Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cherish the Single Life (Guest Post)

Source
I always sort of knew that I'd get married. It was somehow built in to my wiring, ingrained in who I am. Of course, it probably would have saved me some time and heartache if I'd also had a Zeke-detecting tracker in my wiring as well that somehow flashed "YOUR FUTURE HUSBAND" every time I saw him, but alas. No luck there.

Being single was hard for me. It was hard to know that while I was designed for marriage, I had to wait for someday, for the right time, before marriage would be a part of my life. It was easy for me to be irritated with God while I was single. I mean, why wire me for marriage and then leave me without a guy?

... Take it away, Bianca!

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In my last blog post, I promised to offer some advice about what to do during your time of singleness. Before I offer my own opinions, let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about singleness. In 1 Corinthians 7:8, Paul says:

“Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.” (NIV)

In verse 32-35, Paul goes on to say,

“I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs--how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world--how he can please his wife--and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world--how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” (NIV)

What can we learn from this passage? Here, Paul gives us a framework for what singleness is supposed to be about. In his singleness, Paul did not wallow around complaining about why he was still single or dating around. Instead, he put his focus on spreading the message of Jesus Christ to non-believers. Wow! Paul believed that it was best to learn about Christ and grow closer to Him while being single because there are no obligations to a spouse during that time.

Paul wanted us to use our singleness to find God’s purpose for our lives. That takes time and effort on our part. Here’s the silver lining: as we’re learning more about God and ourselves, we will naturally showcase who we are to the world. This can attract like-minded people, and may also be a way to meet Mr. or Mrs. Right!

Something to think about

In all things, remember, we as Christians are set apart in this world. We are a peculiar people. It’s okay to behave differently than other people in the world do, because we have a higher calling and we report to Jesus. So, when people ask you why you’ve chosen to go to Bible study instead of going on a blind date, you can tell them “I’m giving my undivided devotion to the Lord. I’m single!”

Be blessed, fam! God loves you and so do I.






Bianca Brandveen is a mechanical engineer who writes at Defy Stereotypes, with topics spanning from racism to relationships to music. Check out what else she has to say at her blog!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Investing in Littles and Being that Person for Someone

We've talked a bit about fostering relationships and community within our own families- beginning with connecting with our older relatives.

At the ripe old age of 25, I don't really consider myself an "older relative."

But to five (soon to be six!) little someones, I am just that.



You see, while in my own life I've been pretty well focused on connecting with older-than-I-am folks, multi-generational relationships don't always mean reaching up, but also leaning down.

Encouraging relationships with the littles in our lives is an important way to begin making connections multi-generationally.

Think about the wonderful relatives who invested in your life. I have an aunt who visited me regularly, brought me books for my birthday, and took me to New York when I was seven. She was a huge influence in my education, my passions... and she still is influential in my life today.

I'd like to be that person for someone.


And God gave me five (soon to be six!) someones in whom to invest. 

Go to their important events- baptisms, birthday parties, pre-school graduation. Take time to talk with them, as little as they may be- three-year-olds are hilarious. Share a little of yourself with them, whether it's a love for reading (like my aunt), or fishing, or fixing computers... inspire them to do something amazing! 

Of course, just like with older relatives, connecting with younger family members can be tricky when they're far away. 

A blogger (I don't remember who! Remind me and I'll link to them!) wrote a post about how her children received coloring pages and stickers in the mail, and the joy that brought to them. Do that! I've also marked mailing days on my calendar, and have a note with my nieces and nephews addresses in my binder so I have no excuses and don't forget. Choose something they'd enjoy. One of my nieces is four, and loves fairies and horses, so I sent her a horse coloring page. But don't over-think it. Just getting something in the mail brightens a child's day (and hey, we'll be honest, getting something other than junk in the mail brightens my day, too). 

For the tiny littles- like my nearly two-year-old nephew- I like to send a picture of Zeke and I along with the coloring page, so he connects "Auntie Adrie and Unkie Zeke" with our faces. (And it's a good excuse to get a nice picture of Zeke and myself.) 

And yes, we're busy. And yes, nurturing our family community takes time. But oh, it's so worth it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tightrope


"So, what do you think?"

That question usually makes me cringe a little.

I'm good at offering advice about stuff- like where to find good paper for wedding invitations or the most important motorcycle gear. That's all okay, because I feel like I've got some experience in that. After all, I made my own invitations and ride motorcycle pretty often.

But when it comes to relationships? It's different.

The trouble is that every relationship is so different. Every person is so different. The qualities that I needed in a husband are probably vastly different from the ones you may need. My priorities may be hugely different than yours. And that's okay. But it does make the advice-giving more tricky.

I don't know your situation, your personal preferences, your history or your strengths. But I can tell you what I did wrong, and what I did right, and what worked for me, when it came to singleness and dating. But that may not be enough, you know? So I've asked other people to join in- to share their stories, their struggles, the things God is telling them when it comes to the tricky realm of relationships.

Relationships are, by definition, messy. Human beings mess stuff up, we make mistakes, we have less-than-pure motives. We compare ourselves with others. In short, we're just a big disaster waiting to happen. Then try to put two human beings together? Craziness.

But that's what God does. For many of us, we are led and called to a vocation called marriage. And marriage is, in fact, a calling. Living out God's relationship with His church here on earth? If that's not a divine appointment, I don't know what is.

There's an in-between time, though. A time when we wait. For so many of us, the waiting and dating point of our lives is incredibly difficult. I know, because I've been there. There's a tension in that time. You know you've been designed to fit into a marriage, but the actual relationship isn't there yet. So what do you do for the time being?

Or maybe you've met someone, you're dating someone, but you don't know if it's quite right. How do you know if it's right? Or you want to be sure that you're honoring God in this relationship, making sure things don't go too far (and I'm not just talking physically).

The whole thing is a giant balancing act.

Me, freaking out because I don't like heights or suspended bridges. You're welcome.


For some of us, the act is over pretty quickly- we're off the tightrope after a couple of years- and for some, we have to balance for much, much longer.

Once we've overcome that part of life, it's really easy to forget about all the balancing and tension and questions. It seems small in hindsight, and that makes it so that the ones who have been there don't teach the ones going through it right now.

I'd like to change that.

Even though I don't have all the answers, even though I can't know the needs and circumstances of everyone who reads this, I want to share the things I've learned, the things I did wrong, and the (very few) things I did right. I don't want you to be up on that tightrope all alone.

So that's what I'm going to try to do, here. If you'd like to follow along on Facebook, (most of the time I manage to get the posts linked up here), you can "Like" my page.

And if you have questions or comments or want to talk about something, you can shoot me an e-mail.

And if you think you've got some great advice you'd really love to share, e-mail me and we'll talk about guest posting.

We're all sisters in Christ. We don't have to go it alone.




Friday, August 22, 2014

7 Super Quick Takes

Linking up with Jen- go visit her site to see some actually good quick takes. Really.

Unrelated pretty flower picture. You're welcome.

1

On vacation last week with our cattle farming family



"Here, Adrie, you can have the small one!" Yeah. Okay.

2

I got really sunburned on vacation (no, I didn't include a picture of that. It was bad). I'm talking blisters and purple skin sunburn. Terrible. It's skipped over the peeling stage, and went straight on to "large brown scab-like flakes"... I look like I have a horrific skin disease and am shedding skin bits all over. <Shudder.>



3

Vacation is wonderful, going back to work after vacation is the worst thing ever. I was gone for one week, and I think it will take me another week or so to dig my way out of the notes and messages from while I was gone. Someone, bring me coffee! 


4

All the work and unpacking and washing laundry and finding my shoes (Zeke put them all in a cooler when he unpacked the camper?), I haven't had much time to do anything with it yet... but I'm super excited for my upcoming series on dating and how to grow while single. 

I just can't come up with a series title. Zeke's been super helpful with suggestions of, "Shaping Shpirituality while Shingle," and so on. It's been an interesting week at my house. 

Any shuggestions? (Er, suggestions?)

5

I'm looking for some good book recommendations for this Fall- I'm seeing visions of myself curled up by the fireplace reading some great literature. Got any good ones? 


6

It's foggy and around 83 degrees outside right now. I'm grateful for air conditioning. And being inside all day.


7

 And, I would be remiss if I didn't mention this... 

Terrible picture. Go with it.
 My husband bought a dirtbike this week. Correction. He bought another dirtbike this week. 

To his credit, it was a really really good deal, and it came with some pretty awesome parts (aftermarket kit that turns your dirtbike into a snowmobile? That's cool, you have to admit it.), and I was totally on board with him getting it- mostly because he was so excited and his eyes were all sparkly. Those sparkly eyes just slay me. I'll do anything for those sparkly eyes. 

But! This new addition to the garage means that we have: 

Three motorcycles, a car, and a pickup truck.

A little crazy, no?


Have a great weekend, friends!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

5 Favorites- Motorcycle Gear: the extras



It somehow happened that I went from a total whimpy scaredy cat to an actually pretty competent motorcycle passenger. I'm not entirely sure how.

Of course, I have put on over 5000 miles on the back of a motorcycle now, over the course of six years of little trips and much, much bigger trips. And I love it. Love, love, love it.

I've learned some stuff along the way, too. About me, about Zeke, about God, about riding through high-speed winds and rain... and about the gear that makes riding easier or more convenient or just plain better.

Note: I didn't include the "basics" in this list-  some of the things that are super important for being a biker chick: 
a trustworthy/responsible/EXPERIENCED/licensed driver (if you're a passenger), DOT-certified helmet, leather or armored  jacket, eye protection, rain gear, sense of adventure.

Bungee Net


This contraption is probably the best purchase Zeke has ever made. Seriously. It's awesome.

A bungee net is basically just that- a net made out of bungee cords, with hooks at the edges. Sounds simple, but oh, what a concept. The one we have is very similar to this model. We use our bungee net for everything. It holds bags and other stuff tight and secure to the motorcycle rack, which makes it possible to take just about anything on the bike. We've used it to hold down styrofoam coolers, a box containing Zeke's dirt bike boots, luggage, groceries, leather coats... and of course, our obnoxiously bright Hawaiian print swim bag just in case we find a lake somewhere.

Best invention ever. 



Sheepskin



We call it "the puppy," because it feels like petting puppy fur. It's so soft, it keeps your bum from burning on a hot leather seat that's been sitting in the sun, it naturally grips to the seat, it's cool in the heat and warm in the cold, it's extra cushion for the tush. What's not to love?

I really like our sheepskin. It sits right over the regular seats on the bike, which is really handy (and it's really easy to take on and off if for when we trailer the bike.) This is probably the most expensive piece of motorcycle "accessory" that we've got right now, but it's really worth it. My bum would be far less enthused about bike trips without it.


Camera Bag


I take a lot of pictures from the back of the bike. I feel like there should be some category of photography for those of us who take pictures while traveling 50 miles per hour around a curve. Because it's tricky. And is also why so many of my pictures are blurry.


It just wouldn't be possible without my camera case. I don't want to be holding on to a camera the entire time, but messing around in the saddle bags on the highway is no fun, either. I don't have to worry about dropping the camera, but it's still really accessible for those funny moments or stunning views.

Zeke added a backrest for himself to the motorcycle several years ago for our longer trips, and the camera case straps right to it with both a velcro strap and a strap that snaps for extra security, so the camera sits right in front of me all the time. Before we got the backrest, though, I hooked the case to my belt or beltloop, and that worked great, too.

This is the camera case that we have. It's supposed to be pretty watertight, too, but I haven't tried out that feature much- it's usually protected from the rain by Zeke's back, or if it's really raining I'll stick it in the dry bag just in case. 



Dry Bag

Speaking of rain...



Riding through rain is just something that happens, especially on long trips, but also in areas with uncertain weather. The Black Hills is kind of notorious for that.

In any case, you'll want something along to keep the important stuff dry. That's where our dry bag comes in- this is the kind we have.

I really like this particular bag because it's not bulky, so it fits great in the saddle bags without taking up a ton of space, and you can really pack stuff in there if you need to. We actually keep two of these around. The first is for the insurance card and registration, as well as copies of our driver's licenses and emergency contact cards. On longer trips, I put a small first aid kit in there, too.

The second one is usually empty until we hit bad weather. Then, the cell phones, my camera, and anything else that we need to keep dry goes straight into the dry bag.


Boots



Okay, I have a confession.

I didn't know that this was a favorite piece of gear until this trip. Like, a week ago.

See, I'm not very committed to "looking the part" when it comes to being a biker chick. I mean, leather coat, yes; helmet, yes; Sturgis t-shirt, sure. But the whole "motorcycle boots" thing never really clicked. Most of the time, I wear hiking boots (until those bit the dust last year- which, I mean, I'd had them since 8th grade, so okay), but I'm not even really dead-set on those, either. I've ridden motorcycle in tennis shoes, Chucks, Crocs, heels, and even these beauties...


But this year. This year, I bought a pair of cowboy boots. I've always kind of wanted a pair, but riding horses in the Black Hills this past week really pushed me over the edge. And they're so comfortable, and I'll wear them quite a bit, so okay.

I wasn't anticipating the change they'd make in riding the motorcycle, though.

Riding with a pair of boots (I got these ones)
was great! I thought it was all hype, really, but a pair of boots does make a difference. The little heel to them keeps your foot in the right place on the pegs without being too much. The fact that they go over the ankle keeps bugs from getting up your jeans (yep, it happens), and also provides a little more support to your ankles while you ride.

Note: Yep, the link takes you to kid size boots. I'm little! (And kid sized shoes are way cheaper.) But I would recommend stuff from the women's line of Ariat, too-- they're INCREDIBLY comfortable. Seriously. I liked this pair a whole lot, too, but they didn't have 'em in my size at the store, and I'm impatient.

Head on over to Mama Knows for more favorites!

More Motorcycle Posts: 






This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products that we use and think are pretty darn great. Affiliate links mean that if you click my link and purchase a product, I'll get a small commission at no additional cost to you. 


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Connecting with our Roots

I think it's so important that we, as young-ish women and young-ish wives, have role models and make connections with people who happen not to be in the exact same age bracket.

And, like many things, this starts in our own families.

Of course, that's easier said than done, especially now that families tend to be farther apart geographically. I have relatives from Pennsylvania to Colorado to Tennessee. Connecting with far-flung family is a tricky thing, and if you're not intentional about it, can easily get pushed to the back recesses of your mind.

I'm a forgetful type of person. I never remember that we have extra shoelaces in the drawer in the back bedroom. And now we have lots of extra shoelaces in the back bedroom, because I never remember and always buy more.

That forgetfulness extends to relationships, unfortunately. If I don't have someone right in front of me, I don't remember to connect with them. Thankfully, I've been blessed with a few dear friends who know that if I don't call, it's not because I don't care- it's just because I forgot.

But just because that's the way I am doesn't mean that's the way I'll always be. Putting on a new self and all. It just takes some work, some prayer, and some grace.

With family far away, I have to be very intentional in order to maintain relationships. So, as silly as it seems, I schedule it. I actually write down, on my calendar, when I'll be making phone calls, and to whom.

Connect with your roots! (Terrible pun, but just go with it.)

And if you're not sure about what to talk about?

I'll be honest, I run into dry spells in conversation, too, especially with my grandparents. I don't really have a very interesting life, and hearing about Bingo again isn't necessarily relationship-building. Don't get me wrong, just making time for one another matters quite a bit, and the Bingo stories can be pretty funny.

Sometimes I plan "I was just thinking" calls- when I call and ask a question. Usually with my grandma, I ask about a recipe. My aunt is a dental hygienist and a great shopper, so I ask her about gift ideas or any tooth-related questions. You get the idea.

Generally, when I call to ask a question, the conversation shifts into something more. If I call to ask about a casserole that freezes well, my grandma may tell me about when she made a particular recipe for a cousin of mine when she had a baby... and then we're talking about caring for those in need, the struggles of raising newborns, and how that cousin's baby is now in Kindergarten and lost a tooth the other day.

Creating community is important, but it's also vital for us to nurture the community we already have!

Monday, August 18, 2014