Dear Single Ladies

Fear and Respect

Dear beautiful young Christian woman,

You have my heart, you know? You feel a rush of joy in your soul and a knot in your stomach as you look across the horizon of your twenties and soon-to-come-thirties. You wait in expectation and with high hopes for the future and for good things to come.

And I’ve not met a one of you yet who’s not a little anxious to meet Mr. Right. Most of you shyly grin that, although you have lots of public goals and after-high-school dreams and post-college-ambitions, your BIG dream is to meet the right man. Someday be a wife. Someday have a little house. Someday be a mom.

Whether or not God will make you a wife, put you in a little house with a white picket fence, and give you children is a future that only He knows.

But while I could write a book on serving God in the right now with the devotion and passion that only a single Christian woman is capable of, I want to let you in on a little secret — your beautiful dream was my dream, too. And your dream has been the dream of most women who met and fell head over heels for Mr. Right. Your mom. Your grandmother. And women for centuries before you.

Your desire is good and precious and holy and right and pure. Thank you for loving a dream that is so God-given — a dream of a life that is a gracious picture of the love of a perfect God for His people.

Being a mom to a son, I have a special place in my heart that cries out for young men to find godly Christian women. However, my words today are really much more about the young man that you will meet and love rather than about the young woman that he is pursuing and you are becoming.

These words today are for you, young single woman. Today I’m writing because I want to help you to love and be loved by the right man.

Beautiful girl, the culture around you tells you that you deserve, need, and have earned some r-e-s-p-e-c-t.

Well, the culture is shallow. The culture is warped and needy and confused. The culture that you *think* demands respect and admiration for women is really just in need of a Savior, because it’s selfish, wicked, and horrible to women. Drop the culture’s standards like I’d tell you to drop a man who shows you no respect.

Although it’s not really about you.

It’s not about what you deserve, what you’ve earned, or your rights as a woman. I want to lead you far away from the spotlight that the world encourages you to cast onto your own self.

It’s about God.

The fact is, God has put this beautiful dream and desire in your heart. And I want to encourage you now to pursue God’s standards and God’s design for your beautiful dream.

I’m not so worried about whether or not Mr. Right shows you some r-e-s-p-e-c-t. I’m a whole lot more concerned about whether or not Mr. Right shows God some f-e-a-r. The whole r-e-s-p-e-c-t thing is a “given” if he has a true f-e-a-r of God.

I know you think that 18 or 21 or 27 feels old. It’s not old, but it does feel old when you’re single and alone and wonder what the rest of your life will look like. But a man who fears God is worth waiting for, and serving God by honoring His standards is more important than snagging a diamond to slide over your bare finger.

Do you want a man who takes your “no” seriously because he respects YOU? Do you want a man who can’t resist your beautiful curves and lovely body, but stops when he has to because YOU are the buck-stops-with-me-and-I-demand-r-e-s-p-e-c-t-because-I’m-a-woman?

You precious child of God, wait for the man who fears God and shows respect for the word and will of God. A man who is willing to “get away with” anything YOU allow him to do doesn’t have his eyes fixed on Jesus and the beauty of marriage and intimate one-flesh-love — no, he has his eyes fixed on himself and what his own flesh craves.

A man who fears God can’t wait to love a woman who fears God, too. A man who fears God loves you so much that he is passionate about guarding your purity and body and heart until God joins you in marriage and declares for you two lovers to drink and imbibe deeply.

A man who fears God does things God’s way. Not because you demand some kind of culturally-acceptable r-e-s-p-e-c-t and push his hand back into his own lap. Not because he’s just got to wait a little longer until the wedding band has replaced your purity ring.

No, that man fears God with a reverence and respect that the culture around you can never understand and wouldn’t know how to demand.

That man fears God because God has done a work in his heart that no demand from the culture or pressure from the girl he loves could ever do. That man is a holy man, not because YOU require it of him, but because the God he fears has made him holy and requires of him a holy life and love.

And so, my beautiful young friend, rather than demanding some r-e-s-p-e-c-t because it’s what the culture allows you to demand, raise your standards.

Wait for the man who loves and cherishes God. And because of his f-e-a-r of God, he will know how to l-o-v-e you.

“The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments…” Ecclesiastes 12:13

Amanda is a Mississippi girl living in North Alabama with her husband and 2-year-old little boy. She loves the word of God and has a desire to encourage women to know God and apply the truth of His word in whatever calling God has placed on their lives. She enjoys learning how to make her house a home and haven for her husband, little boy, family, and friends. She blogs at http://www.blessyourheartandhome.com.

Have You Asked the Right Questions?

Questions to Ask Before Marriage

“Here comes the Bride, all dressed in…”

Hold up! You’re dating Mr. Wonderful and he seems to be everything you could have ever dreamed of. He’s the right height, is sweet to his mom, can talk guns/sports/man-things with your dad and even knows how to make toast without burning it.

Could this be love?

Before you start planning that big day, practice signing your name with his last name, or naming your children, put down the wedding magazines long enough to make sure you’ve covered some important topics with your significant other. The answers will give you some insight as to whether this is has some lasting potential and what possible road bumps you may encounter along the way.

  1. Do you want children? If so, how many?
  2. How will said children be raised? What are the expectations about both of us working or one of us staying home?
  3. Do you expect your future family to look exactly like your’s did growing up?
  4. Do they have a particular faith or set of religious beliefs? How important is that to their daily life? If your faith and his don’t match up, what kind of conflict might it cause?
  5. What to you is an ideal Friday night? Weekend?
  6. Given a thousand dollars, how would you spend it?
  7. If money were no object, what would you spend your days doing?
  8. Do you have any debt? When do you think it is ok to take on debt?
  9. How do you best receive love? (A great book on this is The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts,
    by Gary Chapman)
  10. Is there anything I could ever do that would make you stop loving me?
  11. What is your position on [insert controversial issue such as abortion, same-sex marriage, ObamaCare, the debt ceiling, school choice, and anything else you can think of that might cause tension]?

This list is just to get you started. Hopefully this sparks some great discussions and many more questions that will give you a glimpse into the person you’re thinking of marrying. Then you can either say “I do,” with confidence or take the equally important step of walking away and waiting for a better fit.

What other questions would you add to the list?

Be Weird: Embracing The Real You

There’s nothing like living with someone that can truly expose who you really are, to yourself and to others. I got a glimmer of that truth in college with my Freshman year roommate, who probably began to wonder if I ever left my desk while I questioned her sanity after she bought a bright pink futon and shaggy purple rug. I realized I may be spending too much time studying in my room and we both came to accept our drastically different decor tastes. When Tim and I got married eighteen months ago, I got a fresh reminder that living with someone makes it hard to hide your quirks.

Just a few months after the honeymoon I was sure Tim began to wonder what he’d gotten himself into. Sure, he knew my family and I had our own dialect of sorts (that included phrases like “chilly biscuits”, “Egyptian awful-awful”, and “doo-doo bag”), but I was positive he hadn’t realized I like my Christmas trees so crammed with lights he would have to make three trips to Lowe’s or that I can’t leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight and I would have to delete some iPhone games because I get too competitive. Sometimes, I would offer up an apologetic, “I’m weird”, to excuse my behavior, but most of the time I would just hope Tim could live with my quirks.

Freedom, Growth, and Grace

When Tim would counter my “I’m weird” apology with some oddity of his own, I began to realize I didn’t view his quirks as quirks at all. The little things he thought were weird about himself were some of the things I found most endearing about his personality. I loved his propensity to make up new words to songs, to fold his shirts a different way, to clean with paper towels instead of a sponge. I only hoped he felt the same way about my quirks (he does!).

Embracing each other’s quirks is part of the wonderful commitment we make in a marriage relationship – to love, to cherish, to trust. A healthy marriage is a place of freedom, freedom to be who you are, to be weird. A healthy marriage is also a place for growth. No amount of dating can prepare you for the fullness of who your spouse is inside and out. You should have a good idea of the non-negotiables, but people evolve and change. A healthy marriage is a place for grace. That odd habit might not have been there when you were dating. That’s okay. Extend grace and receive it with joy.

There’s freedom, growth, and grace to be found and shared when we are weird, when we can embrace who we really are and offer it to someone else.

If your marriage isn’t at a place where freedom, growth, and grace is found quite yet, know that you can find those things in a relationship with a perfect Groom. God offers us perfect love, no matter how quirky we are. There’s ultimate freedom in embracing who God made you to be and letting Him be your model for developing a healthy marriage.

5 Ways to Save Money on Your Honeymoon

5 Ways to Save Money on Your Honeymoon

If money is tight and you want to save money on your honeymoon, you’re in luck!  There are many ways to save money on your honeymoon so that you can have a relaxing and memorable time without breaking the bank. {Also see: How to earn extra cash for Christmas}  Going into debt for your honeymoon is never a good idea.  If at all possible it’s best to start marriage without the burden of debt.  These five money saving tips can help you cut back on honeymoon spending – making it affordable and enjoyable.

Here are five ways to save money on your honeymoon:

1.   Make Yourselves Known

It’s easy to be so caught up in each other that you forget to mention to vendors that you’re honeymooners but it’s always a good idea to throw that fact out there.  You might be surprised what sorts of deals you could score on hotel packages, restaurants, taxis and more just by mentioning that you’re on your honeymoon.  Make a point to mention it when you’re booking reservations and casually mention it during your honeymoon outings.  Plus, even if you don’t get any extra freebies or discounts the chances are high that the staff will be overly friendly to you because you’re on your honeymoon.

On our honeymoon my husband asked the waiter to take our photograph in the booth {not looking for a freebie, just a picture} and after the waiter did so he brought us out a complimentary dessert.  He must have told others on the staff that we were honeymooners because every waitress that went by gave us the biggest smiles.

2.  Use a Honeymoon Registry

Registering for honeymoon related gifts, instead of unwanted household items, is a great way to save money on your honeymoon and avoid the hassles of returning a lot of gifts later.  You could even allow guests to buy you fun activities near your hotel, pay for room service, or donate money towards a flight or gas money.  This is a great way to do things you might not otherwise be able to do and people will know that you truly enjoyed their gift.

3.  Sell Duplicates

Months and months before your wedding {there’s no need to add extra stress on the bride to be right before the wedding} decide what items you’ll get rid of when you merge your lives together.  There may be a sofa or two to toss, extra bedroom furniture, TVs, or small things such as toasters and lamps.  Chances are you’ll find that you have many duplicates of things that you ‘ll need to sort through and get rid of later.  If you make those decisions ahead of time you can sell old DVDs, video games, and furniture to have extra money for your wedding.  Just make sure you don’t sell anything you don’t want to live without for a few months, such as a bed or washer and dryer.

4.  Don’t Eat at the Hotel

Hotel restaurants usually have exorbitant prices because they’re so convenient.  Unless you’re honeymooning at a B&B or at an all-inclusive resort plan ahead and eat at a local restaurant.

My husband and I asked locals where they would recommend eating at and we found some wonderful gems that we would have otherwise overlooked.  Now every time we visit our honeymoon spot or go on vacation anywhere we try to avoid national chains and opt for cozier local places.

5.  Set a Realistic Budget and Stick to It

All these tips are great, but the best one is to set a honeymoon budget , a realistic one and stick to it!  It’s unbelievably easy to overspend by forgetting to take into account those tiny expenses that really add up.  If you plan ahead you can set a budget that you both agree upon and stick to it.  If it was me I would set a number that I would like to stay under for everything that was pre-planned and add a few hundred for spontaneous excursions such as scuba diving or a relaxing time at the spa.  When you have a budget you don’t have to worry about over-spending or having money disputes on your honeymoon.  Once everything is decided ahead of time you can just relax and enjoy spending quality time together.

I hope that these five tips, that I’ve either personally tried out or wish that I did, can help you save on your honeymoon so you can have a memorable trip that leaves you feeling connected and relaxed – without breaking the bank!