Getting Married: 19 Weeks – Single Advice

I feel very blessed with the path of singleness and relationships that God brought me through (even my mistakes) before Matt and I finally got together. From my boyfriend at 2 years old, to the puppy love boyfriend of junior high, through those awkward years in junior high too that extended into my high school years, to my liberation of college when I embraced my singleness, to those years when I didn’t…it’s been everything I could have wanted it to be and even those things I didn’t enjoy at the time, I know that it was for my benefit.

But even now, I know that I can’t comprehend the blessings of that time in my life fully. However, I’m still close enough to remember the painful evenings, or the times when my friends were getting married and I was going to the wedding by myself, again. I’m close enough to remember the pangs, even though they are greatly diminished, of longing to be with someone who I was certain had no idea I existed or was interested. Of dreaming of some kind of idyllic future that played more to my selfish wants. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

I am in a Sunday School class with some very sweet young women. I enjoy the class so much and cherish our time of fellowship, study, encouragement and admonishment. We were talking about relationships this week, as we often do, and it reminded me of just how much God has taught me throughout the last 10 years, especially about being single in this world and dating, etc. I am not without faults. I very often balked at what God was showing me, determined that I knew a better way. And very often, God would show me that He did indeed know better and I’d realize it was better to submit than to stubbornly push on my own way. Sometimes it was painful, sometimes it just made me feel ashamed, sometimes I was so relieved to be out of whatever mess I got myself into.  That’s been true in other areas of my life, but I think I’m learning to submit more readily than before.

I thought I would give some advice. Rather, some strategies I found that worked when I was feeling sorry for myself, missing someone I hadn’t met yet, and nursing a bruised heart. The strategies are for those who are single and have never married. I can’t speak to those who have been divorced or widowed as I’ve never been either of those. There might be some parallels in here for those situations, but you will have to glean them out yourself. I also do not claim to be an expert. These are just some tools I found to help.


I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I was amazing at falling to my knees whenever temptation or loneliness tried to overpower me. Nope. I will freely admit that my prayer life is not what it should be. BUT, I have witnessed in my own life that when I am eager to turn to God to talk things through, I am ten times better off than when I turn to Him as a last resort. Also, God is not afraid of emotions. It’s ok to sit and mean to pray to God and just cry instead. Been there, done that. God created us as emotional beings and I’m sure I’ve been more afraid of my emotions than God ever could.


I have been journaling since I was in high school. I never thought much about it at that time. Most of it is the typical sappy, angsty stuff of teens, but I am one who likes to flesh out my thoughts on a page. I avoid journals with lines because sometimes the best therapy is to write something down and then have the pleasure of scratching it out again. Now, I write down my sermon notes, reflections to things I’m reading or just thoughts throughout the day, important events in my life, etc. There are lots of little gems in those books throughout the years, and it’s good to know that I have that book handy when I just need to write something down, whatever it is.

I also had a friend recommend journaling to her future husband. This has been such a fun thing to do. I’ve taken the journal with me to other countries, I’ve written dreams, hopes, disappointments, life changes, prayers for him, etc. I can’t wait to share it with him.

Pray FOR him (or her)

I know I didn’t come up with this myself, but I can’t for the life of me remember who I got it from – no doubt one of the many books I’ve read on relationships. Whenever I felt like I was totally completely ready to meet The One, but God hadn’t brought him to me yet, I would get this image in mind. Imagine the two hands of God. You are in one hand, while The One is in the other. You are in one place and they are in another. You are both having your own life experiences, your own triumphs and challenges. You might be on a mountaintop, but they might be in a valley and desperately in need of prayer. I’ve noticed that when I am becoming too self-minded, it’s best to start praying for someone else and God has an amazing ability to turn our hearts and prayers to something uplifting to that other person. Maybe your One needs you on your knees while he faces one of the biggest challenges of his life. Maybe he is on cloud nine and would like you to rejoice with him. When I had these times of prayer with God, I liked to document them. Maybe I can compare notes and find that I really was needed at that particular moment. It might not be something we know until heaven, but I’m a firm believer that our prayers are effectual and when we pray in faith and in God’s will, He can do great things.

Find a mentor

I have been blessed with some wonderful mentors throughout my life. They have come in a wide variety of places and relationships, I can’t even begin to share who they all are. Find yourself an older “you.” Someone who is firm in their faith and actively living out the commands of God. They don’t have to be perfect; no one is, after all. In fact, someone who doesn’t “have it all together” is great because they can show you how to seek God’s will when you struggle. Mentors are great because they’ve been in a similar place as you and have the benefit of hindsight. Take advantage of that and use it to your benefit. Learn from their mistakes and successes and ask them to pray for you. Look for ways to serve them as a way of thanks.

Be a mentor

This is a big deal. You might not feel like you have it all together yourself, but investing in someone else’s life is a big distraction from any heartache and loneliness you may have. It’s not a cure, but it’s a command of God – when Christians mentor someone else, they are to be building a disciple of Christ. When you are following God’s commands, you are in a better place. Period.

Find accountability partners

What’s an accountability partner? It’s someone who is a peer and willing to help keep you on track to avoid temptation. You know what will trip you up. You know what kinds of things feed into your pity parties. For me, it can be love stories. I love Jane Austen, and I still read her books every so often, but for a time, they were a stumbling block for me. Certain movies too. Facebook can be a stumbling block too, especially if you have an object of affection and find yourself spending an increased amount of time “checking in” on them. Oh, you know you’ve done it! Share those things with a close friend and ask them to help you avoid them and keep tabs on you. And you do the same for them.

You know, God has made us creatures of community for a reason. We thrive on relationships. Yes, the relationship between a man and a woman in marriage is a special thing, something God made with a specific purpose. But there are so many other relationships that should have our attention, relationships that have an eternal purpose. Focusing on these things not only gives us a healthy distraction from any loneliness we might be feeling, but also prepares us for any future romantic relationship. Every season has a purpose and every relationship has a purpose as well. Make the most/best out of each one. Some will fail and some will endure.  This feeds right into the next tip.

Embrace it and serve God

When you are single, you are in a unique stage of life where you answer to only one: God. Take advantage of your freedom to live drastically for Christ. I was able to do some amazing things before God called me back to Ohio, I believe, to be ready for Matt. I spent a summer in China, graduated college, served in my church for several years, taught in Japan, etc. I was free to travel around to build relationships with dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ around the globe. There have been so many things I can’t even remember them all to list here. I wouldn’t trade those opportunities for anything. They were an important season in my life and have grown my faith.

Also, as someone who had ever so many crushes on guys until now, I have witnessed the benefit of unanswered prayers. Some of my crushes went on to meet and marry amazing women. They lead a life now that I could never have been prepared to handle. Some of them turned out just awful and I’m grateful that God didn’t allow me to get into a relationship with them because I would probably be in a terrible state now. If you are struggling with why God is keeping you from someone, ask Him to reveal the reason to. God loves to illuminate dark places, and a question is just that, a dark place. Keep in mind, He won’t always reveal it on your time, so be prepared to have to wait a bit. The waiting is hard, but hopefully, there are enough strategies here to keep you occupied.

So in summary: Pray, get your focus off yourself, love God, serve God, love others, serve others.

Do you have any advice or strategies you used while you were single or are single?


I’m getting married to my, you guessed it, best friend on June 1st, 2013! Matt and I are super-excited and since we have quite a bit of time to plan this thing, I decided it’d be fun to blog about it. Well, maybe not always fun, but at least informative and it might give me a welcome distraction. You can find all the posts by clicking the “Getting Married” tab on the right of this page, or by clicking here. Thanks for stopping by!

My Pinterest Wedding Board

Our Wedding Website on

Pipes and Prayer

Clean drinking water...not self-evident for ev...

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We have recently had the great city of Hamilton doing work on the city water lines and the attachments leading up to our office building. This is throughout the downtown area, but it feels like they have dug up the same patch of asphalt about 3 times now to do something and then fill it in again. They informed us one day that our water would be shut off for the duration of the morning and then we’d be able to use the restrooms/faucets/fountains again later. The foreman came in to the building soon after it was restored and proceeded to open one of our larger sink faucets to clear out any gunk and air which may now be in the pipes. Have you ever seen the kind of junk that comes out of pipes that have just been worked on? He then ordered us to go through the building to do the same.

Now, the neat thing about getting your pipes worked on isn’t just the cool, splattering sounds and spurts of water with air blasting from the faucet. No, I think the neatest thing is that at some point, if all goes accordingly, the water clears up, the bubbles diminish, and you see the crystal clear stream of refreshment.  Everyone take a nice sigh with me. *siiiigh* I’m not a huge fan of drinking water, but I know how good for you it is and if I’m really thirsty, nothing will suffice but a cool glass of water.

In Sunday School this weekend, we were talking about times we have been disappointed with God.  We don’t understand why He allowed something to happen or He doesn’t behave the way we expected Him to.  This can (and within reason rightly so) lead to sadness, anger – God doesn’t ask us not to feel anything.  We have emotions and we will react to events in our lives; the difference is that God wants us to bring them to Him.  He calls us to pour out our hearts to Him when we feel we are in the depths of despair.  Sadness, anger, unfairness – these emotions can lead to bitterness if they are not addressed and God promises an amazing thing when we bring our concerns to Him.

He takes them and turns them into praise to Him.  I don’t know how He does it.  There are so many times when I have been so upset with God, for whatever big or small reason, and I go to Him fully intending to give Him the biggest “talking to” of my life.  I start with a great show of accusation and tears, but then my heart starts to soften, my tone changes and now as my breath is slowing down, I notice what it is I’m saying to Him:

“God, You are good. Though I don’t understand You or Your ways, I know that You have promised to always love me and to guide me in the best path possible.  Even when things look dark or seem unfair, You are still there with me.  You love my heart, stained though it is, and You are concerned about the things that concern me.  You are writing my story, which is like no one else’s, and it is one of Your precious ποιημα, Your workmanship. (Eph 2:10) Thank You, Lord, for Your kindness, Your hope and Your love. Let me pour it out to others.”

It always amazes me. It’s not as though God says, “Pour out your heart to me – all the ugliness – I can take it, but then you’re going to be left with nothing.”  No, He is the Source of hope, the Giver of life, the Lover of our souls.  He will not just leave us emptied, but will come behind us and replace our pain with joy and peace.  (Romans 8:26) Just like the water in the pipes, let out and spurting and dirty then suddenly clean and clear, God refines our hearts and our prayers to bring Him glory and to renew our fellowship with Him.  There’s a reason why He referred to Himself as the Living Water.  His Spirit, residing in us, brings new life and healing when sin and the cares of the world make it necessary to replace faulty equipment in our hearts – lies we have been taught and have either blindly or willingly chosen to believe.  It’s a painful process, the refining, but boy, the outcome is delicious.

Day 5 – Love

I think the way people love changes over time.  God’s love stays the same.  God loves me the same as He did when He put my body together.  He loves me the same as when I took my first breath.  The same as when I first sang, “Jesus Loves Me.” The same as when I asked Him into my heart.  The same as when I was obsessed with boy bands.  The same as when my heart was broken and  I was crying for a Father.  The same as when I heard Him call to me from Russia.  The same as when I set foot in China.  The same as when my heart was broken and crying for a lover.  The same as when I shut my ears to Him.  The same as when I opened them again.

My love for Him has changed though.  It’s been childish, inconstant, genuine, self-serving, impatient, joyous, grieving, etc.  But is that then love?  The difference could be that God loves outside of my circumstances and I can’t help but love within them.  But the goal is to do the same.  Can I do that?  I’ve found that with certain things I am able to, but not in everything.  But God’s ability to love me constantly and continually outside of my circumstances is not a sign of His apathy to those circumstances, but a mark of how great His love truly is.

I could sing of Your love forever, I could sing of Your love forever…

This isn’t a commentary of my ability or desire to sing to God for all time, but a showing of the greatness of His love.  It would take more than eternity to sing all of it, and I would still need more time. 

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens.  Your faithfulness stretches to the sky.  Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, yeah.  Your justice flows like the ocean’s tide.

Day 4 – God is Sovereign

My favorite places are those where the sky is wide open in front of me.  For my current location, these include Harbin Park, at the top of the hill and the tiny regional airport, parked next to the fence running long-wise to the runway.  There’s something about the vastness of the sky, the length of the ground, being able to see a horizon without any obstructions.  It’s why I love mountains so much and why, yes, even Kansas is my favorite state.  You can see for miles!  Alright, it’s a close tie with Pennsylvania. 😉  Sitting in a place like this, it’s so easy to think about and understand God being sovereign.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  Tell me, if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements – surely you know?  Or who stretched the line upon it?  On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” – Job 38:4-7 –

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all these earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens.” – Psalm 8:1 –

And as a thundercloud approaches me…

“The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters.  The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.” – Psalm 29:3-4 –

“When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place,…” – Psalm 8:3 –

But when I think of the little things, back when I descend and the world comes back up around me, is God still sovereign, or am I too small?

“…what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” – Psalm 8:4 –

Is He concerned with me and my issues?

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are numbered.  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” – Matthew 10:29-31 –

“…you are of more value than many sparrows.”  I try to make myself too small for God to see at times, and yet He does.  He values me and keeps me in His thoughts.  Even when I don’t keep Him in mine.  And He has the best in mind for me.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declared the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11 –

I am at His mercy, like trees to a strong wind.  And yet, God is not just an indeterminate thing, like the wind, not choosing where to go and what to do.  God is in charge of Himself and of what He does.  And His goodness dictates that He do good things. 

I can see far sitting up here on this hill or on a mountains, but I can’t see the future.  god can see further and beyond the future.

I will trust my God, the One who Sees, to handle the direction of my path.

I will trust my God, the One who Creates, to have given me every quality I need to do His will.

I will trust my God, the One who Shapes, to continue working and growing me into what He wants me to be.

I will trust my God, the One who Knows, to only give me what I can handle.

I will trust my God, the One who Provides, to prepare and preserve me through anything I go through.

I will trust my God, the One who Loves, to pour His love out of me when I have none to give.

I will trust my God.
I will trust my God.
I will trust my God.

Day 3 – Schedules and Expectations

Kelly’s Day 3 was about “To-Do Lists” and mine is about schedules. Plans.  Expectations.  As I reflected on the list of things causing me bitterness and why they do so, I found it was because they don’t fit my schedule.  God and I have fought many times on this before.  Or rather, I’ve fought and He’s patiently waited for me to fall in step with Him. 

I don’t always know it either.  I will feel anxious out of no where and I’m sure that on reflection, “schedule” would be at the heart of it.  There are some areas that I am not anxious about planning for.  I’ve let go of my expectations.  One such area is what field God calls me to work in.  I could really care less WHERE I go or what I’m doing when I get there.  What I am concerned about is WHEN.

Ok, so, as I’m thinking about it, the “WHERE” factor is pretty much the only area that I’m not concerned about.  And even my anxiety right now to get away is not so much because I feel it’s time for God to send me somewhere, but more that I just want to get away. 

But let’s throw all the rest aside.  When I was “picky” about where I would serve, if God called me somewhere else, I would fight Him tooth and nail.  God had to hit me upside the heard…in several ways…to get me to agree to go to one such place.  When Japan came up, thankfully, I learned from that mistake and was willing to go, even though I knew nothing about the country and had never had any, ANY desire to go there.  And it was one of the best experiences of my life.

But that trip brought up something I have struggled with before – my expectations of others.  Especially of other believers.  but I am a work in progress, why shouldn’t others be too?

My expectations of how members of the family should be or friends, or boyfriends…whatever “position” someone holds…it reflects an expectation you have for them. 

God is the only One who we can expect to be just like He is described in Scripture and for Him to be exactly like that.  Anyone else has free license to go against your expectations, whether for good or for bad.

So, I’m asking God (not man…) to help me release my faulty expectations and the schedules I make in my mind.  His ways are not my own and I can never expect Him to keep to my own desires and whims.  I can expect Him to be good, to love me, and to be sovereign over all.  And as the meaning of those things trickle down in to my mind, my expectations will fall into line with who He really is and who I really am.

Day 1 & 2 – 10 Days of Prayer

One of my favorite Christian artists went and got married a few years ago to an amazing woman and…as most amazing women should, she started a blog.  It’s probably one of the few that I read consistently.  Her name is Kelly Needham and recently, she decided to do a 10 day Prayer and Repentance deal while her husband was out-of-town/country. You can find the start to her 10 day adventure here.

But I decided to do my own 10 day time, starting yesterday.  I’ve been feeling a little in a rut and recent events have left me wondering if God is trying to tell me something and I’m not listening to Him. 

I felt yesterday, that it would be good to start with what Kelly began within her reflections.  Her first point was, “It’s not about me.”  And I really like the Scripture she started each day with, so I’m definitely keeping that.  Here it is:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts,
See if there is any offensive way in me;
and lead me in the way everlasting.
 – Psalm 139:23-24

I was saying over and over in my mind, “It’s not about me, it’s not about me,” but nothing was coming.  And then I realized that I had forgotten how to pray.  I’m not saying totally, as in, I never talk to God…but I definitely have opted for the whole “pray continually” throughout the day without much concern for God speaking back to me.  To spend an hour, in determined prayer…it’s hard if you’re out of practice.  I went away thinking that it had all been a waste of time.  I didn’t feel like my prayer had been anything substantial.  Or had it?  I was determined to reflect on one thing and that one thing only while God was seeking to open my eyes to something else: my double-mindedness.

I’m caught between the two sides – truly investing my heart and mind in God and all that He is and pretending to do so, which is to say, to not invest my heart and mind in God.  I have been well-trained in looking the part.  But not only that, it is easier to camp in the place of “Do well” and not mean it, than to face the reality of my double-heart.  It’s easy to go in with purpose and meaning, and then live out your time steadily more for yourself and out of habit. 

And so, for today, the sermon on Contentment and the joy thereby was great and touched me, but I think God wants me to reflect on my bitterness.

“The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.”
 – Proverbs 14:10

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
 – Ephesians 4:31

“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”
 – Hebrews 12:15

I’m very good at hiding my own bitterness.  In truth, I hardly recognize it myself.

[Insert list of things bitter about]

“…and many become defiled.”   It’s like when something begins to burn in the kitchen and you slowly realize the smell is there.  Then it takes a long time to get rid of the smoke and smell.  That’s how this bitterness feels in me.  What is contained in that list is not what matters.  That’s between me and God.  He has known it for some time and some of it I only just realized today. 

But I am bitter about these things because I am thinking that I know best what I need.  And as God shows me that and how, I flip back and forth between joy and sadness.  I can try to force myself to joy, but I don’t think that’s what God wants.  He could do that, if He wanted to.  But He desires me to want it, and not just to show it or know that I need to want it.

“Jesus, You are my greatest treasure,
Nothing this world can offer
Could ever compare to You.

~Nani yori mo
Nani yori mo
Nani yori mo
(Jap – Above all else, give me Yourself)
Above All Else by Vicki Beeching


Today’s sermon was on vigilence in contending for the faith, based on Jude 1-4.  I don’t get through to Jude very often, but it’s a really nice little book.  Here are key points I marked down:

vs 1. – “…kept/preserved for Jesus Christ.”  ~ I love this promise, that no matter what, God holds us in His hands and will preserve us through the end.

vs 3 – “…contend for the faith…” ~ says that to contend is to struggle in opposition.  But I like the other definition for this verse: to assert or maintain earnestly.

What faith is this? – the faith delivered to the saints.

  • It’s a noun, both as substance of something hoped for and faith placed in God.

Faith is not: a verb.

  • not something you build up yourself inside yourself.  That would be courage.
  • not being irrational or believing the unbelievable
  • not something you speak into existence or activate into reality.
  • not something you claim by demanding

How do you contend for the faith?

  • gently if possible
    • Matthew 5:16 – “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” [ESV]

Have any of you ever noticed how you can begin a prayer one way and by the end of it, your whole demeaner, content, and desire has changed?  I’ve often begun a prayer angry and frustrated about something, or depressed and wounded.  It’s a sick feeling when you feel the only thing left to do is to cry out to God.  And you know the words that you utter are filled with hate and despair, and nothing to grace the ears of your King with, but I am so grateful that He still listens to them.  Note that I didn’t say “He still hears them”:  He listens to them, with the attention of a lover listening to his beloved. 

As I am speaking to Him my sorrow, His Spirit is working in me, and comforting me.  He whispers sweet words of love to my heart so that my mind is not wholly aware of a change of atmosphere.  My words filled with guile are now resting on adoration, and express hope and praise to Him.  I was accusing Him and now I am thanking Him.  Ever notice that?  Not only is my attitude changed to Him, but also to the one or ones who filled me with that anger in the first place. 

What kind of a God can do that?!  I am amazed every time at His mercy and His sincere love for me.  With some recent events, I noticed that God changed my prayer from revealing the secret to salvation of the person who has afflicted me.  I despise when someone’s character is assaulted, and this time, when it was mine, I had all sorts of wild and crazy emotions that flew through me.  I was exhausted.  I was overly emotional.  And while it is still fresh, my emotions have since settled into the peace that comes from God. 

I know that He will protect me.  I am His precious child.  I have faith that He will because He has proven to me over and over again.  He has placed that faith into my heart, so that when circumstances arise, and I could easily be knocked down, that faith is already my support and my shelter.  The wind may howl and beat against my faith, but I am protected within.

Our God is greater, stronger, He is higher than any other, healer, and He is awesome in power.  And if our God is for us, then who can ever stop us?  And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?  Nothing and no one…that’s who.  Praise Jesus!