I grew up with parents who sincerely believed in raising set-apart daughters for the glory of Jesus Christ. I did not fall in love with this idea at first. In fact, throughout the majority of my teenage years I lived in mental and spiritual objection to their Biblical standards. Thankfully, God got a hold of my heart. He began to mold it, as He always will be molding it, to reflect His. I am so thankful He pursued me because without Him I would literally be garbage. He makes me who I am, and because of that I want to honor Him. However, as I have traveled this journey, I wonder, “Are there really girls out there like me? I mean, I’m nothing special, but has God called other young women to step onto the road less-traveled in mad pursuit of Him?” The answer is YES! I admit that these girls are few and far between. If I am looking for them at every turn, I won’t find them. I believe God wants every young woman to set aside her life in exchange for His, but because of sin most of them make wrong choices and decide to walk down the wide and easy path of fun, popularity, and, they think, happiness. As I have traveled and met people and lived out new experiences, I have met all types of people. Among the countless friends I have made all over the world, have been quite a few young women who are sold-out for Jesus. I now have no doubt that there are real set-apart women living real set-apart lifestyles for God, just out of sight of the human eye. I went to France as a nanny, and met one of the most set-apart young women I know. My family moved to Arizona for several years, and I met several more (one of whom is now one of my closest and dearest friends). I spent about three years in the Iowa/Nebraska area, and during that time attended a church full of set-apart young women. I also met several families in our home school community, who were and still are teaching their daughters to model the same lifestyle. Most of these girls are grown up now, and many of them continue on in their goal to live their lives for Jesus Christ. Several of them have married, and several have children. The rest, like me, are still single, striving to learn as much as we can about living a life for Him as set-apart single women.
I have chosen to share the stories of several of these young women here. I do not necessarily agree with every point that they make, but the reality is that not every young women set-apart for Christ thinks the same. Even among like-minded Christians, there are differences. My hope is that you will glean spiritual knowledge from their lessons and lifestyles, and that God will in turn convict you about your importance in His Story. He wants you to surrender every aspect of your life to Him, and sometimes He uses other people to convict us of those aspects that we still cling to tightly. Many girls have gone before us, learning valuable lessons along the way. Some of them have chosen to use these lessons to encourage others who are following a similar path. These are their stories…
I call Kayla Cameron my “bestie.” She is so joyful, so fun to be around, very sweet, and very loyal. Most importantly, she has chosen at a young age to “take up her cross” for the Cause of Christ. She is a wonderful example to those who know her and, I hope, to all of you.
“I’m 16, and the oldest of 7 children. I am an (almost!) home school graduate, and enjoy…music…crocheting, baking and just plain having fun. Some of my passions are using my music to glorify God, taking care of people, and being a good friend.” Like me and many other young women I know, Kayla has grown up in a conservative family, and as she has gotten older she has taken what she has learned from her parents and applied those lessons to her own walk with God. “One of my family’s major convictions growing up was that…my siblings [and I] were going to be home schooled. My parents didn’t want us to be exposed to all of the worldly influences that public school brings, such as drugs, alcohol, and being taught that evolution is a fact…I wouldn’t trade being homeschooled for the world.” Kayla was also taught the importance of modest dress. “My family’s view on modesty [is] that we should be dressed in a way that [will cause] people [to] look at our faces, not our bodies. We mainly wear skirts/dresses, which must be knee-length or below. We are allowed to wear pants, but if we are going to, we must wear a long shirt or a tunic with them. My dad prefers…skirts, and I do too.” Kayla and her family live in Arizona (where the temperatures can reach into the 100’s!) in a house with no air conditioning. Understandably, Kayla and her siblings wear shorts to bed as a means of keeping cool through the hot summer nights. Kayla explains how it is not as much a matter of how long the skirt is, how tight the jeans are, etc. as it is a heart issue. “A few years ago I wouldn’t wear pants for any reason at any time. I felt like it was “unspiritual” to wear pants. As I got older, I started to realize that God doesn’t care whether I wear jeans or floor-length skirts. He cares about my heart. Of course, if I’m wearing pants they have to be modest, but I’m not any more of a Christian when I’m wearing skirts than I am if I’m wearing pants.”
Besides their views on home schooling and modest dress, Kayla and her family have also been strongly convicted in the area of relationships; in other words, courtship vs. dating. “I get asked the question, ‘why don’t you date?’ a lot. I got to work with my dad once-a-week, and he works with a lot of different people who know our views about dating, homeschooling, etc. Whenever I get asked the question, I tell them that I believe that God has one man for me, and I shouldn’t have to go looking for him. God will bring him to me, and to me dating is like saying that I don’t trust God and am going to go find him myself. My mom always tells me that dating is ‘practicing divorce.’ I mean, think about it. You try out one guy and then say, ‘Eh, I don’t think I like him,’ and try another guy. I believe courting is how God wants us to go about relationships.” Courting sets boundaries for a couple that would otherwise not be put in place. Some couples may see those boundaries as a hindrance, but those who are striving to remain pure and do everything for the glory of their Lord should see them as safe barriers. The word ‘court’ is not in the Bible, nor is the definition ever endorsed. However, as we read through God’s Word, the commands we read concerning purity, marriage, sexual morality, etc., we begin to see that God is interested in our relationships and He wants us to use this aspect of our lives, just like every other aspect, to glorify Him.
Finally, Kayla reminds our readers. “You’re not perfect. You’re going to make the same mistakes over and over and over again. You’re going to bang your head on the wall and say, ‘Why am I so stupid??’ But you know what the amazing thing is? God’s grace and forgiveness are unending. No matter how many times you fall down, He will always be there to pick you back up, and that’s truly an amazing thing.”
Heather Cofer is my second cousin. As is common with not-so-immediate family members, we did not meet right away, but when we did we hit it off well. Heather is the second oldest of eight. She recently married a young man from another Christian family, and they recently had their first baby.
“First and foremost, my passion is Jesus Christ! He is the aim of my entire life and the One who sustains me and fills me with joy. I love being His! I absolutely love being a wife and mother, encouraging other young women in their walk with the Lord, and [I] have a heart to minister to women experiencing unplanned pregnancies.
“I’m an interesting mix between introvert and extrovert. I love people, and I also love having quiet, alone times. I seem to collect hobbies of all kinds (especially things that keep my hands moving). [I enjoy] piano, jewelry-making, hair-cutting, crocheting, [and] cross stitching, to name a few. I am the wife of a wonderful, godly man, Judah, and the mom of an absolutely adorable…one-year-old boy, Jude. Some of my favorite activities include going on walks with Jude, trying new coffee shops with Judah, and having people over to our home.”
Heather has lived a fascinating life as a missionary to Mongolia. Her parents believe that their #1 focus in life is to help their children draw closer to Jesus, and this was evidenced by the way in which they have raised their children. “Our family moved to Mongolia when I was seven-years-old. I never struggled with living there, but embraced it wholeheartedly. I am so thankful for the family the Lord saw fit to put me in! We really looked forward to coming back to Colorado for furlough, but it was hard at times. We were definitely somewhat of the ‘oddballs,’ but it was a good way for my parents to talk…with us [about] what it means not to find our fulfillment in fitting in.” Heather’s parents are also convicted in the area of modest dress. “My family’s dress standards had always been quite modest, but became more so as we grew older. We girls were always allowed to wear pants, but were careful about the cut. (Being a girly-girl, I usually preferred dresses anyway). My parents always wanted the way we dressed to be a blessing to others and never a stumbling block.”
Often, as a young woman gets older and starts making her own decisions, her standards can deteriorate. In Heather’s case, God has used her maturity to raise her standards and give her more of a desire to please Him in everything. “As I have grown in my relationship with the Lord, I’ve realized a few things: 1) That all my standards must be tested against and based upon Scripture. This being the case, I must be teachable and ready to change if something doesn’t align with the Bible. 2) Part of being teachable is seeking godly counsel. As I entered my teen years, my mom became my mentor and best friend….rather than simply trying to be independent and formulate my own opinions I sought out my parents more and more for their advice. Because they were seeking the Lord, they were also constantly pointing me back to Him.”
Several years ago, Heather started her aforementioned courtship. Her relationship with Judah was a wonderful testimony to the Lord and what He can do in the lives of two people completely surrendered to Him. “Judah and I met when we were 12…but started our relationship when we were 17. We courted for a little over a year before getting engaged, and then had a 14 month engagement before getting married in August 2011. Our relationship was long-distance for 2 of the 2 ½ years we courted…God was so incredibly faithful! The things He taught us during that time were innumerable. He taught us the importance of depending upon Him to form and and keep the relationship (especially being long-distance), and keeping Him first in our lives. We learned how invaluable it was to be surrounded by wise, godly people who loved us and helped hold us accountable. We learned that when our eyes were turned onto ourselves, we were bound to do things we regretted later on. And we learned that as we walked in a manner that was pleasing to Him, it was more beautiful than we ever could have imagined!
“We were pretty careful by most standards, especially on the physical side. We saved our first kiss for marriage, which was the best decision we could have made! It’s definitely worth it. But there were times we wish we would have been more careful, especially [in] how much physical contact we had with one another. No one comes out of a relationship saying, ‘I really wish I had done more. I regret not being more physical with one another.’ But it’s almost always the opposite. It is always better to err on the side of being more careful out of a desire to be more honoring to the Lord and the person you are in a relationship with.”
Heather has learned a lot since she has moved out, gotten married, and started a family. She still strives to stay close to the Lord, even amidst her busy schedule. “I used to be incredibly disciplined in my daily quiet times before getting married. [Even though] this was a good thing…I found my righteousness in how long I read my bible and prayed rather than finding my righteousness in Christ alone. After getting married and having my schedule change quite a bit, it took me a little while to figure out what quiet times with Him were supposed to look like. But it was during the first couple of years of marriage [that] the Lord began working on my heart to show me that I needed to read the Word and pray to know Him and love Him more, not to feel more spiritual. The Lord has used Judah in my life in so many ways to reveal areas that need to be refined and sanctified, as well as displaying unconditional love and patience through him (Judah).” Heather and Judah have one strong desire for their children. “Our number one desire for our kids is that they would love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength – being willing to lay down their lives for the sake of the Gospel.”
Heather’s final word of advice to our readers is this: “Make Jesus your number one focus and your deepest desire. Make Him your priority and your highest treasure. This is the absolute best way you can prepare to be a godly wife and mother! It’s easy to adopt the mindset of, ‘well, my husband isn’t around to fulfill my deepest desires yet…so I’ll seek Jesus until he comes.’ Believe me, this doesn’t work. Only Jesus can fulfill the greatest longings, needs, [and] insecurities we face in this life. And then the man we marry or the children we have are meant to be a help in driving us closer to Jesus. If you look to them for all those things, you will be gravely disappointed. But if you seek Jesus first, the man you marry will be the greatest earthly gift you will ever receive, and your children will be an outflow of that! And even if you never marry or have children of your own, you can be sure that He will be far more than enough!”