Please don’t let my first impression fool you. The fact that I set off the infant abduction alarm at the hospital and had to wear a SARS mask to meet you does not mean I came to harm you. Quite the opposite. I came because I love you and couldn’t wait to meet you. And truthfully, most of your encounters with me will be slightly awkward, but usually memorable. Buckle up.
I’ve never been an aunt before but based on what I know from my own aunts, my job is to show you the ropes, be your ally, and take you on lots of great adventures that your parents won’t approve of and your grandparents are too old to try. We can go anywhere you want to go. Unless you pick something lame. Then I’ll choose something else for us to do.
Who am I kidding? You hold all the power. You’re like a tiny ruler in the Johnson universe. We are all drawn to you and you can have whatever you want with a finger squeeze or a baby giggle.
The first thing you need to know is your mom is incredible. She was very sick in the beginning and she fought through it to bring you into the world. She loves you unconditionally and will be a wonderful and caring guide to you as you make your way through life. Also, she bakes the best cakes. You came out 9lb 8oz. so chubbiness is not new to you. Eat the cake. You carry it well.
Your dad is my brother. The rules state I can’t be too nice to him (especially in print) or it will explode his head. Between you and me, Mark is a great man. He’s the most generous, kind, and loyal guy I know. This will make for a wonderful father. You’re a very blessed girl.
They say it’s ideal if you have 5 adults other than your parents to walk with you through life. You already have two sets of awesome grandparents, great grandparents, two uncles and aunts, a whole church, lots of friends, and I’m worth at least 2.5 …so you should be good to go! I can’t speak for everyone, but I think we all want you to know that Jesus loves you very much. He loves you more than we ever could and His love will help you grow up brave, kind, and good.
Welcome to the family! There is no getting out now!
Is it just me, or is fall a bigger deal this year than last year? Suddenly, it’s everyones FAVORITE season. You literally can’t walk into Trader Joe’s without running into a wall of pumpkin pop tarts, pumpkin scone mix, pumpkin bread mix, pumpkin butter… What happened to plain old pumpkins?
Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m all in. Even if the season is pretty underwhelming in Orange County (the only thing that technically changes is the fall-colored window display at Starbucks) I am glad it’s here! Since it’s officially the first day, this is my obligatory blog post. I plan to light spiced candles, play my music a little moody (Pandora station Mayer Hawthorne if you’re looking), and enjoy the best part of the whole deal- the clothes! I love the new fall lines and am crossing my fingers I can take a trip outside of my perpetual 83-degree-city soon in a new jacket or sweater.
I made a new friend over the weekend. I’m so glad I did. In addition to showing up to the party in an East Dillon hat (swoon), he has a hillarious Vine series in which he reads women’s actual profiles from Ok Cupid. He doesn’t add or change anything. They are perfect, just as they are.
Hover over the top left corner and click the speaker icon to play/listen.
You can follow Ryan on Vine at Ryan Van Tuyl or look for him back here at OliveMePost.
From time to time friends of mine send me articles on singles/dating. Let me just walk you through what happens when I get these:
Notification. Click. Cringe. Reluctantly read.
The absolute worst is when someone posts one on my wall for the whole world to see.
Notification. Click. Horror. Delete. Delete. Delete. Why is it so freaking hard to remove from my phone?! How long has it been there?!?!
In my right mind, I’m thankful friends take the time to pass them along. I need to be up to date. So please, keep sending… as emails.
Recently I was sent one called, “What Not to Say to Single People” posted on Relevant. Let me start by saying there are helpful ideas in her blog. My goal isn’t to attack it. I’m responding because it made me stop and wonder for the first time, whydo Christian articles on singleness make me so uncomfortable?
I came up with the following: It’s the way Christians talk about singleness and dating. It’s not so much what we say, but how we say it.
Think about it; in the secular world the single life conjures up images of fun, freedom, excitement, choice, and strength. It’s hot and sexy to be a single girl. The single storylines we see in movies and TV aren’t tragic, but exciting. The plot ends when a girl gets married.
The storyline we get in church is that life can’t begin until we are married. We usually only see the roles of wives and mothers played out. Christian single life paints images of tears, desperation, cat ladies, and awkward adults gathered around a bowl of church punch playing Catch Phrase.
Why is this? Both groups are talking about the same exact phase of life. (And both have misunderstandings to be sure) But why do Christians talk about it so differently? How can we talk about dating in a way that highlights the good parts about being single?
Don’t Make Singleness a Thing
Honestly, I’m horrified by the fact that an article on on how to talk to singles even exists. (I realize I am writing one.) I’m sitting here feeling all-normal, when apparently people need help talking to me. Really? It makes it sound like we have some type of rare disease that requires special handling. I can’t imagine an article like this in a secular setting. Married or not married, it’s not as big of a deal outside the Church.
Don’t Make Singleness Everything
In my office, people talk about all kinds of things- sports, news, and job related issues. At a Christian function? Forget it. I’m constantly fielding random questions about my dating life. Since the Bible is largely silent on romantic love, it seems odd that Church is the place I feel most pressured to answer for myself.
I don’t hate talking about my dating life and I’m grateful people care about what goes on. It truly is an issue of proportion. One friend wrote me, “My pastor is CONSTANTLY commenting on how he’s praying for my future husband. However he never comments on how he’s praying for a better job or financial stability or something else equally worthwhile.”
My friend appreciates her pastor’s concern and prayers. It gets tricky when it starts to feel like the only thing people care about.
Don’t Talk About Singleness if You’re Married
I’m going to get burned at the stake over this one, but hang in there with me. Think, “I can talk about my mom, but you can’t.”
Just like finances, marriage, parenting, and dieting are often precarious and complex issues, so is dating. These are topics we build up to with people we put our trust in over time. For some reason it’s socially acceptable for a married person to casually ask a single person how their relationship is going, but inappropriate for a single person to ask how a marriage is doing.
That being said, I have married friends I love talking about my relationship with. The difference is, I’ve invited them into it.
Don’t Treat it Like a Problem to Solve
My biggest concern with Christian single articles, books, and conversations is they typically come across as “how-tos” with lots of advice. This is off-putting because it presupposes the single person is unhappy being single, and unmarried because of a lack of knowledge or effort.
You can see how this would be frustrating.
The Relevant article said, “It’s important for those who are married to remember the struggles that come with being single and do their best to walk away from an interaction with a single leaving them feeling helped, not hurt.”
Do you see the top-down innuendo? While I appreciate the heart behind this, it’s uncomfortable to read your life as a “struggle” in someone else’s eyes. Also, it assumes I need help when I don’t see finding love as a problem to be fixed; I see it as something that happens when it happens.
The truth is, I like my life. I don’t like reading things that give the impression I’m unhappy because I’m not married. If you are married, how would you feel if most articles assumed you were depressed in your marriage?
The bottom line is no one fully understands love. Poets, writers, musicians, and philosophers have tried to capture and describe it since the beginning of time. Despite all efforts, we still don’t even have a solid definition. Single people don’t like being talked to as if it’s something married people have figured out while we haven’t.
Don’t Go too Far with Expectations
Christians can be weird.
We somehow manage to get even weirder around the topics of dating and relationships. We don’t like grey areas. When you take a mysterious concept like falling in love, it’s tempting to want to put it in a standard sized box. In this case, married with children by 26.
When a person doesn’t fit this expectation, our instinct is to want to fix, help, and give advice. Which is a bummer. My single friends and I don’t want to be fixed. We aren’t unhappy with all of life because we aren’t married. Sometimes we love being single. Like Saturday mornings, when no one bugs us or needs our attention. We look at the divorce rate and know marriage isn’t going to solve any of our actual problems. In the meantime, we pursue other things and enjoy our independence. Maybe we’ll get married at 40 or 50. Maybe we’ll love it. Maybe we’ll hate it. Either way, we want to decide for ourselves.
There are so many ways to live a life. I often wish I lived outside my Christian circles because there seems to be more space for things to look differently. Which is disappointing since Jesus is the ultimate includer of the outsider. Something about the way He spoke to people made them feel welcomed and validated. And at the end of the day, that’s how we all want to be talked to.
Have you ever noticed certain men are the “man crushes” of other men? I can think of a few examples from my circles, and certainly there are some great fictitious characters: Donald Draper, Ron Swanson, Harvey Spector, Jake Ryan, and my personal favorite -Tim Riggins. Something about these men draw other men to this type of man.
I wondered what all these characters had in common. What makes up their mysterious x factor? In my I- have-absolutely-no-idea-what-I’m-talking-about opinion:
They never stammer, sway, or go back and forth on decisions. They do what they set out to do and only need the approval of a handful of people. They don’t back down or show fear in tense situations. They go straight into conflict and uncomfortable situations instead of trying to get around them.
They don’t talk a lot. Calm and collected, they aren’t chatty or spastic..or friendly, really. Somehow they always know exactly what to say and when to say it. Maybe they are faking it. The point is we’ll never know the difference.
Secure in Manhood
When the situation calls, they can pull off dancing, hugging, crying and expressing feelings without batting an eye. It appears to go back to the confidence thing- they don’t question themselves, so no one else does, either.
These characters do what they want to do 98% of the time.
They all have something- sports, music, or brains, that earns them the respect of other men.
Competitor vs. Leader
Man crushes aren’t usually the designated leader. They aren’t the type to seek out leadership positions, which confused me at first because they all do step up and lead when needed. In the end, I think they do come through not out of a desire to actually have the role, but because they want victory for themselves.
…I’m curious if any brave male readers care to weigh in. Why are you drawn to certain men?
I’ve decided August is the strangest of summer months because in California, it’s usually the hottest, so by my standard- the most summery. However, every year September manages to creep fall in early with its back-to-school commercials and fall clothing lines. Did you know I literally could not find a bathing suit to buy the other day? All sold out. Something is wrong with the world when you can’t buy a bikini in the middle of summer.
But that’s the way we are.
We are always looking ahead, preparing for what’s next, attempting to control tomorrow. I suppose this isn’t always a bad thing, except that lately I’ve been working on enjoying the here and soaking up the now.
Last week I found myself in three conversations that I thought related. They all boiled down to the same thing:
She wants A.
Without A she is stuck in B.
How does she get A or at least move on to C as soon as possible?!
As I sat listening, I thought about my own version of this equation. For me, it involves church. In December I left a wonderful church community. (Yes, I’m annoyed I’m perpetuating the Christian over-use of the word,..but it is helpful) I had friends I connected with, a part to play, and gracious people a stage ahead of my own willing to invest in me.
And I miss it.
While visiting these people over the weekend I experienced that ache. You know, the one that says, “Dangit! I want that back! Where can I find it again? How can I recreate it right away?”
Thankfully, this line of thought didn’t get too out of hand because as I said, I’ve been working on this. Rather than focusing on A or hurrying to C, I’m getting better at asking myself what good or necessary thing is in the B. Where my tendency has been to rush to get what I want, I now try and figure out why I’m in the now. What does God have for me in my have-not? What would I truly miss out on if I actually could skip ahead?
If you’ve ever swam in the ocean, you know it’s best to relax and go with the flow when the waves crash around you. Fighting them doesn’t help and they eventually pass. I’m finding this a helpful image for living in the now (while swimming in my new suit. Target had my back). No season lasts forever and there is something important in each one.
It’s been awhile..it’s been a busy while. Over the past month I’ve moved (yes, that’s twice in two months), had my car break down (don’t worry, it was on the way to a date, and it was just this minor issue with the motor giving out), and took a trip to Colorado, Mississippi, and Tennessee where I had a ball!
In the South I visited my friends Laura and Molly. I cannot express how phenomenal these two were at hosting me on what they called, “The Southern Tour.” Every day was a surprise. One morning, while in Oxford, Mississippi, Laura and I visited a charming bookstore called Square Books. In it I found a framed poem on the wall by Nadine Stair, written at the age of 85.
If I Had My Life to Live Over Again
If I had my life to live over again, I’d try to
make more mistakes next time. I would relax. I would
limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this
trip. I know of very few things I would take
seriously. I would take more trips. I would climb
more mountains, swim more rivers and watch more
sunsets. I would do more walking and looking. I would
eat more ice-cream and less beans. I would have more
actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones. You see, I
am one of those people who lives prophylactically and
sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day.
Oh, I’ve had my moments; and if I had to do it over
again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to
have nothing else. Just moments, one after another
instead of living so many years ahead each day. I
have been one of those people who never go anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a gargle,
a raincoat, aspirin and a parachute.
If I had it to do over again, I would go places, do things and
travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over, I would start
barefooted earlier in the spring and stay that way
later in the fall. I would play hooky more, I
wouldn’t make such good grades except by accident. I
would ride on more merry-go-rounds. I’d pick more
Here are a couple of my favorite moments from my trip:
Bottom left: walking in Memphis. Bottom right: Sun Studio)
(Top left and right, bottom left: eating Southern food to the point where I couldn’t wear my pants anymore…that’s not a joke…I bought a new dress. Bottom right: with Laura and Molly seeing Billy Currington and Honky Tonkin’ (best I can tell, honky tonking is a verb for dancing to white people music with other white people)
(I was absolutely taken by the porches in the South and could happily spend endless moments on them.)
All and all I LOVED the South and can’t wait to go back. The highlight of the trip was spending time with Bri, Laura, and Molly. I miss them dearly and wish they lived closer.
What’s been some of your favorite summer moments? I’d love to hear!