Thirty, Flirty, and Fertile (Part II)


As I stated in Part I of this series, when people tell me that age doesn’t matter, I respond with “tell that to my uterus.”

My uterus and I have had quite a few problems in our relationship as of late. In truth, my uterus is pretty frustrated with me.

The argument she has with me all the time sounds like this: “Kate, what am I good for if I don’t house a little baby for nine months? I’ve been sitting down here for over thirty years with nothing to do! I need a job, Kate! Go out there! Find yourself a man! Get married and get these eggs fertilized.”

I feel sheepish and guilty every time my uterus and I talk. Because she’s right. I do need to get “out there.” But it’s more complicated than it seems. I try to tell her that, and she says, “Why didn’t you go out with all those guys who liked you ten years ago? Why were you so picky?”

“I don’t know, Uterus. Life only makes sense in the rear view mirror.” That’s what I always say. Or maybe that’s a country song. Either way, it’s true.

According to the social norms, my uterus and I have exactly three years, eight months, and eight days to get ourselves pregnant.

That is the day that I turn forty. The day that my eggs shrivel up and die. Forever.

If they do by some monumental miracle of God get fertilized after that day, my babies will look like a cross between Jay Leno and Steven Tyler.

At least that’s what the people around me and society have told me.

I joke about my uterus and about roller skating parties, but the truth is, my ticking biological clock is a serious matter. If I can’t sleep at night, I am often thinking about the fact that I am getting older and might never do all the things I dream of doing, especially having a family.

Lately I am realizing how much this is culture induced, though, and that if we didn’t have such a thing as the label of age, I wouldn’t be so scared. Think of the countless references to turning forty that plant fear in all of us. Forty seems to be the marker in which we need to figure out whether our lives are meaningful or not in our culture. My friend who is a midwife in Portland says that half of her clients are in their forties. From the way our culture talks, you would never think that was the truth.

Often when I date someone, I will start out the relationship lightly, but then my fear kicks in. I try desperately not to be desperate. If I am not careful, I end up wearing my biological clock on my sleeve. I all but stand up on the table during a date and do an interpretive dance of the old DC Talk song “Time is Ticking Away” complete with my arms moving to the rhythm like a clock.

I am realizing that this is one of the biggest fears I have dealt with in the last decade. I have let it run my life sometimes, and I am tired of it. If I wasn’t so fearful of this age thing, if I were not so aware of the social label of age, I might be able to date someone without them feeling unnecessary amounts of pressure, without them inevitably taking on some of my own fear. I could date them for a good while so that we are sure about the decision and wouldn’t rush into anything simply because of how many years I’ve lived. It is something I need to work hard to overcome.

The only way that I can possibly get over this fear is to trust God. If God wants me to have a family, I will have a family. He has no time constraints. Nothing is too difficult for him. If I don’t have a family, it will be very hard for me to understand, as it is something that I believe God has promised to me. But I will be okay. I can choose to be a mother in other ways if that is what the Lord has for me.

In Ecclesiasties 3:10-11 Solomon gives us these words.

“I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. ”

Let’s look at this verse a little closer. You read the first part -“I have seen the burden God has laid on man”- and you wonder. . .what is this mysterious burden that God has laid on men? To have to work to provide food and shelter for your family? The evil in the world? Mosquitos? Joan Rivers?

The next sentence that identifies the “great burden” that God has laid on us is very surprising.

Here is the burden: he makes all things beautiful. 

Why would God making something beautiful be a burden? That sounds much more like a blessing doesn’t it?

Read on and you might understand.

“He makes all things beautiful in its time. ”

This great burden is not that he makes all things beautiful. It is that he makes all things beautiful in his time. In ways that are beyond our limited perception.

Some of us get angry at his timing. We do not like getting older. We don’t like that “Only Be With You” by Hootie and the Blowfish was written in 1995. (How can it possibly be that long ago?) We “cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Standing within the walls of time, we don’t understand.

Maybe we need a different perspective.

My friend Sam said to me the other day, “Kate, do you realize that if you had a child a few years ago, your baby would most like have had Lyme disease? (Lyme can be passed onto children in the womb.) Maybe it was not God withholding from you when he didn’t let you have a baby at that age. Maybe it was His grace. Maybe He wanted to wait for you to be healthy to let you have a child.” It had never occurred to me before that my having to wait might not have been God stealing something, but him waiting to give me something much better.

We can’t often see things clearly from our limited perception of life. Perhaps God stands above us, above time, as if we are in a parade, and he throws down love on us, like floating ticker tapes. He throws down love from that lofty window, seeing the bigger picture, and we don’t understand what he is doing from beginning to end. But the love still falls down on us, surrounding us as we march on, unaware.

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for your grace. Whether I have a husband or not, whether I have children or not, even when I don’t understand your timing or my disappointments, I can trust this one thing.

You make all things beautiful.

The God Who Knows

One of the stories that has ministered the most to me in this season of being single is the story of Hannah in I Samuel 1.

Hannah couldn’t have any children. Her husband would come to her and say “Hannah why are you weeping? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you then ten sons?”

Though she knew that her husband loved her, she still mourned over what she did not have. She longed for a child.

Hannah’s name means “Beautiful” or “Passionate.” We see that her name was very befitting to her. She went to the temple and she made a vow to the Lord. She said “O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery, and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life.”

In the course of time, God answered Hannah’s prayer. She conceived and bore a son and named him Samuel. Samuel means “God heard me.”

When her son was born, she worshiped God with this beautiful prayer:”My heart rejoices in the Lord… I delight in your deliverance. The Lord is a God who knows….He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.”

In the next few years Hannah conceived three sons and two daughters, but she kept her promise to God with her first son. Samuel grew up in the temple. As Ray Hughes says “Samuel had come from a place of worship, and now Hannah wanted him to live in a place of worship. ”

Samuel became the bridge of the old era to a new era, because he was considered the last judge of Israel and the first prophet of Israel.  The political atmosphere of Israel completely changed with Samuel. It went from a place where judgement ruled to a place where listening and responding to God ruled. Just as God did not judge Hannah but listened to her, Samuel was able to access a God who did not only judge, but listened.

A nation was changed forever. And it all came from a hurting woman who didn’t hide her disappointment with God, but poured it out to him.

About eight years ago, I bought a dining room table from a thrift store for my birthday. The table was very dusty, but when I rubbed off some of the dust, I saw how beautiful it was. In my mind’s eye, as clear as day,   I saw myself sitting with a family around that table. I saw us talking about our day. I saw friends that had come over and were having deep conversations over dinner. I saw children running around, playing hide and go seek, laughing.

I bought that table as a gift of hope to myself. I had great expectations that those those things would happen around that very table.

Recently, I had to sell that table.  That was more than a table to me. It was attached to my dreams. Nearly a decade after buying the table, those dreams did not come to pass. They were sold at a garage sale for a couple hundred bucks.

I believe that when that table was sold, God did for me what he did for Hannah. He did not mock my sadness over a piece of furniture. He knew it was not a little thing to me. He knew that I was disappointed, and He let me mourn.

God did not say to Hannah “You are so ungrateful! You have a husband that loves you. Isn’t that enough?” (As her husband points out.) Or “Be still my child. Know that I am God. I and only I am to fill this empty place in you.”

No, God did not answer her in that way. He heard her prayer. He heard the cry of her heart and He knew.

When God talks to me he calls me Katie Girl. Writing that name makes me teary, because it brings to mind an entire lifetime of journeys that I have walked with the Lord. I know my Father’s heart when I hear that name. I remember how much He loves me when I hear that name.

Recently, I was journaling out what I was hearing from God, like a letter from him. It is  something I often do when I need to hear his tender voice. I had just experienced a difficult rejection from someone that I care deeply about, and I was weeping much like Hannah wept. I asked Him the question I have asked more than any other in my life. “Lord, why has no one chosen me? Why do my relationships end in a broken heart instead of covenant? Why is that no one has fallen in love with me in such a long time? It aches so much. It doesn’t seem right.”

This is what he said: “Katie girl, you have been faithful to believe in my goodness even after many years of praying for a family. You are so strong and so patient. I am not letting go of you, love. You will not be left unrewarded for your faithfulness to me. I keep all of my promises”

He did not say “Now Kate, you aren’t trusting me in this place.” He did not say “Look at all that you do have, Kate. Be grateful for heaven’s sake.”  Yes, I do need to trust. Yes I do need to be thankful. Yes, I do need to let go of that dining room table for a season. But in that moment, God knew that I needed to mourn.

He did not tell me that I was weak. He told me that I was strong. So strong that I refused to let go of him, just like Hannah. That is what I needed to hear in that moment.

As my song “The Only One I Love” says

She is strong even in her weakness
In her weakness she’s lovely
She is strong in her darkest hour
When she runs when she runs to me
I weep when she reaches from me
I weep ’cause she loves me blind
I weep when she remembers
She’s the love, the love of my life

God does not mock my pain. He bends down to hold me when I cry. I would venture to say that he cries with me. Not only because he aches with me, but because he is so proud of the way I have trusted Him through this, the longest, hardest trial of my life. Because, like the song says, I have loved him blind.

He also loves me blind. He loves me even in my weakness. He sees past my  questioning and my frustration and he sees me faithful. He is the God that steers his eyes to see the bride beneath the harlot’s skin, the virtue underneath the sin.

Just like Hannah sang when she worshiped Him, He is the God who knows.

Thirty, Flirty, and Fertile (Part I)

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Recently, my roommates and I (all of whom are over 30 and single) went to a 90s roller skating party.  At first, we couldn’t think of  what to wear. We decided to look online for inspiration. Suddenly many bad fashion memories came back to us.  The Jennifer Anniston haircut. The little plastic circle that you could slip onto your t-shirt to make it look almost like you tied it, but not quite. The hat with the big sunflower it that could have come right off the show “Blossom.”

My roommate Jess decided to go for the mid 90’s grunge look. She had a morose spirit hanging over her that was obviously inspired by Pearl Jam. Jess dressed the part perfectly with cotton leggings, converse, and an oversized flannel shirt. (I recently learned that the flannel shirt craze was inspired by Kurt Cobain. When Cobain was asked why he wore them, he said “I live in Seattle. I get cold.”) The little detail that pulled Jess’ look together was a velvet ribbon choker with a cross on it.  She parted her bangs down the middle, put some black makeup around her eyes, and wore bright red lipstick.

At first I was amused when I saw her outfit.  I thought to myself ” that looks just like what I wore almost every day when I was in college.”

Then, I had my first freak out of the night. ” THAT LOOKS JUST LIKE WHAT I WORE ALMOST EVERY DAY WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE!” What? How could this be? How could we be going to a decade theme party and I was having flashbacks of my high school and college days?

I started counting backward. Twenty years since the early 90’s. TWENTY YEARS?  Is it possible? I began to realize that going to this party was the equivalent of my mom going to a “Remember the 60’s” party when I was growing up.  I honestly couldn’t believe it.

I calmed myself down, gathered up my courage, put on my florescent orange shirt, applied a ridiculous amount of hairspray,  and headed off to the party.

I got even more freaked out once we got there.  This rollerskating joint  looked like every single rollerskating place I ever went to when I was in middle school.

The orange carpet. The disco balls and lights that put patterns on the dance floor. The brown roller skates that have dangerous orange shoelaces that are way too long.  (Doesn’t anyone even TEST those roller skates? There are CHILDREN wearing these things, for heaven’s sake!) The people going at very high speeds who suddenly swerve around the gateway on the verge of crashing, flashing a smile at you to cover up the fact that they are about to knock six people over. The couples holding hands. The awkward people inching forward very slowly along the walls, trying to pretend they have some semblance of balance.   The inevitable game of crack the whip where a line of people skate around in circles, forgetting that the unfortunate person at the end of the line is rolling so fast that they could at any moment be propelled against the wall.

I went out to skate and found myself wondering (in a very teen-agery way)  if anyone was watching me. I was quite cognizant of the way I smoothly ran my wheels across the floor, how hot I probably looked in my 90’s shirt with one sleeve, how all the 25 year old guys there probably had no idea that I was in High School in the 90s because I still looked so young and vivacious. But those thoughts all stopped abruptly because my too long shoe laces got caught up in my wheels and I fell flat on my face.

Just like in middle school.

After I brushed myself off and started making another lap,  I started listening to the music that was playing.

Even. More. Freaked. Out.

I know Ice Ice Baby was from the 90’s It seems like it belongs in the 90’s. The same goes for Milli Vanilli and Can’t Touch This. But what about Mr. Jones by Counting Crows? Semi Charmed Kinda Life?  One Headlight by the Wallflowers? It does not seem like fifteen plus years since I first heard those songs.

I came home from that party feeling pretty old.

People say to me all the time “Well, age doesn’t matter. It’s just a number.”

You know what my response always is?

“Tell that to my uterus. ”

….To Be Continued

If You Can’t Marry ‘Em, Blog About ‘Em

I have been in thirty three weddings.

I am not talking about how many I’ve been to, but  how many I’ve been in. I was a bridesmaid in some. I am a full time singer songwriter so I have sang and played in many more. Unfortunately, my job in these weddings has never been to walk down the aisle in a white dress. But I tell you what, if I ever get married, I will have lots of ideas to choose from.

Let’s just look at one wedding that I went to a few years ago that is a snapshot of my single life

Two of my dearest friends were getting married. It was a beautiful backyard wedding. Before the wedding started  I was talking to my friend Shannon, a very feisty, happily married 40 year old. This is what Shannon said to me that day, as she gestured towards my curled hair and perfect makeup  and my eggplant colored sleeveless dress that showed off my shoulders

“Kate, you look smoking hot. Too bad it’s just wasted. ”

Most of you that are single are shaking the heads, putting this comment in the mental file called “insensitive things that married people say to single people.” Believe me, that mental file is chock full of comments people have made to me over the years , but this was not one of them. I  was not offended by this remark, because I knew that Shannon meant it as a compliment. What she was saying is “What the heck, Kate? You are wonderful person. I don’t understand why you’re still single. ” People say this to me often.

It is kind of a mystery to all of us.

During the wedding, I sang a love song that I wrote. My married friend Seth came up to me and said “Kate, in that dress, singing that song, any single guy here would want to dance with you. ” I felt very flattered. At the reception, thinking about those two comments as I was eating my chicken a la king, I started to feel very confident, brazen even. I was beautiful. Someone would want to dance with me.

I began to anticipate the dancing that was about to begin. One of those handsome single groomsmen would see me across the room and think “that was the girl who sang her song during the wedding. She fascinates me. I want to dance with her. ” He would walk up shyly and  ask me.  We would step out onto the dance floor and he would gently take my hand. Even that would give me butterflies, since no one has touched my hand in a long time. And then we would move together. Two peopled with different personalities, different weakness’, different strengths, moving as if they were one.

Maybe I would even fall in love.

The time came for the single men to ask the single women to dance.  I stood at the edge of the floor in anticipation like Cinderella at the ball.

No one asked me to dance.

Instead of feeling like the intriguing girl everyone wanted to dance with, I felt more like the Old Maid in that children’s card game- standing alone while everyone else paired up. I could have pulled out my knitting needles and my rocking chair right then and there. I wanted to say “Hey! Single guys! Over here! According to my married friends, this dress makes me look smoking hot! Doesn’t anyone want to dance with me?” I waited, hoping for a falling-in-love-worthy  song. Surely all those groomsmen were just being shy.

Sadly, the next song was anything but romantic. Can you guess what it was? I’ll give you one hint: it has nothing to do with wedded bliss and everything to do with an athletic club.

That’s right folks, the YMCA.

The YMCA seems to be a dance designed for people who can’t dance. A dance that you could do even if you were in a wheelchair.  If you are unable to learn the incredibly complicated 80’s dance that involves hopping up and down alone, you can at least fling your arms out to spell things. “Look at us!” we say. ” Who says we can’t dance? We are so coordinated! We can all spell out the letters for the Young Men’s Christian Association in perfect unison! ”

I was annoyed, but I still I went out there and “danced” with all the other bad dancers.  More accurately I “spelled.” But I wasn’t in perfect unison with them. Instead of YMCA, I was spelling WPCD. A little secret joke between me and myself. White People Can’t Dance.  This has been a tradition for me at weddings ever since then. *

In the songs that followed, I participated in all of the traditional dances performed at caucasian majority weddings. You know, like the squat, the point and squat, the clap point point clap point point point clap point and squat, the hip breaker, the caucasian clap, the point to the Lord, and the fat rebel.

And finally, towards the end of the wedding came the dance I really wanted to participate in, even if it was reminiscent of awkward middle school moments;  slow dancing whities. **

But there would be no slow dancing for me. Not even in my smoking hot dress.

I wanted love, and instead, I got the white man’s overbite.

Seriously God? Seriously?

That night was kind of a snapshot of my life.  The reception started out with me eating at a table with dear friends and loving life.  I laughed. I felt accepted.  I was thankful. But then the dancing came and everyone took their partner . Another pair and another pair and another pair. I sat at the table and slowly ate my wedding cake, an important stance when you don’t want to look like you have nothing to do while everyone is dancing.  I tried really hard not to cry.

I don’t want this to be difficult for me. I want to be satisfied in who I am as a single woman. But when I look at those pairs dancing, no matter how hard I try to fight it,  I don’t feel smoking hot. I feel alone.

Married or single, it is one of our biggest fears to be alone. In a 2005 gallup poll on what people fear the most, the top fears were terrorist attacks, death, failure, nuclear war, and, you guessed it; being alone. All of desire three basic things: To be loved for who we are, to feel like we’re valuable, and to know that we’re not alone. And for some mysterious reason, all of us, married or single, have a really hard time knowing how to give and receive those things.

How do we find hope that is still hope even if it doesn’t end in a wedding dress? How can we prepare ourselves if we do get married? How can we be thankful for where we are today?  What can singles and married people learn from each other to help us cope with this journey? Is a life that has no intimate witness still valuable? If a traditional family never comes to us, are we doomed to loneliness, or can we build our own family?   Does God see me alone at my table, eating my wedding cake? Does He care? Does He feel the same way at times?

These are some of the questions that I want to explore in this blog. I love the thought of you going on this journey with me. Let’s walk fully clothed along this road together.

*I looked up YMCA and wedding on the internet as “research” and found this in Yahoo Answers:

Question: “Do fundamentalist Christians do the YMCA dance at weddings? It just seems like it would be the dance of the devil. Which village people singer do they like the most?”

Best Answer- chosen by asker “The Village People are a creation of Fundamentalist Christians, so yes. They like the construction worker best because the Lord likes hard work. ”

Another not so popular answer was “Fundamental Christians prefer the Hokey Pokey, while pentacostals are hot for the electric slide.”  This is what happens when you do research on the internet.

**All of these moves and more can be seen on the youtube video “How To Dance Like A White Guy.”  Very scientific, incredibly accurate internet research.