Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Single in the Suburbs: Surviving the Singles Conference

If you missed my first post on Single in the Suburbs, you can find it HERE.

If you are single and live in the Bible belt region for any length of time, it is highly likely at some point you will wind up at a church Singles Conference.

The Singles Conference is what a church puts together when the numbers start getting low in the Newlyweds Class.

Never been to a Singles Conference? Here's the 411:

A team of (mostly) married pastors will preach to their single brothers and sisters about "using this time wisely" and "sowing into the Kingdom." (Translation: they need more people working in the nursery.)

They will then encourage us to treasure this time, because God is keeping us single for a purpose. As singles we must always remember that though we are only half-a-human, God still loves us and has a purpose for us. Always remember that. Always.

At some point in the conference the guys will be separated from the girls and each group will be addressed about gender-specific problems.

Girls will be encouraged to lay the burden of loneliness down and let God fulfill their deepest desires as they wait, wait, and wait for the right guy.

Guys will be admonished to man up and pursue the girls. (Author's Note: There is some aspect of mystery surrounding what happens in the guy's side, seeing as I've never actually been to that session. Someday I will cross dress and find out.)

A few other things you may encounter at a Singles Conference include:

The One-Word Conference Theme
Usually the Singles Conference involves a one word title. Something snappy and relevant like "Encounter," "Contentment," "Embrace," "Vision," "Design," "Refuge," "Relevant," or "Passion." (Actually rarely do Christians use the word "passion" without having "purity" somewhere close by.)

The "Meet Market" Stigma
The Singles Conference comes with the stigma that people only go to them in hopes of meeting their future spouse. While the stigma is annoying, the "meet market" demographic is the most entertaining part of these conferences. There is more perfume/cologne, giggling, and subtle/not-so-subtle flexing in the sanctuary during a singles conference than in an entire department store, comedy club, and gym combined. You want good entertainment? Grab a bag of popcorn and go plant yourself in the corner of the church lobby during a singles conference.

The Blatant Overuse of the Word "Contentment"
I will devote an entire blog to this one word, because it is brought up in church single circles like The Force is talked about in geek circles. At minimum once a conversation. When it comes to sermons on singleness and contentment, it is my opinion that you should be allowed to throw things at any pastor or speaker who got married before 25 and says, "I know how you feel. I was afraid I'd be single my whole life." VEGETABLE!

Here's the bottom line: Sermons on contentment, encouragement, admonitions to serve, and fellowship with other singles are all good things.

Why then my aversion and skepticism about the Singles Conference?

Because I don't like being lumped into a "category." I am (well, everyone is!) so much more than just another single church girl waiting to be married. The Singles Conference makes me feel like I'm exactly like every other girl. Waiting against the wall, anxious and worried that no man will ever ask me to join him on the spiritual dance floor. I don't feel like that until I'm in a room full of singles being preached to about "just hanging in there."

I need to go easy on the Singles Conference concept, though. The intention is good, and once I get past my pride and need to stand out (another form of pride), I enjoy the new friendships, fun, and time in the Word.

Plus, if it weren't for the Singles Conference, I would not exist to make fun of them.

I don't think I mentioned yet that my parents met at one...

What has been your experience with church singles conferences? Do you find them beneficial? Why or why not?

**If you're wondering the significance of my blog picture choice, don't over think it. I merely Googled "Singles Conferences" under images, and it was one of the first options.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Top Three Cupcake Picks 2011

A couple years ago cupcakes started trending. If my cupcake history is correct, the Beverly Hills Sprinkles launched these little delicacies into the spotlight, and the fire gradually spread. Cupcakeries (if it's not already a word, it should be) began popping up all over the place.

It is my firm belief that cupcakes promote happiness.** Have you ever seen a cupcake and frowned?

As the trend spiraled nation-wide, I had an overwhelming urge to find the world's most perfect cupcake. This quest would require dedication, commitment, and the consumption of a lot of cupcakes. But it was a sacrifice I was willing to make for the betterment of mankind. After all, can you imagine the power you'll hold if you possess the knowledge of where to find the most perfect cupcake? I shudder at the thought of this knowledge falling into the wrong hands.

I began sampling cupcakes at a rate of one a week. When I was on the road with comedy I'd keep my eyes open for bakeries to try. Over the course of 2011 I established my top three picks for cupcake places in the U.S. Two are in California, one in Texas. This year I will continue my quest to find the perfect cupcake...if such a thing exists.

Last thing: I am among those with an innate disgust of the word "moist." But there is truly no other word that adequately describes a bakery product with the appropriate amount of moisture. My synonym search yielded alternatives like "oozy" and "damp." Certainly not an adjective I want describing something I'm eating, unless it's frosting oozing out of the cupcake. Even then...kinda ew.

And finally: My Top Three Cupcake Picks for 2011:

1. Sift in Napa, CA
This place won Cupcake Wars, and for good reason. I tried the Sky is Falling and Snickerdoodle cupcakes, which were hands down the best cupcakes I've ever tried. They were moist, with the appropriate cake-to-frosting ratio. The flavors just strong enough without being overwhelming.

2. NV Cupcakes in Corinth, TX
Usually bigger cities boast winning treats, but this unassuming little shop nestled next to an Alberton's boasts some pretty spectacular treats. The thing I value about these is the consistency. These are near my family in Texas and I often get them as gifts. They are never dry, never too sweet, and slightly smaller (also priced lower than the average cupcake) so you don't go into a sugar coma after eating one. My personal favorites are the New York Cheescake (available on Fridays) and the York Peppermint (rolled out on Wednesdays). Bonus, it's family owned.

3. Famous Cupcakes in Valley Village, CA
This cupcakery was in a neighborhood where I used to teach. The cupcakes are moist, and the frosting brilliant. Start off with a half, though, as they are quite sweet. I recommend the Black Tie or Vanilla. The biggest con is trying to find parking in the tiny shopping center where this is located.

Honorable Mention: WalMart cupcakes. You wouldn't think the place known for cheapness would crank out a decent pastry. Perhaps it was because my expectations were so low I had no choice but to be pleasantly surprised.

*When eaten in moderation. Eaten in large quantities they promote type 2 diabetes. This PSA brought to you by Paula Dean.**

**PSA not actually brought to you by Paula Dean.