, these beliefs in my heart bore dark fruit in my actions – I engaged in over-eating and drinking to numb my emotions.  My perceived failures led me to be insecure in meeting any new men and to run from the very thing that I wanted – a real relationship.  I instead sought attention from men who treated me the way I felt I should be treated: badly.

I was trapped in a self-perpetuating cycle.

Breaking free was not easy, but it came through seeing myself not through my own eyes, but through Christ’s.  Whereas I told myself that I was ugly, He told me that I was beautiful and perfectly made.  When I told myself that I would never have a real relationship, He assured me that I already had one – with Him.

I do not want to make it sound simple or easy.  It is often far easier to base our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions on the people around us rather than on the Lord.  I had to forcibly reject my “wisdom” that I had built over the years and accept in its place the Lord’s wisdom.

When I met the man who would become my husband, I did not fall immediately in love.  With clarity of mind, I could see his character, his heart, and his demonstration of constant affection for me.  I guarded my heart and in turn, I was able to make a truly wise decision.

Join the conversation! Have you struggled to guard your heart or what spoke to you from Proverbs 4?

Following the Lord’s Direction

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Are you following the Lord’s direction or just turning down whatever path appears?

In the Book of Numbers, the Scripture describes how the Israelites followed the Lord when they were in the desert: when the cloud of the Lord settled over the tabernacle, the people remained in camp and when it lifted, they moved to follow it.

Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.  (Numbers 9:22-23 NIV)

I think about how hard that must have been, when they were just waiting for the cloud to lift.  I am sure they had times when they wanted nothing more than to move on, but the cloud had not moved – or when they were content in the place they were, but the Lord kept moving them.  They did not have a choice; they had to follow the Lord.

As with so many things in the Bible, what happens physically in the Old Testament becomes metaphorical in the New Testament.  Our choices may not be geographical, but we have plenty of other choices that confront us. Do I stay in this job or change jobs?  Do I date this person or that person?  Should I be focusing on getting married, or spending more time in volunteering?  I’ve often wished that I had such a clear sign from the Lord.

The reality, though, is that we do have clear signs from the Lord, if we wish to heed them.  We have the Scripture, the Church, and the Holy Spirit to direct us.  When those three things combine, we can know that we are moving in the right direction.

Next month, we are starting our study of Proverbs.  This is a book of wisdom, teachings from King Solomon to his people to instruct them in the right way to go.  As Scripture, it is God-breathed and meaningful for us today.  Being familiar with God’s word gives us a firm foundation so that we can confidently move in the way that he has already determined for us to go.

Are you facing a decision or a choice in your life?  Then I encourage you to come join us next month for our daily reading of Proverbs!  Trust me: I can guarantee that you will be the better for being more familiar with these teachings!

 

 

 

With Confidence

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I wrote in my last post that my strong opinion is that dating many people is far better than staying home, at least when it comes to likely success in getting married.  It’s simply a matter of numbers.

But dating comes with difficulties.  I know from experience that the more that you date and don’t meet the right one, the easier it is to become discouraged and to doubt God’s love for you and good plans for your life.  Each failed relationship is also another opportunity to doubt yourself.

Dating many people also brings greater opportunity to fall into sin.  With each relationship that you think will last, there is the temptation to demonstrate your affection and commitment to that person. And each time the relationship ends, regret.  For those of us who are single into our thirties (and forties and fifties) who have dated, it is almost impossible to make it to marriage without having some regrets about past actions in past relationships.  If I had known it wasn’t going to work out from the beginning, we think, I would not have gone so far.

As time goes on, we can feel ashamed, dirty, and sinful.  We already feel bad about ourselves for not having found the right one, and now we feel doubly bad for our past.  Not only can these negative feelings be a further barrier to a new relationship, they can cause a separation in our relationship with God.  I have gone too far this time, God cannot forgive me.

But God understands who we are and what we have done.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  (Hebrews 4:15-15 ESV)

No matter where you are, or what you have done in those relationships, you can still draw near to the throne of grace with confidence.  God loves you and is always ready to receive you back.

War of Words

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My coworker’s nails rapidly pounded against the ceramic mug. The thin taps pinged in the air as I tried to reassure her.

In her lap was her performance review and she was terrified of reading it. Still frantically tapping her fingers, she breathed a shuddering sigh.

“I am so worried about what it’s going to say.”

Looking at ourselves through the lens of someone else can be crippling.

When another describes who you are, bombastically in a crowd, whispered in a half empty room, or written in a confidential email, we take it with absolute legitimacy.

Because if someone can give voice to it, then it must not be made up.

It must be true, we think. I am that.

As a result, our strides regress to crawls. Our heart becomes a hostage of hesitancy and we become afraid to move.

Which is why God wants us to hear and believe Him.

Jesus put value, esteem, and purpose in every single one of us.

We are not only just His daughters or His creation.

We are His best.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”

We are works of beauty that are cherished more than we will ever know.

Important souls who have much to offer, much to enjoy, and much to do.

Too much joy is found in the existence that God gives, which is why the devil uses the world’s voice to keep us from fully living.

You are not that.

You are not what they say.

You are who He says.

In the war of words, God’s Word always wins out.

Toss their opinions and trust His truth.

How have you believed man’s words over God’s truth?

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Jennifer  Jennifer Richardson

Hi, there! My name is Jennifer. I’m 31 and live in the D.C. area. I love Jesus, R & B music, and sugar in all its forms:-)In June 2016, I married my amazing husband, Calvin. I was completely single and waiting throughout my entire twenties. So I know the prayers, fears, and tears that come with prolonged singleness very well. I am excited to share my story and encourage single women who are waiting for God’s best!