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Thursday, October 23, 2014

What Should I Say to My Single Friends (Part 3)

Today is the last blog in our series.....I thought I'd go the flip side and ask my single girlfriend what things people say that they probably mean to be encouraging, but are actually totally annoying.  They made quite the list!

Single people are fun too.

 So let's consider putting these on the "not to be uttered" list, shall we?

"You're trying too hard."  It doesn’t bother me when people say things like “he’s out there somewhere” or “give it time” because I think those cliches are sincere and absolutely true.  But I positively hate when people say things like “you’re trying too hard.”  Excuse me?  How do you know I’m trying so hard?  Do you know something I don’t?  Because you know what i’m doing right now?  I’m sitting on the couch eating some soup and watching Netflix.  I had no idea that I’ve been actively recruiting potential boyfriends in sweatpants on my couch this entire time.

"It will come when you least expect it"

"You're still so young"

 "Its not you"

Don't make dumb suggestions of who I could date.  I get so tired of "well (you have to draw this well out. weaaaalllll..) you could always date {insert name here}" as if I am invited to a dinner party last minute and looking for something decent to wear in my closet. "Oh hey, this dress isn't too wrinkled. It will work for the occasion." "{insert name here} is single and not too old, he has some baggage but he's not too messed up."  Come on people!!

 "You are too good for them" (which i never can figure out, if I'm too good for them, then it would be MY choice to be with them or not)

"At least you don't have to take care of someone else." - This actually makes me sad for the person who tells me this. Why do you feel you HAVE to take care of the person you are married to? Why do you not WANT to care for your spouse?

"You should pray more about it."- I completely understand this, and trust me I pray for my husband on the regular. But if I bug the Big Man upstairs one more time about a spouse he is actually going to spite me for not praying for other attributes and people. You pray for me since you are so concerned about my marital status.

"People are getting married and having kids later and later now. I'm sure you'll find him."- Thanks, it was my plan all along to not find him till ..."later and later" becomes an issue. Also, why do I have to find him? Why can't he find me?

"I envy you and all the adventures you get to take....because it is just you." - You had to throw that last part in, didn't you? Why do you not take adventures with your significant other? Having fun and doing amazing things should not stop when you find The One.

"We all have to kiss a lot of frogs." Because thinking of men as amphibian creatures is exactly what I want to hear when I am dating and you have a Prince Charming. Also if you are married to your high school sweetheart or the first guy you kissed, DO NOT SAY THIS.

"But you are so great, the whole package. I just don't understand how someone hasn't snatched you up yet." or "I always pictured you being married with kids by now." Thank you, now I am going to go home and think about what dark, twisty part of me is repelling men from "snatching me up."

"Our relationship is just perfect. You'll find that too." This is the one that kills me; it makes me question a lot about a relationship when I am in one, or makes me apprehensive to commit to a new one. I will be the first to own up to never having a perfect relationship, and I think that is just fine. However, when people tell me their relationship is perfect, it makes me doubt myself and whoever I am dating at the time, or not dating. Do I have to find perfect? Do you not have disagreements or misunderstanding? Do you really agree on everything? Do you think it is okay that he leaves his socks inside out on the bathroom floor? Because if "perfection" is what I am supposed to look for, I don't think that is going to happen. I think I am going to marry someone perfect for me, but I have no expectation for a "perfect relationship" at all times.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What Should I Say To My Single Friends (Part 2)

Today, we're going to some of the most fun, amazing, smart, beautiful girls I know to get their take on the question.  Each of these ladies are still out there in the trenches taking grenades from people---you know, "Honey, you know your not getting any younger" and so forth.  I wanted to get their take on this topic.  So you're going to hear from lawyers and government employees and pharmacists and teachers from three different states today....we've got a variety of backgrounds, professions, and personalities here, so I think we've pulled together lots of good advice on what is encouraging to them in the single chapter.

It's not what you should say, but what you should do.  Keep inviting us out (and other singles so we don't feel like the 3rd wheel all the time), have dinner, go get that pedi, take time to chat on the phone, weekend snowboarding. Girls days like they used to be.....let us pretend for a few hours that we aren't any different than you are. And most of all when we are super down about it and feeling sorry for ourselves, cheer us up, give us alcohol, listen to us bitch and complain, but at the same time try not to let us dwell on it for too long....not necessarily writing it off as what we are feeling isn't important or warranted, but we gotta get back up and move on because lets face it being debbie downer sure isn't going to attract boyfriend/husband material.

My very favorite third wheel photo--dancing with the happy couple.

Be as comfortable about my singleness as I am.   I would just like for people to be as comfortable with my being single as I am. I love being able to sleep in the middle of the bed, spend $100 at the craft store and paint all weekend, or pack up and live on my best friends couch (she's single too) for a whole weekend if I want to. Show me you are proud of me and respect me by not telling me some cockamamie bull about how the right one is out there waiting for me or God has a plan for me or whatever it is that helps YOU sleep at night. I'm single and it's ok. And I don't have time to pat your hand and reassure you that it's ok because I'm kinda busy being awesome.

Remind me to keep living my life and help me do that!  I think it’s always super encouraging to hear that I should keep living my life and enjoying the opportunity to do things on my own terms while I can.  I know that, on their face, comments like that aren’t words of encouragement, per se, and are generally unrelated to how to find a nice boy, but I think that’s why I appreciate it so much!  Also, people tend say it in the context of “hey, if you keep doing your thing and enjoying yourself, you’re going to meet someone great in the process.”  And they’re right—why put your life on hold waiting for someone to show up?  I think it’s incredibly important for young women to understand that they shouldn’t be defined by their relationships, that their worth is in no way correlated to relationship status, and that they should make (and are entitled to) their own happiness. 

Don't push us, appreciate where we are.  Over the years, I have always found it so encouraging to have other women, with husbands and families, support me for what I am doing right this moment and not pushing me into the next step. I recently had an older woman, with a husband and family and whom I respect a lot, tell me how proud of me she was that I am doing what I want and my career choice. I have had several men tell me it is awesome that I am doing exactly what I want right now, and that they hope their daughters do the same thing.

Don't constantly ask about our personal life.  For me, people who are supportive about all the things I am doing without mentioning anything about my relationship status it is so refreshing. If I want to tell you about my personal life and relationship status, I am open enough I will. Many women are the same way: if we want you to know about our relationship status...especially if we are in a relationship....WE WILL TELL YOU! 

Be supportive of where we are to us about our plans, what we enjoy, what's going on and know it is okay if it does not match the path you took. I want the cute house with a view and a wonderful man for a husband with dogs and kids and all that comes with that. I CANNOT wait for it. But, right this moment that is not where my life is. Right now, I am doing everything I can to make myself a wonderful woman for the man who will be my Mr. Forever while hopefully, he is doing the same thing. So be supportive of the people in your life who are not married, who don't have kids yet, and who maybe don't even want that in their life. Ask them about what they are doing right this moment, what they want to do next, not why they have not done the same thing you have. If you are close friends with them, you already know.

Keep up the annual girls trips.   The number one encouraging thing for me is those annual girl trips....don't stop going on those just because you are married now, its very discouraging and makes me feel like I'm losing out on both friendship as well as love.

Monday, October 20, 2014

What Should I Say To My Single Friends (Part 1)

After the wildly popular Advice to the Single Ladies series earlier this summer, one of my friend made a blog request.  She is married with an adorable little boy, but needed some advice.  "What should I say to encourage my single friends?"  She worried that sometimes her words--although intended as encouragement, were not taken that way from her single girlfriends. 

What a great question! 

First, let me say that I think every girl needs friends who ask questions like these.  Here she is, busy with a baby and a husband and a job and life, but she cares enough about her friends to want to be sure she is offering encouraging words to them.  Hands down the best thing any girl can do--single or not--is find women who encourage, inspire, support, and push you.  Just being a caring friend is encouragement, period, regardless of the words that come out of your mouth.

Me and my girls.

Second, I don't think there is any magic words that will encourage someone about their singleness.  I think at different times, a single girl needs to hear different things.  There were periods of my 20's where I was perfectly content single---jet setting around Europe, going to football games anywhere I wanted, buying shoes anytime my heart desired.  There were also periods where I desperately wanted Mr. Right to show up--when I was playing third wheel, when I sat dateless at weddings, the holidays.  Depending on the season I was in, different words of encouragement would have been helpful at different times.

Finally, I put together what I think is a pretty fool-proof list of four statements that I think are always good.

*  She is great, beautiful, special, fun, smart, and going to make a great wife one day.  I was probably in my mid-twenties and I distinctly remember one of my guy friends commenting that I would be a great wife one day.  I remember it because no one had ever said it to me before, and hearing those words come out of someone's mouth made them seem real to me.  It's easy for a single girl to doubt her worth, to wonder what is wrong with her that no one wants to put a ring on her finger, to feel like she must just not be enough.  In light of that, offering encouragement to counteract those thoughts is always a great idea.

*  Her life is awesome just the way it is now.  The odds are, your single friends are being bombarded with comments that make them feel like they are just waiting for their life to really begin when they walk down the aisle.  I think it's always good to remind them of how great their life is now---point out the good things, encourage them to chase after their dreams, help them come up with fun new ideas.  It's not that you should make it a competition about whether being single or married is better, but I really did appreciate it when people would point out how great my life was right that minute because I often needed the reminder.

*  You will be praying for her.  I always so appreciate knowing that people are praying for me.  I've had friends of all denominations offer to intercede on my behalf during my single years and you better believe I accepted and appreciated every prayer.

*  Would you like to get some ice cream?  Let's be real. This statement is ALWAYS appropriate.  Bottom line, sometimes, there is nothing you can say to make it better.  Ben and Jerry's, though?  Those guys have it handled.

Stay tuned tomorrow to hear thoughts from several of my amazing single friends!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Closing a Chapter

“What wings are to a bird, and sails to a ship, so is prayer to the soul.”   ~Corrie ten Boom

Last Friday afternoon, my trusty mover, Ronnie, and I loaded all of my possessions into a 16' Budget truck and headed north.  It marked the closing of one chapter of my life and the beginning of another.

As I reflected (one has plenty of time to do that on a 9.5 hour drive....) on the chapter that was College Station, I came to several conclusions in addition to my list of things I will miss, which I previously posted here.

During my contemplation, I realized that I should determine a theme for each chapter in my life.  (If it was good enough for Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love, why not me?)  And as I thought back on the last year and a half, it was fairly clear to me that the College Station chapter must be dubbed the chapter of answered prayers.

When I moved south, I had been on two dates with The Boy from Texas.  I was left with a long distance relationship and lots of worries and unanswered questions.  Slowly but surely--in His timing--each worry was relieved, each question was answered.  I spent hours upon hours wondering, plotting, planning, and praying about what the future would hold.  I had amazingly wonderful friends who prayed with me.  I have no doubt there was intercession from the saints whom I begged for intercession. 

There are chapters where prayers are not answered in the way that we want.  The miracle doesn't come, the situation does not change, the plan does not work.  And as hard as those times are, I do believe God ultimately uses them for His glory.  But sometimes, just sometimes, His glory is shown by answering our pleas in the exact way we prayed for.  I tend to forget that can happen, and I'm so thankful for the reminder.

The College Station chapter was, for me, one of answered prayers. 

It was fitting then, I think, to see this in the front yard the day I drove away. 

I planted this rosebush last spring.  And then I got busy and did nothing to care for it.  And then it died.  I mean, it was still green, but there hadn't been any hint of a bloom, much less a rose for 6 months. 

But on Friday morning, I awoke to a single red rose.  Immediately, I remembered praying to St. Therese, who promised to spend her time in Heaven doing good on earth and showering the world with roses.  (She's quite popular with my sweet friend Super Mom as this.) 

A beautiful red rose, a beautiful answered prayer, a perfect ending to this chapter.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Better than the Letters

"Everything I ever wanted, and everything I need, he's everything to me..." ~Brad Paisley, She's More (with a minor modification)

Easily one of my favorite blog series over the last several years was my Letters to Mr. Right.  If you're new to the blog (or just want a trip down memory lane), click here to read them all.

The first letter was penned three years ago this month.  Exactly 1,115 days before The Boy from Texas and I will take our walk down the aisle, I wished that he wouldn't miss finding me when the time was right.  He didn't.

It's funny to look back on the 20 letters I wrote to my then-unknown Mr. Right.  I can read them and go back to the very place, very situation, very moment that I wrote them. I remember the night I got the photo of the boots and heels, the one I so desperately wanted to be me, and that we re-created in our engagement pictures.

So many things I dreamed of have come true. I commented that I would enjoy him most in the fall.  Given the fact that our wedding will be in October, turns out I was probably right.   He's from West Texas, just as I hoped.  And, most importantly, he picked me.

As I read back through all of these, I quickly realized, The Boy from Texas surpasses the guy who I had in my head.  God give us more than we know to wish for. 

He's better than the letters. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Blonde Oklahoma Girl's Wedding

I've been patiently waiting for the photos and/or video of Blonde Oklahoma Girl's wedding to be ready in order to do the blog. Finally, the sneak peak photos have been posted and I just can't wait anymore to share them with you!  I'm sure you all are excited too, especially after the wildly popular Advice for the Single Ladies Blog Series we just did a couple of weeks ago.

We've been through a lot, that Blonde Oklahoma Girl and I.  We're sort of the last of the Mohicans...the final single girls in the group (sometimes it felt like on the planet).  There were many a phone conversation where she talked me off the ledge, and vice versa.  There was lot of analyzing, tears over engagements happening, and a friendship that's spanned nearly a decade.  It was such an honor to stand up with her on her big day.

The best description I've got for Blonde Oklahoma Girls' wedding day is was the day Pinterest came to life.  I was beyond amazed at the beautiful setting, the amazing decorations, her attention to every.last.detail.  It was seriously just perfect. My words won't do it justice, so I'll let the pictures talk.  And hopefully someday soon, I'll have a video to play for you all.

First up, getting ready.  She had us matching bridal party tank tops and herself a monogrammed white shirt.  Classic.

Then (maybe the best part) the decor.  Seriously, if you've seen it on a rhustic-chic Pinterest board, she made it.  It was amazing!
She had handmade signs all over the place.
This was the guest book area.
I'm so in love with the pictures frames she had, I bought them
in white for my own wedding.

She had a popcorn bar for her gift to the guests....
I've been in a lot of weddings but had never seen this!
The flowers?  To die for.

 Next we have the wedding party.  I may be a bit partial, but I think we're pretty dang sharp lookin' folks here.  (Please note these dresses?  $40 a Maurice's.  Genius and they photographed so well!)

Next up, we've got the dress.  This, too, was something that she found on Pinterest and then went and tracked down in real life.  And despite a bit of drama (and the accidental dropping of a major curse word) getting it on when there was a broken hook, it was perfection.

And now, the venue.  Seriously, she always wanted a barn wedding.  Well she got the storybook venue---not one barn, but two and a beautiful open area full of old trees strung with lanterns and candles for the ceremony.

 Finally, the party.  They had an amazing first dance....very Pure Country wedding-ish (which was the goal)....under the sky and white lights.  There was a little surprise for everyone, but you'll have to wait for the video to see that.  The night ended with a sparkler send off for the happy couple!

There was also a fun photo booth.  He's her's.  She's his.  I'm here for the cake.

Oh, and last but certainly not least, it is football season.  Go Pokes!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

As of Late

As you all know, my life is typically chaos most of the time.  I do think it's possible that Fall 2014 may take the chaos cake.  Here's a run down.

*Teaching My First Law School Class.  I'm teaching my very first law school class this semester, which happens to also be the very first Agriculture Law course at Texas A&M University School of Law.  I have to admit, it's a lot more work than I expected, and its quite interesting to be on the other side of the podium!

*Moving.  Moving day is almost here....I've pretty much gotten my house packed up.  I can't believe that our days of living 9 hours apart are quickly coming to and end.  Not one moment too soon!

* Working Girl.  I've been running all over Texas giving presentations.  From the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, to several county Farm Bureau meetings, to the Southwest Council of Agribusiness meeting, it's been a fun couple of months!

* Wedding Showers.  We've been blessed with two more amazing wedding showers, one in The Boy from Texas' hometown and one here with the work folks in College Station.  We cannot thank everyone enough!

* Half Marathon Training.  My training is going quite well for my next half marathon---Tulsa in November!  I'm hoping to break my 2:30 time from my last half....we'll see.  I just completed my a 6 miler so things are good.

* Farewell Dinner with the Roomies.  Last night we went to our roomie last supper.  We went for tacos at my very favorite College Station restaurant, La Bodega.  Then we had to make a little gelato stop and headed home to watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  Perfect chick flick/pre-wedding movie.

* Wedding Planning.  Oh yea, did I forget to mention that's happening?  Only 157 times on this blog.  Everything is pretty much good to go, there is really not too much more to do.  Here's a bit of decoration teaser...

* Adoration.  In the midst of the chaos, it's easy for me to get overwhelmed.  My brain runs pretty much non-stop and it's so hard for me to embrace the whole "Be still and know that I am God" command.  This place makes me do just that and I love it.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Faith and Miracles, Miracles and Faith

"A cancer inexplicably cured.  A voice in a dream.  A statue that weeps.  
A miracle is an event that strengthens faith.
It is possible to look at most miracles and find a rational explanation in terms of natural cause and effect.  It is possible to look at Rembrandt's Supper at Emmaeus and find a rational explanation in terms of paint and canvas.
Faith in God is less apt to proceed from miracles than miracles from faith in God."
~Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking

St. Stephen's Basilica - Vienna, Austria - 2013

Friday, October 3, 2014

Last Q&A Before the Big Day: The Answers

Well, as I expected, most of the questions I got were wedding/marriage related.  Here we go.

Besides getting to spend the rest of your life with TBFT, what part of your wedding are you most looking forward to? 

Getting to see everyone.  It's going to be a large wedding (400+) so it will basically be like all of our family and friends in one place for a huge reunion.  And I'm here to tell you, we know some really, really fun people!  I'm also super excited about the dance.  We're having a live band and if I know those 400+ people like I think I do, there will be lots of boot scootin' going on.

What's the best piece of advice you would give to people who are newly engaged trying to plan a wedding in under a year? 

My first piece of advice would be don't take a year to plan!  Ha!  We planned our wedding in 4 months.  Honestly, we've not really done anything for the last month besides wait and collect RSVPs.  I'm so, SO glad we are not going to sit around for another 8 months waiting for the big day.  I'll probably do a blog series on wedding planning and our wedding, but my big tip would be to make a huge list of everything you can think of that you need to do, and then put them in order of what needs to be done first.  We started off with the venue, the date, and the guest list.  Those are probably always the place to start.  From there, we just kept working down the list.

Besides TBFT, what are you most looking forward to when it comes to moving? 

(1) The lack of humidity.....College Station feels like living in a crock pot a lot of the year.

(2) No longer having to subsidize Southwest Airlines.  I swear we're going to be rich based just on the money we will save not traveling to see each other once or twice a month.
What will you miss most about singleness? What will you miss the least? 

I previously wrote a blog about the things I'll miss the most.  You can read those here

What will I miss the least? 

(1) People's really annoying, often hurtful, comments about my being single.  Seriously, there were times I wanted to just punch some people square in the face over that!  Well, you read about that here

(2) Being 9 hours away from The Boy from Texas.  When we started this, several people told me that distance would be hard.  Yea, yea, I had been single forever, I was pretty sure they were just babies.  Well, turns out, distance is hard.  I'm so glad we'll be living in the same zip code!

What scares you the most about marriage? 

Hm.....I don't know that I'm really scared of any part of it.  I think that TBFT an I are both quite realistic about relationships and marriage and know that it's not all puppies and rainbows, it's something you really have to work at. But in the end, it's a covenant with God that we will work at it, so that gives me a lot of peace of mind about things. 

Oh, wait, I'm also very nervous about how to blog about the wedding.  Do I go into a lot of detail?  Multiple posts?  One post?  How do I keep people interested?  What about my readers without ovaries (BFF and Cousin Kevin) who frequently complain about blogs not meeting their male interests?  It's very stressful.

How do you think being single in your 20s has prepared you for marriage? (and I guess, do you think it has prepared you for marriage?) 

Oh I absolutely think it prepared me for marriage.  Being single all through my twenties allowed me to figure out who I was.  And that person was certainly not the same at 21 as she was at 29.  Thank God for that.  Having those single years allowed me to try different things, meet new people, travel to 9 countries, apply for a dream summer job in San Francisco, experience buying two houses, grow in my faith.....I could go on for pages.  The bottom line here is that because I figured out who I am and what I want, I feel like I will be a better wife (and was better able to find the right husband). 

Budapest, Hungary - 2013

I also think that when you're older, you're able to dispel the whole fairy tale, happily ever after idea about marriage.  I'm well aware the relationships are hard.  I've seen great marriages--ones I would have bet the farm on making it--fail.  I think understanding that makes me more appreciative of the importance of the covenant we are making and more aware of the effort that will be required to keep it.

If you could do the single years over, what one thing would you do differently?

 I would have met The Boy from Texas a little sooner.  Not at 21, but you know, maybe 27 would have been okay. :) 

No, really, I would go on a study abroad trip during college.  Money was too tight, I needed to work, I was to busy...blah blah blah.  I wish I would have gone.

What honeymoon activity are you looking forward to the most? (PG rated please) :) 

We are both super excited about the honeymoon destination.  I can't wait to see Lake Louise and Lake Moraine.  The pictures are absolutely amazing!  The Boy from Texas is probably the most excited about getting massages at a spa in Banff.  The hostesses from one of our wedding showers gave us some cash to spend on our honeymoon and that was his big request.

Who is the better driver? TBFT OR You?

Well, I could try and lie and tell you what a great driver I am, but frankly, I'm not that good.  So he'd win this one.  Pretty easily.  In fact, he's better than me at most things.

If you have a kid anytime soon, can we call him TBFTT? (the boy from texas two)  

Well baby names have been quite the topic of discussion between the two of us for probably a year now.  I like to plan ahead.  We have middle names we like for boys and girls (I chose them so obviously they are good).  We never agree on first names.  Ha! 

About two weeks ago, after an OSU football game, I suggested that we could name our firstborn Tyreek, after our star running back, who played exceptionally well.  I'm giving away a major secret here, but TBFT's official name is Tyrel.  Tyrel, Tyreek, it sort of sounds alike.  Plus, he and I met going to an OSU football game for crying out loud.  The Boy from Texas said no.  Back to the drawing board.

OSU v. Savannah State - 2012 (Where we met)

(By the way....I'm working on a blog titled "The Boy from Texas Said No" where I keep a list of all of those answers I get in a year.  Stay's funny!)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Last Q&A Before the Big Day!

Okay blog readers.....I'm going to do another Q&A session this week.  So comment below with your questions and I'll do my best to answer them.  They can be wedding related, life related, ag related, football related, or none of the above.  Whatever you want to know, ask away.