tomorrow morning is one i’ve dreaded for more than a year. i keep saying that the hard part is over now that goodbyes have officially been said, but ultimately i find myself awake in the middle of the night again, thinking about what’s to come and the unbearable and yet self-inflicted change that’s happening next.

tomorrow is the day we hand over the keys to the house where i grew up, the house my parents have owned for 25 years.

i should start by saying that leaving 549 burrage road is a blessing. it means that my parents can finally build their dream home on a lake and look forward to the next chapter of their (our) lives. there’s no sadness in that. it’s so great, in fact, that it seems surreal. and right now we’re in the surreal in-between where there’s no new home, but no old home either. no kitchen where i’ve spent nearly every thanksgiving of my life, no bedroom that holds my american girl dolls or the pink scratch-and-sniff smiley face sticker on my doorknob, no wall with the hole where my brother tried to make a secret portal between our rooms when we were kids.

i’ve dreaded it for months, but this week i’ve spent so much time thinking about this transition and there are way too many thoughts swirling in my head for one blog post. for starters, i can’t understand what it is about leaving this house that’s so difficult. i will always have memories of my life there. as my brother likes to say, we’re not selling those. my family members are all still very close. giving up this house really doesn’t mean i’m relinquishing anything but empty rooms and blank spaces. i know that the things that make a home aren’t the walls or the paint or the curtains. it’s not the space but the life lived within it.


and despite all that, i can’t sleep tonight. my chest hurts when i think about strangers filling those blank spaces with their things, their lives, their memories. selfishly i want to keep those spaces sacred and mine. i hate that they might not love them the same way i did. that they might cut down the cherry tree in the yard where we took easter pictures, or remove the bar in the kitchen where my dad still makes me coffee on the mornings i’m there, or rip out the retro “hugs not drugs” bumper sticker on the wall inside my brother’s closet.

i know i am a person that feels things deeply, and generally i’m both thankful for and annoyed by that fact. i hate that things and places evoke such deep emotions within me. if they didn’t, i could walk away from this house much more easily than i have. (and i could have thrown out the 39,084 stuffed animals from my childhood that my parents patiently agreed to let me keep in their new garage.) it’s a characteristic i find impossible to describe to anyone who can’t relate. i envy those people who can’t relate. i know intellectually that a house is just a house, but that doesn’t change the emotional connection i feel to it. i became a person within those walls. no matter who those walls belong to in the future, it won’t change the fact that they surrounded me during all of my becoming. they’ll always be a part of me and i of them, and no intellectual reasoning (no matter how rational) can change that.


i always find change to be a mystery because i hate it and yet i desire it. the leaving behind is always difficult. but, in its infinite paradox, not nearly as difficult as the staying-put. and in this surreal in-between, i’m infinitely grateful that saying goodbye to this house is as difficult as it is, because it means that my life there was well-lived. those blank spaces were filled with everything that a childhood and a family and an abundant life are supposed to be. while the staying-put in this house for the last 25 years has meant the leaving behind of so many other things; in all of those transitions, my family and i have become more and more of the people we were created to become, both together and apart. and that’s really always the goal, isn’t it? i am incredibly thankful for the role that 549 burrage road played in our stories and for an unchanging Father who always calls us forward into the unknown. His best is always before us.

photos 1./2. joe hartsell 3. drawing by aaron cote of ga studio drawings


one of my goals for 2016 includes more reading and less netflix. i find this is easier said than done, but i’m proud to say i’ve read more books since january 1st than i read during the whole of 2015, and we’re still in Q1, so i’m counting this as a win already. reading is so much more enriching and fulfilling than watching television (unless you’re watching two of my favorites, 60 minutes or the west wing and then i’d argue it’s totally worth it), and i find it more relaxing as well.

as part of this goal, i’m thrilled to share that i’ve teamed up with the incredible ladies at she reads as a member of their blog network. this means i’m part of an amazing online book club, and i get to read books and then write about them, which is an ideal situation because i love talking books with anyone who will listen to me. there are so many conclusions to be drawn, perspectives to consider and things to discuss.

my first review from their winter selections is what was mine, by helen klein ross. i chose this book for one reason. i really like stories told from the perspective of a person who commits a crime. i know this sounds strange, so let me explain. none of us in generally functioning society wakes up in the morning with the intent to commit a crime. most indiscretions or illegal acts are a product of small, seemingly harmless bad decisions that add up to something larger. we all believe we’re incapable of doing something terrible, when statistics tell us that we could very easily surprise ourselves in the heat of the moment. i like stories that capture this very human part of us, as it often softens my attitude toward individuals who do things that seem unspeakable and diminishes my own superiority when i realize i posses the same vulnerability.

in what was mine, helen klein ross demonstrates this vulnerability so well. lucy wakefield is a successful new york city ad executive, who discovers that, unlike other areas of her life, no matter how hard she works, she cannot have a child. infertility and failed adoption attempts plague her marriage, leaving her alone and completely broken. during an ordinary visit to ikea, she discovers a baby girl alone in a shopping cart, and lucy makes several quick decisions that change the course of her entire life. without even realizing what she’s doing, she kidnaps baby natalie, names her mia, and raises her as her own daughter – for twenty-one years.

this book was a quick and easy, yet gripping read, told from the perspectives of lucy, natalie’s birth mother, mia, and a number of others who are close to them. the story explores mia’s upbringing and how lucy copes with hiding a horrific crime that has given her everything she’s always wanted. when mia discovers her original identity and reconnects with her birth mother, life changes again for each character, but in the wake of a 20-year crime, redemption is far more elusive than any character could have hoped.

throughout the story, a few things stood out to me. first, i really enjoyed how ross crafted lucy’s rationalizations for her crime. the fact is, we all do things we’re not proud of, and generally we craft ways to rationalize our actions. these rationalizations only grow with the size of the crime, and i related to lucy’s internal dialogue on why kidnapping mia wasn’t the terrible crime she knew deep down that it was. not because i have interest in kidnapping a child, but because our rationalizations don’t often really fit the crime themselves – they fit our human condition and our desperate attempt to convince ourselves that our bad decisions are justified. i love the quote “i knew that what i was doing was wrong according to law. but what i was doing felt right, according to the laws of nature.”

i also liked how ross explored the fact that we seem to be incapable of letting go of loving family members who have hurt us. it’s a complicated idea, as it seems that humans are incapable of shaking the connection we have with our birth parents AND those who have raised and loved us outside of that dynamic, no matter what the circumstances. i see this manifested in the lives of those i know, and i believe that loving our parents, whether biological or adopted, is an inherent part of our nature that cannot be renounced.

and finally, through various characters throughout the story, ross analyzes various ideas of what it means to be a “good” mother. is a working mother who works to provide her child with only the best opportunities any less loving than a mother who doesn’t work and is fully present in her children’s lives? what about a mother who leaves her child completely in order to provide him with the best? what is “the best” exactly? is it just love? or is it opportunity, healthy lifestyle, education, or financial resources? each of us has our own definition about what is best for our children. and the fact of the matter is, there’s no one “right” formula. each of the mothers in this story loves her children well, just differently, and kidnapping aside, i think this is truly the most poignant theme of the book.

long story short, should you read this? DEFINITELY. it’s a quick read that you won’t regret, and i guarantee you you’ll be thinking about it long after the last page. many thanks to gallery books for providing me a copy of this book, and if you decide to read it, let me know your thoughts!

title: what was mine
author: helen klein ross
Helen Klein Ross is a poet and novelist whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and in The Iowa Review, where it won the 2014 Iowa Review Award in poetry. She graduated from Cornell University and recieved an MFA from The New School. Helen lives with her husband in New York City and Salisbury, Connecticut.
published: january 2016
publisher: gallery books an imprint of simon and schuster
what others are saying: she reads books of winter
disclosure: i received this book free from the publisher, gallery books, an imprint of simon & schuster, as a member of the she reads network. i was not required to write a positive review. the opinions i have expressed are my own.

click to purchase from amazon

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if any of you out there are jennie allen followers, you’re probably also aware of the IF:gathering and all of the subsequent events and movements that have come out of her annual gathering for women to be equipped and empowered in pursuing lives of purpose. if you’re not familiar with jennie allen, you’ve come to the right place because i’m new to the club too. i recently started reading her latest book, restless, which basically speaks to the heart of every woman who has wondered if this is all there is to life. i’m sure i’ll have more thoughts on that once it’s read in its entirety, but the Lord has been teaching me so much lately through jennie and through lara casey’s book, make it happen. i’m learning that following the lord’s plan for my life is basically the opposite of the boring, disappointing picture i have in my head. He’s been inspiring so much lately and i feel ready to take some big steps during 2016 toward dreams He’s placed in my heart.

anyway, all that said, i’m extremely excited to share that the IF:gathering is coming to charlotte in two weeks, and is being hosted at my church, new charlotte. it’s technically free (although they ask for a $20 donation to help cover food and such) and essentially you’ll be joining 80-100 other women to watch the simulcast of the main gathering that will be happening in austin over the same weekend.

i’ve never been a huge fan of “women’s ministry” in many of its forms personally, mainly because i’ve never been able to relate to the young-christian-wife-mom-of-three-only-listens-to-christian-radio stereotype that i assume attend this type of thing. i will take full responsibility for that terrible misjudgment and admit that i’m sure it’s held me back from meeting many amazing women in the past, regardless of how our backgrounds align. i believe so strongly we are made for community and one of my prayers this year is that i will find deeply rooted friendship and community among more women in charlotte. i’m sure the IF:gathering is a great place to start, and i’d love it if you would join us. i’m excited to continue considering the question what IF i actually lived like Jesus? alongside other women in charlotte.

the details:

when: february 5 – 6, 2016 (starts at 7:00 p.m. on friday, so you can make it after work.)

what: the IF:gathering seeks to gather, equip, and unleash this generation of women to live out God’s calling on their lives. the world around us feels like it is crumbling and almost nothing seems certain, until we look to Jesus and see that our Hope is very clear and certain. He didn’t just give us salvation—Jesus is our salvation and the example of what it means to live in the fullness of grace and truth. what the world needs is His redemption, the very redemption and hope that lives inside of us. rather than shrink back, it is time to love like Jesus loved, serve like Jesus served, pray like Jesus prayed, and pursue holiness like Jesus pursued it.

where: new charlotte church, 11011 monroe road, matthews, nc
(don’t live in charlotte? check to see if there’s a local gathering near you!)

more info here and here. register to join us here!

and, as a fun additional note, i’m working with some great ladies to do the decor for the event. new charlotte is already pretty awesome-looking, but here’s a little inspiration board teaser of what we have planned for you…

IF Charlotte

image credits: 1. if:gathering; inspiration board clockwise from top left: 1. wedding chicks 2. frida vega solomonsson 3. brit+co 4. a daily something 5. mod wedding 6. apartment 34 via domino


i’d venture there is little more depressing in life than the mass amount of dying christmas trees on the curbs of my neighborhood following the holidays. i saw one yesterday down the street from me that still had all of its lights on it, the entire once-glowing showpiece in a pile waiting for the garbage truck.

i know that cut christmas trees can’t last forever. and i know that leaving our christmas trees up past a certain acceptable date (although i’m not sure what this date is? mine is still up.) borders on crazy-neighbor territory. i know all this. but it seems to me sometimes the way we cast off our trees, and christmas altogether, as soon as we can following december 25th in preparation for the next thing sort of means we missed the whole point. i’m not saying we should all sit around in our pajamas every day and watch home alone or even that we should leave the decorations up. i’m just saying that i wish the parts of christmas that are really good: connecting with loved ones without distraction, thoughtfulness, slowness, rest, and reverence should seep into our lives beyond december 26th instead of running full speed ahead into what’s next. the tree might end up on the curb, but the rest of it doesn’t have to.

i realize this post is coming after the new year, but what can i say? i’ve been milking christmas for all it’s worth over here.

on another note, when i was growing up, my best friend and i called each other every christmas morning to discuss what we opened under the tree. in a way, my toys were her toys and vice-versa, so it was really a win-win situation. since then, i always love to hear what my friends – and really anyone – received for christmas. even as an adult. it’s fun. i know christmas is absolutely not about the gifts, but they’re still a good part of it. so in that vein, here are a few fun ones i received this year…



  1. s’well bottle: this baby keeps your drink cold for 24 hours or hot for 12. plus, it’s just so snazzy. i’m staying super hydrated and it doesn’t sweat, so it’s great for using on the go.
  2. whitney english day designer: i’m abandoning my google calendar in favor of the real deal. i’m super particular about how i map my day and this planner checks all the boxes – hour by hour schedule, plus an extensive daily “to do” section. bonuses include daily gratitude, meal planning, budget planning, goal tracking, etc. i’m obsessed.
  3. old navy hi-lo turtleneck sweater: #tallgirlprobs include slouchy sweaters that aren’t actually so slouchy. slouchy sweaters are all i want to wear in the winter, so thankfully old navy has a nice tall sweater selection. this one is perfect. i can’t stop wearing it.
  4. lara casey powersheets: i can’t wait to write more about how much influence lara casey has had on my goals for 2016. reading her make it happen book (which i also received) has redirected and refocused me in so many ways. i am thankful for her and these amazing guided goal-setting sheets designed to help you make what matters happen.
  5. muro jewelry earrings: these studs are the most meaningful gift i received – my dad picked them out for me at our local vintage charlotte market. i’m so overwhelmed by his thoughtfulness and willingness to shop out of his comfort zone that i’m tearing up just writing this.
  6. lancaster paris bucket bag: the surprise of the year right here. was not expecting this one and i am in. love. my parents are really good at making christmas special.

so, happy 2016. i’m excited about the new year, i really am. despite my unwillingness to take down my christmas tree. except mine never actually goes out on the curb. an artificial beauty, she was there only once when my neighbor tried to throw her away. but i rescued her and she lives with me now. all the way through valentine’s day. not really. but also maybe.

image by geof kern via anachoretique


i always love my tiny apartment (at least when it’s clean and i’m not complaining about the lack of closet space) and i’m really excited for some fun redecoration plans i have for the new year. but, it’s safe to say that i never love my apartment as much as i do at christmas time. so today, from me to you, here are a few snaps of my own home this christmas. i’ve had the most fun decorating this year and really worked to simplify my decor and de-clutter a bit (the struggle is real in a tiny apartment). the result has made me very happy and i’ve enjoyed these decorations probably more than any other year thus far.

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i went a little crazy with the evergreen boughs, which i actually got for free from lowes when then cut them off the bases of their real trees (most hardware stores and tree farms will give you their cuttings for free if you ask). it looks pretty adorning the mantel and a little out of control on the mirror (i’m not mad about it though), but making those garlands from crude tree trimmings was messy and so very sappy/sticky. i’m surprised i didn’t ruin my carpet and in the future, projects like that will be done outside. i also had a lot of fun collecting all the brass candlesticks, found at local yard sales and thrift stores. none of them cost more than $3 and they’re nice to have to rotate into decor year-round because brass is pretty classic and candlesticks are nice for entertaining. i’m particularly smitten with the brass sconces i added above the fireplace, which will stay year-round from here on out.

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so there you have it – merry christmas from my tiny little home to yours! i pray that the hope and joy of Christ’s coming will be present in your homes and hearts over the next few days. i am overwhelmed with the glorious gift of His coming in our broken world.

Christstmas card - cropped

this past weekend, my mom and sister-in-law and i hosted a little cookie exchange party for some of our closest friends. (part of our invite above, ordered from wisemonkey paperie on etsy). if you don’t already know this, cookie exchanges are really fantastic because you make one kind of cookie and then you leave with one million different cookies. it’s like magic. delicious magic. we also had a hot chocolate bar, a festive photo booth, and we watched the panthers win number 14 because when you live in charlotte in 2015 that’s what you do on sundays (alternate reason: when your quarterback looks like cam newton that’s what you do on sundays).

grace, my sis-in-law, is always an incredible encourager of my creative endeavors and gave me free rein in her house for decorations. the good news is, her dining room is already beautiful, so there wasn’t much to be done. i’m completely obsessed with eucalyptus at the moment, so i used it (from trader joe’s) and some greenery i cut from a bush in my yard to adorn the mantel and the center of the cookie table. these snaps were taken before most of the guests arrived, so the full cookie effect cannot be appreciated, but alas.


i don’t ever decorate with red in my own home (more on that to come tomorrow!), so it was really fun to pull it into the decor here. the brass reindeer are one of my favorite decorations for christmas and i’m so happy i snagged them a couple of years ago at a yard sale.

now, on to the cookies. see those gorgeous gingerbread ones? my mom made them and she does every year. they’re my favorite. personally, i opted for a simpler less labor-intensive recipe, one i got from a cookie exchange at work last year. they’re simple, delicious (super citrusy – always my personal preference), and don’t require baking. this is awesome because it’s been so ridiculously warm in north carolina, and turning on my oven generally means i then need to turn on my air conditioning. in december. which is terrible. anyway. i modified the original recipe a bit because directions are hard and that’s what i always do, but they turned out well using the proportions below. you can also add coconut, if you’re into that. christmas is for cookies, so enjoy!

orange refrigerator balls
(pictured to the right of the gingerbread in the photos above)

1 box of vanilla wafers, crushed (i used the blender to grind them up)
1 cup of pecans, chopped (used the blender here too)
3/4 cup of orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 pound of powered sugar (this worked out to about 3.5 cups but it’s hard to mess this one up)

mix all ingredients. form into one-inch balls. roll in powered sugar and refrigerate until firm. eat all of the cookies.



it’s been over a year since i posted on this blog. and i think it’s safe to say i’ve thought about it almost every day since then. i don’t really know that there’s one specific thing to blame for my absence, but it’s mostly a combination of a busy schedule, lack of priorities, feeling overwhelmed, feeling afraid to put anything out there on the internet because people are mean, and just plain ignoring the fact that my fingers are dying to type in this little white box again because there’s netflix and instagram and a myriad of distractions to keep me from doing what i’m supposed to be doing. and what i’m supposed to be doing, at least in part, is blogging. i know this somewhere deep inside, but i think sometimes when we know certain things to be true and they scare us, we ignore them.

but, quite frankly, i can’t ignore it anymore. i don’t often hear the Lord’s voice very clearly in my life. i think this is likely because i overanalyze everything, so when i do hear it, i explain it away or overthink it. i’m not that good at discerning what He wants from me a majority of the time (thanks to all the thinking), but in this case He’s been quite clear. He wants me to write on this blog. the gentle and not-so-gentle nudges have come from everywhere and haven’t stopped. and i’m embarrassed to say i’ve ignored them for a long time. like months. maybe longer. and for all the wrong reasons. reasons like “people will think i’m stupid” or “i don’t want to seem narcissistic” or “it won’t matter anyway”. none of these are good reasons. none of these are God reasons.

last night i stumbled upon the refined woman blog, specifically this beautiful post, and it struck such a chord with me. kat’s words are as true to me as if i’d written them myself, and reading her words felt familiar and filling. then i realized something that’s obvious, but maybe not often articulated. some women blog for themselves and for followers and for free stuff. for tickets to fashion week and partnerships with retailers. i never feel encouraged when i read those posts, even if they are lovely and sometimes i get cool outfit ideas. but. some women blog for other women, in hopes that their words will encourage and remind someone she’s not alone. that pretty much all of our experiences and struggles and frustrations in life are shared. and i want to be that kind of blogger. i want to be authentic and honest and show you pictures of real life and things that are beautiful, yes, but beautiful because they are real. i don’t want my blog or my instagram feed or anything else i put out into the world to make women feel like they are less. i want to remind them that they are not alone. that they’re a part of a community (even if it is a virtual one). i want to remind them that they have unique worth and purpose and that life is hard, but it’s also really, really wonderful sometimes.

that’s my prayer for the future of this blog, this site, and some of the new projects i plan to roll out soon. a part of me is still scared. hell, most of me is still scared. i’m scared no one will care, that i’ll fail, that i’ll be disappointed or that i won’t be good enough. but the truth is, that no matter the results i expect, the ones that come will be GOOD despite how they look to me or others. this site and my heart are surrendered, and whether my expectations are met or not, nothing that is done in faithfulness is done in vain. onward!

image via mary claire photography for golden swank


you guys i’m really excited about this recipe post because it includes not one but TWO of my all-time favorite things to make. all. time. i’m pretty excited about it.

sweet potato and black bean soup (pictured above)

i still remember the first time blair made this soup and sent me home with a mason jar of it. fireworks. there were actual fireworks when i ate it. it’s hands down the most flavorful soup i’ve ever tasted and it’s full of healthy things like black beans and veggies. it has a lot of ingredients, but other than all the chopping and measuring, it’s really simple. it makes a huge batch – you could technically freeze half of it and still have plenty. a few little notes:

– if you can’t handle more than medium salsa, cut the chili powder portion in half. if you only like mild, i’d suggest only doing a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon.
– you should use a stock pot to make this soup. otherwise it overflows on the stove and makes your smoke alarm go off.
– if you think a couple of jalapeno peppers would be a good substitute for a poblano pepper, you would think wrong. i had to throw out an entire batch once because it was literally inedible. i should have known when the steam made my eyes and nose burn.


garlic, tomato and balsamic onion pizza

this recipe actually sort of came from blair as well. clearly she’s a pretty awesome cook and i just ride her coattails. i had something similar at her house one night and it was so good that i figured out how to make it on my own. the crust is homemade, but really not that difficult and the balsamic onions are so delicious. if it’s not clear from the photo above versus those in my original recipe post, i suggest as many onions and tomatoes as possible – layer them on!

images via blair – the other sister and my own instagram feed



happy saturday! as much as i wrote about singleness in my previous post, i’m making a complete 180 today. another big part of your twenties is weddings. if not yours, likely your best friend’s, sibling’s, etc. i’ve been in four weddings now and have thankfully avoided hideous expensive gowns, which is a huge blessing. although spanxx in may in north carolina (i’m talking to you, mary) is equivalent to torture if you ask me. whew. there has been such joy in each of the four weddings i’ve been in, and even in my own singleness it’s hard not to revel in it. i love weddings and the details of them, but more so i love what they symbolize and i have been so honored to stand beside special ladies in my life and support them on one of the most important days of their lives. it’s been a pleasure to watch many of my friends walk down the aisle and i’m learning so much about the beauty of marriage from each of them.

anyway, on a lighter note, today i’m teaming up with weddington way for a little bridal party styling challenge in conjunction with bridal fashion week. they’ve asked me to style one of my favorite dresses from their site, and this alfred sung one is just gorgeous. i love that the silhouette is so classic, the tailoring will flatter any figure, and the bow detail in the back (click here to see) is just so lovely. lately i’ve been loving succulents and plaid and tortoiseshell, so i’ve incorporated all of that for a sophisticated fall look. plus, this dress is only $151, comes in 28 colors, has an extra length option for the taller girls in your bridal party (that’s me at 5’10”), and comes in sizes 00 – 28 so it should fit everyone well.

the cool part about the weddington way website is that it pulls together hundreds of bridesmaid gowns from across the spectrum of designers, colors, prices, styles and allows you to share your “showroom” boards (or your favorite dresses) among your bridal party. if you’ve been in a wedding before, you know this is lightyears easier than the overwhelming group emails/texts with endless links to dresses as everyone tries to settle on one. instead, the bride and bridesmaids can mark favorites and easily share among the rest of the bridal party. you can submit measurements and order through their site (rather than having to go to a salon); a plus if you have out of town bridesmaids, and there are really great mix and match options if you’re into several dresses in the same wedding party (personally i love that look).

styling my wedding party someday is going to be extremely overwhelming but a lot of fun if this challenge was any indication. i like to incorporate lots of textures and shades of color, as well as a few prints to keep it interesting. i don’t like matchy matchy looks (hence the plaid and the leopard print) and i think well tailored, structured dresses almost always photograph better than flowy chiffon ones. i also think a bold lip – a la LC above – warms up everyone’s faces and makes everyone look that much lovelier in photos as well.

so there you have it – a few styling tips from a four time bridesmaid! you may now pass along to all of your brides and/or note for your own event. i’m also happen to love events and have a lot of them under my belt, so i’m always up for some new wedding challenges, if you want to send them my way!

thanks for the fun challenge, weddington way!

dress: alfred sung d522 in pearl pink via weddington way
flowers: ruffled blog
shoes: sole society (only $32!)
necklace: baublebar
clutch: clare vivier
plaid wrap: zara
updo: style bistro


yikes. i’m so behind. for the record i started writing this when i was supposed to, but i’ve been struggling with writing this post and i keep coming back to it. (i’ve also backdated it to friday because i can do that and then it looks like i’m not behind. thumbs up.) this is one that i’ve been dreading a little bit since i started this 31 days : twentysome years series. mostly because as much as i’ve learned in my twenties and as confident as i’ve become in myself, and my career over this last decade or so, dating has really just not been a huge part of my life. i’ve prayed over this post before writing because i want to be honest and open about my singleness, but it’s really not something i enjoy discussing at length. and yet, the few times i have written about it are the times i have received heartfelt emails from young women who are experiencing the same challenges of singleness in a world that is full of couples. years of perpetual singleness has been one of the most difficult and disappointing parts of my twenties, and as much as i would like to just keep quiet about it and act like it’s not something that’s been challenging and at times hurtful, i can’t. we’re not called to keep our struggles quiet. rather, i think the things that are hard for us are always opportunities to glorify The Lord and encourage others who are walking the same road.

apart from a serious relationship in my early twenties that taught me you can’t force yourself to love someone no matter how well you fit together, i’ve dated extremely sparingly since age 23. the last six years of singleness have been difficult because there’s no explanation. i have lived in concord and charlotte, north carolina, both of which have extremely high demographics of people my age, and although i’ve met wonderful friends, i just haven’t really met very many great single guys. i’ve believed the lies that there’s something wrong with me, that i’m unlovable, unattractive, too independent, that my expectations are too high. i feel like i am always the girl that’s left behind or left out. always the one who isn’t noticed or wanted or pursued. and the most frustrating part about this is it’s inexplicable. i seem to make and sustain platonic friendships without a lot of difficulty. i seem to manage high profile relationships at work quite well. i do a lot of things and meet a lot of people. i don’t sit alone in my house every weekend waiting for mr. right to show up. people always ask my how or why i’m single and my guess is as good as theirs.

i struggle to be content in singleness. in a lot of ways, i suppose there are benefits. i fill my life with other relationships and have grown closer to my family and my best friends because i’ve had significant time to invest in them. i’ve built a home and a life and career. but in a lot of ways, it’s just getting old. i’m not lonely by definition – i have an extraordinary community of people who care about me – but i’m still lonely. as great as friends and family can be, they don’t always fulfill my desire to walk alongside someone in life. my friends are slowly marrying and starting families and i feel like i’m on the outside looking in. even as i write this, i’m struggling to be honest, to articulate the confidence issues and mental turmoil that come from long periods of singleness. i know i’m not alone in this because i’ve discussed it with others. the Lord has been gracious in reminding me that i’m not broken or crazy, but the frustration and the pain are still very present.

the other frustrating thing about the past six years or so is that The Lord has really shut doors on the relationships that have started to form. sometimes so inexplicably that i must believe it’s His hand. for a long time i believed that He was taunting me. allowing me to experience the beginnings of a relationship and then denying me the opportunity to actually experience it. i was so angry and frustrated. but the longer i’ve lived and seen the goodness of The Lord in other areas of my life, i have to believe that it’s for my good. that The Lord has protected me from heartbreak, from relationships that wouldn’t have been good. through this time and even more so lately, the Lord has been refining me. i believe in some ways if i weren’t currently single, the parts of my life that are good, that are pointing me to Jesus on a regular basis, might not exist. through my friendships and experiences, i am learning so much about what i hope my own marriage will look like in the future and the type of wife i want to be – things that i wouldn’t have known at age 24 and things that i’m glad i know before running headfirst into a serious relationship.

every path in our twenties produces challenges and difficulties. in no way do i believe that if i’d gotten married at age 24 that my twenties would have been better in any way. when i think back over the last decade, i am honestly beyond thankful that i’m still single. it’s not that i would change anything. and yet, the idea of turning 30 next year and still being alone scares me. i feel like my time to build and enjoy a family is slowly creeping by and the things i want the most in life and slipping through my fingers. i feel like i’m clinging too tightly to my desire at times, but i also know that my desire to have a family is not my own. i am confident it’s God-given because while He’s closed doors to relationships, my hope in a future one is never extinguished. here’s what i also know for sure: The Lord is altogether good. I believe with every part of me – even when I’ve been angry and frustrated – that His plan for me is better than anything i could dream up myself. i have several close friends and an incredible boss that i know without a doubt were put in my life by My Father and this makes me confident that He will also bring the right man into my life at some point. i don’t think my story is really very unique or extraordinary, but it’s mine and my time as a single person in my twenties will always be both a wonderful and a somewhat painful time in my past, but i’m confident i’ll look back on it and see The Lord’s hand someday. even when i feel the most single and the most alone, i’m grateful i’ve been asked to walk this road and rejoice in the way The Lord has shaped my life thus far and the way he is continuing to do so.

p.s. if you’re interested in why i’m not online dating, i have a new article on that explains just that. (disclaimer: i don’t hate eHarmony and it’s probably not what you think.)

p.p.s. a few more of my very honest thoughts on singleness, from this past valentine’s day

image via lavender lights