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Archive for the ‘In the meantime’ Category

We camped with family over the weekend and it was so good to get away.

Such a welcome change of pace.  There’s nothing like a complete change of scenery, outside-the-routine activities, and the faces of people you enjoy but don’t get to see very often, for refreshing the spirit.

Highlights

  • Watching my husband sacrifice his body to snag a fast-moving grounder in the camp softball game. My hero!
  • Seeing cousins of various ages together learning the 80s art of hackysacking.
  • Eating al fresco. Does everything taste better outdoors?
  • Chatting history and books with a retired teacher from Texas camping with her husband and grandkids.
  • Seeing kids whiz around the campground loop on bikes and scooters and skateboards.
  • Observing the evening activities of other camping families through the glow of lantern and campfire.

Feeling dull and humdrum? Grab a friend and get out of town! I would love to see your highlight list.

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I read this morning that a new dating book will be published next year by the authors of the The Rules, a dating book published in the 90s. The title of the new one is Not Your Mother’s Rules.

One of the authors is interviewed here. She summarizes their advice for women in the world of online dating,

Don’t answer a guy’s ad, and post a light and breezy ad talking about interests, hobbies, favorite foods, books, movies, etc. Don’t mention anything about dreams and regrets and include a couple of sexy photos. If a guy doesn’t ask you out within 4 emails, next! Rules girls are looking for dates, not pen pals.

and

 A woman cannot email, or even wink at a guy’s profile, without becoming the aggressor and possibly getting hurt down the line when the guy dumps her for the woman whose profile he really likes. The only way to be sure that a guy is interested is to let him make the first move.

I’ve only skimmed The Rules once several years ago, but my impression from this distance is that the authors start their rules with good rules of thumb, but goes too far details. We’ll have to see what they do with this new book.

Have you consulted books for dating advice? Have any books been helpful?

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Do you despair in your singleness?

We women handle feelings of despair differently. For many, it’s a reason to be insanely busy–less time to think.  Others let despair preoccupy their thoughts until they wallow in it.  I avoided (mostly!) these extremes in my single years, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel the great weight of it. There were a few nights when despair pressed so heavily on my heart that it was hard to breathe.  One of those nights was after Jones got married, I am sorry to say. I usually didn’t have a hard time with weddings and I was overjoyed for the bride and groom, but that was a long, sleepless night.

It is hard. hard. hard. to walk the thin line of hopefulness when you feel crushed down, but the extreme alternatives are not helpful.  Wallowing is not only unproductive and hopeless, but unattractive.  Busyness for the sake of squelching your desire for marriage and relationship only numbs and dulls a woman’s heart. In contrast, the heart of a woman walking the thin line of hope is tender and brave, open to new people and opportunities, and I believe that some of a woman’s greatest personal and emotional strength lies in how she handles the feelings and her time.

Emily Stimpson is a woman trying to walk the thin line of hope.  She now writes a column and has recently published a book about being single (The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years: The Nuts and Bolts of Staying Sane and Happy While Waiting for Mr. Right)  And she has this to say about despair and hope in her recent column.

It’s despair that leads us to date people we shouldn’t and do things we oughtn’t. It’s despair that makes us bitter, hard and cold, the embodiment of everything the culture tells us we’ll be if we’re living a chaste single life. And it’s despair that turns us in on ourselves, preventing us from seeing the needs of others and loving them as they need to be loved.

Despair is not our friend. Hope is our friend. Hope is what gets us through a string of bad dates or a stretch of none at all. Hope is what keeps us going after a breakup or when we feel like the last single person standing. Hope is what allows us to trust that God really does know what he’s doing.

She concludes that “remaining hopeful may be a single person’s greatest task.”  I couldn’t agree more.  We’re going to talk a lot more on this blog about cultivating hope.

As usual, we would love to hear from you. Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to thank a veteran or serviceman or woman for keeping us free.

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The world is suspended in springtime.  Trees and flowers have been blooming since March and it’s still in the 70s here. I’m loving my morning walks, spotting the new blooms and and the changes people made in their yards and gardens over the weekend.

So, I don’t think this is so weird, but some of my friends have thought so. I associate certain books and music and bedding and movies and colors and foods, etc. with seasons.  Favorite old chick flicks like “Runaway Bride” and “You’ve Got Mail” are autumn movies, “While You Were Sleeping” is now a standard Christmas movie, and Pride and Prejudice is a book to be read in the spring–preferably April.  I Capture the Castle is for summer reading, and many of my favorite Sting songs are for winter–after Christmas.  The crisp, white sheets are for summer, and the cream sheets are to me, the warmth-inducing shade for winter.

It’s not that I enjoy these things only in that one season, but it is when I have the greatest desire to enjoy them.  I admit that with the seasonal position of the movies is influenced–very predictably– by the season it’s set in, or the season in which I saw it. The Harry Potter movies I want to see in the winter time, but that’s when they came out.  I’m conditioned!

Am I alone in this? Please tell me I’m not alone.  Now where are the framed lilac photos … ?

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I’ve been thinking about the things people said or did that encouraged me or discouraged me as a single woman who desired marriage.

Things that discouraged or rankled:

  • Assumptions by marrieds that I had a lot of extra time to volunteer or babysit, or no social life because I wasn’t married with a family. In some ways a single is busier because there is no division of duties. I had to clean the house and get the oil changed in the car.  Bottom line:   A single person has to prioritize their time just like everyone else, and the unmarried state doesn’t necessarily equal loads of free time.
  • The spiritualizing of my unmarried state, especially by someone who married in their young 20s: “There’s so much you can do for God because you’re single–just like the apostle Paul!”  No matter how sincerely meant by well-intended people, this never came across well.  For one thing, Paul himself was a biblical exception.  Most people in the Bible were married.
  • You must be picky. There are varying definitions of “picky.” I know that some thought that my moral standards were too high, and others may have thought that marriage itself was the goal rather than being married to the right man. Whatever their definition, this statement made me overanalyze what might be 1) wrong with me, and 2) wrong with my standards, and 3) never helped me make any positive change I needed to make.

Words that encouraged:

  • It gave my confidence a little boost when someone said, “I don’t understand why you’re not married!” Others have found this same statement discouraging because it can also imply, “You look all right and seem normal so what’s wrong with you?” But here’s why I received it as a compliment: I didn’t come across as embittered or jealous or angry or desperate.  Too many men and women who desire to marry become bitter, and it shows.
  • Personal stories of people my age who married encouraged me.  While it was fall-down-on-the-ground discouraging in my 20s to hear the story of a couple finally finding a mate in their 50s (Oh Lord! Preserve me from THAT–the fate worse than death!), it gave me hope when the story was about people were closer to my age or a little older.  I still love hearing about the very unpredictable and improbably ways that people meet and marry, and now I love sharing my own story when it seems appropriate.
  • Reminders of God’s faithfulness, sovereignty and higher ways. Often these reminders came through Scripture.  The God who takes care of sparrows also watched over me and had a plan for me.  I also held onto scripture passages like those in Hebrews that talked about the great faith of men like Abraham and women like Sarah. They trusted God with His promises for a nation of people, surely I could trust Him with my heart and life. It was also helpful to hear stories of God’s faithfulness from my friends, and from church family and other speakers.

I would love to hear from you about this!  What kinds of things discourage and encourage you?  In the spirit of this post please share at least one thing you find encouraging for every discouragement you write about.  You didn’t think I was going to let you register only complaints, did you?!

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