Monday, October 8, 2012

And Suddenly Everything Has Changed...

I've been saying since I started this blog I felt God moving, preparing, shaking things up in my life.

And I've been telling my friends and my family for probably close to 4 years that I felt like God had pushed “PAUSE” on my life.

Externally, I was pretty much the same, minus a hair color change and a couple of moves.

Internally, I don’t look anything like I did 4 years ago.

My cracks are healing quite nicely.
My heart has been learning what love and grace really stand for.
My body’s constantly learning that it is not my enemy.
My mind is learning things my heart has known for a while, just didn't want to believe.

I found an outlet to serve. And crazily enough… people related to me and to my words and my heart.

I found out who I was.
I found out that I was blessed beyond measure.

And ultimately, I settled in to life as I knew it, and got comfortable.

And for me, that right there is a recipe for a complete life shift.

God has always delighted in teaching me things, allowing me to become comfortable in that thought, and then completely changing my life.

A little over a year ago, I started this blog as a response to a radical prayer I had. 

And it has challenged me beyond belief.

It has challenged me so much so that when I got busy from a job change, and busy from life changes, and scared of everything that was shifting in my life, I decided to stop.

It wasn't really a conscious decision.

Kinda like when you stop talking to an old friend;  it may not be intentional… but it happens.

And then I woke up and realized how much I had missed it and how afraid I had been to start writing again.

Because you see: things have changed.

And I don’t mean changing in a “rearrange your bedroom” kind of change.

I mean the “move across the country and start over” kind of change.

I've spent 4 years becoming an “expert”, or at least really knowledgeable, on being the single girl.

About praying, and waiting, and seeking, and believing that love could happen for me.

WOULD happen for me.

I spent years learning and teaching and growing and taking everything I possibly could in about love and life and relationships and just being a woman of God.

I threw myself into writing, small groups, friends, relationships, my church, and most recently; a new job.

And my life became crazy. But in a good way.

For the most part.

And I grew content, complacent and accepted that this… was my life.

And then I got a random message from a guy I hadn't seen in over a year…

… asking me out for coffee.

And ladies, he asked me out the way I had always thought a woman should be asked out:
 with clarity, with intention, and straightforward.

I had heard of this. I had read about this. I had known that this kind of man COULD ask me out.

But honestly I wasn't expecting it, I felt unprepared, and I felt shaken a little.

Because as much as I had believed and dreamed about it; that it would happen, someday, that someday had shown up.

A concept I had yet to teach my brain about: reality.

And now, 3 months later, we are dating.

Me and The Boyfriend. (As he shall be referred to from hence forth)

And I have a job that has taken most of my life away from me, as well as part of my heart.

Which has challenged, every relationship I have; including the one with The Boyfriend, and my relationship with God.

And to be honest, most days I feel lost.

I’m stumbling around, pretending I know what I’m doing because I read, I prayed, I prepared, I KNEW what I was going to behave like and have all the answers when The Boyfriend finally came along.

And I knew how to handle a crazy job and insanely busy life.

Or I thought I did.

Yet, I find I have more questions than answers.

I find I need God more than ever.

I find that I do not know it all, nor will I ever know it all.

Goals I had set for this year, things I had planned to do, the way I had envisioned my life going…

Well, they maybe didn't happen. They maybe won’t happen.

And I’m ok with that.

Because while I look around at my life and realize that suddenly, everything has changed,
I realize I am learning more and more about grace, patience, love, and God.

Oh did I mention I also have a roommate now?

And The Boyfriend’s dog is currently living with me too?


Life is different.

In a crazy, unexpected, push-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone, make-me-pull-my-hair-out, laughing-until-I’m-crying, beautiful, this-is-a-dream-someone-pinch-me, heart-bursting-with-joy, no-road-map kinda way.

For the first time in almost 4 years, I feel like God just pushed “PLAY".

So as I move into my favorite season of the year.. I also move into a brand new season of my life...

Here goes nothing. 

PS that's not me but how awesome would it be if it was?!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I read a story the other night in Mark 9 about a little boy who was plagued with demons his whole life.

Finally, the father takes his son to Jesus and begs him to help Him IF He can.

I couldn’t get past the word “if”…

Probably because I use that word. A lot. 

Any of your prayers ever look like this

“Father, if it is your will, please bring me a husband..” 

Ok maybe you aren't asking for a husband. But I'm gonna bet if you put something else in for husband, we'd have a winner. 

Anyways, Jesus goes on to say “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

And the father replies with.. “I do believe! But help me overcome my unbelief

That sounds pretty much like every prayer I prayed for the last 3 months.


Am I the only one that has had that horrific heart-hardening disease of unbelief?

Like your heart has been injected with selfishness and bitterness and greed?

It’s not that anything is wrong, but at the same time… everything is wrong.

You look in the mirror and cannot see the person who loves Jesus.

All you see is a person who is bitter and angry and hurt.

So you turn away.

Because looking reminds you that you’ve run so far you feel like you could never get back.

It’s just easier to pretend it isn’t there. That God’s not there.

He apparently doesn’t care right now anyways.

Maybe someone hurt you. Betrayed you. Left you. Misused you.

Maybe life handed you a seriously crappy hand. Those dreams you always had for your life? Gone in an instant.

Maybe you’re alone. Physically. Emotionally. Literally.

Maybe everyone else around you can praise God so easily while something inside of you is screaming that it hurts.

So this is what you do...

Sometimes you fake it. You pretend you’re fine. You go to church. You hang out with friends. Heck you even read the bible. 

You maybe share with a friend that your grace filled heart has now turned to stone.

But at the end of the day, that bitterness and anger has hardened your heart so badly there is no way that anyone, anything, especially God could break through and make you who you were.

When people tell you that it will get better, that prayer and patience is the answer, you not only scoff… you kind of want to punch them..

I don’t know that there is an answer to this kind of brokenness.

Well one you want to hear.

Because the answer is Jesus.

And I’m laughing as I write that because 2 months ago, I would have punched myself for even CONSIDERING writing something about this.

But that’s also why I wasn’t writing.

Or answering emails.

Or reading my bible.

Or believeing that Jesus was the answer.

I mean don’t get me wrong, I cried out for God day and night. Angrily.

Asking Him what on earth I had done to end up here.

Because you may not know this, and this may piss you off, but in that moment… you could care less about God.

It’s all about you.

What’s happened to you.

Where you are.

How you feel.

What you don’t have.

Why you can’t be like them.

God’s plan? Forget it. You don’t want any part of it unless you get something you want.

It’s selfish. It’s greed. It’s pride.

It’s not of God.

I kept crying out for God to remove my sin, because something in my heart was so hard that it kept me from life.

It was so painful.

Yet, it couldn’t be removed.

Because I couldn’t see that it had nothing to do with anything I was doingbut the attitude I had been choosing. 

And I can’t tell you that I prayed for my selfishness to go away one time and it did.

It did not.

If anything I may have revolted even more.

But little by little, moment by moment, verse by verse and prayer by prayer… God chipped away at the hardened outer layer of stone on my heart.

Over time, it became easier to listen to worship music without thinking “this is ridiculous, these people obviously meant for this to be sung when you were happy..” 

It became easier to talk about God and His love. 

And even more so, it became easier to LISTEN about God and His love.

It became less about my happiness.

Not that I don’t still feel the way I do.

I’d be lying if some days I didn’t tell you I didn’t wake up and think.. “Can I have a husband today?”

Because I do.

A lot.

But I keep praying.

I pray that God’s love and grace will be enough.

Actually, I pray that it’ll be more than enough.

And for the most part it is.

It’s overwhelming.

And on the days its not, I pray for God to help me overcome my unbelief. 

So the moral of the story is this: don't give up... don't stop seeking grace... cry out for God to overcome your unbelief. 

It'll take time. But those walls will fall and your heart will soften with each verse, song, and drop of grace that will pour over you. 

I’m so thankful for a God that is not like us. That does not have moments of hardness and bitterness towards us.

And I’m thankful for grace. And peace. And love.

That’s when I need it most. And it’s the only thing that opens my heart. 

It what helps me overcome my unbelief. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Single Girl Date Night

I recently found myself with a free night off from work. 
This is a rarity in the last 6 months so I have to take full advantage of it when I can. 
In the last 2 weeks especially, I have worked every single week night. 
Sadly though, most of my friends were busy or out of town on this particular Wednesday night that I had off from work. 
Yet, I could not bear the thought of going home and sitting again. Whether I would be reading, watching tv, doing house hold chores that yes, did in fact need to be done... I didn’t want to be in my house alone. Again.
I like living alone for the most part. Kind of like being single, it has it good days and its bad. 
Good days consist of being able to unwind peacefully when I’ve worked a 14 hour day.
Bad days are having no one to watch the terrible tv that I know I shouldn’t, but just can’t resist with on nights that I have off when I’ve worked continual 14 hour days.
So I did something I swore I would never, ever, ever, never, ever do. 
I did it and I still get the heebee jeebes thinking about it. 
I went to a movie all by myself.
To a single girl... in the south... who never anticipated nor wanted to be single at 25..... this is a big deal.
There are two things I have been deathly afraid of for about 4 years:
Eating alone at a restaurant. 
And going to a movie in theaters alone.
But we’ve been over the fact that I couldn’t just sit at home again.. so I went. 
And luckily Blue Like Jazz was playing in Chattanooga. And it is seriously one of my top 5 books of all time. 
Since Thursday was going to be it’s last showing, I buckled down and decided to give in and go see it. 
As I pull off the interstate to go to the theater, I start thinking about where to park. 
The parking garage of course is validated for free by the theater, but I’ve seen too many horror flicks to park in a parking garage in the middle of the week and have to walk back there by myself. 
That and every time I’ve been downtown lately in the middle of the week, the ratio of women walking around by themselves and creepy guys hanging out on the sidewalks is about 0:12. 
Let’s be honest, just not safe.
So I park by the theater ($5 is worth the safety), and head inside. All the while, talking myself up.
“It’s fine. It’s totally fine. People do this ALL THE TIME. It’s not a big deal at all.”
Of course the cashier is totally adorable. It took everything in me not to say something like this:
I don’t normally come here by myself. I have friends, they just happen to be all busy tonight. I have lots of friends. Just trying this out. PEOPLE DO THIS ALL THE TIME.”
Thankfully, something inside me stops myself.
After shelling out the $10 (praying this movie is worth it and now being fully committed to this journey since I payed $10 for a movie), I head to get popcorn. 
The girl at the counter is overly friendly today. Granted there is no one else in the lobby so maybe she is bored. When she asks me if I would like butter on my popcorn, I almost tell her to just hold the popcorn and pour me some butter. I mean... I’m single. At the movies. ALONE. 
This is the good part. Seriously.
I turn around to head off and, kid you not, fumble my popcorn bag about 3 times before completely losing all grip and dropping it, spilling popcorn all.over.the.floor.
Now, if I wasn’t already self conscious about coming to the movies alone, this just pushed me over the edge. 
I wish I could make this stuff up. But I can’t. 
Ask anyone who knows me... THIS IS MY LIFE.
I slowly turn, (I know sometimes people say they slowly turn, but this time.. I really did. I was afraid I’d crunch the popcorn and make an even bigger mess), and sure enough--because I’m the only person in there--both cute cashier and overly-happy-to-work-the-concessions girl are staring at me. With not happy looks on their faces.
I PROFUSELY apologize and beg them to let me clean up. But while one minute ago she was so friendly, now she is speaking like she may kill me. 
It was my fault. I’m not saying it wasn’t. All the butter just got to me apparently. But come on, I was the only one there and there were about 2 cars in the parking lot. Wasn’t like it was the Hunger Games premier. (yes, I would know.)
So here I am in the theater.
And it’s just me. 
I know I wanted to go see a movie by myself.. but come.on. 
This is a bit extreme.
Laughable really.
God relishes and delights in pushing me farther than I want to go. 
He knows that when He says go, and I say “ok!” and take a baby step.. He’s gonna have to push me off the cliff to get where He wants me to go.
At least I didn’t have to silence my phone. 
Ok I may have anyways. I’m not the rebel type.
I watched the movie of one of my favorite books about losing yourself and finding God.
I laughed out loud. I cried silent tears. And I felt God speak to me. 
When I first sat down, I plotted out how I would leave so that I wouldn’t have to see the cashier or concessions girl again. 
I was so worried this whole time what people would think about me. 
That poor single girl who has to go to the movies alone.
Because that’s how I felt. 
I’ve spent my whole life caring what other people thought and over thinking how I think about myself and projecting it on to other people. 
I care about my appearance. 
I care about my figure.
I care about my heart.
I care about my motives.
And I care how you see them. 
And the way I feel about those things.. I tend to allow that to cover anything anyone else would say or feel about me.
Including God.
The last scene of this movie is completely and utterly riveting, heart wrenching, and a gut check for Christians.
And it made me see that I am ashamed of Jesus and the single girl He made me to be.
I am ashamed to allow Him to reveal those hidden parts of me that still scare me.
Therefore,I project MY thoughts, MY beliefs, and who I am on the world around me. 
And I let those things control how I feel about myself and how I view others thoughts about me.
I was ashamed to go to that movie. Because I was ashamed to say that I’m single because God has allowed me to be single. And that I was lonely.. because God allowed me to be lonely so I would search for Him.
I’m in the process of rediscovering, yet again, who God is. 
A deeper level of who He is, is being written on my life. 
I took a challenge that night to get to know who He is a little bit better, by stepping into something I was ashamed of.
And when I left the theater, I walked out the front door. 
And then I walked around the city for a little while to enjoy the beautiful summer evening.
And then I came home, and I sat outside in my yard.
Praying. Watching. Seeking.
Hoping that somewhere, up there in the stars that were circling in the blue like jazz, He’d rewrite Himself just a little bit more on my heart that night.

Because I’m not ashamed anymore. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Home Is Where the Heart Is

I moved to Chattanooga when I was 18, fresh out of high school.

There were so many things I wanted to leave behind and so many things I wanted to do with my life, including figure out who I was away from the small town that I had grown up in.

So I chose a school that was far enough away to be on my own, and close enough that I could still be close to the comfort of home.

But I never went back.

Eight years later, and I still live in Chattanooga--by choice.

And it has truly become home to me.

Yet this past weekend, I had to go back to the place I grew up to attend a wedding of a dear friend of mine.

You see, one of the good things about small towns is sometimes you get really lucky and get a group of friends that stay friends forever. You know, the kind people write books and movies and songs about.

I got really lucky.

I made a day trip of it; went home spent an hour or so with my parents, and then went to the wedding. After the wedding, I changed clothes, packed my bag and drove back to Chattanooga.

Yet on this trip, I realized something that has never occurred to me before.

Maybe it was the fact that it was so short and I had spent time with my friends and “family” in Chattanooga part of the day, and then I drove back to where I grew up and spent time with my family and friends from my child hood.

I realized that no matter where I was, I would always feel somewhat incomplete without the other part. 

My future cannot exist without the presence of my past. 

And likewise, my past will always be a reflection of my future.

I started the morning in my house in Chattanooga. Talking with a friend about love, and God, and the struggles and changes we go through as life gets older. About how God brings us to right where He wants us. About how we all have our own stories.

I drove to the same exit that I’ve taken for 8 years on holidays, weekends, and days that I am lonely and just need my mom.

I drove on back roads that I fell in love on when I was 15 years old. And something sparked in my heart, remembering and wondering how that girl ended up where she did.

I danced with friends that have grown, changed, married and are still the same loving, fun, and gentle people that have always loved me for who I really am.

I left the house that held me. For 18 years, that house held secrets, heartbreak, laughter, dancing and love.

And I drove back.

I realized that night, that part of my heart will always be there. 

Because it made me... me.

In that town, on those roads, with those people, in that house.

And part of my heart, will always be here.

In this city that forced me to grow up, allowed me to make mistakes, gave me dreams, and taught me grace.

It’s a strange feeling to feel like you have led two lives. The one, until a turning point in one place, and another life somewhere else; somewhere new, somewhere different.

If you have ever moved, you know this feeling.

If you’ve ever had a life change, you’ll understand.

Part of my heart will always be in my first apartment with my college roommate.

Part of my heart will always be where I grew up--chasing dreams, and a boy and back country roads.

And yet, today.. sitting here writing... my heart is here.

Chasing what’s next. Looking for where my heart is soon to land.

Seeking. Growing. Learning.

I realized that stories have chapters, and each chapter is relevant, necessary and vital to the way a story tells itself.

Part of me will always long for the other parts of me, the parts that I’ve dropped off in bits and pieces along the years...

That’s ok. They made me who I am. They bring something new every time I visit them, and they are pillars of the grace of God in my life over the years.

My heart is a story. Every place, every piece, every part makes me who I am... makes my story what it is.

There are days I want, and sometimes need, to relive some of those chapters.

Yet this story isn’t finished.

There will be more chapters written.

My singleness is a chapter.

So what I’ve learned, what I know and what I need... is to hold onto to those chapters deep in my heart, even when it aches.. for they ARE my story.

I must remember them and what they’ve taught me, to shape the woman God is making me to be.

After all, this story is for Him.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

To the Lonely and Bitter Single Sister..

Dear Lonely Girl,

You’re ok.

I know it doesn’t seem like it.

I know it hurts.

But the truth is: you’re ok.

You need to know that in a world full of your friends having boyfriends and going on dates and getting flowers and kisses all the time… you are truly ok.

That longing that you feel… it’s normal. And you are not the only one that feels it.

I know it seems like you are.

You aren’t.

I know the pain. True, physical, heart-wrenching pain.
I know the sadness. Depressed, angry, bitter sadness.
I know the desire. Consuming, overwhelming, debilitating desire.

I also know nothing changes while you sit in a puddle of tears.

Bitterness breeds resentment in yourself and towards your friends.

It kills love.

It drives out all happiness from your life and your heart.

That girl you wish you could be? Who’s happy and full of love and laughter?

She’s in your heart, begging you to stop being so angry and lonely and bitter and just… be.

A happy heart breeds confidence.

And there is nothing more attractive about a woman than one who is comfortable with who God has made her to be and where her heart lies.

Wallowing is easy.

You’re comfortable sitting in tears in your home, all alone, wishing and dreaming.

The hard part is getting up, telling that girl with tear stained cheeks staring back at you in the mirror she’s ok, and moving forward.

I am asking you to refuse to sit still any longer.

Pick yourself up.

We all long for someone to love us. We were made for relationship.

So find relationship.

Find girlfriends—single AND in relationship ones.

Single girlfriends share with each other and comfort one another.

Girlfriends in relationships teach you things, push you to grow and help you appreciate life and love.

Find God.

He is who you really long for.

Whether you are in a relationship or not, He is your true heart’s desire.

You are lonely because you long for home.

Boyfriend or not. Husband or not. This longing will never be fulfilled this side of Heaven.

When you stop wallowing in what you don’t have, and realize what you do, God can heal your heart and show you that His grace is beyond enough for your tired and lonely heart.

It’s ok to have bad days. We all have them.

So eat your ice cream if you want it, cry your tears if you need to, call your best friend or your mom and tell them how miserable you are.

Then pray, get up, and keep going.

It took me too long to realize that being the lonely, bitter single girl is a choice.

You do not have to live this way any longer.

You are free.

Christ died to make you free.

So be free.

You cannot change what once was.

Who you once were… is gone. Let.her.go.

You have a choice to change who you will be in the future.

And I promise you, no man is looking for a sad, bitter girl with a broken heart.

That man you long for is desperately searching for a confident woman whose heart is bursting with love.

She laughs without fear of the future because she knows who holds her future.

She clothes herself with strength and dignity.

She picks herself up and carries on because she knows that Jesus loves her and keeps her heart.

Find peace. Find love.

Then go out and spread it like a wildfire.

In Grace and Love,
A Single Sister

Monday, March 26, 2012

Be Still My Heart...

I’m a passionate person. 
I have led with my heart since before I can even remember.
I hated, HATED, movies that involved animals when I was little because inevitably--they got hurt in some way or another--and I ended up in a puddle of tears, begging my mom to turn it off. 
I was devastated every time one of my hamsters died. I’m fairly certain we held a funeral for almost a dozen hamsters in my childhood. 

My poor parents. 
I had more barbies, baby dolls and stuffed animals than most of my friends combined.
I wanted to take care of them all. 
In my heart of hearts, love and passion spill out of every single part of me.  
And that isn’t a bad thing. 
I think that is what has led me to the job that I have now.. that led me to a career path that would allow me to chase my ideal fantasies of "changing the world"... that led me to writing to share my heart with your heart. 
However the heart is tricky
REAL tricky.
My heart is where I keep all things sacred. 
My fears. My hopes. My longings. 
My joys. My sorrows. My love.
It has been bruised and torn apart.
It has been tactfully and beautifully put back together.
So then what do I do with my heart now? 
Some days, I fear that as a single woman who has been told to keep my heart completely guarded, that I will flee from the idea of allowing my heart to feel anything.
Don’t get me wrong, I do feel things at extraordinary lengths. 
Sometimes too much so.
The people in my life make my heart burst with love sometimes.
Serving God, makes me truly fall in love with Him. 
I rejoice and ache with every story and lesson God teaches every girl that I’m so blessed to share stories and thoughts with.
And knowing more about Him opens up parts of my heart I didn’t know were there.
But deep down, there is this little fear... 
“Will I know it when it hits me? How can I trust myself? I’ve built these walls...”
A heart is wicked and deceitful above all else.
Oh my goodness, how many times we are told this verse as single people!!!
Truth: I am afraid to trust my heart. 
My heart, some days, tells me things that I know are not true. 
Yet the truth is not changed due to my lack of belief. 
So God is teaching me.
He’s teaching me that my heart... my heart... is good. 
My heart is NOT wicked and deceitful. 
My heart is a tool that He willingly uses to lead me closer to things of Him.
A heart surrendered to God and His will is never a bad thing.
It’s when we let the heart take reign of our lives outside of God that we find trouble.
I’m worried I’ll make a wrong decision.
I’m worried I’ll get distracted from what God wants for me.
I’m worried I’ll pick the wrong thing, pick the wrong person, not be able to trust my heart or myself.
Truth is though, God can use my heart to lead me to the right place, to the right moment, to the right path, to the right person, and inevitably to HIM. 
He has done it in the past. 
It all comes back to surrender. To realizing you can’t do it alone. That you don’t want to control your heart. And you’re willing to not control your heart. 
Delight yourself in Him. The desires of your heart will then align to be His.
And He is good. And He is loving. And He won’t let your heart lead you anywhere He can’t reach.