Let ‘s All Be Brave! A Book Review

I listened to Annie F. Downs before I ever read a word of her writing. She’s likable — and a super fun sounding Southern gal, always up for a good laugh. Her podcast, That Sounds Fun, hosts a variety of insightful, Jesus-loving people. Her heart for God, and others, drew me in, and I asked for her book, Let’s All Be Brave, for Christmas. Thankfully, one of my brothers bought it off my Amazon list.

As I opened her book, I knew from the first few pages that I would glean encouragement and wisdom. At the time of the book’s publication, Annie was 33. And single. Hello! She’s like me. Possessing a zest for life, and seeking adventure. Chockablock full of raw emotions, some easy breezy, some a little trickier to navigate through.

Hold on to hope. That's the thing we can't stand to lose. You can let go of jobs or people or hurts, but don't let go of hope.

My #oneword365 is hope, and I cannot help myself as I mull over a particular passage Annie shares about in the pages of her book:

Hold on to hope. That’s the thing we can’t stand to lose. You can let go of jobs or people or hurts, but don’t let go of hope.

This book isn’t about me being single, but if you think it’s been easy to hold on to hope as I’ve watched my friends pass me by in life phases over and over again, oh friend. Not so much. It’s one thing when they get engaged or married. It’s another when babies come. And another when the kids go to school — and I’m still alone at night.

Amy Stroup sings a song called “Hold Onto Hope Love” that has been my companion more nights that I can count as I’ve cried to God about the rough patches on my hands from holding on so tight to the cliff of hope when it feels like it would be easier to just let go and fall into hopelessness.

And the truth? It would be easier.

But it wouldn’t be brave.

It’s not the story God is writing with my life. It’s not the story God is writing with yours either.

So please. Hold on. (p. 122)

Envision my face after reading this passage. Oh the tears! What perfect, God-ordained timing that I would pick up a book without knowing why I must read it. My heart, as I kept reading, said, “Hey! Me too! I am feeling all those feels friend. I am not alone and crazy, but validated in my thoughts and emotions.” Annie’s bravery throughout the entire book, by sharing her God-given story, vastly encouraged my heart. And in turn, her story helps me want to take steps of bravery in my own life. Whether that means sharing vulnerable parts of my own life through writing, or taking steps toward a dream I may have pushed by the wayside for some time.

If you want to read a book that will embolden you, I cannot recommend this book enough. In what way is God asking you to hold on to hope? What dream has He placed in your heart? How can you begin to be brave today? Read on friends, read on, and I think you might be surprised by the end of the book what God reveals to you through Annie’s words.

sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.

Embracing Vulnerable Beauty

Author: Kate Franken

“Do you have children?”

“Are you married?”

I get that these are questions most women often ask as a cordial attempt to get acquainted. Their success rate in forging a connection amongst my female counterparts is high, but their ability to alienate someone in my current stage of life is just as steep.

beauty-vulnerableMy 20-something self detested being asked such questions. With each passing year, as I became more and more the minority, my reflex to cringe upon hearing them became quicker. I hated how they made me feel vulnerable. Because once I revealed my single, childless state, the magnifying glasses seemed to emerge from in front of puzzled faces. Attempts would be made to put the pieces together as to why I fell short in growing a family my own. Suggestions would be made as to how I could fix the problem they found in me. Some would even be so bold as to ask, “What’s wrong with you?”

I sought to avert situations that might turn into an  exposé of the supposed truth of my circumstances, so I clung to the safety of masks, walls, pretenses, hermit-like living and the lie “I’m okay.” A hard heart became my shield. I thought it would protect me.

Fortunately, God grabbed a hold of me. He knew there was more for me than a hidden life. He placed His love over the clenched fists that were wrapped around my semblance of control and tenderly loosened my grip. He squeezed me tight until I could finally see He was everything I needed. He taught me to sing a new song, one of surrender. He revealed the beauty of vulnerably giving one’s life.

He led me through one story to the next and spoke to me through the printed divine wisdom locked firm and true in the pages of the Bible.


David confronted Goliath, the towering 9 foot something  Philistine beast, with five smooth stones and a sling. David stood before this man, known to be the strongest of warriors, without any protective covering to shield him, having previously declined the King’s armor. He relied solely on his faith in God to deliver him and he victoriously prevailed (1 Samuel 17).


Paul identified himself as the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15-16) to point to the saving grace of Christ. He remained fervent in preaching the good news of Christ, knowing it would inevitably result in violent persecution.


Jesus came in human form, sharing in the sufferings of humanity, to pave a path for us to follow. In the years that He walked this Earth, He sacrificially gave of Himself to the needs of others. The most vulnerable moment in all of human history was His crucifixion, in which He gave of His own life so that we may have life eternal.

A theme was evident. When they chose faithfulness to God, they made themselves vulnerable and it pointed to the beauty of God’s faithfulness. Then God carried this theme from the pages, I loved, to the existence I lived.

His Disciples

The lyrics of this new song God was teaching me penetrated my heart all the more as I sat again and again across the table from godly examples both married and single. I entered into community and found my heart ministered to by the stories of others. They sat unmasked before me, drawing my eyes to Jesus. With their vulnerable words, they were His disciples and they were doing the work of the Great Commission.

God knew just how to prod me into being vulnerable myself.  He knew I was drawn to beauty.  He created me that way. And beauty is what I saw in the women across the table from me, in David, in Paul, and in Jesus.

vulnerable-beautyI now look at vulnerability with new eyes. When I see vulnerability, I see courage, unthwarted by imperfections. I see a resistance to the chains of fear and shame. I see a softened heart. I see a confident trust in what God has done. I see rest with a rightly placed hope in Jesus’ perfection and not one’s own. I see a healing agent. I see love shining through. I see an expression of who God is. I see it to be altogether beautiful.

God did not leave me the same, once He got ahold of me. He freed me. He told me I was more precious than jewels. He wrapped me in the security of Christ. He made me content with my mistakes, scars, brokenness, and the truth that “I don’t have it all together”, knowing God’s grace is sufficient for me, and His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). He has changed me into now being the woman that vulnerably shares her story of God’s saving grace to minister to hearts of others, and has given me a heart to encourage others to walk forth with a vulnerability that speaks of His goodness,inviting others to grasp its beauty.

 Readers, It is important that we seek to understand others and their experiences. There is a great treasure hidden in friendship with those that are different than ourselves. Our circumstances do not threaten our identity when our identity is rooted in Christ which empowers us all to hear the story of the other.

kate-squareKate Franken is a 4th grade teacher and a volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon. She enjoys indulging in raw conversation whilst savoring a cup or more of coffee. Her hunt for good books and podcasts is endless. She finds refuge surrounded by trees, on hiking trails, with her two dogs in tow. She is especially fond of mountaintop views, wit, “best teacher ever” love letters, breakfast, a painted sky, and Jesus. She has a heart for connecting people to His church and encouraging others into relationship with Him.

Hope in Being Single

Author: Sarah Dohman

It makes me a little nervous to write about my relationship status (or lack thereof).  It’s personal, and frankly my philosophy for sharing my being single has been on a need-to-know basis only.  It’s for me to know, and you to find out.  I think it keeps the mystery alive.  However, in the spirit of obeying God, and living my life based upon faith, not fear, I’ve decided to write about my experience of singleness as a young woman at 30.

Let’s start back before 30, actually.

In high school I had a group of girlfriends who committed to not dating.  Most high school relationships end, and they took a stance to remain single so that they could focus more upon God.  I joined the bandwagon.  I focused on developing friendships instead, and I’m glad I did.  

In the beginning of my 20s, I carried on developing friendships as well.  I began a very long process of applying to nursing schools.  My focus was growing in my relationship with God, and studying nursing prerequisites including numerous hours of biology, chemistry, psychology, etc.  I continued not to date because I didn’t find any young man worthy of giving up my free time.  I felt enormously happy being fancy free.  I developed an interest in travel, and given the opportunity, I packed my suitcase as quick as I could.

In my early-mid 20s, I began to watch my best girlfriends meet, date, become engaged, and eventually get married.  I also attended many other church friends’, old roommates’, and family members’ weddings.  I love a good love story, and it was so lovely to share in my friends’ joyous moments.

Now, at 30, I am the “single friend”.  I am one of the rare few in their early 30s at my church who is not married.  I attend weddings without a plus one.  I travel to places by myself, sometimes quite far.  I am the single girl amongst a group of married couples in the community group I attend.  I don’t intend to make anyone feel awkward, but sometimes it happens.

My purpose in this post, I suppose, is not to gain pity.  I’d say 99.5% of the time I am completely satisfied in my singleness.  I have an anchored hope in Jesus (that’s for you Chara), and I’ve allowed Him to fill that need for a relationship.  I’m not saying I don’t want to get married, because I do, but I am also realizing that God has a plan and purpose in my singleness.  I am able to readily serve others, I can foster healthy relationships with friends, I am able to seek out opportunities that might be a lot more difficult to do if I were married or had kids.  Whether or not God will fulfill this desire of my heart remains unknown, but in the meanwhile, I am seeking after Him, and I know that He is good.  He is good if I do get married, and He is good if I don’t.


So, if you are reading this post and you are dating/engaged/married with a “single friend” in your friends circle, here is what I recommend you do: 

  • Encourage them.  Pray for them.  See James 5:16.
  • Ask them what God has been teaching them.  Share with them how God has been working in your life.  Single friends can learn from their engaged and married friends, and vice versa.  
  • If you are getting together with other couples, and you are contemplating whether or not to invite your single friend, invite them.  We are single, not contagious.  Don’t avoid the single friend because of potential awkwardness in a group setting.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve loved being the third wheel, or fifth wheel, or whatever wheel.  My best friends and their husbands are particularly good at inviting me along to activities, and I rarely ever feel left out. 
  • If you’ve ever said this to your single friend: “I can’t believe you aren’t married, you’re such a great catch,” or “It’s just not the right timing for you,” or the ever-so-grating “God’s just not finished with you yet,” please, for the love, stop.  God doesn’t complete you when you get married.  In fact, God continues to stretch you spiritually in marriage.  According to my married friends, marriage amplifies all of your imperfections under a magnifying glass.  The church needs to quit placing marriage on top of a pedestal, and fix our eyes upon Jesus instead.  
  • Lastly, try and remember what life was like as a single person.  It’s exciting, it’s freeing, it’s terrifying, it gets lonely.  It’s full of adventures, and it’s the perfect time to focus upon God and serving His people.  Singleness is an opportunity, and you too were once in this stage of life.  

If you are reading this post and you are single, here’s what I’ve been learning/working on:

  • Seek out opportunities to serve your church & community.  It’s really easy for singles to avoid getting plugged in.  We are often known as floaters, going to and fro as we please.  However, there is something to be said about plugging into one church, one community group/house church.  No one church body is perfect- that’s why we have a merciful Savior.  For the past 6, nearly 7, years, I have been plugged into a local church, Outward, and I can’t even describe the support and love I’ve received by this body of believers.  We are all vital members of the church (single, married, divorced, widowed), who are all needed to plug in and serve others in the church as well as our community.  See 1 Corinthians 12.
  • Pray, pray, pray.  Pray that God will continue to reveal Himself to you.  Pray for your future marriage.  Pray that God will use you mightily, even if you don’t get married.  Pray for those who do not know Jesus.  Pray for those who do know Jesus.  Learn to pray about anything and everything.  See 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
  • If you have the desire to be married one day, surround yourself with married couples at all stages in their relationships, particularly ones who are seeking after Jesus.  Ask them to be transparent with you.  Ask them the tough questions.  Break bread with them.  Babysit their kids.  These will all aid in preparing you for future relationships, parenthood, etc.  Singles are often put off by hanging out with married friends, but I highly recommend it. Be the third wheel, or the fifth wheel.   

I’m sure there is more to be said, but I don’t want to lecture, I just wanted to share from my heart.  So there you have my thoughts on being single … 

Find more from Sarah @  http://sarahelizabethjoy.blogspot.com/