a letter to the wanderer. 

Hey there, wanderer.  
I call you a wanderer because that something that binds my heart with yours. We both know what it’s like to walk away from all that is holy and come back with empty arms and hearts. It’s something that breaks my heart over yours. I wish that you would look up from the mire where you are living, remember that your name is beloved, and come home.
When I think about you, my friend, I think about Peter. When I look at myself, I find him in my own heart, too.
Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples. Leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus, Peter told the Lord that he would never deny Him. Jesus was under trial for blaspheming God — by people that were blaspheming in His earthly face. Jesus knew the truth in Peter’s heart and told him that before a rooster crowed two times, Peter would deny Jesus three specific times.

True to Jesus’ word, that is exactly what happened. Two separate groups of people asked Peter if he was associated with this Jesus on this night, and three times Peter said that he did not even know of the man these people were questioning him for. Peter denied the man he had seen transfigured in glory, seen feed the thousands, he heard the joyful shouts of blind men healed.
Instead of again denying Him, again let us praise the name of Jesus.

As recorded in Mark 14:72, “And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he [Peter] broke down and wept.”
After Peter denied Christ, He died and there was despair for three whole days. Three days of Peter grieving his sin and wondering if he could ever be redeemed. Three days of righteous weariness.

Let us break down and weep over the areas in our lives that don’t shout the name of Jesus.

When Jesus had risen, he first appeared to Mary Magdalene, then a small group of disciples, and soon follows: seven disciples including Peter. Jesus approaches them on the beach. The seven disciples were fishing, and similar to when Jesus first called them, He instructs them on where to drop their nets in order to catch more fish. When they followed His instruction, the net was so heavy they could not hold up the abundance on their own. One of the seven exclaimed, “It is the Lord!” (See John 21:7)

Days led under our own leadership become void. Walking with Him? Our nets and our hearts break from not being able to hold all this abundance.
When Peter realized it was the Lord, he grabbed his tunic and jumped in the sea swimming straight towards Jesus.

No matter where you have been lately, you don’t have to be afraid to jump all in to your Redeemer.

Today, I urge you, I urge all of us – jump off the boat and swim towards your Redeemer. We’ve got to be okay with looking ridiculous if we are to make our lives about this ridiculous love. 

He is waiting on the shore. He will sit with us over a handmade feast. His message to us is clear: Wanderer, if you love Me, if you truly love Me back? Show me. Feed my sheep and keep them close to Me. Point them to the love we have. Walk with me. We’ll start here, and I won’t be leaving you alone in the gory and glorious fight.
* * * 

I would just love it if you dropped by to read the rest of this post HERE @ The Rising!

the secret to finding holy rest

In 2 Chronicles, there are two battles that are told side by side that note two important components of the Christian life. We can’t afford to only see each of them individually, but to open the eyes of our hearts to both of them in order to more fully see the truth of who we are to be.

2 Chronicles 18 describes the king of Israel, Ahab at the time, fighting in the midst of everything with his army, disguised so that no one would recognize him from the others, considering the whole army of Syria had been ordered to only be after him. The army of Syria thought Jehoshaphat was king of Israel (instead of king of Judah) and fought against him. In the midst of the fight, Jehoshaphat cried out. It says in verse 31: “Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him; God drew them away from him.” They realized he was not indeed Ahab and soon scattered. When the story seemed to be looking up, Ahab was struck and immediately realized his fate, asking to be taken off the battlefield. The battle did not cease. He listened and watched the battle, “propped up in his chariot”, and “at sunset he died”. I It was a battle where the army was pulled together to fight hard and fearlessly. Afterward, King Jehoshaphat returned to Judah.

Later in 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat is once again heading to a discouraging battle and calling out to God, humbling himself at the thought of battle: “In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you…. For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (verses 6,12). God answers Jehoshaphat in verse 17: “You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.”

There are two kinds of battle we face in our daily walks: the ones we fight until we are dog-tired and bloody, confused at the ending but surrendering it all to the Lord and the ones we watch and wait with belief for our deliverance.

There is one thing that is required of us in every single type of battle, regardless of what it’s for, whether we will be doing the fighting or God will completely take care of us without our interruptions:

We are always, always called to show up.

 We are commanded to stand firm, to hold our position, to remain unafraid regardless of what we can see.

We don’t have to worry about the outcomes, but we still go out to meet the battle. Whether we fight hard or watch for the Lord, in both situations we call upon the Lord to move.

We can’t stand firm in how we want to see the battle becoming, but we can stand firm in the promises of God. That He has got us. We don’t have to fight, love, walk, win, forgive, or surrender alone.

What does standing firm accomplish? As we see in 2 Chronicles 20:29-30, “…The fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.”

When we stand firm we can be confident that people will take note. And whether we are the destination or a stepping stone on the way to this realization, people will know that something as amazing as a battle lived like that can only come from God. They will see that even when you didn’t know what to do, your eyes were on Him.

Your battles, beloved? I know that they are tantalizing. Confusing. They make you want to stay home and face your back to them. But the focus is not on the success of your battle, but a dependence on God that lead the nations to see His face. When you get on your face before the LORD, call for help, and stand firm in the promises of God? Overwhelming armies are exchanged for rest all around. Rest is not found in laziness, but reliance. Rest isn’t in numbing yourself away from your one life, but from embracing what God has for you in all that lays ahead. Your battles are complex. Show up to them anyway. Stand firm in the hope of your God being with you. Maybe your battle won’t recede, but your holy rest is coming.

[ visit my friends @ Walk In Love & find my Stand Firm sweatshirt here! ]

your 365 step guide to a powerful new year

Glory, hallelujah for January 1! How does it feel to be settling into a new chapter?

We are reaching nine full days in 2017. I don’t know about you, but the first week of the new year I believe that almost anything is possible. I can write the book. I can shed the weight. I could fall in love. I can start brand new. 

I hope that I will serve you all better and love you well in 2017. There are literally thousands of internet homes you could be visiting instead, and I don’t take it lightly that for even a shred of time I hold a piece of your valuable time and your heart. I want to make this space inviting, beautiful, and challenging (in all the best ways) for you all year long. I might be more quiet some months more than others, because this year holds big changes for me as well as time dedicated to a few nameless-for-now-Kingdom-rooted goals. But, I promise, you never leave my mind and you are one of my favorite places to land, to reflect, to grow in Christ’s love and instruction.

This year, I didn’t hold back on my goals. Last year, I set some worthy ambitions but never broke them down into attainable, daily steps. The truth is this: you don’t get a renewed mind without being in the Presence of God, a new body without putting something different in your mouth, and you don’t get a cleaner house by googling “cleaning strategy”.  I looked into the face of the things I want in my own life that I have the power to control and said, “This. This is your year.” I threw my excuses in the garbage. I began. I’ve started a vision board. I’ve processed through the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2016. I’ve made a plan of how I want to steward my time. When I stumble on the way, I stop playing victim and continue chasing. But here is the thing: beginnings feel sexy. It is exciting to feel the burn after your first post-holiday workout. It is thrilling to see the first few pounds shed during your first week of clean eats. It doesn’t feel daunting to dig into a project, the study, the semester when you have a bright idea of how it will all turn out. We all know and have experienced that change doesn’t last all year long on adrenaline alone. I won’t succeed with my ambitions this year until they become actions in my daily routine. You don’t become an avid prayer warrior by talking about it, you don’t get the date without asking for it. You’re never truly loved until your heart is exposed. You don’t get vibrant, bigger faith by playing it safe.

Good intentions? Ideas? Pinterest boards? They are home base. They are wonderful tools to keep you going! We kickstart from those spaces, but we don’t succeed until we choose the same thing every day when we get up in the morning. Do you want to know how to get the year you really want? The one you start itching for the day after Christmas? Make a choice. Make another choice. And keep making those choices 365 times. 

This is my urge, my push, my call to you as we plunge wholeheartedly into the new year:

“…Fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:6-7

FAN INTO FLAME THE GIFT OF GOD

You have a gift unlike any other. It won’t blossom by itself. Fan that baby into flame! Pray over it, exercise it, feed your heart with truth, weed through the lies, and repeat! Sure, this year won’t go like you plan. Life will throw you curveballs and you might wonder what is worth all the inconvenience. You’ll get discouraged. But you know what is bigger than our daily anguish and disappointments? God’s love and majesty, grace and joy. If we live like we believe in those things, He will readjust our hearts, shape our manmade goals into God dreams, and mold our year into something so beautiful only He could do it. 

NOT OF FEAR

I know the main way that people try to run out the back door on their new year resolutions on January 15th, April 2nd, July 4th is through fear. I’m not good enough, I don’t have time, why does it even matter? You have to believe that you’ll have the strength to not stay the person you were the year before. That means you’ll experience joy and discomfort, both of which can be terrifying. Don’t dwell in what didn’t get done in 2016. Push. Let go of the weight of your own expectations and let God use you. Run. You are worth it. You belong here. 

OF POWER

If we are in Christ, we have the power of the living God who rose Jesus Christ from the bloody grave by his mighty grace inside of us.

The real question is, church, what can’t we do if we are battling on the side of the Father? Running after God dreams? Fighting the good fight of faith? Becoming a better temple for His Spirit to dwell? Seeking to glorify Him in all things?

OF LOVE

In our frailties and bitterness, the paradox of the human heart, God gives us the growth of lovingkindness. He gives us the love and we hand it right back to Him as a sacrifice when we reveal that kind of true love to the people under our roofs, in our circles, at our tables, across the street, and around the world. Because we have His power, we are able to minister His love with wider implications and a much deeper impact. What if love got a bigger name than chaos did in 2016? 

OF SELF-CONTROL

What do you need to say no to in order to say yes to the ministry God is awakening inside of you? A quiet, suffocating addiction? A relationship?  A responsibility that zaps life out of you? Brothers and sisters, He has given us the power to say no to things that don’t love us back, anything that keeps us from healthily furthering the gospel, and the love to make the tension of the decision worth it.

We’ve been commissioned to do shocking, tough, holy things. We weren’t given a spirit of laziness, of doubt, of unbelief. Power is yours. Love is yours. Self-control is yours.

What would you do if you were automatically promised a yes? Success? Being loved back? If you had never been burnt out? Start there and stay faithful.

In Jesus’ name, what will you accomplish?

 

 

how to be light when you don’t feel light.

It is the holiday season. Turkeys are being devoured, families are gathering, and in the luckiest places, snow is falling.

Across the world, these next few months of holidays are known as the most wonderful time of the year. I hope that this note finds you feeling that cliché down in your bones. I hope your days are becoming a perfect blend of work and sleep, rest and play. I need you to know, though, that you are not standing alone if you are dreading the winter and the holiday parties that seem to point out everything you don’t like about yourself. Maybe your nights are coming sooner and you are just craving some bright and merry days.

The truth is that so many of us are worn and battered from a rough year. Our hearts have taken a beating, a few dreams had to die, and we worked ruthlessly. The year didn’t turn out as we had hoped. We thought that we would be ice-skating with our new bae by now, or giving our parents the news of a pregnancy, feeling the happy change of something when the weather changed too.

We feel so-worth-rejecting. Or simply so-not-worth-loving.

I don’t tell you this as someone who has all her mess packed away tidy in a suitcase, as someone that doesn’t know what all of that feels like. I tell you this as a friend, as someone who has been there: you are so worth loving. When you put your feet to the floor in the morning and already feel a rush of defeat, you are so worth persevering. When you are dancing barefoot in the kitchen, you are so worth celebrating. When you feel gross and when you feel gorgeous, you are always worth affection. When you are wrestling deep in the night with covers and with lies that don’t seem to settle, you are so worth fighting for.

It would mean the most to me if you would read the whole post at its original home –> SO WORTH LOVING!! 

the story of a dusty draft coming to life.

Over a year ago, I started writing a post in my WordPress drafts about loving myself, and people, without filters. I boxed away the concept and let it sit there for too many months, not even wanting to face the subject. It was too much work (as if writing about topics that truly matter is ever easy). A few months ago, when I was desperate for something to write about, I took a scroll through my main points and decided to rededicate myself to the post about the balance of social media and real life. So, I looked it over, deleted a lot of useless words, and added a lot of better ones. I sent the proposal to several authors, and then finally to The Rising Tide Society as a total fluke. I knew that I had a large following, so I was naturally intimidated but I pressed send anyway. The next day I got an e-mail saying that they wanted to move forward with my proposal. I asked my friend Rachel if she would look over my words, and she graciously took the time to edit the piece, rearrange a few sentences, and delete a lot more unnecessary words. I talked to Davey Jones (one of the founders of RTS) on the phone, and it was sweet to hear a genuine voice and to hear the heart behind the e-mail signature.

I don’t know why I let the heart of the subject lay in my drafts for over a year. It was probably a mix of forgetfulness, but also of fear. The fear – not only of this one little post – but of the call to contribute honestly to conversations that matter. I knew that when it came to filters and healthy social media use, this message needed to spread wider than I could spread it on my own.

I took a baby step in faith, and God brought my dusty draft into the light. This past Tuesday it was published, and I am trusting that the Lord led me to send the proposal and that it has been both a challenge and a comfort to hundreds of people (even if I never know how).

I’ve included an excerpt here. Click on the link at the bottom of the page to visit Rising Tide Society’s website and to read the post in it’s entirety.

View More: http://nataliefranke.pass.us/rising-tide-society

(picture not mine)

We live in a world where we put parts of our lives through filters before we allow even our closest friends to see them. We live in a world where we can just delete people without having to look them in the eye as we wave goodbye.

You might be wondering why we’re carving out the time to talk another minute about the internet on the internet. Here’s why: it can be a powerful, community-building tool, but only if we know how to use it in a way that is honest and balanced.

INSTAGRAM IS MEANT TO BE A BONUS, NOT YOUR HOME BASE.

The only reason that Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter are problematic is because people have started to put the base of their relationships and their worth in them. It sounds silly because it is. Your online interaction is meant to be an overflow of your life, it’s not supposed to be your life.1

We have put our identity in something that is quick and has minimum requirements for community commitment.

We cling to words from strangers that aren’t even sitting in our corner.

These things are fun, and they can be authentic spaces for confessions and encouragement. But if you see yourself through the lens of any one media source, it can wreak unnecessary havoc on your heart.

Instagram is something, but it is not everything. 

WHEN REAL LIFE FRIENDS DON’T FILTER YOU, BOX YOU UP, AND CALL YOU BOO.

Instagram isn’t worth our tears anymore.

Social media has killed off some of my most anticipated relationships.

It’s like I allowed myself to think that if they didn’t show me off online, the realness of our relationship didn’t exist or didn’t matter. Or that if someone doesn’t make me their #wcw or mention me in the night of our dreams that what we had wasn’t real. These lies are not true, so from the other side of them — don’t give them space to grow. Just because someone doesn’t post about an event — that doesn’t mean it wasn’t meaningful. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t walk away grateful for you. It just isn’t a little square in their profile.

The world doesn’t need more competition.

Our culture needs more people making memories with one another before they try capturing them. It needs friends that are willing to be honest with each other.

The best friendships happen when you take the pressure off of them. When you don’t feel the need to prove the relationship online of all places.1 When you do, it’s a celebration of the love they are already sure of, because you show them through your actions and in so much more than your tags. . . . .

Click Here to Read Emilee’s Full Post On The Rising Tide Society

peace, packing light, and baby steps

If we were to have a coffee date, and I would look in your eyes, this is what I would say that I’ve been learning and this is where I am coveting your prayers. I would look like a hot mess, because I am tired. But I’d have a sparkle in my eye — because although I need rest and clarity, I am expectant.

1. I want to learn how to pack light. 

Both physically and metaphorically.

I wonder if this is why packing light scares us so much, because we aren’t sure we’ll get exactly what we want. We’re scared to choose anything – a school, a job, a spouse – because choosing one thing means letting go of several others. But sometimes having limited options is a blessing. It makes it easier to choose our path, and choosing means we get to zoom in and enjoy our one, complicated, imperfect path, instead of trying to halfway entertain a bunch of others. No matter which school we pick, it won’t be perfect. No matter who we marry, our spouse will have flaws. But choosing means jumping in and accepting that path for all of its triumphs and trials. It means letting go of other roads, but in the end, it’s better than never really choosing anything at all. In order to hold on to one thing, you have to let go of something else. — Allison Vesterfelt

More on this soon…

2. Pray for me?

Speaking of packing light, I am packing over the next few days to go on a trip to the mountains for a conference. I would love it if you would pray for all the little details to go smoothly, but most importantly for a personal and widespread revival. Pray that by next Thursday everyone that comes home will be closer to the heart of God.

3. It’s possible to have no idea what is next, and still be at peace. 

I have a lot of decisions coming up and unknowns scattered in my brain — but in a priceless way, it has made me pay closer attention to my present. It has forced me to pay attention to the season I’m in and to give it my all. I have been able to dance freer, and to laugh harder, and to be honest with myself. It makes me hug tighter and not grumble about my small town as much as I have in the past. We never know what is next, even when we have tentative plans, and I hope that this is the beginning of a long process that teaches me how to be where my feet are wholeheartedly and to leave stress behind. Which leads me to our next point: baby steps. 

4. We need to get excited about baby steps again. 

If you didn’t know this about me yet, I am a nanny. It is one of the biggest blessings in my life. Today, as the boy I watch was trying to crawl on his knees (and technically failing — he is so close), I realized that we praise a trying again spirit in young children, and we should praise it in adults, too. Babies love it when you get excited for them. They smile, recollect their energy, and try again. This is how they grow, and that’s how we grow. If we praised everyone around us in their spiritual walk as much as we encourage young ones as they try new things (but just aren’t there yet), I think that the world would be a better place. Get excited when you see yourself inching closer to your goals, to the heart of God. We aren’t going to know how to stand strong on our own without being wobbly for a long awhile. It is okay — and required — to lean on other people. Celebrate small victories and keep going.  

5. Sometimes, you just don’t have energy to hold on to Him. 

It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him. —John Piper

As John Piper says, we shouldn’t camp out willingly in the darkness, but it is important to know how to fight for joy when you are immersed in the dark. Sometimes, we just have to pray that He will hold us, even when we are punching His chest. I am learning the difference between wrestling with God instead of running.

What are you learning, and how can I pray for you?

a prayer for the spiritually dry.

Dear God,

May I always see you as holy.

I am not worthy to ask of You for anything, but Your Son did what it took to make this possible, so here I am, clumsy and trusting that confidence is what You have fought for.

Thank-you for answering so many of my heart cries. Help me to notice progress, and to always remember the stepping stones. Help me to remember the ways You have shown up even when I don’t feel You.

That’s it — I’m not feeling You.

Give me the strength to chase righteousness because of Your goodness, and not for the sake of my reputation or for empty applause.

Help me to know everything is from You – yet You are all I need. That sounded so rehearsed. But God, You’re better than the mess and the glossiest things on this earth. Help me to remember this. Forgive me for cheating on You.

Bypass me, Lord, and show people Your love through me. Do something through Your church that human hands could never fix.

Help me remember Scripture in the midst of temptation. I don’t want to cheat on You with the world.

Give me stiff knees to stand firm and a heart of flesh to love well.

Write my words and keep my heart.

Even when I don’t feel Your presence, give me bold faith to keep spitting hopeful sentences to the sky.

for the girl who wants a love story.

Rejection comes in a thousand disguises, but it almost always feels the same. That guy that you never thought you would care for might dismiss you and reduce you to a smirk with no more hellos. When you see that old face again you might feel like his ex-girlfriend from high school that wore his jacket, made him better, and the girl under his arm will never know you were a faded name on his timeline.

If you’re reading this and your heart is healed, Praise Jesus! You can read this from the other side. But this one goes out to my girls that are broken and ashamed to admit it. This isn’t a post about staying pure or who should initiate and it is surely not about bashing men. This is for those of you hanging out in the woods of confusion and for those of you who are sick and tired of the friend zone.

You might be feeling something like Hannah Brencher describes in her book If You Find This Letter: “I didn’t like watching the wife tuck her head on his shoulder and watching him make tiny circles with his fingers on her back. I didn’t like how this scoffing little voice barreled into my head. ‘You? You think you can have that? You cray, girl. You. Are. Just. Plain. Cray.’ The voice never left me, even as I got older . . . and wonder if I would ever get to marry someone who would take my hand before dinner and pray with me about all the things I already knew human hands were never equipped to fix.”

So, when your heart is aching – keep it simple. If you’ve been hit, it’s okay to feel like a complete wreck. Don’t cover up with too many accessories and leave the empty phrases at home.

Read the rest of this post over here on The Rising!

a love letter to the overwhelmed

Dear you, the one on the other side when I press “Post”.

I think about you a lot.

I don’t know about you, but the more I spend studying the Scriptures, the more I am overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed at His goodness and then I am downtrodden because of my own sinfulness.

And the more I focus on my schedule and everything I need or want to do, the more I feel doomed at doing any one thing well.

But these two things are what I want us to remember in the middle of a week full of hustling and tackling our day jobs, whatever they are.

1. Sanctifcation is a process. 

There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ.

You’re going to sin. That’s the truth. But you’re also being renewed day by day.

In the words of Eric Metaxas, “Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”

Chase after Jesus.

See your weakness for what it is — a chance for Him to display His strength within you. Allow this to humble you, not to shame you.

Confess your sin. Don’t run from Him when you sin, it only leads to more sin. Keep pressing into Him.

Pray that He would transform your spiritual sifting and self-conceit into meekness.

2. It will all get done. 

You are doing the best that you can.

There is a difference between procrastination and a break.

Procrastination is clothed like a foolish child and is still claimed by the joy-stealer named Hurry. Procrastination feels guilt and the weight of what she could be doing. A break is an adult who knows his responsibilities. He knows how to balance work and rest. He knows how to prioritize and have a good time.

For me, on the day I first write this to you, taking a break means making another cup of coffee. Putting a vinyl record on. Writing. Going to connect with a few friends. And *gasp*, it’s not even the weekend. For you, this might mean taking a nap, stalling the dishes or deadline work for another half hour, or letting your kids watch a movie.

I’m not learning how to practice taking a reasonable break because I have too much time on my hands. I’m taking a break today to fight against burn-out in the hustle of tomorrow.

Dear you, 

As long as you’re being renewed, you’re doing just fine. 

When you remember Who you belong to, you won’t seek identity in your reputation or your success. You’ll be serving Him and will finally be free to fully enjoy work, rest, and all the grey lines in between. 

 

 

 

make your own dang bouquet.

It was Joe Fox – also known as, NY152 – from You’ve Got Mail that said over e-mail that he’d send Shopgirl a bouquet of sharpened pencils if he knew her name and address. So tonight I’m bundling up my brand new Rifle Paper Co. pencils for myself, because whether it should be or not – Valentine’s Day is hard.

The first time I watched You’ve Got Mail, I was completely captivated into this idea. I’ve made a lot of fruitless attempts at hinting that I want daisies when I’m sick and someone to be my own personalized version of Joe Fox. Call me a sap. I really don’t care. Don’t even get me started on Joe talking about having coffee or dinner or a movie with Shopgirl for as long as they both shall live.

But here I am, the night before Valentine’s Day, tying a bow around my own present.

 

I don’t have much valuable advice for you today, fellow single people. Although I do dare you to ask a barista today for a shot or espresso and cynicism.

But I do know that you can make this day a little bit easier on yourself, whether you’re with someone and you don’t feel understood or you’re straight-up alone. You can deny this until you. are. blue. in. the. face — but you are in the relationship status you find yourself in for a specific — you guessed it and you’re probably cringing — reason.

If you feel like wallowing, I won’t judge you for staying under covers somewhere warm while you watch a sappy movie. (Not going to lie, this is what I’m hoping to do.)

Take this day and make it awful on yourself or make it good. Remember the best memories of Valentine’s Day in your past and dream up traditions that you’ll uphold someday that will make the single people shake their heads. Definitely try to make it better for someone else. Don’t let the unwritten lie of the day — you know, that if you don’t have a date you’re going to die alone — seep into your Monday morning when you don’t have wilting flowers on your desk.

Wallow. Cry. Scream. Write strongly-worded letters that you’ll never send to all those whom have formerly rejected you. Sing a new song. Whatever it is you need to do to grieve to heal or to find hope in the kind of media-focused world where we’re going to see almost everyone’s presents from their valentine.

But I’m challenging you and myself to believe this instead of the lies that tend to overrun this day —

you’re appreciated and golden and drop-dead-gorgeous. you’re hilarious and your taste is unique and you bring something to the table that no one else can. someday, if God deems that you’ll be better together than apart, someone will want to hold your hand as you continue slaying your daily dragons and making this world a better place. they’re on their way, from far or near. they’ll make you laugh a little harder and you’ll trudge through the mess together and learn how to stay. it beats me why they haven’t found you already. but, in the meantime, enjoy a few TSwift jam sessions for either happiness or wallowing, enjoy the relief of not feeling guilty for neglecting to shave your legs, and have a heck of a lot of fun. make your own dang bouquet of sharpened pencils and listen to the music you like. you’re cheating yourself and the world if you do otherwise. 

As I bid you goodnight, I’m going to leave you in very good hands, with some words on singleness from the one and only Hannah Brencher: 

This is my first Valentine’s Day in a while where I’m not single and so it has me thinking a lot on how hard this time of year can be. And how hard singleness can be in general. I regret not writing about it more while I was feeling it. Here’s the thing: no single person wants to hear that the second they stop looking is the moment someone will show up. Just the same, no one really knows how to swallow the idea of “dating Jesus” fully. Being single, when you want to meet someone, is lonely and hard. It’s isolating. It makes you hyper sensitive to other people’s love stories. I’m not an expert but I do know that I didn’t meet someone when I finally surrendered my hopes to meet someone, I met someone on the same day I was blubbering like a baby at my brother’s wedding and praying to God that he had not forgotten about me. I wasn’t completely content with Jesus but I know I was doing my best. God is not an orchestrator of accidents. He has a plan but the plan exists for his glory more than anything. He uses the singleness of some people and the unity of others. Each case is different but necessary to make his glory known. One of the most valuable things I learned to do in my own singleness: date myself. Go on adventures. Don’t wait for someone else to show up to start living. Just do it now. Travel on your own. Get strangers to take your picture. And every adventure will be just another part of you becoming the person you’re meant to be. The person someone else is going to fall so dang in love with. Be your own Valentine. Buy the damn roses for anyone in your life who deserves them. Eat the chocolate. And just know it’s going to turn out good in the end. You’re becoming gold. Absolute gold.