Friday, July 25, 2014

Searching vs. Desperation


Marriage is a very beautiful and wonderful gift.  There is nothing like going through life and serving side-by-side with your partner and best friend.  It is a rich blessing, and something that should rightly be desired.

I talked last week about how dangerous and damaging desperation can be for a single woman.  I’d like to clarify, however, that seeking a spouse is not the same thing as being desperate for a man.  If we as women truly desire marriage, then sitting back on our heels and waiting is not the wise alternative to desperation.  I don’t feel that it is wrong in any way to put yourself in positions were you’ll meet nice, godly guys with similar hearts for the Lord.  God has put desires in your heart for a reason.  While we have to wait on his timing and trust Him, sometimes we also have to actively seek…and there is nothing wrong with that.

There is a big difference between seeking and being desperate.  When you’re desperate, you’re eager to find just about any guy.  When you’re seeking, you are actively looking, or at least keeping your eyes peeled, for a man who you’d be a good fit with.  Desperation consumes your time and your life, whereas seeking merely takes up a small portion.  With desperation comes a willingness to compromise who you are to “snag” a guy.  Searching  involves finding out who you are and what you believe, and looking for someone who matches that.

Here are some ways that I have found for single women to seek a spouse without becoming desperate for one:

Don’t hide away at home.  When I was a teenager, I worked with a guy who took a Pilates class in college.  He was quick to admit that he was only taking the class because he wanted to meet girls.  He knew something that a lot of single Christian women miss: getting out there, being social, meeting people, and making friends is one of the best ways to meet and get to know nice guys.  Shocker there, I know.  Aside from the plus of meeting men, I don’t believe God called us to lock ourselves away in service to Him.  He called us to be lights in the darkness, a city upon a hill, and He also emphasized the importance of fellowship.  So go to the young adults ministry, take a class in something you’re interested in, or sign up for a mission or service project. 

Take pride in your appearance.  Disclaimer here: I am in no way trying to say that you need to dress a certain way or weigh a certain amount to get a guy.  I don’t believe, however, that we are doing ourselves any service by dressing frumpy or carelessly.  As Christian women, we are daughters of the King.  As such, we are representatives of Christ to this world, and we should dress accordingly.  Balance is key.  The term “modesty”, while skewed slightly in modern thinking, merely means to not draw attention to ourselves.  We can draw attention to ourselves in more ways that one.  What are we portraying when we are dressing showily, revealing too much of ourselves, dressing legalistically, or masking the beauty that God has given us? 

The other benefit to all this, of course, is that a man who is truly seeking and following the Lord will notice your confidence, dignity, and true modesty of dress.  Let your dress and your appearance reflect who God created you to be…a unique and beautiful follower of Christ.

Be joyful.  Have you ever met someone that was incredibly beautiful, but whose critical or angry spirit made them entirely unattractive?  Conversely, have you met someone that is far from beautiful physically, but whose joy, compassion, and love made you want to be around them?  We must learn to be joyful and thankful every day, in every season.  Guys aren’t looking for a woman who’s dramatic, whiny, or depressed all the time, and acting that way only demeans the wonderful blessings that God has given us.  Our outward attitude should mirror our inward redemption.

Pursue interests and be diligent.  No guy will be interested in a boring girl, or especially one who doesn’t really do much.  Laziness is very noticeable.  If you find yourself lonely or bored, chances are you’re wasting a lot of time on frivolous, self-centered activities.  Instead, try your hardest to become a well-rounded, diligent woman.  Take the time now to carve out and develop the passions and talents God has given you. 

Portray the best version of yourself.  With the advent of social media, it’s easier than ever to portray yourself as something or someone that you’re not…even if you’re not meaning to.  If you want to be seen as the mature, confident woman of God that you are, portray yourself accordingly.  Don’t post your life’s drama or your constant loneliness on Facebook.  Don’t act ditsy or write with pseudo-babytalk slang (mature guys are not interested in girls who act like babies).  Don’t post 5 million selfies.  Avoid long-winded posts full of unnecessary facts, and steer clear of petty controversy.  Don’t overpost, either…this makes it seem like you don’t really do much all day except Facebook stalk.  If the most interesting part of your day is seriously what you ate for breakfast, then chances are you’re not living to your full potential anyway.  

Consider actively seeking.  There are more websites out there for adults looking for a relationship than ever before, and I’ve known many happily married couples that have met that way.  While Andy and I didn’t meet through an official “dating website”, we did meet at a conference put on by a social networking site.  There’s no shame in that!

I love the line from Win a Date with Tad Hamilton where the one gal tells the other that her dad always told her, “Your odds go up when you file an application.”  It’s so very true.  You may think that actively seeking a spouse like that is taking things out of the Lord’s hands.  I don’t.  I firmly believe that if you’re meant to meet someone online, you will, and if you don’t, then at least you learned something about yourself.  The same goes for just about any other way of trying to meet someone.  Ask friends and family to be on the lookout for you (hey, my parents met on a blind date!).  Join a singles group.  Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.  While God can bring you a spouse in the most unlikely of ways, if you’re never in places where there are eligible young men, then you may find yourself waiting awhile.  The more people you come in contact with, the higher your chances are of meeting just the right man for you.    


God has a very special plan for you during this season of singleness, no matter how long it lasts.  Know, though, that if your heart’s desire is to be married, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong in seeking a spouse while you’re doing what God has for you at the moment..  Search out what the Lord has for you in this season of singleness, but don’t cloister yourself away.  Become the best possible version of yourself, put yourself out there, and then let God do the rest.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

6 Steps to Simplify Your Utensil Drawer

Three years ago when we bought this house, we lived without a real kitchen for four months.  My “kitchen” consisted of a toaster oven, two electric burners, a microwave, and a utility sink to wash everything in.  We were also on a very limited budget, and I had to cook as much from scratch as possible.  Those were the days before a rambunctious little boy made his appearance, but it was still quite the feat.  I found myself having to simplify everything…including my utensil drawer. 

When we finally moved into our newly finished kitchen, I was overwhelmed by the amount of cooking utensils I had to work with.  I quickly pared them down.  From time-to-time I still sift through them and get rid of what I don’t need.  It saves my sanity, makes an organized drawer a lot more attainable, and cuts down on dishes (because I reuse instead of getting something new out constantly).

Here are my tips for simplifying your utensil drawer:

1.) Pull everything out and lay it on the counter.  It’s much easier to see what you have when it’s all out in the open.

2.) Set aside the things you use daily.    These are probably different for every person.  For me, these include at least one wooden spoon, a spatula, a scraper, and a vegetable peeler. 

3.) Add the things that you need on occasion. I may not use it daily, but I do need a can opener (unless I want to go all mountain man and use a pocket knife…heh).  I also need a cheese grater, meat thermometer, pizza cutter, rolling pin, etc. 

4.) Evaluate if you can do without the rest.  Sure, a rotary grater and an apple slicer are nice.  Honestly, though, do you use them enough to make keeping them worthwhile?  When you make that apple pie once a year, would it that much harder to slice the apples up with a knife?  Weigh the benefit having a cleaner, neater drawer with the usefulness of the item.

5.) Reevaluate multiples.  Do you really need 6 wood spoons or 4 spatulas?  The odds are, probably not.  I’d keep enough to be able to have separate utensils for anything touching raw meat, and pitch the rest.

6.) Put everything back.  I like to group my utensils according to use.  I also like to nest my wooden spoons.  However you organize them, I can guarantee that it’ll be a lot easier without all the excess gadgets you once had.  Your sanity and your efficiency will thank you. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

27 Week Pregnancy Update

Baby Girl Baker has been doing well.  She continues to kick (and punch and flip) up a storm.  Miles has caught on to this, and one of his favorite things now is to push on my belly and tell his “seester” to move.  He really is in love with her.  He’s constantly wanting to “snuggle” with the baby, “feed” the baby a cracker”, and talk to her.  The other day he told me she said she was hungry for a cracker.  All bets are off when the baby actually arrives and he realizes just what a baby really entails, but for now he’s into it.

I, on the other hand, have been having an interesting ride.  This pregnancy is so very different from my first.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m having a girl instead of a boy, or just that every pregnancy is unique, but it baffles me sometimes.  I’ve had quite a lot of Braxton Hicks since very early in this pregnancy.  Never one to slow down, I’ve had to be more cautious and aware, as they seem to come on when I’ve overdone it.

The weekend before last we were very close to going up to the hospital.  I was having a lot of Braxton Hicks (sometimes more than 6 in an hour), plus some very strange cramping.  Thankfully, after gallons of water, tons of epsom salt baths, tylenol, and pretty much laying down all weekend, they subsided.
Last Tuesday I had a normal checkup scheduled anyways, and they decided to make sure I wasn’t showing any signs of labor.  Much to my relief, I wasn’t.  The doctor just chalked it up to every pregnancy being different and said this one might just be harder. 

So, since then I’ve just been extra careful about not overdoing it.  I’ve also upped my protein intake, and am carrying a quart-size mason jar around with me to make sure I’m getting at least a gallon a day of water.  So far, it seems to be helping. 

I’ll leave you with a picture I took last Thursday at 26 weeks.  I am SO big compared to last time.  It’s pretty much all belly…just a really big belly.



Here’s a comparison from 27 (almost 28 weeks) with Miles and 26 weeks with Baby Girl Baker:




Linking up with Mommy Moments at The Life of Faith:


The Life Of Faith

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Instagram on Vacation

We went on a much needed vacation in June. I had the best intentions of posting a slew of pictures. As usual, however, life got in the way. So...I decided I'd share with you some Instagram pictures of our trip. Be sure and follow me (@thelifenotmyown). I love making new Instagram friends!

Dr. Quinn anyone???


Santa Barbara
Hearst Castle


Old Mission in Carmel

Pfeiffer Beach



Beach Baby

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Desperate

As a single young woman, I was desperate to find a husband.  For as long as I could remember, my biggest goal in life was to be a wife and a mom.  That dream only grew as I was exposed to more Conservative groups in my later high school years.  Any other aspirations I had faded in light of the all-encompassing calling of being a helpmeet.  I decided to go to college, but only so I could get a teaching degree that would help me homeschool my children with fewer problems.  I worked a part-time job, but the rest of my free time was spent scouring blogs trying to figure out how to dress and act to snag a nice “Conservative” homeschooled boy.

Looking back, I wasted precious time.  I was so focused on my goal of getting married that I missed out on much of the work that God had for me at the time serving others.  I was so desperate for a man that I didn’t even have a clue who I was or what God was calling me to do with my single years.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a spouse.  The ache in a woman’s heart for a man is normal and natural.  The problems come when that ache and that dream become the driving force behind your actions and your time.  Desperation to get a guy is a terrible trap, and one that I see many Christian girls falling into.

The first reason desperation is so common is that, like I said, that ache is natural.  It’s not wrong or shameful, but it must be fulfilled in God’s perfect timing and way…not ours.

The second is that the Christian subculture has put almost too much emphasis on a woman being a helpmeet and mother.  Single Christian woman find themselves portrayed as less important than a married woman because they have yet to achieve that “highest calling of womanhood”.  Single Christian young women in very Conservative circles have it even worse because, oftentimes, they are taught that having any other career ambitions are wrong.  They are encouraged to stay at home and “prepare for marriage” with no idea when or if Prince Charming will appear.  As the years pass and they watch friends marry off, they wonder what’s wrong with them that the “highest calling” hasn’t come to them.  Oftentimes they struggle with loneliness, aimlessness, and depression.

Finally, there is a huge emphasis placed on wives submitting to their husbands, a biblical and wise exhortation to be sure.  However, this teaching is often used to encourage young single women to bend to a man’s wishes and to be the only one compromising.  This is not good either.

It’s no wonder that these single women end up desperate for a man, and desperation can be a very dangerous and damaging thing.  You see, when you’re desperate to catch a man, your focus shifts from meeting and evaluating guys to trying to become what a guy “wants” in order to snag him.  As a single woman, I was an expert at changing my dress and speech to suit the eligible guys around me.  I was willing to compromise on a lot of things.  If a guy thought women should only wear skirts, by golly I would have been the best skirt-wearer that ever was.  If a guy thought women should never work outside of the home, or that any form of preventing pregnancy was wrong, I would have jumped right on board.  It didn’t matter that none of these were my own convictions.  If a guy was actually interested in me and was convicted about those things, I would have compromised completely, asking nothing in return.

I’m so glad I married a man who doesn’t want me to wear skirts all of the time, has encouraged me to work outside of the home at certain times, and who isn’t of the “quiverfull” movement.  Not that any of those things are wrong, I just know now that I would have regretted giving up all of the things that I was and I believed for him.  I know that, had I done all that compromising, I would be bitter today.  I would go along with all those standards outwardly, but inwardly I would be dying to just be the woman that God had called me to be.

Desperation can also blind us to the calling God has put before us for today.  When I first started classes to become a teacher, I saw them as a means to an end.  The funny part is, I ended up loving teaching.  Through it I came to have a heart first for the children, then the people of the rural county in which my husband and I now reside.  While I am no longer in the season of teaching in the schools, that heart carries over to my new passion for reaching the young moms of the area. 

Similarly, there are other talents and passions that I have only pursued and developed since getting married.  If I had wasted less time on trying to be somebody that I wasn’t when I was single, I would be a lot further along in my development.  You see, although my biggest task right now is marriage and motherhood, there are other talents and passions that God has put inside of me, and He has done so for a reason.  These are the things that make me uniquely me as God intended.  They are the things that now make me the wife, mother, and woman that God intended me to be.    

The right guy will love and respect you for exactly who you are and what you believe.  You will love and respect him for the very same reasons.  You may not agree on everything or have all of the same convictions, but the compromise will be mutual, not one-sided. 

My husband likes to say that he wasn’t “desperate to get married…but he was desperate to marry me”.  Don’t be desperate for any guy…be desperate for the right guy.  Be desperate to marry a man you agree with and believe in.  Be desperate to find a man who you can be a partner with in life.  Be desperate to marry a man who loves and encourages you to be the woman God created you to be, and not a man who wants you to be what he wants in a wife.  By all means, be desperate…just make sure it’s the right kind of desperation.

In the mean time, seek out the other passions and skills God has gifted you with and pursue them.  Find out what God wants you to do with your time right now and do it.  The places that serving God will take you are the very places where those “nice” eligible guys end up.  What better way to meet a spouse than by serving God side-by-side with him?

I don’t really know if every young woman can truly be “single and content”, as the phrase goes.  What I do know is that God has a unique and awesome plan for every woman in a season of singleness.  Don’t waste that plan on desperation.     

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

When You Marry Young

When you’re a young bride like I was, you get a pretty large dose of concerned advice about how you’re too young to be getting married.  You’re told that you don’t know who you are yet, and that you haven’t experienced enough of the world.  As that young bride, you defend your decision fervently.  You believe that you’re just more mature than the rest of the world, and that you already know who you are. 

The truth is, however, that those people were right.  I was very young to be getting married and I didn’t fully know who I was.  In the four years since getting married, I’ve grown and changed in so many ways.  I am certainly not the same innocent bride.    

For many young married couples, this growing and changing spells disaster for their marriage.  As they grow, they grow apart.  They end the marriage or decide to stick it out even though both are miserably unhappy. 

Andy and I have certainly had our fair share of fights, struggles, and times of distance.  Yet, when it comes down to it I still wake up each morning amazed by how right we are for each other.  We have both shifted and changed, and yet our life visions remain unified. 

I’ve come to realize that this is in large part due to Andy.  He has given me the freedom to grow and explore my passions and interests and has daily chosen to embrace who I am and who I am becoming.  He compromises and gives me room to grow, and I am so thankful for that.  With a different man, I would have become stifled and bitter, never feeling like I could be free to develop and blossom into the woman God intended me to be.

You see, when you marry young you will without a doubt change and grow.  Over the years you and your spouse will either grow together or apart.  If you and/or your spouse choose to be autonomous in your growth, never giving or compromising, then you will grow apart.  If you and your spouse choose to give each other room to grow, and give 100% to your marriage, letting compromise reign, you will grow together and your marriage will thrive. 

I’m so thankful for this man of mine who pushes me out of my comfort zone, challenges me to think deeper, encourages me to write, and supports me in my sometimes-out-there interests.  Marrying young could have spelled disaster to my naive young self.  Yet, because I married a man who gives and compromises and gives some more, I have thrived.   The longer we're married, the more I realize what a treasure that is.



Monday, July 7, 2014

Baby Girl Fashion

I have never been terribly picky with Miles' clothes.  Many of his clothes were hand-me-downs or consignment finds, with some adorable brand new things thrown in for good measure.  But...I really have always loved finding cute outfits for him.  I may or may have not spent more than I should have on some suspenders and a new white dress shirt for this past Easter, just because I couldn't help myself.  :smile:  I've carefully and saved all of his clothes that didn't get ruined or stained and then learned that we were having a girl.  Surprise, surprise!

I'm still trying to wrap my head around this whole "having a girl" thing, but lately I've been looking around at baby girls (and picking up a few things).  I'm getting more and more excited.  hah!  I'm really trying to simplify things and keep clothing to a minimum.  I counted recently and Miles literally had 30 0-3 month onesies...what a waste!  It's definitely not easy, though.

I've never been into the big bows and giant ruffles and gobs of pinks for little girls.  No offense if you are, but it's just not my style!  When we were little my sister loved lace and tea parties.  I, on the other hand, was busy pretending I'd tamed a wild stallion.  So, yeah...no surprise that that reflects how I'll dress my baby girl.

Anyway, here are some things I've picked up or found that I love:

As you can see, Baby Girl Baker is already getting lots of cute outfits from her Aunts and Grandmas...



Don't tell my husband I told you, but he actually saw these cute onesies and insisted we get them.  We really didn't need any more onesies, but they when your big tough husband picks out clothes for his baby girl, you can't really say no.  Plus...how cute are they???



I picked up these sleepers on clearance because I love yellow and grey...and the elephants?



Miles insisted on being the model for these little booties (he says they are for "seestah" I found on clearance.  Miles' first winter he pretty much never wore shoes, but these looked warm and the elastic actually might keep them on her feet.


These bows were also clearance finds.  Like I said, I'm not into giant bows, but these dainty little things were just my style (not sure why the pic is sideways).


I don't have any like these yet, but I love these cute retro-style headbands as well.


You can't see these very well because my model got a little antsy, but I did go through Miles' clothes and pick out the things I thought would work for baby girl as well.  Like, these striped onesies.  With leggings or tights these would be definitely girly enough.



I found this post and, for the most part, I loved all these ideas and outfits.  The one exception being that I probably won't be putting a belt on my baby girl...too impractical for playing!


Here are a few more things I pinned on Pinterest.  Pretty much things that are girly and sweet without being too over-the-top.  Adorable, no?

All of this inspiration is really getting me excited for my sweet baby girl to get here. 25 weeks today! PS: You can also follow me on Pinterest to see more baby girl clothes and ideas.