Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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Arranged Marriages On the Rise in America

Arranged MarraigeAfter being widowed for a season, the idea of remarrying surfaced. You probably noticed I used the word “remarrying” rather than “getting out there,” seeing someone,” and/or “dating.”

Not that I planned to marry the first man who came along. Sheesh, I’m not that silly. I just wanted the first man who came along to be the man I wanted to marry. Made sense to me. Yet it took eight years of being single for me to realize that, no matter how hard I tried, God would not be rushed. 

During my impatient years [No wise remarks from those who know me well!], I discovered there is a big difference between the male and female’s thought process in the early stage of a relationship (or in any stage for that matter). I conducted my own simple, albeit non-scientific survey. To keep the playing field level, I chose single people of all ages from both sexes and asked them the exact same questions.

My questions required a simple “yes” or “no” answer.  Here are the questions:

  1. Do you know what a hope chest is?
  2. Have you ever googled a person’s name right before or after the first date?
  3. Have you ever paired your name with their name to see how it looks and sounds?
  4. Have you ever used Google Maps/Street View to look at a potential date’s house?
  5. Do you wonder what your friends will say about how they dress?
  6. Have you picked a church for your wedding?
  7. Do you try on engagement rings periodically?
  8. Have you ever tried on a bridal gown or a tux?
  9. Have you thought about where you want to live after you’re married?
  10. Do you have your bridesmaids and/or ushers picked out?
  11. Do you check out their Facebook photos to see if they were ever paired with someone better looking than you?
  12. Have you decided where you’ll spend the holidayswith your family or theirs?
  13. Have you ever dreamed about owning and filling a minivan?
  14. Have you considered how soon you can change his or her wardrobe?
  15. After you first visited your significant other’s home, did you make a list of what needed to go and sign up for HGTV design tips?

Here are the results of the survey:

  • All the women answered “yes” to all questions.
  • All the men answered “no” to all questions.

Here’s what the overall study revealed:

  • Arranged marriages still exist in today’s society. They’re just arranged by the bride-to-be instead of her parents.

Surprise weddingWhat was it like in my case before I remarried? David (now my husband), was quicker than most. He caught on when, on our way to an event one day, I said, “By the way, if anyone says ‘Congratulations’, just thank them and go with it, okay?”

 

“One day her mother-in-law Naomi said to Ruth, ‘My dear daughter, isn’t it about time I arranged a good home for you so you can have a happy life? And isn’t Boaz our close relative, the one with whose young women you’ve been working? Maybe it’s time to make our move. Tonight is the night of Boaz’s barley harvest at the threshing floor. Take a bath. Put on some perfume. Get all dressed up and go to the threshing floor. But don’t let him know you’re there until the party is well under way and he’s had plenty of food and drink. When you see him slipping off to sleep, watch where he lies down and then go there. Lie at his feet to let him know that you are available to him for marriage. Then wait and see what he says. He’ll tell you what to do.’ Ruth said, ‘If you say so, I’ll do it, just as you’ve told me.’ She went down to the threshing floor and put her mother-in-law’s plan into action.” ~ Ruth 3:1-6 (MSG)


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Party of One: I See Lonely People

Party of OneI was widowed in 1998, around the same time the movie The Sixth Sense came out. Every time I saw the trailer and heard the line “I see dead people walking around; they’re everywhere,” I would think, “I see lonely people walking around; they’re everywhere.”

I still do—over fourteen years later.

During the eight years I was widowed, God gave me a heart for single adults—especially those who have slipped through the cracks between active couples and busy families. You know who I mean. They’re the ones who volunteer to help at social events so they have a purpose in attending; the ones who sit alone in church; or the ones who dine out in restaurants at tables, always meant for more than one, trying to look less awkward than they feel.

When I dined alone in a restaurant, I would often wonder how other single diners would react if I invited them to join me. I even drew up a plan, picked out the restaurant, and came up with the name “Party of One.”

It never happened; I chickened out.

In 2006, I was blessed to remarry. When I told my husband David about my passion for lonely singles and my former plan to create A Party of One fellowship, he suggested I turn my idea into a novel. I did, and its title—you guessed it—is Party of One. (My agent is shopping it around to publishers now.)

But something was missing: An actual Party of One fellowship.

So, in October of 2011, Party of One, A Fellowship for Those Tired of Dining Alone, was founded.  Its purpose is simple: to fellowship with single adults at a communal table. (To be clear, when I use the word “single,” I don’t mean single as in dating, but single as in dining.) Not a Singles Club

Party of One people include men and women of all ages, some single by choice, single by circumstances or “spiritually” single. It also includes others, like my husband and myself who are called to encourage them.

We extend an open invitation to all who are “tired of dining alone.” We do not limit attendees to Christians, although many of us are. None of us were Christians before God invited us to sit at His table, so God decides who He wants to show up. 🙂

We have people from nine neighboring towns in southern, NH. They include white and blue-collar workers, those who are employed full-time, many retired, democrats, republicans, and independents, maybe even a few intellectuals, holy rollers, and rednecks.

Matthew 5:46-47: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”

To allow as many as possible to attend, we rotate between Friday night, Saturday day, and Sunday afternoon—three of the loneliness times for single adults. On average, we meet twice a month. We change-up venues often between reasonably priced restaurants, fundraising events, and potluck meals.

If I’ve learned anything in the past 18 months, it is that there is a need for this fellowship.

How about you? Is God speaking to you? Is this idea jumping off the page at you? It’s a simple concept. You just get together over a meal and talk and laugh. There is no cost to join or to start a Party of One chapter. Check out our blog to see what goes on:  Party of One.

People have told me that this is “a brilliant idea.” I’m not that smart, so I strongly suspect God’s intervention.

Call me. Let’s talk. 603-578-1860.