Three Things my Sister Taught Me about Life Before Marriage

This is another post for the ladies! My precious sister, Chels, was recently married to a wonderful, Godly, loving man. She was almost 27 on her wedding day, and every year previous to getting married, she lived fully and joyously.

As I’ve been pondering the years before Chels married, I am grateful for the privilege of spending that time doing life with her and learning from her example. Today I want to share with you Three Things My Sister Taught Me About Life Before Marriage.

1. If you want to be a happy wife someday, be a happy woman TODAY.

Chels has always told me (and other girls), “If you aren’t content before you’re married, you won’t be content after you’re married.”

Before marriage your “if only’s” might be things like the following:

“If only I had a date this Valentines Day.”

“If only I could be the girl planning her wedding.”

“If only I had a husband.”

There will still be “if only’s” after marriage, they will just look more like these:

“If only I could get pregnant.” (if you struggle with infertility)

“If only we had more money.”

“If only my husband was more sensitive.”

“If only we could live in my community instead of his.”

Do you see what a vicious cycle discontentment is?

Learn to look outside of yourself, and you will start to lose sight of yourself.

Take advantage of opportunities to invest in your family, learn new skills, become more like the Lord, travel, reach out to others, serve in your community, help the hurting.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” -Proverbs 31:10

My sister was a beautiful example of living life to the fullest! She loved life, she really did. I never heard her say, “I am getting older….I wonder when the right guy will come along.” If she every thought that, she just jumped right into working on the next big project for our father, or heading to help the next overwhelmed mamma, or baking yet another batch of bread for her hungry brothers, or arranging the next new song, or writing an email to the a discouraged girl.

Chels was happy without a husband. Some of you girls find it hard to believe……but let me tell you, I lived with her and was (still am, next to John:) her closest friend. I saw the evidence of how fulfilled and joyful she was before she even knew she would ever be married. She’s thrilled to be a wife, but she didn’t wait till marriage to find purpose and happiness. She found that a long time ago.

Let’s make it personal:

Don’t wait till marriage to find purpose and happiness. Find it TODAY! 

And you will find it first of all by having a strong, deep relationship with the Lord, and out of that relationship, serving, loving, and giving to others.

2. Love your life!

If you can learn to love what your life consists of today, even the hard times, you will be a much more grateful wife someday.

Chels used to say, “I love my life so much, that I don’t know if I will ever be willing to leave it for marriage.” She was truly so fulfilled, and so grateful for the unique life she had, that she couldn’t imagine getting married. When the time was right, and John came into her life, she was willing and ready to start a new life with him; however, she was fully satisfied before she ever met him.

Today is the day to be a virtuous, joyful, purposeful woman! Life is too short to waste any of it. There are things to be done, and people to be helped.

3. Learn to love serving others.

When you’re focused on other people and their needs, you won’t have as much time to worry about yourself.

This is the best thing you can do. While you never need to deny that you have the desire to be married, that desire should not be the focus of life. Fill your days with lovingly serving others!

Stop being selfish. Start being selfless.

Selfishness is a plague of our society, and young women are as apt to it as anyone else, perhaps more so.

The greatest antidote to discontentment is selflessness. 

Chelsy showed me, by example, how sweet it truly is to give and serve. She may not have had children of her own to get ready on Sunday mornings, but instead of sleeping in and enjoying a leisurely morning (or envying her friends that had a husband and children), she got up early and left the house over an hour before she needed to. Why? To go help our pastor’s wife get her five little ones fed and dressed for church.

When it was wedding time for a friend, instead of being jealous and sad that it wasn’t herself getting married, Chels was always the one throwing a shower, helping organize for the big day, doing music/hair/makeup, taking free photos of the reception, etc.

Girls, what resonated with you? I’d love to hear from you!

Love,

Allison

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How to Celebrate Valentines Day when you’re Single

Hey you sweet single friends!

Happy Valentines Day!!! Let’s talk about How to Celebrate Valentines day when you’re Single. I am so excited to share a little more of my heart with you today.

Whether you just ended a romantic relationship, or have never been in one at all, this can be a joyful, hope-filled day!

If you read yesterday’s post, I hope you are filled with joy and gratitude today. However, even if you’ve decided to nix any pity-party,  you might still be thinking “how many ways can date-less me really celebrate Valentines Day?!”

You might be surprised!

Even if your family doesn’t make a big deal out of Valentines Day and you’ve never really done anything special for it before, this is a good chance for you to get creative with showing love. There are really endless ways to spread the love today. It doesn’t have to be big or extravagant. But it could make someone’s (or many someones’) day.

Your expression of love might make them feel more special than they have in a long time.

Are you up for it? Whether you have a big budget or none at all, I guarantee you can make this Valentines Day one to remember! Now let’s start dreaming up how to show some love!!!

Here’s my list:

-Write notes for all my family (text for the faraway ones and handwritten for those nearby).
-Spend extra time in prayer for Godly marriages (friends who are married + future marriages for single friends).
-Text a bunch of single gals to remind them that they’re loved.
-Give chocolate to Denver, Taylor, Liz, Hudson, and Rebecca (my unmarried siblings).
-Make couples gift bags for my parents and Josh + Cass (the couples in my family that are in close proximity to me today). These will include some fun yummy things for an in house date.
-Make cookies for my family.
-Put together a special box of weekly notes/gifts for my mother for the next 8 weeks (She is a homebody and sacrifices incredibly much to come on the road for months at a time. I just want to do something extra special to make her feel loved.)
-Send flowers to my sweet widowed grandmother (and call her).
-Call my adopted widower grandpa.

What about you? Did these posts give you a new perspective on Valentines Day as a single? Are you going to do something to spread some love?with love,

Allison

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Why Singles Should Celebrate Valentines Day

This post about Why Singles Should Celebrate Valentines Day is (maybe obviously:) for those of you that are not married. I hope that as I share my heart, you will realize that you have more reason for celebration than you ever knew!

I love Valentines Day! I have heard it can be a lonely and depressing day for singles, but I don’t see why it should be that way! For all you unmarried guys and gals out there, let me encourage you:

You are loved. You have value because of Christ. Open your eyes to the wonder of His love and His plan for your life, and Valentines Day will take on new meaning.

I’m not lonely or sad this Valentines Day- not in the least!

I’m actually grateful that I don’t have a date, for two reasons:

1. Being single this Valentines Day means that the Lord has more work for me to do as an unmarried woman, and that’s exciting! This season is special, and I’m so grateful for His amazing love for me and purpose for every day. Even if He never brings me a husband, I will be more loved than I could possibly deserve.

2. Being single this Valentines Day means I get more time with my precious family! I absolutely LOVE this stage of life where I get to spend so much time them. I can’t imagine leaving them (although of course I will be willing when the Lord so leads). These days are precious, and I don’t want to take a single (no pun intended:) one of them for granted!

Try this: stop thinking about what you’re “missing” and start counting your blessings. Decide that you actually can and will enjoy this special holiday very, very much.

And now, I hope my list of “what” I’m celebrating can be an encouragement to you! (Check back tomorrow for practical ideas on HOW to celebrate.)

Here is what I am celebrating this Valentines Day:

The love of my parents. If it wasn’t for the Lord miraculously bringing their paths together 30 years ago, I wouldn’t be here! I get to be a prayer warrior for their marriage now, as the Enemy never stops fighting Godly marriages. (There are a number of practical ways for children to invest in their parents’ marriage, but prayer is #1!)

Answered prayer- four new marriages. My four siblings and their brand new spouses are all celebrating their first Valentines Day as married couples! This is so exciting that I can still hardly believe God’s goodness in it all!

The love that is blossoming for sweet friends (some newly entering relationships, some now engaged!). It is so wonderful to rejoice with them and see their stories unfold!

Creativity of God to dream up the love of one man and one woman for life. Marriage is a beautiful image of His relationship with His bride, the church.

The perfection of love that Heaven will be when we, His bride, are with Him face to face at last. Oh, we can’t even imagine that glorious day!

The joy of being a living vessel of God’s love here on earth, today. To pour His love into the lives of others is truly the highest honor.

Single friends, I hope these thoughts were an encouragement. I’d love to hear what’s on your heart! Please join me in the comments section to continue the conversation.

xoxo,

Allison

PS. There will be a brand-new post up TOMORROW all about How I am Celebrating Valentines Day. I hope you check back to get some ideas…….it’s gonna be so much fun!

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Living as an Adult at Home| Part 2: How to Honor Your Parents

Today I am bringing Part 2 in the “Living As an Adult at Home” series. For all you ladies blessed to live in your parents’ home as an adult, I want to share some thoughts on How to Honor Your Parents in this special season.

If you missed my first post, go here to read my post on 5 Reasons to Live at Home.

And now, if you are blessed with the opportunity to live in your parents home, you know that there are both blessings and challenges to living in your parents’ home as an adult.

It’s a huge transition to go from a child who does schoolwork, chores, and whatever else mom and dad say, to an adult with a job, schedule, and independent goals and plans.

Honoring your parents within this new stage can be confusing and difficult. On the other hand, this can be the most fun, rewarding stage of your life so far! It has been for me.

You don’t have to have constant friction and unmet expectations. There can be a beautiful relationship between you and your parents, and you can both be blessed and be a blessing in your home.

There are, however, some principles that will bless and build the relationship you have with your parents as an adult daughter living in their home.

To start with, here are some simple, practical things you can do that will enable you to be a blessing instead of a burden:

Pick up After Yourself

This should be basic, but I know that in the busyness of life and coming and going, it’s easy to dump things or not be as neat as one should. I have had to make an extremely conscious effort in this area, as I am not a naturally neat person. When I get home from work, I try to immediately put away empty food containers, my boots and purse and laptop bag, and other items.

A little story from my family- with our various schedules, some of us eat early in the morning or late at night on occasion, as the day requires. We started having this problem: my mother (or whoever was on Kitchen Privileges) would leave a clean kitchen in the evening and wake up to various dirty dishes and messes in the morning. The same thing happened late at night! The problem was that various adults (that would be me and my siblings:) were coming and going at odd hours, grabbing/making random things to eat or packing/unpacking lunches, and not cleaning up after ourselves! After realizing what a problem this had become, we sorta made a mutual pact to clean up after ourselves. I am happy to report that the mysteriously messy kitchen problem has improved considerably, although we’re still a work in progress!:)

Be a Fountain not a Drain

As I talked about in my post last week, living at home is a great opportunity to contribute and be a blessing to your parents who have sacrificed so much for you. There are a million ways to serve, and you will find the ones that are most helpful to your parents and siblings.

Let Your Parents Know Your Schedule

This is huge. I repeat, this is HUGE!!!!!

When I started to have more responsibilities outside the home and be gone multiple days some weeks, with additional things on my schedule some evenings, my mother started to get frustrated. And rightly so! She didn’t know when I was coming or going, when I was available to help around the house, or if I would or wouldn’t show up for various meals or family activities.

It wasn’t completely terrible, and I tried to let her know on a daily basis if I would be gone and such, but it just wasn’t working. For both my parents to plan family things, and for my mother running the household, it was just too chaotic for me to come and go at random. We had a number of double bookings; for example, they scheduled a family music practice for the same time frame when I had a work meeting. Because neither of us communicated about those plans, the double bookings caused some frustration.

This is the solution we reached, which has been a game changer for us:

We communicate about our schedules!

Revolutionary, I know.:) But in our family, this has been the #1 source of contention and frustration with adults living at home.

We have used several different methods for scheduling, from a shared family Cozi account (a free, easy to use app for scheduling), to a calendar hung in the kitchen. If you have a lot of adults in the house,  I would highly recommend having some kind of shared calendar. We used that when we were all still living at home (before the weddings:) and it helped tremendously. Everyone can put their outside activities (we used it particularly for evenings, trips, hosting company, and events) on the calendar so everyone knows what times are available for family activities, etc. Now that we have considerably fewer adults at home, it usually works to just communicate verbally or by text on a weekly basis regarding plans/schedules.

Something I started doing with my mother that might be helpful for you gals that work both at home and away: I try to give her a breakdown at the beginning of the week of what days I will be home and what days I will be gone and any evenings I have non-family commitments. This way, she knows when I will be around for meals and what days I will be available to help around the house. If something unexpected comes up that I didn’t communicate about (for example, I will be working till 6 instead of 3), I try to let her know right away.

Don’t be a Free Loader

Every family is different. If you haven’t yet, sit down with your parents and ask what they expect from your as an adult living in their home. Do they want you to pay rent? What part of the house can you clean? Will you do your own laundry or take a turn with the family’s? Would they like you to contribute to the grocery budget? Ask them what specific things you can do to help, such as keeping vehicles clean, doing the grocery shopping, planning/making a certain number of meals each week, mowing the lawn, etc.

Next, let’s get relational. It must be a conscious choice you make to honor your parents as their daughter. You can be simply an inmate of their house, or so much more- one of their dearest friends, a tremendous blessing in their life, and a teammate. Here are some ideas how:

Give Your Best to Your Family

Your home should be where you give your best and sweetest to those you love most. How hypocritical is it to have love and kindness for coworkers and ministry partners and Sunday school children but snap at our family and be selfish at home?

Our home and family is where we should bestow our most extravagant service, our kindest words, our gentlest touch.

They should know our brightest smiles, our sweetest affection, our most attentive concern.

Would your friends, coworkers, or pastor recognize the person you are at home? If not, what a terrible shame!

God didn’t create polor-personality gals. He made us to be whole, consistently lovely women. If you have been giving your best elsewhere and being a selfish, unloving daughter and sister, then repent and let God do a work in your heart.

I Corinthians 1:3 says, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and thought I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

Charity, in the Greek, literally means “a love feast”. Does your family know a constant love feast from the way you treat them?

Look for Opportunities to Serve

Don’t view the house as a landing place. Even if you are coming and going, keep your eyes and ears open for needs around you. If your mother is overwhelmed, offer to make dinner. If you don’t have time, tell her you’re picking up pizza on your way home from work.

Spend an afternoon off deep cleaning the house or doing baking projects with your siblings. Don’t vegetate in your room! Times to rest are wonderful, but look for ways to bless your family while doing so- like going on a walk with your mother, baking cookies with little Johnny, setting the table pretty for supper, etc.

As much as possible, say “Yes!” when your parents ask you to help with things.

Find ways to go above and beyond in blessings and serving. Wash your father’s car, or leave his favorite treat on his desk. Buy your mother’s favorite food, or leave her an encouraging note.

If you aren’t able to do all the household chores you used to due to a fuller schedule, be willing to teach your younger siblings how. This has been huge for me- my mother is very gracious as I have not been able to do as much house work due to increased responsibilities in other areas; however, she really appreciates when I train a younger sibling to fill my shoes. This is actually a great chance to invest in younger siblings!

Build a Friendship with Your Parents

Your parents should be your friends. Transitioning from childhood to adulthood while in their home means that you need to intentionally seek to build a different kind of relationship with them.

My parents are my dear friends and trusted counselors. My mother is my walking buddy, and we have probably walked hundreds of miles together, sharing our hearts all the while. I ask my father to help me navigate through the messiest parts of my life, and in addition to his listening ear and wisdom on a myriad of topics, I love to talk with him about business especially (this is so fun!).

Your parents are not exactly like mine, but they are the ones God gave you. Find things you can do with them to build your relationship.

Invest in the Family Culture

What does your family like to do together? Help make those things happen!  Plan an outing for your younger siblings. Go to dinner with some siblings and another sibling group. Make a special candlelight meal for the whole family, or offer to plan a camping trip if your family likes camping.

Offer to watch the kids (if you’re one of the older ones at home) so your parents can go on an overnight getaway.

Make Time at Home a Priority

You can’t invest in the family culture, build close relationships with your family, and serve your family if you’re gone all the time.

I don’t know what your schedule is, but do what you can to make it a priority to spend some time at home. Your family will love it, and you’ll be blessed. It may mean saying no to some social activities or extra work hours, but that’s ok. You will never regret time spent in your home, with your family.

Alright, girls, I wanna hear from you! Was there something that stuck out to you in this post? What area do you want to work on to be a blessing to your parents?

love,

Allison

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Living at Home as an Adult|| Part 1: 5 Reasons To Live at Home

Recently I have received feedback from girls saying they want to hear more about Living at Home as an Adult. Today I am sharing Part 1, “5 Reasons To Live at Home”. Part 2 will be “How to Honor Your Parents”.

I am here to tell you that it is totally possible to live as an adult at home and LOVE IT!

But if you’re on the fence about whether you should continue living at home or move out, here are some reasons you might not have considered.

1. God created families.

There are many reasons why young adults may not live with their family. But Psalm 86:6 says, “God sets the solitary in families”. There is obviously value in living within a family unit, and if you have the opportunity to do so, you shouldn’t throw it away without a specific reason. There are so many benefits of living within the context of a family- accountability, fellowship, camaraderie, sharing housekeeping responsibilities, etc.

2. It’s cost effective.

Have you every really considered how much it will cost to move out? Like I said earlier, there are reasons why you might still choose to do that, but make sure you count the cost! If you are just wanting to “get your own place” for the fun of it, I would strongly encourage you to first sit down and write out what you actual cost of living will be with renting your own place vs. continuing to live at home.

The economic benefits add up when you consider sharing costs, working together, and having multiple people under one roof. In dollars and cents, it makes a lot of sense!(get the pun?!:)

3. It builds character.

It’s just harder to be selfish when you are living in a household with your family. There will invariably be some who are neater and some who are messier, different food preferences, different schedules, and the list goes on. It is definitely possibly to be others-focused and selfless when you live on your own (I’ve seen it done!) but it is harder. If you have the opportunity to live with your family and there’s no good reason not to, why not? Those sharp edges we all have that need to be smoothed off? Living with family is a fantastic way to experience some much-needed refining!

4. You get to spend more time with your family.

God placed each of us in our families for a specific reason. I am so grateful for the years of living at home as an adult. These days are incredibly precious, and I know that they won’t last forever. I count it a privilege to learn from my parents, be involved in my siblings lives, and be able to serve my family and others in our home. I lived on my own for a small portion of the past year, and I missed the family meal times, late night chats, and a million other little things. As soon as I was able, I was thrilled to move back home. I didn’t realize before how much I love baking for my brothers, making coffee for my dad, coming home from work to help Mother make dinner, listening to my little siblings’ stories, discussing life with my dear brothers, lighting candles and cleaning bathrooms.

I plan to do a whole other post on what I learned from living on my own, but the biggest thing I learned is how much I LOVE living with my family, and how incredibly valuable it is. If you don’t have this privilege, then I encourage you to find families you can be a part of, and invite others into your home. If you have the opportunity to live at home as an adult, then be grateful and be a blessing in your home!

5. You get to help pour back into your parents.

This is one of the most amazing things about living at home! I love getting to serve my parents. They spent so many years pouring into and sacrificing for me; I view this season of life as a tiny little opportunity to pay it back.

If you live at home, look for any little way to be a blessing to your parents.

Which of the 5 reasons resonated with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Have a blessed day!

Allison

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