Not Unredeemed

… living the beautiful tension between what is, and what will be …


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What’s Better?

Can you know Jesus more when you are single or married?

I sat in silence for a long time over that question. However I answered would take the conversation into so many different areas. We could argue over Paul’s writings and wether or not it was better to be single or married, we could dive into Jesus’s set apart life, or maybe the examples of marriage and Christ’s love of the church. None  of these addressed the heart of the question though – knowing Jesus.

It was a rare night in the Discipleship House, all five of the D House girls were  hanging out in the living room with me and none of the guys were around or home. Relationship questions abounded and stories were shared as the night grew late. 

I was familiar with the question she posed to me: Can you know Jesus more when you are single or married? I’d wrestled over it for years myself. In my mind I always thought that knowing Jesus better single or married was an either/or thing. One of them must be a better way to know Jesus than the other.

Questions like those below dug deeply into my soul:know Him more

If I never get married will Jesus be enough for me?”

If I  get married, I’ll get to experience more of the Lord’s love cause that’s an example of how Christ loves the Church, right?”

“But then if I do get married won’t that mean that I won’t be able to serve the Lord as well?

Perhaps it is not a matter of knowing the Lord better in “either/or”  (either single or married) but instead a matter of greater importance to know Him in “both/and” (both single and married). Asking questions and wrestling in our souls is a beautiful thing, but we are asking the wrong kind of questions. The question isn’t which season of life can I know the Lord better in, but how can I know Him in the season that I am in now?

Each story is beautiful, individual, song. The Lord will call to each of us to walk different seasons at different times, but the resounding bass in each call will be the same – to know Him. The melody will look different, but there will be a steady beat that does not change in your song. Him. 

A dear friend of mine married young and just celebrated her 10th anniversary. Her husband provided her with a safe home and a loving environment that freed her to begin to know the Lord’s love in a deeper way through her marriage. For me, the past decade of mostly going it alone has drawn me to the Lord’s love in a deeper way than anything I could have imagined.

Had I married young, I wonder if I would know the Lord in the way that I do now?  Would I have been too tempted to put my husband in the place in my heart the Lord should be? I don’t know. It’s not my story to know. Singleness has been one of the most refining fires in my life, but my married friends will say the same about their marriages. I’ve also tasted enough in a serious relationship or two to know that those relationships brought me to the throne just as much as my singleness did.

 In DeepIt’s so easy to get caught up in comparing apples to oranges that we miss the bigger picture: its all fruit. And it’s all about knowing Jesus. Whether you are single, married, divorced, widowed, engaged, a parent, or childless – through EVERY season, Jesus wants to be enough for you. Marriage and relationships have their struggles, their loneliness and their happiness too. And they are different, but Jesus isn’t an either/or. He is in BOTH singleness AND marriage.  I can’t tell you what’s better, but I can tell you that you are loved right where you are, and that He longs to know you and for you to know Him. And what I can also tell you is my story. Tomorrow. 🙂 Check back tomorrow for part 2.

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“What’s Better” is Day #13 of “In Deep” a 31 Day’s Series


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Marriage – Not Your Savior

A beautiful guest post by Nichole from “A Readers Rumination. Nichole is a mom of two, a passionate Jesus lover, friend, and former co host of the She Says Podcasts. Enjoy! 

“How are you doing?” my neighbor asked.

I burst into tears.

I had been married for a little over three years, but I was lonelier than I had ever felt in my life. My husband and I married shortly after I graduated from college. We had the textbook “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” courtship (not without it’s bumps and bruises-after all, most of it was a long distance relationship) complete with sharing our first ‘I love you’ and first kiss after he proposed. After we married, we moved a couple hours away from family, both started new jobs and bought a house. Our daughter was born a few weeks before our second wedding anniversary. I quit working shortly before that to stay home and care for her.

A few weeks before my meltdown outside my neighbors’ driveway, my husband had decided to try out for a role in a Christmas musical. He ended up landing quite a few roles and was gone most weeknights for practices. The show also traveled to different venues much of November and December, meaning he was also gone for many weekends. I had the option of Marriage, not your Saviortraveling with the cast, but I chose to stay home with our daughter.

I felt lonely, isolated from friends and family “back home” that I had know for years, and I was quite a bit resentful that I was “sacrificing” so much for my husband during this busy season in his life. I knew marriage wasn’t supposed to be an endless slumber party, complete with hot chocolate and heart-to-heart talks every night, but my husband was gone pursuing one of his dreams and making new friends in the process. I was a bit envious.

In the midst of my tears, my neighbor hugged me and graciously invited me over for dinner a few times while my husband was away on the show circuit. I’m thankful for that and the many other graces God gave me during that season of our life. Looking back, I can see now how God used the loneliness and bitterness I felt during that season to expose my selfish presupposition that marriage should fulfill all my longings for friendship and relationship without the hard and awkward work of making new friends in a new town.

I still have much to learn now, but more and more God is showing me how my identity is not wholly defined as “wife”. In fact, He often uses this identifier in my life to point out the many ways my heart is selfish and sinful. Being married has not fulfilled me in the many ways I had expected as a young bride. I still feel lonely and misunderstood sometimes, and like any close relationship often it is the people we live with that can hurt us (intentionally or unintentionally) the most. Marriage brings much joy, but also much pain into life as two sinners attempt to live with one another!

In the midst of every happy and sad season, it is imperative to look to Jesus as the one who understands you, completes you and defines you. Doing that puts the pressure off of your husband (or future husband) in the relationship to be everything to you, and you both can ground your identities and activities together in a way that glorifies Christ.

My husband is involved in the Christmas musical again this year. I have a four year old and a two year old to care for now while he is away most weeknights. Even though the cast is not traveling this year I know that this has the potential to be a busy, yet lonely season for me. What’s different now?

1. My perspective has changed. I see my husband’s time away as him using his talents of singing, dancing and acting to advance the kingdom of God and glorify Him. That helps me to have a happier heart while I care for my kids solo, and I find so much joy in my heart when I get to see him on stage and experience the finished production (I mean, hello, my husband is a triple threat. Proud stage wife right here!)

2. I am more intentional in my time spent with Jesus, asking Him to remind me of who I am. Jesus loves to remind us that we are His and that He has a plan for our lives. For some of us, that includes the roles of wife and mother, but do not think of yourself as lesser in God’s kingdom if He does not grant those desires in your life. As hard as that can feel, remind yourself that God can (and will) love you more perfectly than any husband could and that His plans for you will bring Him the most glory.

3. Speaking of a plan, I am also trying to be more obedient to the ways God wants me to advance the kingdom.It’s true that a husband and wife can work together to glorify God, but don’t discount the gifts He’s already given you as an individual. For me, that means writing more, singing more, taking more time in contemplative and intercessory prayer and reading books that spur my heart towards a greater affection for Jesus. I do my best to get together with friends (yes, I have friends now!) that encourage me and refresh my spirit. I am also in the process of starting a master’s certificate program, and I know my husband will be making sacrifices to help me (dishes, anyone?) as I embark on this new venture.

I’d encourage you to take those three steps in your life if you feel marriage is becoming an idol in your heart. Marriage is not your Savior. Honestly, it can be like a crucible at times. God may or may not bring it into your life not to make you ultimately happy, but if you trust Him He will make you holy. If we let Jesus meet us, define us and direct us, whether we are single or married, we can know we are being the best wife, friend, daughter, church member, etc. He has meant us to be.

That, my friends, is eternal.
– Nichole


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Replaced

“The worst part is that I guess I just feel replaced…”

Replaced. Hmmmm. I zoned in as she continued “but I guess, man if I feel this way, you must feel so much worse, right?”

I had to think about that one for a minute before replying. We were chatting about some people close to us who had recently gotten engaged and then kind of fell off the planet if you know what I mean? They become  M.I.A. (missing in action) or in their own little world – I often quote the old Bambi movie and call this stage “Twitterpated” when I see it. (See the cute video below – email readers, try this link)


Ruth, this blog post is for you, as we arrived at our destination tonight before I could reply (and thanks for giving me a topic for today!). I can definitely relate to feeling replaced in close friendships! I don’t know that I feel worse than you do though. Yes, I’ve been ‘replaced’ many more times, but I also think that I learned a few skills which have helped me process it, so it’s actually gotten easier, and not harder for me. So don’t despair!

When your close friends or siblings start dating or get engaged and you are suddenly pushed out into a less central place in their heart and lives, here are a few tips that have helped me over the years (and that I still have to practice on a regular basis!)

 Emotions:

  • Have a good cry. Yes, this helps! In many ways you have been replaced and it’s ok to grieve your loss, even if you are happy for the other person’s gain.
  • Recognize that you can feel two emotions at once – joy for them, and pain for you. Know that it’s a good thing that your spot in their lives has been ‘replaced’. If they are getting married and you still held the closest spot in their heart next to the Lord, than it would be a very bad thing.
  • While your spot and role in their life was replaced, You as a person have not been replaced. They still need you, and you need them. How you interact in each other’s lives is just going to look different from now on.

 Choices:

  • A really important question to ask yourself is:“Is this relationship important enough to me to wait for them?” You have a choice, to close up and move on, or to stay and wait around till their core relationship is formed with their spouse or future spouse. I never yet had a couple NOT reappear after a few months or a few years (the time span varies on their personalities) needing friendship and support from their friends and family.     two way street                                                            Couples need bonding time. As a friend, one of the greatest gifts you can give them is this time to establish who they are as couple. It will be painful to you, and a big adjustment, but if the friendship and investment is worth the wait to you, the friendship on the other side will be all the sweeter and stronger for it. Love is a two way street, but it’s also the sacrifice of a one lane road while the other lane is under construction.
  • You also have the choice to talk to the friend in the relationship and express your needs in the friendship. This can be very tricky to do without coming across as needy or making the friend in the relationship feel guilty. While it can be helpful sometimes, I would approach it with caution and love.
  • Choose to include the person you are feeling replaced by. This can be a tough one, but looking into the future, if you want to continue a friendship with your friend, get to know the person they are in the relationship with. If you have had a close friendship for many years, the new person entering into the relationship with your friend could easily feel threatened. You have the opportunity to bless this couple by becoming friends with both of them. The dividends of this investment will be more than you can comprehend.

It’s so easy to become offended and upset when we feel we have been replaced! It’s ok to grieve the loss, but it’s not ok to let it destroy your relationship with your friend. (Please note the other person always has a choice too – but we are responsible for 31 DAYS OF Being Single our own choices and how we respond to them).

How do you think 1 Corinthians 13 applies when we have been replaced in a friendship? (Please read it slowly).

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

“Replaced” is a part of the “Today’s The Day: Being Single and Fully Alive” a 31 Days Series. To read the pervious post please click here.


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Today is the Day: Being Single and Fully Alive

I have a confession to make. I HATE writing about singleness! Than, why, might you ask, would I commit to writing for 31 Days about singleness? While I would love to answer you with a simple “because I’m crazy”, the real reason I’m joining the Nester’s blogging challenge to write for 31 Days through October, is because I’m choosing to live fully alive in the now. Singleness happens to describe a portion of my ‘now’.  I also realized recently that I would regret not writing about singleness when I was smack dab in the middle of it. We all make mistakes, but regrets are optional. By His grace, singleness will not be one of my regrets.

Posts in this series: (Please scroll down to continue to read more about the reason I’m writing these).

1. Today is the Day: Being Single and Fully Alive                      16. Truth is Truth 

2. Replaced                                                                                     17. Catch Up Day 

3. You’re Not Sick – You’re Single                                                18. Wedding Pictures

5. Single Vision                                                                              19.Nancy Reagan and Preparing for a Relationship

4. Gee, You are Strong For a Lady!                                              20. When You Say ‘I Do’ – You Get Me Too

6. A Different Kind of List                                                              21. Love Formulas     

7. Fully Alive {Explained}                                                              22. 7 Tips for Weddings

9. What’s Wrong with Me?                                                            23. Singleness and the Gospel                

10. Prioritize Grace                                                                        24.Teamwork 

11. Alive and Fully Engaged: Facing the Trials of Marriage from the Limbo of Engagement   25.What I love about Being Single

12. Changes                                                                                    26.Word Snacks and She Reads Truth 

 13. Why I Plan Bachelorette Parties                                           27. Single – Not Alone 

 14. 3 Books on Life that Every Single Should Read                28. Marriage – Not the Ultimate Purpose of Relationships 

15. Awkward                                                                                     29. 3 Foundational Books Every Single Should Read                           30 Invite Encourage, and Your Words.                                       31.Singleness and the Church

Last week as I took a rambling walk around my childhood home, I contemplated the unexpected turns my life has taken and one of them was still being single into my late 20’s. Growing up I assumed I would marry young, maybe even married shortly after high school like a lot of my friends. In the conservative circles, it’s what you were raised to do – get married and have a godly family. Although my life is not what I expected it to be, it’s pretty wonderful.

I’m also a stinker for asking myself tough questions. “Katie, although singleness is not as bad as you imagined it to be, are you living it in a way that you will have no regrets for how you spent your single years?” And it was in that moment ladies and gentleman that this series was born. My one regret would be not writing about singleness when I was in the middle of it.

31 DAYS OF Being Single I’m in the middle of it – the joy, the tears, the longing, the contentment. The peaks and valleys are the sound waves that produce the beautiful rhythms and music of life. We may not get to pick the notes, but we do get to choose how the tune is played.

Through my teenage years and early twenties, I didn’t see very good examples of what singleness could be. What I saw made me pray that the Lord would never let me become what I then deemed as an ‘old maid’. I hate writing about singleness because although it describes the season I’m in, it does not define me. In my perception it defined the singles I knew.

Singleness is a tough topic to write about as it’s easier  to address one extreme of the other – either the longing and the loneliness or to paint it as ‘all joy’. The reality is, singleness (as is the rest of life) contains both. My hope with this series is to show a more complete picture and example of what life lived being single and fully alive can look like. While some days there might be didactic teaching (this is me after all ☺), and thoughts on singleness, more often than not each day will be an open journal of a normal day in my life. Tears and laughter, travel and ministry come what may; I want authenticity to be the flavor of the day.

So friends will you join me on this journey? I’m writing this for me, but in a bigger way it’s for you. The reason I would regret not writing about singleness while I was still single is because I want my life to be an encouraging example to anyone who is observing. I don’t have this figured out, but I do know there is so much to be found in the process.

If you are single, I pray this is an encouragement to you and I welcome your feedback!

Married friends, please consider sending this series to a single friend? And I invite you to stick around for the series as well. One thing I’m learning is that life is life, the applications are often different, but the truths are the same. Married or single, we both experience pain and joy. It may just look differently and I’d love to have you on this journey too.

If you are new to Not Unredeemed or want to keep up with this series, please sign up to follow Not Unredeemed in the side bar.

Many thanks to Natasha Metzler for the graphic design! (She is doing a 31 Days Series too. “Word Snacks – Bite Sized Devotionals for Your Hungry Moments.” Check her out! Thanks also to Dianne and Amelia for helping me brainstorm on just the write title to capture what I want this series to express. Community is wonderful peeps!


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Validate Him

Just because you won’t date him, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t valiDATE him, honoring him in your heart and with your speech. <—- Click to Tweet. I’d be a millionaire if I got $1 for every time I’ve heard a girl say “there are just no good guys around here”. I used to say it myself until the day I saw the destruction it caused. Defeat, anger, and pain flashed across my friend’s face, as I watched him react to the knife this woman’s careless, lamenting words had driven through him.

He was a good guy, a godly guy, he just wasn’t her guy, nor did he want to be. At almost 27 and not dating, I’m aware of the dating issues in our culture caused by both men and women not stepping up. At the end of the day though, it doesn’t matter who is or isn’t stepping up, or if we feel there are no good “guys or gals” left around. Christ calls us to love and respect each other – in EVERY kind of relationship and interaction. Validate Him

We love, respect, honor, and are gentle with each other because we love Jesus and He loves us. That’s it. Honor, love and respect have little to do with other person’s merit. The way we treat each other should be based on the Kingdom of God, not on how we feel about the other person.

There are good guys out there. I’m honored to know quite a few of them. When a guy is told that there are “no good guys” left, it can crush their desire to become more of a godly man.  It dismisses who they are now, and the potential they have in Christ.*

Ladies, even if we never say “there are no good guys left” out loud, thinking it WILL effect the way we relate to the guys around us. Thinking there are no good guys left might seem like a natural response to hurt we have received, or to the lack of dating activity in our lives, but quite frankly, it’s sin.

This sin is something the Lord has convicted me so strongly of in the past few years. It’s sin, because it does not encourage or build up our brothers in Christ, and in our minds, it puts us as above the guys around us. We would be terribly hurt if our worthiness as a women or wife potential was constantly belittled to others. Scripture is clear about how we should treat each other:

encourage one another and build one another up…” 1 Thess. 5:11

Thinking there are no good guys left, keeps us seeing guys for what they are not, rather than who they are. They are redeemed sinners, loved, heirs of Christ – WITH US! Critiquing guys in general because we do not have one sets us in a place of judgment. To judge another man’s servant is not for us to do. If we know at least one Christian* guy, than there are good guys left.

I realize that when we as women, say that there “are no good guys left” what we are really trying to say is that we do not know anyone right now whom we would consider dating or marrying. Well that’s ok, because there are different stokes for different folks. There are a lot of good men, and we will most likely only marry one. So let’s honor all of them? Because the rest are other people’s future husbands, brothers, sons, and fathers. And most importantly, lets honor and validate them in our thoughts and speech because that is how Jesus does it. All of our relationships and interactions should be about one thing – The Kingdom of God.

For practical tips on how to validate the guys around us, continue reading
Continue reading


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“Gram – I am Happy!”

Her beautiful wrinkled hands reached up and gently cupped the sides of my face “Katie, I just want you to be happy!” Bewildered, my brain scrambled trying to comprehend what it was I had to be sad about. I didn’t remember being upset at anything.

A slow smile spread across my face as I looked around the room and realized what my grandmother was referring to – I was alone. Alone in the sense that I had not brought someone home for the Family Thanksgiving dinner. My siblings were gathered in clumps around the room with their wives, boyfriends or “special friends”.  Grammy wasn’t the first one this year to reference the fact that I was “alone”.

Chuckling now, I hugged her back tightly and said with emphasis, “Gram, I AM happy.” It was now her turn to look as bewildered as I had moments earlier. As I looked into her dear surprised face, and those of other family members who had come to offer their condolences of my single state or wishes that I could be happy with someone, I realized they all believed the same lie that I had believed for a long time. The subconscious lie that our identity is derived from our relationship status.

“Married”, “single”, “dating”, are words that describe our relational status for taxes and doctors offices. That’s it. Singleness may describe me, but it NEVER defines me.  My happiness and security does not come from a man, but from my relationship with Jesus Christ, and the status of that relationship is the only one I need to worry about.

only one relationship

For years I subconsciously believed that a change in my relational status would make me happier. I thank God I was ‘alone’ for many more years than I deemed acceptable, so He could strip me of those lies, until my identity lay in nothing but Him.

The further I get into my mid, (and quickly approaching!) late twenties, I’m more and more surprised and blessed to be single in these years. But that wasn’t always the case. In my late teens, I was sure it was the biggest travesty to be an “older single”. This dread came largely from not knowing any older single women who did “singleness” well. They walked around with long faces bemoaning their state, doing little with their lives. To some extent I believed that singleness was a bit like a holding pattern in life akin to the punishment of purgatory. Laughable? Oh yes! In writing, lies are so easy to detect, unlike the actions and emotional thought patterns on a lonely or hormonal day.

To be honest I don’t really enjoy blogging on singleness for a myriad of reasons, but the Lord has been prompting me to write on it for sometime. I believe, it’s because through Jesus I have learned that living as a single in my older twenties is not purgatory in the least! In truth I can tell my grandma that I am happy because in His presence there is a fullness of Joy. I don’t want to wait till I’m married and then write on singleness and tell you all how easy it is. I want to write from the heart of it, and be a testimony to what the Lord can do with a little surrender.  So stay tuned and feel free to suggest aspects of “Singleness” you would like to hear about.


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What Longing Is (Longing Part 4)

Before you read what Longing is, make sure you read what it isn’t too. Click here.

Longing is a mirror that we look into and see our true motives. Purified longing takes something that is good and makes it great. I long to be appreciated for what I do; not a bad desire, but the Lord sees the motive.  When I am not appreciated and don’t get what I want, longing holds up the mirror to reveal a selfish heart. Longing teaches me to love and serve with agape love – expecting nothing in return, serving out of love for the Lord, not the desire to be appreciated.

Longing is a chance to feel what Christ feels. The Spirit longs for His bride. We think we might have been waiting long, but what have we done to Christ? His bride dallies in her marriage preparations daily. We hurt him, grieve Him, and ask Him to wait to come back for us until we can do or experience certain things – until our desires are fulfilled. As we long, it’s a reminder that the Lord feels longings too – for us. How great is His love for us!  We are His bride whom He is separated from. (Revelation 21).  Longing is about realizing that our story is really about the cross.  It’s about becoming the bride of Christ. Christ is coming back for a body that is in portion to its head.  Are you ready for Him?

Longing is a reminder we are made for more.

“Heaven is not here. It’s there. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.” – Elisabeth Elliot – Keep A Quiet Heart

We aren’t made for this earth, friends. Longing keep us from getting comfortable and settling for the shadows of reality.

Longing understands. There is such comfort in knowing that the Lord understands our longings too. Isaiah 40:27 tells us that our ways are not hidden from Him, nor is our cause disregarded. He sees you friend! And He understands your pain.

O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. Psalm 38:9

We can also understand each other’s pain – pain and longing are what make us human, and we have the privilege of comforting each other (2 Cor 1).

Longing is perspective and focus. Without darkness we would never know what light was. The same applies to what we long for – with longing comes a unique perspective. In the absence of what our heart desires, there is room to love and appreciate what was passed over before. Within longing we see a side of the Father’s face that is only shown to those in holy anguish. The choice is always ours – to focus on what we do have, or what we don’t have.

Longing is leaving regrets behind. David Crowder’s song “Oh He Loves us” says: don't have timejpg

“I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way you love us”

While Crowder might have been writing about the regrets of sin, when I sing this song it also means the regrets that come from unmet desires. There is a lot of truth in that line. When we are focused on the Lord’s love for us right now, we can’t regret what He has not yet given us. Our hearts can dwell on only one thing at time, we can foster discontent by focusing on our longings, or we can set them aside and focus on His love for us. A love that motivates and drives us to the point that we are so caught up in it, that there is no room for regrets.*

There is a lot of things that longing is, and that it isn’t, but what do we do with it?

Next: Longing – What Now.

*Please note that not focusing on the longing does not mean it goes away – it won’t always, but it becomes manageable and no longer paralyzes us when our focus is on Christ’s love.

Also in this series:

What to do with Longings

What Longing Isn’t

Seeing Our Salvation in our Longings