Saturday, April 30, 2016

NAS :: Love Stories

What is your favorite love story? How did your favorite real-life couple meet? Which fictional love stories (from books, movies, plays, or songs) make your heart soar? What’s your favorite love story from the Bible?

I know it's Saturday and I'm writing for our Tuesday post ... but hey, it's my blog and I can do what I want! I'm sure Lindsay won't mind that I'm linking up late. Check out the other Love Story roundups over at the Lovely Lindsay's!

I'm a romantic comedy junkie. I love when everything turns out great in the end and the good guy and the good girl get together and live happily ever after. I know that most of the time (ie: ALL of the time) that's not real life. There's no hard work put in after marriage - sometimes, the movie ends when they finally have a first kiss - think You've Got Mail (with two of the most beautiful people :: Tom & Meg). But I still love them.

My favorite Rom-Com of all time is Yours, Mine, & Ours- the ORIGINAL y'all .... with Lucille Ball! The new one is NOTHING in comparison!!!

I also love tv shows that follow a couple's love story and my absolute favorite is Bones. Brennan and Booth are just lovely together and go through real life. I love watching them together and seeing how they write for them to interact. I feel like I know these people - and truly I do - it's just that they don't really exist!

I think that Love is just lovely - and the romantic part is having companionship for a lifetime. There are so many amazing love stories all around me, which is what gives me hope that there's something for me in the future. If some flawed human beings can write the amazing stories that I love on TV and in movies - then, the Lord of Heaven and Creator of the Earth can write me a love story that will catch me by surprise and be more than I could have ever hoped for! I have faith that he will bring me a Joseph like he did Mary who will help us accomplish his mission on this earth and unite us with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

NAS :: Readiness

How ready do you think you are for your vocation? Are you ready to be committed to your vocation within the next year, or two years? That means being married (and maybe with a baby), taking religious vows, or telling people you’re not interested in marriage and plan to remain single for life. What do you still need to work on or change about yourself before you’re ready? Have you thought you were ready before? How have you become better prepared over time? Married ladies can chime in, too: how did you know it was the right time to get hitched?

Linking up with the ladies in the Not Alone Series this week as it's been way, way too many weeks. This group has been such an amazing help to me in the past few years with the amazing friends that I've met and the support system that they have become. This seems like a good topic to enter back into the writing mood and linking up with the group.

A few questions in this week's prompt strike me. Let's begin with Have you ever thought you were ready before?

Yeah. I'll say I've been ready to be a wife and mom for a long time - but there was one definitive moment almost 5 years ago while I was away with some kids at camp and praying about my future. I felt distinctively that the Lord was telling me that a husband was coming and that it would be sooner than I would feel it was ready for. Now five years later, I am still no married. I don't feel unready - but I do not have the same feeling in prayer either. I don't know if that's what the Lord has in store for me. 

Second question to consider What do you still need to work on or change about yourself before you're ready?

Um, a lot. Everything. I need to be better at submitting my will toward the other. I need to not be so selfish. I need to act with more humility and be a stronger woman of faith. I need to be more open to the Lord and His will. I need to feel better about my body. I need to clean up my eating habits. I need to kick my sugar addiction. Intellectually I know that these things are not the reasons why a man hasn't asked me to marry him (or date him) - but they feel like things that are wrong with me. They are definitely things that I should work on to be a better wife to this man once we are married. To give us a fighting chance of having a marriage that lasts until dead instead of divorce.

Final question to consider How have you become prepared over time?

In so many ways that I cannot even write them all down - some more profound than others. I know how to rely more on myself to my emotional well being than someone else. I can cook better. I'm stronger in my faith. I'm better able to take criticism and make changes to improve. I am better able to have discussions about topics that I feel passionate about. I have more control over my emotions in public. I'm more confident in myself and my abilities. I have a job that I love and am good at. 

All of these make me a better human being and therefore it would make be a better wife. I'm sure than during the time between now and when I do meet my spouse, I will grow even more into a better human being and better wife and mother.

Check out the other ladies and their thoughts this week over at Lindsyy's at the NAS Link Up.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Being Single ... Still

I've been thinking about what I'm going to write here for a few days. I've been wanting to get my thoughts down, but can't figure out what I want to discuss. What I want to tell my future self about this time in my life. I watched the movie Spotlight on Friday and had some thoughts I wanted to share, but it's such a difficult topic that I'm not sure this is the place to discuss them or that I have them all worked out in my mind. Last night a friend and I watched War Room which was really great - and I thought about writing about that, but not really moved. I did listen to that book on the library Hoopla app a few months ago and it was just as good - I highly recommend that. In the past few weeks, I've been watching Friends on Netflix and I've had some thoughts about that as well, but doesn't seem like fuel for discussion here.

So this morning, I googled "writing prompts for single women" and found a blog by Mandy Hale, who sounds so familiar to me, but I can't place how I know her. Maybe I followed her on Instagram, but I cannot remember. Anyway... I read through them all, and didn't feel like writing about any of those things, but then I found this article of hers: Why I'm Still Single - The Ugly Truth. It's very excellently written. I felt like I was reading some of my own journal notes.

Mandy writes:
The truth is…I don’t know exactly why I’m still single. I think I’m starting to come to a better understanding of why…but for the moment, it’s still just shadowed and blurry truth that I’m struggling to make sense of. But the reasons I often convince myself that I’m still single aren’t pretty.
There are the reasons I tell people like her, as simple as "I haven't met someone who wants to marry me, that I also want to marry, yet." That's the objective truth. I almost wrote "someone who wants to marry me," but then I would have friends who tell me that isn't true - that I've rejected guys before who are interested in me, that I'm not interested in for one reason for another.

However, like Mandy - that's not the reason that I believe in the hard moments, in the difficult evenings when I'm alone, in the times when I'm a single gal in the middle of a ton of couples. During those times, it feels more like something's wrong with me or that I've done something wrong recently or in the past. 

This is the exact area where the devil digs in and destroys me. Right here in my singleness, in the times when I'm alone and it feels like there's no hope of it changing. What if I am single forever? That's the question that haunts me and the one that I don't know if I'm comfortable with. 

I wish I could end this with some piece of amazing wisdom, with some words of positive affirmation, with a solution. I can't.

I can only tell myself that there were many other times in my life when I didn't see what was at the end of the tunnel. I didn't see what was going to come next when I was struggling with my job as Office Manager. I had no idea how I was going to get out of there and move on to something better for me. I couldn't see that working at OSV was what was right around the corner.

I didn't see what was at the end of the tunnel when I had trouble with a roommate after my friend got married and moved out. This one took a little longer to resolve. I had two more roommates in that apartment before I ended up purchasing my townhouse. I had some great times with those ladies, but the years of renting and not knowing if I was going to have a roommate for the next year or not was difficult.

Although these things aren't decisions as big as a life partner and living our my vocation - they do remind me of the Lord and his faithfulness toward me. He's been faithful in the past and he will be again in the future. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Being a Single Gal in a Gaggle of Married Ones

I saw this article on Verily last week and thought it was really good. Then I read the comment below and was a little disappointed. It's not terrible - but is from a the perspective of a married girl. As I read it (probably not her intention) it implies that she is upset with the writer because the writer indicates somethings she wants her married friends to do to keep their relationship going after the wedding.

Now that would be a fine article to write - and I might even end up doing that here this evening - however, it is a two-way street. This is the nature of relationships. They are two-way streets. All relationships are about give and take - if they aren't, then they are usually contracts and one party is being paid. I don't know about you, but I don't pay anyone to be friends with me ... although sometimes that doesn't sound like a bad idea.

The author's ideas to share with her married friends are super simple and not invasive or even too taxing on her married friends. A quick summary:

  1. Keep Me On Your Calendar: "You can hang out with your single friends as a couple too. Invite us along even when you’ll be out with your spouse’s friends, or when you planned a game night and only couples may be showing up." Even though we aren't married - we will want to hang out with you - even if it's just with all of our other married couples. If you don't make it weird, it won't be weird for us!
  2. Make Sure Your Husband Knows Your Friends Are Important: "Because one of my best friends is really inclusive and open with her husband about her plans with friends, I’ve built a really positive relationship with him as well." A very good point to remember, we want to be friends with you and with your new husband. Because he loves you, unless our relationship is detrimental to your health, it will improve your marriage as well. We aren't looking to replace your husband.
  3. Know That We Rely On You: "As much as you needed us when you wanted to dissect your first date with your current husband, you can bet your friends will continue to need you to share in their joys and sorrows—to be that person we can dissect our budding relationships with." This is so true - just because you got married doesn't mean we've become my own guru about my life.
  4. We Don't Need Pity, Just Friendship: "I know you are happily married and you want your single friends to be happy too. But it’s hard on a friendship when you feel like your friends wish you would stop being single already. Trust that we can be and very likely are happy with the stage of life we are in now. Help us to be patient by being patient with us. We may join you as a fellow married woman or we may not, but our lives have worth and purpose now." We want you to have a vested interest in our happiness, not just in 'us getting married.' 
I can see where the reply came from on the article as I write out my own responses here - but as a single woman, articles usually tell us what we should do to foster the relationship. It puts the entire burden of the friendship on the single woman. It's not. Relationships are a two-way street. Both people have to put effort into the relationship.

We (the not newly married friend) realize that nothing has changed in our lives in the last few weeks and that everything has changed in your life recently. I think that's why the reply was written the way it was. So many things changed in her life and she wanted her friends to figure out how to adapt. It's not unreasonable - but it's only half of the equation.

How do I know this? Well, I've been through this a few times now ... not as many as others - but more than once.

My two best friends from high school - Erin, the bride
in this photo, & I have been friends since pre-school.
Stephanie (on the left) got married back in 2008.

The latest married gals in my life - the best of the gaggle in
Charlotte - Devon, MG, & Meredith.

These five women are some of the most amazing that I know and they have gotten me through some rough times. I've known all of them before they were married, we were close friends - even roommates. I've loved being part of each of their weddings as part of the bridal party or taking part in the ceremony in another way. After the wedding, it's always been an adjustment process for me as we figure out how to be friends now. 

Each time this has looked different. Most of the time - it's just time and patience. Not pushing or getting upset about having to change or cancel plans. Remembering to account for the difference - we aren't each other's "number one" person any longer - but the truth is that we haven't been for a long time. Marriage was not the big change in our relationship - it's just a definite date that the change happened. The change happened gradually when my friend began dating the new man in her life and it gradually became more and more serious.

Her wedding day is when the biggest of the changes happened - when she moved in with him, changed her last name, and gave up her last moment of independence. That doesn't mean that women are not independent in marriage - but what I mean by that is her living alone (or away from him - or in a few cases not with me any longer), keeping her own schedule, and going from being "single" to being "married." 

My married friends also tell me that the first few years of marriage are the hardest years of their lives. There are so many changes. They are living with someone, sleeping with someone, being annoyed by someone, navigating being a "we" instead of a "me." It's our job as best friends to be there for them when it's hard, when it's fun, and when it finally becomes the new normal.

So, here we go again - time to adjust and wait for the new normal. And maybe add some more single gals to this group of friends - or - my fairy godmother could wave her magic wand and send down my very own prince charming so the number of single gals in this gaggle goes from 1 down to 0...

except mine seems more like this one, than anything else!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Expectations: Yours, Mine, and Ours

I've written about this a lot (here) or at least thought about it a lot in my mind. I think about the expectations I have for my life more than I probably should. How I'm perceived not only by others but by myself. This might sound strange, but it's one of the reasons I write in this space. It's great when others read it and comment about how I'm being ridiculous or how I'm saying the things they are thinking. But the main purpose is for me to look back and see where I've been and where I'm going.

When I first moved to Charlotte I wrote in a journal every day for an Advent thing and then just kept going for many years. I've gone back to read those and have enjoyed getting lost in my memories. I know that sounds like of silly - but writing things down as I'm feeling them helps me to understand more about who I am, what I'm really thinking and feeling, and how I've changed and grown over the years. I'm not someone who throws those types of things away. I never used to be the kind of person who'd share them with the world. But here I am writing again.

It wasn't until a three months ago that I realized how much I've shared myself on this little blog. A co-worker introduced me to a friend of his by sharing this interview that Britt did last year to tell him about me. I freaked out a little bit because it links to this here blog, my social media pages, and even a post I wrote for Cindy over at The Veil when I was feeling particularly single and vulnerable one evening almost two years ago. My expectations of how someone else saw me exploded right in my face.

This person knew all of these really personal and intimate things about me - that I share regularly with the entire World Wide Web. There aren't that many readers but I imagine them being my family, close friends and even better total strangers. You are all my listening ear when I want to scream and cry and shout and the people in my life are tired of listening. I'm grateful for this space and that the comments are only encouraging and not nasty or "go get a life." I'm grateful I'm not viral or have to deal with people disagreeing with me all of the time. That's not what this space is for, not for me.

One of my expectations of this blog is to have a few readers who comment every once in a while who I don't have to meet in real life - although if that happens, I'm sure it will be amazing! I don't really see this space being more than that - I don't see myself as giving this amazing advice for the Single Life, the secret to being patient (if only I knew what that was), or even great DIY advice (although people do say they love my house). Although if you get some of that from this space, then awesome! I'm so glad you do - but know that I do not in any way have it all figured out over here.

People think I do. How? I'm not really sure. It's happened a few times and most recently yesterday with a woman I work with who lives on the other coast. We were discussing my life and how I don't have all of these things that I want. I was talking about how maybe I need to lower my expectations of marriage and the "perfect guy for me" to someone who's a little older (although too much older is still hard to grapple with) and who is different than I dreamed of in the past. I said "maybe that's all I can attract - these 'odd balls' seem to be the only ones asking and I shouldn't be so picky."

She said something that really struck me, and she's said it before. She thinks I'm just fantastic. She thinks I have more talent given by the Lord than any one person deserves. I'm successful at work (I even got a promotion after being there only 11 months!). I can play the piano. I can be crafty. I can whip up a stew in three minutes flat (which isn't exactly true - but I can cook). I blog (which isn't really a big deal). She said that I deserve all of the good things in life.

That really struck me because inside the last month has been pretty hard. I've had these expectations of the Lord, of my life - and they were all falling right down the drain. I thought something amazing was going to happen with this guy - everything seemed so ordained by the Lord - then down the drain. Nothing. I'm more upset with the Lord than I am with the guy. Like everything I've ever wanted or dreamed was becoming reality and then nothing. I know I'm perceiving that differently than it was in reality - but my perception is all I have.

It feels like a lot of pressure to live up to what other people think you are. I appreciate that they think I'm wonderful - and I'd like to harness a bit of that in my own mind, without becoming prideful. There's got to be a healthy balance somewhere in the middle there.

This week's journey is to try to find that balance. Humbly see myself the way that the Lord and others see me to live out who the Lord created me to be! Prayers in my direction would be much appreciated!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Dreams That Aren't Coming True

When (if ever) is okay to tell your friend your dream isn't going to come true?

I'm now 31 and 3 weeks old. That doesn't seem too old to me, for anything, except probably the kiddie rides at Disney and toddler time at most parks. I mean, there are probably a few other things as well. I am probably too old to dream of being an astronaut or a firefighter. Although I could always go back to school for a new career. I mean, less than a year ago I just started a new career in a profession I had no experience in when I joined OSV and their sales team. But in the last week or so, I've heard from more than one friend that I might not get the dream of raising children and growing old with my husband. That it might be time to abandon that dream because if I want to be married, I need to take a look at who's interested and not be so picky.

I know you're going to need a lot more context for this discussion than I'm willing to give at this point - but I think I'll be able to do a good enough job.

This past weekend I was a Maid of Honor at the most beautiful wedding of my best friend and her new husband. It was an amazing ceremony to bind these two together in front of God and everyone after walking with them over the last few years of their relationship. It was an honor to be part of it. The hard part is that my best friend (and last single friend) is now a married woman and I'm still only RSVPing for 1 at any gathering.

I really thought there was something going with this guy earlier this year. We had a mutual friend introduce us with the express purpose of discerning a relationship (or at least I thought). He lived far away so we talked on the phone a couple times a week and then he flew out to meet me only to let me know he knows for certainty that God is calling him to be a priest. WHAT?! Dream of having a date to the wedding ... crushed. Probably for the best since I was SUPER busy all day - but still, dream destroyed.

There aren't usually a lot of men asking for my company on a date so March has been quite a busy month in comparison - but with men who want to be priests and who are too old for me. UGH! NOT the dream!

But back to my point - when is it okay to abandon the dream? When does an almost two decade (if ever) age difference stop being an issue? At what age does having a big family (or any family) become a non-factor?

I've got advice from friends and acquaintances that contradicts one another on this subject. Some who have a vested interest in me being married and some who have a vested interest in me being happy. I dream that one day those two will be able to be achieved at the same time - but happy is what I'm going for first. I know that life won't always be puppy dogs and rainbows and not every day will be a happy-fest. That's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about overall vision of my life, where it's going, what the next 50 years will look like - I'm going for happy. I hope that includes marriage - but I know for certain I don't want marriage with happy. That sounds like more of a nightmare than a dream.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Happy Easter!

The chains are broken and we live with the Resurrected Lord!! Alleluia!!

Last evening I had the privilege of sponsoring a 17 year old girl at the Easter Vigil. She and her father were baptized, confirmed, and received the Eucharist for the first time. What an amazing experience to journey with this group of people into the church!