I've been gone for awhile.....wedding, honeymooning and beginning life here in Courthouse/DC. Its been fun and exhausting and a whirlwind. I plan on starting a new blog soon (I am no longer a Jacksonian so the name is false!) --- And I promise I will provide lots of wedding pics/DC updates/honeymoon stories, etc. But here are a couple for now :)
Life has been full of changes and this is mostly good. Dave is of course, the best change :) and DC will be good, although driving away from the South caused a few tears. I love urban life, but what can I say? This girl is Mississippi through and through!!!
God has been good to me thus far... providing me with Dave, providing him a job and providing us a place to live (in a neighborhood that I m currently exploring and falling in love with!) and coming along with us in each step, good or bad! I am even blessed to have a few friends here - and Dave has a buddy here too, so it wasn't a move to a completely lonely random place. I am eager to see how and when God provides a job for me as I begin my job search tomorrow....
yep, tomorrow...why tomorrow? Because yesterday was my first full day here and I cleaned, cooked dinner, unpacked honeymoon suitcases and a few boxes, did laundry and went to the grocery store twice (yep, twice because I do not have a grocery cart yet and couldn't fit all my groceries and cleaning supplies into one trip!) I felt very housewify -- although our apt wouldn't reveal all my hard work. we have no storage furniture like drawers, etc and 10 hangers so I have clean clothes in baskets on the floor until I go purchase plastic drawers and hangers! (but who wants to invest too much in plastic drawers when furniture arrives in a month? maybe we will just have baskets of clothes this month!)
The intention was to curl up at our place and start applying today and finish laundry, but Dave accidentally left with the laundry room key and our internet/cable was out when I woke up, so I packed up and explored instead. Now that I am Barnes and Noble using wifi, I will look up a few jobs...but I can't apply with my comp because WORD is on Dave's comp at home.... Hopefully internet will be fixed tomorrow and I can start a full search for work :) while sitting in comfy clothes on the couch watching movies or listening to music!
But I don't regret it much!! I have enjoyed my day of exploring. Courthouse is very urban - lots of buildings with apts and offices but grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, etc on the bottom. There is a plethora of restaurants and a big shopping center nearby!! Also, there is a fancy movie theater half a mile walk from our apt! (think reclining movie seats)
Tomorrow I wake up and celebrate my upcoming marriage with a bridesmaid brunch with friends and family who have loved me for years and loved me well -- the good parts and the not so good parts! What a blessing to have a few good friends and even more of a blessing to have several godly women who have been my second family for the past several years. Single years can be lonely for many, but for the past several years, I have had friends to celebrate happy moments and mourn sad ones with.
Likewise, I will spend the day with my parents, family and sisters. My family is the type of family you want to be a member of. I don't say that arrogantly. We aren't some "exclusive big name" family...but we are the type of family who has your back. Do not hurt one of our siblings because then you face the whole crew. My sisters are my maid and matron of honor and have been there for me for years. My sister Marley never quit thinking I would get married and would refer to one day at your wedding, when you have kids, etc. I very vividly remember calling my sister soon after my broken engagement and crying and she didn't say anything, she just cried too. Ansley is my "first daughter" -- always encouraging and believing in her older sisters and acting as our younger sidekick. She's been interning in Jackson this semester and was at almost all my wedding appointments, helping me make good decisions (because she has more fun taste than I do, I'm afraid!) My brother is a sweetheart, always getting defensive of his sisters and always trying to be silly and make us laugh.
My parents raised me to know the Lord and know what a marriage should look like. Its possible I could have gotten married earlier if I was willing to settle for something less than what they have. They are far from perfect, but they love and forgive and show grace to each other and their children. They raised us in a home where the gospel was a daily aspect of our lives. They pushed me to be my best and not just grow up and get married. We could be anything we strived to be - if that was a mom, great, if that was a lawyer, great! They prayed for me to meet Dave and believed he existed even when I didn't and they helped me (and all their children at some point) through the worst time in my life. Like Ansley, my mom has amazing taste and helped make my wedding great! My dad worked hard to provide me with a lovely day!
And finally, I get to marry Dave, the one for whom my soul longs. I waited 27 years to find him (which isn't quite true as I was quite unaware of boys for half of those years!) He is so good to me, so hardworking, so loving, so loyal, and absolutely adorable. Additionally, the way God worked it out was that He has a lot of the qualities I don't and vice versa and I truly think we are shaping eachother into better people, although painful at times. Like Keller refers to in his Meaning of Marriage book, I am excited to see the man God is making Dave into! I look forward to spending years getting to know Dave and getting to know him again as we grow and change.
The thing is -- only one blessing is new to me. I think thats why weddings are special. I think thats why others are involved. Dave and I could do this by ourselves, and at times, I thought we should just elope, but I am so blessed to have so many people who have made my life rich. I love Dave and he makes me life great, but my life was full of goodness even before him! If I could do one part of singleness over, it would be that I would aim to realize my blessings more. I think I realized them more and more the older I got! And when I realized my blessings, I was happier, more joyful and more grateful. Probably a good lesson to take into marriage as well.
So thats why today is special....yes, I see God's faithfulness and provision in bringing Dave along and in preparing us for a lifetime together. But, its also a reminder of God's faithfulness all along the way, even in childhood, to surround me with Godly wonderful people who love encourage and challenge me.
As scary as it may seem, what would you do if you never get married? How would you live your life? What would you do if you don't get married until you are 35, 40, 45, etc???
It won't be the life you pictured, but what can you do to make it the best version.
I used to imagine being that weird single aunt spending holidays alone or with my sister and her family and feeling like a tag along...then I just decided that if I am single, I will spend some holidays with my siblings, some I will host at my house for family and friends and some would be spent travelling. If it would be too painful to spend every holiday as another family's guest, then why not create my own holidays?
If I didn't have my own kids to spoil, I was going to spoil the heck out of my nieces and nephews... complete with a fun senior trip (SORRY Jack, Aunt KK can't likely afford that now ha) And there was a good chance that I would still have a child because at a certain age, I planned to adopt one of the many orphans in the world that need a home.
If I never got married, I didn't want to become that old retired lady by herself, I wanted to go work in missions and use my freedom to contribute to God's kingdom.
Of course, don't think about your Plan B long, don't dwell on it, but when you get scared that life may be Plan B, imagine the best Plan B possible. Lifelong singleness does not have to be cats and frozen dinners and lonely holidays. If you recreate the alternative in your head, then the alternative is a little less scary. :)
When you get married at 22, you go from being a member of a family to being a member of a family. When you get married at 29, you have 7 years of not being a member of a family unit -- true you are still a part of a family, but you likely aren't living with them, spending weeknights with your parents, celebrating every promotion or mourning bad days with your family. you may even live a long ways from them.
There are a lot of pluses to having some years where your "at home" family unit is just you -- you learn to take care of yourself, learn to value family more, gain some independence, etc. But, you also have a lot of days where the good and bad go unnoticed, where you aren't poured into and cared for and you aren't doing that to anyone else. There aren't family meals and discussions of days. There's no one to make heart shaped pancakes or pizza with on valentines day or to watch Christmas movies with all month in December. You still have a family to go home to for major holidays, but every other special or hard day is lived alone...and sometimes thats great (less pressure) and sometimes it stinks!
So, create a family of friends. I know I've discussed this before (but this is my summary week on singleness so listen again!!!) -- but when you are single, you're friends and roomies are your family. You fight with them, learn to compromise with them (all good marriage training), cry with them, celebrate holidays with them, cook dinners and discuss your day with them, celebrate promotions, mourn breakups, bring soup when they are sick, etc. You're friends- particularly your single friends- are your family away from home.
The best thing I did in my 20s was make good friends....such good friends, in fact, that I tear up when I think about moving. We truly did live life together which is how community ought to be. I think that is a plus to singleness. We get it, we understand Christian fellowship and its importance in a believer's life, we know that community is so important! Being married can only fill some of my need for fellowship, Dave can't meet every single fellowship need I have or vice versa. I still need good friends and a church family! I sometimes see married friends slip into "husband and children" world which I understand, but it makes me sad--- sad because no one likes to be dumped and sad because they are missing out on great community!
So, while you're single -- make friends. Make lots of single friends- guys and gals because you need community who is in the same stage of life and free for last minute dinners, wine nights, etc. You need guy friends who can help you change tires and move and they need girl friends who will bring the food to the parties! (clearly thats stereotypical but its how my friendships worked!)
Work hard to stay in touch with married friends. You need them and they need you. And do your best to encourage an mixing of both worlds...no need to have a singles club and a married club, just a young Christian club. Make friends with older people and younger people.
You have the time and the real need for friendship at this stage of life...so enjoy those friendships to the fullest. They really are some of the deepest friendships you will have!
"Count your many blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God has done."
I can remember singing this as a kid, and its true. Gratefulness and worship may be a chore at first, words we say because we are commanded to do so, but soon the heart will follow. With any disappointment in life, you have to mourn, but then you also have to get up, dust yourself off and keep on living. The best way to live in a way that glorifies the Lord (and selfishly, in a way that is happiest to us) is to focus on the blessings...
....which is why despite accusations by some that singless can be selfish by enjoying their free time, I think it is important to take advantage of that free time with travel, hobbies, friendships, etc. Recognize the blessing of freedom and enjoy it. (And I guarantee that for most single Christians, this extra freedom is not tempting us to stay single longer, its just a reality of our current state...I can go get a drink with a friend at 8 pm because I don't have kids to bathe!)
Practice remembering what's good. I wasn't always good at that. The older I got, I improved at counting my blessings. With whatever you long for -- job, husband, kids, healing, etc, its easy to only see what's missing, but for all of us, single or married -- we have so many blessings! Besides the obvious blessings of God's undeserved forgiveness, salvation and grace, we all live in America and are blessed with freedoms and opportunities and most of us have family and friends and jobs and communities.
Plus, cultivating a heart of gratefulness is something to learn at any stage. The first two weeks Dave was gone, we were grumpy with eachother and NOT grateful. I felt I was doing all the work here, getting us ready to wed and marry and he felt he was doing all the work in DC- setting up bank accounts and finding a place and paying bills. Our lack of gratefulness hurt our relationship, but the past 2 weeks have been happy and full of missing eachother and cheesy anticipation of seeing eachother again...all that changed was our attitudes. We tried to be more grateful and more gracious.
I think I learned qualities like gratefulness while single...and I am sure I will struggle to be grateful many more times in life, but I hope that my lessons learned these past few years will encourage me to aim for gratefulness even when I don't feel that way.
Travel....or pick up a new hobby....or start a graduate program....
The reality is a good majority of people get married. However, the reality is also a higher age for marriage. (seriously the number of my friends who are engaged/seriously dating/recently married has increased TONS as we hit late 20s....)
So, what to do in the meantime? ANYTHING. Literally anything.
It's easy as a single to do one of two things...(1) overcommit. Everyone claims you have "free" time and should help with this party, church event, volunteer opportunity, etc or (2) not get involved, stay home, "WAIT" for a spouse and family.
Pick an option in the middle...save some time to do what you want to do. It's not selfish (despite many articles written about how singles these days are always selfish and enjoying their "ME" life) Choosing to pursue travel, hobbies, and even missions while single is wise with your time. Being married has advantages that should be enjoyed. BUT Being single does too. One of the single "pluses" is having a little more freedom!
While single, I sold my ring to pay for backpacking trip to europe, got a law degree, went on a second European trip to eastern europe, lived in DC 2 summers in Massachusetts 1 summer, went to Africa, ran a half marathon, etc.
So, what country do you want to visit? What hobby do you want to start? Go ahead a do it!!