My Parting Thank-You to Singleness

In a few short weeks, I’m donning the white dress in my closet and crossing the threshold from singleness into a life-long marriage commitment. Entering this covenant will be the most important decision I’ve made apart from my salvation, and I’m praying for courage and wisdom to honor it well.

I realize if you’re currently single, you might be snickering right now. Why do you need courage? I’d sprint down that aisle if I had the chance! Hear me out, friends. Although I’m beyond excited for this new adventure in my life, I’m also convinced marriage is going to require as much, and probably more, sacrifice than singleness. That brings me to my first “thank-you” to my time as a single:

I thank my single years for teaching me to practice sacrifice.

As my single friends know, singleness has its fair share of sacrifice. Christian singles may have to die daily to their desires and submit them to the obedience of Christ. They often choose to give of themselves when they so much desire for someone to invest in them. And while life isn’t always lonely, it sometimes is. Even well-meaning friends don’t seem to understand the struggles they face.

Just because I’m saying ‘I do’ doesn’t mean these sacrifices and struggles are going away. They’re just going to change. For example, I will have to submit to my husband’s headship. Even though I’m so happy right now I can’t imagine this responsibility being a challenge, I’ve observed enough marriages to know that conflicts will come. I’ll have to sacrifice what I want for our marriage’s good. On a daily basis, I’ll need to die to my selfish desires to love James, my future husband, well.

Whether single or married, we are to be “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1 NKJV) and model our lives after Christ who “gave Himself” for the church, His bride (Ephesians 5:25). Our relationship status doesn’t change the command to live sacrificially. It just provides different circumstances in which we are to exercise it.

I thank my single years for showing me that my identity is found in Jesus Christ, not circumstances or a relationship.

When I was single, I often felt as though I had to prove myself in my career, writing, and service. While I certainly believe my single years gave me the opportunity to cultivate my God-given abilities, I had to learn that my identity isn’t found in anything I do or anything I have.

Regardless of my relationship status, my identity is in Christ alone. I’m God’s daughter first and always will be. Once married, I’ll still be God’s daughter and then James’s wife. And even if there are days I feel like a failure, I can take comfort knowing God is still my Father, Savior, and Sustainer. He’s faithful and will remind me that even when I fail or make mistakes, I am still His. I’m so glad to serve a God who gives second chances! Single or married, we all need them.

I thank my single years for teaching me to depend on God and establish a deepening relationship with Him.

My single years often drove me to my knees and to search the Scriptures for God’s promises. Many years, God seemed strangely silent, but I had to learn His timing is better than mine. His plans far surpass my stubborn expectations.

My walk with God has had its share of bumps and detours, but along the way, I’ve learned I can trust Him. I need time with Him each day just as I need air to breathe. My relationship with God has plenty of room for growth, and I’m excited about that. As I begin my marriage, I know I can depend on Him, even when hard times come, because He is always faithful.

He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. (I Thessalonians 5:24 NKJV)

Whether God has called us to be single or married right now, His faithfulness remains the same.

I could add more to this gratitude list, and perhaps you could too. If you’re still single, waiting, or searching, please know this bride-to-be is cheering for you. My prayer is that you would not only find a godly spouse, if that is your desire, but also make the most of your single years. One day, you just might thank them.

~ Kristen

I’m grateful to DailyPS.com for hosting this post on their site. For more encouraging and inspirational posts, visit DailyPS.com.

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My Top Ten Engagement Superlatives

Hey, friends! This is a big transition month for me, because my wedding is less than a month away. Today, I want to share a lighthearted post about my engagement experience. Enjoy my top ten superlative moments.

#1: Favorite moment of engagement: The North Carolina temperatures were dropping, and I was getting cold, so I suggested we leave the mountain vista we had been enjoying. James said he wanted “just one more picture over there,” and I complied. When we reached the outlook,  he started saying all sorts of sweet things and got down on one knee. You can read the full story here.

#2: Most hilarious moment of engagement: Our friend Amanda didn’t arrive until late that night, and we were all too tired to tell her the story. We pretended nothing had happened and turned in for the night. The next morning, my friend Devon asked her to watch a “funny video” on her phone. When Amanda realized she was watching our engagement video, she threw the phone in excitement! (Good news: The phone is fine.)

#3: Highlight of my bachelorette weekend: We solved an American Escape Room with 8+ minutes to spare. Definitely bragging on my amazing friends for this one! I’m also going to brag on our escape master nicknamed “Snickerdoodles” who was absolutely fantastic. Five stars for this venue!

#4: Funniest moment of my bachelorette weekend: My friends conned the Irish entertainer into serenading me with a love song in front of the entire restaurant.

#5: Biggest surprise about engagement: I believe in transparency, so I’m not going to sugarcoat the reality that once you get engaged, you may have conflict about something you never anticipated. Don’t try to avoid the conflict. It’s a great opportunity to talk through differences, learn how to problem solve as a couple, and grow stronger together.

#6: Most ridiculous question I’ve been asked since getting engaged: Who’s going with you on your honeymoon? 

#7: Most anticipated wedding day moment: I am so excited to see the look on James’s face when I walk down the aisle!

#8: Most anticipated wedding day food: I’m grateful that our friend Ashley, an amazing baker, is making our cupcakes, and some will be Reese’s flavored chocolate. Yum!

#9: Most important part of engagement: The wedding planning is special and fun, but the most important part is the time we’ve spent preparing for a strong marriage. This includes our personal discussions as well as time with our marriage mentors. I’m convinced the more we talk through potential challenges and differences ahead of time, the better we both will be.

#10: My best piece of advice about engagement: It is meant to be a short season. Although every couple is different, I’m really thankful our engagement is only five months long, because the challenges of living two separate lives but preparing to merge them into one can be emotionally exhausting, though certainly worthwhile.

Next week, I’m going to share my parting thank-you to singleness, which I hope will be an encouragement to you! Afterward, I have a wonderful line-up of friends who will be guest posting this month and next. They are such a blessing to me, and I know they will be to you as well.

~ Kristen

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Medal in What Matters: A Bride-To-Be’s Perspective on “Stuff,” Living Generously, and Holiday Giving

My walk-in guest closet had become a black hole of catch-all, and the time had come to face it. The less “stuff” I have to move after my wedding, the better!

Most of the boxes stacked there centered on my childhood, so maybe that’s why I had put off going through them. Don’t ask me why tossing childhood memorabilia is so hard for me, but it just is.

As I opened a heavy cardboard box, I found myself facing my high school Bible quizzing trophies. I had worked hard to earn them and been so proud of them! However, they’ve been boxed up for years, and I never plan to set them out on a bookshelf again.

Maybe you have your own trophies or keepsakes, and if you’re not ready to part with them yet, that’s okay! Tangible motivation has its time and place. But cleaning out my closet reminded me of a truth or two I don’t want to forget.

Realize what matters in the long run.

What matters more than the medals themselves is what they represent. I spent my high school years memorizing chapters and books of God’s Word. Today, I can’t quote the Bible like I used to, but I believe that these Scriptures will not return to me “void” (Isaiah 55:11 NKJV) but that the Holy Spirit will bring to my “remembrance” those promises just when I need them (John 14:26).

These medals will ultimately deteriorate (faster now that I’m contributing them to the trash), but those Bible verses will resound in my memory.  As Isaiah 40:8 says,

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (NKJV).

Choose wisely what we treasure.

As a visual society, we often focus on the tangible. We see our cars, our houses, our vacation (or wedding) plans, and our Christmas gifts under the tree. While those things have their place—and I’m certainly grateful for them—they’re just a shell compared to what’s more important: the spiritual conditions of our hearts.

What do we truly treasure? Oftentimes, we can find the answer by watching how we spend our time and money. That’s some self-examination we all need to do. As we consider our answers, let’s remember Jesus’ words:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV).

Live generously and enjoy God’s blessings today.

Yes, the holidays are upon us, and most of us enjoy giving and receiving presents. There’s nothing wrong with sharing and enjoying gifts, as long as those “things” don’t claim a higher place in our hearts than they should. Regardless of our financial status, we should keep our trust in God alone and enjoy what He has given us. I like how Timothy poses this challenge to his readers:

“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (I Timothy 6:17 NKJV).

Wow! God gives us all things “richly” to enjoy. Really, that’s no surprise, considering He has also called us to live abundantly (John 10:10 NKVJ).

Paychecks aside, consider how we can bless others this Christmas. Sometimes, the best gift is our time or simple ways we can express thoughtfulness and God’s love.

This holiday season and every day, let’s medal in what really matters: living for God with everything we have.

~ Kristen

Special thanks to Ashley L. Jones for hosting this post on her website. Click over to BigSisterKnows.com for more godly encouragement.

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Say Yes to New Adventures (Engagement Story)

Dear friends, please celebrate with us! I’m so excited to share that my wonderful boyfriend James asked me to marry him, and I said yes. Here’s the story for all you romantics.

Let’s take a road trip, he said.

James has been going to Beech Mountain, North Carolina for years, and last winter, I went for the first time as part of our church group’s ski trip. You may remember my takeaways as a first-time skier.

Since Florida doesn’t see foliage, James suggested getting a group of friends together to take a long weekend and hike around Beech Mountain. So along with my best friend Devon, we road tripped to Beech Mountain where our friend Conrad joined us.

After work on Thursday, we started the long drive, prepared with more snacks than necessary, of course. Some ten or eleven hours later, we rolled into the driveway of a rustic cabin along the ski slopes and crashed for a few hours.

Let’s wait for this view, he said.

North Carolina dawned with sparkling blue skies and cool fifties, the perfect hiking weather. It’s as if Beech Mountain were in on the surprise.

We had breakfast and coffee at Fred’s, and if you’ve ever been to this part of the Carolinas, you know Fred’s is a landmark! Fueled with food, if not much sleep, we started out for some hiking trails.

Welcome to Fred’s!

The last hike of the day was called Wiseman’s View, but to get there, we had to work our way over one of the bumpiest stateside roads I’ve ever seen! However, the view was more than worth it. Some people have even described the vista as the “Grand Canyon” of North Carolina.

The late afternoon chill was setting in, and after exploring one of the outlooks, we went to another. However, a couple was there taking pictures, so we waited against some fencing.

“Maybe we can just go check out another view or head back,” I said at last. “It’s freezing out here.”

Freezing is subjective. To a Florida girl, one flannel shirt is not sufficient for low fifties.

“No, let’s wait,” James said. “I want to do a picture like that one.” He meant a “facing away” picture like the other couple.

“Okay,” I said and shivered next to him.

Wiseman’s View

Let’s spend the rest of our lives together, he said.

When he finally led me to the outlook, something was different. Maybe it was his breathing or the way his heart beat in his chest.

AND THEN HE STARTED TALKING AND GOT DOWN ON ONE KNEE.

So help me, I don’t remember much of what he said. Snippets included:

  • I love you more than I thought possible.
  • There’s no one else I want to spend the rest of my life with.
  • Will you marry me?
I said yes!

I said yes.

The video my friend took (which is good, because otherwise, I might not remember anything) involves me smiling as broad as the mountain range (hyperbole, perhaps), saying yes, and embracing the love of my life.

I couldn’t have asked for a more special moment. James was there, naturally. My best friend Devon was there capturing it all and celebrating with us. This cute hiking couple was there and insisted on shaking our hands and wishing us the best.

So grateful for amazing friends like Devon and Conrad!

And God was there. We’ve bathed this relationship in prayer and sought wisdom for this road. I’m trusting this love is from Him, and He’s blessing it.

Adventure On.

Let me be vulnerable for a hot second. I’m in my early thirties and wasn’t sure if God would bring along someone or ask me to stay single. Though I prayed for marriage, I was trying to be content with either option.

I’ve learned that both singleness and relationships bring their highs and lows. Right now, my thoughts and emotions feel like fireworks, but I also know marriage requires work. Regardless, my conclusion is this: Godly love purposes the good of another and pursues God first. When that’s the case, we can thrive-whatever the future holds.

I hope I can encourage my young friends today with this: Don’t wait for a relationship to start living. Be your best self right now. That best self will either be fabulous single or incredibly attractive to the man or woman God has for you. And regardless, God can use you for His glory.

Thank you for celebrating with us!

~ Kristen

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6 Things Singles Need to Know about Marriage, Pt. 2

If you missed last week, you’ll want to look back at the first in this two-part series by Tami Myer. In these posts, she maps out a beautiful and biblical perspective on marriage for Christian singles.

Today, we pick up where we left off last time with the fourth thing singles should know about marriage.

If this post is a blessing to you, please leave a comment below-or share it with your single friends to encourage them in their walk.

***

#4. Marriage will not complete you.

Single people are not “halves” waiting for their other “halves” to join them. Two single people are two complete people. But after a man and a woman marry, God unites these two individuals as one married couple. Two people become one flesh and one team. [i]

Christ is the only One who is able to fully satisfy us. Whether we are married or single, Christ is the Lover of our souls who knows us completely, loves us unconditionally, and cares for us perfectly.

#5. Marriage is not the cure for loneliness.

Singles struggle with loneliness, but so do married people. In fact, some people say that the loneliness they experienced within marriage was more intense than the loneliness they felt when single.

Ravi Zacharias points out that the only lasting cure for loneliness is worship.

That may seem like a strange statement unless we understand that true worship is actually an expression of relationship. Worship is not a monologue of verbal praise or a one-person performance. Instead, it is a two-way relationship: we delight in knowing God, and God delights in knowing us. Genuine worship requires that we know God in our spirit (not just as facts in our brain) and in truth. [ii]

Without worship, we experience only temporary relief from loneliness through various distractions. But true worship can be a continual posture of our soul; it becomes a lifestyle. If we live in worship, then we can live free of deep loneliness.

#6. Marriage is an assignment from God.

Instead of looking for a soulmate, listen for God’s calling. Click to Tweet.

Marriage is a calling to serve another person. It is as much a calling as a missionary’s call to Africa or a pastor’s call to preach. A wife is called to minister to her husband’s needs, and a husband is called to minister to his wife’s needs.

If you marry because someone makes you happy, what will you do on the day that he or she doesn’t make you happy? (And that day will arrive sooner than you expect.)

Most of the reasons that people give for marrying then flip into their reasons for leaving: “he was kind, but now he’s not,” or “she was attentive and appreciative, but now she’s not.” However, if your reason for marrying is to serve, then you will never have a reason to leave because you will always be able to serve.

If God is calling you to serve Him as a single now, then fulfill that calling with everything you’ve got.

If God calls you someday to serve as a husband or wife, then fulfill that calling with everything you’ve got.

And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life. (1 Corinthians 7:17  MSG)

The calling is God’s business. Faithfulness to the calling is our business.

~ Tami Myer, MannaForMarriage.com

Notes

[i] Genesis 2:20-24; Mark 10:6-9

[ii] John 4:24

 

6 Things Singles Need to Know about Marriage, Pt. 1

Tami Myer is my friend and fellow writer who blogs about godly marriage and what that looks like. I asked her if she could share a biblical perspective on marriage for singles that we could apply to our walk now, and she graciously said yes.

Whether you’re a teen, young adult, or adult who’s not yet married, it’s my hope that Tami’s two-part series will bless you as much as it has me.

***

Why should singles care about the topic of marriage?

If marriage is not on your radar or even on your wish list, you may think that the subject is not relevant for you right now. But regardless of your marital status, you will benefit from understanding the divine design for marriage. [i]

Here are six important things to know about marriage.

#1. Marriage is a profound revealer of spiritual truths.

When we look at the universe, we know that there is a God. And when we look at marriage, we learn who this God is. The created world reveals the existence of God, but marriage reveals the nature and character of God. We learn that He is a God of relationship and that He is loyal and loving.

In the Scriptures, God makes a stunning claim:

For your Creator will be your husband. (Isaiah 54:5 NLT)

God will be our husband? What does that mean? As we study biblical marriage, we learn that a man is to be the protector and the provider for his wife. The husband is responsible for the well-being of the woman. He lays down his interests in order to love her well. His very life is to be a covering of protection over his bride. He honors, nurtures, and cherishes her.

Amazingly, God is eager to be this kind of “husband” to everyone who enters into a covenant relationship with Him.

I will take you to be My wife forever. I will take you to be My wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion. (Hosea 2:19 HSCB)

As a type of “wife,” we accept God and welcome Him. We take His name as our name. “I am His” becomes our identity. We become covenant partners with Him, and we allow Him to carry the weight of responsibility. We give up being spiritually single. We end our other spiritual love affairs (pursuing pleasure, prestige, or possessions), and we devote ourselves to Him. Instead of being spiritually independent (“I know what is good for me”), we depend on His guidance and wisdom.

We live to know Him and to make His name great. We trust His care, knowing that His goal is our radiance. [ii] Our thriving is His glory.

We abide in Him, and He abides in us. We delight in Him, marveling that He delights in us.

As a groom rejoices over his bride, so your God will rejoice over you.
(Isaiah 62:5 HCSB)

#2. You can have a great impact on others in the area of marriage.

As you interact with people every day, you can be a powerful influence. You don’t have to be married to know what God teaches about marriage. Understanding the Scriptures will enable you to share helpful truth with others.

It has been said that wisdom is seeing things from God’s perspective. Whether married or not, we all need wisdom in this area because the marriages around us affect our lives. Marriages shape our society and culture.

#3. You may have heard that sexual purity is a gift to your future spouse, and that is certainly true. But purity is also a valuable gift to yourself.

You are far more than physical instincts and chemicals. You are more than an animal, which lacks moral strength or character. You have inherent honor, for you are a man or a woman created in the image of God Himself. Women have the God-given glory of being women. Men have the God-given glory of being men.

Your sexuality is deeply linked to your spirit. If you are abused sexually, there is a deep wounding in your spirit. If you give your body away sexually, your spirit is dishonored and demeaned. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote, “Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18 NLT)

Perhaps you don’t know how much you are worth. Perhaps you don’t know that you are a person of high value. God says that you are a treasure. You are priceless!

Your body and spirit are worth far more than cheap words and empty promises. You are worth nothing less than someone’s solemn vow before God and witnesses to honor you “til death do you part.” Guard yourself against anyone who says you are worth less than a lifetime commitment.

Sexual purity isn’t just physical. It is also mental. Stay away from porn. It will destroy you. We live in a pornographic society, so it takes strength to fight back, but it is well worth the effort. Porn promises pleasure, but then it sabotages even the ability to enjoy pleasure. It is highly addictive, encourages abusive behavior, creates dissatisfaction, destroys empathy, and causes users to view people as objects.

Pursue sexual purity in your behavior and in your thinking. You will reap great rewards from this, both now and later, whether single or married. Purity will free you to be healthy physically, spiritually, and in your relationships with other people.

Whatever may be in your past, you can embrace purity now because God loves to give fresh starts and clean slates.

~ Tami Myer

To be continued… Be sure to come back next week for the second part of: 6 Things Singles Need to Know about Marriage.

Notes

[i] One of the best books on marriage was originally written for singles. The Meaning of Marriage is based on a series of sermons which pastor Timothy Keller preached at his church in New York City, where his congregation is predominantly single.

[ii] Ephesians 5:27, NIV

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How to Have a Happy Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day might be the one holiday that leaves people feeling polar extremes of warm fuzzy or arctic cold.

Honestly, it’s a holiday that holds a mixed bag for me, too. I had one boyfriend call our relationship quits on Valentine’s Day (necessary but not exceptionally thoughtful). Other years, I’ve celebrated “Galentine’s Day” with my girlfriends instead. This year, I’m focusing on old and new friends alike.

I guess somewhere along the way, I realized that I can celebrate Valentine’s Day, regardless of my relationship status.

Let me say that again.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about our relationship status. 

That’s where we go wrong. We see the heart candies, roses, and those ridiculous large bears and start to daydream of our romantic relationship or lack thereof.

There’s our problem. We make the day about us. Did get a card? Did he remember to send me flowers? Did she get me a gift?

When we make the day about us, we’ll be disappointed every time, because there is usually a gap between expectations and reality. I’m not saying we shouldn’t give gifts or send flowers. Not at all! Those things are wonderful and can be thoughtful expressions of love.

But here’s the kicker: We don’t have to have a specific relationship status to do so.

Valentine’s Day can be a day to celebrate the people we love. 

Maybe that person is a significant other or spouse, and if so, celebrate that special relationship with gusto. Relationships are gifts, and couples should enjoy a day set aside to honor their love.

However, we don’t have to limit ourselves to romantic relationships. Instead, we can expand our horizons so we don’t miss the other people we’re blessed to love. Maybe that person is a father, mother, brother, sister, son, or daughter. Maybe it’s the teens in our youth group or peers in our Bible study.

Bottom line: Make the day about someone other than you. Cook dinner for your parents. Send flowers to your little sister in college. Bake brownies for the church teens, or host a game night at your house. And if you do have a special someone in your life, find a way to show that person how much you appreciate him or her.

After all, Jesus Himself commanded us to love (John 15:12). He said that we’re to love one another as He loved us—and He didn’t just say He loved us; He showed it by dying on the cross for us (John 3:16). The love God wants us to model isn’t sappy or shallow but sacrificial.

My college Bible professor captured that idea in a simple definition of love. It’s one I haven’t forgotten and hope I never will:

“Love is purposing the good of another person.”

Isn’t that what I Corinthians 13 says? The “love” chapter is all about giving of ourselves selflessly. Love is not “self-seeking” but generous (I Corinthians 13:5 NIV).

This Valentine’s Day week, look outward, not inward, and see how you can shower the people in your life with love. I think you’ll find that when you do, you’ll have the happiest Valentine’s Day yet.

~ Kristen

I’m grateful to DailyPS.com for sharing this post on their website. Visit DailyPS.com for more practical and encouraging ways to live intentionally.

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