Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Being Southern + Being Single

Let me start out saying I don't have this all figured out. But here's what I do know: being single is a huge part of my life +  although  we all handle / deal / struggle with it in our own ways, I think we can help each other out.  If my struggles + victories can help you in any way, then I want to share them with you here. This may get a little long, but stick with me :)

You + I may be in completely different stages of life, and that's okay. Its a little creepy, but I know the demographics of those who read my blog + know that most of you are between the ages of 20-35. This means that you are either getting married, have lots of friends getting married, or both. I'm in the middle category. In 2015 alone, I will have gone to 8 weddings as a single person. EIGHT. That's not including the two I helped work nor the two I will have missed. I'm going to do a post just on how to deal with being single at weddings...so stay tuned!

Being single at 25 in today's society is portrayed as normal. And it is.  Think about TV shows like FRIENDS, How I Met Your Mother + The Big Bang Theory. Most of the cast are in their late 20s, right? I do enjoy my life as it is right now. I get to do whatever I want, when I want to. I don't really have to plan around anyone else's schedule {what if he also received 10 wedding invitations this year too?!}. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll see a lot of fashion photos, but you'll also see tons of photos of me going + doing things I love with people I love.

What you won't see on Instagram are the nights when I cry a little before bed or the conversations with other single friends about our frustrations. And why not? It probably has a lot to do with wanting to put a my best 'filter' forward. Southern women are known for our strong-will + determination. Scarlett O'Hara was as feminine as they come, but when needed, her Southern Grit came out + she got things done. We know how to host the best dinner party, while masking what is really going on inside.

I'll be honest. There are times that it hurts a little when people ask me if I am seeing anyone + I have to reply with no. The whole "oh don't wish away your singleness, because you have so much freedom that you'll never have again" thing can also irk me to no end. They don't mean to hurt my feelings, but it just happens.

So what's a southern single girl to do? What is the right response to being single?

I don't know what the right response for you is, but here's what I'm learning:
1. It's okay to cry.
You know when a little baby cries because she skinned her knee, and her momma/daddy just holds her + says "just cry it out, its okay, just cry it out." Well, that's how I feel like God handles me sometimes. The parents' know that skinned knee won't hurt for too much longer, but the kid doesn't know that. God knows what He has in store for me, but right now, when I need to cry it out, He's there holding me + listening to me. This is also what my momma still tells me when I'm upset. Thanks Momma! King David had a moment too, when he cried out with tears.

Psalm 56:8 (NIV) "Record my lament, list my tears on your scroll, are they not in your record?"

2. Sometimes its about an attitude adjustment.
After I have myself a nice little cry, I MUST remember that He is in control. He knows what breaks my heart + what makes me the happiest. Psalm 139 tells us just how well He knows us individually. When people make comments or ask me if I'm dating, it is my response to them that concerns Him. I can either go on the defensive, which makes me feel even worse about myself, OR I can truly be grateful for this part of my story.

Ladies, it's not always easy. Okay, a lot of the time it isn't easy. Being vulnerable with those around you + letting them know what you are struggling with, is a great place to start. That can be hard for us Southern ladies to do, but sharing from a perspective of asking for support instead of venting out your frustrations, will allow your friendships to be sweeter + more genuine.

So many things are expected of women in any culture, not just the South, but let's all try to overcome those + be who He created us to be.


Go have a good cry, but when you're finished, remember that this is YOUR story + no one else's. He's put this part in your story to draw you closer to Him - just enjoy the dance :-)



Thursday, October 15, 2015

Matt & Abbey - The Wedding Day

I apologize for posting this a week late - accidentally took a hiatus last week. 

Sharing their story over the past few weeks has been so sweet. I wanted to share their story because of what Abbey posted on Facebook a while back + you'll get to read it at the end. Abbey, along with friends + family, DIY'd her wedding. Just by looking at the photos, I think you'll agree, it was simply gorgeous! 


1} The Wedding Date

We got married on January 3, 2015 in Cartersville, Georgia, my home town!


2} The Venues

Our ceremony was at Tabernacle Baptist Church, and the reception was at the Clarence Brown Conference Center.


3} Did you have any morning jitters?

I didn't have any real morning jitters; I was more or less just nervous about everything going as planned! When you do so much of a wedding DIY, it can be a little nervewracking to be the bride and be unable to help make things run smoothly! Fortunately, one of my greatest friends, Codie Haddon, helped to plan and coordinate our wedding, and he did an incredible, incredible job. Everything happened so smoothly, and I really don't remember any major hiccups!

{Codie, Megan, Abbey, Matt + Patrick, the best of friends}

4} What was your favorite part about your wedding day?

I really loved our ceremony. We worked the hardest on preparing for the ceremony, and it came together so beautifully. I really couldn't have asked for anything more. We wanted all of the music in the ceremony to be both songs that are meaningful to us and songs that point to Christ. We used "He's Always Been Faithful", "I Love to Tell the Story", "Blessed be the Tie", "Echoes of Heaven/By Faith", "Revelation Song", "We Vow to One Another" and "Come Thou Fount". These were sung by some of our favorite people who have such gifts in music. One of the best moments was hearing the entire congregation (almost 600 people) singing "Revelation Song" together. It felt like a glimpse of what heaven will be like, when all of creation cries out "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come!" I especially loved that "I Love to Tell the Story" was sung by children's choir, most of whom were in a choir I taught at TBC and that "We Vow to One Another" was sung by an adult choir comprised of church and community friends who love music. It was incredibly beautiful and completed my vision of having a choir like at Maria von Trapp's wedding in The Sound of Music! We also worked really hard to select Scripture to be read that pointed to God's creation of the marriage covenant and His desire for marriage to be a display of the Gospel. To do so, we had several friends and mentors who read Ephesians 2:20-22, Ephesians 5:22-33, and Revelation 19:6-9. We also had selections from Psalm 112 and Proverbs 31 read to examine our individual roles as husband and wife. I was really grateful that three pastors who have played significant roles in our lives were able to be a part of the ceremony, as well - the worship pastor from my home church, the senior pastor from Matt's home church, and my host dad from my Junior Miss/DYW days in Mobile. It has been really special to have these three great men of God pouring into us throughout our relationship and especially on our wedding day. We closed the ceremony with the signing of a marriage covenant, which has our vows and covenant to one another beautifully calligraphed for us to hang in our home as a reminder of our covenant to God and to one another.

{how adorable are these children!}

Ephesians 2:20-22 "Built on the foundation of the apostles + prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the Chief Cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together + rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him, you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit."

{LOVE all of the greenery and candles}

Ephesians 5:22-23 "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior."


Revelation 19:6-9 "The I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: 'Halledlujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fin linen, bright and clean, was given to her to wear.'  (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, 'Write: "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!"' and he added, 'these are the true words of God'."


5} Someone gave you great honeymoon advice, do you mind sharing?

Choosing a location was a little difficult at first, but we had some good guidance that helped lead us to the PERFECT place. Matt really wanted to go to the beach (like the Caribbean), but first off, January is their peak season so it's very expensive, and second off, I don't exactly love bathing suits! A friend of mine had really encouraged me that it would be important that I feel very comfortable wherever we went on our honeymoon, as so many changes were taking place at once! She also mentioned that wherever we went, we might want to try to get back home by Friday, so that we'd have two days to get our home settled before returning to work on Monday. She was right on both accounts! After a good bit of research on some wedding websites and the Southern Living Hotel Collection, we settled on the Inn at Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina. It was absolute perfection! Palmetto Bluff is a small community with a few homes, cottages, restaurants, shops, beautiful waterfront, and trails. It was beautiful in every possible way and had the best food. Even though it was January, it was in the mid 50's and 60's every day, so it was great weather to go ride bikes, take walks, or go canoeing. We also really enjoyed taking advantage of the spa! I would highly recommend it!


Just like with Alex + Brooke, Matt + Abbey gave a wedding CD called "Hymns and Hers" {how adorable!} as a favor. We are working on getting that together for y'all!! Don't y'all just love these sweet brides?!


I mentioned earlier that Abbey has a precious story to tell about her wedding day...
The Story of the Letters

On July 28, 2005, I began writing a series of letters to "My Future Husband"; letters that would contain little bits of my heart over the course of almost 10 years. For a long time, the letters lived in an old hollowed out book, but I'd always wanted a box with a key. My mom mentioned to Matt during the first year we were dating that an old box with a key would be a really great gift for me. I'm sure he thought it was strange, but he and his mom went to work scouring antique stores and found the perfect box. He gave it to me that year on my birthday, and though I really could hardly contain my excitement, I kept it really cool so he wouldn't get any ideas! For the next 3 years, I spent time filling the box with more letters and anxiously awaited the day when I would finally give the box of letters and the key to my heart to the man I loved. On the morning of January 3, 2015, I sat down and prepared to write him "the last letter". Somehow, on that morning, I realized for the first time that the first letter I wrote was written exactly 6 years to the day before our very first date (July 28, 2011). Of course - the tears began to flow! It was such a beautiful reminder that the Lord is ever present; even in the little things. Giving Matt the box was such a special memory from our wedding day and is a gift I know he really treasures. Fairytales happen when God writes your love story!

I absolutely love this! I have a journal that I write in occasionally for my future husband. There's a huge chance that my husband will be someone I don't know yet, someone who didn't know me in high school or college, so my journal has some prayers for us, as well as little things from those years that he won't know. Seeing this picture of how much Matt appreciates this special gift from Abbey makes me excited to keep up my journal + gift it one day. 

Here are some other photos from Matt + Abbey's reception, because they just need to be shared! 

{I can't stop looking at this cake set-up}



{now, this is just adorable!}

{their invitations fit their wedding perfectly}

Photos by: Anchor & Eden (link contains full wedding album)
Invitations by: Codie Haddon

Friday, October 2, 2015

His Story, My Story, Our Story

For a while now, I've been debating writing a post on singleness + how I'm dealing with it. I had been leaning more towards not writing one because there are just so many out there, and doesn't it always seem that the ones writing it get into a relationship shortly after? What if that was me + you thought "well there goes that"? or what if that wasn't me, and I made it seem that singleness was super cool + blissful when I never felt that way? I didn't want to be seen as someone who portrays singleness as something easy, when in a reality, it is something I struggle with every. single. day. 

But then it just seemed that Lord kept putting things in my life that encouraged me to share with y'all.

The first time I started writing it, I was listening to a podcast on how to be authentic online while journaling about my personal struggles with being single. {I know, why do I keep telling love stories each month?? Because I love telling them!} I found myself about a week ago, asking my mom + sister for specific prayer on singleness. My sister reminded me that yes, wanting a relationship/husband is a good thing + that I shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting it, nor should I “give the devil that opportunity to ruin this journey [I am] on with God.” Mom’s guidance was that I “have a choice as to how the desires controls [me].” How grateful I am for my Mom + big sister! They know how to speak truth into my life in the best way possible.


Then this week at community group we talked about being vulnerable IN our weaknesses, not after we’ve come out to the other side. Y’ALL. How true is that? We struggle on our own, only to present a perfect picture once we’ve overcome our struggle. How much better would it be if we shared throughout the journey instead of at the end? I told my group, that He's written this story of singleness at 25 just for me + maybe it is time to share my struggles a little more vocally, because you never know who it could help. 


The other "sign" He's been giving me has been through the First5App. I've been following along with the First5App for a while and are now going through Genesis.  Here are a few quotes regarding the Biblical accounts of life of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Esau + Jacob that really encouraged me to share with y'all. I could go on + on about how these messages have affected my life this week, and maybe that will be in the second post, but here's a quick reference.

They talked about how Sarah tried to solve something she saw as a problem in her own way, but it didn't go over so well + she immediately regretted the decision. 
{how often do I try to work situations to my benefit?}

Then God asked Abraham to sacrifice what he loved, growing his faith during hard times. 
{but what if it never happens...?}

This was the devotion the night after my Community Group. It really hit home because I had just told the girls that He's written this story just for me. 
{at this point, I knew I had to write the post. This is His Story for me, My Story, Our Story}

Today's devotion was on how Esau gave up the end goal for a quick fix.
{Ladies, we can't do this with our relationships}


My next post will be more on how I'm actually dealing with singleness, but I wanted y'all to see where I was coming from first. Ladies, its not easy + I struggle all the time. I mentioned authenticity + social media at the beginning; I've read blogs + watched webinars on how to have the perfect instagram. But what about a real instagram? I want to show what my life is really about. It may included a filtered photo of food, or a fun photo with my girls or my family, but I never want you to think my life is perfect or that everything is easy. So as I start + finish my singleness story I'll let you in on a little secret. 

I'm sitting at home alone on a Friday night, eating dinner with a glass of wine, while catching up on my tv shows... 

...wearing socks with my lime green slippers. 

Although not glamorous, it feels pretty good. 
Oh, one of my roommates is home!! YAY, people!!!!

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If you are struggling in this area or with anything, please feel free to reach out to me! I'd love to chat with you - alliedanae@southerngritsandgraces.com