Final Reflections from a Dateless Year of Learning to Live Loved

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Three years ago I wrote an important email. 

Bits of it ended up in a sermon at my church. The entirety of it was read and discussed around our conference room table. If one's heart could be spelled out on a page, this email was mine.

A diatribe of my feelings on the church, this email spelled out my hopes, dreams and vision for the future. It described my passion for authentic, vulnerable community and expressed my desire to encourage others, serve those in need and partner with someone who was passionately in pursuit of doing the same.

So on this day, December 31, 2016, as I review this past daring dateless year and begin to grapple with what is (potentially) next, I return to this email.

At the time of sending it, I was in a serious, long-distance dating relationship and was contemplating what was next. This week, as I've had countless people ask what this year has taught me and what I'm looking for, I cannot help but re-read that email and see that not much has changed. Deep down, my heart longs for the same things. It longs to live life with someone who is passionately compassionate about changing the world and has an affinity to say yes to the adventure that is life in obedience to God's call.

Back then, the only response my essay-length email with all my poured out heart-stuff typed into Times New Roman was one word:


Noble was all he said. 

My passion, my dreams, my vision, my ponderings and questions received a single word. 

If it is one thing I've learned this year (and if it's one thing I can encourage you to do) it is to surround yourself with people who have the capacity and willingness to speak into your life with truth and faith and love. 

With three words, not one.

I see you.
I hear you.
I got you.
I respect you.
I believe (in) you. 
I love you. 

I can't imagine living a life stifled with anything less. What's disheartening is that I thought I could. We were created for so much more...and we need one another in order to accomplish it. 

Which brings me to some further reflections...


Okay I just had to get that out there.

One time I was on a date at my favorite pizza place and at the end, the guy literally reached across the table, picked up my remaining ONE piece of PIZZA, and put it in HIS to-go box.

I was dumbfounded.



#1..if you ask a girl on a PAY. #2...if you hope to date this girl or make any sort of favorable impression upon is NOT okay to put her leftovers in your box and say it's okay because you paid for it. Didn't the momma you likely still live with tell you that's rude and weird and sends flares into the stratosphere that you're cheap!?!?

Another lesson?

So glad you asked.


Anyone who was remotely interested in getting to know me this year was told the same thing. "I'm taking this year to intentionally step away from dating or being anyone's girlfriend but I'm open to building a foundation of friendship and not hiding away in a deep, dark cave."

Some stuck around and some didn't. Some that didn't I heard from this week, all seeking time to "catch up".


If someone isn't interested in getting to know you or your story without getting something in return, they are not worth your time. They are not the right person for you. Boundaries are important and there is of course a fine line between dragging somebody along and/or knowing what you're looking for and timing and blah blah blah but if that special girl or guy isn't willing to take things slow, get to know you as a person or pushes you to do things for which you're, run far away.


Whether it's because they're sarcastic and you're not, or because they're "as bland as quinoa without seasoning", it's the worst. Period. Life is hard. Can you imagine doing life with someone who you can never laugh at or with or because of!? Not me. Believe me, I've tried that too.

And last but not least...


I've spent way to much time throwing myself into relationships hoping things would get better if I only tried more. What I've always found, however, is that I've lost myself in the process and relationships are a two-way street and a two-person responsibility. 

People are changeable to a point, but it has to be self motivated and Holy Spirit initiated. You can't change someone. If you aren't okay with accepting who that person is, don't date them until you see the change you're looking for...and realize some of that changing likely has to do within you, too.

2016 and Daring Dateless has been an incredible gift to me for this very reason. All joking aside, all the above "lessons" are very real hurdles I've had to overcome...most specifically as it relates to honoring God through honoring myself. 

I've learned to accept who I am, what I like and who I want to be...and not changing to appease someone else so they like me more.
I'm learning how to let go of the need to make everyone else happy.
I've forgiven. 
I've stepped into and received healing.
I've become more self aware.
I've named what I value and have come to accept what I need and am no longer ashamed!

But most important?

I've been impacted by all of you.

This journey of writing has been cathartic for me. And hilarious at times. The most rewarding aspect, however, has been hearing from readers all around the world who say that my simple posts have impacted, inspired or challenged them in some way. That by some coincidence they stumbled upon my words and those words touched their hearts and made them feel they were no longer alone. 

Last night I received the following message and it warmed my heart to such a state of content and empathy I don't think I could begin to continue to describe in words.
"I’m about to leave for my family’s Christmas gathering and it dawned on me a little bit ago that this will be the first family gathering where all of my siblings and all of their significant others will be in attendance… I don’t know the right word to describe what I’m feeling right now. Scared/frustrated/nervous/anxious—none of those seem right because I’m going to be with my family, all of whom love me and I love very much. Maybe it’s just “Why?” If “why?” could be a feeling, I think that is what I’m feeling right now. I just needed someone to know that…I’m not in a place to be vulnerable in the way you have been with your blog, but I just needed at least one person to know, and as I racked my brain trying to think of who that could be, you came to mind"

This is why I shared. This is why I put myself on the line. This is why God (and others) nudged me to write.

I'm awestruck by the power of community and authenticity. Our willingness to be vulnerable with one another changes peoples' lives.

May your 2017 be that kind of year. 

Thank you for following, engaging, encouraging and laughing along the way with me!


p.s. You can continue to follow my journey and my writing right here... or until I come up with another witty blog title or write a GOOD book. Taking proposal ideas and leads starting at 12am CST... :)

To start is to be vulnerable

Overlooking Santorini from our cruise ship. October 2016.

23 Days.

***This post brought to you by the very fact that I was just eating caramel corn, drinking wine out of a bottle I stoppered with tinfoil nearly a month ago and contemplating how I got here***

You're welcome.

I am the first to admit that I've done a deplorable job of keeping all of you appraised, but I hope my summaries below will remind you that I'm still here, still single and most hopefully ready to mingle.

So. Let this serve as a countdown where you'll forgive me and we'll prepare to sing in this new year I continue to blog about singleness...because no doubt my caramel corn and wine habits aren't changing and there will still be a need in this wonderful world of ours for some real life talk.

Since I wrote you all last:

I started a new job.
I started my third year of seminary.
I started my own photography business...something I've dreamed for over 10 years.
I started the arduous process of learning New Testament Greek.
I started to feel like throwing up at the mention of NT Greek.
I became president of our seminary student body...somewhat, fully reluctantly. More on that later.

And last but definitely not least:

I embarked on my very first solo trip abroad for a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel Greece and Turkey for a footsteps of the Apostle Paul tour. Once there, I met up with a group of the most inspiring 48 individuals one could ever meet. Oh. And Christine Caine and Bianca Olthoff were there. With us. They hugged me. And because of this I am now fairly certain that my life in this eschaton is complete.

As I reflect on these last five months I've come to realize that they have exhausted the meaning of start. I'm not sure I've ever started so much in my entire life.

I've always liked to start things. Growing up, I was always starting new craft projects and coming up with new inventions and ideas on how to make our world a better place. Starting gets my little "Activator" heart all gooey on the inside. I love the process of starting new things and investing others in my ventures (i.e. you are currently reading one...)

But with all these starts have come other starts.

Alongside all these good things...

I started to doubt.

My call. My talent. My abilities.
My character. My looks. My age.
My worth. My last year. My next year.

In this season wrapped up in the adrenaline that comes to people like me who love "to start" came an equally powerful and all together debilitating season wrapped up in fear.

Am I really called to lead?
As a woman, am I (will I be) included, accepted...targeted?
Do I have anything worthwhile to say?
Am I good enough?

I know I'm not alone in wrestling with these questions. I know I've wrestled with them before and came out on the other side breathing and with all my limbs. I know "the answer" to all of them...and yet, I still struggle. Sometimes more, sometimes less. We all do in our own ways.

For me...

Every time our Greek professor calls my name I sense this surge of terror well up in my gut and feel my mind go numb. I just sit there, full of fear, staring at him like an idiot. I haven't won the prize for our class clown...although believe me I've tried. I'm not sure the guys in the room know what to do with me...and so I sit there...with my palms all sweaty and my blood pressure off the charts...believing the lies that I'm not worthy to be there. That I'm not smart enough. That everyone in the room questions not only my presence, but my abilities. I'm a a room full of boys...and I feel alone and siloed and not sure anymore that I'm called to lead like them.

For many weeks in a row this fall I was overcome with so much anxiety about attending church alone that I couldn't bring myself to go. I couldn't muster enough gumption to get out my front door. And so, I rolled myself up in a ball and cried.

The other day I met this guy at an event. He followed me everywhere. You'd think I had Doritos growing out of my back or something because anytime I turned around, there he was. Anyway. We were chatting and he did the sly "when did you graduate?" spiel that all of us know is just a ploy to get a rough estimate of one's age. Like clockwork, I witnessed all the blood drain from his face as he did the math...only to discover that his wife to be was 6 years his senior.

Sorry, man.

Sorry you think I'M OLD.

What does "looking 29" even freaking mean?!!!?

Just stop.

Stop looking surprised. Stop trying to compliment through your awkwardness that I have nice skin, "have done a great job keeping up with myself" and all the other shitty things you think are okay to say in that moment.

Needless to say, although Doritos guy was nice and well meaning. And although I know that I know that I know he didn't mean anything by his unintentional reaction. And although I know his surprise and (disappointment?) to the number of years I've lived on this earth do not define me or determine whether or not I'm anything other than what I still caused me pause.

When I think about it, starting is precipitated out of a willingness to be vulnerable. We can't begin if we don't take a first step, no matter how small.

When I started my photography business I was so nervous to make my work public because being public means you put yourself out in the world's eye to SEE YOU....and it may not like what it sees.

But you know what? I'm so glad I did it. Over the past few months I've learned more than I thought I ever needed to know as well as learned I will never stop learning. My style will always change and I will always be improving. The nature of the craft is that one does not stay static. As an artist, we are forever being transformed and our style showcases that transformation.

How true is that of our persons in general? Most specifically for those of us who believe that God's Holy Spirit is inside of our souls directing and guiding us toward the end result of Christ's beautiful character.

We will never be the same as we are today. We are forever starting and stopping. Growing and changing.

Which brings us back to this idea of vulnerability and its connection to our souls.

Our dreams, designs, ideas and what-have-yous may be birthed in the secret of our minds and hearts BUT they cannot become reality without action. Without the pen being put to the paper or the rubber meeting the road, our grand ideas will just sit where they were created until the creator will give them birth.

The same is true for our thought life. I may have been attacked while I was down (or as I would like to believe, because the devil is REAL afraid of me) but I allowed those icky lies and doubts to seep into who I believed myself to be and what I believed I was called to do. I allowed myself to become vulnerable to the negative ploys of our sinful world and the king of lies.

The creator of the universe is no different. He starts the world (ummm scary pressure much?! We're talking the universe here and everything that literally exists...and regardless of whether you're a YEC or Evolutionist or somewhere in the middle, I think it's safe to say that the universe STARTED at some point, somehow...I digress.)

As we are told in Genesis, God choose action by speaking his creation into existence. (Again...was he freaking crazy?! What a nuts and yet totally awesome, "I'm creator of the world" thing to do...)

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said ..."
God said. He didn't just hover and he didn't just think. He said....He acted.

Not only this, but God created us. "Let us make man in our image, in our God created man in his own image." (vs. 26)

Think about that.

God created human beings all the while knowing that these same human beings could (and would) hate him and each other some day.

If that isn't pure vulnerability, I'm not sure what is. 

To create, to let your creation be seen and lived, all the while knowing it will reflect you but also may not be accepted or loved or used the way in which you intended...that take guts...and love for the greater good.

So. What are you wanting to start? What have you already started? Is it spreading love and joy? Or is it keeping you in doubt and in bondage?

Every form of action we take in our starts (whether they be of the new job or "why am I still not good enough" variety) is a step into vulnerability. And it's our prerogative to decide to what we will allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

For me. Let it be love. Let it be joy. Let it be peace. Let it be patience. Let is be kindness, goodness and faithfulness.