5 Things I Learned in March

1. I’m a cold-weather lover. Well, within reason. I’ve always lived in the south, so this probably affects my perception of “cold”. But still, the creative part of me thrives on and loves the short days and coziness of winter. But apparently even I have my limit. Enough with the cold. Enough with the snow and ice and freezing rain. It’s the end of March, and I am SO beyond ready for spring this year!

5 things i learned in march

2. I have been reminded this month of the goodness and graciousness of God in providing me and surrounding me with good friends that I connect with on a deep soul level. He knows He created me to need that. I do not take friendships lightly, and the Lord has blessed me beyond what I could ask or imagine. And this week has been packed with meals and movies and car rides and Bible Studies and coffee dates and phone conversations with my people. My cup is full to overflowing! Such a precious gift.

3. I am actually capable of trimming my own hair and not messing it up royally. Win!

4. The new Vanilla Macchiato at Starbucks didn’t impress me. At all. I’ll stick with my usual Caramel Macchiato, thank you very much.

5. And finally, this. Because y’all, I barely have words to explain how powerful it is that in John 17, in His priestly prayer, Jesus Christ says His desire is that WE may be with HIM, so that we would see His glory and know His love. This is HUGE and continues to blow my mind a full week after recognizing the sheer beauty of this truth:

“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me,
be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me,
for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
John 17:24 (NASB)

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*linking up today with Emily P. Freeman at Chatting at the Sky as we all share different things we learned in March*

Living By the Spirit

This living by the Spirit.

This walking by and in and through Him each moment of every day.

Through this One who was sent to dwell with us and in us forever.

living by the spirit

I’ll be honest.

It’s hard.

But also?

It’s complete, it’s fulfilling, it’s satisfying.

It’s hope, it’s truth, it’s grace.

It’s life and breath and everything.

Yes, sometimes it feels like a battle. Like living outside of myself.

But also?

It’s worth it.

Because it’s right and holy.

And of course it feels like living outside of myself.

It is.

It’s full dependence on Him.

In this person of the triune Godhead, this Helper, this Holy Spirit, who teaches us all things, who reminds us of what Christ has said, who leads us to walk in obedience to His commands, who enables us and makes us to be more like Him.

In this Spirit who glorifies the One who sent Him.

In this Spirit who speaks only what He hears from the One who sent Him.

He reflects Christ well as Christ reflects His Father well.

And not just well, but perfectly.

Because they are One.

And we can’t even begin to love and obey the Father without Him.

We can’t possibly remember Christ’s teachings and walk in His righteous ways in our own strength.

But as we walk in the Spirit, we bear His fruit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The fruit that reflects the very heart and character of our Lord and Savior.

And though it may be hard.

This living by the Spirit.

It’s good.

“And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,
even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive,
because it neither sees him nor knows him.
You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
John 14:16-17 (ESV)

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*linking up with emily t. wierenga for imperfect prose*

I’ve Never Been to Vegas But My Luggage Has

I was first introduced to Mandy Hale (aka The Single Woman) in the fall while participating in Pete Wilson’s launch team for Let Hope In. As a 28-year-old single woman, I was more than a little intrigued to find a single woman just a little older than me known for giving encouragement to and pouring into the lives of other single woman. So I followed her on twitter, added her book The Single Woman: Life, Love and a Dash of Sass to my Amazon wish list, and then promptly moved on without thinking much more about it.

But about a month ago, after being approached to review an entirely different book on Amazon about singleness, I was reminded of Mandy’s book and decided to go ahead and read it. Which I did…in a day. I literally couldn’t put it down. It was that good!

neverbeentovegas

Mandy wrote in a way that was compelling and felt more like just sitting down and talking with a best friend. The one who’s a few years older than me and can share with me life lessons and experiences (and hilarious, though unfortunate, bad date stories!) that I haven’t quite lived yet.

It’s not like it was full of earth-shattering wisdom or completely new ideas for me about being single, but I felt like she was speaking my language. She understood this being single for longer than you had hoped thing. She understood this trying to follow Christ in the midst of that. And she understood the desire to live fully in this season of singleness while also still desiring marriage and family. She never pit the two against each other, but she wanted to live these single years well … with richness, with abundance, with joy. And even though I have some pretty incredible single friends that I get to walk alongside and do life with each week, she somehow made me feel less alone in all of that.

So when I found out the very next day that she was taking applicants to be on the launch team for her brand new book I’ve Never Been to Vegas but My Luggage Has that released TODAY, I signed up immediately.

neverbeentovegas2

Because I wanted to hear more of her story, I wanted to know more about this confidence and fullness of life in her singleness, and I wanted to be a part of sharing this message of encouragement with other single women. Because I think it’s important.

And y’all. Never Been to Vegas did NOT disappoint.

I read it nearly as quickly as I read the first one…this time extending the reading over two days from the beach (which certainly didn’t hurt). Once again, Mandy’s writing style is conversational and down to earth. And she is such a great storyteller. She has the ability to pull you into her own life story like it’s a good novel that makes you pretty much NEED to hear what happens next, only it’s more realistic than a novel because, well, it’s real life.

Never Been to Vegas is Mandy’s story – her faith journey, really – of all the good decisions, bad decisions, missteps, blessings, and everything in between that has led to her right-now, in-this-moment calling. It’s not a perfect story (because is there such a thing?), but it’s a story filled with encouragement and joy.

And she’s not writing this story about her single days from the other side of already being married. She’s still walking this season of singleness (however long that happens to last) with us. And doing it well. Not always perfectly, but well. And she writes and testifies of a faithful and good God who redeems our mistakes and our mess for His glory.

And there’s so much hope in that.

In the name of honesty and full disclosure, there are some fairly prominent theological points alluded to throughout the book that I don’t necessarily agree with, but Mandy unashamedly talks about her faith as a big part of her story, and I happen to love and respect that a great deal. It’s no small thing that she gets to be a voice to an audience in desperate need of redemptive truth. And since it’s really not a book on theology, there’s no need to get hung up on those points in order to enjoy her story and to hear the truth of her message aimed at the hearts of single women.

But overall, Never Been to Vegas is a fun, fairly light, encouraging, and engaging read. If you’re a single woman in need of hope or simple encouragement in your singleness, or if you’re looking for an uplifting book from someone that “gets you” and that will seriously make you laugh (because oh my word, Mandy is hilarious!), I would definitely encourage you to read this one.

While I mentioned that reading Mandy’s words feels like talking with a best friend, it also feels like getting advice from a big sister who has made some mistakes along the dating road and would rather shield us from some of the unnecessary heartache by not only telling us, but showing us, that there’s a better way. And she invites us to walk with her in that better way.

So go pick-up a copy of Never Been to Vegas and enjoy Mandy’s story. But more importantly, from one single woman to another, be encouraged to enjoy your own story as you navigate the ins and outs of this journey. No, it’s not always the life we envisioned, or the path that we would have chosen for this moment.

But for many of us, it’s where we are.

And there’s abundant life here – fullness and richness and purpose.

Because Christ is here.

And even when it’s hard to actually say it, I trust – I know – that His plan for me is far better than any I could come up with on my own. So if He says 28 and single with no past relationship to show for it is part of His better plan, than it is. And I’ll keep seeking Him and leaning into and knowing Him until He reveals the next part of this plan … whether that’s marriage or not … and maybe one day, my luggage will end up in Vegas, too, but if not, I know my story will be just as good in His hands.

“It is only after surrendering what we think our lives are supposed to be
that we can step into everything that our lives are meant to be.”
- Mandy Hale (Never Been to Vegas)

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*for the record: I was a part of the official launch team for I’ve Never Been to Vegas But My Luggage Has, which means I received a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. this post reflects my honest thoughts on why I enjoyed the book and why I believe this message of encouragement is a good one.*