Great Expectations

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April 3, 2002

It was a dangerous prayer, though I didn't realize it at the time. "God, I give you my singleness to use in any way you see fit," I prayed one day several years ago. I don't remember the occasion or emotions that led to this prayer, though I suspect there was an unspoken addendum on that prayer along the lines of, "So we can just get on with this already!"

But, true to form, God answered this prayer in ways that surpassed by wildest dreams. First, I became a singles columnist for ChristianityToday.com in this very e-newsletter. Though at first I balked a bit at becoming a poster-child of sorts for the single life, I've loved the opportunity to write regularly (one of my favorite things to do) and to receive heartfelt, challenging, and humorous e-mails from readers just like you.

Then, a couple years ago a female coworker, Ginger, and I were commenting on the less-than-satisfying selection of singles books that come through our office for possible review in the Christian magazines for which we work. The majority of these books seemed to be written by middle-aged, married, male psychologists. Nothing against this genre, but what do they know about being a youngish, single female in today's world? Eventually our joking comments, "We could write something better than this," turned into a wonderful idea by my coworker, "We should write something better than this."

We met, we brainstormed, we guzzled coffee, and we wrote up a proposal. We had one publishing company finally interested (it took a bit of arm-twisting since the staff was mainly middle-aged, married, and male!), when Ginger finally was proposed to by her on-again, off-again boyfriend of seven years. Woohoo for her, uh-oh for our proposal. The publishing company liked having two single female authors. So while Ginger waded through myriad matrimonial decisions, I found myself back at square one. Thankfully, I've discovered that's one of the best places to find God at work on our behalf.

One day soon after when I was trying valiantly not to feel like I was getting the shaft for being "still single," I received a phone call. One of the few work contacts I'd told about our book proposal had mentioned it to a friend who happened to be a newly appointed acquisitions editor at a Christian publishing company. The phone call was from him, telling me he'd noticed the Christian book market was missing singles books by younger and female authors. After months of arm twisting to get this very truth across to the first publishing company, this was music to my ears. When he asked if he could he see my proposal, I couldn't say yes fast enough.

Within weeks, on Valentine's Day 2001 to be exact, I signed a contract to write a book that's hitting stores just this month Table for One: The Savvy Girl's Guide to Singleness. (For all you male readers out there, I apologize for leaving you out!) So, for those who are keeping track, I gave God my singleness and he gave me the chance to be a book author something I've dreamed of becoming since I was seven. What's cool is that the story doesn't end there.

The very month I signed the contract was when my former roommate moved back in with her parents in preparation to go on the mission field. Suddenly I needed to be able to pay for an apartment of my own, not an easy thing to afford in one of the highest cost of living areas in the U.S. But the money I received from writing the book made this feasible, and was mailed to me within weeks of needing to fork over the deposit on my first-ever solo digs.

Also within weeks of signing my contract, I was invited to join a monthly writing group with two local women who have written books for the same publishing company that's releasing my book. While writing the book last spring, I was able to run the growing number of chapters by these wonderful resource people who have much more of a clue about the book world than I do. And one of my coworkers, who's also a freelance book agent on the side, was able to help me wisely negotiate my contract.

In short, though my name is on the cover of this book, God's fingerprints are all over it as well. I don't tell this whole VH-1-ish "Behind the Book" story for any of my glory. Quite the contrary, I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't share the amazing work God's done in my life and if I didn't encourage each and every one of you to give him your dreams and your singleness as well.

In the past couple of months I've learned he brings inspiring results when we give him our broken dreams as well. After suffering four heart-breaking miscarriages, my sister and brother-in-law have decided to adopt. Since my brother-in-law, Bob, went on a short-term missions trip to Guatemala several years ago and since he and my sister, Shelley, watched one of Bob's coworkers adopt a child from that country as well, I'm probably going to end up with an adorable little Guatemalan niece. While the heartbreak to get to this place isn't what my family expected or wanted, when I think of some little girl out there who's going to be pulled out of a life of poverty and placed in a Christian family who'll love her to pieces, my heart melts for a God whose ways are so much higher than our own and who specializes in creating beauty out of ashes (Isaiah 61:3).

These aren't the births my family thought we'd be celebrating right now the release of my book (my "baby"!) and the entrance into the world of some yet-unknown little girl in another part of the world. But we couldn't be happier. Our sadness for a "missing" husband for me and biological child for my sister and brother-in-law have been eclipsed by God's higher purposes ones that will hopefully bless not just our family, but some readers and a needy orphan girl as well.

Have you given your singleness and your dreams to God? If you do, I have a good idea of what will happen. The God of the Universe will do something unexpected. And he'll bless your socks off and possibly those of many others around you in the process.

Blessings!
Camerin Courtney


2003 Christianity Today. Used by permission.