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Brave New World

Arkansas To Ames

Brooke Cagle

Finding our identity seems to be what a lot of us are focused on in life. Finding some sort of purpose…a reason to live. What gets us going in the morning? What brings us joy? For me, it has always been people. I love em. Meeting them, hearing their stories, getting to know them and doing life together. Well, in college, I came to a realization that I was idolizing people. My friends and family, people who I love…I was living as if they were more important to me than my relationship with God. I still find myself struggling daily to put God above the people around me. And that’s hard for a 100% extroverted people-person, like myself. Now, loving people is not a bad thing (LOL). Just in case that’s what you heard me saying. It’s when those relationships take precedence in your life. When instead of running to God with your struggles, you go to your friends, significant other, or family members. It’s SUCH an easy rhythm to get yourself into. Heck, I didn’t even realize I was doing it. But the hard fact is that…I was. For others, identity comes in the form of their career, being a mother/father, financial status…it could be any number of things. And what are we all searching for? Happiness? A feel good kind of life? We’re searching for PURPOSE.

That desire was put in us by God. He isn’t surprised that we’re all down here on earth trying to find things that bring us joy and fulfillment. But where we get it wrong is that HE wants to be the One to bring us joy and fulfillment, not every other little thing that tends to.

He wants us to be satisfied and saturated in Him alone.

A little insight into my life recently. Something I have been hesitant to let everyone in on, outside of my close friends and family. On May 15, 2017, I was let go of my job at BLKBOX (they “couldn’t afford me anymore”).. 3 years to the date from when I was hired; also one week after I lost my Papa. It sucks to even write out, but here I am, being vulnerable through the pain and confusion it caused me. Who would want to admit that they were let go from a job? It's embarrassing. It was shocking. But guess what? God wasn't shocked. He wasn't up in heaven like "WHAT!? BROOKE GOT LET GO FROM HER JOB?? WHAT DO I DO NOW?" This was part of His plan. I just didn't know that's how it was gonna play out haha. I always thought of myself as a great, efficient, joyful worker. I've had tons of jobs, with no complaints ever. I took pride in doing good work, seeking praise from one boss to the next at BLKBOX, both of who never seemed quite fond of me once realizing I was a believer. The truth is, the boss who let me go was never “pro Brooke”. That hurt my pride. That hurt my identity. If you’ll remember, people are a huge part of my identity so when I’m not on good terms with someone, it wrecks me. Well, this time around, something was different. Because of the lessons I had learned in college, (shoutout to Aaron Rodgers) I wasn’t wrecked. My foundation stood strong in the midst of this trial. (This is not a brag. Please don’t hear me saying that I took this news perfectly, because it still hurt like hell.) I was sad, bitter, and angry. I was confused beyond belief, but there was a sense of calm the moment he told me to pack up my things. I had no idea why at the time.

Two days later, I get a call from Aaron (my old college pastor). He and Kristen, his wife, ask me to join their launch team for a church plant happening in the Summer of 2018 in Lawrence, KS. As if that wasn’t enough to think about, later that night I get another call from him telling me that he and Kristen think I need to move to Iowa to start preparing and establish relationships with the Lawrence team in Ames over the next year. I vividly remember telling Aaron I would pray about it, but knowing I didn’t want to move to Iowa. I wanted to stay in Fayetteville for the next year and then move to KS next summer. All of my friends were in AR and for heavens sake, I had just lost my job!!! My friend Liz and I had visited them in Iowa October of 2016 and I had been praying ever since about joining their church plant if that was the path God wanted me on. And if it wasn’t, that all the doors would be closed. Those prayers did NOT include Iowa, but funny how God knows us a whole lot better than we know ourselves. Right before my eyes, all the doors started opening…I’m talking like huge gust of wind kind of open. If you want to hear more about all the little details, hit me up cause I already feel like I’m writing a novel.

Fast forward to July 21. I move to Ames. This is after a long and emotional 2 months, full of goodbyes and packing. I had so much peace knowing this was the step of obedience God wanted me to take and I was saying, “YES!” to Him. He knew how unhappy I was at my job. He had a plan all along. He didn’t let me in on it when I wanted him to, but isn’t that what faith is? Trusting that our God wants good things for us. And yes, we have to go through hard times and we lose loved ones, and our jobs, but those things are NOT where our identities lie. If we do not identify ourselves in Christ, we are lost. That may seem bold to some, but I’ve seen it first hand in my own life. I am lost without my Savior. I am lost without my God who gives me direction. We have been put here with a purpose already instilled inside of our bones, to love God and love people.

The first night of living in Iowa was rough. Honestly, I wanted to be back in Fayetteville. I was overwhelmed and scared. I feel a sense of belonging there that I haven’t found yet in Iowa (obviously because it was the first week). I missed my friends, my house, my family. I played the new Hillsong album and prayed for peace. If you haven’t listened to it, it might change your life if you let it. (I’m aware of how cheesy that sounds, but if you know me, you know how much music touches me). The next day I woke up full of joy, ready to tackle the first weekend of my new life. So here I am, only 2 weeks into this new adventure in...Ames, Iowa (of all places haha*), and I’m already seeing how God is going to use me here. I have a job as a barista and I absolutely LOVE it!! I’ve met some amazing people and cannot wait to get to know them deeper as we adventure together for the next year!!



* I look back at my life last fall. I was so unhappy at my job. I told God, I pleaded with Him time and time again, "Send me anywhere. I can't be in this place anymore. Please Lord, I swear I'll go." Do we serve a good God, or what?!

So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God. He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
— 2 Timothy 1:8-9

Don't Wait to Live

Brooke Cagle

As a single, Christian female living in the south where it’s the norm to get married young…it would be easy for me to get down and out about not experiencing life with “my person”. I lived a few years like that actually. I was jealous of my friends who got to travel with their husbands and became bitter when I would see the sweet things these guys were doing for their wives. And let me tell ya, it was a terrible way to live. I was lacking confidence in my season of life. I was dreaming of the day I would find someone to experience life with. During what I like to call “my bitter years”, I was drawn into more sin and I was experiencing less joy. My friends could tell. I wasn’t fooling anyone. The look on my face probably said it all. I was unhappy and wanting what I didn’t have. A mate.

What I didn’t realize though was a pretty simple thought, actually. I didn’t have to find a husband to enjoy the life God has for me. (You’re reading this and probably thinking ‘yeah, duh idiot.’) But, it’s easier said than done to really take captive of that truth and start living like you believe it. It took me a long time to get there. But once I did…my life took a turn for the better and I haven’t looked back! I’m still single, so the desire to find a soulmate hasn’t disappeared, but the way I’m experiencing life allows me to figure out who I am, in a much deeper way. It teaches me see the value in my life without a spouse. It forces me to grow in my relationship with God. And it opens up doors to some really freaking fun times. hahah

My bad attitude and bitter heart weren’t the reasons God didn’t bless with me good times. It was self-inflicted. My bad attitude attitude and bitter heart told me I wouldn’t have fun if I wasn’t experiencing life with a man. Satan really knows how to get you when you’re down. I want to get the point across that it wasn’t God keeping me from a joyful life. I let that terrible mindset control me for a long time and I kept myself from a joyful life. There came a point where I had to make a decision to either keep living in bitterness and envy, or start living out the truths that I knew.


After waiting a couple of weeks and re-reading this before posting, I had a thought... If I was reading this from the outside, I would be wondering, “So what things can I be doing to be proactive in living a joyful life in the midst of loneliness?” Here are just a few things that have helped me over the years and are still helping me today:

1. Finding your Foundation
What I have to preach to myself every day of every week is that God has to be my foundation, not those things that I think are gonna make me “happy”. So if I’m longing for a husband (which I totally am)…I’m constantly praying that God will change my mindset of “want” to a mindset of contentment in the season I’m in and that He would be my foundation rather than the idea of marriage or having someone to share life with in a romantic way. I’m praying for my relationship with Christ to be strengthened and grow each day so that when my person does come along, I’ll be guided by the Spirit on the path that He has for me. (This isn’t JUST about relationships though, let’s make that clear. This is about growing close to God because you want to know Him more and live a life for the Kingdom.) So, figure out where your foundation lies and let God change your mindset!

"For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ."  |  1 Corinthians 3:11

2. Seeking Inclusion
I would also HIGHLY encourage you to be a part of a strong knit community group. Be surrounded by people who love you and can speak truth to you when you’re in a lonely place. Running away from people or secluding yourself is destructive to your life and the situation you’re in. Find someone you trust to keep you accountable and pour into you on a regular basis. For some people, this is extremely hard because they want to be alone when they’re feeling sad or lost…but I’ve been in both places and I can guarantee having one or two or 10 people to go to is so beneficial. In my life, I’ve seen that hiding in my loneliness is toxic and can very easily start to become a habit that is hard to break. And if you’re in a place where you can’t think of anyone who would come along side of you, a good place to start would be to ask if your church has any community groups that are for people your age/in your same season of life. This has been a HUGE help for me. So, find your people and hang on tight!

"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another."  |  Proverbs 27:17

3. Taking Advantage of Life
Another thing I kind of had to force myself to do was look for opportunities to have fun. (LOL laughing at myself but this is so true.) Even when I would hear that some friends were getting together, I would choose not to go and throw a pity party instead. It wasn’t all the time, but there were times when I would just stay home and watch a romantic movie (for reasons that are beyond me). This is just me being super vulnerable and realizing, after the fact, that it wasn’t worth it. I started making myself available to LIFE. haha I started going to group outings and saying yes to movie nights. It was a simple “task”, but for a while it didn’t seem so simple. I also started making some of the fun. I planned weekend trips or week long vacations (alone or with a friend). These things got me out of the house and out of my own head. Eventually I wasn’t just saying yes to get my mind off of being single but I started having fun and living a truly joyful life. I started seeing that other people were in the same boat as me, which was honestly refreshing. There’s something about being vulnerable with others and letting them in on what you’re going through. (Hence this blog lol) So, start saying yes to adventures and see the difference it makes!

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  |  Romans 15:13

Unmarried + Unashamed

Brooke Cagle

Reflection/story time...bare with me.

I'm a 27 year old independent, single female and I can barely remember a time when I haven't been searching for love and value. I live in a culture where I am taught to compare myself. I felt like being single was looked down upon. Everyone in the south gets married so young. Being a size 12 was definitely not ideal. And not wearing a ton of makeup meant that I wasn’t very “feminine” or it was one of the reasons I wasn't going to find a boyfriend. For a while it made me bitter. For a while I thought I had no other choice but continue to compare; wish and want for things that would never be mine, to be different than how God made me. For a while, my faith in Christ wasn't enough; I didn't allow Him to be enough for me. This was a good chunk of my life. Trying to please the world, while beating myself up. It's heartbreaking, really. I know a lot of young (and even old) girls/women feel this way. 

2006 changed that.

In 2006, I made a vow to Christ that, even when it seems near impossible for Him to be enough for me, I would draw close to Him; He would be my source of love and value. And how do I even begin to explain how the last 10 years have gone?! Bumpy doesn’t really do it justice. I mean, sure, life has ebbs and flows; its ups and downs. There’s always good and bad. All of that was really cliche, but I say this because it’s true.

*The ebbs and flows are real guys*

I had this dumb boy in my life over a span of like 5 years that made me question if real men of God really do exist. I also graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and got an awesome job. My parents got divorced and turned my world upside down in the worst way; I felt depressed. But I’ve also gotten to travel literally all around the world and meet some amazing people. I still hear the enemy tell me I'm fat and that no man will ever want to marry me. But I have been blessed to be a part of a very strong community of women and lead this group of girls who want to dig deep in the Word of God.

My question is: Are we going to let the 'downs' defeat us?

Through the times when things aren't going your way and you're so deep inside a situation that you have no control over, are you going to stand firm in your foundation or let it drown you? God calls us to a 'holy' life and most of us have heard that it means to be 'set apart'. When the world tells you to lash out, hurt yourself, or believe the lies...let's remember: We will never be able to control the words or actions of anyone else, but we can control how we react. We can choose joy in the midst of pain. Does that mean it won't hurt still? HECK NO. It's gonna hurt. But do we believe we can hold tight to the joy that Christ instills inside of us? Or do we choose to let the hurt overwhelm us and affect all of our other decisions and our attitude towards others?

Through the last 10 years, both of my sisters have gotten married and had a total of 7 children. My 3 best friends have all gotten married and had a total of 6 children. Most of the women I'm closest to are teaching me what it looks like to be a wife and mother. I'm able to learn from women I respect. Women who are doing their best to follow after Christ in their marriages and their motherhood. And let me tell ya (from the outside) IT AIN'T EASY!! Their husbands don't complete them. They have good and bad days still. Marriage didn't fix everything. 

Fast forward to 2017.

The beginning of a "Brave New World." A world where instead of giving in to the enemies lies, I will FIGHT battles for my God, the Defeater of evil. I will be BOLD in the name of Christ to overcome the never-ending battle of my longing for love. I will be CONFIDENT in who I am in Christ and my likeness of Him. I will be BRAVE to share the LOVE and goodness that He has to offer the world! I will not be silent or exchange TRUTH for acceptance. 

I don't know a lot, and I definitely don't think I'm a very good writer, but I do think I could write a book about singleness and this "blog" is going to be a good outlet for me to write down things I'm learning on my journey. I pray that those who follow along would be encouraged and feel a sense of unity. You are not alone in this. Life is hard. But when it comes down to it...The Kingdom is everything and we are nothing without it. 

So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
— 2 Corinthians 4:18