Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

I Am a Porsche!

Fast Car

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This past week a couple of tremendously difficult things happened to me. One involved a man and the other involved my studies.

I felt so discouraged that the thought occurred to me–and stayed around for a while–that I needed to give the whole endeavor up.

Let it go.

Instead of hoping for a dream life of studying, teaching, preaching and ministry with a husband and children to love, I should find myself a wealthy man–who hopefully believed a little bit in Jesus–marry him and live out the rest of my days shopping, decorating and driving my Benz sedan to the spa and to the trainer.

Who needs love? Who needs calling and purpose? Why should I try to put my gifts and talents and abilities to use? Who says I even have any gifts, talents or abilities anyway?

A part of me  is willing to be moderately successful, but it refuses to allow me to stretch to my full potential. It’s as if life is a racetrack, and I am a Porsche, and the person behind the wheel insists on driving at 75 mph, because 75 is fast enough, and to go any faster is risky.

But my engine heart says, “I am a Porsche! I am made to drive at the highest speeds! I am made to be able to maneuver and turn! I’m barely scratching the surface of what I can do. Please rev my engine, shift gears and let me ride the way I’m meant to!”

And the driver replies, “OK, we’ll speed up to 80.”

I feel like the inner part of me is secretly happy about my struggles this past week, and secretly conspiring to create my difficulties in the first place. Why is my inner me obsessed with keeping me safe, even when safety is breaking my heart?

Or . . . maybe it’s not my inner me holding me back at all. Maybe the challenges I am facing are the result of my not being safe; of my taking risks. One of the consequences of risk-taking is that you might find yourself getting hurt.

Perhaps I need to re-frame my difficulties and see them as a good thing. I’m trying to date, and to be willing to let go of love that doesn’t feel right—even if love that feels right might never show up. I am trying to do work that is challenging and that grows me theologically, even if this work is different and doesn’t end up being my best, but just the best I can do under the circumstances.

Maybe this is what it feels like when a novice shifts into sixth gear, flies around a curve at 125 mph, and loses control of the steering for a gut-tightening, bowels-loosening, hair-raising split-second. Of course she will slow down, of course she will downshift, of course her adrenaline will race, her heart will pound and she will think herself 10 kinds of crazy for being out in the racing lanes driving so fast when she doesn’t even know how to drive.

She’ll think of swapping out the Porsche for a Benz sedan, of moving into the slow lanes and watching the scenery and the other people still on the track. But eventually, if she stays in the racing lanes, and keeps learning and driving, she will take another curve, a little more carefully than the first, and it will be scary but OK.

Then she will take another curve, with slightly more speed than the last. And she will take another curve, with speed and confidence and finesse.

Until finally she is racing with the pros exactly as she was created to.

Have you ever been unsure and afraid as you were trying new things? What stumbles did you make along the way and how did you move forward?

2 Comments »

When Life is Hard: Learning Resilience

All the days of my hard service
I will wait for my renewal to come. 

Job 14:14 (NIV)

After a friend of mine lost a family member recently, I was amazed at how she could keep going on with life. She was working and living with a smile on her face. She had kind words for others. Was she just masking her pain?

No.

Amazingly, she had grieved her loss and over the ensuing months God had given her a great capacity for moving forward, for getting on with loving and serving others.

Hard times seem to affect each of us differently. But I don’t think the ability to bounce back comes easy for most of us. Nevertheless, we can all grow in our resilience.

When I was younger it seemed that every broken dating relationship I had was completely devastating. Back then, I didn’t have the emotional resources or the relationship with God that I have now to handle the situation. After one particularly sad ending, I simply couldn’t eat. Just lifting a fork to my mouth seemed to take a Herculean effort.

Like a tree in a windstorm, bending precariously close to the ground, I felt as if I would break. But I didn’t. Trees—and women with broken hearts—bend, they don’t break.

Thankfully, storms end. And the gray clouds rolled away from my broken heart. The hopeful light of the sun dawned again. For me, bouncing back took time and copious amounts of God’s truth.

I had to remember the truth about my situation, about who I am in Christ and how I am well-loved by God. Other healing tools that helped me to bounce back and become more resilient were prayer, talking it out with close friends and soaking my mind with God’s Word.

Resilience is what we desire, but how can we learn to bounce back after hard times? Reflect on some of these thoughts:

Accept the fact that life will never be the same again. You are different, the situation is different. In time, healing will come and you will grow to be a stronger and better person.

Express your feelings appropriately. Many people suppress their emotions and try to push them away. But like a beach ball shoved under the water, your emotions will pop back up again and they may come back up in a place and time when you least expect them. Start by naming what you feel and letting yourself feel it (with a counselor or trusted friend): “I am angry . . . I am hurt . . . I am sad. . . . ”

Grieve the loss. Death, divorce, breakups or the loss of a dream are some of the most devastating situations in life. Sometimes you just need to cry, and cry out to God. He is always there with open arms to comfort and heal.

Look up with hope. Although it may not seem like it, your stormy times will end. We can have peace because God has a plan. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring but we know the One who knows. Never doubt the goodness of God.

Give God time. Healing comes step-by-step. Each day brings you closer, whether it’s through a friend’s phone call or a new truth learned in a book you read. You can know that God has you on His timetable and His timing is perfect!

Learning resilience is about total dependence on God. He will come through for you.

Prayer: Lord, I need your strength and power. Will you please help me to bounce back and be more resilient? Bring growth from pain, order from chaos and an abundance of peace and joy again. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

1 Comment »

Comfort Food

In the dead of winter I crave things like rich, hearty soups, stews, and one of my favorites–pot pie. The problem with pot pie is that I haven’t found a good commercial one that is really satisfying. and making one from scratch is a time-consuming process. Recently, though, I saw a suggestion on Pinterest that seemed like a good idea, so I tried it.

Potpie

The pie was super simple to make and very yummy. Not only that, but I had one left over that was just as good the next day.

For the crust I used Grand’s Biscuits. I flattened them out and lined a ramekin with one. For the mixture, I used some pre-cooked and chopped chicken, a can of cream of chicken soup,  and a bag of mixed veggies. I seasoned mine with some dill because I was in a dill mood that afternoon, but you can use any seasonings you like. Fill the ramekin and cover with another flattened biscuit. I baked mine at 350 degrees until the top was nice and brown and the top biscuit was cooked all the way through.

The recipe made 4 pot pies. I made mine for dinner with my dad one evening so I sent one left over with him and had the other the next day for lunch.

What are your favorite comfort foods?

2 Comments »

What Happened on Saturday?

Of all the days of the week, which is your favorite? Some might say Friday because it is the last day of their work week. Some might say Saturday as it is actually the one day they can somewhat relax or do enjoyable activities outside of work. Some might say other days for various reasons.

There has been a recent reoccurring theme within my sphere of influence regarding one particular day of the week. This would be Saturday. Why? As we talk about Jesus’ crucifixion (Friday) and His resurrection (Sunday), why don’t we talk about Saturday?

Knowing the end, we are aware of what Jesus was dealing with, but what might His mother, His disciples, Judas, or those He healed, have been feeling? He told them who He was and they all walked with Him for varying amounts of time. However, what must they have felt after He died on Friday, not knowing for certain what was to come? What must they have felt on Saturday?

Confused? Skeptical? Angry? Uncertain of the future? Hopeless? Helpless? Sad? Tortured?

Unwavering faith?

They must have experienced so much within those 24 hours between His death and resurrection! In thinking about it, I’m not even certain what I would have felt.

While exploring the possibilities, I am directed to the current Saturdays in my life. These are times sandwiched between the beginning of and the completion of a job, a housing arrangement, a significant event, etc. It’s the time I await for thunknown; the time which feels to me to be endless.images

I wait, swimming in the emotions of uncertainty, doubt, maybe anger, anxiety, helplessness, anticipation.

Because I know the outcome, because I know Jesus has risen, because I have the Bible and the complete story, there should be no reason for any feelings other than ultimate trust and faith for provision and direction from the Father. However, the Saturdays in my life feel like they last forever and are filled with anything but complete faith and trust.

Holy Spirit, please give me the faith, peace, and direction I need while waiting for the next job and housing you have deemed as mine. I choose to believe in You and Your complete provision.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
–Psalm 3:5-6

What are your Saturdays like?

photo 5 – Shirlee

1 Comment »

For Everything There Is a Season, Isn’t There?

daffodil-blooming-through-the-snow-100149378

Daffodil blooming through the snow

Lately, I have been dating. The men I’ve met, who are in their 40s, seem to be more than ready to commit and get married.

But being in a dating situation with a man who is willing and able to commit has presented me with a potential dilemma that I am profoundly shocked to be facing.

My potential dilemma is this: Though autumn is where the calendar tells me I should be, I feel as if I’m just beginning to enter the summer season of my life. I’m making career- and education-related plans that could entail a move north, south, east or west. I could end up near, far or somewhere in-between from where I am beginning. The array of possibilities before me are positively thrilling; the stuff of dreams. But it is the stuff of the dreams of a single woman.

If I get married to a man who has settled down right here in this place where we live, doesn’t that mean I will be settling down right here in this place as well? And doesn’t that mean my thrilling array of possibilities will cease to be viable options? Does being a “we” mean I have to comprise on “me” stuff? And am I willing to make these kinds of compromises if it does?

It is shocking to me that after so much time, prayer and yearning, there is an actual question in my mind as to whether or not I really want to be a married woman. I want to have a man in my life. But I also want to have my life with a man in it. I don’t know if it’s possible to have it both ways and, if it’s not possible, I do not know which way I would rather have it.

The seasons of my life, it seems, have gone rogue. Ordinarily, a woman might decide to forgo her dreams for a season so she can marry and have a family. When she reaches my age and enters a different season, she might then pursue the dreams she once set aside. Or a woman could forgo having a family–and perhaps even marriage–for a season while she pursues her dreams. When she hits my age and starts a new season, she then can work on building the family she desires.

But what if one season of life passes with neither a dream nor a family having been realized? What is the next season of life meant to bring? Is it too late for either dreams or family building? Or is there ample room for both?

Are the seasons of older single women’s lives different from those of married women? What have your seasons looked like?

6 Comments »

Feeling Stuck?

photo - car in snow-bird-521319-m

So that your faith might not rest on
men’s wisdom but on God’s power.
~1 Corinthians 2:5

“The drain’s clogged!”

Not again. It was the third time in a week our sink was broken. Instead of draining away the water quickly and quietly, something was blocking the flow.

Like a clogged drain, our lives can feel blocked, too.

Do you ever feel like you are struggling to move forward in life? You might relate well to the hundreds—perhaps thousands—of cars stuck in the ice and snow during our winter that seems to never end.

No movement.

Perhaps you’ve been trying to break a bad habit and you can’t seem to get a victory. Maybe you’re in a job you haven’t enjoyed for far too long, but don’t have the energy to make a move. Could it be that an unresolved conflict with a spouse, friend or neighbor is keeping you stuck?

Getting unstuck can be difficult when you try to do it in your own strength. You’ve tried talking to friends or reading books about your issue (and secretly hoping the problem will go away), but somehow you still feel stuck.

The truth is we need the power of the Holy Spirit to do what we cannot do. Like Liquid Plumber unclogs a sink, we need the powerful Holy Spirit to flush out the garbage in our hearts so the pure, clear water of life can flow through us again.

The good news is Jesus Christ, the One who loves us most, cared enough about us to make a way to clear the junk from our lives today—and allow us to have what we truly need most: a relationship with Him. God’s power was demonstrated on the Cross. By Christ’s death and miraculous resurrection we can live! He turns our fear to faith, and transforms our messy lives by His grace. He can do anything, even help us get unstuck.

Our job is to trust Him.

You truly can live an unstoppable life. You truly can get unstuck and have a life that flows freely with joy. You can, with God’s power at work in you, radiate Christ’s love in your life.

As you ask God, obey His commands and trust Him every day, the smile on your face and the spring in your step will show that you’re living an unstuck life. Clean and clear on the inside and out—empowered by God daily.

Prayer
Lord, I need the power of the Holy Spirit to unclog my life. Would you help me to get unstuck? May I have joy and peace that flows freely in my life. Pour out your Living Water so I can do Your will and life a clean and clear life. I want to live empowered and I ask for Your help. In Jesus’ mighty and powerful name. Amen.

1 Comment »

Making Big Moves

Image Courtesy: baitong333/freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy: baitong333/freedigitalphotos.net

Late in 1993, I decided it was time for me to strike out on my own. I had been supporting myself for the last six years, but I lived in the same city as my parents so they were always there for me when something went wrong. It was great to have them behind me, but a nagging voice inside kept telling me I wasn’t really capable of taking care of myself.

A few months later everything changed.

I visited Oregon, fell in love with the state, and found a job through the only friend I had there. Two weeks before Christmas in 1993, I packed my beloved blue Mercury Topaz and, with my teddy bear beside me, drove north on I-25 out of the state that had been my home for the last 14 years.

Somewhere after crossing the Colorado/Wyoming border, I cried tears of fear and anxiety. I arrived in my new home of Salem, Oregon, late the next day and started work a few days later. I was scared to death, but quite proud of myself for taking such a big step.

Moving is a stressful time regardless of your marital status. There’s so much to take into consideration–a place to live, getting the utilities hooked up, finding new friends, starting new jobs and more. I grew up as a military brat, so moving was commonplace for me. I never expected this move would be such a big deal. But I’d forgotten that all those moves involved someone else handling the tough stuff.

I have to admit that moving across country, like buying a house, was one of those things I never expected to do by myself. There were many times during those first few months when I wondered if I had lost my mind. Since it was too expensive to pick up and move back home, I made the best of it.

During the six years I lived in Oregon, I learned a lot about myself. I found that I was stronger and more capable than I knew. I built a life and realized I could live on my own. I also came to know just how important my family was to me–especially since they were so far away.

This one big move became a major part of who I am today. It defined my capabilities as a single person. Now, whenever life hands me something big and scary, I try to remember what it was like feeling alone in a strange state and I try to remember: I can do this!

What is the biggest thing you’ve done as a single person? How do you think it would have been different if you had been married?

5 Comments »

I Know It’s Around Here Somewhere

Another day, another adventure!

I help lead a small group in exploring who God is and what the Christian faith is all about. One of my responsibilities is to make sure there’s food at the weekly meetings, whether I cook it myself or order something in.

Thus my challenge begins. Cooking is not something I find particularly enjoyable as it seems to “eat up” so much of my time. I have so many other responsibilities during the week that this particular responsibility feels a bit burdensome.

I decided two weeks ago to order something over the phone with the hope that what is needed would actually arrive on time and just like I ordered it. It’s my first time using the native language to do this. Although the phone is a wonderful means of communication, there can be barriers in using it.

The order is placed, the address is given and now all I can do is wait. I am pleased to hear the food arrived at its destination, but it got there before me as I was running late. Fortunately, the other leader, who had already arrived, could pay for it. One hurdle over, now the next–I had to obtain a special receipt from the restaurant. The delivery person had left the information I needed.

This new adventure now begins. I set out to find “Pizza to Go.” I get to the street. I locate the general numbered area. I find where they say the address is, but there is no pizza place in sight.

I see a print shop, another shop with two people sitting behind a counter and bicycles in the lobby, along with other various clothing stores and eateries.

No pizza.

By now, I’m tired and have much to do. It takes about an hour to get anywhere by public transportation so my time is precious. Just before turning around to go home, I decide to venture into the place where I saw two individuals sitting behind a counter.

The woman has a look of terror in her eyes as I enter, seeing I am clearly a foreigner and it’s highly unlikely we can communicate. I smile, show her my piece of paper, and she points next door.

Hmm . . . there is nothing there but a print shop and a dark stairwell that no one should climb alone. It clearly is in the area but I am missing something. I walk down the street and see someone who looks to be another foreigner. He gladly helps by directing me to someone else.

As I continue to ask around, I end up in the print shop. Really? I show them the address I’m looking for and they nod in recognition. So, I ask for the receipt. They make a phone call and tell me to wait. While waiting, I decide to order something to go at the print shop counter.

What will happen now? Where is the food? Where are the cooks? I don’t smell pizza or anything else cooking. The woman leaves through the back door of the print shop. I wait and wonder. Within a very short time, she returns with food in hand.

What is behind that door? Who cooked my food? Where did it come from? The adventurer in me wants to go exploring, but I decide it’s best just to leave it be.

I still have no idea where my food came from, although it was tasty and filling. There are just some things in life better left unknown.

photo 5

Shirlee

4 Comments »

Valentine Q & A with the Girls Night In Authors

SONY DSCSo, what do the writers at Girls Night In think about Valentine’s Day and all those romantic notions connected to it? Well, let’s just dive right in. . . .

* How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?

Leasey:  This year I totally feel indifferent. Really. I am not excited. I am not bummed. It feels like Veteran’s Day–kind of important but not really directly applicable to me.

Jackie:  I like to wear red. And celebrate all kinds of love.

Shirlee:  I now enjoy it. For the longest time, it simply reminded me of not having what I thought was reality but I have since come to realize that my ideals were just that—ideals, and not reality. I wanted to be in relationship with that perfect man but now, I am so very happy celebrating Jesus and His love for me.

Tammie:  In my 20s I struggled with Valentine’s Day since I was often unattached at that time. I had a real desire to get married and this one day just seemed to mock my single status. Over the years I’ve tried to focus more on love in general than on romantic love. I try to find activities to share with my family and friends and relish the love that God has spread over my life.

Sharyn:  Though I’m certainly at a better place where Valentine’s Day is concerned, that doesn’t mean the idea behind the day won’t, occasionally, get to me. I had two options this year but ended up staying home, mostly because of the weather. Everything was fine until all the love talk on Facebook started to get to me and I needed to pull away. And eat something chocolate.

* Do you believe in soul mates? Why or why not?

Tammie:  The term soul mate has become a touchy subject these days. Whether we call them soul mates or not, I do believe God has a plan for each of us that includes whether we marry and who we marry. Being pretty certain that God revealed a purpose in my singleness until I was in my forties, I also believe that if God has destined me for marriage, He has also ordained a specific man to be my husband.

Jackie:  Not sure what it means. But I do believe God brings two people together in His way and in His timing to accomplish His purposes.

Leasey:  I do! I like the thought that God has created me for someone in particular, and vice versa. But I also think most successful marriages are just two people who are committed to loving one another and not that people were destined to be together.

Shirlee:  I’m not sure if I believe in soul mates or not. What I don’t believe in is love at first sight.

Sharyn:  I don’t believe there is only one person for you—such a perfect fit that you were destined to be together. But I do believe God has a plan and if that plan includes marriage, He knows exactly who that person will be. Then, when you commit to loving each other til death, you become soul mates.

* How will/did you celebrate Valentines Day this year?

Jackie: My friend Denise has a party every year for our single women friends. We celebrate the love of friendship with food, games, prizes and fun!

Shirlee: I’m not sure. I do want to buy myself some flowers and might go to the movies. Treat myself to the first movie at a theater since moving here.

Tammie: I don’t have specific plans for Valentine’s Day this year.

Sharyn:  First, I hoped to make it to a party about an hour away. Then, I planned to hang out with my family. But it snowed so I stayed home, made an Oreo cream pie and watched the Olympics.

* Do you believe in love at first sight? Why or why not?

Shirlee:  No . . . it’s lust at first sight. One grows into loving someone as they get to know them.

Leasey:  I definitely think it’s possible. I have heard plenty of couples say they knew the other person would be their spouse from the moment they saw them. And they got married shortly after meeting and stayed married!

Jackie:  No. It is most likely LUST at first sight because real, genuine love requires you to know someone. You don’t know someone you just met.

Tammie:  I don’t believe in love at first sight since it by nature can only be based on surface aspects. I think love comes not from what we see with our eyes, but from what we learn about a person’s character and personality.

Sharyn:  Several of my friends have said they “just knew” from the moment they met their  future spouse.  They didn’t call it “love at first sight” but they certainly felt a sureness in their heart that this person would play an important role in their life. Adam and Eve, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel all seem to be biblical examples of LaFS. If you’re mature enough to know the difference between physical attraction and a deeper connection that is God-ordained, then why not?

* Do you have any V-Day traditions? If so, what are they?

Sharyn:  Not really. Though I have hosted and attended several parties that included fondue—cheese for dinner; chocolate for dessert. I wouldn’t mind making that a tradition!

Jackie:  Attend a party with other single women friends.

Shirlee:  Nope . . . no traditions. Maybe I should start making some though.

* What’s an out-of-the-box idea you can share for ways single women can celebrate this holiday?

Jackie:  Don’t focus on the love you don’t have, focus on what you do have. There are many types of love. Be grateful for the love of family, friends and others. Show them and tell them they are loved too.

Shirlee:  Invite a group of girls over and have a movie night eating your favorite junk food. Have flowers sent to yourself.

Sharyn:  Have a theme party! For instance, when I was in high school my Sunday school teacher invited us to an agape supper. We sat on the floor, eating fondue (yes, that’s where that started!) and sharing what we liked about each other. Another time, I hosted a princess party, where several of my girlfriends dressed as their favorite royal. We ate dainty finger food and played games.

Leasey:  I like the idea of sending single friends real quality chocolate, even if it’s just a piece or two. They will get the chocolate and remember they are really, truly loved, even though they might not have a man.

Now, it’s your turn! How would you answer these questions? Feel free to share in the comment section.

Leave a comment »

No Kiss on My List

Valentine

I have always been single on Valentine’s Day. That’s not something I enjoy admitting but there it is. Still, though I’ve never been in love, I’m not anti-Cupid. I may be as single as the day I was born, yet I soar through the dream of romance like Jamie Anderson over a Russian mountain in the Olympics earlier this week.

Love is a wonder to me and, fortunately, it has many forms. Over the years I’ve celebrated V-Day in a variety of ways. I’ve dipped strawberries in chocolate fondue while laughing with friends over cheesy chick flicks. I’ve gone to movies or out to eat or just enjoyed a quiet night at home watching Chuck reruns. One year I hosted a dress-up princess party for my girlfriends. Sometimes, I just hang out with my family.

And then there was the year I had dinner with friends and cried on the way home . . . until those tears turned into an idea and the idea turned into a story and the story turned into a novel—one I look forward to finishing someday.

Being single is the only kind of Valentine’s Day I’ve known. By God’s grace, I’ve learned to appreciate the many joys and nuances to be found in that.

So when I saw an article listing 10 reasons it’s better to be single on V-Day I was intrigued and anticipated finding at least a few new ideas. Then I read it. And all I saw was a condescending attempt to pacify sad and lonely single girls.

Maybe it’s me. I admit I have a tendency to read the invisible ink of subtext. But when a list tells me I should rejoice because I don’t have to shave my legs, I could have the gym all to myself and I can get candy on sale at the local drugstore, the text isn’t that subtle. “Might as well eat all the chocolate you want, Sasquatch, ’cause you ain’t gettin’ any love tonight.”

I suppose it bothered me because it was so . . . meaningless. The whole list wallowed in self-centered muck. And I want to be about more than that in my singleness.

So, why do I think it’s better—or, at least, not worse—to be single on Valentine’s Day? Because I’m smack-dab in the middle of where God wants me. Because I love and I am loved. Because my friends are laugh-out-loud delightful and my sisters are more fun than an empty gym—or even a full one—and my nieces and nephew give the best fall-into-you hugs a girl could ask for.

That’s what’s on my list for a better February 14. What’s on yours?

*********

We hope you’ll join us tomorrow for a Q & A about Valentine’s Day with the Girls Night In authors! You’ll find out a little more about what makes us tick–or twitch–when it comes to our singleness.

*********

2 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: