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You are Loved: Finding Worth in God Instead of Resumes and Relationships.

“Some days you’re tired of trying to measure up. You see a girl who’s not enough when you look in the mirror.”

As a single girl of 27 years, I see someone who’s not enough. I am tired of trying to measure up to the impossible prerequisites guys look for in a girl.

In addition, I’m currently trying to figure out God’s plan for my life. After five years in full-time ministry, I felt God calling me away to pursue the artistic passions and literary gifts planted inside of me. After months of searching and interviewing, still no financially stable doors. I’m tired of closed doors and trying to measure up to other candidates with years of experience.

“Some nights all you wanna do is hide ’cause every time you look inside, you’re face to face with failure.”

“How’s the dating life? Do you have a boyfriend yet?” The answer is still no. I often times feel “bro-zoned” by my guy friends, which is bearable. I like having guy friends; however, it starts to become unbearable when those guys ask me about my girlfriends, hinting their obvious interest. Jealousy envelops my heart. Why not me? It’s selfish and stupid, but why not me? I start to feel unlovable. The guys I’m interested in don’t want to date me.

My sinful heart turns bitter and black. I turn to false idols for comfort. I am face to face with failure in messing up, always messing up.

“How’s the job searching going? Any offers yet?” The answer is still no. I feel like a failure for not having a full-time job.

Light bulb.

God made me realize that I seek approval in guys and job security. No wonder I feel so distant from God right now. It’s because I find my worth in my relationships and resume instead of Him.

“But you are loved, oh, not because of what you’ve done, no.
Even when your heart has run the other way, nothing’s gonna change His love.
And you are wanted not because you are perfect.
I know that you don’t think you’re worth that kind of grace, but look into His face you’ll know that you are loved.”

I could cry. What truth! Why is it so hard for me to accept God’s grace? Surely He doesn’t love me because of what I’ve done, what I’ve thought. I’ve disappointed Him too many times to count. My heart aches knowing my sin breaks His heart. Even when I run to man’s approval, nothing is going to change His love for me.

I am loved.

“You’ve searched for something that will stir your soul that’ll make you feel less alone, but nothing ever saves you.
Well, He knew before you ever took a breath, there’d be days when you’d forget how beautiful He made you.”

But then I forget that I am loved.

I swipe. I click. I search. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll feel less alone if I get approval from a guy. Maybe I’ll feel less alone by taking matters into my own hands. Maybe I’ll feel less alone if I have coworkers. I’m left empty and dry, overcome by shame and self-pity. Surely no guy or job would want me if they knew my struggles. Surely God made a mistake in creating me. I’m too messed up to be loved. I forget what I’ve been taught all those years sitting in the pew.

“But you are loved, oh, not because of what you’ve done, no.
Even when your heart has run the other way, nothing’s gonna change His love.
And you are wanted not because you are perfect.
I know that you don’t think you’re worth that kind of grace, but look into His face you’ll know that you are loved.”

But God made me for a purpose. God chose me. God loves me. I am not an accident. My struggles are used for His glory. No relationship and no job is ever going to fulfill me. By God’s grace, I am forgiven and redeemed. Nothing is going to change His love for you and me. Thank you, Jesus.

You Are Loved by Ellie Holcomb.

Dear Reader,

Dear Reader,

Hello, it’s me. I haven’t written a post lately. Excuses run through my brain like a pinball machine. (Too busy, too tired, too lazy, etc). However, you and I both know that whatever your passion is, you will make time for it. I haven’t been writing consistently because I haven’t been inspired. And I definitely haven’t made time for inspiration.

Writing about singleness is a challenge. But normally when faced with a challenge, I accept it like a Wizard’s Duel and give it my best swish and flick.Image result for you wish harry potter gif

However, this challenge seems to be a never-ending battle. Sometimes writing about singleness is pretty freaking fantastic, but other times it’s a train wreck. (i.e. Why doesn’t he text me back?) Just this past Sunday I watched back-to-back Matthew McConaughey rom-com movies just so I could escape my singleness and immerse myself in a hopeless romantic bubble. No. Shame.

Some days I question why I even started this blog. What’s the point? Do I want to be known as the Singe Since ’91 blogger? Am I making a difference?

“And then I realized how many stupid times a day I use the word ‘I.’ And probably all I ever do is think about myself. And how lame is that when there’s like seven billion other people out there on the planet, and… sorry, I’m going too fast. But then I thought, if I cared about the other seven billion out there, instead of just me, that’s probably a much better use of my time.” -Mia Thermopolis, Princess Diaries

Thank you, Mia. Maybe the reason why I haven’t written lately is that I’ve focused my attention on myself rather than you, the reader.

You inspire me to write.

You remind me I am not alone in this season. You remind me of my purpose for Single Since ’91: For God to be glorified in and through the vulnerability of my writing so that finding your soulmate would not be the end result, but that Jesus would be the ultimate desire of your heart.

But in order to be inspired, I need to return to my first love, Jesus. If I am to make time for inspiration, I need to make time for Jesus. I haven’t put him first in my life. Instead, I have put myself on a pedestal in an effort to control my future.

“It’s taken me 37 years to accept the fact that there is absolutely zero point in trying to control the future. Cause nobody knows where we’ll be. Not even a year from now.” -Randall, This is Us: Season 2, Episode 18.

So here I am writing to you saying, “Hello from the other side.” I am here for you. Singleness isn’t easy, but we’re in this together. God gave me a purpose to be a voice for the voiceless: to share with you my journey of singleness and what God has shown me along the way. I want this blog to be a safe place where you can relate, know your feelings are valid and for you to discover you are not alone. As a result, I am making time for inspiration.

Happy writing!

’90s Hair Trends to Try This Summer

Picture it: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee summer circa 1998.

I had just turned seven years old. It was a season in which the 98-degree sizzling heat not only referred to the temperature, but also the name of a boyband. For my portable CD player, the soundtrack of my summer included songs from Disney’s Mulan and The Parent Trap. *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys blasted through my favorite radio station, Star 102.1 (Britney Spears had yet to make her “Baby One More Time” innocent schoolgirl debut.)

It was the summer of butterfly clips, scrunchies, up-dos, space buns, pigtails, and bucket hats.

Twenty years later, I can’t help but notice a few of these 90’s hair trends and accessories have made a comeback this summer. You go, girl! And if you’re like me and are clueless (ugh, as if!) as to how to style your hair for the humidity, I suggest trying out these fun throwback hair trends from the summer of 1998 to spice up your life and stand out above the crowd:

 

1) Space Buns

 

2) Messy Braids

 

3) Half-up, Half-down

4) Messy Top Knot

5 Simple Summer Brunch Outfits

Curious to know the way to a girl’s heart? Take her out to brunch.

Why would anyone ever eat anything besides breakfast food?

-Leslie Knope

For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than

  • coffee
  • eggs
  • bacon
  • donuts
  • mimosas
  • grits
  • coffee
  • pancakes
  • waffles
  • fruit
  • coffee
  • biscuits
  • muffins
  • And did I mention coffee?

But what to wear to a brunch date?

For me, I take style cues from a few of my favorite celebrities. Check out these 5 simple summer brunch outfits inspired by Elizabeth Olsen, Zooey Deschanel, Lily Collins, Ashley Olsen, Jennifer Grey, and the Emma’s (Watson and Stone, obviously):

1) Striped T-Shirt

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2) High Waisted Skirt

 

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3) Romper

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4) High Waisted Jean Shorts

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5) Denim on Denim

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6 Steps to Clear Skin

It hurt to smile. The delight in my cheeks faded altogether.

For the next five years, acne invaded my face, claiming every territory as its own, showing no mercy. I called them the “Nazits.” (Just kidding, I made that up on the spot).

I loathed going out in public. I hated the stares, especially from guys. Cheers to the single, pimple life. And as soon as my face felt the Florida heat, my concealer washed away like the summer rain. Besides, what was the point of covering up my acne if applying makeup became too painful? I physically could not touch my face without wincing.

In the midst of my battle with acne, I graduated college, worked three different jobs, moved to Atlanta, and went through a season of anxiety and depression. I even stopped dancing for a year. In a previous post, I described how “I didn’t have the desire to exercise, socialize, leave the house, eat or even get out of bed. Resting my head on my pillow, all I could focus on was my breathing and the crippling chest pains which ensued after every exhale.”

And yet, I had hope.

I was angry with God, no doubt, but I still had hope that He would lead me beside still waters and restore my soul (Psalm 23). God was, is, and will always be with me in the valley. God reminded me that my joy is made complete in Him (John 16:24) in the midst of my circumstances. He gave me the confidence to meet with a counselor, sign up for dance classes, and immerse myself in a biblical community.

Most importantly, I acquired an outstanding dermatologist. Today, my skin is practically glowing with glee. giphy

So what’s my secret to overcoming hormonal acne? Apply these six steps for confident, clear skin:

1. Listen to Your Dermatologist

I was prescribed Accutane an entire year before I ever considered it. I finally was like, “Screw it! God, you are in control of my life and I am going to trust you with this pill. And guess what? I survived. It was worth every dang monthly blood test I had to take just to see if I was pregnant. Unless by some act of God, trust me LabCorp, I was not pregnant. (Accutane has severe side-effects for birthing defects)giphy (1)

2. Moisturize and Cleanse

Moisturize and cleanse daily. My favorites are Aveeno 24hr Skin Relief Moisture Lotion and Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser.spray-delay.giftumblr_p4f1af9p0L1vojxp4o2_400

3. Hydrate

Treat your water bottle like you treat your phone: take it with you wherever you go.giphy (4)

4. Exercise

Find a workout routine that works best for you. I love a variety of cardio and toning such as pilates, dance, boxing, and HIIT. Try workouts from Tone It Up or Nike Training Clubtenor

5. Eat Your Vegetables

Do yourself a favor and follow your parent’s advice: Eat your vegetables. Or as my family used to always sing, “Veggie, Veggie, Fruit, Fruit!” Not sure how to incorporate vegetables into your recipes? I suggest Tone It Up’s Nutritional Plan.giphy (2)

6. Pursue Your Passions

Fear kept me from dancing again. It had been a year since I stepped foot inside a dance studio. What if I lost my technique? What if I wasn’t as flexible? Again, I was like, “Screw it! God, you are in control of my life and I am going to trust you with my passions.” Dancing gives me joy, so why not pursue it? jonathan-dancing-queer-eye

xoxo

Ashley


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I joined ‘Tone It Up’ and Nick Miller should too.

A northerner from New York fell in love with a southerner from Alabama.

This past weekend I had the privilege of watching Caitlyn, my Staten Island sorority sister, marry Sean, the brother of my current roommate. Small world, am I right? From the bagpipe ceremonial procession to the complimentary crimson and white Bama shakers, the wedding exuded sophistication and southern hospitality. And soon enough, I found myself dropping it like it’s hot on the dance floor.

Note to self: Never eat two donuts and a slice of red velvet cake before moonwalking your way to the dance floor. 

My regrettable sugar intake made me feel less sexy and more like a beached whale. Why did the ‘Wobble’ all of a sudden feel nauseating? It’s a proven fact: Cardio and cake do not mix. But that’s not the first time I’ve regretted one too many intakes of desserts in my appetite.tenor

My grandmother said it best when she told my mom, “Once on the lips, forever on the hips.”

If you have a sweet tooth like me, practicing self-control is key. Just because there were several flavored donuts to chose from and two different types of cakes at the reception didn’t mean I had to taste test all of them. giphy

It’s time to stop making excuses for my sweet tooth. It’s time to feel healthy, strong, and confident. Life’s too precious to not take care of my body. It’s the only one I’ve got, so why not treat it with respect?tumblr_inline_oa11o0W6fp1rzl2ff_540

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 16:19-20

Surely there’s a way for me to enjoy sugar without feeling regret? Surely there’s a nutritional plan that allows me to intake sugar without crashing?tumblr_oof365aFJD1w5xdoqo5_r1_400

Three words… TONE IT UP.

Tone It Up isn’t a crash diet. In fact, it isn’t a diet at all. It’s about enjoying foods that truly nourish your mind, body, and spirit…

You will be making different choices, not because you have to or feel forced to, but because you want to. We’ll show you how to enjoy simple, delicious and healthy meals. There are hundreds of thousands of women doing it right now! This beautiful Tone It Up Community will keep you strong, inspired and on track to reach your goals!

And guess what? Tone IT Up offers healthy dessert recipes. My sugar craving can now be satisfied with bursts of natural sugars from their delicious smoothie concoctions, strawberry shortcake mini muffins, and matcha glazed donuts, just to name a few.

In fact, I’ve decided to join the Tone It Up community and try out their 2018 Bikini Series. I have my friend, Meg, to thank for introducing me to Tone It Up. She’s the best roommate/inspirational coach I could ever have. 3c90a2c4d757c676ab08104b57b4acfa

If you are ready to feel healthy, strong, and confident, join me this summer for Tone It Up’s 2018 Bikini Series. I’m going to need a lot of accountability, Meg (cough, cough). The Bikini Series includes:

*8-Week Fitness & Lifestyle Challenge

* Daily Workouts

* Daily Motivation + Tips

* Support + Love With The TIU Community

* Brand New FREE Fitness Videos

* Amazing Premium Workouts Happening DAILY in Studio Tone It Up

* Delicious Recipes & Nutrition Advice

* Guided Meditations & Self-Care

* Girlfriends Guides & Lifestyle Tips

* Grand Prize Trip To Paradise With Beaches Resorts

 

Sounds amazing, right? Are you ready to love the shape of you and allow your muscles to make their debut?2018-06-04 18:29:53.832

Are you ready to cherish your body instead of criticizing it? It’s time to feel grateful, not regretful.732AF7AB-B8B1-4D14-9FB2-C61AA43DB0DD

Who’s in?E9FDCC1E-B910-4FA9-BAEB-A58A66D08581

5 Tips for Styling Your Bookshelf

If you have your nose stuck in a book like Belle, it is more than likely you have more books than you can manage. As your book collection turns into a dust collection, maybe it’s time to purchase a bookshelf. However, the more you consider this idea, the more daunting decorating a bookshelf feels.

But what if I told you there was a way for your books to be styled for others to see in just five simple tips?

 

1) Roles Reversed

  • Show the pages of your books some love for a more antique feel to your bookshelf.

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2) Black and White

  • According to Joanna Gaines, adding white to a black background (vice-versa) creates a compelling contrast to your bookshelves, adding a nice pop to your bookshelf.

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3) Natural Beauty

  • Give life to your bookshelf by planting natural beauty next to your books.

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4) Personal Touch

  • Since the living room is a shared space, add a picture of you and your roommates for a personal touch.

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5) Stacks of Magazines

  • To create dimensions, add stacks of magazines for a variety of reading material.

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Red, White and Baby Blue Jeans

Looking for a casual look with a trendy twist of the ’90s? My roommate and I have the perfect red, white and baby blue jeans look for you. So put your hands up, let those butterflies fly away, and move those hips as you party in these USA-inspired outfits:

 

Meg’s Look

Nike Crop Top

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Denim Shorts

Old Navy

Flannel

Thrift Store


Ashley’s Look

Star Wars V-Neck

Target

Denim Jacket

Old Navy

Denim Shorts

Lauren Conrad

How the Five Senses Will Change the Way You Spend Time With God.

In the hustle and bustle of my morning routine or lack thereof, purposeful time spent with God shoves its way toward the bottom of my list of to-dos. As the night sky greets me, the stars remind me that I’ve spent my entire day without connecting with God.

Why is that? How do I “make time for the creator of time?” Even though quality time is my top “Love Language,” I find it ironic that quality time with God loses its importance.

There is literally nothing more important you could do today than to spend meaningful time alone with God. -Francis Chan

Think about your five senses: the ability to see, touch, hear, taste, and smell. Oh how easy it can be to take these gifts from God for granted.

What if you applied your senses to your morning routine as a way of carving out time with God?

See

  • Give me eyes to see others as you see them, to look at others with compassion and intentionality.
  • Create time out of my schedule to notice your creation.
  • Protect my eyes from lust, deceit, and corruption.

Touch

  • Give me clean hands.
  • I surrender my hands to you, lifting them high in praise.
  • Release my fists.
  • Provide hands to hold knowing that you hold me in the palm of your loving and guiding hands.

Hear

  • Give me ears to listen to others.
  • Help me to be still in the silence and hear your gentle voice.
  • Captivate my ears with the sounds of your creation.
  • Shut out the pessimism, negativity, and lies.

Taste

  • Give me the words to say when I feel helpless or inadequate.
  • Let no unwholesome thing come out of my mouth.
  • Let my lips praise you, boldly proclaiming the gospel.
  • Equip me with words of affirmation, truth, kindness, and love.
  • Help me to speak out against prejudice, racism, sexism, and social injustice.
  • I desire to taste and see that you are good.

Smell

Natalie’s Story: 5 Tips for Dating in the Big (App)le

When I moved to New York City almost two years ago, I dreamed of this huge new life that I would create for myself. I thought of my career goals, bettering who I am as a person, and, of course, I thought about finding love.

For almost three years previously I lived in a beautiful town in Appalachia with a population of 8,000 people, mostly consisting of seniors over the age of 70. Needless to say my chances of finding a man were slim to none. But that didn’t keep me from trying out Tinder when my friends who were also single and looking for love in this tiny town urged me to join with them.

That lasted about two hours before deleting my account. When most profile pictures included holding up a dead deer or fish, I knew I was looking in the wrong market. Hunting is not my forte.

So when I signed my lease to move to Manhattan, one of the first things I looked forward to was meeting some single men who were slightly more in my age bracket. I had visions of Jennifer Hudson in the first Sex and the City Movie confessing to Carrie Bradshaw that she moved to New York for love.

Unfortunately what I found is that it actually isn’t that easy.

Yes, moving to a big city means that the pool of available guys grows quite substantially, but it also turns out that trying to locate these people is difficult. I don’t know about y’all but my parents continually tell me stories about how much easier it used to be (and how much safer it used to be) to meet other singles at the bar. Well, with the luxury of social media for our generation we get to be the guinea pigs for what is either the biggest breakthrough or the biggest mistake ever made for dating: DATING. APPS.

Once I figured out that meeting random men in bars wasn’t the way I wanted to start a relationship, I tried my hand at the apps. In New York there’s an app for just about every person: Hinge, Coffee Meets Bagel, Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble… and the list goes on.

Here are five effective tips I learned when trying these dating apps out:

1. Write something down.

Make sure your profile reflects who you are. Don’t just throw up some cute pics of you with a puppy or you holding a Starbucks cup and expect your life to be changed. Flesh out your profile and make sure to write something that represents YOU!

In case it isn’t clear, you attract the type of energy you put out. If you want to attract a man who is as kind, smart, funny, and AWESOME as you are (Yes, you! You who are reading this right now), then make sure you’re showing that.

2. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Look folks, I have accepted the fact that I’m not mainstream. And you know what? IT’S SO GREAT. Your quirks, passions, and flaws are what make you attractive. These qualities separate you from the pack. Easier said than done, but embrace who you are.

Coupled with that, allow yourself to be exactly YOU from the beginning. I felt myself trying to hide parts of my personality on first dates hoping that by the time I showed that aspect of me, the guy would already like me enough that he wouldn’t care. But why would I try and hide something that I love about myself? The fact that I can talk about Broadway shows, dog breeds, and scuba diving for hours is something that I LOVE about myself. And the guy you want to be with will love it too.

3. Leave the text behind ASAP.

I don’t know about y’all, but I am not a cute texter. My personality shines through in-person, but when it comes to flirting via iMessage or dating apps this girl does not know what it takes. While it’s important to establish a little conversation via the app before meeting up, get together in-person as soon as you can (Meaning don’t wait until you’re comfortable). Blind dates, which is what I consider dating apps to be, is supposed to make you go outside your comfort zone a little bit. Just show up, have fun, and be yourself.

4. Have a backup plan when you’re on the date.

Unfortunately, we live in an era where saying, “No!” isn’t always heard by members of the opposite sex. While I’m glad that there’s attention being drawn to this with movements like “Me Too,” the problem hasn’t been completely resolved.

Honesty hour: my roommates and I always set up an emergency exit plan. Whether it’s a text or a phone call, we will reach out about 1-1.5 hours into the date. I have never had to answer the text or call, fortunately, because I haven’t had to. But ladies, if the time comes where you feel unsafe USE. THAT. BACKUP.

You’re not any less brave for getting out of that situation using a fake excuse.

On the opposite end of this, don’t use the emergency text or call if you just aren’t feeling it. Give the guy a chance and be grown-up enough to stick it out. Let him know you aren’t feeling it if you aren’t. And for goodness sakes, don’t ghost the poor dude. Dating is hard enough without knowing why someone isn’t texting you back. Let’s all just agree to be classy enough to own up to our feelings.

5. Say “Bye, Felicia” if you aren’t getting anywhere with apps.

Last but not least, if dating apps don’t work for you, GET OFF THE APPS! It’s ok to not follow the crowd on this one. I’m pretty sure if you had told some of the great women in history that this is how we’d be meeting men one day, they would’ve laughed incredibly hard.

Meeting in person is so much more organic – you know the so-called “spark” is there because that’s what drew you to the other person in the first place. Some of the best guys I’ve dated I’ve met through mutual friends or at random parties. Simply put, if the technology of the age isn’t working for you, don’t let it work you over.

Put the phone down, look up, and see what’s around you.

Get involved in some organizations or volunteering. Not only will you be having fun or giving back to the community, you never know who else will be there. Boom! Similar interests already.


 

At the end of the day know that whether you’re in a big city or a small one, whether you use dating apps or not, you are so incredibly worthy of love. You are a miracle of miracles in the fact that you were created and put on this earth, and you bring gifts and nuanced thoughts that no one else has ever thought before you. You are one-of-a-kind. If you are ready, you will find and choose your person. And if you aren’t, you have the great opportunity to continue down your path and enjoy your life! It’s all good.

You are enough.

You are so enough.

It is unbelievable how enough you are.

-Natalie

 

Pretty in Pale

This is the story of a girl who was told all her life that pale wasn’t pretty.

For years she basked in the Florida sun only to end up with burnt skin and freckles that could be mistaken for constellations. “My sunburn will turn into a tan,” she told herself. She looked over at her friends and noticed it only took them less than an hour to turn fifty shades darker.

“I’m like so pale,” her tan friends complained. Rolling her eyes, she interjected their conversation by comparing her arms with theirs to make them feel less pale about themselves.

In college, this girl had the idea of getting a spray tan. It could be a quick fix to her pale problem, just as long as she didn’t end up like Ross in the Friends episode: “The One Where Ross Gets Tan.”

Even though her tan came out less unfortunate as Ross’s tan, she noticed the different colored creases from her knuckles as she clutched the steering wheel on her drive back to campus. “You’re fine,” she reassured herself, “Just don’t make fists with your hands for a week. It’s not like you’re headed to the boxing ring anytime soon.”

This is the story of a girl who was told all her life that pale wasn’t pretty, and that girl was me.

So why did I allow my thoughts to conform to the world’s standards of beauty for so many sunburned skin years? This is such a backward way of viewing my worth. My worth comes from Jesus.

Notice the difference in the way today’s society has crowned the ranking of skin color:

  • “Wow, you have such pale skin!”
  • “Wow, you have such tan skin!”

There’s nothing wrong with a little Vitamin D people, or sun-kissed skin. But what’s your motive for laying out in the sun, or rather, avoiding it? If you desire to have darker or lighter skin in order to feel worthy, you’re chasing after a validation that’s fleeting, misleading and temporary.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:30

So how do we love the skin we’re in?

It’s when we begin to understand that our beauty does not come from the world’s standards, but by God’s standards that we realize the shade of our skin doesn’t define us; only God does.

God sees us as far more precious than jewels (Proverbs 31: 10). We are his masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10), his creation. We are beautiful because we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). And for me, God made me pretty in pale.

4 Ingredients to Spice Up Your Galentine’s Day

Cashew fixed his beady black eyes on me as I held his golden brown plush fabric. At 10 years old, I received my first Valentine’s gift from a boy: a Ty Beanie Baby.

Sixteen years later, I can still feel the warmth of my cheeks blushing when the boy in my 5th-grade class handed me that adorable bear. He nervously shoved his hands in Spongebob Squarepants pajama pockets (it was Pajama Day at school) and asked, “Will you be my Valentine?”

Fast-forward to Valentine’s Day my senior year of high school, SGA held a fundraiser in which students could purchase carnations to raise money for prom and have them delivered to their recipients throughout the day. When the final bell rang, I accumulated over a dozen carnations on my desk, dumbfounded as to whom the flowers were from. Did I have a secret admirer? Were the carnations from my crush on the tennis team?

So remember how I said the fundraiser was held by my school’s SGA? Well, it just so happened my dad was the teacher sponsor for SGA. Yes, you guessed it; my dad purchased every single carnation I held in my hand.

When I think of Valentine’s Day, I cherish those two memories the most. However, for a majority of my years, February 14th has been a day in which I have been reminded of my singleness, aka “Singles Awareness Day.”

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Side note: Why does Valentine’s Day have to be a negative and ostracized day for those of us who are single? We don’t need a significant other to feel complete. Furthermore, we
shouldn’t devalue our worth if we don’t have someone to call our Valentine; our value and worth come from Jesus, the one who loves us unconditionally. We are made complete in Christ: “And you have been made complete in Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority,” (see Colossians 2:10).

Regardless of our relationship status, God commands us to love others every single day, not just once a year.

However, I’ll admit that sometimes I need a reminder. I need a reminder to show compassion, express gratitude, extend a high-five, write a thank-you card, etc. For couples, that reminder falls on the 14th of February. But what about those of us who are single and need a reminder to love our friends?

Cue Galentine’s Day.

“Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas. February 14th, Valentine’s Day, is about romance, but February 13th, Galentine’s Day, is about celebrating lady friends. It’s wonderful and it should be a national holiday” –Leslie Knope, Parks
and Rec.

FINALLY, a day to celebrate female friendship.

So to all of my lady friends looking for a fun night with your squad, check out these four ingredients to spice up your Galentine’s Day Party:

Roses are red. Violets are blue.

Breakfast for dinner to celebrate you.

Mimosas are a must, and pajamas are too.

Ladies celebrating ladies,

just like Leslie Knope would do.

1) Breakfast for Dinner

● Waffles
● Powdered Sugar
● Blueberries, Raspberries, Bananas
● Mini Chocolate Chips
● Syrup
● Cinnamon Rolls
● Krispy Kreme Donuts
● Bacon or Sausage
● Mimosas

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2) Ambiance

  •  XO balloons
  • Confetti Banner
  • Streamers
  • Twinkle Lights
  • 90s-00s Playlist
  • Candles
  • FlowersProcessed with VSCO with c1 preset

3) Games

● JT or JB?

○ Play either Justin Timberlake or Justin Bieber songs and as soon as
you hit pause, whoever holds their correct JT or JB face up first,
must complete the rest of the lyrics of the song to earn a point.

● Which Ryan?

○ From movie quotes, random facts to naming the movie, whoever
holds their Ryan Gosling or Ryan Reynolds face up first and
answers the question correctly earns a point.

 

 

4) Words of Affirmation

 

 

● Take this opportunity to give thanks to God for the women He has placed in your
life and celebrate the friendships you have with one another. Extend words of
affirmation to those He has surrounded you within your season of life. Appreciate
and cherish moments like these. #blessed

giphy (14).gif

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Keira Davis Photography

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned.

As soon as the teacher turned toward the dry erase board, a crinkled scrap piece of paper made its way to my desk. I glanced around the classroom to see where the toss came from. Hunched over, half covering her mouth, Corie eagerly whispered, “It’s from Mitchell.”

I slowly unraveled the note and carefully read the tiny print: “Do you have a date to prom yet?”

After circling “No,” I nervously chucked my response toward his direction, praying the teacher wouldn’t see the paper ball conspicuously flying through the air. Moments later, the piece of paper found its way once more to the top of my desk: “Wanna go to prom together?”

I can’t tell you what I learned in class that day besides realizing my missed calling of meticulous paper throwing skills.  But one thing I did learn, Mitchell wanted to go to prom with me and I said, “Yes.”Processed with VSCO with m3 preset

Prom was less than two weeks away. I was beginning to feel discouraged I hadn’t been asked to my senior prom. Truthfully, I initially hoped either my guy friend from youth group or my crush on the tennis team would ask me. But when neither guy stepped up to the plate, I made plans to go solo with my girlfriends.

It wasn’t exactly the “promposal” experience I had hoped for. MTV’s Laguna Beach made every high school girl wish for that perfect “promposal” story to show-off to all their friends.giphy (3).gif

Looking back, I shouldn’t have been so caught up on the “who” asked me or the “how” I got asked. So what if the guy I hoped to go to prom with didn’t ask me? So what if the way I got asked to prom was a piece of paper tossed on my desk by a guy I hadn’t planned on going with?

Ultimately, I felt so incredibly honored Mitchell asked me to prom. And even though I picked out my dress a month earlier, his suit and tie matched perfectly with my lavender-blue mermaid gown and corsage snap bracelet. Mitchell was an awesome date and I wouldn’t have traded the dance floor with anyone else, specifically to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing.”Processed with VSCO with m3 preset

Have you ever planned for something to go the way you’ve hoped for only to have your dreams altered by reality?

For example, my first kiss was a disaster; I didn’t have that Mia Thermopolis Princess Diaries foot-popping experience. As a little girl, I looked up to Disney Princesses and desired for that Snow White/Sleeping Beauty waking up from slumber kind of kiss. To be candid, I was tipsy, maybe drunk, for my first kiss; however, I was cognizant enough to know the lip-locking abruptness was taking place. For more details about that experience, head on over to “When Forgiveness Seems Impossible.

In addition, my first date wasn’t ideal. I’ll just leave it at that.giphy

The list goes on: I didn’t make my college dance auditions initially (I’ll share that incredible God story in another post). Several job interviews didn’t lead to the career path I originally hoped for.

Sometimes it’s hard to see God at work amidst my disappointment, shame, rejection and unmet expectations. But what if I changed my perspective and recognized the reality of my circumstances as God’s original and perfect plan for me, including something as simple as prom?

In an older post, I wrote:

I don’t want to waste my energy manipulating situations to work out in my favor. I don’t want to be expectant of something that could very well never happen at all. I desire to draw near and trust in God’s timing. I don’t want to fear rejection. I’m no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God. If it’s meant to happen, it will happen. If not, God is still good.

Lastly, I didn’t plan on being single for 26 years.giphy (1)

I pictured myself married with kids by now, or at least in a serious relationship. But man oh man am I thankful for the path God intended for me. He has blessed me in so many ways, including singleness. And I can say that confidently because I have faith that God knows what’s best for me, even if it means going through various trials. God disciplines those he loves.giphy (2)

It was His plan for me all along for me to remain Single Since ’91. Heck, this blog wouldn’t even exist. But God knows the desires of my heart; I just have to trust that when singleness gets hard or when “my” plans are altered, He is faithful and His plans are still to prosper.

There is strength within the sorrow
There is beauty in our tears
And You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting
You’re sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You’re teaching us to trust
Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us
You are wisdom unimagined
Who could understand Your ways
Reigning high above the Heavens
Reaching down in endless grace
You’re the lifter of the lowly
Compassionate and kind
You surround and You uphold me
And Your promises are my delight
Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us
Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good
You turn it for our good and for Your glory
Even in the valley, You are faithful
You’re working for our good
You’re working for our good and for Your glory
Anna Clair Beasley Photography

Kelsey’s Story: The Gift Unasked for

A loud message from pop culture shouts to the world and says, “Christmas is only ‘Merry’ if you have someone special to meet under the mistletoe, sipping hot cocoa by the fire gazing into each other’s eyes.” The holiday centered around Christ, the only man who can bring us perfect love and fulfillment, has been watered down by the romanticism of an imperfect person.

Oh, how irritated I selfishly react when I see people’s engagement posts: “Ahh I said yes! Can’t wait to marry my best friend!” (shows off ring next to a Christmas tree.) I click the “like” button, and think, “Okay God, where is my guy? Every girl in those Hallmark movies gets a mushy love story. What about me?” And then there are those romantic songs that fill our holiday parties and car radios: “Baby, all I want for Christmas is you… The lights are turned way down low, let it snow, let it snow… but if you really hold me tight, all the way home I’ll be warm.”

I’ve heard it said before: Singleness is a gift.

So I think, “Okay, okay, then where are the Christmas movies and songs about the lovely gift of singleness?”

I have always desired a fun festive romance, but it’s been 20 years of singleness. Every year, I think, “Well, maybe next year.” And yet, here I am with a gift I didn’t ask for, the gift of singleness.

But, is it a gift? Yes, it is a God-given gift.

I am not about to write this to try to convince you that singleness is the best thing ever; however, I want to shed a fresh perspective to my struggle in seeing singleness as a gift and recognize that it’s okay to admit that it is a struggle.

But in the struggle, it is still a gift. God always gives gifts in every struggle.

I am a junior in college, and a lot of my friends are in sweet relationships, others walking into new ones, and others dealing with their break-ups. I am always a listening ear, and I always say I live vicariously through my friends. I’m 20 years old and never been in an official dating relationship. Even though I have never had an official boyfriend, I’ve been on dates and had a few “almost” boyfriends. But why are they “almost” boyfriends? It’s because God had something else in store for me.

Anytime there is interest or an opportunity for me to date someone, I am learning to bring it to the Lord.

The sixteen-year-old version of me would have flirted my way into a guy’s heart, manipulating his emotions. Now, I release my desires to God and let Him do the work in the guy’s heart. I used to think that dating was my department to deal with because maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal to God. But God actually cares about every aspect of our lives, even our love lives, especially when it comes to our tender hearts. And so, I pray this prayer:

“Lord, Lead him in how YOU want him to lead me.”

Submitting my feelings, or even the potential guy’s feelings release it from my control. I prayed that prayer surrendering my giddy feelings for this particular guy. And I let God take over when that the guy told everyone else but me, that he was interested in me. So I prayed, asking Jesus to lead him however He wants him to lead me.

After I surrendered my feelings for this guy, I heard from confirmed sources, that his feelings had faded, as if God swerved him so I didn’t have to wonder if he was in God’s plans for me or not.  I never got that, “Hey, I had fun with you! Last night was great!” text or I never get a text back, period.

And it’s not that I haven’t had my own fair share of crushes whom haven’t given me attention or asked me out. Each time I prayed that prayer and things didn’t work out with a guy, I knew for certain it was God’s plan. This was comforting, but sometimes very frustrating. There are so many lies that Satan tries to fill my heart, that maybe there’s something wrong with me. It’s not that I need to look cuter at church to meet boys, wear more mascara, or appear more available.

God has a better plan for me than I have for myself. I need to trust that if marriage is in God’s plans for me, He will work things out according to His perfect timing.

Singleness is a gift because every year during Christmas time I get to celebrate the birth of my Savior, and choose to ignore the noise of the world. I get to worship undistracted. I get to read my Bible sipping hot cocoa by the fire, reflecting that I am not alone, and I never have been.

All 20 years, I have been seen and known by my maker.

I never have to question if God likes me or not, or if His feelings have faded. Jesus never changes. He is constant. I get to grow more madly in love with someone who will always like me more than I like Him, one who will always love me, every single Christmas.

  • I know God will stick around because He never leaves or disappoints.
  • I get to know the King of Kings, and He actually wants a mess of a person like me.
  • I can’t earn His love; He freely gives it to me as a gift.
  • I get to be loved by Jesus, the kind of love I can’t do anything to obtain.
  • I am always wanted, seen and cared for, not because my curled hair caught His eye, or my outfit was on point.
  • He is faithful and cares for me.

And while Jesus sees me at my lowest, in the midst of my tears, my loneliness, and my bitterness, He says, “I choose you.”

  • I never have to wait for a text from Jesus, and texts from Him will never run out.
  • He wrote an entire book for me to read.
  • He offers me forgiveness and grace in abundance, even when I desire flowers or a text from a cute boy over the relationship I have with a God who sent his Son to give me His love.

As I boldly call singleness a gift, I know the truest gift is the grace given to me on a cross. The love that will satisfy my single heart is not the love of a broken man; the only love that can make us feel whole is the love of a Holy man.

I receive the gift of Jesus.

And even though singleness for me is a gift unasked for, it’s still a gift, whether for this season (or lifetime). It’s a time of more freedom to:

  • dance to old Taylor Swift songs with friends whenever.
  • buy that cute purse without asking a husband if it’s too expensive for our budget.
  • spend my mornings reading texts from the Bible, rather than a “Good morning!” text from a boy.
  • create my dreams, unattached to anyone else’s dreams.
  • refuse to settle and trust in God’s plans.

God is too good to me. I know I am single because He intentionally wants to be with me.

So this Christmas season, no matter if you are in a fresh new relationship with a Godly guy, if your new diamond is glistening in the light, or if you are single and trying to see it as a gift, celebrate Jesus. Celebrate the one who radically loves and wants us despite our brokenness, cares for us in the midst of disappointment, and holds our best future in His gracious hands.

 

Single, wanted, and never alone,

Kelsey Nicole Linnartz

Anna Clair Beasley Photography

Anna Clair Beasley Photography

Permission to Ask the Guy Out.

“Just ask him out for coffee,” I tell myself. Is it possible to guard your heart and risk it at the same time? To protect it and expose it at the same time?

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6-7.

Maybe I’m confusing guarding my heart against being guarded?

I perceive being guarded is much like a soldier who holds down the fort in the bunkers, safe and secure. And then I see guarding my heart is like the soldier who stands out in the enemy lines, exposed, yet covered with the full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

As single Christian females, we have been convinced that we should:

  • Wait on a guy.
  • Allow the guy to pursue us.
  • Let him muster up the courage to ask us out on a date.
  • Go about our lives, pursue the Lord, and a guy will fall into our laps.

We hold out for those guys.

I convince myself that one day a guy is going to come to his senses and ask me out. He’ll strike up a conversation and ask me how I’ve been. And as we talk, I become more aware of my heart’s exposure to the transparent, vulnerable me.giphy

I have this theory: If a guy has been friends with me for a while and he’s dated/asked other girls out within the time he’s known me, then he probably only sees me as a friend. If he liked me, surely he would’ve asked me out by now. Again, this is just a theory. It doesn’t apply to every guy and could just be an assumption.

Ultimately, I’ve learned to be okay if he only sees me as a friend.

I have gained so much wisdom from having Godly guy friends. I can be my 100% messed-up goofy self around them. It’s very freeing. I guess it would just be nice to know if the guys I hold out for are worth waiting around to see if they’re going to ask me out or not. Am I waiting for something that could very well never happen, leaving me feeling passively rejected?

But why do I have to feel like I have to wait for the guy to ask me out? Does it make me seem aggressive if I casually ask a guy out for coffee? What’s the harm in a pumpkin spice latte? I’ve told a few guys in the past how I felt about them, and I got rejected. 10098182

But you know what? I’m still standing. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yes, it was painful, but I’d rather face rejection than face uncertainty. I’d rather stand guard, exposed and out in the open with God’s protection than being guarded in the bunkers, without ever facing rejection.

“Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” -A Cinderella Story

A date is simply getting to know someone one-on-one. A guy should be flattered that a girl wants to get to know him more. A first date is casual. It’s not like we’re deciding whether or not we want to spend the rest of our lives together forever.tumblr_mmjzu5Xomw1rd09f7o1_500

Disney portrays the damsel in distress waiting for Aladdin to show her the world. But what about Wonder Woman who gets shit done? Women are more than capable of knowing what we desire and having the courage to pursue those desires. I guess for so long I’ve been brainwashed to think I have to wait around for Prince Charming to sword fight sing his way into my little wooden cottage.

But you know what? I think God wants his daughters to take steps of faith and leave the results up to him. We can’t expect God to provide if we are sitting on our butts and not purposefully meeting new people. We must actively take steps of faith while waiting, trusting, and believing in His perfect provision.

Above all, we must remember his love is better than life (Psalm 63:3). Our desire to date and to pursue relationships should never surpass our ultimate desire for our relationship with God. In the end, we don’t “need” a guy to fill this emptiness and loneliness we may be experiencing in our season of singleness; we need Jesus. God is my only reason I’m still standing.

So what are you waiting for? Go for it. Just ask him out.

When You Feel Unloveable

Back home in ATL, I am surrounded by 30+ post-grad singles within my church community alone. But out here in Fort Collins, CO, I’m more aware of my relationship status than I’ve ever been in my 26 years of singleness.

How do I make the most of being surrounded by a Christian culture where there are countless couples and families? How do I integrate without idolizing?

This summer I have the incredible opportunity to invest in Cru staff students as a part of Cru’s Jr/Sr. high school program for eight weeks. This program consists of six staff (including myself), 17+ college leaders, and over 600 registered students.

Last week, one of our college leaders spoke on the “Freedom to Experience Joy.” He said, “We look to certain things to give us joy, but end up feeling disappointed.” And even though his message was meant for middle and high school students, his words impacted the way I perceive idols:

An idol becomes an idol because of where it is, not what it is.

My prayer is to have someone to do ministry with. And that prayer has never been stronger than summer ’17. I desire:

  • A best friend to challenge me in my faith
  • A partner to grow together in the gospel
  • A protector to point out my sins
  • A companion to love me unconditionally

And that desire is valid. But when my desire for an earthly relationship becomes greater than my heavenly relationship with God, it becomes an idol.

Because a relationship with God is the only one that truly satisfies.

Dear God,

I’m frustrated with feeling unloveable. I’m frustrated with how easily entangled my emotions are when I’m initially attracted to someone and constantly experiencing rejection when they don’t reciprocate the same feelings or they are already in a relationship with someone else. 

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.” -Psalm 25:16-18

Give me eyes to see what you have already so graciously blessed me with. I desire to have a thankful heart, a contentment and rest in you alone. Help me to make the most of where you have me right now. Comfort me in my loneliness. Protect me from jealousy and comparison. Break me free from feeling like I’m missing out by not being in a relationship or having a spouse to do ministry with.

Help me to not miss this opportunity to invest in others this summer.

“Give ear to my prayer, O God,
and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
Attend to me, and answer me;
I am restless in my complaint and I moan… 

...But I call to God,
and the Lord will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he hears my voice.”

-Psalm 55: 1-2, 16-17

Amen.

Paige’s Story: It’s okay to not be okay.

I 100% believed I’d be getting married immediately out of college, and I couldn’t be more grateful that didn’t happen. I didn’t know “single twenty-somethings” was a people group before I arrived in the midst of them, and the last two years of my life have been my favorites. God has allowed me to dodge so many bullets and given me countless memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

But can I just say that I still have moments where I’m ready-to-scream angry that God still hasn’t put me in a relationship? I look at the last few years with incredible joy and gratitude and then turn around, clench my fists, and grumble at God, “Why do you refuse to answer my prayers? There’s just one thing that I’ve consistently asked you for and it’s the one thing you refuse to give me.”

Despite all the good, I end up angry that I’m still single.

When our lovely host Ashley asked me to write for Single Since ’91, I wasn’t sure where to start. My first thought was to share my semi-sarcastic dating mottos with you:

  • If a boy wants to talk to you, he’ll find a way to talk to you. 
    You won’t have to chase the right guy down or wonder if he’s interested. Even if he doesn’t totally know why he’s doing it, he’ll come up with a reason to get your attention. Exhibit A: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzrdnuSeFeo
  • There are few people I don’t respect enough to allow them to buy me food. 
    Sometimes we get way too intense about needing to know what we really think of a person before we even actually get to know them. Just chill out and let someone take you on a date.

But those notes don’t actually provide a good picture of what singleness has been like for me. In the midst of every well-meaning cliche and awkward silence after people ask me if I’m dating anyone, I’ve discovered two life lessons that have actually been helpful to me in this stage of life:

1) The most meaningful and freeing conversations I’ve had about dating was when the person across from me gave me permission to not be okay.

Your desire to want to be in a relationship is justified.

The fact that you wish someone cared specifically about you, texted you before they texted anyone else about Friday night plans, noticed and smiled when you walked into a room, and had your back in all the life situations that you don’t want to have to do alone is so completely fair and warranted.

It sucks to watch the people around you get excited about building relationships while you feel like you have no prospects. It stinks that there’s nothing you can do to be more desirable to the person you’re interested in. There’s moments in which dating can seem like a horrible patience game that has no end in sight.

Can I encourage you just to give yourself some grace in where you’re at with singleness right now? It’s okay that you have moments where you hate this. It’s not all hopeful possibilities all the time. Sometimes it’s just really lonely.

2) God is often more understanding than we give him credit for.

I once heard, “Pain becomes suffering when we don’t allow ourselves to experience it.”

You’re allowed to not be okay with being single right now. Give yourself time to feel that, face it, and then remind yourself of truth about your Creator’s character and keep moving. Even after you move past it, you’ll probably end up back in this place in a month, but that’s okay. Give yourself grace again, and remind yourself of truth again.

I recently heard a graduation speaker say, “If you’re not hearing the word ‘beloved’ spoken over your hardest struggles, you’re not hearing the voice of Jesus.”

Sometimes we just need to be allowed to be disappointed, and we need to be reminded that God does not look at our disappointment in disgust. He loves us deeply. You are his beloved, and you’re allowed to sit next to your Creator even while you’re struggling with his plan.

God’s reaction to your pain is not disappointment in your lack of excitement about what he’s chosen for you; it’s love and compassion.

Consider what you believe God thinks of you when you’re completely discouraged with being single. When I did, I realized I imagine God rolling his eyes, propping his head on his hand, and sighing, “Kid, we did this two weeks ago. Are we really here again? Can’t you just get it together and trust me? We both know I’ve proven my love to you. Why can’t you chill out?”

But it’s funny, because I don’t believe that’s how God would react to any of my friends’ frustrations. With them, I imagine he’s understanding and compassionate. That he wraps a giant hand around them and his dialogue is more along the lines of, “Yeah, this is tough. I’m proud of you, I love you, I have plans for you, and we’re going to get through this together.

Geesh. The difference.

If there’s one thing that characterizes my journey as single twenty-something, it’s that this whole thing has been a rollercoaster, and I’ve had to learn to stop feeling like I’m failing in the times that my attitude is not at all defined by trust or contentment.

So, if you’re single, you’ve likely gone through phases where the freedom is the best thing ever and you’re loving every second of it, and you’ve probably also gone through phases where you feel overwhelmingly insecure and fearful of a future alone.

It’s okay to feel both of those things. Both are fair, and your Creator calls you his beloved even when you struggle to feel grateful for his plan.

I want to challenge you to not turn your pain into suffering, but to honestly acknowledge where you’re at and give yourself grace. I want to challenge you to believe that God is on your team. That his consistent attitude toward you is one of love, compassion, and patience. You’re not alone. And singleness is sometimes really rough. But we’re gonna be okay. And God is good.

My First Week on Bumble

From Bow Bridge to Bethesda Terrace, scenes of Amy Adams singing “That’s How You Know” from Disney’s Enchanted popped into my head. Smiling, I mentally noted to watch that movie as soon as I arrived back in Atlanta.

Throughout my Sunday stroll in Central Park, I noticed countless couples holding hands, completely captivated by each other’s company. It was as if they had no set agenda, no destination, simply walking just to walk.

My smile slightly faded. I tucked back the strands of my hair. Inhale. Exhale.

Jesus, you know the desires of my heart. I pray for someone not only to hold my hand, but to take my hand.

Remember a few months back when I dabbled with the idea of online dating in a previous post? I asked myself, “Am I willing to let go of my fear, pride, control, and vulnerability and allow God to shine through me and be glorified in whatever way I choose to date?”

Well about a week ago, I decided to give the Bumble app a second chance and started swiping right and left.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

  • Wait, didn’t this guy go to my high school?
  • Awwww this guy has a dog… oh wait, so does every other guy on this app.
  • Is that Stash from MIDDLE SCHOOL?
  • Bama Grad? Swipe right.
  • Auburn Grad? Swipe Le.. ehh he seems legit, I’ll swipe right.
  • Oh snap, I know this guy from church.
  • Bedroom selfie, Car selfie, bathroom mirror and gym mirror selfie… MAKE IT STOP!
  • Are you seriously trying to win me over with your cat?
  • Is that your ex in your photos? Why?
  • I get it, you like alcohol. Every picture you have is of you holding some sort of drink.
  • Is this a professional headshot photo?
  • OH HAY, this guy says he loves Jesus. Swipe right.

“Boom! You’ve got a connection,” the app notified me. Oh crap, this is the dating app where I have to start the conversation first. Hmm. What should I say? Well, this grizzly bear waving gif seems kinda cute. Okay, boom. there it is. Done. Boy, do I feel exposed.

Hours go by and not one guy I’ve made a “connection with” responds to my grizzly bear gif. Way to go, Ash. I should have said something cheesy like, “Are you a magician? Because when I see you, everyone else disappears.” No, that’s dumb. Stick to the grizzly bear.

And then I started to question why I chose to get back on Bumble:

  • Was it because I saw all those couples holding hands in Central Park and wanted the same comfort?
  • Was it because I lacked patience in God’s timing?
  • Was it because I desired affirmation from a guy’s swipe right and not God’s unfailing love?
  • Was it because I wasn’t “content in my singleness?”

Jesus, guide and direct my steps as I sift through these profiles on Bumble. Give me eyes to see these men NOT as objects, but as people whom have created. My value and worth comes from you and you alone. God, your ways are higher, your thoughts are deeper. Help me to take a step of faith, trusting in your plans, knowing that nothing can thwart your will and purpose for me. It’s in you and you alone whom I find the greatest fulfillment and joy.

Honestly, I chose to get back on Bumble because, for someone like me who has never gone on a date, I wanted to challenge myself in an area I lacked experience in. God knows the desires of my heart, so why not give online dating a second chance and leave the results up to Him?

However, something I need to be aware of as I swipe left and right is that I must guard my heart and remind myself that marriage is not the end goal. God has not promised a husband for me. He’s promised me something better: Jesus. I must remember that my hope is found in Jesus and that my ultimate purpose in life is to glorify God and to make Him known; not to ultimately get married.

Ding.

I received my first notification from a Bumble connection. A guy actually responded to my grizzly bear gif. 

The Body Image Conversation

“Suck in your stomach and tuck in your bottom,” Ping, my ballet professor, pointed out to me in front of my peers. Previous feelings of grace and beauty suddenly disappeared like a floppy-eared bunny inside a cage of black silk. I pleaded with Ping that my butt was already tucked in.giphy.gif

So often, I stare at my features and waste precious minutes criticizing every curve, every flaw. I trace my focus away from my acne-prone pale skin and back to my eyes. I gaze at the darker shades of blue outlining my turquoise irises.tumblr_nhdyc3zueW1rc8qr9o8_250.gif

Remember, beloved, we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27). We are God’s creation, so intricately, delicately and purposefully woven in our mother’s womb.

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 39:13-14

I fear we, as women of all shapes and sizes, have allowed society to dictate our worth and skew our definition beauty. I sometimes question whether or not I would be less likely to compare my curvy figure with the stick figures I see in Hollywood if society never had an ideal image.

And whether it’s the complexion of our face, the shade of our skin, or the shape of our body, I also fear guys have these false expectations of the perfect girl:

  • The grace and athleticism of prima ballerina, Misty Copeland
  • The fierceness and sexiness of Victoria Secret model, Gigi Hadid
  • The confidence and slenderness of Taylor Swift

Sorry boys, but we are never, ever, ever getting back together, like ever, if you expect us to meet these unrealistic, fantasized features.
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And don’t think for one second the reason why you are single is that you don’t meet these societal standards. I have been down that pity party. It’s not pretty.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:30

You see, throughout my crush count, a number of guys have pursued my friends instead of me. Ouch. But then God shifted my focus from myself to Himself. Who am I to try and stand in the way of a relationship God could very well be orchestrating for His glory?

Recently, I have felt entangled by everyone else getting asked out on dates except me, oblivious to God’s protection and plans for me. I rationalized that my looks were the main reason why I got overlooked.
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But wait, why am I allowing guys to dictate my beauty and worth? I forget that God already pursues me and has pursued me before I was ever born. Beauty cuts so much deeper than the surface level. God sees us as beautiful, shouldn’t that be enough?

She don’t see her perfect, she don’t understand she’s worth it
Or that beauty goes deeper than the surface
Oh, oh
So to all the girls that’s hurting
Let me be your mirror, help you see a little bit clearer
The light that shines within

There’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark
You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are
And you don’t have to change a thing, the world could change its heart
No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful