Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

Constant Craving

Yes, I intended to write about dreams this week—and I’m sure I’ll get back to it eventually—but I’ve been thinking about cravings lately and have decided to chew on that topic instead.

So, what do you do about food cravings? Especially the unexpected ones? Mine almost always come at me through my nose. Seriously. Out of nowhere, I’ll smell chocolate or nachos or a McDonald’s egg and sausage biscuit—whether anything like it is near me or not. Lately, it’s been jelly beans.

It’s so unfair.

This is especially problematic as I’ve felt the need to cut back on my sugar intake recently. I’m no spring chicken and I have a desire to live more proactively for my future self. That old woman I’m destined to become, Lord willing, will appreciate still being able to take long walks, climb up a cliff, jump into a pool and, basically, live her life as fully as possible.

Too many sweets plus too much excess weight will get in the way of that.

Milkshake

Image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

All of which has made me more aware of the need to fight off those cravings, but it’s a constant effort to knock them down. Still, I’d say I’m successful eight out of ten times. Which is great, in theory. On the other hand, if those cravings hit me, say, four times an hour—or 64 times in a 16-hour day—then I’m still caving over a dozen times a day.

This is a big enough problem on its own. Recently, though, there’s been a third layer. I’ve spent the last several months trying to get by with very little new work coming in. The downside of being self-employed. And I’m stressed. I have two books releasing in April and, since this is a dream-come-true, I should be happy, thrilled, delighted. But I’m too freaked-out about my lack of income to enjoy the process or the anticipation.

And what does someone who fights off chocolate cravings on an hourly basis do when she’s stressed? She convinces herself it’s OK to splurge because she’s going through a tough time and she deserves it.

So, about 60 times a day, I smell or get a hankering for something I want to stay away from. Often, I can knock the longing away. Until that little voice reminds me of my non-working situation, my lack of income, my worry about the future.

“It’s all right, Sharyn. You’re going through a tough time. A little something sweet will ease the strain.”

Of course, it doesn’t. But by the time I realize that, it’s already too late.

How do you handle cravings and stress? Please speak/write freely—I’m looking for ideas.

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A Room (or Apartment) of One’s Own

Image courtesy of sattiva/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of sattiva/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For the last ten years or so I have lived with others. After 9/11 I moved in with family and, for one reason or another, remained with family for over 7 years.

Then in 2012 I decided to return to school, and realized that after living so long with others I did not want to live alone. I liked having people around. So I moved into an “intentional living community.”

I had four very different roommates, but we shared a common love for Christ and a commitment to intentionally building community with one another.

Last year I moved in with one of my classmates from school. Between my plans to spend the upcoming summer in South Africa and her graduating this year, it seems that our roommate situation is about to come to an end. It would also seem that for the first time in a very long time, I will move into a place alone.

One of the reasons I enjoy living with other people — aside from having readily available social contact — is that it forces me to be conscious of servant-hood. It challenges me to be more patient, more sacrificial, more considerate and less self-centered. Being single, living alone and becoming persnickety about my preferences for groceries, my preferences for toilet tissue, my preferences for brands of cleaning supplies, for placement of candles, for managing wet umbrellas, for fabric softener, for bedtime and quiet time and movie time, and all the rest of my preferences, is a very real risk for me as an older single woman.

I do not want to be a persnickety spinster. Nonetheless, I feel the time may be right for me to return to living alone. As I have been praying about it I have sensed the Lord nudging me to leave the little nest I have made for myself in the comfort of other people’s homes and to be open to more — more opportunities for hospitality, for fostering children, for cooking regularly, for creating beauty in my environment, for quietness and reflection.

More sounds good to me.

How about you? What contributed to you choosing either to live alone or to live with others?

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Awakening Your Heart

Florida 2013 - birthday picnic sunset

In the same way, let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep. I believe it is one of God’s best gifts. As the first light of dawn begins to peek through my blinds, I am reminded of God’s radiance—His light—and how He shines in us so others can more readily see who He is, His character.

But sometimes we feel anything but radiant. We get tired, we act selfishly and we don’t always feel like the light of Christ is shining very strongly in us. Or, when people speak harsh words against us, we sense our self-esteem growing dimmer and dimmer like a faulty light bulb.

It is at times like that we need to wake up on the inside to the light of truth.

God’s powerful and consistent love is the light He shines in us; He scatters the darkness and attracts others to us with His light and love so we can point them to the truth.

In the dark times of our lives we need a “Great Awakening.” Like the spiritual great awakenings throughout history, we need revival to spread first in our lives and then in those around us.

When we begin to focus on God instead of our problems, then we find greater strength and more peace. We discover courage to believe.

How can we focus on God and not our problems? In your prayer time, tell God about your needs. Hang out with Him. Linger for a while. Thank Him for all He has done. Tell God how good and faithful He is. Then listen. In the stillness, He speaks.

You may also want to listen to some Christian music. Prayer, praise, listening and spending time with other committed Christ-followers are all excellent ways to reawaken your heart and connect with God.

Trust for God to wake up your heart and find new joy. Like the sunrise peering over the edge of the horizon, your slumbering self will once again delight in God’s goodness for you.

Lord, fill me with Your love and Your light. I need to remember Your truth; You will take care of me, You will provide for all I need. Drive away the darkness and doubt. Help me to know You more—and trust You. Let others see Your radiance in me and be forever changed too. Thank You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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In Summer – When Singles Get Caught Up in the Lovely Dream of Marriage

Have you seen the new movie Frozen? It’s the story of young girl who has the powerful ability to create snow and ice. Many people haven’t been able to resist joining Elsa as she sings about finally letting go and allowing her power to run rampant.

But another song caught my attention.

Elsa uses her power to create an adorable snowman named Olaf. He adds some comic relief to the movie and whispers the amazing line of “some people are worth melting for.” But for me, the part of Olaf’s story that speaks to me the most is his love of summer.

Did I say that Olaf is a snowman? Yeah, a snowman who has never experienced summer but loves the idea of it — the sun and all things hot just thrill him.

Kristoff sarcastically says, “I’m guessing you don’t have much experience with heat.”

Olaf responds, “Nope. But sometimes I like to close my eyes and imagine. . . .”

I’m a lot like Olaf. I love the idea of marriage. Thing is, I don’t have much experience with it. So it’s quite possible I have an idealized view of what marriage is all about. Because, as Olaf says, I’ll be so much cooler in summer — um, marriage.

There’s a line in the song that says:

“When life gets rough,
I like to hold to my dream,
of relaxing in the summer sun …”

Have you been there? I know I have. Life goes crazy and it’s easy to imagine how much easier it would be if we were married.

Olaf’s happy little song hints at all the things that can go wrong with a snowman in summer — specifically, melting. He joyfully ignores the implication because he has never experienced summer and so it all seems lovely.

We single people can do that also. Our married friends have told us how hard marriage can be, and we’ve probably witnessed the tough times first-hand. But we skip along, thinking how lovely marriage will be, focusing on that and forgetting the work that will be involved.

Now, I’m not saying that we over-forty single people aren’t meant for marriage as Olaf isn’t meant for summer. It’s just so easy for us to have a skewed view of what our life would be like if we were married. Sometimes we need a Kristoff to say, “I’m gonna tell him.”

When Elsa finally learns to control her power, she realizes Olaf needs his own flurry cloud to keep him comfortably frozen in summer.

We singles need to figure out what our flurry cloud is. So, when the time comes to walk down the aisle, we’ll be more prepared for the things in marriage that may threaten to melt us.

 

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Where You Love Me

Holding Hands

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub. . . .

                                                                    ~Hamlet

Ah, Shakespeare. He certainly had a way with words.

I can’t say I always understand him, but here — as far as I can tell — he’s comparing death with sleep.

Which, of course, is straight from Scripture: Jesus pointed out that someone was not dead but merely asleep at least twice.

So, conversely, maybe we die a little while we slumber?

I’m not trying to be morbid.

But I had one of those dreams this week and it got me thinking.

You know …
the kind of dream where I’m in love and it feels so right and so perfect and I can’t stop touching him.

The kind of dream where I love him and he loves me. A dream so sweet that I linger there, hovering somewhere between sleeping and waking up, for a breath of moments.

I love that place.

But I did wake up —
as I always have
— and a part of my soul hurt on the waking … just a little.

I feel I’ve lost something.
The dream doesn’t end the heartache.
In fact, it reminds me it’s there.

To sleep: perchance to dream.

Ay, there’s the rub.

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Is He (Christian) Man Enough?

Icon of Jesus and the Apostles

Icon of Jesus and the Apostles

As Christian women, we are constrained to pursue romantic relationships only with men who are Christians, right? This issue seems to get murkier the more I try to figure it out. I mean, just how Christian is Christian enough?

One  friend was dating a man, whom we’ll call Paul, who was completely good to her. He listened, he supported, he encouraged, he sacrificed his time, his money and his own desires to accommodate her wishes. Paul made changes and adjustments to his lifestyle just to suit her. In the year of their friendship, my friend found Paul to be a man of faithful character and to be full of integrity.

But, although Paul was baptized as an infant and raised in a Christian home, he doesn’t like church, does not attend (except when my friend asks), and does not profess to be a Christian, even though he does believe that Jesus is Lord.

Then there is Doug. Doug has spent most of his life around, but not a part of, the church. Within the last year, however, he committed wholeheartedly to following Jesus. He visited several churches and decided to join my friend’s church. In the process of taking the month-long membership class, Doug met my friend and they began to date. As my friend — who has served the Lord for many years — noted, Doug is young in the things of God. His work and relationship background is questionable. Who knows if his commitment to Christ will endure?

One of the men whom I dated recently — we’ll call him Jack — has been a Christian for most of his life. He was raised in the church and still attends the one where he grew up, serving there as a deacon and, formerly, as a trustee. Jack sincerely has faith in God, albeit in a  personal, unspoken kind of way. He does not have a devotional life, but does consistently attend church, as long as service does not interfere with his plans to fish, watch a ball game or hang out with the guys on Sunday afternoons.

All three of these men seem perfectly eligible. But do any of them pass muster spiritually? What spiritual standards are we to be guided by when we are evaluating relationships?

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Got Gear? In Hiking and In Life We Need a “Gear Guide”

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
                                                                                                 –2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)

Hiking, camping and backpacking are popular activities where I live in Colorado. Of course, most outdoor enthusiasts know the importance of being prepared.

Why? Because the beauty of nature—so majestic on sunny days—can turn into a bully in an instant. The weather changes suddenly at higher altitudes; hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts need to be prepared.

Even day hikes in the Rocky Mountains require the minimum equipment of water, hiking boots and a hat.

While hikers need the correct gear for the trail, all of us need emotional “gear” as we stroll, meaner or run the road of life toward Home.

Of course, as we walk the path of life each day it would be nice to have a smooth way before us. Instead, we often trip over the rocks of pride or unforgiveness, or climb up the hills of difficult conversations. At times we feel ill-equipped to deal with tough situations and get along with others—even people we love.

If only there was a guidebook that would tell us what to bring and what to leave behind on the road of life?

I have found the Bible to be an excellent resource. God’s Word is our “Gear Guide to Good Relationships.” Just like a hiker or camper needs the right gear to survive, here are a few key things (and Bible verses) we need to become better equipped for daily living:

Water. Drink the essential Living Water. (John 4:13)
Food. Feed on the Bread of Life. (John 6:48)
Hiking boots and protective clothing. Wear the full armor. (Ephesians 6:14-17)
Compass and map (or GPS) for directions. Follow the One who said, “I am the way…” (John 14:6)
Companions. Have friends to help you up when you fall. (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10)
Destination. Know that there is a place prepared for you. (John 14:2, 3)
A good attitude. Prepare your mind for action. (1 Peter 1:13)

In addition, you will also need to be prepared for emergencies with a first aid kit for those who are hurting (e.g., a kind word, comfort and joy).

Lastly, both hikers and those who travel life’s highways need to persevere. In the hard times, the dark times, hold to the Light of the World, Jesus Christ. He will help you to press on.

Like a mountain trail, life has crazy switchbacks and unexpected winds, but if you are prepared – and take the right Guide – you will reach your final destination with joy and peace.

Lord, prepare me for this journey of life with the gear I need Help me walk strong—with courage, hope and confidence—because you are with me. You are my Guide on sunny days and in the storms. I choose to trust You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Be Glad You’re Single: Five Good Things about Being Single

A friend ran up to me at church a few weeks ago and hugged me. “Be glad you’re single. Sometimes marriage is hard.”

At the time I thought, “Yeah, easy for you to say. You haven’t walked the single road as long as I have.”

Don’t get me wrong, I know that marriage is hard. And I know that singleness is hard. We each have our own issues to deal with in the season we are in at any given time. It got me thinking, though, about some of the good things about my extended season of singleness. Here’s a list of five things I found to appreciate tonight about this time in my life:

1)  I only have to buy food I like.

2) God has been able to use me in ways that wouldn’t have been possible were I married. For instance, my single status allowed me to move in with Mom and Dad after Dad’s surgery. Those four months turned out to be Mom’s last and I was there every day.

3) The toilet seat is always down at my house!

4) Doing my taxes is fairly simple.

5) I can decide to change careers and go back to school at a moment’s notice without worrying about how that will affect family time.

We can all get caught up in the hard times related to our current marital status. Looking for the good is a way to remember that God has a purpose in our lives, and the intermingling of good and bad is what makes that life full.

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Food, Food and More Food – Cherishing Family Traditions

Food is one of the great uniting factors in our culture. So many of our traditions and customs revolve around eating. At family gatherings, there is often at least one favorite dish.

For years my sister would jokingly tell me at Thanksgiving time, “You can only come if you bring sweet potato casserole.”

In my family, there are several favorites that Mom made that have been passed around so we all have the recipes. A few years ago, just before Christmas, I decided it was time to hand down those recipes in a format the grandkids could appreciate. So I created an e-book with some of Mom’s favorite recipes.

I was able to include some handwritten pages from one of Dad’s grandmother’s cookbooks showing the original version of the recipe. And my sister provided a handwritten letter from Mom detailing exactly how she went about fixing a full Thanksgiving dinner. It was my little way of sharing some family history–as well as some great recipes–with the next generation.

Grammys Cookbook

Does your family have favorite food traditions?

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Recently, on Facebook …

From March 8th:

Happy International Women’s Day to all of the amazing women in my life. I bless you to live out of the truth of who you are in the eyes of your Creator.

                                                                   –Shirlee

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