Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

That Time of the Month

It’s that time of the month again. No, not that time of the month. The other time of the month. The time to turn the page on the calendar, also known as the time to pay bills. I wonder if you are like me. I wonder if you dislike this part of life too. I wonder if the arrival of the American Express bill ignites a teensy weensy flame of terror in your heart like it does for me.

The truth is I tend to be pretty good about getting the bills paid on time, tithing, giving and keeping debt down. As a single person with a stable job, a decent income, and payments set up to be made automatically (thank you Jesus) it was doable. But even though I have been fairly good at paying bills and paying-as-I-go without mounting up debt, I can assure you that my money management leaves a lot to be desired.

I am a spender.

Added to that is my taste for finer things, especially finer things on sale! Round that out with the cathartic effect of walking through malls and browsing through the aisles of the supermarket, and you will understand why I often falter where money management is concerned.

With manageable financial responsibilities, and no financial accountability, I spend more than I should on little luxuries. Like lattes. And books. And manicures. But this isn’t the real trouble. The real trouble is that sometimes, sometimes, in fleeting moments that barely register in my consciousness, my heart brazenly whispers, “It’s my money and nobody’s business but mine what I spend it on.”

I really need The Lord to help me this year with surrendering my finances to Him. How about you?

20140130-190241.jpg

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Is the Blind Date Dead?

Image courtesy admar/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy admar/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I heard somewhere recently that since the advent of online dating sites and social media the blind date is dead. I don’t know if that is true or not. All I know is that I haven’t been set up on one in a long time, and for that I’m thankful. Frankly, the term “blind date” strikes horror in my heart.

Okay, maybe that’s a little overly dramatic. I do have a friend who met her husband as the result of a blind date. They’ve been happily married now for 12 years and have three beautiful children. My luck with the infamous blind date never ran even close to that.

One of the reasons that I had such a hard time with blind dates is that the criteria of the friends who set up the dates was often merely that the guy and I were both single, therefore our friends thought we would make a good couple. My friend who married her blind date had a different experience, I think, because the two instigators of the date realized that the datees had some things in common and based their decision to set up the blind date on that.

The blind date may or may not be dead, but some careful thought as to why two people should be set up goes a long way toward making the experience more enjoyable for both. 

What do you think–is the blind date dead? What are your experiences with blind dates?

Leave a comment »

A Lesson from Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility”

photo - old church - earls-barton-church-1427692-m
God, the blessed and only Ruler,
the King of kings and Lord of lords…

1 Timothy 6:15 (NIV)

One of my favorite movies is Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Who can resist the verdant English countryside and the lively characters?

Take Elinor Dashwood, for example. Emma Thompson played her in the Ang Lee film version as the more sedate and composed older sister. For most of the movie she hides her feelings about Edward and his apparent engagement to a woman trying to befriend her. Because it seems the right thing to do, Elinor makes promises to conceal information and, although it tears her apart inside, she keeps silent.

Her younger sister Miss Marianne (played by Kate Winslet) lives more openly, with a free-spirited passion. She feels deeply—and shows it in her words and actions. There is no denying she enjoys the company of her beau, the dashing John Willoughby, when she squeals with delight as he spins her in circles or takes her riding in his carriage.

Indeed, both women feel deeply, but each expresses her emotions in vastly different ways. Each woman’s heart was for the affection of a man to love and be loved in return. It was their goal and focus.

As Christian women, our hearts long for true and lasting love. We are to love others, yet we must love first the One who first loved us, Jesus Christ. Whether your personality is more like the passionate Marianne or the reserved Elinor, you can express your love for God in the way that best suits your character.

Ask yourself these questions and talk to God about them in prayer: Is Jesus the King of my Heart—is He first? Do I really know how much God loves me? How do I receive that love—and express my love for Him?

The most important words you can ever come to know are: God loves you. He doesn’t just tolerate you or put up with you. Out of that amazing love, God sent the world His Son, Jesus Christ. He came so we could understand true love. God longs to spend time with you. Truly, the King of your heart wants to be with you.

PRAYER: Lord, I choose You. Would you be the King of my heart? Reveal Your best plans for my life and bring glory to Your name. Teach me to receive your amazing love and give it out to others, too. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Leave a comment »

Dining Alone in a Foreign Land

Ah, the excitement of eating out alone in another country! Language barriers are ever present and make these events oh so adventurous.

Let’s say it’s time for lunch, I’m hungry, and I want something local to eat. So, how do I order? Well, if I don’t open my mouth and say something, there is little chance of getting anything. Trying to find the right words gives me at least some chance of satisfying my hunger, even if what I actually order is a mystery. But I’m learning enough to recognize the names of different meats or, at least, to ask the right questions to determine what something is.

I can feel my dining-alone courage rise.

Once language classes are done for the day, I set out on what has become my solo dining ritual. My mind is on overload from listening, trying to process and understand these sounds that are finally beginning to take the form of an actual language. During this processing time, I need some internal quiet. So, I stop by a local hole-in-the-wall. I speak a few native words, share the sweet joy of the Father–who gives daily strength, order my veggies and tofu, then sit quietly while I take in the sights and sounds around me.

IMG_2506

Sometimes I bite into something a bit questionable and realize it is not quite to my liking. I determine which of these unique new tastes please my palate, then hold fairly close to that menu. When I feel the need for variety, I venture out, looking to expand my choices. And each time my hunger is satisfied and I am ready to conquer the rest of the day.

I do have one confession: As a fitness instructor who has a great appreciation for health, I confess my one go-to comfort food is McDonald’s. In the States I rarely, if ever, partook of Ronald’s cuisine, but today–on the other side of the world–I enjoy all of the artificial ingredients of home, without shame.

Where have you dined out alone recently and how did you make it a pleasant experience?

Until next week, I encourage you to think outside of your neighborhood, city, state and country cuisine. Try something new and let us know how it turned out! With each new try, you will find your courage growing.

Blessings,

photo 5     Shirlee

Leave a comment »

Snowed In

Winter

I don’t know about you, but here in Ohio we’ve been trapped in the cold and snow of The Polar Vortex for most of  2014.

Tonight, I had plans to join friends for dinner and games. But, reluctantly, we decided to reschedule for next week. Hopefully. So here I sit, writing and watching reruns of King of Queens. My cat sleeps nearby and I haven’t talked to a single person since last night.

Do you have days like that? If you’re like me, some days that’s fine; other times it’s not.

I recently read this quote by self-help author Wayne Dyer: “You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.”

Well, no offense to Wayne but I have to disagree. I think it’s quite possible to like yourself and still feel lonely. Actually, the very definition of the word makes this claim impossible. According to Merriam-Webster, it means “sad from being apart from other people.” Loneliness stems from being alone. Actually, physically alone.

Of course, feeling comfortable and content with who you are does make those lonely times easier to get through. And, especially, if you recognize your worth in God’s eyes, you will know loneliness isn’t permanent.

The first thing God noticed about Adam in Genesis 2 was his solitude — his need for other people. Adam had a face-to-face relationship with his Creator, yet God said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” I think it’s telling that God made this observation, then immediately did something about it by creating Eve.

And think about Adam — he didn’t have Daddy issues or low self-esteem or bad days at work. His life was perfect, complete with the ideal place and weather and health. He had everything . . . yet still felt lonely. The ache he had was not the result of disliking himself. It was a result of needing to be with other people. Because that’s how God is — relational — and God made Adam to be the same way.

He made us that way too.

This is how I know He gets it. I can come to Him in my loneliness and He understands. Though He hasn’t brought me a partner like He did Adam, He has comforted me through other relationships. I’ve learned to trust His love for me.

How do you handle your loneliness? Have you felt God’s presence in your solitude?

4 Comments »

Does Life Begin with Marriage?

Image courtesy of Rawich/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Rawich/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It was my first apartment and I wanted a blender so I could have margaritas with my friends. As I was looking at the different models a friend said, “You can’t buy a blender. If you buy all these kind of things, what are people going to get you for wedding presents?”

Well, I decided I wasn’t willing to put off margaritas for a wedding that wasn’t even on the horizon. Guess it’s a good thing I didn’t since that wedding has yet to happen. Had I listened to my friend, I would have spent these years in a minimally furnished apartment. Without a blender.

Growing up I believed that marriage was the only option for really living. Many of my high school daydreams were about how my life would start when Mr. Right showed up. During those years, though, my mom often told me there was nothing wrong with being single and living my life without Mr. Right.

Slowly, I’ve learned to live as a single person, but there were many things I put off until marriage. Owning a home, for instance. In those early years, it never occurred to me to buy a house by myself. It just wasn’t something I considered doing as a single person.

When my dad started talking to me about the benefits of home ownership, I was scared. The whole process frightened me and, honestly, I cried myself to sleep many nights in the weeks between securing financing, finding my little house, and closing on it. That was 14 years ago and there have been some tears and frustration at times, like when the furnace went out, or the front window leaked, or the washer hose burst in the middle of the night and flooded a good part of the lower level. Looking back, though, I don’t regret taking this step alone.

Sometime in my 30s, it dawned on me that I might never get married and all those things I put off may never happen. But I came to realize it didn’t have to be that way. Just like buying a blender or a house, I could live my life today and worry about marriage when and if it came. I needed to stop living within boundaries that didn’t need to be there.

What about you? Have you ever thought life will, somehow, finally start when you get married? Do you put off doing things or visiting places because you want to wait until you’re married? What’s one big thing you’ve done or would like to do regardless of your marital status?

2 Comments »

Mr. Perfect?

couple-in-love-having-break-up-10074157Years ago I made my first foray into the world of online dating by joining eHarmony. After a few non-starters, I met Raphael.

Raphael was a Christian, handsome and intelligent, well-traveled, a great conversationalist and bitingly funny. I began to spell perfect, R-A-P-H-A-E-L. As this new relationship unfolded online, I prayed, asking God to firmly shut the door if this guy was not the right one for me. But the door didn’t close. In fact, just when I was starting to get really into him and needed God to confirm or deny that he was “the one,” Raphael relocated. Instead of being eight hours away from me he was only one and a half! God was clearly working something out, I thought gleefully.

Raphael and I talked, emailed and texted—even when he went on vacation to Europe. I told myself constantly to curb my enthusiasm. He had to be the one initiating contact with me, not vice versa. When I would call him and get his voicemail, the hours or days until he called me back were grueling. When I returned an email of his, and a day–or two or three–passed before he got back to me, it was wrenching!

But then I’d hear from him and it was like Christmas. Finally, after about six to eight weeks of getting to know one another, Raphael was ready for us to meet. I was so excited!

Well, we met. And it turns out that I did not suit his fancy after all. He liked exotic looking women, he explained. Like Black, Thai, Italian mixed-race looking women–who were model thin.

I was crushed. Why had he even contacted me? I’m regular looking, not exotic! Not skinny! I was upset with him and I was upset with God. Hadn’t I prayed? Why did God let my heart get so involved when I asked Him to shut it down from the very beginning if Raphael wasn’t “the one?” I went into my protective shell and refused to come out to meet anyone else.

Until cute Christopher, who had been married/separated three years prior, called. He was now divorced. We started going out. Christopher called me multiple times a day, and returned my calls immediately. He would not let a day go by without reaching out to me. Christopher picked me up, from 45-minutes away, when we went out. He met me for lunch. He cooked for me. He called me beautiful and made me feel valued and wanted.

And I got the lesson. It was as if the Lord was saying, “Leasey, this is what good love feels like. I wanted you to know the difference between this and what you were willing to settle for in Raphael (waiting anxiously, having low priority, feeling plain). That is not the kind of love that I have in store for you.” Oh, how I love Jesus!

What love lessons has our heavenly Father been teaching you in your singleness?

2 Comments »

You are Enough

relaxing 1206728_relaxing

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 139:14, ESV

As a child, my mother would often tell me to clean my room. I’d do my best to straighten it out, but most often when I thought I was done, she’d stand at the bedroom doorway to inspect and say, “It’s a good start!”

Fast forward to the day I graduated from college. My family and I were eating dinner at a suburban Chicago restaurant after the ceremony and Dad leaned over to me and said, “So, are you going to take continuing education classes?”

I sighed and replied, “Dad, I just graduated today. Can’t I just enjoy this?”

I know my parents care about me, but it has often left me wondering when things would ever be “enough.”

Of course, popular culture doesn’t help either. When you watch TV or look at magazine ads, you may feel like you need to have whiter teeth, better skin and long, luxurious hair to be worthy and acceptable.

In addition to outward appearance, many people are striving for more money, more status, more self worth or more of whatever they need to feel full, complete—enough.

But when is enough ever enough? And whose measuring system are we using to know when we’ve attained success?

Joyce Meyer says we need to be careful not to mix up who we are and what we do. She says we can find more peace when we “learn to separate your who from your do.” Who you are is worthy and wonderful in the eyes of God. What you do, your actions, may not always be. Sure, it displeases Him when we rebel or do hurtful things. But it does not cause Him to stop loving us.

Thankfully, we serve a God of never-ending love, lavish grace and extreme forgiveness.

Remember, you were created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27) With God’s measuring rod we are complete. We can have joy when we know our true significance and sufficiency in Christ. As we submit to God and become more Christ-centered in our thinking and less self-centered, we come to a truer understanding of who we really are.

Complete and content in Christ, you are enough! Believe it, and be at peace.

Leave a comment »

Just Like Mom Made

Image Courtesy of digitalart/freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy of digitalart/freedigitalphotos.net

It’s been over 30 years since I lost my mom to breast cancer, but I still make several things like she did. Or like I remember her making, anyway. It’s one small way of keeping her a part of my life. One of those recipes I’ve hung onto is for chili. It really hits the spot on those cold winter days! So, here’s how I put it together (adjust according to how much soup you want to end up with):

Brown about half a pound of hamburger with onions and finely chopped green pepper. Since I don’t like onions, I use onion flakes–it’s easier and not so onion-y. But that’s entirely up to you. Make sure you give the meat a few dashes of salt and pepper too. While that’s cooking, stir together a can of diced tomatoes, a can of stewed tomatoes and a can or two of kidney beans in a large pot. I like the dark red kind but that’s flexible too. If you rinse the beans off in a colander until the foam is gone, you’ll be less likely to cut loose any evidence of chili later, if you know what I mean. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

Now, here’s my mom’s twist: to make it soup-y, she added a can of V-8 Juice. This gives it a unique veggie flavor. Try it! Then stir in the meat, a dash or two of garlic powder, and some chili powder to taste, and let it simmer until you’re ready to eat.

Of course, most people eat chili with crackers but I prefer some good crusty bread with butter. All that’s left now is to settle in with a good movie while you eat. I recommend It Happened One Night starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.

So, what’s something you still make that you picked up from your mom?

BTW: If you’re wondering … no, I never cook wearing high heels or an apron, like the picture represents. But I always use a wooden spoon!

Leave a comment »

Today, I am sad …

Good morning, friends!

When I agreed to be a part of this blog, I committed to authenticity. My true self sometimes includes unpleasant feelings. How are you feeling today? Today, I am sad. My heart feels a bit tender and lonely.

What do you do when you are sad? No matter where we live, some things are universal … happiness, sadness, anger, responsibility, creativity, loneliness, fear, excitement, adventure, obsession with technology :-),etc. Why? Because we bring ourselves, wherever we go … the good, the bad and the ugly.

Today my heart hurts a bit. Loss is always a part of our lives. Whether it is a literal loss or a metaphorical loss, Loss is loss. Being in a foreign country, we tend to migrate to those who are like-minded and like-spirited. What happens when they pull away? What happens when they move away? We are left missing how they have enhanced our lives while also how they have allowed us to enhance theirs.

In those moments of loneliness, what do you do? Today, I met with a language partner. I took a nap. I treated myself to a coffee, I look forward to dinner with a friend and sharing in a time of worship with fellow believers while presently, I am writing you.

While resting, walking, writing and worshiping, I continue to call out to the Father, asking Him to reach into those deep places and satisfy as no one else can. He is the only one who can be the true companion I desire. He is the only one with the ability to truly satisfy my loneliness and disappointment.

What I also know and count on is today will pass and tomorrow will come. He promises His mercies are new every morning and I choose to believe that.

What does your heart feel today? Are you missing someone? What do you do with those feelings? But most importantly, what do you choose to believe today?

“Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:23 (NLT)

Image

Leave a comment »

%d bloggers like this: