Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

How Much Time Is There?

I originally posted this on my blog last week. It’s not specific to singles, but I thought you all might enjoy it:

My momma loved to watch the TV show Everybody Loves Raymond. There aren’t many shows she enjoyed that I can watch these days. Most of them make me sad because it reminds me how much I miss her laugh.

The other night, my aunt and uncle were in town so I spent the evening with them at my dad’s house. When I got there, the TV was on and back-to-back episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond aired while we chatted about life, family history and various and sundry other topics.

At one point, the dialog caught my attention. I’m not sure exactly what was going on or even who said the words, but I heard this–

“I always thought there’d be more time.”

“How much time is there?”

That’s the question of the ages. How much time is there? None of us knows the number of our days.

Still we humans put off for tomorrow all the time. We keep the good china in the closet until that special dinner. We dream of traveling to exotic locales but put it off until we retire, or have more money, or fit better in a bikini. We hold our love inside because we’re afraid of being hurt. We hold back because we thought there’d be more time.

How much time is there?

Only God knows the answer to that.

All we’re sure of is today. So use the good china just because it’s Wednesday. Travel even if it’s only to another part of your state. Love completely because broken hearts heal, but losing someone without them knowing how much they mean to you is irreparable.

How much time is there?

Never enough. Don’t let it go to waste.

 

 

Time Flies

 

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I Refuse to Use the “M” Word

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

In the south where I live summer comes in May. It is hot and humid outside from morning to night. Inside it can be chillingly cold as air conditioning works to combat the heat outside.

Added to the variability of seasonal temperatures is the erratic air-conditioned climate inside my apartment. Downstairs it’s cool, upstairs it’s hot. If I’m downstairs I might need a sweater, but then I’ll overheat when I’m preparing to go to bed. So I might turn on the fan. But then turn off the fan if it gets too cool.

With all of this hot-cold navigating, it has taken me a little while to notice the changes in temperature I have been experiencing in my body are not due to my environment. My body was actually changing in temperature.

I decided to test the theory by taking note of the instances when I began to feel overheated. One day, I was working at my computer and felt normal, then felt hot like I needed to turn on the fan. But then–before I was in a good place to stop, step away, and deal with the fan–I didn’t feel hot anymore. I felt a little cool. The room temperature had not changed at all. And then I knew. It was me.

I tried telling myself I was thinking too much about this, and surely it was all in my mind.  But the normal to hot to cool to normal cycle, though not extreme, recurred regularly. (While at the same time the other cycle of my womanly existence seems to be occurring less regularly.) And my forgetfulness has reached unprecedented levels.

I am wayyyy to young, and too cute, too active, too unfinished, too not ready for this!

Nonetheless, it’s here. So I am embracing this change of seasons with laughter and wonder–and with monogrammed linen handkerchiefs.

Have you traveled through this neighborhood yet? How was your journey?

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Simple but Tasty Meal Ideas … on a Budget

By the grace of God, I ended up wandering a financially insecure career path. I love what I do, but I hate the uncertainty of it. Money—or the lack thereof—is a constant burden. And I’m not going to lie … it’s rough. The thought that a husband would, most likely, help ease that burden doesn’t help. But since that’s not an option, at least not at this time, I look for other ways to make ends meet.

Coming up with cheap, simple, one-person meals not only helps the pocketbook, but gives me another means to be creative. I’m not doing anything Chef Ramsay-worthy here … just easy ways to make fairly basic items tasty on a budget. Here are two suggestions:

  1. Call me crazy, but I really like the little Totino’s pizzas. They cost less than a buck fifty, and sometimes I can get them on sale for a dollar. I like to take them to another level by adding veggies, like green pepper, sliced tomatoes and extra mozzarella. It’s still a cheap meal, but this takes it up a notch, in my mind.
    Pizza
  2. Last week, I wanted a sandwich for lunch. I had ham and cheese but no bread. But I did have a little can of four crescent rolls. (I’m glad Pillsbury offers smaller portions of these and their biscuits.) So, I unrolled half the dough and laid it flat on a cookie sheet, making a rectangle. I put the ham, some cheese and a couple slices of tomato on top, then covered it with the other two rolls. I baked it in a 375 oven for about 12 minutes.
    Ham & CheeseDo you have any suggestions for taking inexpensive items up a notch? What do you do to save money on food, if anything?
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Who’s Narrating Your Story?

Listening statues 546458_1280 CC0

Who’s narrating your story? I read an article on writing recently that asked this question. It was all about consistency and telling your story in the best possible way. As I read the article, my mind jumped to the question of who’s narrating my life story. It’s said that God is the author of our life, but is He also the narrator?

What voices are you listening to when it comes to your internal talk? Is it God? Or maybe your mother? Possibly, it’s that boy in the 5th grade who called you Bugs Bunny because you hadn’t had braces yet and your top teeth bucked out over your lower lip. We all hear different voices at different times, but that doesn’t mean we have to listen to them all. Really, when it comes to our life story, only the words God whispers to us are important.

You may be self-confident and poised in the boardroom, but what happens when you try to balance your checkbook? Is it the voice of your college speech professor who taught you to take charge of your work persona? Maybe it’s your father telling you you’re just a dumb girl who can’t do math.

Or you may be cool as a cucumber when hanging with your girlfriends, but as soon as an eligible man comes into the room, you hear your high school boyfriend saying you’re just not what he’s looking for, and he doesn’t want to be around you anymore.

The chatter we hear overlaying our lives can take on many forms. Often it does come from a specific incident in our past. Sometimes it comes from a lifetime of never being the chosen one. This self-talk comes unbidden, but we don’t have to let it continue. It’s our choice to listen or to change the track to something more positive.

Changing that inner monolog is hard. I’ve found the best way is to find Scripture that describes who I am in Christ. When the going gets tough, I use those words to drown out the naysayers. It’s not easy. It takes a lot of practice, but it’s definitely worth it.

God is writing our story, and He should be narrating it. He would never tell us we’re worthless or unlovable. His words are life-bringing words, not soul-crushing ones. Next time a different narrator tries to take over your story, kick their behind out, and let God take over again.

 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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How to Be Afraid

My niece is a make-up artist and hairstylist. She is gifted to create beauty. After high school, instead of college she went to beauty school. While she was in school and since she graduated she has been invited to work in fashion shows and fashion shoots all over the country. She has a bright future. Except for one thing. Since she graduated she has not taken her licensing exam. It has been scheduled and canceled several times.

She has been afraid.

She did not attend college because the thought of the SATs was too much for her. She simply could not bring herself to take the exam.

I urged her to be brave. To trust in God. All of her family did. We told her that she could do it, that even if she didn’t pass the first time she could take it again. We told her that there was nothing to fear. But still she was terrified.

image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net.

image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net.

Then her boyfriend (who is all of 21 years old) very calmly told her that she was letting her fear get in the way of her future. And between all of us supporting her, and her own desire to grab hold of her future, the last time the exam was scheduled, she went and sat through it.

During the test she was shaking. She felt sick. In the middle of the test she broke down and cried.

But she finished the exam.

I told her that no matter what the graders say, she passed the test.

Not only did she pass, but in my book she is in the 99th percentile, the highest 1% of us all. She is among those very few, very brave souls who face their deepest fears and push through.

I want that kind of courage!

How about you?

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you…In God I have put my trust; I will not fear.” Psalm 56:3-4

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Eight Ways Married Women Can Support Their Single Friends

A week ago, I asked my Facebook friends for article suggestions. One recommended I share ways married women, like her, could support their single friends. It just so happens I created a list of do’s and don’ts for the married women in our lives not that long ago and put it in my book, Spinstered: Surviving Singleness After 40. This list shows up at the end of a chapter specifically geared toward the happily wed. Basically, it serves as a recap for the whole chapter, so if you want to find out more, follow the link to the book and snag yourself a copy.

This list shows up at the end of a chapter specifically geared toward the happily wed. Basically, it serves as a recap for the whole chapter, so if you want to find out more, follow the link to the book and snag yourself a copy.

Now, without further ado, here’s the list:

  • Don’t tiptoe around us like we’re fragile children. Treat us like adults who can figure things out and work through them. Singleness does not equal immaturity.
  • Don’t claim you know there’s someone out there for us. That leads to false hope. The only one who knows if that’s true is God.
  • Please don’t repeat clichés about singleness. We’ve heard them all and have already decided how we feel about each one.
  • Do let us be sad and offer us a comforting shoulder to cry on when we need it.
  • Do tell us about great single men you know. We realize it’s one of the best ways to meet new guys. Most of us are open to a set-up with a good man, but you need tell us ahead of time. Surprise blind dates are, more often than not, awkward for everyone. Just make sure—I implore you—that he is a good man.
  • Do encourage us to hope but not to obsess; help us through heartbreak and over bad days.
  • Do check up on us when we’re sick. Offering to pick up medicine or even a carton of orange juice would mean so much!
  • Do pray for us.

But why not do a little more? Take this suggestion, for instance, from writer Christena Cleveland (christenacleveland.com, “Singled Out: How Churches Can Embrace Unmarried Adults”):

If you get married and/or have a baby, Christians will pull out all the stops to celebrate you. That’s a good thing! But Christians should also recognize that many single adults never get celebrated with such fanfare. We might not be walking down the aisle or gestating a baby, but God is doing some amazing things in our lives—from the “monumental” (such as helping us obtain degrees, launch ministries/businesses, pay off college loans) to the “mundane” (such as helping us serve our neighborhoods, pray for each other).

We must celebrate what God’s doing in people’s lives, whether it’s similar to what God’s done in our own lives or not. So, find reasons to throw big parties for the single people in your community. And if you have the resources, feel free to buy them expensive gifts as well.

Book & Colorado 057

A few of my wonderful Colorado friends offering their support at a small book launch party last August. Not only have they stood by me through some tough times, but they continue to inspire me with their compassion and strength. I’ll let you guess which two are married. . . . 🙂

Single people use Kitchen Aid mixers too.

Married readers, have you ever considered hosting a shower like this? Single friends, do you have any other suggestions for this do’s and don’ts list?

Remember: we’re all in this together.

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Pot Roast and Vegetable Soup

It’s summer time and people’s thoughts have turned to salads and ice cream. I’m all for a good salad, but not every day. And, even in the summertime, I like a good solid meal in the middle of the day. You know, a meat and potatoes kind of meal that will stay with me through the afternoon.

The problem with this time of year is that making a meat and potatoes meal can heat up my little, no-air-conditioning house if it means turning on the oven. So the crockpot is as much my friend in the summer as it is in the winter.

This past weekend I made a pot roast for dinner with my dad. It was pretty simple. I started with a good roast that I seared in a skillet with some olive oil. I then put it in the crock with carrots, onions and cubes of butternut squash. I added enough water to cover the food and seasoned it with  salt, pepper, oregano (about a teaspoon each) and a couple of cloves of garlic.

It turned out really tender and yummy and didn’t overheat the house at all. When it was done there was quite a bit of broth left in the crock. Sometimes I make gravy, but this time I bypassed that.

I didn’t want to waste all that rich broth, so the next night I put the broth back in my handy-dandy superhero of the kitchen. I added big chunks of carrots, potatoes, celery, fried ground beef and a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies, then spiced it with some red pepper flakes and cilantro.

The next morning when I got up for work, I had a delicious soup waiting for me to pack in my lunch bag for the day. Between that and the roast, I had lunches for the whole week!

And, as you know–par for the course–I didn’t think ahead to take a picture of the roast, but I did snap a photo of my soup at lunch on Monday. 🙂

 

Veggie Soup

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Don’t Give Me Time to Think

Every fourth Sunday, I serve on a greeting team at my church. One week, our coordinator sent me to a side door that, I soon learned, few people use. For about half an hour I stood there, welcoming maybe a handful of attendees during that time. I could hear conversations coming from the fellowship room and down the hall, yet I waited alone.

And I felt it, crawling through me like a fever. Yep. You’re alone again. Big surprise. With nothing to distract them, the destructive thoughts made themselves known, catching me completely off-guard. I was at church, for heaven’s sake. Why was I letting this negativity get my mind off my purpose for being there?

Time to Think by David Castillo Dominici

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalimages.net

It’s not as bad as it used to be. I remember times of solitude when I screamed my frustration, venting an anger I kept stuffed inside the rest of the time. As a result, I’ve learned how to use noise as a diversion. Music, TV, books, even singing to myself seem to do the trick. Still, there are these rare moments … and I’m not always good at handling them.

An ugliness comes from a place deep inside me that I thought I’d already dealt with. “I’m doing great!” I tell anyone who asks. “Writing about being single has been so cathartic.”

Then I end up standing in my church hallway, fighting off tears and wondering why I’m such a mess.

Not that I’ve ever claimed complete healing from the grief of singleness, but I’ve certainly reached a place ruled by hope, and I have a renewed sense of peace and satisfaction in the life God has given me.

And that renewed sense has taught me to take my mind off myself and put it on Him and others. To reach out to someone who might need prayer or a listening ear or a word of encouragement.

All of which presents me with a much better noise to distract myself with than old episodes of Castle.

What about you? Does solitude make you more aware of your aloneness? How do you handle it?

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Men and Women at Work

Image courtesy of stock images/freedigitalimages.net

Image courtesy of stock images/freedigitalimages.net

Recently, I was at a conference for Christian peacemakers and reconcilers where I met new friends and colleagues. One of my new colleagues and I had a meaningful conversation about our backgrounds, the conference, our callings and about him recently taking his position as pastor of a small, rural church nearby. We ended up discussing the possibility of my working with his church since I am looking for a job.

This man is a networker. A couple of times when we talked over lunch, he mentioned ways he might be helpful in connecting me to people. Also, he is kind. When we passed the book table, I pointed out a book I might buy at a later time, and he bought it on the spot and gave it to me.

I noted he wore a wedding band, and, rightfully, concluded he was married. It seemed curious to me, therefore, that though he mentioned his children during our conversation, he did not mention his wife.

A few days later, at his invitation I visited the church. The small congregation was full of seniors, which he had prepared me to expect. The people greeted me warmly. My colleague’s children participated in the service, but I noticed again, curiously, that his wife was not present.

Because this colleague is male, was going out of his way to assist me along my journey, was super attentive to me and also attractive, I felt the need to bring his wife into our conversation. Thus, after church, when he began to talk more about my potentially working with him, I said, “Tell me, what role does your wife have at the church? I don’t think I met her this morning.”

To make a long story short, it seems that his wife and he have happily agreed that, because of her job, she would not relocate with him but instead remain where they used to live. The family drives up to see her on the weekends, or she drives down to see them. She does not attend the church.

The more I talked to him, attempting to clarify where he thought I might be helpful to his small, older congregation, it became clear that he had a need for a conversation partner, for intellectual engagement, for support during his interactions with the congregation.

Hmm …

Isn’t that, kind of, what wives do?

I do not believe this man was (consciously) inviting me into an inappropriate relationship. It’s very common for men in leadership positions to have assistants to carry their briefcases, as it were; assistants who walk beside them and mostly listen, ask questions, learn, and follow orders. In my colleague’s mind, he is perhaps hoping to build this kind of apprentice relationship with someone new to ministry.

My single, female mind, however, perceives this man’s vulnerability and, more importantly, my own vulnerability. His wife’s absence from their home, his not mentioning his wife, his not having a particular job in mind for me, but merely a generalized wish to have me around are not good signs. These things signal to me that my being a woman–an attractive, available, nearby woman–is an issue here. It seemed to me that it would be to my peril, and his and the church’s, if I overlooked or minimized this.

I graciously declined his offer to work at the church.

As a single woman have you ever experienced challenges navigating a professional relationship with a man either inside or outside of the church?

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Don’t Fear the Giants

Do you have a dream that you can’t achieve because you’re scared? Is there something you know you were born to do, but fear is holding you back?

Fear can be a powerful motivator — to curl into a ball and binge watch old episodes of JAG.

It’s okay. I’ve been there. In fact, just this evening.

Here’s the thing about fear, though. If you give into fear, it will rule your life. And it will kill your dreams.

Giants-522828_1280 CC0

Remember when Moses sent the spies into the Promised Land? Ten of those 12 spies came back telling tales of how the land was full of giants. Only two were brave enough to tell of the milk and honey that flowed freely there. Only two trusted that God had given them the land, and there was no need to fear the giants.

Because of those ten men, the Israelites wandered for 40 years in the desert. They were at the edge of the Promised Land but fear held them back.

At. The. Edge. Of. The. Promise.

Those ten men let their own human eyes cast their focus instead of allowing God’s eyes to show them the promise.

Fear is hard. It speaks loudly. But never forget that God’s word speaks louder.

Commit your ways to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun (Psalm 37:5-6).

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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