Repost: Happy Wish We Were Mother’s Day

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Today I went to the gym (aka going on the elliptical and watching netflix on my phone for 45 minutes, then going in the hot tub and amazing massaging waterfalls and water slide for an hour and a half.)

The lady at the front desk said “are you a mother?” “No,” I said. “Why do you ask?” Mother’s get in free today! “Oh,” I said. I felt a pang of sadness.

She looked at me again. “Do you have pets?” I was didn’t understand why she was asking me this. “No.”

“Hmmm, ” she said. “Oh, wait a second!” I replied. ” I forgot that I live on a farm! I literally have hundreds of pets!” “Well, it looks like you’re a mother, then.” She stamped my hand and let me into the ghetto spa for free.

This little gesture meant a lot. Because in a small way she was honoring me on a day in which non-mothers do not often get honored.

First and foremost, every mother’s day, I try to not feel sorry for myself and remember my own mom. My amazing, kind, quirky mom.

Who used to feed us liver powder and v8 juice and yeast in kool aid when we were growing up because her love language is to keep us healthy.

Who has had 200 books from the library out at a time, for a six months at a time, until they made a rule up that you can’t do that, probably solely because of her.

Who looks 55 even though she is almost 70.

Who has worn spandex every day since 1982.(Because spandex are not a right. They are a privilege. My mother has had that privilege and has looked really good using it.)

That is my epic mother. And she more than deserves to be honored today. As does every mother in the world.

Every getting -three-hours-of-sleep-to-take-care-of-a newborn,changing-620 -diapers-per year, listening-to-a-million-questions, figure-out-three-freaking-meals-a-day-to-make, trying-not-to-yell-at-your-teenager, figuring-out-how-to-teach-a-human-soul-how-to-live-on-the-place-we-call-earth, incredible, selfless mother deserves to be honored today.

But once the honoring of my own mother and all the other beautiful mothers is over, my eyes inevitably look back on myself and I start getting sad.

I have always loved kids. I worked at day cares all through high school, college and after college. I work at an after school program now and live with 3 young children, all of whom I adore.

I worked at a camp for something like 5 summers, and have spoken at that camp for another 12 or so. At that camp they called me the legend. Because I was really, honestly, an awesome counselor. Every Friday we would have princess night where we would put on trash bags and talk in English accents during dinner, then we would let loose during dessert and give each other chocolate pudding facials followed by the best food fight ever. I would come up with really fun hands on devotions. I would spend one on one time with the girls, talking about their lives and praying with them. I would sing to them every night before they fell asleep. I had some of the girls for all five years, watching them grow up. We would write to each other all year, and I would sometimes visit them outside of camp.

I don’t know if I ever felt more in my element at any job. Ever. Not singing. Not writing. Not speaking. It felt like loving those campers was what I was made to do. Even now, I have dreams about camp on a regular basis. My counselor says it was because my psyche considers it home.

I would make a good mom. A really, really good mom.

But for some reason, motherhood has not been in the cards for me.

The older I get, the more I have to accept the fact that I might never become a mother. I might have to look for other ways to love children, like working with inner city kids or at an orphanage. That might be the path I have to take, one that I have seriously considered taking lately.

I have so much in my life. I have a wonderful career. I have good friends. I live with people that are very dear to me. I have lots of time to do things like get a $4.00 spa. If there were no such thing as a husband and children, I would probably be really content. But there are such things, and I have always wanted both of them. Not having them is perhaps the most difficult thing I have ever been through.

Sometimes I think about how much I would give to have someone call me “mom.” To call someone “my baby.” I would give up almost anything for this.

And so I grieve today, and maybe that is all right. Maybe it is not selfish. Maybe it is human. Maybe it is my right.

Years ago on mothers day at my church, a friend of mine stood up who has struggled with infertility her whole life. She said “mothers, you are amazing and wonderful and needed. Today, I want to honor you, but I also want to honor other women. I want to honor all the women that have had miscarriages. All the women who have been infertile. All the single women who haven’t even had a chance to get pregnant. All the women who have had stillborns.”

She had everyone in the room who fit that description stand up. I was amazed how many women stood up.

(She didn’t say this and I know this will be a controversial thing to say, but I want to include women who have had abortions. I am not saying what they did is right, by any means. But there are probably more women than you think there are in your circles and in your workplace and in your church who have had abortions and hide it because there is so much shame. They are possibly grieving today more than anyone else. We must remember them too.)

So all of you that fit into that category- this is what I say to you today. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are not forgotten. You may never bear children, but that doesn’t mean you are any less of a woman. And you are mothers in your own way-to the children in your life, to your friends, to the people you mentor.

I honor you. And so does God.

I’d love to hear from you….is mother’s day hard for you? Why are why not? What has infertility/ the death of a child/ unmarried with no children / abortion been like for you? How can the church love you better in this?

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Me and My (Betty White) Pheromones

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“Kate, I have decided that you are the eighth wonder of the world,” said my brother as we ate peanut butter and honey sandwiches at my grandma’s house recently.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean it is a complete mystery why you have had this litany of men who act interested in you and then drop you like you’re hot. Or like you’re not hot. Or errrr….You know what I mean. You are so awesome! Why is this happening?”

“That is the question I have asked myself for the last fifteen years, Will.”

“Well, I have a theory,” he said mysteriously.

“Really what’s your theory?”

“Your pheromones.”

“What about my pheromones?”

“Maybe they are not working right.”

“What?” I said, slightly offended.”My pheromones are great! Never been better! I have very sexy pheromones! In fact my pheromones very closely resemble Angelina Jolie, that’s how sexy they are!”

“Well,” replied Will carefully. “How do you know that? What if you don’t have Angelina Jolie Pheromones?  What if you have Betty White pheromones.”

“What?” I replied. “How can you say that to me? I love Betty White. Everyone loves Betty White. But no one wants to marry Betty White.”

“Exactly, Kate. Everybody loves you? Check. No one wants to marry you? Check. Betty White pheromones? You need to think about it.”

I looked at him, shocked. “Don’t let it get you down too much.” He said. “Maybe all your pheromones need are a little metaphorical plastic surgery.”

I went home, laid in bed, and pondered my brother’s observations. What if all these years, all this heart break, all these times hearing “Kate I think you’re amazing, but…” all this wondering if I’m not pretty enough, nice enough, good enough, special enough, what if all of the time, the only problem is that I don’t have the right secreted chemicals that trigger a social response in members of the same species?”

I sat up and started researching. One article I read said that when women are given men’s shirts to smell, over and over again they pick the shirts of the men they would have healthier children with, according to their DNA samples. That’s how powerful scent is. It also said that men are much more drawn to women when they are ovulating. They can tell by the pheromones that are emitted. (Remember that for your calendar for when you are planning that next date, ladies.)

Another article said that queen bees have such strong pheromones that it renders their faithful worker bees infertile so the queens can control them more. (Don’t remember that the next time you are planning your next date, ladies. That’s just mean.)

Queens also excrete especially strong pheromones when bees from the hive get lost. It attracts the lost bees so much that they find their way home.

Lesson learned: Pheromones are powerful, and mine were not displaying their feminine prowess like they should be.

After reading all this, I started getting angry with my little Betty White molecules. “Dang it pheromones!” I said, pointing to my stomach, (because maybe that’s where they live). “I need a little help here! Lead my species home!”

My roommate knocked on the door to ask if I was ok. I remembered the last time that this happened, which was when I was having a similar yelling match with my uterus. One of these days I will learn to whisper when these altercations occur, so my roommates don’t think that they live with the crazy cat lady that everyone talks about.

I woke up the next morning and decided that I needed a plan of action.

The first strategy was to take loads of Zinc. I read that Zinc is supposed to help your pheromones work better. I bought a bottle at Vitamin Cottage. I decided I would take three times the daily recommended dosage because of course, then I would get three times as many dates.

My second strategy was to buy some pheromone perfume. Yes that is a real thing. And no it is not just sweat in a bottle. It smells delectable! 

I asked my friend what she thought about the idea, and she said “Kate! You can’t walk around wearing someone else’s pheromones! Whose pheromones are they? What if Joe, the guy you meet because of your pheromone perfume, is a creepy 50 year old with gelled hair and a leather jacket with too many zippers? What if Joe was really meant for Betty, who donated her pheromones to your perfume?”

“Ummmm….Amy? Why did you choose the name Betty?”

“I don’t know it just came to me while I was sitting here next to you. Why?”

“No reason.”

After her caution, I decided to be safe and only try the plan out for a month and see what happened. The plan was simply a bunch of Zinc every night and a slathering of pheromone perfume every morning. Plus maybe smile a little more.

Here is what happened in no particular order:

1) Three old ladies asked me where I bought my perfume.

2) The checker at vitamin cottage started winking at me. I realized sadly that this was probably less about my pheromones, and more about my buying so much zinc.

3) A guy with exactly 9 zippers on his leather jacket asked me if I wanted to go to a wrestling match with him.

4) Four homeless men asked me to marry them.

5) I got stung by 3 bees.

Actually, none of that happened. Well, one homeless guy did ask me to marry him but that occurs pretty much every month.

What did happen is that I started thinking about patterns. Throughout my entire adult life, I have met some wonderful men, and although they often seem drawn to me at first, I almost always become the best friend,the sister. Hardly ever the one he falls in love with.

Does this occur because of something that I can’t really fix, like pheromones, or is there something I can work on? 

Here are a few thoughts: 

#1) My counselor says that because of some hard childhood trauma I am sometimes scared of intimacy. I am often attracted to unavailable men, men that I subconsciously know won’t or can’t love me back. Maybe instead of taking my zinc, I could work on looking for and being open to men who were emotionally available.

#2) Maybe I put off the “sister” vibe when I’m scared of rejection. Instead of just wearing that pheromone perfume maybe I should be keenly aware of my emotions and recognize when I am trying to hide myself by being a friend instead of being more honest about my feelings. Maybe I should even get out there and flirt a little bit, which I don’t often do because it scares me so much. I often hide behind the “good girl” energy, and I have to remember it’s not a sin to flirt with a man that might make a good match for me (as long as I know that our faiths and lifestyles are on the same page.)

#3) I heard of an experiment in which a pretty and shapely woman was put on a billboard in two different cities. One said I think I’m beautiful, what do you think? The other said I think I’m fat, what do you think? They polled people in each city. The results? Something like 70% of the city with the fat billboard thought she was fat, while 70% of the city with the beautiful billboard thought she was beautiful. I can not let my prolonged singlehood tell me who I am. I am beautiful and valuable. God whispers it to me every day, and I need to believe him. Instead of giving my pheromones a facelift, maybe I should give one to my self esteem. The more beautiful I believe I am, the more beautiful people will see me.

d) I have to trust that the God who speaks stars into space and paints the tiny lines on a leaf, that God is the one who loves me, who sees my dreams, who sees me beautiful. I can’t claim to understand something like the sovereignty of God but I can say that God is gracious and merciful. I can say that he makes all things beautiful in his time. I can say that when we see him face to face no one in the world will question whether or not he is good.

So I have a hunch, a really big hunch, that he is more powerful than my pheromones, even if they do resemble a certain Golden Girl. 

Questions for you…

Have you ever felt like something was “wrong” with you because of your dating life or lack thereof?

What strong patterns do you see in your dating life? What can’t you control in that situation? What can you control? 

Any other fun science about pheromones? (Keep it PG-13!)

It’s Okay To Grieve

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In my post called Singles and the Church: Why it Sucks To Be Unintentionally Overlooked, I talked about the idea of disenfranchised grief: a grief in which nothing concrete happened to you, but the desires of your heart didn’t come to pass. It’s what didn’t happen that you are grieving over, and that doesn’t seem like a big deal to most people. But it is a true, deep loss.

I wanted to explore this idea more because so many readers commented on how much they suffer from disenfranchised loss.

I understand this kind of grief because I have been struggling a lot this month. The crazy thing is, the situation that I just went through was a simple “I’m-going-to-say-no-to-romance- even- though -you’re- wonderful” scenario that I have lived through one too many times to stay sane.

The situation itself shouldn’t be as heartbreaking as it is. And yet, I have struggled with deep disappointment. I have not even had any clue how to get the sadness out of my system. And my friends Ben and Jerry are stalking me. (Just had to throw something light in there!)

I realize now that some of this is due to the particular situation, but a lot of it is due to disenfranchised loss. I am not just grieving this friendship, I am grieving the fact that there are few good men in their thirties and it might be hard to have that chance again. I am grieving the thought of not being touched and held by someone. I am grieving the fact that I need to go back to thinking about adopting alone.

I am grieving having to go back to eharmony first dates. I would seriously rather have a root canal.

But most of all, I am grieving not having a family. Not having anyone call me “my wife” or “mommy.” It has been too much for me to handle. At the risk of sounding horribly sorry for myself, I am barren. Women who are married who are infertile, they know how I feel, and that means a lot to me. But in all honesty, people regard married women’s infertility as a much deeper loss than my barrenness as a single woman. And yet, it is very very similar. I not only have no children, I don’t have a husband either. So the grief should be looked on as something very deep and very painful. But it just isn’t.

I think part of the problem is that people think it’s kind of your choice that you have no family. That if you did things a certain way you would have a family. “You just need to be online dating.” “You just need to be less picky.” “You’re too strong of a woman and you scare off men.” And one that I heard on a thread about this topic the other day “You just need to lose more weight.”

As if we chose this lifestyle for ourselves. That’s just not true. We have worked to change this situation, and yet it hasn’t happened. It’s nothing that we did wrong, and we need to believe that.

According to Melony Notkin’s article on this subject, 18% of American women between the ages of 40 and 44 are childless. About half of this group don’t want children. The other half suffer from either biological or circumstantial barrenness.

This, my friends, is tragic.

Single people out there, people longing to get married and have children, I want to look you in the eyes and say this to you. You have every right to grieve. Even though nothing concrete has happened to you, yours is a deep, deep loss.

Married people out there, church at large, it would mean the world to us if you would acknowledge this as a loss. If you would talk about it from the pulpit. If you would invite us over for lunch. If you would tell us it’s ok to grieve and hold us.

There is a flip side to this predicament, something that we need to address as well. I learned the hard way in this situation that if I project all of that fear, all of that sadness, all of that disenfranchised grief, onto someone that I could potentially have a romantic relationship with, all I will do is try to control them so that I can get what I so deeply long for. I will not be patient and let them decide on their own. I will try to control things so that person will bring me my dreams. It is not healthy.

That much pressure is absolutely not fair on them. It can ruin potential relationships and all others as well. Expectations are premeditated resentments.

My friends said to me the other day “your mind is like a bank account. Every time you think of someone, especially of that person giving you everything you’ve dreamed of,  you put another dollar in the bank account. So if you end up losing that account, you have a lot to lose.”

My bank account is empty, and it hurts so much.

I think what we need to learn is that we should  let ourselves mourn deeply, we should acknowledge our disenfranchised loss, but we need to direct that mourning at God, not on anyone else, including ourselves. God can take it. Another human being can’t. We can’t.

So go ahead. Grieve. I give you permission right now.

If you want to, walk away from this blog post, call a friend, tell them you need their support because you are mourning, and then cry your guts out. You have every right to do it. If you want to, you can even get mad at God.  He won’t be angry back. Then, let him hold you.

Because in the end, what else can we do but bring our frustrations to the Lord and then remember his love? To cry and cry and then to release things that we can’t control?

I will try hard to do that now. And I hope you do too.

The Longing and the Mystery

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Sehnsucht– A huge and painfully unrequited yearning to find and touch the mystery. An extreme desire for a far off country you have never been to. A deep and insatiable desire for a home that you haven’t yet had. 

This German word is very hard to define in any language. But when you read the definition you know exactly what it means, don’t you? You can conjure up the feeling associated with the word because you feel it every day. It is a hidden desire  running under your skin even as you go to the bank and sweep the floor and buy your groceries. It’s the aching and mystery that arises as you mourn over your singleness or are reminded that your marriage is not all you hoped it would be. It is the faint pain like bruising on your skin that grows more beautiful and more painful as you get older because of the wisdom and the regrets that are birthed from the days you have walked.

This word has been on my mind since my last session with my counselor. I was talking to her about my recent visit to my college town and the longing I now had  for that season, the longing  I had for men that I dated in that season that I gave up on. The wishing I had done things differently. The wanting to go back to that mysterious place and make different choices. The deep desire to revisit the essence of the nostalgia I was feeling in order to live it out in the present moment.

She said to me “did you like being there while you were there? Were you happy?” I couldn’t remember. I found it ironic that I longed for a place that I missed now, but I didn’t even notice it while I was there.

“Kate,” my counselor said “you have always had this deep sense of longing, of dissatisfaction, even of suffering. You had it then, you have it now. Even if you one day finally have children and a husband, you will still have it. You can’t escape the longing. ”

I knew she was right. I can’t escape this longing, this desire for a place I have never been to. Because I am human. Because I was born with that longing. It has been said that no other creature is as inherently dissatisfied as the human being. But I don’t think it’s our fault. I think it’s part of our nature.

In fact, I would argue that this sensucht, this deep longing for somewhere we’ve never been, is evidence for the existence of heaven, evidence for the existence of God. Can an atheist argue against his insatiable desire for home? Can an agnostic ignore the fire down in his bones saying that he was made for more than the life he is living?

Psalm 84:5 says “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” Another translations says “in whose heart are the highways to Zion.” Our hearts are set on pilgrimage, a long, beautiful, painful journey that will end in a glorious homecoming. Our hearts have highways to Zion in them, and after many years of walking those highways with perseverance, we will reach that mountain in which the glory of the Lord dwells, where all of our desires behind our sehnsucht will be realized.

CS Lewis’ was all but obsessed with the idea of sehsucht, the idea of looking for True North. In his book The Problem of Pain he says

All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it—tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest—if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself—you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say “Here at last is the thing I was made for.”

One day, at the end of your journey, you will say these words. “Here at last is the thing I was made for.”

Side note- I wanted to share my music with you for free since I know many of you didn’t even realize that I am a musician for a living. To download ten free songs- just click on the tab on top of the page, click on the link, and download! Hope you enjoy my gift to you!

Tales of a Blubbering Nun

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I am writing this from my little hermit room in a monastery in Sedalia, Colorado. I have learned to love monasteries over the years, and I visit them on a semi-regular basis. They have become a part of the rhythm of my life. I come to these restful places when I need solace and regeneration, when I need to set the compass of my soul towards North again.

And so, you might imagine me, bible in my lap, pen in my hand, face towards the sky, an ethereal glow of the Master’s serenity on my face, like the pictures of Mary on those Catholic candles they sell at the dollar store.

But if that is the picture you see of me, you’re dead wrong.

Instead, I am a weeping, blubbering mess of a woman who has mascara trails on her face and has had a hard time eating for the last five days. The other seekers in this building have had their silent retreats interrupted by this blubbering, but I just can’t help it.

I don’t really know what the heck is going on.

Maybe it’s that my lease is running out and I am moving. I counted the other day- I have moved something like 20 times since I was 18, and that doesn’t even count things like working at camps and coming home for the summer. I have had at least 60 roommates over the years. That is just not the way it is supposed to be.

Maybe it’s that I’m contemplating starting a new wonderful but taxing full time career working with inner city kids, and the weight of such a big decision is scaring me to death.

Maybe it is that my dad died only three months ago, after which I promptly put together his entire memorial service, wrote a nice post about him, and put the tragedy on the back burner for a better time and place. The time and place seems to be now and here. In contemplating his death, I am also thinking about the fact that part of the reason I long for a husband so much is because I long to have a male figure that loves me, that is a good father figure to my children. It aches so deeply to think that I might never have that.

Maybe it’s that I have been fixated on mistakes I made missing out on good men- wondering if there has been some horrible trajectory of hopelessness that has come from those small decisions that have put me in this place, a life that does not include a family.

Maybe it’s that I am done with my book and have realized that I just spilled my guts out to a bunch of strangers, and that the process of spilling those guts was much more painful than I’ve admitted to myself.

Maybe it’s that I found a box of journals the other day, and some of them were written when Ice Ice Baby was considered to be a really cool song. Those journals were written such a very long time ago, and many of my memories feel too far away to touch any more. I don’t want them to be so far away.

And lastly, it is quite possible that I am blubbering because I have been thinking about the wonderful nuns and priests that live in this place, celibate and saintly, and have said to myself “dear Lord, I never asked to be a freaking modern NUN!”

Thankfully, I have been reading the words of Thomas Keating on my retreat, a very famous and wise monk. He points out that when Jesus said “I have come to seek and save the lost,”  lost actually means totally gone, hopeless, not worth giving another thought to, wiped out. I have always been taught that the lost were a group of people, which he might be referring to as well. But it brought new meaning to me today to imagine Jesus coming to seek, to intentionally look for, to save, the deepest, darkest, most hopeless, most wiped out parts of me. To bring redemption to those parts. That the more broken and frustrated and hopeless I am, that’s how much more grace and mercy and love he pours out into those places.

I also read today about Jesus eating with and defending and loving prostitutes and poor people and tax collectors and lepers and children. As I read, the scenes backed away, and I suddenly realized that the room that they were communing together in was my heart. That prostitute that has lost her identity and doesn’t believe she’s beautiful any more. That poor person who begs for scraps of mercy. That tax collector that tries to control his way into getting people to love him. That leper who longs so much to be touched. Those children who just want a daddy to hold them. All of those characters are living inside of me. And they are all so, so scared.

And then I imagined Jesus coming to all those parts of me, saying “I accept all of you. Even though the world has forgotten you, I have not forgotten. Do you have any idea how much I love you? If you were to believe that, to truly believe it, you wouldn’t be so scared. But even now, in all of your fear and all of your faithlessness, there is more than enough love to cover you. Come, sit down. Come eat with me. Feel the warmth of my complete acceptance. I will seek and save that which is lost in you.”

I also read these words from Theresa of Avilla today, “. . .we can never have too much confidence in God, who is so powerful, and so merciful. If I had on my conscience every conceivable crime, I would lose nothing of my confidence, but my heart breaking with love, I would throw myself into the arms of God, and I am certain that I would be well received.”

Oh God, my prayer for today is simply to be certain that I am well received into your strong, strong arms. That you will never let go. That there is nothing so dire that it can’t be redeemed by you. If you could help me believe that now, Lord, that would be enough for today.

Promises, promises

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It is one of those weeks where I don’t really want to write, because I am scared of what is inside of me. What is inside of me this week isn’t wise or Godly or awesome blogger worthy. It is messy and scary and painful. I don’t always want to show you that side of me, but it’s better than being fake. So here goes…

My thought life went into a tailspin this week thinking of an old crush a long time ago. He really cared about me, more than I knew at the time. I passed him up because another guy was pursuing me who was more suave and persuasive. It is a regret I have held on to for a long time.

I started wondering if that unwise choice sent me down this road of having no family. I wished to God that I could go tell my 18 year old self to look for the fruit of something when it is still a seed. To go for the kind man instead of the charming one. To tell her that she might have a lot of prospects now, but someday she would have almost none and that she shouldn’t be so picky. That if she passed this opportunity, she might never have a chance at love again.

I also started realizing how very many years ago all of this was and I panicked. A Christian isn’t supposed to be scared of getting older. A Christian isn’t supposed to be terrified of death. But I am.

Oh God, have mercy on me.

I am going to be completely transparent with you here and say that it is times like these that I doubt the goodness of God. I feel like he has promised me things that have never come to pass, and I don’t know how to reconcile that with my view of him.

I can relate to Abraham this way. Abraham was promised a son and I’m sure he thought promise would be fulfilled within months. But it did not happen for decades. How confused he must have been! And yet, Abraham still had faith.  Yes, there were seasons of crazy doubt where he tried to control the situation by getting his servant pregnant. But it says in the verse below that after that episode he kept going. Despite his doubts, despite how dire the circumstances looked, he did not give up on God.

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance,  obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going… For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she  considered him faithful who had made the promise.

And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. “(Hebrews 11:8-12.)

I, too, am a foreigner and stranger on the earth. Being alone doesn’t feel right because it’s not right. Pain is part of the package of being human, of being strangers on the earth. We long for something more because there is something more. Like Abraham, we look for the city with foundations that are true, a city that is built by God. A place in which we will one day live, where all things will be made right.

But even on this earth, even as strangers, there is hope. Abraham and Sarah along with many other saints did not completely receive the things promised during their lifetime. But there is a good reason for this delay. The promise was for so much more than one son. It was for a nation that would live on for centuries, an inheritance that we ourselves have been grafted into. How could they have possibly imagined how extravagantly God’s promise would be fulfilled?

I am struggling with understanding all of this pain, but like Abraham, I don’t want to give up on God. He is everything to me. I want to have the kind of faith that still believes in God’s goodness even when it doesn’t look like he is good. My pain, no matter how deep, does not negate his goodness.

Maybe, just maybe, I already have the kind of faith that Abraham had. Maybe I have moments of doubt and despair and control like Abraham did when he tried to get the promise of a son with his own strength.  But I have suffered many things and I still believe. I have wavered at times, but I have never broken my covenant with God, and he has never broken his covenant with me.
Perhaps God will fulfill the promises he has given me in ways I can’t understand, like he did for Abraham. Perhaps he will take my tiny seed of faith in his big big hands. Then he will scatter that seed into the wide night sky, a hundred million stars bursting fourth.

He did it for Abraham. He can do it for me too.

Christmas Was Hard This Year…

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There is one Christmas gift that stands out to me more than any of the others I received as a child. It was a beautiful German wedding doll. I remember so clearly looking through the Sears Christmas catalogue and circling that doll with a red marker. Soon after, there was a rectangular shaped Christmas box wrapped under the tree.Through the next few weeks, I would look at the box, trying to decide if it was the right shape and size for my doll. I would hold it in my arms like a baby anticipating what might be inside.

Christmas Eve came, and as was our tradition, we went to the Christmas Eve service and opened presents afterwards. My anticipation had grown and grown over the weeks. For some reason, I felt so much joy when I opened that gift and saw that it was the little doll. It is my most vivid Christmas memory.

Expectation is one of the things that makes Christmas so special. Christmas is not some measly holiday like the fourth of July where you a buy a bunch of sparklers the day before. You take weeks to plan the menu, buy the presents, sing the Christmas carols, put the tree up. You can understand why children get excited. There is an expectation of something magical happening at the end of these weeks. Their wrapped presents bring even more expectation. There are gifts that are right under their noses, but they don’t know what they are. They have to wait in order to find out.

My desire for family, for children, can be seen in that little wedding doll, with her sweet little velvet dress and crowned veil. There has been a present, my most treasured present, under the Christmas tree for a very long time. A present called family.

The expectation over this present grew and grew, especially in my 20s.  But somewhere, after many years, the expectation hit a crescendo and I all but stopped hoping. That present could be empty for all I knew. That present could have the little wedding doll in it, but she might be a disappointment. Or maybe she would bring me great joy. I didn’t know, because all of these years, I was never allowed to open that present.

For some reason, thinking about that doll struck something very deep on me on Christmas this year. I cried when I held my friend’s little boy for a little bit during the Chriistmas Eve service, when he put his little head in the crevice of my neck, in that exact spot where you feel so in love with the child in your arms that your heart is about to explode.

I cried when I drove past my dad’s old house, past the lake where he used to take us iceskating, past the forest where he used to take me to cut down Christmas trees. He died only six weeks ago, and it wass so strange and heartbreaking for me to realize that he really is gone.

I cried when I took a walk through the beautiful snow covered streets of Evergreen where I grew up, missing the puppet shows with my nephews and niece that I used to have who have since moved to North Carolina. Missing the years that I spent with ex-boyfriends with big family gatherings and games and laughter. Missing the husband and children that have not yet been, that may never be. Longing for that like a little girl waking up Christmas morning and seeing that the little rectangular box is gone for some reason that she doesn’t understand.

I couldn’t cry in the house, because my sweet mother sacrificed a lot in this hard financial season to make me and my little brother a wonderful gluten and sugar free Christmas dinner. She tried so hard to make it special for us, and I didn’t want her to have any idea that I was sad. At least I had her to hold on to. Many people don’t even have one person to try to bring joy to their loved ones like the points of hope that look like Christmas lights speckled across the night sky. At least I had that.

I walked back to my house, wiped the tears from my eyes, went upstairs to the very place that I opened that little doll all those Christmases ago, and pulled out my journal. I did what I do every year; made a list of all the gifts that God had given me that year.

There were so many. New friends that had brought me so much joy. Being able to be with family when my father died. Celebrating the life of a dear friend who nearly died but was miraculously spared. This blog, my book, and all the people who have sacrificed to make my dreams happen. Many many gifts. I tried to remember all the gifts that I have been able to open this year, and stop focusing on the one that has been sitting there for so long, the one that I still haven’t been able to open.

Christmas is difficult because it is such a mirror. A mirror of your family, of your life, of all the wishes that you have that are not fulfilled.

All I can say when I write about a Christmas this difficult is that it helped me a lot to be grateful for the gifts in front of me.There will be more Christmases with more gifts to open, and we will all anticipate that coming. There is no anticipation if there is no waiting. There is no fulfillment of joy if there is no waiting. The waiting, the anticipation, is what brings the fulfillment of hope. In the meantime, all we can do is be grateful for the gifts that are in front of us now.

Anyone else have a hard Christmas? It’s okay. Tell us about it. We all need a little family this time of year.

Big Bangs and Marching Bands

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Note before my post: Well folks, I have one week left to raise another three thousand dollars if I want to publish! Don’t be scared by that number, though. $15 and you get a copy of one of my CDs before Christmas, $20 gets you that PLUS the book when it comes out! Even those little gifts help. I also have a shorter version of the song “Thirty Something and Single” that you can put up on your walls to promote the campaign or just because it is funny. Go to the campaign website and click on “Updates” to see the song. Click here to preorder the book! Don’t forget that 20% of the profits of the book after it’s published will go help two of my most loved charities, iempathize and AIDchild. By helping me you will be helping them.On to my post!

I thought it would be fun to post a bit about my history. And what what better place to start than the minimum security prison that we all know as Middle School.

It was the early 90s. We were still in shock from the late 80’s, otherwise known as “The Era of All Things Big.” Big shoulder pads, guys with steroid enhanced big muscles, big rock ballads like Pour Some Sugar On Me, and big earrings. (One of my favorite pairs literally had a scene of a castle with a prince riding up to it.  I am not making that up. Said enormous castle scene earrings actually weighed my earlobes down so much that one of them tore. I still have the tear in my right ear to prove it.)

The most important  thing on this “big things list” was BIG HAIR. It was that special decade in which we were unknowingly hairspraying a hole in the ozone layer the size of Russia.  But what thirteen year old girl in their right mind is  environmentally conscious when she is trying as hard as possible to fit in?

All the popular girls would come to school with their bangs styled in perfect 90s form: half curled back, half curled forward, like waves breaking in the Barren Sea. These girls had apparently found an elective class called “Bang Curling 101,” where they could spend hours a day perfecting the art.

I myself had taken Band Class instead of Bang Class, opting to play the keyboard in the marching band. That keyboard was stinking heavy, but it was the price I had to pay to be a part of the dysfunctional family know as middle school band class.  I didn’t have a lot of time to master styling my hair when there were other things on my mind, like making fun of the baritone sax player who I had a secret crush on, or carrying a thirty nine pound instrument down the football field while simultaneously playing it. I am now seriously considering writing to my band  teacher to ask him if he has ever heard of any other marching band with a keyboard player (because i certainly haven’t,) and then kindly suggesting that he pay all of my chiropractor bills.

I had such a hard time with the art of bang maintenance that I opted to grow them out. I proceeded to bleach my hair with Sun In and crimp it  every day until it eventually looked like Mount St. Helen’s on a hot day. It was the 90s, folks. Hairspray, vests, tube tops, hats with sunflowers on them, hair that falls out in clumps. These were our very own fashion rites of passage, and you better not make fun of them.

My best friend in elementary school had become popular overnight when we reached the seventh grade. I had the privilege of riding on her popular coattails for a while.

But my brief liaison with popularity ended one day, when she came up with this simple formula:

Walking around with best friend Kate from elementary school+scorched hair instead of bountiful 90s hair+band geekiness+ Screech- from -Saved- By- The- Bell -like -tendencies= popularity quotient going down drastically .

She wrote me a note using lots of cuss words, had all the other popular girls glare at me when I tried to sit with them in the lunch room, and threw my stuff out of our shared locker.

There are three things that are a sure in life. Death, taxes, and girls being ridiculously mean to each other in middle school. World without end, amen.

Thankfully, after a long lonely season, I bonded with a group I affectionately refer to as the “Banned Locker Refugees.” All of us had our stuff thrown out of mean girl lockers. We had an incredible assortment of haircuts, including the “mushroomed,” the “feathered like a hawk,” the “skater gone bad,” and the “I stuck a bowl on my head and my mom cut around it.” None of us had the right bangs. But we laughed a lot and a we enjoyed each other. I still talk to one of those girls almost every week.

I had survived Middle School. Just barely. But I survived.

Anyone have funny 90’s moments? Horrible middle school moments? Wonderful middle school moments?

A Safe Place To Rant

 

I want to try an experiment on this post.  I want you to feel full permission to rant in the comments. Let’s make a safe place where we can be honest with our frustrations without feeling like we are negating our faith by doing so.  Pass this on to friends who this would be cathartic for. (If you just want to rant to me without having it posted and I can try to write you back, contact me here.) 

I am almost done with my book that is about being a Christian single.(Sign up for my non inbox clogging newsletter on the right and you be the very first to receive two chapters from the book! )

Originally I wanted to call my book Pissed Like Hip-Hop:Why Christian Singles over Thirty Have Every Right to be Pissed. It would be an intentional rip off of the brilliantly written Blue Like Jazz, partially because Blue Like Jazz is a great title, and partially because that guy made a lot of money off the book and is single and might be flattered.

I chose not to call it Pissed Like Hip-Hop because I didn’t want to sound like a bitter and mean single person. Instead I called it Getting Naked Later:A Guide For the Fully Clothed, which just make me sound really socially awkward.

Even though I did not name my book Pissed Like Hip Hop, I do want to give myself permission to sound a teeny bit bitter and mean for one little post. I want you to know that I am not only writing this post to sound angry at anyone or at God,  I am writing it because I want to validate every person that is single out there reading. I think we single people need to feel understood, even if it is just for a few minutes

At the risk of sounding like I am ranting, I am going to rant.

If this kind of thing makes you mad, you can go read one of my more Godly posts like this one.

So here goes. Let these words resonate with all of their pity party glory.Let the sentence be as naked as I want to be someday.

Being single sucks.

There it is, folks. The sentiment almost every Christian single person has thought many, many times— especially those of us who are over thirty. For decades, it has not been socially acceptable in our world to articulate that sentiment without feeling like children throwing a temper tantrum about our love lives.

And yet, I just said it. I should get a Dove Award or something.

I had a hard time writing that sentence. It makes me sound unspiritual, ungrateful, and untrusting. In fact, I have been thinking about rewriting it many times since I typed it.

I read a good book this week, one that I wouldn’t have had time for if I had a family, so I pondered changing the sentence to “Sometimes being single sucks.”

I babysat five kids today, and I was as frazzled as a one-legged Riverdancer. I thought about adding, “but having a family is difficult too.”

Finally though, I decided to leave it like it is, for all of our sakes. Nothing softening the blow, nothing added to the end of the sentence. Why?

Because someone needs to say it. That’s why.

Here are a few of my rants. I will just stick to some that are on my mind right now.

-Being single sucks when I  feel like I have been perpetually living the life of a college student for the last fifteen years. I have to find a new place to live almost every time the lease comes up.

-Being single sucks when I see a couple kiss. I know that being married is hard, but so is not having any form of touch except side hugs for the last two years.

-Being single sucks because I am alone many, many hours of the day and I have to work pretty hard to have long conversations with people, like make them food or take them out to eat. I would love to make a meal on an average day and have people sitting at the table with me.

-Being single sucks when a scenario like this happens: an single woman at a bible study lets herself be vulnerable and talks about her struggles with feeling lonely. A married member of the group scoffingly says, “Why don’t you take my kids for a day and I’ll go get my nails done.”

(This really happened at a friend’s bible study by the way. What’s that I hear? A collective borderline personality disorder groan from all of my single friends out there?)

-Being single sucks because dating is not really that fun. Especially online dating.  I really hate small talk and I really hate getting my hopes up and I really hate hurting people, so I would rather have my teeth drilled than go on eHarmony first dates. I know, I know, all you married people! Online dating is the ultimate answer to my singleness woes! I know that there are a hundred men waiting for me in the online dating world! But 14 of those men are showing off their beer bellies with their shirts off (I am serious, I have had those matches). 32 say in their profile that they love to mountain bike and travel when in real life they like to mountain bike and travel via their x-box. And 99.6 of them don’t love Jesus like I do. It is actually a very disheartening process.

-Being single sucks when I equate birthdays with my shrinking probability that I will have children.

-Being single sucks when doing research for my book I found countless articles with titles like, Marriage Does not Solve Your Problems, or How to Stop Postponing Your Life, but none called something like, “Why Singleness Sucks.”

Take this quote, for example, which is a paraphrase of one of the above articles.

“When you are looking for a mate you should try to find a comrade, not someone who will give you ultimate contentment. You should find a helpmate, not a healer.”

I read countless sentiments like this in my research. Here’s the thing: I don’t think that I have postponed my life. I have lived a very full life with the hand I have been given. I don’t think I am looking for ultimate contentment or a healer. I know that contentment is something that I have to work out between myself and God and that I shouldn’t project it onto another person. I already have a healer, and I realize that. But I am longing for a comrade, a lifelong companion, a helpmate, a family, and it hurts that I don’t have one yet. Is there something wrong with that? Are my feelings not valid?

And that, my friends, is where I’m going to end this post.I know you’re expecting more from me, but what good is a rant that ends in something wise? Doesn’t that take away all the cathartic glory of a rant?

Instead I’m going to just thank you for listening. I really do feel better now.

Now I want you to feel better too! Rant away!!

P.S.- I just realized that my last two posts have pictures of someone yelling on them, that they are both children, and that they are both throwing their heads to the right. Maybe I need a little  inner healing work, and need to try positioning my head to the left sometimes when I am ranting.

 

Marriage Counseling With God

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I was talking to my friend Tom the other day. He is married to one of my best friends, Kate. He was forty years old when he got married. He is pretty shy and has not dated a lot. He had gotten to the point where he thought marriage was not in the cards for him. He decided to start going to a coffee shop just to have more community. Kate worked there and to his surprise, she slipped him her number one day.

At their wedding, he tearfully told us that he had never expected God to give him someone so beautiful, someone who would open his eyes to life in ways he had never imagined. It was very special. They are one of the happiest couples I know.

Last weekend we were talking about my book, and the conversation turned, as it often does, to hearing the phrase if you just let go, your spouse will come (as I discussed in the post What Single People Wish Married People Knew) and how that kind of formulaic thinking can be frustrating at times, especially in your thirties.

Tom said, “you know, I did go through a process of letting go during the season just before I met Kate. It would look like that formula worked for me. But I wasn’t letting go of the desire to get married. I was letting go of my anger at God because I wasn’t married. That is one of the best things I could have done, because it made me a more whole person. That wall being torn down in my life helped draw Kate to me.”

This really struck me, and I’ve been thinking about it all week. I have to admit, I have had to work through a lot of feelings of anger towards God over the singleness issue. More than any other issue in my life by far. I have even had a few yelling matches with him.

To look that anger in the face and deal with it seems more fruitful than saying I let go of my desire to be married. I personally have never felt called to life long celibacy, and to tell God that I am fine with it doesn’t seem to be the best answer to my frustration.

Rather than letting go of being married, I believe it would be better to focus on working through this anger that I have struggled with towards God.

I don’t want to go through this process because it is a formula that will get me a man. I want to go through it because I love God and don’t want walls up between us. God is the most important person in my life. He has walked with me during every trial and joy I have ever gone through. He has been more faithful than any lover could be. He has loved me through all circumstances, even when I have not been faithful. As II Timothy 2:13 says, if we are faithless, he remains faithful.

Sometimes I forget this fierce, relentless love. I know that God is good, but in my limited perception it is sometimes hard to believe in his goodness. I say that I trust him, but do I really?  Do I secretly tell him that I will trust him once I have a family, because it is then that I will know he loves me?

That is not trust at all. Trusting is believing in his goodness even when our lives don’t turn out the way we thought they would.

It might be wise for me to do a little marriage counseling with God. I may even have to forgive him. Forgiving God seems like a weird concept, because he is God. By his very nature, he hasn’t done anything wrong. But we have to admit that in our limited perception of him we haven’t always been able to understand his goodness.  To understand why life is not what we thought it would be. We need to “forgive” him for that.

Working through this anger could tear down walls that will draw people to us, just like in Tom’s situation. I’m not saying that this is a formula for finding your spouse. It just doesn’t work that way. But I do believe that healthy people are often attracted to healthy people, while broken people are often attracted to broken people. We all have some level of brokenness, but we can work hard to be as healthy as possible.

If you have done the hard work of being emotionally  healthy, especially in your relationship with God,  you will most likely attract other people that have also done that work. They will see the strong, trusting, peaceful person that is a result of that work, and they will want to walk alongside someone that beautiful.

What has your process of trust looked like? Have you ever been angry at God? How has the emotional work you have done changed the way that people are drawn to you?