why i took off my purity ring.

{inspired by this post, and partially by this one}

{The reason I’m writing this post isn’t because I love controversy – and this post hopefully won’t be super controversial.  I just want to write about things that matter, rather than about movies or books all the time.  (Although I’ll probably be back on Friday with my thoughts on Captain America: Civil War.)  This matters to me, and this is what I’ve been thinking about lately, so here I am.}

photo (3)

here’s the picture of my ring that i couldn’t add last night bc wordpress was being stupid.  isn’t it gorgeous?

If you’re a conservative, homeschooling Christian, there’s a 98% chance you’ve heard of purity rings – and there’s a 76% chance you’re wearing one right now.  Even if you’re not, there’s a 62% chance you know what they are.  (And those percentages are all accurate.  Even if I made them up. *wink*)

I grew up learning about purity.  I read all the books.  I participated in all the Bible studies.  I signed the paper (and I’m pretty sure I even gave it to my dad).  I didn’t get the ring for my thirteenth birthday because my mom forgot, so I got it for my sixteenth.

By the time I was twelve, I knew all about saving myself for marriage.  (At least, I thought I did.)  I swore I’d never kiss before marriage, never get into a relationship that wasn’t destined for marriage, and that I’d probably never date, either.

I’m still sticking to those commitments (except maybe the dating one – we’re a little fuzzy on what courtship looks like around here, especially as my siblings and I are getting older).  I have no intention of starting a more-than-casual relationship with a guy unless I’m pretty sure he’s a possibility.  I’m going to save my first kiss for my wedding day (and everything after that too).

But I’m done hiding behind my purity ring.  I’m done with the legalism and I’m done with the completely unbiblical stereotypes it puts on me.

Maybe it’s just me, but the purity ring thing always made me think differently about people.  When I was younger, I would subconsciously judge someone based on whether or not they had one.  If they did, fantastic – they’re pure.  If they didn’t, well… they had some learning to do.  (After all, how could you claim to keep yourself pure for marriage and not wear a purity ring?  GOSH.)  And if a guy wore it… WOW.  Hashtag marriage material, amiright???  (I knew guys whose mother forbid them from wearing them because rings were too feminine.  My sister and I walked away from that question wondering how wedding rings were different… and how wearing a ring deprived a man of his masculinity.)

When I consider how I used to think, it makes me laugh – and shudder a little.  I was a really judgmental teenager.  (Oh if only I could go back and give my teenage self a good talk – and a slap across the face!)

I’m not a perfect person.  I haven’t done everything right in my relationships with guys.  I’ve made quite a few mistakes.  Not purity-shattering mistakes, but things I still cringe over and issues I wish I’d handled differently.

It wasn’t until last year that I started thinking really about my purity ring.  I usually wore it on my left hand, but I switched it to my right for a conference (so none of the guys would think that I was married or engaged or whatever).

That’s what got me thinking about what it really meant.  I asked myself over and over, Why did I do that?  Am I looking for attention from guys?  Am I wanting to proclaim to the world that I’m pure, but I’m available?  (*wink*)

Let me tell you something I’ve learned: Those are all bad reasons.  It should say something that one of the first things I thought was that taking off my purity ring would encourage guys or bring unwanted attention to myself.

My desire to remain pure is mainly between me and God – and my future husband.

I’m not saving myself because Josh Harris or the Botkin sisters or Sarah Mally told me to.  I’m not wearing a purity ring is the “right thing to do” or because most of my Christian friends did it.

I’m doing it because I’ve been convicted by God.  I’m not going to settle for less than His best for me.  I’m not going to compromise.

More than that, I’m not going to sit around and wait for a guy to knock on my front door.  I don’t like the assumption that “waiting” looks like me in my late thirties, sitting by a window in a rocking chair and crocheting.

I have a life to live.  I have a calling.  God put me on this earth for a reason, and while marriage is a wonderful thing that I’m really looking forward to… it’s not my main goal in life.

My only desire is to glorify my Savior while I’m here – nothing less.  If writing novels glorifies Him, so be it.  If marrying a godly guy and having a few children with him glorifies God, so be it.

I’m not here to bring honor to myself.  All of my actions should be for Him and Him alone.  (I already encourage too much exultation of myself because of my wicked pride.)

I still think about my purity ring, even though it sometimes gets lost in the jumble of jewelry on my bedside table.  My ring was always too big, so I’d spin it around on my finger when I needed to fidget.

To be completely honest, that’s actually the main reason I took it off that last time – my finger always somehow got smaller during the winter, and I was afraid I’d lose it.  I was afraid I’d lose it at one of our orchestra’s five Christmas concerts, so I took it off.  Then I just never put it on again.  I thought about putting it back on a few times, and it made me think about why I was wearing it in the first place.  Coming to all of the above conclusions reaffirmed why I didn’t feel like I had to wear it.  It’s been seven months now and I sometimes move my thumb to spin it around before remembering it isn’t there anymore.

Taking off my purity ring wasn’t a huge deal.  It wasn’t an open rebellion of what I’d always held dear – actually the opposite.

Since I’ve taken off my ring, I can tell that my commitment has gotten more intimate – more precious, almost.  I haven’t felt the need to proclaim to the world my purity in a long time, or for more conservative girls to judge me while I’m casually talking with one of my guy friends (whose friendships I highly value).  My commitment is strictly between me and God, unless someone asks or the topic comes up.

It’s incredibly freeing and I’m so grateful.

Disclaimer: This is my personal decision and I’m not trying to encourage you to do the same.  If you’ve made a commitment to stay pure for your future spouse, I applaud you.  If you’ve decided to wear a ring to show that, I still applaud you.  Purity rings are a wonderful thing – they’re just not for me right now.  I may slip mine back on at some point in the future, but it probably won’t be any time soon.  Right now, I’m focusing on God more than my relationship with my future husband.  I’m focusing on not having any other gods before Him.  And, like Grace said in the post I linked to above, I’m focusing on learning that “having Him is everything, not a means to the life we think He would want us to have. … I already have Him, and He is everything.”

P.S. I mentioned legalism and unbiblical stereotypes earlier, but didn’t go into what I meant.  If you’d like to hear more, I have a ton of pent-up opinions I’d be more than happy to share with you guys.  (If you want them, that is.  That one would definitely be controversial, lol.)  Let me know in the comments!


love is a risk {a follow-up post}

Surprise!  I’m back for another love post!  (Actually, a kind of follow-up post to my ‘actively waiting’ post, now that I think about it.)

I wasn’t going to do any more posts about love, but I started reading this blog post about it, and I was just like, “I have got to reblog this.

But first, my unsolicited opinion!  (Because it’s my blog and I do what I want.)

I’ve been talking to so many people about love lately – my sister, my best friend, some other friends – and it’s just been really interesting to hear so many different opinions from my friends in different stages of life.  One girl is in a complicated friend relationship that may turn into something more (which she’s slightly afraid of), one is swearing off guys for the moment, one is reaching that age when she feels like she’ll never be married, one is swearing not to date a guy unless he’s marriage material, and one is afraid of guys.  (You know who you are!  Hugs and kisses. *wink*)

Confession time: I’ve been in all of those places.  (And right now, honestly, I’m constantly swinging between trying to be satisfied in Christ {and I’ve been trying to learn how to be satisfied over the past like five years} and wanting to just scream “DATE ME!” at a guy I like.)

My views of marriage and guy/girl relationships have changed so radically over the past five years that I wish I could go back in time and give my sixteen-year-old self a firm shake, a hug, and a promise that it’ll all be a little more clear in the future.

Relationships aren’t complicated, guys.  That’s my revelation from the past few years.  Guy/girl relationships can be a little complicated at times… but only if you make them so.  If you’re constantly worrying if you’ll ever get married or if a certain dude is THE ONE, congratulations, you’ve set yourself up for a few weeks/months/years of worry.

(Tangent: And hey, guess what?  The only way to know if a guy likes you is to ask.  Plain and simple.  I thought asking the dude was stupid… when I was twelve.  And it is stupid… when you’re twelve.  At eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-five… DO IT.  There’s no use pining over some guy you have no chance with.  Ask his sister, ask his mom, ask him… but don’t think about him sporadically {or constantly} and worry if he likes you or not.  Ask and move on – either with him or away from him.  And if you’ve done that, WELL DONE – you’ve saved yourself loads of time!  Trust me; it’ll be far better in the long run when you’ve moved on instead thinking you’ve moved on and being reminded of your feelings towards him when you’re invited to his future bride’s bridal shower.  Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything… *cough*)

As Phylicia says in her post, Dear Girl, It’s Just a Date, we as Christians have made guy/girl relationships too complicated by insisting that they be destined for marriage.  When I was younger, I swore I’d never date – and I’d only court someone (whatever that means) when I was absolutely, positively, one hundred percent SURE that I’d marry him.

Golly Pete, was I naive or what?!

Over the last year or so, I’ve realized that it isn’t that simple.  Courtship does not equal marriage.  Dating does not equal divorce.  Yes, if your definitions of the two are wrong (especially excessive, serial dating, or even excessive, serial courting), you’re setting yourself up for failure.  I’m not saying that dating is wrong and courtship is right (or the opposite), but we need to reevaluate our views on the two.  Is a failed courtship a failed relationship?  Nope, not if God taught you something through it.  Is going out on a date with a guy sinful?  Nope, not if boundaries are set and God is the focus.

I’ve seen both dating relationships and courtship relationships end in disaster.  Dating where neither is fully committed and boundaries get crossed and, hello, babies get made.  Courting where the couple is never left alone to figure out if they’re comfortable with just the two of them and then marrying and finding out that – heck, no – they’re not comfortable at all.  Both are wrong and both have lifetime consequences.

The way I see it, a guy/girl relationship (be it courtship or dating) is only a failure if, when it ends, it scars you for life and radically negatively alters your perspective.  If you’ve been in a courtship and it failed, that is okay.  We need to stop pressuring people into thinking that you can only “get to know someone on a deeper level” if you want to marry them.  Can you imagine how much pressure that must make the guy feel if he does ANYTHING wrong?!  Not to mention how much pressure is put on the girl!  “Getting to know someone on a deeper level” only means that – getting to know them.  How can you know if a person is compatible for life if you don’t get to know them first?

Don’t make relationships more complicated than they already are.  I’ve seen relationships falter and die a tragic death because of too much talking, too much bad counsel, too much worrying, and way too much analyzing.  Yes, relationships are a risk (especially guy/girl relationships), but that’s faith – trusting in God and moving forward even when you can’t see (II Corinthians 5:7).

Okay, enough rambling – to my original intent for this post!

As the following isn’t my post, I’m just going to put some of it here and encourage you guys to go read the rest.  ‘Cause it’s amazing.

just a date

Dear girl,

We the Church – we’ve made relationships heavy.

Relationships are a serious thing – serious because they involve real hearts and raw emotions. We have to walk wisely and think clearly. But not all relationships are meant for marriage.

Maybe you already grasp that concept in your head. But I want you to grasp it in your heart – and on your next date.

Don’t try out his last name.

Don’t picture the Facebook status.

Don’t go there.

It’s just a date.

I’m not saying to lose the romance and I’m not saying to abandon all common sense. I’m not suggesting you settle for less or that you approach relationships carelessly. I’m saying that your truest self – the self you want a man to know and see and love – isn’t revealed when you’re knee-deep in the Christian-relationship mating ritual. There, we must bear the weight of a potential future, and bear in mind that marriage – marriage could be on the line.

All on the first date.

But despite the best efforts, we can never guarantee a first date will lead to marriage. No one can.

These days we move strategically, chess pieces navigating the game. We have to know if he’s ready to spiritually lead and financially take on a family. We have to know where it’s headed because otherwise, it’s a waste of time – right? Dating is supposed to lead to marriage – right?

Not always.

We the Church – we’ve made relationships complicated.

We meant well, really. We seek to protect purity and uphold marriage. We want to embrace God’s design. But we keep missing a consistent gospel theme: freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Cor. 3:17). In relationships, that means if you’re walking by the Spirit of God you are free to go on a date without demanding a DTR. [Ashley’s note: Define The Relationship]

We want it all in order from the beginning. We want the promise of no broken hearts, no disappointment, no struggle through the just-friends-but-not stage. We want to guard our hearts from hurt by only dating people we could see ourselves marrying, but the pressure is too soon, too heavy. A Starbucks hour won’t tell you if this guy is marriage material. It takes time.

Girls wonder why the guys run scared. I would run scared. I don’t believe Christian men are afraid of commitment. I believe they are afraid of commitment expected on the first date. In a church culture where a date equals intention of marriage, the pressure is on. You can’t just ask a girl out and get to know her; you have to know your intentions first. But how can you know your intentions if you don’t even know the girl herself?

Read the rest of the post here, then leave a comment and let me know what you think!  Do you agree or disagree with what I and Phylicia said?

twelve couples i’ll always be in love with.

First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day!

I thought for a good five minutes about what I wanted to write about today.  I usually do a post on contentment and singleness, but I think I’ve said all I need to on the subject.  (See those posts here, here, and here – all of which, I realize after re-reading all of them, bemoan the infamous Valentine’s Day Banquet of ’13 – LOL.  They’re actually pretty decent, too, so if you want to hear my thoughts on contentment, they’re worth a read.)

But today is not about being single.  Today is about relationships.  And if we’re not in relationships, we can at least obsess over those who are, right?

twelve couples i'll always be in love with.jpg

Today, I’ve decided to write about book and movie couples that are in love and that I am in love with (because that’s way less depressing than dwelling on how single I am, lol).  (Just kidding; I’m actually totally content right now.  So yay.)

These aren’t couples who are just cute together (because I could write about cute fictional couples for dayzzz).  These are couples who have stuck together through thick and thin and love each other despite the trials they go through.  They fight for their relationship and defy the odds.  They may not have fallen in love at first sight, but their relationship lasted because of the circumstances that brought them together and kept them together.

In no particular order (cuz you guys should know by now that I hate picking favorites), here are the twelve fictional couples that have basically defined all of my relationship goals.

Honorable Mentions:
Lulu and Liam {The Little Women Letters}
Mac and Rose {Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom}
Flynn and Rapunzel {Tangled}
Cath and Levi {Fangirl}
Katniss and Peeta {The Hunger Games Trilogy}
Kathleen and Joe {You’ve Got Mail}
Alexander and Eliza {Hamilton and also a real-life couple}
Roy and Dale {the Roy Rogers movies and also a real-life couple}

(And Clintasha would be right at the top but Joss woN’T STOP BLOWING HOLES IN MY SHIPS.  GAH.  *Hulks out*)

Shirtbert {Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe} | Anne of Green Gables


These two.  GOSH, these two.  Ever since they first met in Anne of Green Gables, I knew they’d fall in love.  Except Anne was so blind to how much Gil loved her (and she was so deluded about what love really is) that it didn’t happen for a while.  *shakes head*  Silly Anne.  I mean, the guy gave up his position at a school for her!  He also saved her in a boat and NUMEROUS other amazing things.  Together, they make such a great couple.

“Anne, you have tricked something out of that imagination of yours that you call romance. Have you forgotten how he gave up the Avonlea school for you so that you could stay here with me? He picked you up everyday in his carriage so that you could study your courses together. Don’t toss it away for some ridiculous ideal that doesn’t exist.”

Copanga {Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence} | Boy Meets World


OKAY.  I’ve been a huge fan of Boy Meets World for about two and a half years now (although it seems like longer) and their relationship is just so. many. goals.  They were friends for years and years before they got into an official relationship in the second season.  Their relationship withstood high school, the first two years of college, three break-ups (not including Topanga’s parents’ divorce).  Fourteen years later, in Girl Meets World, they’re still together and just as much in love as they were when they first started dating.

“Over half of all marriages fail.  It’s even worse for people our age.”
“Every statistic that you throw at me is going to be about other people.  I don’t care about other people – I care about you and me!  If every marriage failed except one, I’d guarantee that one would be ours.”

Laurie x Jo {Theodore Lawrence and Josephine March} | Little Women


Okay, this is the only couple in this entire post who didn’t actually end up together.  (Jo and I may agree on everything else, okay, and I’m sorry, but I’ll ship this ’til the day I die.)  From the start, their friendship just screamed “ROMANCE!” and it seriously irked me that they didn’t end up together.  Because they totally should have.  They were so alike in so many ways, and they may have fought a lot, but what couple doesn’t?!  Ugh.  Anyway, I ship them like there’s no tomorrow.

“I have loved you since the moment I clapped eyes on you. What could be more reasonable than to marry you?”  (THAT’S WHAT I SAID.)

Knighthouse {Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley} | Emma


Emma is my favorite Jane Austen story because the love interests shaped each other more than any other of her couples.  (Did Darcy have the influence on Lizzie that Knightley did on Emma?  NO.  I rest my case.)  I love stories that do this so. much.  Why is a person in your life romantically if not to mold you into someone better?  Food for thought.  If ever a couple was destined to be together, it was Emma and Knightley.  Even though he’s like seventeen years older than her.

“So, tell me, have I no chance of succeeding?  My dearest Emma, for that is what you always have been and you always will be, my most beloved Emma.  I cannot make speeches.  If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more, but you know what I am.  I have lectured you and scolded you and you have born it as no other woman would have.”

(I also desperately love Cher and Josh from Clueless, and their relationship is defined so well and I love them and baby Paul Rudd is just the sweetest little cinnamon roll.)

Julie x Eric // Julia x Paul {Julie and Eric Powell, and Julia and Paul Child} | Julie and Julia

Julie and Julia.jpg

These two couples are new additions to my stock of Relationship Goals, but I knew they had been added the first time I watched Julie and Julia.  I love the distinction between the two relationships!  Julie and Eric are blissful newlyweds, and Julia and Paul have been married for several years but they’re even more in love than when they first got married.  When I first watched the movie, I told my sister, “Julie and Eric have what I want my newlywed married life to look like, and Julia and Paul have what I want my married-for-thirty-years married life to look like.”  #goals

“You are the butter to my bread and the breath to my life.”

Steggy {Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter} | Captain America: The First Avenger


Er. mah. gursh.  This is definitely the most tragic couple in my entire list.  They loved each other so much and they didn’t end up together (not married, at least) and that just breaks my heart.  Peggy loved Steve just based on his character, before he was the insanely muscular dude he is halfway through the movie, and if that’s not true love, I don’t know what is.  As soon as Steve said his “I’m waiting for the right partner” line, I was hooked.  (And so was Peggy.)  If ever a couple deserved to be together, it’s Steve and Peggy.

“I’m gonna need a rain check on that dance.”
“All right. A week next Saturday.  At The Stork Club.”
“You’ve got it.”
“Eight o’clock on the dot. Don’t you dare be late. Understood?”
“You know, I still don’t know how to dance.”
“I’ll show you how. Just be there.”

Anastasia x Dimitri {Anastasia Romanova and Dimitri Sudayev} | Anastasia


When Anastasia and Dimitri first meet, they’re both really just using each other to accomplish their personal goals.  It’s hate at first sight.  When Anastasia and Dimitri have their first angered exchange (“Do you really think I’m royalty?” “You know I do!” “THEN STOP BOSSING ME AROUND.”) and Anastasia sticks her tongue out at him, I’m always just like, “Ohhhh, you two are gonna have it so bad.”  And they do.  They’re always slightly at odds, but in an endearing way.  In the end, Dimitri sacrifices his ambition to find the lost Russian princess for Anastasia (who, spoiler, is the lost princess) and they end up eloping and it’s just beautiful.

“That, uh, that dress looks really good on you.”
“Do you think so?”
“Yeah. I mean, it looked nice on the hanger but it’s even better on you. Y-you, you should wear it!”
“I am wearing it!”
“Oh, oh yes, I was just, um, trying to give you a… a…”

Robin x Marian {Robin Hood and Lady Marian Fitzwalter} | Robin Hood (1932)


I grew up with the 1932 version of Robin Hood (here’s the trailer if you haven’t seen it), and I’ve always loved the relationship that Robin and Marian have.  There’s just something about a classic tale of the love between a knight and his lady that I fall for every time. She’s hesitant at first, and he’s madly in love at first sight.  He wins her love by being the dashing hero he is, and she falls for him.  (And then, in the original tale, he dies.  I like this version better – they ride off into the sunset and it’s wonderful.)  It’s just a classic tale of love and I love it muchly.

“Tell me: when you are in love, is it hard to think of anybody but one person?”
“Yes, indeed, m’lady, and sometimes it’s a bit of trouble sleeping.”
“I know! But it’s a nice kind of not sleeping!”
“Yes. And it affects your appetite, too. Not that I’ve noticed it’s done that to you, ‘cept when he was in the dungeon waiting to be hanged.”
“And does it make you want to be with him all the time?”
“Yes. And when he’s with you, your legs are as weak as water. Now, tell me, m’lady: when he looks at you, do you feel a kind of pricky feeling, like goosey pimples running all up and down your spine?”
{Marian blushes}
“Then there’s not a doubt of it!”
“A doubt of what?”
{Robin swings in through the window where he was eavesdropping} “That you’re in love!”

George x Mary {George Bailey and Mary Hatch} | It’s a Wonderful Life


I’ve been in love with George and Mary ever since I watched It’s a Wonderful Life for the first time (which was so many years ago that I can’t even remember when it was).  We watch the movie every Christmas Eve and I’ve always loved watching George and Mary’s relationship start to build from their childhood to thirty years (and four kids) later.  They’re still so in love and love each other so much despite all of the hardships they go through.  Their trials bring them closer together and idk but that’s what I want more than anything else.  #actualrelationshipgoals

“What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.”
“I’ll take it. Then what?”
“Well, then you can swallow it, and it’ll all dissolve, see… and the moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair… am I talking too much?”

Percy x Marguerite {Sir Percival Blakeney and Marguerite St. Just} | The Scarlet Pimpernel


M’KAY.  The first time I read The Scarlet Pimpernel (and then binge-read most of the other Scarlet Pimpernel books), I knew I’d ship Percy and Marguerite ’til my dying days.  And, honestly, their relationship is one of the most brutal that I’ve ever seen.  Marguerite loves him even when he thinks she betrayed the St. Cyrs.  And then (in the book, at least) he risked his life to save her (just like he does for others *sheds a single tear*), and it always makes me cry so many happy tears.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Sir Percy.”
“This beholder is enchanted.  If I were to tell you that I adore you, would you have me do so stintingly?”
Adore me?”
“Or would you have me declare it as I feel it?  With all my heart?”
“But you can’t be serious – you know nothing about me!”
“Exactly so.  Which is why I yearn to know everything.  You must tell me all about yourself, in every detail, but oh so slowly, so very slowly, so that it takes a very, very long time.”
“I don’t know whether you’re mad or…”
“Desperately in love?  ‘Tis all the same.”

Remadora {Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks} | Harry Potter


This one’s a new one, too, but it’s impacted me just as much as the others.  When we first meet Remus Lupin, he feels worthless and unlovable.  Tonks thinks otherwise, and loves him despite what he is.  He protests, but she loves him even more.  Remus and Tonks’ love taught me that there will always be someone to love you, despite the circumstances and despite everything you think that’s wrong with you.  *cries many tears*

“You see!” said a strained voice. Tonks was glaring at Lupin. “She still wants to marry him, even though he’s been bitten! She doesn’t care!”
“It’s different,” said Lupin, barely moving his lips and looking suddenly tense. “Bill will not be a full werewolf. The cases are completely-”
“But I don’t care either, I don’t care!” said Tonks, seizing the front of Lupin’s robes and shaking them. “I’ve told you a million times….”
And the meaning of Tonk’s Patronus and her mouse-colored hair, and the reason she had come running to find Dumbledore when she had heard a rumor someone had been attacked by Greyback, all suddenly became clear to Harry; it had not been Sirius that Tonks had fallen in love with after all.

Finally, to all of the above couples, here are some wise words of advice from Josh Dun.

year in review: 2015

Well, it’s that time of year again.  That time of the year when I put off writing my big “Year In Review” post and then eventually do it and become overwhelmed by all of the amazing things that have happened during the year.  Which is probably going to happen again this time.  (EDIT: It did but now I’m just glad it’s all over.  HA.  I wouldn’t change anything that happened in 2015, though.  I have been changed for the better and for good.)

2015 was a big year for me.  Honestly, I think it was one of the most challenging and growing years I’ve ever gone through.  (And hopefully it won’t be the last because I know I need to grow in a lot of areas.)  My family had to go through a lot of hard things, and I had to go through a lot of hard things.  I’ve also done some pretty amazing things, too.  From seeing my book (slowly) sell copy after copy, to watching my relationships with certain people grow or change, to doing some of the most comfort-zone-stretching things I’ve ever done…  It’s been incredible.

I’m really glad a year only has 365 days (with the exception of leap years), because I don’t think I could handle 2015 if it had even one more day!  SO READY FOR 2016!!!

But before that, I’d like to look over some of the things I’ve done this year.  (And I don’t care if you read this or skim it – it’s mostly for me, anyway.  Lol.)


Year in review 2k14

me at the beginning of 2015.  wish i could go back and tell myself a few things, namely to brace myself and shut up.

I think January was a pretty chill month for me.  I rang in the new year with a sick Katie and Grace Unplugged.  (The rest of the family went to a friend’s house and I stayed home with Katie, which I didn’t mind because I’m lame and enjoy being home alone.)

I kept my head down and studied for a few different tests, babysat kids twice a week, and read a few really good books.  (Speaking of books, here’s my Goodreads Year In Books if you’re interested!)


right before we left.  (also before we were almost late because i got a flat tire.  and no, i didn’t cry over it.  why would you think that. *facepalm*)

Most importantly, my younger sister and I went to see Newsies with a group and it was FANTASTIC.

Notable blog posts: ‘in this moment, life is good’ and ‘2k15 reading challenge’ (which I didn’t end up completing – LOL!).


February brought a lot of the same – studying, reading, and nannying.


random adorable picture of jenna (almost 2)

Early in the month, we had a “Courtship Conversations” conference/Q&A thing at our house.  Three couples got to share their courtship story and then answered questions from the audience (we had about fifty people over!).

On Valentine’s Day, we had some friends over for pizza and a movie (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, because duh).

Shortly after, my parents went on a two-night anniversary trip and left my siblings and I at home alone overnight for the very first time.  We ate junk food and stayed up way too late crying over Monk and it was beautiful.

We got hit with a snowstorm sometime in February and took in a family for a few days one week, then a few more days the next week.

Notable blog posts: ‘actively waiting.’


The most exciting thing that happened in March happened later in the month.  After taking an Ethics final, I officially became a Junior!  After like a day of celebrating, I started studying for my next test.  No rest for the weary.

We celebrated two birthdays as a family – my baby sister’s 2nd and my baby brother’s 15th.


morgan and i before the event.

Oh, and I also went to an author event at a library with Morgan Huneke and sold a grand total of one book.  Yay!  XD

Notable blog posts: My official introduction to The Art of Letting Go (which I wrote because I had a lot of new followers or because I didn’t think I’d officially introduced it yet or because I wanted to divert attention from my newly-published novel… anyway, I was excited, so I wrote it).



me, james, and hannah after the last performance.  so. much. fun.

April brought in a new experience for my brother and I – something we still think about a lot.  The college near us did Into the Woods and James and I (and my bff) were in the ten-piece orchestra.  We rehearsed with the cast a few times a week, and every night the week of the performances.

I also started reading The Ascendance Trilogy in April, and the first book, The False Prince, quickly became one of my favorite books of 2015.  (It was right in the middle of about three or four really stupidly lame books, so that made it even better.)

(I’m really glad I got a lot done in these first few months and no notable drama occurred (well, it did, but it happened slowly), because God knew the second half of 2015 would be really hard for me and my family.)

Notable blog posts: A fun interview with Hayden Wand after the release of her novel, Hidden Pearls.



the kids i babysat (minus the one in the top right).  (and the shirt-matching was unintentional.  of course, my children will all match all the time.) (NOT.)

During the end of April and the beginning of May, I did one of my biggest babysitting jobs ever (rivaling the infamous Florida one in October).  I babysat four children under twelve for five days (overnight, too), while their parents were in Italy.  Seeing as I hadn’t stayed at home without my own parents until a few months before, I was justifiably nervous.  (And the parents were in ITALY.  AS IN PLANE-RIDE AWAY.)  We had fun, though, and I look back on those days with fondness.

I didn’t do a lot of school in May.  After my CollegePlus coach (who I still love dearly) quit early in the month (with no warning whatsoever), I wasn’t able to study almost at all.  LOL.  The school I did do, though, was the beginning of my first “official” college course – a fiction course from LSU (which I quit for a month and a half after I got a horrible grade on my first assignment, setting the pace for the rest of the course).

My dad was gone for about a week, so we did what we always do when he’s gone – watch a ton of girly chick flicks.  I watched Easy A and The Devil Wears Prada for the first time, cementing my love for Stanley Tucci.  (Gosh, I love that man.)

Short hair


I also wrote a lot during this month, mostly on The Art of Letting Go.

The most exciting thing that happened was that I cut my hair super-short for the first time since I was like ten.  It had gotten so long and I just started hating how long it was and how much of a hassle it was.  I wore it up all the time.  Finally, I was just like, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.”  So I got it chopped off AND I IMMEDIATELY LOVED IT AND I STILL LOVE IT.

Notable blog posts: ‘5 things i learned while watching four kids for five days‘ and ‘just keepin’ it real.


June is when everything changed.  I got a new coach and started studying more, read more, wrote more, matured more, and stressed over church more.

My dad was one of the elders in our church, and everything regarding that started going downhill.  Without going into much detail, differences between the elders became harder to deal with and offenses occurred.  Nearly every Sunday, we came home and talked about the sermon.  Church consumed my family’s life – and not in a good way.  It became a drudgery and a drain, which isn’t what church should be.


my sisters and i took my cousin on a girls-only shopping trip for the first time while we were together.  i think it’s going to have to be a tradition!

We spent a super-fun week early in June with my grandparents and cousins, and had a blast getting to know them better.  It was relaxing to be able to get away from all of the drama.  However, when it was over, we were sucked right back into it again.

With the announcement of gay marriage, I voiced my opinion and didn’t care what people said.  My opinion hasn’t really changed and I still believe that, yes, we live in a fallen world; but Who’s still on the throne?  (Recently, though, I’ve come to the realization that the Supreme Court really shouldn’t have had anything to do with people’s personal lives.  Why is it their business if two men or two women marry?  They need to be concerned with other things like the debt crisis and the shootings overseas and here in the States.  [end unintentional rant])


still my favorite picture of me and hannah, even though my hair is defying gravity.  isn’t she pretty?!

During the last few weeks of June, my best friend left for two weeks, leaving me able to help plan a surprise party for her.  On the day of the party, we went out to eat and get dessert, then came back to “watch a movie.”  The surprise was nearly ruined by a friend we saw walking as we drove back to her house (long story), but she was totally surprised by the friends who were waiting back at her house.

Notable blog posts: The above post on gay marriage and my first book-related fangirly and ranty posts – my favorite and least favorite books of the first half of 2015.


I thought June was intense… and then July came.  Oh, boy.

More of the same happened – reading, writing, nannying.  I blogged more, too, which is something I’ve been wanting to do literally since I started blogging back in 2009.  I started sharing my opinion more, and writing about things that I couldn’t get out of my mind (see my Deep Thoughts tag).


we sent this picture to my parents to let them know that we’d finally gotten there safely (albeit super late). (ISN’T MY BROTHER SUPER TALL?!)

My siblings and I took our first big trip by ourselves halfway through the month.  We drove all the way from our house in Georgia to Indianapolis, Indiana for WITAlive, a singles’ conference by Whatever It Takes Ministries.  (They did a marriage conference that radically changed my parents’ marriage – and our family’s lives – in 2014.)  We had such a good time, and learned so much.  I examined my relationship with God more closely than I had in a long time.

After going to WITAlive, I decided to become more real with people.  I didn’t want to hide behind a facade anymore.  I knew it never worked out – for myself or for people I observed around me.  I never insinuated that I was perfect (far from it), but I knew that I wasn’t being real with people, and that had to stop.  I’m pretty sure this became apparent on my blog, as well as in real life with my friends (especially with my church friends).


basically what we did the entire weekend.  filter courtesy of instagram, which i got right after WITAlive.

Over the end of July and the beginning of August, Katie and I went to our first vacation by ourselves.  We organized it with a friend from NC, bought food, and made reservations at a campsite in SC.  The weather was perfect, and we had an amazing time doing whatever we wanted.  (We even ordered pizza the first night simply BECAUSE WE COULD.)

Notable blog posts: So. Many. Blog. Posts.  I ranted about Christian fiction, I wrote a follow-up post because I wasn’t done ranting, I talked about cussing in books, I wrote about finishing The Art of Letting Go, I wrote about the WITAlive conference and what it means to be “Open, Broken, and Free,” and I ranted (again) about writing – this time about ten things people shouldn’t say to writers.  (I told you I started writing more.  This is one of my proudest blog months.)


Oh, August.  Golly Pete.

For one, my normal babysitting job changed slightly, which was a little bittersweet for me.  I was able to finish up a few more courses, but focused mainly on the fiction course (which I still have a love/hate relationship with).  I read a lot of really good books in August – mostly rereads – and I started editing my novel (really re-writing, though).

It’s also notable to mention that, sometime before or during this month, one of my regular babysitting jobs dropped because our schedules didn’t correlate anymore.  I’ve missed it ever since.  : (


shortly after we left our church, i read a book at starbucks for the the first time and it was all i ever dreamed it would be. the fact that God could give me happiness in such a dark time is just astounding to me.

Halfway through August, we decided that the church situation wasn’t working anymore.  August 16th was our last Sunday, and although we knew pretty much as soon as church started that we were going to leave, we didn’t tell anyone until the next day.  Honestly, we were all so heartbroken that it felt like someone had died.  We were relieved to be rid of the stress, but we knew we’d miss it.

Right around the same time, I discovered Dan and Phil, and Sleeping at Last (mainly through his song ‘Saturn,’ which, coincidentally [or not], just came on in my Amazon Music Library).  (Then I discovered this Captain America fanvid, which I still cry over regularly.)  Coping with the church stuff meant (besides the obvious prayer and regular conversations with my family) binge-watching Dan and Phil, random movies (and TV shows like Monk), studying a ton, and listening to a lot of music.  And basically doing whatever I could to get my mind off it.

Notable blog posts: ‘the beauty of life.



look i’m covering up my ugly beach hair!  (jk my fingers were unintentionally in the way.)  (meh.)

My family needed a break from all of the drama (or an official end of the church drama and the beginning of our family’s new life), so we bumped our beach trip to the beginning of the month, instead of later, when we usually did it.  And it was relaxing and fulfilling and amazing and we all had such a good time.  I read five books in that week and it was beautiful.


9/1/15. half intended, half coincidental, FULLY AWESOME.

September was also notable for me and my siblings because it was the month my we started reading the Harry Potter books.  A lot came out of this (good things and bad things), and it’s interesting to note that this happened right after we left our church.  (Although it’s not related at ALL, it’s almost a symbol of everything we were going through at that time – being more free in Christ and dwelling less on the things we can’t do as Christians and more on the things we get to do as Christians.)

Also, a friend introduced James to Twenty One Pilots, who introduced it to my dad, who introduced it to me, who introduced it to Jenna.  And now the four of us are hooked.  XD


feelin’ 22.

My best friend started a relationship with her boyfriend, which changed a few things in our relationship.  Not bad things… just different.

We planned an awesome 22nd birthday for my sister Katie with some of our new friends and old friends, and it was fantastic.

Probably the most exciting thing that happened that month was the fact that most of my family left to go to vacations and conferences, leaving my dad, me, and two of my siblings home alone for a week (and then my dad left, leaving me in charge of my siblings).  Needless to say, we had a blast.  What happens when Ashley’s in charge… will probably never happen again because starting a movie at 1am after watching a stupid movie sounds great but doesn’t end well for anyone involved.

Notable blog posts: ‘on convictions (and harry potter).‘ (More like an essay than a blog post… nevertheless, I am proud of it.)


October was a slightly more chill month than the last previous months.  We visited a few churches, did some school, and mainly just tried to lay low.  No more drama, if we could help it.


me and the three children i babysat.  we had SO much fun together (even though my smile looks totally fake).

Later that month, I went with my mom and dad to Florida, where they were going to help out at the next WIT marriage conference and I was going to babysit some of the counselors’ children.  I dropped them off near the airport, met one of my “charges,” and drove three hours to a house to meet the other two children.  Four days later, I drove three hours back, met my parents, and drove the seven-hour drive back to my house.  It was pretty insane.  And very adult.

Notable blog posts: My first book review


November was a little more stressful, but that’s due to school and other stuff, such as Mom and Dad’s new ministry.  We jokingly say that they traded one ministry for another, but it’s the truth.  Almost as soon as we left our church, they had couples coming to them for help with their marriage.  Soon they were meeting with people they didn’t even know.  (I think we’ve counted seventeen couples total.)  We’re doing a marriage study at our house every Friday night and it’s been going well!


my siblings and i got to put up my grandparents’ christmas tree on thanksgiving day, and this is still one of my favorite pictures i’ve taken this year.

We’ve also really enjoyed seeing what our community of believers is doing, and have visited a lot of neat churches.  We’re content to just keep visiting, though, and don’t really feel the need to join one.

I also started becoming obsessed with Hamilton during this month, which was a good and a bad thing.  : P  No regrets!

Despite my best friend’s relationship status, I realized sometime this month (or during October or even earlier) that I didn’t feel the need to be in a relationship.  That was an incredible feeling for me because I’ve always struggled with that area of my life – feeling like I’m not complete without someone.  But I am!  At the WIT conference, I was reminded that I’m complete in Christ and I don’t need a boyfriend to fulfill me.  (This feeling drifted away a bit during the holidays, but it’s since returned even stronger and I’m so grateful that I’m finally satisfied in Christ.)

Notable blog posts: ‘currently,’ my thoughts on God’s Not Dead 2, my top five favorite Christian films (which is Important because I’ve been wanting to do this post for a while but have never been able to narrow down my list), and my thoughts on the Captain America: Civil War trailer (which is also Important, for obvious reasons).  (I also wrote about being thankful when it’s hard, and got a lot of very sweet encouraging comments, which made me even MORE thankful, so thank you!)


Ahh, yes.  Now we come to the end of the year.  From family drama to friend drama to normal holiday drama, this month has been insane.  My best friend broke up with her boyfriend (which eventually caused our first fight [which I totally started]), and a few other friendships are rocky.  (Speaking of, this is the first year I’ve ever had a fight with one of my friends, first time I ever felt genuine disgust over someone I know personally {nobody who reads this blog – don’t worry : )}, and one of the first times I’ve ever heard something awful said about me behind my back.  All within a few months.  So… yay for firsts and yay for this year and YAY FOR NEXT YEAR.)

Moving on to slightly happier things, earlier this month, I developed my first crush in a while, which was… interesting.  (And speaking of firsts, it was the first time I ever told anyone about who I was crushing on.)

photo (2)

this is the picture i posted on instagram on my birthday.  because it was this baby’s birthday, too.

Also, I turned 21.  : )  Full disclosure (and for anyone who’s wondering), I tried champagne on my birthday (and disliked it), and my first drink at a bar (at my mom’s insistence) was sweet tea.  So… yeah.  Pretty good indication of how my “legal” life will go.  NO WORRIES THERE.  XD

I thought my friends had forgotten about my birthday or didn’t care because everybody was busy and couldn’t do anything with me, BUT LO AND BEHOLD, they had planned me a SURPRISE PARTY.  (I have the best friends ever, guys.)  It was book-themed, and all of the food were references to all of my fandoms, and everybody gave me books, and I had just THE BEST TIME.  I could write an entire post about it, but you probably don’t want to hear it.  : P

photo (1)



(I did tell all of my friends that I couldn’t have imagined that at my 21st birthday I’d be wearing skinny jeans and eating food mentioned in books like the Hunger Games trilogy and Anne of Green Gables and Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series… which is still weird to me, but mostly because it shows how much I’ve changed in the past few years and how far I’ve come since being that annoyingly works-based Christian I was even three years ago.  Incredible.)  (And I could write an entire post about that, too, but you probably don’t want to hear it, either.)

And then Christmas happened and I got many lovely things (including books and clothes) and gave many lovely things (including books and clothes), and my siblings found out we’re GOING TO DISNEY IN FEBRUARY HUZZAH (MAGIC POWERS).  This is exciting for obvious reasons PLUS the fact that I haven’t been since I was six, so yeah.  WAHOO.

Notable blog posts: my Christmastime Is Here blog series, a post about my birthday and reviewing my ‘21 before 21‘ list, and hello oh look oops I’m a Star Wars fan now.


So… now that it’s December 31st and the year is finally over, I’m left thinking about how INSANELY QUICKLY this year went by, but also how insanely slowly it did, too.  I spent so much of this year stressing out about stuff (friendships, church, school), and not enough time being content with just living in the moment and seeing the beauty of life.

This year, I’ve become a little more observant.  I’ve always tried to think the best of people, and since that slipped me up earlier this year, I’ve tried to look at people more realistically.  Maybe it’s made me more cynical, too, but I think it’s changed me for the better.  I know that there’s more to people than what meets the eye, and that there’s more to people than they’ll ever tell you.  Everyone has secrets (and everyone has regrets).

I think next year I’d like to learn how to love people more, how to love life more, and, most importantly, how to love God more.  My relationship with Him has been really rocky this year, and I’d like to go back to my first love, now that a lot of the distractions are gone.  I feel like the beginning of 2016 will be a lot of rebuilding for me, especially where my relationship with God is concerned.  I’ve changed a lot over the past year, and I don’t want to lose sight of Him in the midst of all of the changes.  (I saw something on Tumblr that said, “2015 was my character development year which means 2016 is strictly action and story progression and i don’t know about you but i’m excited” and I feel like I relate to that a lot.)

Because of this, my verse for the year is one that has always been one of my favorites.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORDand on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3

I feel like, in the middle of everything that’s gone on in the past year, I’ve lost my love for Christ.  I want to regain it in the coming year.  : )

And that was my 2015.


continuing the tradition of year-end bathroom selfies with pachelbel.  : )

currently… {cheeky li’l update}

Hello, my lovelies!  Haven’t given you an update on me in a while, so if you’re interested, read the following.  (And if you’re not interested, well, go away.)

I’m Currently…

Listening to:

  • ‘Hello’ by Adele.  INSERT ALL THE HEART-EYED EMOJIS.  Guys, this song is just so beautiful.
  • Hamilton: The Musical.  *sigh*  I love alternative music, and Hamilton’s blend of rap and classical music is just perfection.  I think I found this musical before it got popular (while it was still off-broadway), but the soundtrack wasn’t out yet, so I listened to the clips that were available, loved it, and then forgot about it.  However, since the soundtrack became free with Amazon Prime (aww yiss), I’ve been slowly working my way through it.  Guys, Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius.  (Obligatory Disclaimer: This musical does have some language, so be advised.)
  • Sleeping at Last.  (Which, if you’ve read my past ten or so posts, you should know that already.)  It’s my study music because I can just get lost in the beauty of it and golly pete, is it beautiful.


  • Lovely Little Losers (hence the title of this post).  I’m staying away from Love’s Labor’s Lost, just so I can keep the ending as spoiler-free as possible.  The last ten to fifteen episodes have been so feelsy and I had to take a break for a while because I couldn’t handle it (and, of course, the episodes I waited to watch were the re-introduction of MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE CHARACTER, JOHN, WHO I HAVE MANY FEELINGS ABOUT).  I have no idea how many episodes this series will be, but we’re already waiting for #69 and I can tell that the end is near.  *cries all the tears*  (Obligatory Disclaimer the Second: This also has a lot of language and a few homosexual characters.)
  • The Peanuts Movie.  This should be under “watched” because I’ve only seen it once, but whatever.  It was so cute, guys.  Like my childhood flying across the screen before my eyes.  (And I’m still in love with Linus, so that’s not weird at all.)
  • The clips from Mockingjay: Part Two.  I am not ready.
  • Star Wars.  My siblings want to watch all of them before Force Awakens comes out, so I’m “watching” it, too.  (From behind a book, mainly.)  But I’m definitely going to see Force Awakens because (1) It’s gonna be huge, (2), It’s got Domhnall Gleeson in it (who is Phil as in AWESOME PHIL FROM UNBROKEN and Bill Weasley as in AWESOME BILL FROM HARRY POTTER), and (3) Hello, duh, the Civil War trailer is going to be released before it.


  • Harry Potter.  Lots and lots of Harry Potter headcanons, too.  The fandom’s nuts, guys.  Even more nuts than the Sherlock fandom, partially because the second series is going to premiere next year (!!!!!).  I just finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which has been the longest one so far (nearly 900 pages).  I have so many feels about this series.  I think I nearly cried over something HP-related every day of last week.  (Yikes.)
  • Three books for a fiction course I’m taking from LSU: Great ExpectationsAll the King’s Men, and The Bean Trees.  Of the three, Great Expectations confused me the most, All the King’s Men was the most inappropriate (but I still enjoyed most of it), and The Bean Trees was my favorite.  Here’s a quote from it for you: “Mi’ija, in a world as wrong as this one, all we can do is to make things as right as we can.”  (Estevan said this and I think he’s one of my new literary crushes because he’s just awesome.)
  • The Girl on the Train.  Umm…?  Don’t know what to say about this one since I’ve never really read a thriller (although I’ve watched my share of Hitchcock films).  I read most of it yesterday and will probably finish it tonight, so look at my Goodreads page if you’re interested in my thoughts.
  • Other than that, I’m just trying to catch up on free reading because I’ve gotten like eight books from the library but have been reading so much for that course (and then slowly making my way through OotP) that I haven’t been able to read much.  I’ll get there.

Feeling thankful for:

  • Where God has my family right now.  It’s been a really hard few months (and this year has brought about the most change in my life since we moved to Georgia), but we’re almost on the other side of the hardest part, and we’re all really happy now.  Long story short, we were in a bad situation that we needed to get out of and, now that we’re out of it, we’re seeing just how bad it was and we’re really grateful that we got out when we did (although we should’ve gotten out like a year ago).
  • Where God has me right now.  I went through a few months of being really discontent with where I was earlier this year (especially with my lack of a love life), but I prayed through it and asked God to give me complete satisfaction in Him (which has been my prayer for a while now), and really I think He has.  For the first time in a while, I’m not really not looking forward to the holidays because of my lack of a significant other.  In the last few years, I felt sad that I couldn’t share all of the wonderful things about this time of year with someone, but I’m really, really happy to be single right now and I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving and my birthday and Christmas more than I usually do because I’m not worried about not having someone to share it with.  SO.  All that to say, I’m really content, which is a relatively new feeling for me, and I’m really enjoying it.  : )


  • The re-writes of most of The Art.  I’m a little over halfway through, and it’s going really well.  I haven’t gone over (or even read) most of the earlier chapters since Camp NaNo of last year (because I never edit during NaNo and I was so caught up in publishing Nikki that I didn’t have time to work on it), so it’s really interesting to read it a little over a year after I wrote it.  And I think it’s safe to say that this is my best work yet, so YAY.
  • Some Christmas stuff for you guys, which include my second fanfic ever, so that’s exciting.  *wink*

And I guess that’s it.  I’ve been nannying a ton (like, a ton), and I took my first roadtrip by myself a few weeks ago (don’t think I’ve mentioned that), so I’m definitely starting to feel like an adult.  (YIKES.)

The next few weeks are going to be kind of crazy for me (on top of all of ^that^, I’ve got concerts, MOCKINGJAY2 {!!!!!!!}, Christmas concerts, my birthday, and a few other random things), but I’ll try to stay on top of posting.

What have you been doing lately?  If you’ve been reading or watching some of the same things I have, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

actively waiting.

actively waitingTwo years ago, my older sister and I, along with a group of amazingly talented friends, organized a Valentine’s Day Banquet for the couples in our church, complete with food, games, and dancing. For the weeks before the banquet, I was neck-deep in love songs, romantic ideas, and all the stress that comes with planning something like that. The banquet was to be held the day after Valentine’s Day, so my Valentine’s Day was full of last-minute preparations, including all of the little tweaks and details that would, hopefully, make the night more romantic for the moms and dads who hadn’t had been able to enjoy a night to themselves since their last child was born.

Needless to say, it did not bode well for my mind.

dd3701a7cbb98485633a81a8e81f5d07Throughout the entire day, I couldn’t stop thinking about my pathetic love life. How single I felt. How I wished I could participate in something like that. How I couldn’t wait for the day when all of my dreams would be fulfilled with my marriage to the man of my dreams.

Looking back, all I can think is, “YIKES!”

I had sunk so deep in pity for myself and longing for something I didn’t have that I couldn’t think of anything else. I could only focus on myself and my nonexistent love life.

How incredibly selfish and immature is that?!

I had completely forgotten the rules I had made for myself regarding my future marriage – rules that included standards for myself about purity of mind.

0c2fc37a6df4536d46a3ca87e5c492b3I think that this is what happens with a lot of Christian girls. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that we get caught up in the hype of Valentine’s Day. No matter how strong our convictions regarding this area of our lives are, we’re still humans and we still have desires. We, as girls, have an especially hard time with stuff like this because we’re so emotional. (The commercialism that surrounds Valentine’s Day that says you need a significant other to be happy doesn’t help much, either.)

So how do we get like this? More importantly, is there a way out of it?

Yep. And the short answer is: Through Jesus.

I’m not going to give you a “Three Steps to Contentment”-type blog post. Partially because I haven’t found the three steps and partially because I don’t think it can be narrowed down to three steps. (Although I’d love to hear what they are, if you know them!)

Let’s face it, the Christian life is hard. Jesus didn’t say it would be easy – in fact, He said to take up our crosses and follow Him. We make it hard because we feel entitled to things that we don’t have – things God hasn’t blessed us with, AND PROBABLY FOR A REASON. In my case, I didn’t have a boyfriend/significant other/whatever because I wasn’t ready. I was too immature to realize that. (Now I realize it. Boy, do I realize it.)

For a lot of single people, today will be hard. That’s just how it is sometimes.

But it’s not how it has to be.

d993ed1039673f6fac531b03ef68fff0If we really think about it, how are we desiring to be fulfilled today? Is it a shallow desire that the world tells us is love – something like 50 Shades of Cray-Cray, maybe? Or is it something far deeper than any man could ever complete in us – the true desire for fulfillment in Christ?

This is what I had to discover – or, rather, what God had to reveal to me.

So often, it looks like what the world has to offer is better than what God has. After all, what the world offers is tangible. We can feel a man’s arms around us. We can look into his eyes. We can audibly hear the sweet nothings he whispers into our ears.

But we won’t be content.

We’ll want more and more and more – and that’s mostly due to the way we’re designed. We’re engineered to desire a husband, and we always want more. And if we look for fulfillment in men, we will never be satisfied.

b00ecde4438bff719b19247a0082d0c6Last year, I spent my Valentine’s Day riding in a car… all day. My dad had gone on a business trip to Ohio and had decided to take us with him. I introduced my siblings to Boy Meets World that week while we were stuck in the hotel, so, obviously, we watched it the entire way back. (We blazed through an entire season in a week. By the end, they were addicted. *fistpump*) All that to say, my Valentine’s Day last year was drastically different than the one before, and in more ways than one. I was still single. But you know what? I didn’t mind.

As I watched the love story unfold between Cory and Topanga, I realized that I was content. It wasn’t that I didn’t want what Cory and Topanga had – no, quite the opposite.

I wanted what they had, and nothing less.

I wanted a pure relationship, with one person, saving myself for him even as we dated. I wanted a strong, intelligent, funny man like Cory – and I was going to be patient as I waited for him. Not only that, but I knew I needed to try to make myself into the kind of woman a Cory would want, too.

So what changed?

I had found my fulfillment, and not in a guy – but in Christ. The desire for a husband was still there, but I wasn’t giving into it and letting myself sink into self-pity. I knew I wasn’t ready for a relationship yet. I knew God hadn’t given me a significant other because there were things I needed to do before that could happen.

343d188c9b636eb4a474a70421c4a260I’m not trying to lift myself up here. I’m just trying to tell you all that there is another way to spend today. The Bible says “ask and you shall receive.” So ask God for peace, contentment, and fulfillment in Him while you’re waiting. And then go out and do something with your life. We were given these precious years of being single for a reason. We can do so much now, while we’re not married.

“An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world–how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” (1 Cor. 7:34-35)

Now, while we’re single, we have the amazing opportunity to live with undivided devotion to Jesus. It’s ultimately up to us decide how to use these single years, but I can guarantee that you’ll find complete fulfillment in Christ if you’ll use them to glorify Him.

This looks different for everybody. You don’t have to be out in the streets all day, passing out tracts and giving your money to homeless people… but that might be what some choose to do. You also don’t have to stay at home and play Cinderella every day while watching after your younger siblings… but that might be what some choose to do.

5996f5165dc50b8539a962474ba967f2Your single years will look the way you decide to make them look – and they’ll look even better if you decide to obey the calling God has placed on your heart and do His will for your time spent being single. If you obey Him, He will bless you with more contentment and fulfillment than you could ever receive from a guy. That’s the pure and simple truth. You’ll have bad days, and you’ll have better days. But you will find your fulfillment in Him and this amazing capacity to be able to wait for His best while you’re doing His will.

It’s completely worth it – trust me. I’m not content all the time, and there are days when I want a deeper relationship with a guy – ANY guy – more than I want a relationship with Jesus. But I always, always feel more content when I surrender those feelings of discontentment to Jesus and ask Him to satisfy me. I’m still working on this, and I am NOT anywhere near perfect. I’m just incredibly grateful to God for giving me contentment and want to share with you what I’ve learned over the last few years.

897a006e59c4d050b40094642c3b891bToday, I’m going to be making cookies and singing Broadway show tunes and watching my younger siblings as my parents share their testimony at a couples’ retreat. (I’ll fit Boy Meets World in there somewhere because it is now a tradition!) Tonight, some friends are coming over and we’re going to watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier and I’m going to cry because feels. But, most of all, I’m going to be happy today. I already am! I’m going to praise God for all of the amazing things He’s done for me this past year and ask that He bless me with contentment and satisfaction in Him alone as I continue to wait and do awesome things that glorify Him while I wait for my future husband. So much has changed since that horrible Valentine’s Day two years ago, and I’m so blessed. There will probably be a moment today when I think about how different today would be if I were in a relationship… but I’ll remind myself that I probably wouldn’t be able to spend time with my best friend or eat cookie dough or write a blog post in my pajamas if I had a boyfriend. So it’s all good.  😉

So, in conclusion, we have a choice. Today can be just another day and we can glorify God in it. Or we can let ourselves be caught up in the hype and mope around feeling sorry for ourselves. I made the wrong choice two years ago, and had to suffer through unhappy thoughts because of it. Today looks radically different because God has revealed the secret to true contentment to me.

I’m not telling you what to do, and I’m definitely not trying to glorify myself. I’m just asking that you think about how you’ll spend today: Being satisfied or dissatisfied? It’s your decision.