Guest Blogger: Brooke Hoss

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Hello Everyone!

Meet Brooke. Brooke and her husband, Andrew are the Young Adult Leaders at my church, Refuge. She is a wonderful friend of mine and is someone that you can’t help but love! Brooke is an amazing example of someone who made the most out of her season of singleness. I trust you will be encouraged by this blog post, as I absolutely was!

Enjoy!

-MJ

Making the Most of Your Season

I was never the little girl that always dreamed of being married or being a mom someday. I don’t remember it hardly ever crossing my mind. I mean, I knew I would get married and wanted to, but it wasn’t this overwhelming desire. And now, here I am, married for almost 4 years with 2 kids. I honestly never thought I would be the “stay at home mom” or that girl who looked like she was half-crazy chasing a toddler around with a baby on her hip and a husband by her side. It was never me. But now it is! I tell you that to say that I loved being single. I didn’t have a strong desire to get married. But that wasn’t always a good thing.

During high school, I was single until my junior year. And I loved it for all the wrong reasons. I partied and hung out with lots of different guys and I took pride in the fact that I wasn’t “tied down.” Then, I dated someone for almost 3 years, and as I left home and went to college, I met other guys and didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t hang out with them. So in my attempt to be “free” I broke up with him and moved on. Shortly after trying all there was to try, I found myself empty whether I was with a guy or not.I finally gave up running and sprinted back to the only One who truly made me happy, Jesus! And this is the part where I was finally single for the right reasons.

I went to Bible school in Arkansas, all by myself, not knowing anyone else and I was single and loving it! For the whole next year and a half, I had the time of my life. You could say I was so in love with Jesus that I didn’t have a strong desire to date, let alone be married, and it was great! I studied, traveled, went on missions trips, and made new friends.

Although a year and half doesn’t sound like a very long time, in my spiritual life it seemed like forever. It was a time that God used to grow me and mature me in my faith like never before. Now don’t get me wrong, I did think about guys and wonder what my future husband would look like, what his name would be, where he was, or if maybe I had met him already. And I’ll admit I probably flirted with guys more than I should have and I had a couple guys that were interested in dating me. They were cute and loved God just like I did, but for some reason, God protected me from desiring any of them. It’s like I couldn’t quite see past my relationship with Jesus and I know now that God did that for a reason – because my future husband was already waiting for me back home in Wisconsin, I just didn’t know it yet!

As I was thinking about what that single season of life was like for me, I was reminded of some things I wish I would have known or done differently and also some things that really helped me and I hope they can encourage you no matter where you are at right now.

1. Let God work on you NOW.

The struggles you have when you’re single, don’t just “go away” when you get married, it’s actually the opposite – they get magnified. Oh, how I wish I knew this when I was single! I wish I would have talked through some of the things I struggled with from my past. Things like purity, handling my emotions, hurts from other people, or caring too much about what I looked like or my body image. Or even just questions I had: questions about men, sex, God, and doubts or fears I had. Those things didn’t just go away when I got married, in fact, they all came out! So, talk to God about anything you struggle with or have questions about and let Him root them out of you and sort them out during this season of life before you involve another person in them.

I like to think of God as The Great Surgeon; we all need open heart surgery to fix some of the things that are wrong inside of us and if you let Him he will do it and you’ll be a better, healthier person afterwards, better equipped to do His work on this earth. If you have doubts or fears or questions, talk to someone about them and be honest and real. Talk to God about them, too. Begin to let Him search the deepest parts of you. Sometimes that can be scary because only we know the deepest secrets we hold. But He knows too and He is always gentle, loving, and kind when we give them up to Him.

2. Don’t label yourself as a “single” person.

What? Aren’t we talking about being single? Yes, but let me explain. Sometimes constantly viewing yourself as “single” brings along with it an underlying feeling of incompleteness or waiting. Like you’re in some phase of life that is not quite good enough. Or you’re in some season that is somehow incomplete or lacking…until you get married. And eventually that will become your identity.

The truth is you are not waiting for anything. You are not lacking anything. When or if you get married someday, you still will not have finally arrived and if you have trained yourself to feel incomplete in this season of life, what makes you think you won’t feel that way once you are finally married? Don’t view your season of singleness as incomplete until you find “the one.” It is completely possible for you to be totally fulfilled, happy, purposeful, and content right now just as when you are married someday. In fact, that’s what God has called you to. You are not in some phase of life where you are waiting for something greater to come along.

The key is to finding that in Christ you are completely and totally fulfilled RIGHT now no matter what season of life you are in. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to desire a guy, desire to be married, talk about, and pray about your future husband. But those thoughts, words, and prayers should come from a foundation of contentment and peace. Ultimately, His will is that you desire Him more than anyone or anything else and marriage will only be another tool to draw you closer to Himself.

Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking: “That’s easier said than done, Brooke! Or, I know, I’ve heard that all before,” or, “that’s easy for you to say now that you’re married.” And it’s true. It is easier for me to say now that I’m not going through it. But, the part I didn’t know is that God could give me the grace (power and ability) to actually walk it out. To be completely fulfilled and content where I was at. He will give you that if you ask Him. I think it’s a great lesson for every human being to learn and one I had to learn the hard way after I got married. But you can grab a hold of it now!

3. Have fun!

This is the part that I excelled at and I have no regrets. I was adventurous. I went on road trips, mission trips, and I traveled a lot. I traveled to Peru, Nicaragua, and several southern states in the US. I saw things that helped me grow in my faith and my worldview. I studied the Bible like crazy. I volunteered at different places. I did a marathon and an iron man and I learned how to swim laps the right way. Sounds silly, I know. But for me, it was adventure. I also met lots of new friends, guys and girls. I made some amazing best friends that I still keep in touch with today. We stayed up late, laughed, encouraged and challenged each other, went to movies, dinner, the beach, and whatever else you can think of. Doing all these things helped me to not be so self-focused while I was single.

I encourage you to take risks, be bold, and find a new adventure! Maybe you can’t go on a mission trip or move somewhere new, but you can find something new to try right where you’re at – you just have to do it!

No matter what season of life you are in, it is a journey where we are always walking with The One, holding His hand, and finding true love in Him. Even after being married and all the times I have run to other things looking for satisfaction, I have still come to find that He is everything I will ever need and nothing satisfies like He does, whether single or not. I hope you are encouraged and challenged to make the most of your life, exactly right where you are at!

-Brooke

5 Things I Learned My First Year Away From Home

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Moving away from home at age 18 has drastically changed how I see the world. Learning that life is not always about YOU – it’s about the impact you have on those around you. It was far from easy, but I learned from every moment, and I am forever grateful for that.

I know many different age-groups read our blog, and that’s what I love about it! If you’re a senior in high-school getting ready to make the big move next fall, you can learn something. Even if you’ve been out of our house for years, I encourage you to remember that first time you moved away from home – and maybe you’ll find something new to appreciate about your life now. Remember all the feelings, the emotions and fear, but knowing your adventure was just beginning. Hindsight is always 20/20!

I learned so much from this past year, and I am so excited to share it with you!

1. Homesickness is real, and it sucks.

From the moment I decided to move to Tulsa, most of the reactions from people had to do with the distance from Wisconsin to Oklahoma, but I tried to ignore it most of the time. I went into this knowing that I couldn’t just drive down the street to visit my parents, or have them with me on hard days. Homesickness didn’t actually hit me until a couple weeks after saying goodbye to my parents. The moment we said goodbye, I was completely fine. It was actually a very anti-climatic moment. Honestly, I feel like that’s how most “goodbye’s” are, which seems like an oxymoron. I emotionally built myself up to that moment, and in my mind I thought it was going to be a tear-jerking, non-stop-crying ordeal, but it was quite the opposite. I hugged them, and I didn’t even feel sad (I am a horrible daughter, I know). The moment it hit me was one month in. It was such a bad day, and I missed home so much. I needed to let out my emotions but for some reason I couldn’t, so I watched a really sad movie and the tears fell, and they fell some more, and some more. If you know me, you know I am not a super emotional person, but the moment I start crying, I couldn’t stop. Side note: I have the ugliest cry-face ever (if you ever have the privilege of seeing me cry, you’ll agree). I was so sad and I felt so alone even though I knew they were only a FaceTime or a text message away, but it just wasn’t the same. Home-sickness came and went kind of like any other feeling or emotion. Some days were worse than others, but it made me appreciate the time I had at home so much more.

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2. Be thankful for your parents.

I cannot stress this enough! I gained so much respect for my parents, knowing all they have done for me. I was especially thankful for my mom’s cooking. I can only cook about 5 different meals, and I have trouble navigating my way through kitchen (If there are any guys out there who can cook, hit me up). I would have fought someone for a home-cooked meal, seriously. I learned to cherish and appreciate all the times I had with my parents. Looking back at my childhood, I took all those moments for granted – the nights where I had my mom there with me to talk and to laugh, the daddy-daughter dates, the silly family-bickering, and just simply being with them.

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3. “Adulting” is expensive.

I remember the first time I bought groceries. I was like “Hold up, is anyone else seeing these prices?” I had no idea food actually cost that much money. I know, I am so childish, but I was so surprised. When it came to food, rent, books, and other necessities, there were many month’s and weeks where I didn’t know how I was going to make it, but I learned to trust God more this year than I ever have. He always provided! Whether it was in the little things, like an encouraging letter from someone back home, or my gas tank somehow lasting weeks longer than it should have, God always came through, and my faith was strengthened that much more.

 4. Meeting People.

Meeting people has always been a struggle for me, being an introvert and socially, just.. awkward. This was my biggest fear going into this year, and although I didn’t have the most friends in the world, the ones I had were enough for like.. 50 people, because they were just THAT awesome. My fellow bloggers, Sonia and Cyrae, and I always look back at the first time we met. We can’t help but laugh because we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into (in the best way, of course)! I know that we will be friends until we are grannies, and I can’t say that about all the friendships I’ve had! Going through drastic changes alone is not fun: and without my friends this experience would have been so much different and probably not as exciting or hilarious for me.

5. It was all worth it.

The good times far outweighed the bad, and every challenge was an opportunity to learn and grow. I am a completely different person now than I was when I moved out. I am far from being an expert on this, but I know that this year has shaped who I am as a person. I had to grow up and it taught me that every moment matters, even the small insignificant moments. They all play a part in the end-result. I made life-long friends, my relationship with God grew, and I got to experience a new city and new people that I will never forget.

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I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world, and I will move on to the next chapter of my life as a new-and-improved version of my already pretty cool self (humility at its finest). But FurrRulll (as Cyrae likes to pronounce “for real”), I am SO thankful! I couldn’t have done it without the prayers, encouragement, and help from my friends and family. You are all wonderful people.

We would love to hear about your experience moving away from home, or starting a new chapter of your life. Join the conversation! Leave a comment and let us know!

-MJ