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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cherish the Single Life: Guest Post

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!


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


"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.


On vacation last week with our cattle farming family

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


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.>


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! 


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?)


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? 


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


 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

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

This Past Week in A Couple Pictures.

Because dude, the work surely did pile right up while I was on vacation. How does that happen?


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

We Need Community: Newlywed Loneliness

Community is kind of built in to the majority of our youth.

If you're a public school kid, you've got automatic friends in your grade or your classroom. Homeschooling kids have co-ops and groups. And of course, if you're fortunate (and I was), you have neighbors who are close to your own age and siblings running around everywhere. The same is true in higher education- I lived in a dorm during college- an insta-community!

Completely unrelated photographs of horses. Unrelated, but lovely, yes?

Of course, all of that changed drastically when I graduated and got married.

It's hard to make friendships as an adult.

In my case, I moved to a new town, my friends were scattered throughout the country (and the world!) and while I was pretty well wrapped up in my brand new hubby, I became very lonely.

We need community. We've been designed for interactions with other human beings- and human beings other than our spouses, too. But when you're in a new place, a new situation, a new phase of life... well, that community is hard to come by.

Of course, if you're working outside the home, you will probably be able to make some friendships in your workplace, and that will certainly help. But really (and I don't know about you, but I feel this way), if you've spent all day with someone at work, you may not want to spend your evenings with them. It's nice to get away sometimes, you know?

And if you're not working outside the home- all the more opportunity for you to feel isolated and alone.

So where are you to find community?

One of the very first things I would suggest a newly married couple to do is this- find a church.

Find a church where you feel welcome, a church where you can be yourselves. A church where you can find a family. And get involved. Volunteer to bring cookies, to serve in the nursery, to shake hands. Introduce yourself. Invite people to join you for lunch after the service.

The biggest mistake of our first several months of marriage was thinking that we didn't need to find a church family. Going to services at our Camp on Sundays was convenient, and who could really ask for more? And we missed out, for months, on building friendships. We knew our Camp family- the people with whom we work- but besides that... we pretty were isolated.

It wasn't until Zeke and I found our church home that we finally began to build true friendships, to form a community.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted...

I don't know what it is about the Black Hills.

Maybe the clean, pine-scented air, or the sharp rise of the mountains, or the tiny delicate flowers growing up through the rocks.

Or maybe it's the wildlife... not the typical bunny rabbits and deer that we've got at home, but buffalo and antelope.

Maybe it's how simply we live there. No plans, no requirements, just peace and campfires.

All I know is that I'm really excited that we're heading there today.

Zeke's family makes a yearly trip to the Black Hills every August, and we'll be meeting up with them there. After such a crazy busy summer, I'm really looking forward to getting a little time away.

In my more philosophical moments, I've pondered what the Black Hills show me about the character of God.

{I heard once that people experience God in four ways- mystically, naturally, intellectually, and emotionally. We tend to experience Him more strongly in one or two of those areas. I tend to find God intellectually and emotionally, but in the Black Hills? I see Him in most predominantly in nature.}

The Black Hills is rugged and dangerous with sharp edges and hard stone surfaces. It's extremes and challenges and hard-scrabble survival. It's dangerously beautiful.

I tend to see God as safe, as tame. Beige. Soft, fuzzy, pillowtop God. And in some respects, I think He can be... but that's such a limited experience of His character. I mean, even more limited than our already humanly limited minds typically experience Him.

The Black Hills remind me of this other facet of God. The wild, rugged, dangerous part of God. I need that sometimes. To experience Him in a different way, in a way that shakes my narrow minded self into realizing, again, that safe and quiet and beige isn't all there is to life.


So, since I'll be sucking up joy and beauty and peace (and that sometimes comes without any internet access. And probably absolutely no cell service, either. Which makes me worry about "I-love-dirt-biking-down-mountains-Zeke," but that's another post for a more anxiety ridden day.), I don't know how much I'll be on ye ole interwebs this coming week. I'll try to keep ya updated and share pictures of the majestic scenery so you can take deep breaths right along with me. 

In the meantime! 

I've got some posts about community scheduled to hit the web (enjoy!), and then when I get back next week, we'll start a new series for all the single ladies (or dating ladies)! 

Introduction here... 

I'm really super excited about it. 

There are still two more slots for guest bloggers- so if you're interested, shoot me an e-mail! 



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Doing Something Difficult

I believe I told you about the quilt I was working on. Way back...  Nope, not the one from August 2012. Haven't touched that one. Okay, I can't find the post with this particular quilt. But I feel like I did tell you about it. In December or so of last year. So, a year and a half ago.

Well! I finished it!

And, like typically happens when you try something still pretty new and kind of difficult, I learned some things about myself.

Well, and I learned some things about that minky fabric that feels so nice. Spoiler- minky fabric is so very horrible. Because it stretches and makes everything uneven. Ugh. If you look at the quilt from far away while someone shakes it, you can't tell how uneven my rows truly are... so we'll still call that a success.

{Quilters out there- you may want to shake your computer a little so your quilting sensibilities aren't assaulted by the pictures of my quilt.}

I hadn't touched this project in months. The front was almost completely finished, but I still had to quilt and bind it. And so it sat in a little bag in the closet of the sewing room/office, all sad and lonely.

See, first, I was busy. For a couple of months, balancing home and work filled up the majority of my time, and quilting simply wasn't a priority. We've all been there, right?

But secondly, while I really enjoy quilting, it's hard. Well, at least, for me it is. You're probably a pro-quilter, rolling your eyes at me and my minky troubles. But for me, a novice with almost no experience, it's hard. So I avoided it.

We had a group of quilters here at Camp one weekend, and I remembered the lonely quilt. And I thought maybe I could ask for some help or pointers or something. Something to make it easier. So I quit avoiding and finished up the front (which isn't perfect, but is the part I struggle with the least), and brought the whole thing to the ladies to beg for suggestions.

Do you know what they told me? They said I did a great job, and that I was done! My little creation was ready to go off to be quilted by a professional.

I had planned on quilting and binding it myself, and when I told one of the quilter ladies that, she said, "Oh! That part is really hard." 

I ended up taking the quilt home, and I finished the quilting and binding myself- and the project that was in limbo for a year and a half was all finished in three days. Why the sudden determination?

She said that what I was doing was hard

 and She told me I was doing a good job.

That made all the difference. See, just the fact that I was validated, that someone with experience and know-how told me that I was doing something difficult, made me feel like maybe I wasn't so incompetent. Like maybe I wasn't alone.

What a wonderful gift of community- to feel like we're not alone, to be told that we're doing something that's difficult.

That can really make all the difference. Being acknowledged like that can give us strength to keep going.

So, if you know someone who is having a hard time, tell her so. A teenager fighting to stay pure? A newlywed figuring out the "marriage" thing? A woman with a newborn? A work-outside-of-the-home mom? A stay-at-home-mom? That's hard! Tell her. It may help her keep going.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Big Picture

It's all marriage this and marriage that. What's the big deal, anyway?

I mean, the definition of marriage seems to be up for debate these days, anyway. Not only is the definition changing, but fewer people are choosing to get married, and even fewer are staying married.

As Christians, what's the point?

Marriage is bigger than culture. 

Somehow, our society decided along the way that we have the option to define marriage. We think that the laws we set, the limits we decide, our own dictations define what marriage really is.

But see, marriage didn't start with us.

This "institution" wasn't created by our culture. It can't be a cultural relic, can't become outdated.

God created marriage.

Just look at the Bible. The Bible begins and ends with a wedding, after all- first in the garden of Eden between Adam and Eve, and then in Revelation between Christ and the Church. Marriage bookends all of human history

Marriage was God's idea in the first place.

And what God puts into place, He regulates. Not us.

The greatest enemy of marriage isn't a changing culture- it's me.


Sometimes we think the greatest enemy of marriage is adultery, or losing passion for one another, or focusing too much on the kids. Sometimes we push it even further outside our own front doors and think that same-sex marriage is the enemy, no-fault divorce is the enemy, or media is the enemy.

But the true enemy of marriage is selfishness.

And that's really scary, because I am very, very selfish.

When I got married, I kind of thought that I'd be more... fulfilled. I thought I would have someone around to listen to me, to make me smile, to help me with the stuff of life. (See the issue there? Me, me, me!)

It took me a while to figure this next point out, and so I want to give you a jump start on it.

Marriage is about nakedness and vulnerability. Your husband will see all of your sin, and you'll see all of his. And you know what? He will have the right to point it out.

Marriage gives you the opportunity to repent, to serve, to grow in holiness. You want what is best for one another. Unfortunately, sometimes that's difficult. You may need to be humbled before you can learn.

Zeke is not perfect. He has his faults, to be sure. Of course, I didn't know all those faults before we got married. And after I found out just how imperfect he is, I had two choices. I could throw in the towel, or work at it anyway.

It is work.  It really really is. And sometimes that work is rewarding and all sunshiney and glorious. More often, though, it hurts.

I wasn't prepared for the hurting part.

The first time Zeke sat down with me and told me that my behavior was in the wrong, I reacted badly. We'd spent the day with my sisters... and my sisters sometimes get the best of me. They got the best of me that afternoon, anyway. I just did things the way I always did things- I snapped back with a hurtful, sarcastic comment or two.

On the drive home, Zeke called me out on it.

Who was he to think he understood the complicated relationship between my sisters and I? His family has issues, too! Who does he think he is?! 

Well, he thought he was my husband. He's dedicated to making me a better person (just as I am to him). And sometimes, yes. That hurts.

As you're planning for this new life- this new marriage- don't fall into the trap that your marriage should always be pain-free, full of joy and good lighting. That's just not the way it is. Your marriage will result in hurt feelings, in disappointment, in some confrontation. Things won't always seem so wonderful.

But you will grow. You'll grow towards holiness and become a better person for Christ.

That's the big picture.

If you're called to marriage, remember this. Marriage isn't about you. It's not about having all your needs met (only Jesus can do that, honey). It's about learning to love as you have been loved by your Creator.

Will it be hard? Yes.

Will it be worth it?



This post is part of a series- make your engagement a time of intentional growth to prepare you for marriage, not just a time of planning for a wedding!

"Like" A Little Wife's Happy Life on Facebook to catch more Intentional Engagement posts!

Other Posts in the Intentional Engagement Series:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Our stories are long and complex and difficult in spots.

We're made up of the people we've loved, the things we've seen and done and read. We pick up experiences and lessons along the way and carry them with us. Some of those lessons are painful or ugly, some are full of joy and peace.

But we know, just the same as a quilter putting together a masterpiece, block by block, that ultimately, our Father uses each and every part of it for our own good. All those pieces come together to make something He designed, something beautiful.

We're just piecework- right now it looks like a jumbled mess. Someday, we'll be a masterpiece.

This post is linked to Amateur Nester.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Community and Heritage and Friendship and Love

It's Quilt Week over here at the Happy Life!


Oh yes, oh yes. The girl who doesn't really quilt is having a Quilt Week. Bear with me.

Like most camps, we do a couple of fundraisers throughout the year. The biggest event we do is the annual Quilt Auction. People (and churches, and quilt groups) donate quilts, and we do a big live auction.

It is so much fun. Seriously. If you ever have a chance to go to a quilt auction (lots of camps do them), you should go. The atmosphere is so great, and it's amazing to see the talents of the wonderful quilters, and auctions are just plain fun.

I always break out my "501 Quilt Blocks" book after the auction and dream about all the intricate quilts I'll make... of course, not even thinking about the fact that I have trouble sewing a straight line. It's a lofty goal.


I really do like quilts, despite my own sorry lack of sewing, measuring, cutting, and piecing talent. Quilting sort of hits on a bunch of my interests- do-it-yourself projects, frugal living, keeping history alive, heritage, and creating beautiful things.

My mother-in-law stopped by to view the quilts we were auctioning off, and it came up in conversation that she has a quilt from great-grandma, one that's still in progress.

Apparently, Zeke's great-grandmother began piecing it, and left it to her daughter-in-law- dear, sweet Grandma who had quite an artistic hand. Grandma did a bit of work on it, too, but she really preferred painting to quilting, and she didn't finish it either. Zeke's mom has worked on it only a little, too, so it sits still unfinished in a safe spot in the attic, waiting another generation to finally finish it up.

It's these types of stories that make quilts so interesting- the history behind them, the hands that put them together. Generations come together to work on something practical and beautiful. It's about community and heritage and friendship and love.

What family heirlooms or traditions exist in your family? How do you honor them?


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