Ask Mrs. Austin: Session 1

I received some questions about my dating story from someone the other day, and after I emailed my responses back I decided that a little Q&A could make for a fun post. So, here they are, with this anonymous person’s permission of course.

What made your waiting for marriage beautiful?

I’d say that the waiting didn’t feel beautiful as I was experiencing it. It felt really hard and sad. But looking back, I can see the beautiful ways that God was at work. He showed me some of that during the process of course, but it is much easier to look back now and see his hand guiding me. The truly beautiful thing is that he shaped and grew my faith in Him. He drew me close to himself and taught me more about his great love, and that is the beauty of my story.

How did you know that God wanted you to get married?

I didn’t. I used to think that we need to know if God wants us to be married or single, and then we can move forward. However, as I studied scripture and read various books, I realized that I couldn’t know the future before it happened. I had a desire to be married that was normal and realistic (I didn’t expect marriage to solve all of my problems, I knew marriage would take hard work, etc.), and so I felt free to pursue dating and getting married. I knew that while I was single I wanted to make the most of it and serve God well with my singleness, especially since I couldn’t guarantee that I’d meet someone I’d want to marry. I didn’t want to wait around for my life to start. So, by God’s grace, I rocked the single life and also intentionally pursued getting married.

How did He prepare your heart to serve your husband?

I think first he taught me that Jesus is our great servant King- he served us with his whole life and continues to do so. And he invites us to live a life of service to him. He helped me learn how to serve the people in my life long before I ever met Travis. I had to learn to love my family, roommates, friends, and people at church and work. He also helped me get comfortable in my own skin- learning my gifts, strengths, and weaknesses. That way, when I was dating, I was my true self with men I met, and as I got to know Trav it became clear that we made a great team that could serve others and each other.

What does Christian dating look like? Kissing. No kissing. Hugs. No hugs. Do we bust out our Bibles and read? Group dating? How is God most glorified in dating?

Haha. I don’t think you need to read your Bibles together on every date. =) I think Christian dating looks different depending on the person, so there isn’t just one right way. Pray that God would help you figure out a wise way to date based on your personality and your past experiences. God wants to help you learn and grow in this part of your life! Pursue wisdom found in the Bible, helpful books, and conversations with people you look up to and trust. As you pray, if you sense that you still want to be married, then I think you can move toward that! Involve your friends and community at church- I could not have dated well on my own without the wisdom and encouragement of my friends. And now Trav and I rely on our community to help our marriage stay strong and thrive.

Here are a few books that I highly recommend:

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller

Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help It Happen by Candace Watters

How to Get a Date Worth Keeping by Henry Cloud

Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

Some friends of mine that oversee a marriage ministry recommended a book to me recently, but I haven’t read it yet. It’s high on my ‘Read Soon’ list though after another friend read it and said it was helpful – How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk by John Van Epp

Do you have any other questions for future Ask Mrs. Austin posts? Feel free to leave a comment here or send me a message.

Things I discovered in March & April

One of my favorite bloggers, Emily Freeman, shares things she’s learned each month as a way to reflect on her time before moving on to the next month. I love this idea since I’m a fan of learning and reflecting on my days. Plus, it’s a simple, yet intentional practice that works well with my current season of life (i.e. I only have the time and energy for things that are easy. Really, really easy!). Emily suggests keeping a running list each month in your journal where you can jot down random things you notice and discover, whether they are serious, silly, sacred, or just plain useful. I’ve enjoyed looking at my lists and remembering what has gotten my attention or has me thinking on something new.

Time is a-flying by these days, so I’ve rolled two months into one list for March and April. Here are 7 things I’ve recently learned…

1. The Gmail app is super helpful on my iPhone.

I’m sure I’m a million years late to discovering the gmail app, but I saw it in a picture that another blogger posted and immediately wondered why I didn’t know about it. It allows me to organize my phone’s email inbox with tabs like Primary, Promotions (oh, hi millions of coupons), Updates, etc. in the same way that I use Gmail on my laptop. I used to get so behind with email because I didn’t like the standard Mail app on my phone, and I find that I don’t use my laptop every day as a stay-at-home mom. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the little red notification bubble on the Mail app said I had thousands of unopened emails. Sheesh. Every time I saw it, I felt overwhelmed. But now, the Gmail app lets me keep everything organized just the way I like it, and I set my notifications so that only emails from the Primary tab show as a little red bubble. I can pay attention to the important emails, and all those crazy coupons stay hidden and unopened until I go looking for one I need. It’s the best.

2. I have arrived at journal perfection.

I happened upon a notebook a few weeks ago when we were at Barnes and Noble. {In case you’ve never heard of Barnes and Noble, it’s a bookstore, which is like Amazon in real life.} I love paper products, especially journals. And I have quite a list of expectations and desires when it’s time for me to get a new journal. The one I found makes me so happy because the line spacing is perfect, it’s (gold!) spiral bound so I can flip it over on itself, and it has a hardback cover and an interior pocket. Plus, it’s so pretty! Floral with a few black and white stripes! I die. It makes me smile every time I see it.


3. Speaking of office supplies, lemme tell you about some pens I found. 

I love me a good pen. I’m probably not the craziest pen snob you’ve ever met, but I definitely play favorites. I follow a few instagram accounts that are all about planners, paper, and other nerdy office supplies (not joking- search for hashtags like #plannergirl and #plannernerd- it’s a whole thing), and someone posted about the Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens. People. These are great pens. The ink dries quickly, so you get the ease of writing with gel ink without the smeary, wet situation. They’re retractable and come in fun colors. And they’re available in fine point (0.5 mm), which is my preference because it makes my handwriting look better. =) Target carries the medium point version, and Amazon sells both the fine and medium point.


4. Apparently I have a new pet peeve. 

I try not to blame too many things on pregnancy hormones, but I will say that I’ve been a tad more irritable in recent weeks. Particularly when I have to park next to someone that has backed his or her (let’s be honest… his) car into a parking spot. For some reason it happened a few times all within one week recently, and it drove me nuts. I see you Cool Guy who knows how to back up and play one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other in a lot full of cars all following the standard guidelines. Do what you want of course, and we can be friends forever still, but if you happen to back into a spot near me sometime, I’ll be rolling my eyes at you real hard when I drive away. Just kidding…well, not really. 😉

5. I found my go-to sandals for the summer.

I found these sandals at Target and I will probably be wearing them on the daily from now until they fall off of my feet. Super cute and comfortable! Here’s a little peek of them sticking out past my baby bump.

IMG_5815I liked the cognac colored ones so much that I went online and purchased them in black as well. There’s a buy one, get one 50% off deal at right now for women’s clothing and family shoes, which is good news and dangerous news all in one little sentence. Proceed wisely.

6. Not checking Facebook on my phone is a game changer.

I love Facebook for the connections it creates with friends, but I don’t like the way I can end up spending brainless minutes scrolling and scrolling for longer than is really necessary. I noticed that I enjoy Facebook more when I’m looking at it on my laptop, yet I continually kept looking at it on my phone and then later wondered where my precious free time had gone that day. So, I removed the Facebook app from my phone. That didn’t help for long though, because I just started going to through my internet browser. I had to figure out how to delete the ‘frequently visited’ links on the Safari app so I’d have to actually type in to get there. Turns out, that’s enough of a two second extra step that helps me remember I don’t want to check Facebook on my phone. Score! I still love being on my phone when I need some downtime (blogs and Instagram forever!), but I’m finding that I don’t end up in the bowels of the internet like I did when Facebook was my go-to.

7. I don’t want to live life from a place of fear.

I’ve been struggling with some anxiety and fear the past few months. I remember it happening when I was pregnant with Savannah, but it has seemed worse this time around. I’m not sleeping very well, and tired Laura tends to fixate on negative thoughts and outlandish possibilities in the wee hours of the morning. “But I mean, it could happen…” We live in a broken world, and sometimes that weighs heavily on my soul. Plus, I worry too much about what other people think of me. The fear of man takes on all sorts of lovely forms. So, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to deal with fear. Where should I go in my mind when I have a fearful thought? What should I do when I’m consumed with someone else’s opinion of me? A speaker I heard recently said that our brains can’t process thankfulness and fear at the same time. I haven’t verified that with any research, but it’s made me want to up my thankful game. And Fred Sanders gave a helpful sermon a few weeks ago and mentioned that fear of man can’t just be willed away, but instead must be driven out with a bigger and badder fear of God. I’m still thinking and praying through what that looks like for me.

What about you? Have you learned or discovered anything recently?

Why’s that girl always talking about dating?

Thanks for all the great feedback about the conclusion to my dating story! It feels so good to have finally accomplished a writing goal that I set so long ago. Although, now I’m all, “What do I write about next?” Fortunately, I’m not lacking in post ideas. It’s more that I don’t quite know which one to pick first. I’ve decided not to think too hard about it and just keep writing.

I know this blog will continue to be a collection of things I’m experiencing and learning, but I also know that I want to keep a conversation going about how to date well. Which, if you think about it, is a little weird since I am no longer dating. Don’t want to be dating. Very happily married girl over here. But I still often find myself interested in talking with friends that are navigating the dating world. I’m drawn to articles, books, and podcasts that give dating advice. Why? Well, as you can tell from my previous posts, my dating journey to getting married marked me in substantial ways and was the catalyst for a huge amount of personal growth. And those experiences are often the ones we love to talk about with others. As I’ve shared my story and heard from many of you, I’ve noticed a few things that motivate me to keep seeking dating wisdom and writing about it.

First of all, when someone who is single (typically a girl, but every once in a while a guy) contacts me and shares that she wants to be married and have a family, the conversation can go a million directions as far as frustrations with dating or how to wisely move forward. But, inevitably we end up talking about her relationship with Jesus. She connected with my story because she finds herself asking the same questions that I did. Where are you, God? Have you forgotten me? Do you hear me when I pray? I get to remind her of the simple answers to those questions (He’s so near! No, He hasn’t forgotten you! Yes, He hears you!), and walk with her as she works out the harder part of truly believing and walking in those truths. We talk about what she believes and whether or not the way she lives matches up with those beliefs. Talking about dating and marriage has become a discipleship niche for me, and I can’t even tell you how much I love that. Mentors have played such an incredible role in my life and faith, and I’m humbled and honored that this blog could even play a small part in someone else’s process as they seek God.

I also hear from married people that have single friends they care deeply about, but they don’t know how to encourage them or give advice about dating. I hear a lot of, “I sent my friend a link to your blog, but I’m not sure how else I can help.” I love getting to thank these dear people for sharing my blog with someone (what fun!), and I also tell them there are many ways they can help their friends move toward marriage. Remember all the times I mentioned my dating coach, Amy? She started out as my friend at work. A friend with a very different dating story than mine- she met her husband when she was 20, got married a year and a half later, and started having kids in her mid-twenties. Not much for her and I to relate about when it came to the dating department. Turns out that didn’t matter much, if at all. I learned so many things from her about how to love people well as they date, and I want to write those lessons down here. I hope to encourage you to consider how you might be a cheerleader and, dare I say, a dating coach for someone in your life that desires marriage. Here’s a tip to get you started- ask your friend if he or she wants to be married. If she says yes, then start listening. Next you should listen and listen. And then do more listening. You can do it!

If you have any dating questions or topics you find interesting, I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments or on Facebook. Or shoot me a message via the Contact form. You’ve got options. I know dating isn’t everyone’s favorite topic, but it sure is one of mine. I’m looking forward to keeping the conversation going. Oh, and I also have some new favorite shoes and pens to tell you about. Plus some cute pictures of Savannah. I’m consistently random in what I’m passionate about around here. Thanks for tagging along.

About Laura

Welcome! I'm Laura- a follower of Jesus, wife, mama, hostess, lifetime band nerd, California girl, and amateur dating coach. Thanks for stopping by!

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