Beautiful Uncertainty: Singleness, Surrender, and Stepping Out on Faith208
Beautiful Uncertainty: Singleness, Surrender, and Stepping Out on Faith208
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To seek, pursue, and fall in love with Jesus with radical abandon.
Single Woman Mandy Hale shares with readers what can happen in their lives by praying this powerful prayer. She has shown women how important it is to be secure in singleness by being smart, strong, and independent. In this all new book, she will prompt readers to never settle and not miss out on the beauty that can be found in times of “waiting.” The Single Woman Says:
“Whether you’re idling in stubborn sinfulness or walking in seeming never-ending singleness or living with any sort of waiting: Waiting for love, waiting for babies, waiting for marriage, waiting for a cure, or a miracle, or a sign, or for GOD . . . I hope my journey will make the wait a little easier and the uncertainty a little bit more beautiful.”
Starting with relationships, but going beyond into areas like career, friendships, and life, Mandy will guide readers through what you can achieve if you look beyond your current circumstances, never settle for less than what God has for you, and find beauty in the waiting.
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|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Mandy Hale is affectionately known as The Single WomanTMaround the world. In just over two years, Mandy has garnered a massive Twitter following of a half a million people from across the globe. With a heart to inspire single women to live their best lives and to never, ever settle, Mandy cuts to the heart of the matter with her inspirational, straight-talking, witty, and often wildly humorous take on life and love.
Read an Excerpt
By MANDY HALE
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Amanda Hale
All rights reserved.
A Date with God
* * *
A couple of years ago a friend told me about a season she had right before she got married when she decided to spend six months "dating" Jesus. She told me she would fix Him a cup of coffee in the mornings and even reach over and buckle His seat belt when she would be driving somewhere. Her goal was to focus all of her time and energy on Him the way she had focused it on so many fruitless relationships over the years. It sounded incredibly intriguing (and also a little weird), but as I listened, all I could picture was me sitting in Starbucks talking to God in an empty chair across from me and being carted off the premises in a straitjacket.
Before I made a snap judgment about her sanity (or mine), however, I decided that — like a lot of things in life — you shouldn't knock it until you've tried it. I mean, if Jesus is alive and present and on the move in our day-to-day lives thanks to the Holy Spirit (which He is), who's to say my friend hadn't stumbled onto a really genius concept?
A few days later I was in line at Zaxby's waiting to order lunch when I felt God begin to tug at my heart. "Order something for Me too," I could feel Him whisper into my spirit. (And when I talk about God speaking to me, I should clarify that I've never heard an audible voice.)
When I felt His gentle tug, I immediately started to argue with Him. "But, God, Zaxby's is a little pricey. You want me to order a full meal for You that's just going to sit there and go to waste?"
As soon as I responded to God with those words, I could just imagine him laughing at me. (Yes, sometimes I wonder if God is chuckling at my shenanigans. Often, actually. I think He must get such a kick out of me and my ridiculousness.)
"Mandy. I give you breath and life and a heartbeat every single day, and you can't spare seven dollars for Me?"
So I ordered God a chicken finger plate with extra Zax sauce, just like me. (I figured God surely loved Zax sauce since it has to be the modern-day equivalent of manna from heaven.) And when I got home, I sat down at my desk with both our meals and started to eat. Now obviously God didn't beam down from heaven and join me for chicken tenders. But what followed was the sweetest thirty to forty-five minutes of communion with Him I had ever had. There was something so moving about sitting at my desk that day, quietly sharing a meal with the God of the universe. There was something even more moving about the fact that He wanted to share a meal with me. Me. Little ol' me. Imperfect, greatly flawed, often the conductor of the Hot Mess Express me. And yet, there He was, standing at the door of my heart knocking, waiting to come in and eat with me (Revelation 3:20).
I had gone into this experiment with no small amount of uncertainty, even a little hesitation, wondering if my simple offering was silly or pointless or even crazy, but I ended up eating my chicken tenders with tears rolling down my face and His presence hovering all around me.
Later, of course, I ended up eating the second meal myself. And I never regretted the seven-dollar investment, not even for a moment. Because I consider that day my first real "date" with God.
It was the best seven dollars I'd ever spent.
As much of a mess as I can be, and as flawed as I am, I can honestly say my relationship with Jesus never fails to bring me great surprise and laughter and joy. If you don't have that kind of relationship with Him, it is my hope that this story (and this book) will inspire you. So much of the beauty, heart, and messy realness of Christianity is lost in our attempts to be perfect and to convince other people we are. And so many precious moments of closeness and intimacy with God are lost in our fear of being judged, or looking silly, or being afraid to approach Him as a friend. Just stop. Get real. Be who you are with Him, warts and all.
He'll honor your willingness to seek Him above all else. And along the way, the two of you might even share a few laughs.
God, thank You that with You, even the most ordinary moments can be extraordinarily beautiful. Help me to come to know You, not just as a Father and as a Savior but as a Friend.CHAPTER 2
Once Year, One Goal
* * *
Before each new year begins, I usually fill a vision board with at least twenty to twenty-five goals and resolutions for the next twelve months. And over the past several years, I've seen amazing things happen and dreams realized that were lifted verbatim off my simple little dry-erase board.
On the cusp of 2014, however, I wanted to do things a little differently. I listed only one goal on my vision board for the entire year:
I will seek, pursue, and fall in love with Jesus with radical abandon.
After writing that resolution on my vision board in late 2013, my life seemed to kick into overdrive. It was as though the shift in my priorities had shifted me to the next level! Things with my career were booming. The website and my social media platforms were thriving. My friendships were being strengthened. I even started getting healthier in my eating and exercise habits.
Most importantly, my relationship with Jesus did indeed become the most precious, life-giving, and joy-producing relationship of all. I was taking time to meditate and be still and get silent and stop talking at Him and instead listen to Him. My life had never felt more hopeful and exciting, and, well ... alive.
"Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." — Matthew 6:33 ESV
It's like God wanted me to see, really see, that I never had to seek success at all. Or friendships. Or love. Or opportunity. Or anything other than Him. We hear the Scriptures and we learn the Scriptures and we recite the Scriptures, but when we actually see the Scriptures lift right off the page and play out in real time, in real ways in our lives ... it's awe inspiring.
And the best part was, I didn't want to pursue anything other than Him. The more He added to my life, the less I needed anything other than Him. It was the most perfect example of the upside-down way Jesus does things in His kingdom. The last will become first, the humble will be exalted, the poor will become rich. The more I had of Him, the less I needed anything else.
Turns out, the more you seek Him and the more you find Him, the less you need the "things." He is beautifully, perfectly, entirely enough.
EXERCISE: CREATE YOUR OWN VISION BOARD
Creating your own vision board is super easy to do, and the benefits far outweigh the cost! There's something powerful about writing out your prayers and dreams and goals and having them posted somewhere where you see them every single day. Plus, it's biblical: "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Proverbs 29:18 KJV).
I created my vision board from a plain white dry-erase board. It's as easy breezy as that. Most of the time I simply write my goals, dreams, prayers, and plans in list format, but occasionally I will tape some pictures up for added encouragement. You could also use a bulletin board if you prefer to have nothing but pictures for inspiration. Obviously, Pinterest makes for an excellent and endless source of material — from pictures to healthy eating plans to quotes and everything else in between!
Before you begin your board, I would encourage you to say a prayer and ask God to reveal what He would have you focus on for the weeks, months, or even year ahead. Had I not done that, I wouldn't have been led to write only one goal on my vision board for 2014, and the incredible year that followed might have never happened, including the inspiration for this book!
You can change your list as often as you want — or as quickly as you start checking off goals. You'll be surprised to see how being bold enough to lay out your dreams in black and white has a way of bringing them to life. And most importantly, hang your board in a place where you will see it at least a couple of times a day. I try to read through mine every morning when I wake up and at night before I go to sleep.
You don't have to wait for a new year, a new month, a new week, or even a new day to create your vision board. You can start now!
Happy dreaming, praying, envisioning, pinning, creating, and realizing!CHAPTER 3
Coffee with Jesus
* * *
As 2013 was drawing to a close, God had begun to shake my spiritual foundations to the core. I suspect so He could put down new ones.
I had my one goal in place for the upcoming year and was attending a new Bible study that had revolutionized my relationship with Jesus. One night a wonderful lady stood up and gave her testimony about her quiet time with the Lord, and her words left me speechless. When she enters into her quiet time, she sits in her favorite place and visualizes she's there with Jesus, simply having a conversation with Him. Her place is her front-porch swing, but you can really pick any place that represents peace and calm and openness to you. (You can actually do this wherever you are, even if you are on the other side of the world from your special place. Just close your eyes and picture yourself there! That's the beauty of meditation.)
Why had I never thought of this before? Why had I just always talked at Him and not to Him?
In case the concept of spending quiet time with God is unfamiliar to you (as it was to me for a long time), it's basically taking time either within your normal prayer time or throughout the day to get silent before God and listen for His voice. The Bible tells us in John 16:13: "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come" (NASB).
Think about it. If you had a friend who was always talking, talking, talking but never stopped to take a breath and listen to what you had to say, would the friendship last very long? Our relationship with God is much the same way. It can be either as shallow as we settle for or as deep as we are willing to go.
Well, I decided I was tired of the kiddie pool. I wanted to go deeper with Him. I wanted to know Him more.
I wanted to know Him all I could.
The place where I began to visualize myself talking to Jesus was in front of my fireplace with a cup of coffee. And that is where my quiet time is spent to this day. Warmth to me fosters communion and closeness and conversation. I sit by my little fireplace with my cup of coffee and picture Him there with me and invite Him to join me in my quiet time and tell me anything He wants me to know. Most days don't start until I've had my fireside chat with Jesus. My prayer time has never been so rich or so sweet. We don't hurry, Jesus and me. We take our time. Sometimes I talk first; sometimes I simply wait. It's becoming easier and easier to close my eyes and see Him sitting there beside me, coffee mug in hand.
Sometimes He speaks to my spirit. Sometimes we sit silently. I tell Him funny things. I tell Him serious things. I ask Him questions. Sometimes He answers. Sometimes He doesn't. Sometimes I picture us toasting our coffee mugs together in celebration when something really good happens.
But whatever we do, it's beautiful. It's beautiful and uncertain and even a little vulnerable, inviting Jesus to join me in the midst of whatever mess I've created this week. It's all about patience and childlike faith and a willingness to wait.
As are most worthwhile endeavors in life.
I'm learning God wants to speak to us, and we have to offer Him the beautiful silence to do so. When I quiet my heart and my thoughts and just draw close to Him, I begin to hear His still, small voice in my spirit. Today I urge you to stop talking and stop asking and stop begging and stop requesting and just get silent in His presence and listen. Who knows? His still, small voice might just blow your mind.
God, thank You for the sweetness of Your presence. Show me how to not just talk at You but to listen to You. Remove any distraction that would keep me from hearing Your still, small voice.CHAPTER 4
If an Ex Pokes You on Facebook and You Don't Respond, Did Anything Actually Happen?
* * *
Even though I hesitate to give him one more keystroke or one more dot of ink on the pages of my life, the continuing saga of Mr. E and me (my on-again/ off-again ex of seven years) is a story that needs to be told. Because, you see, the story finally gets a conclusion this time.
He came back into my life on a Monday.
As you may recall, at the end of I've Never Been to Vegas but My Luggage Has, I hadn't spoken to Mr. E in six months. That six months stretched into a year, and then almost another year until the final weeks of 2013, when I suddenly found myself Facebook to Facebook with Mr. E.
Being that it had been one year, ten months, and eighteen days since we had spoken a word to one another, and given his penchant for grand gestures, you're probably thinking he swept back into my life with great pomp and circumstance, right?
Yeah. No. It was in the form of (drumroll, please) ...
A Facebook poke.
Are you kidding me?
Let me take a moment to say here and now that I have never understood Facebook pokes. They are weird. They seem antiquated, like something better suited for Myspace. And they're completely arbitrary and random. What does a "poke" mean, exactly? That you want to talk? Then why not just send me a message? Call me crazy, but I just think there are a lot better ways to communicate than through a Facebook poke.
But I digress. Then again, this was Mr. E. He wasn't exactly known for his communication skills.
Why now? Why after almost two years was this epic character from my past choosing to reemerge into my present?
And what was I supposed to do about it? Ignore him? Or, dare I ... poke back?
I remember asking my Twitter friends what it all meant. I actually tweeted, "If an ex pokes you on Facebook and you don't respond, did anything actually happen?" After much debate, the general consensus seemed to be that Facebook poking was sometimes a way for someone you hadn't spoken to in a while to reestablish communication. A safety net, in a manner of speaking. Reaching out and indicating interest in talking without putting much on the line (well, that part sounded familiar). So there it was. This was clearly Mr. E's way of letting me know he was back on the grid of my life, if I wanted him there.
But did I want him there? That was the real question. Perhaps my reaction to the poke was less confusion about what a Facebook poke meant and more about what a Facebook poke from Mr. E meant.
God had let me know me almost two years prior, after the last time I spoke with Mr. E, that I was not to contact him anymore until He freed me to do so. That I was to completely walk away and let him go and do nothing whatsoever except pray for him. That was the only action I felt freed to take on behalf of this giant question mark of a relationship.
So I did. Night after night, for almost two years, I prayed for him. From the darkness of my front steps on cold winter nights. From beneath the shade of my favorite tree at the park on warm spring days. From my table at Starbucks watching the brilliantly hued autumn leaves drift slowly to the ground on crisp fall afternoons. For two years I cried out to God on Mr. E's behalf. In the silence, in the quiet, it seemed absolutely nothing was happening on the surface to move either God or Mr. E to make any sort of a bold move on behalf of our relationship. I couldn't see any sign that anything in the heavens or on the earth was being shaken. (But the beautiful thing about God is that in the middle of the uncertainty of my relationship with Mr. E, I was being drawn closer to Him.)
And then came the infamous Facebook poke. It was so ridiculous and so hilarious and yet, at the same time, so wildly appropriate that our paths would converge again ... on social media. (Hadn't God made really big moves in my life over the past few years via social media?)
Excerpted from Beautiful Uncertainty by MANDY HALE. Copyright © 2015 Amanda Hale. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
PART ONE: Winter, 1,
A Date with God, 3,
One Year, One Goal, 8,
Coffee with Jesus, 12,
If an Ex Pokes You on Facebook and You Don't Respond, Did Anything Actually Happen?, 16,
Lessons Learned from a Homeless Man Named Louie, 21,
Clarity and Closure, 29,
The Year of Completion, 36,
Advent, Waiting, and Singleness, 43,
Getting Uncomfortable, 48,
PART TWO: Spring, 57,
It Started and Ended with a Book, 59,
Family and Grace I Never Knew, 64,
Sass, Class & Compassion: How a Crazy Idea Became a Reality, 71,
It's Hard to Be a Pigeon in a Seagull World, 78,
Snapshots from the Road, 83,
Trust Without Borders, 89,
Shake, Rattle, Roll, and Surrender Control, 94,
PART THREE: Summer, 103,
The Five Guys Most Girls Will Love at Some Point in Their Lives, 105,
Vegas, Tennessee, and Me, 112,
It Should Kill You, but It Doesn't, 119,
Lost ... and Found, 125,
That Time Jesus Friended Me on Facebook, 132,
Finding My Way Home, 136,
What If We Stopped Talking About Dancing in the Rain and Actually Danced in It?, 140,
PART FOUR: Fall, 147,
The Real-Life Breakfast Club, 153,
I Told You I Was Strong and Independent — I Lied, 158,
A Dream Delayed, Not Denied, 165,
What (Most) Women Really Want, 171,
A Lesson in Gratitude, 176,
One Ordinary Tuesday, 180,
God's Heart for Single Women, 187,
Epilogue: Endings ... and Beginnings, 193,