Despite being married, preparing for marriage is something I'm passionate about. While I was still young and single, a wise older christian women warned me not to waste that time. Despite feeling 'ready' to get married, she could see I was far from it. Instead of crushing me with the negatives, she encouraged me to work on what I could to become a better wife for my future husband.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
I greatly appreciate the older women, in life stages further along than me, who have honored God's Word by taking the time to gently correct me, whilst modeling godly behavior that I could imitate.
Some girls grow up learning all kinds of useful things from their mums. I wasn't one of them.
It wasn't that my mum didn't know how to do household chores (in fact she did all mine for me!) but I was never interested in learning from her.
When I moved out of home I didn't even know how to switch the washing machine on, I'd never cleaned a bathroom or changed a diaper and the limit of my cooking skills was fried eggs or a cheese toastie. I fast learned some important things, and a lot of my habits still make my mum roll her eyes (sorry, but I'd rather use a colour catcher than sort my laundry into 'darks' and 'lights'!) but I'm getting there.
I learned most of my child care skills through living with a family with young children (they were so gracious to allow me to practice on their precious babes!), then by volunteering for children's ministry. I learned to cook on by experimentation and my husband has put up with some cooking disasters over the years! He also had to help me with laundry initially, not that he'd done much before either, but it turns out he at least knew how to iron a shirt, something I was woefully bad at!
I really want to honor a girl in our small group, Abbie, who has an incredible heart for service, and I know that God is blessing her with some real life experiences that will benefit her for years to come. Not only does she provide respite (and often emergency) care for more than one family, she is the first person to offer to take my little ones if I am sick (or even if I just have a dinner engagement). She has such a genuine others-centered heart, and despite having never nursed a child herself, she notices someone else feeding in an awkward position and quietly, unobtrusively, offers a pillow to rest an arm on.
Today Abbie loaned me some dresses for a dinner engagement (having lost 4 stone on GAPS I'm lacking in formal wear!) and hearing that I had a lot to do, offered to come for two hours before my babysitter arrives to help bathe and settle my kids in bed so I could do hair and make up. People like her really are gold and we shall be so sad to lose her from our small group in January - but equally happy to release her into co-leading another small group herself.
Single ladies, I really encourage you to find others to bless (particularly mums of young kids, who don't have local family to help). As well as serving you will be gaining valuable skills to serve you later on in parenting and marriage.
And, quite honestly, those of us who are married with small children, couldn't do without you!