I’m so excited to introduce you to Emily! Emily says:
When I was small my prayer was that my single years would be used for His glory, and right now I believe that God is answering that prayer. Contentment has become a daily (if not hourly) choice in this season, and because of God’s grace, I am confident that God is using me for such a time as this.
Emily is an online friend turned real-life friend! One reason I love online ministry. We served as group leaders for an (in)Courage online community group for single women, Skyped and chatted, and became friends! This past spring Emily came to visit me in North Carolina after she attended the Make Things Happen conference in Chapel Hill. Anyway, I love Emily! Like a lot of you, she’s who I wish I had been when I was single. Let’s read more about Emily!
Brenda: First, tell us a little about yourself – your name, age, where you live, and where you grew up.
Emily: Hi everyone! I’m Emily, Em to all my friends. I am in my late 20’s and currently live in a darling little lake town in Wisconsin. I never thought I would be a small town girl, but the daily walks around the lake, community farmer’s market, quaint coffee shops and the joy of actually knowing my neighbors has captured my heart.
Brenda: Where do you work, and how did you get started in your job?
Emily: God began moving in my heart on a summer evening 4 years ago. A dear friend and I spent a warm summer evening having heart-to-heart conversations over iced mochas. It was during that conversation I felt the tug on my heart. “You were made for more.” I thought I was happy where I was. I had a good job, I had fun with friends, and I loved my life. But something felt like it was missing . . . that there was more to life than going to work and hanging out with friends. In Ephesians Paul writes, “God is able to do immeasurably MORE than we could ask or imagine.” That night, before my head hit the pillow, I started praying that verse never imagining the journey God would take me on. I thought God would answer my prayers right away. I thought as soon as I moved back home the perfect job and life would be there waiting. God’s timing isn’t our own, and I’m so thankful for that.
My precious Savior took his time teaching me, giving me grace and loving on me during the next few years. He filled my soul with His grace and love and taught that I’m uniquely and wonderfully made to glorify and serve Him. In the waiting period I realized that what I did didn’t matter. What mattered is LOVING GOD and SERVING OTHERS. I’ve been abundantly blessed with an out-of-the-box, faith filled and abundant life.
I currently work with Zachariah’s Acres, a non-profit that connects God’s beautiful creation with children with special needs. We provide rest to weary families and share God’s love with children with special needs. It’s been a God-sized adventure over the last few years and I absolutely adore what I do, even on the tough days.
Brenda: Do you feel like your job is God’s calling on your life or do you hope it leads to something else one day?
Emily: I can honestly say that Zachariah’s Acres will always be apart of my life. I know that God has called me to work and love on the least of these, especially those who have unique abilities. My sweet sister, who has multiple disabilities, has inspired so many areas of my life, and I’m honored to have a chance to bless others the way she has blessed me. However, if I have learned anything in the last few years it is that God’s ways are not ours. They are far bigger and more beautiful than we could ever imagine. I stand with open hands towards my future. I know that if I am chasing after Christ, and listening to his voice, whatever career I am in will be God’s calling on my life.
Brenda: When you envisioned your life as a young girl, did you hope to have a career when you grew up or was your desire more for marriage and children or did you want both for your life?
Emily: My biggest desire has always been to be a wife and a mother. To share God’s love and grace with those in my life and raise up a family that sets God’s kingdom on fire. In the past years, as my dear friends have chosen to stay home or work part-time to be with their families, I’ve wrestled deeply with the Lord about my desires. I firmly believe that God has given me desires to be a wife and mother, but I know that in this season He is using me in ways that are unique to my journey. When the temptation to compare my journey with someone elses creeps up, I rest in the knowledge that His ways are not ours, they are far more beautiful.
Brenda: What fires you up? What are you most passionate about in your life and in the world?
Emily: Oh my goodness, how much time do you have? There are so many things that set my heart on fire. To begin with, God’s beautiful creation is one of my biggest passions. I love exploring, hiking, and discovering more about Him through His creation. I love seeing a child’s eyes light up when they discover that carrots grow under ground or the giggles of joy when they catch their first fish. This year I began a garden and it’s been not only a joy to dig in the dirt at the end of a busy day, but a reminder of God’s faithfulness. This spring I planted tiny seeds in the dirt and with consistent water, sunshine, and lots of love they have blossomed. Gardening has reminded me to take care of the little things in my life and trust that in time it will bear fruit.
Another thing that sets my heart on fire is sharing God’s truth and what he is doing in my life. Whether it is at home or at work, I love nothing more than to sit down with a cup of tea and share truth with someone. I love hearing how God is working in people’s lives and hearing his truth come alive through our stories.
Brenda: Are you involved in serving in your community or church? What, if any, ministries or organizations are you a part of?
Emily: Right now God is teaching me to choose a few things that use my gifts and talents and do them well. I volunteer with the Special Programs (for adults with special needs) at the local YMCA, lead a Bible study at my church, and also run Sibshops for siblings of children with special needs. There have been times in my life when I’ve been involved at simply too many things and I’ve realized that my saying yes might mean that someone else does not have the joy to serve and use their unique gifts. My goal for this coming year is to simplify and focus on using my unique gifts to bring light, life and joy to everyone around me.
Brenda: Tell us one thing you LOVE about being single and one thing you hate (or your biggest struggle) about being single.
Emily: I love the time I have to pour into other people, to deepen the relationships I have with those I love. I love the ability to take an evening off and go for a walk with a dear friend, bake cookies and deliver them to my neighbors, take a photography class, or go help my mom care for my sister.
Right now, my biggest struggle is not having someone to share the big (good and tough) moments with. I’ve been learning that in these moments it’s an opportunity to run to God and find strength in Him first and then also to reach out and connect with friends in my life. Last week I had some amazing news and my first reaction was disappointment that I didn’t have a boyfriend/fiancé/husband to share the news with. I called a dear friend and had dinner with her family (all 9 of them) and it ended up being a delightful and unexpected evening of celebration.
Brenda: I imagine there are times when you feel content in your singleness and other times when you want to throw something across the room because of it, but overall, how do you feel about being a single woman? Is there more contentment and peace or more of the opposite?
Emily: I couldn’t describe the feeling more accurately! Even though there are times when I am discouraged, I have a general feeling of contentment. When I was small my prayer was that my single years would be used for His glory, and right now I believe that God is answering that prayer. Contentment has become a daily (if not hourly) choice in this season, and because of God’s grace, I am confident that God is using me for such a time as this.
Brenda: Do you ever get mad at God because you are single? When bitterness, discontentment, confusion, and even jealousy creep into your mind, how to you deal with it? Do you have a go-to person or scripture verse or something else that helps?
Emily: I wouldn’t say I have been mad at God because I’m single, but I’ve had to learn to be vocal in my frustrations. I’ve prayed some pretty honest prayers and poured my heart out to the God who listens. The Psalms have been such a comfort and reminder that God hears our cries and through His grace turns our frustration to joy.
Brenda: How do you deal with loneliness?
Emily: Prayer. This weekend I did not really have any major plans and I honestly was dreading it. On my Friday run around the lake I was having a big heart-to-heart with God about life and prayed that the weekend be filled with God moments and reminders of His love. And God answered my prayers far about my imagination. Before I knew it Sunday evening had come and I was reflecting on a weekend filled with bonfires, unexpected visits from friends, dinner with a large group of friends (and 5 kids under the age of 5!), fall hikes, farmer’s markets and long quiet times. Psalm 34 says that the Lord draws near to the broken hearted. He hears your cries and struggles sweet friend. In your loneliness be honest with Him and allow Him to lavish love upon you in unexpected and joy-filled ways.
Brenda: Do you struggle with obsessing about guys and dating? Like, if you’re interested in a guy or if you just start dating someone new, do you think about him constantly, analyze every conversation, and get overly attached quickly? Is so (or if not) how do you deal with your emotions?
Emily: Hmmm…not so much!
Brenda: What is your biggest pet peeve about the way single women are perceived?
Emily: My biggest pet peeve is assuming that my struggle with not being married is what defines me. I’ve learned over the years that we all have perceptions of each other that are incorrect. My married friends may view my life as glamorous, carefree, and full of free time. I can often view their life as picture perfect and full of Pinterest moments. Each of us have struggles and burdens that we carry. When we choose to be honest and vulnerable with each other, it opens up space for authentic and beautiful community.
Brenda: Do you struggle with finding community in your local church? How do you find community in a world that seems coupled up?
Emily: It’s a constant, evolving chase. Many of my dearest friends are married and have children and I’m blessed to be an “Auntie Em”. I would not trade the hand drawn birthday cards, sticky hugs and adorable chatter for the world. However, I’ve also learned that we need people in our own season. I’ve prayed long and hard for single friends. For a while it seemed like every time I prayed for single friends God would send me some new ones, but they were married. I’ve learned that we can learn and grow alongside of each other, no matter what our relationship status is. In the past few months God has graciously provided a dear group of sisters that “get it”. It’s been a joy to walk along side of them and grow together. We work hard to talk about our relationship with Christ before our dating relationships and encourage each other to grow as women. Authentic friendship takes work and time, another reason I’m blessed right now to have the time to pour into friendships.
Brenda: Our perception of you is that you are living a fulfilled, purposeful life as a single woman. You’re not waiting around for marriage, but fulfilling God’s call on your life now. What would you say is your secret to doing this?
Emily: God’s abundant grace and provision. Learn hard and fast into Him and know that in your weakness HE is made strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Brenda: What words of advice do you have for other single women who want to live with purpose now and not wait for marriage to start their lives?
Emily: Invest in your single years in Christ and dive deep into the scriptures. Learn more about God and who He says you are. Keep chasing after Him, friend, and know that true purpose is found in Him. Secondly, Take the time now to do what you love! Don’t wait until you are married to break out the fancy dishes to host that dinner party, travel to Africa on a mission trip or buy that home you’ve always dreamed about.
Brenda: And some fun stuff!
Brenda: Which do you like best – Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest (or all of it!)?
Brenda: What’s your favorite drink?
Emily: London Fog Latte (Steamed milk, Earl Grey Tea and Vanilla Syrup…YUM!)
Brenda: Where would you want to live the rest of your life – beach or mountains?
Emily: On a gorgeous cliff by the sea, preferably in a beautiful old home with a wrap around porch!
Brenda: Do you read more fiction or nonfiction?
Brenda: Are you an introvert or extrovert?
Emily: Extrovert! Being around those I love brings me joy and turns the hardest days around!
Brenda: What’s something quirky about you?
Emily: I own a pink canoe paddle.
Brenda: What else do we need to know about you? Where can we connect with you online?