7QTF: Blog Tour

7_quick_takes_sm1Linking up with Jennifer and the rest!

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I’m doing a blog tour for Pauline Books and Media! Look at the cute graphic:

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Stop 1: September 29. The lovely Lisa Hendey hosts me at catholicmom.com. I’ll be talking about the two truths and the big lie teens should know about love.

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Stop 2: September 30. The wonderful Pete Socks at Catholic Book Blogger gives me some space to talk about bringing Love and Responsibility to a teen’s level.

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Stop 3: October 1. The gracious Emily at EM’s Estuary will feature my thoughts on Pope Francis’s speech on the Ten Commandments and how they help us to love.

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Stop 4: October 2. The incredible Nicole at Kids Faith Garden hosts my post on helping little girls grow up in the faith so they can become godly teens.

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Stop 5: October 3. The dear Ruth Anne at Holloway Family North interviews me.

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Stop 6: October 8. The sweet Sarah Reinhard at Snoring Scholar will feature my post on how my fiance and I hope to teach our children about love through the faith.

A big big thank you to Pauline Books and Media and all the amazing bloggers who are hosting me, Nicole Lataif, and Marilee Haynes. Hooray Catholic books!

NAS: Courtship

not+alone5It might be easy to say that the pursuit of marriage is the purpose of dating (aka courtship). But, that’s not how our culture views dating. Does viewing the person you’re dating as a potential spouse add unnecessary pressure on the relationship? In your opinion, is there a difference between dating and courtship? If so, what are those differences?

Ah, courtship. It’s one of those words that can be pretty divisive–probably because there’s a divide in the understanding of the word. There’s formal courtship, which from my understanding follows some general rules: the young man asks the father permission to court the young woman, they go on chaperoned dates, all the while both understanding that permeating their interactions are the discerning questions of “Can I marry this person?” A courtship can be successful if it ends in engagement and even if it ends with a break up–the two have decided they are not suited toward marriage.

Then there’s courtship as the non-dating dating. Basically, because a lot of the secular world has ruined actual dating (the meeting of two people to determine if a relationship should progress) by loading the word with connotations of hooking up, sleeping together, just being casual. The less-formal courtships are the ways in which people manage relationships seriously. Potential marriage is a question in the center of the relationship; the couple may have mentors or other adults to go to for advice, but they’re not supervisors. I don’t call that courtship. I call it discerning dating. This interesting article calls it practical courtship.

I don’t link to that article to say that I agree completely with the author (he’s pretty anti-formal-courtship), but to point out that courtship, dating, going steady, whatever you call it, has many considerations and even some positives and some flaws. Too often labeling something puts people in “camps”. I don’t want to be in a camp. I wanted to have a Christ-centered relationship, and I pursued that with advice from people I trust (sometimes my parents), took it seriously, and did what works for my life.

Perhaps if I were 18, living at home, and had parents who were in the courtship cultural climate, I might have been open to something a little more formal–and I certainly don’t knock the young women who choose this route and have the community and family’s support. But when I was 18, I moved 300 miles away for college, spending no more than 2.5 months at home a year. And then I moved 1500 miles away for grad school. I had bank accounts, loans, rent, bills, thoughts of home ownership, and 24, then 26, then 28 years on this earth—it just didn’t make sense for me and for my parents to have some similarly aged guy call him up (or drive or fly) just to ask if I can go on a date with him.

I do see the appeal of courtship: there’s structure, support, mentoring, external mechanisms to aid chaste behavior. So in my “dating” years, I took all those great elements that work for helping people understand if they should possibly enter into the sacrament of matrimony with one another, and just removed the element that didn’t work and in my view, not necessary–permission. And I understand the problems of “dating” as most of the world sees it–pressure to sleep with or around, a too-casual attitude, a fear of missing out, increasing inducement to push the bounds of chastity. But how you embark on pursuing the type of relationship you want is what’s important–not what it’s called or what people presume about it. If you want courtship, define it, explain it to the guy (I hypothesize very few 24+-year-old guys in ever-moderning cities know about formal courtship), and see if he steps up to be the man you deserve.

To answer another one of the questions–I did not feel any undue pressure from thinking that Mr. Sweet was a potential husband. If I’m honest with myself, he’s the first boyfriend/guy I dated that I genuinely saw that way and let our discernment permeate our relationship. It wasn’t pressure; it was actually a pretty helpful, and dare I say, responsible thing to do. I might have saved a lot of heartache–mine and the guys’–had I taken the relationship for what it is supposed to be: a period of discernment. So date if you want. Enter into a kind of courtship if you so desire. Just remember to discern.

NAS: Online Dating

41849-notalone5Not all of us have jumped into the world of online dating, but many of us have! What are those things that we should AND shouldn’t do?! If someone you know is considering online dating, how would you encourage him/her? What advice do you have?

Don’t forget to visit Jen and Morgan!

Great topic! If you don’t mind, I’m going to pull some highlights from the super-long post I did on online dating a while back. The Intro also has some updates, given my new life circumstances.

Ever think about online dating? Hear conflicting advice from trusted people? Well, here’s how your sister-in-Christ managed to find dateable marriageable (!) :D men—without losing her mind. The first and foremost piece of advice: keep the lines of communication open with God—prayer, Mass, sacraments. Those practices help with discernment.

And I know, advice coming from an engaged woman seems limited to my experience, BUT I did meet and date 6 great-in-their-own-right guys over 6 years, DID find The One, and am currently engaged to Mr. Lucky #7!

What I Kept in Mind:

-         It’s a strategy, not the strategy.

-         Remembering that I am trying to connect with a possible future spouse, not shopping for emotional satisfaction.

Before Beginning

-         Figure out what I wanted in a guy.

-         Figure out HOW I would be able to tell if his responses seem legit

So, I’m going to actually skip the section of “how to create a profile.” Just KISS: Keep it Simple, Silly!: be myself, be honest, include variety of photos of me, me+friends, me+family in assorted activities/times of year; etc. I will tell you that a trustworthy male friend looked at my profile and told me not to reveal too much (list favorite genres of music and no more than two examples of specific artists, for example).

Evaluating the Profiles

When it came to this point, I got a little overwhelmed—not only does CatholicMatch match you based on a Match Portrait that’s essentially a pre-marital survey about your views on, well, everything, but also your “Primary Search” (where you check boxes about height, eye color, distance, level of faith, etc.). This is good because sometimes some guys are on one list, but not the other. But I reminded myself that Match Portraits and the like are algorithms with thresholds, not an exact science. Plus, I found that my Match Portrait netted results halfway across the country, and I am too poor to fly and too not-the-person to have a phone-based relationship for several weeks or more. Here’s what helped:

-         Be open-minded, but honest with myself.

-         Don’t spend too much time with Mr. Vague: the guy who has no specifics, no quiz questions, no temperament test, etc.

Managing the Messaging

- Set limits for how often I messaged.

- I allowed myself to send an emoticon/flirt, answer his quiz questions, but did not send a chatty message first thing during my latest go-around.

- If you find yourself saying “he’s not responding because he’s shy,” think about the conclusion I came to: “if he’s so shy as to be uncomfortable sending an Internet message, then is that degree of bashfulness something I really want to take on?”

Happy “hunting!”

7QTF: Of Half-Brithdays, Goals, and My Not Ice-Bucket Challenge

7_quick_takes_sm1Linking up with Jennifer and the rest!

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Today is my half-birthday! Now, I don’t actually celebrate this day as an adult, nor did my family when I was a kid. But I still find it pretty cool to think about how 30 years ago, I was alive in my mother’s womb, at about 12-15 weeks, fully formed, heart beating, brain growing. And Mr. Sweet was alive too! But in his mama’s arms.

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Two years ago on this day, I made a #30till30 board on Pinterest. I decided to name 30 goals I wanted to achieve in the 30 months I had left until I turned 30 in March 2015. How am I doing? Six done, including goal #12, which I pessimistically did not think would happen. But it did. And is sitting on my finger. :)  I have 18 to go–many involving reading book series and writing habits. I will admit that there are 5 I will never reach. I’m actually ok with that. Over the past two years, I have realized that goals change, especially if based on relationships. Because relationships change. And people change, including myself. Naturally, what was important to me then may not be important to me now. And some are just not feasible–financially, logistically. But this is ok, too. Not meeting these dream goals (visiting someone in England is a big stretch unless you have the rare combination of high-paying job with generous vacation…) is not a failure. So I will not be disappointed if I can’t tag every goal as “Done!”. Because life is a project always in progress. Plus, there’s always 40 till 40! :P

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One of those goals is to sell through my print run of my novel. I can’t recall if this goal was formulated before or after the publish date got backed up 5 months or not. But I essentially had 15 months to get it done. Now I have 6. But at this point, I’d be happy to go into reprint, which is at least half. It’d be an amazing half-birthday present if you could help me reach this goal by clicking on this link: My book!

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I’m also putting in some work. In two weeks-ish I will start my leg of Pauline Books and Media’s Back to School Blog Tour!

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I am also a big supporter of Catholic literature. Wednesday I hosted author and friend Nicole Lataif. Check it and her books out!

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 I do not have a bucket of ice. But I do have a paycheck again after two months without. The very first withdrawal is going to the Lenaburg family. They have a GoFundMe account to support the care for their daughter, Courtney. I first “met” Mary and Miss Courtney when I regularly linked to “What I Wore Sunday.”  Mary always had joyful comments for everyone. Courtney faces many medical challenges, and this season of her and her family’s life is the toughest. But through it all, Mary is there with grace and love. So I’m donating to their cause. Won’t you read their blog (her brother’s post is a real tear-jerker; you can’t not ugly cry when reading it) and consider making your Friday sacrifice for this family, who have sacrificed so much? And then please share however you can.

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I also ask you to share because TODAY from 9 pm-10 pm EST, the Lenaburgs are devoting an hour of the 40-hour devotion to the blessed Mother in honor of the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Please pray for them tonight.