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!)

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My Deepest Secret Revealed

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Side Note: My book should be out in a few weeks so get ready! I think you will really like it. If you are a blogger with pretty good traffic or know of any bloggers or authors that could help me out, could you message me via my website? I can send them a free book to review.

On to the post!

I have a secret to tell you. It is a secret I have only told a few of my closest friends. It is such a stunning secret that I never even hinted at it to my last boyfriend, and I told him pretty much everything about my life. But not this. I knew that his view of me would change if I told him.

First, let me add here that I am a pretty deep person. As stated in a previous post, I have gone to monasteries all over the world to have solitude retreats. I work with homeless people on a regular basis and have even gone so far as to be homeless for a few days to understand them. I write music that makes people cry at times. I love books by contemplatives like Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton.

I would like to make you believe that the deep, beautiful, mystical Kate is who I am all the time. To convince you that there is no such thing as the weak, insecure Kate.

But your view of me is about to change when I reveal my secret. Making this confession is especially scary to me, because you are now going to know a part of me that I don’t like very much.

OK. Here I go. Here is my secret: I watch The Bachelor.

Now I feel much shallower than I make myself out to be. I honestly would rather have admitted that I used to be a drug dealer.

I have always secretly looked down on people that watch a lot of TV. I was better than them. I would read books instead of watching television. I would not be materialistic. I would be counter-culture. I would be deep. I would be a super-non-TV-watching-intriguing-indie-music-listening-mystical-social- justice-loving-follower-of-Jesus-who-wears-Toms-shoes.

But during the last few years, when I was in ministry school and being taught about spiritual things all the time, when I was working with homeless people and feeling so sad for them, when I was touring and meeting so many people that I was sapped of all my energy, well, sometimes I just wanted to stop thinking.

During these difficult seasons, I realized that I could have TV on my own laptop and hide it a little more. It became less of a social event and more of a private event. So I started watching it. And The Bachelor became my one staple TV show.

I know, I know. If I’m going to watch one show, why would I choose this one? It is just ridiculous. Every season it is the same. The man with the perfect chest and perfect charm. The synthetically-endowed, bikini-wearing, bleached-hair-perfect, gorgeous women. Some of them are sweet; some of them are psycho. In fact, I heard a radio program in which a reality show producer admitted to trying to cast forty percent narcissists and people who are crazy enough to make good television but not crazy enough to bash the camera in with a bat.

And for some mysterious reason, I love every minute of it.

I admit, I have a problem. I all but tap my arm before I shoot myself up with a new season. Why, I ask myself? Why would I want to watch this show?

In order to feel less shallow, I like to tell myself that I’m not just watching TV, I am observing a sociological experiment. I ask myself with a very scientific air, “What is the psychological process of a man who is put into a room with a number of beautiful women? When he has to choose who he wants to break up with and who he wants to keep?”

I convince myself that I’m a lot like Jane Goodall, only instead of watching monkeys and the way they interact, I’m observing a bunch of hot people.

I’m not watching this for entertainment, people! I’m watching it for research! Under my blanket and with my headphones on, so my housemates won’t hear the mumbling of romantic TV encounters coming from under the door. What’s wrong with that?

There. I feel better now. I just admitted to you some of my strongest parts and some of my weakest parts. I hope you will choose to love both sides, and I pray that I will do the same for others, especially if I get married. If  marriage is what God has for me, my spouse will be real and he will be hard to live with at times. But that is okay because I will be real, too, and I will be hard to live with at times, too. When I don’t expect my mate to be ideal, I won’t expect myself to be ideal. I will feel more free to be the imperfect me. I won’t need to hide anymore. I won’t need to have secrets. I can confess things and not be afraid that it will make me unlovable.

Even now, while we are single, it is important to love our friends and family for who they are, not for who we want them to be.

As my friend Brandon says, marriage should not be about finding a perfect person who will meet all of your needs. Marriage should be about creating a room where both of you can be human.

And I wouldn’t mind a room in which I am occasionally allowed to watch reality television.

Adventures In Pity Partying

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Today we will talk about pity parties. I have been the event planner for quite a few of these festivities, so I can talk about them with some expertise.

Okay, I’ll stop being modest and just and say it:  I am pretty much the Martha Stewart of pity parties

Here are some of my pity party planning tips:

1) Come depressed. Your goal should be to obsess about how crappy your life is, and to have your guests comfort you as you talk about how crappy your life is.

2) Be selective about who you invite. Don’t include people who will say things like “get over yourself”or “it’s time to move on.” They will ruin everything.

3) Wear the proper outfit. This usually includes glasses, pajamas, and rabbit slippers.

4) Plan your menu! I like to have potato chips as my appetizer, Ben and Jerry’s as the main course, and maybe another kind of Ben and Jerry’s for dessert. An assortment of deep fried foods works great for side dishes. If you want to get especially fancy, add garnishes of marshmallows and tootsie rolls.

5) Mood music is very important! I have a mix tape labeled Kate’s Songs That Allow Her To Wallow In The Depths Of Despair.

This tape contains such classics as:

“All By Myself”- made popular by our mentor,  Bridget Jones.

“Against All Odds”by Phil Collins- you cannot get a more apt song for a pity party than one that contains phrases like “How can you just walk away from me?” “Theres nothing left here to remind me, just the memory of your face,” and “I wish I could make you turn around, turn around and see me cry.” Classic.

“Baby Got Back: by Sir Mixalot- Wait, how did that get on here?

6) Plan some really fun games! My favorites are “Pin the Tail On the X-Boyfriend” and “The Pinata That Looks Remarkably Like Someone I Used To Kiss.”

7) Make sure to light lots of candles. If the pity party goes really well, you and your guests can burn love notes and pictures as the finale of your shindig.

8) If you want to provide party favors, I can hook you up with some nice pity party T-Shirts. I have soft gray ones that you can wear to bed, hot pink ones with sparkles for when you go out with the girls that come in sets of three, and light blue ones that have “Pity Party” written on them very subtly that are especially nice to wear to church. I also have pity party mugs and pity party signature kleenex.

Follow these tips, and you too can have a great (read: pathetic and soul draining) pity party!

In all seriousness, the reason I am such an expert in this area is that I have thrown many pity parties in this season. I am getting older. I don’t have a lot of years left to have biological children. It has been on my mind all the time, and my patient friends (including you, dear readers) have had to endure a lot of conversations about it. I have been walking around saying “how could this be my life?”

This week, the darkness of this season grew to a crescendo when my long time counselor challenged me to really examine what I would do if I never got married and didn’t have biological children. How would I go about rearranging my life if my only choice to have a child was to adopt? She also asked me if I thought that my life would be valuable if I never had a traditional family. It was almost impossible for me to say yes.

I have been devastated for days. At the same time, though, I am recognizing how much these thoughts have been consuming me lately. I haven’t been sleeping very well. My mind has been mulling over my difficult childhood, wondering if that contributed to people not falling in love with me. I have been bitter towards x-boyfriends for rejecting me. I have been doubting God’s goodness and even existence because he was not given this deep desire. In other words, I have been trying to blame anyone I can for my pain.

This difficult counseling session helped purge this deep sadness in me, and also made me realize that I am spiritually “hung over” and exhausted from the pity parties I have been throwing. I have had the mantra “denial and bitterness, denial and bitterness, denial and bitterness” pounding in my head, and it is stealing away my life.

So this week, I have tried to fill my mind with different thoughts. I have literally repeated the words: “acceptance and gratefulness, acceptance and gratefulness, acceptance and gratefulness” in order to replace the other hopeless words.

Someone asked me the other day “if you were to lose everything you haven’t been thankful for this month, what would you have left?” This really humbled me. I realized that I have been focusing so much on everything I don’t have, and missing what I do have.

I realize now that pity parties are okay every once in a while because they allow me  to express my pain, but  parties that celebrate my life are the ones I should throw on  a more regular basis.

How My Trip To The Library Proves That I Love You

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(I wanted to include the above picture as proof that the following blog is based on real events.)

I want to let you know that you are loved today.

Do you know why I know that you are loved? Because I am the one that loves you. Do you know why I know I love you? Because of a little trip I took to the library yesterday. Read on and you will understand.

I have always loved libraries. I inherited this love from my very wonderful but very quirky mother. All though my years growing up, we would have stacks and stacks of books around the corners of our house. Mom realized that if she went to Denver Public Library there was no limit to how many she took out. She also realized that she could renew all her books every Friday, and that if no one else requested them, she could keep them for as long as she wanted.

So she milked that government subsidized machine-o-wisdom for all that it was worth. At one time she had two hundred books out from the library. I am not exaggerating Two. Freaking. Hundred.

The Denver Library finally changed their policy to say that your book limit should be, you know, under the triple digits. She proudly believes that they made that policy because of her.

I usually check out really thought provoking, deep books. Books of spiritual poetry. Books by Henri Nouwen, who is my favorite non fiction author. Theological books about the bible. Novels that are beautiful written and inspiring. Books about social justice and community development, subjects I am very interested in.

In my warped, slightly self absorbed, perception, I always believe that my familiar librarians notice what I am checking out. That they are intrigued by my choice of books. There she is, they think. That wonderful kind redheaded girl who always checks out  such spiritual, thought provoking books. She is so contemplative and wise.  In truth, what they are probably thinking is I wonder if I should make tacos for dinner. 

This last time I went to the library I needed to do some more research for this blog, as I am a very astute blog writer. Plus the fact that I am totally running out of things to say about dating.

As I stood to check out my books, I looked down at what I was about to check out. And I was ashamed. deeply ashamed.

Instead of Henri Nouwen’s Return of the Prodigal Son or a book by Teresa of Avila, I was checking out Dating Makes You Want To Die: But You Have To Do It Anyway, How To Date A White Woman; A Guide For Asian Men, and Wood Nymph Seeks Centaur: A Mythological Dating Guide. (Okay. I didn’t really check out those last two, but I thought about it.)

In my mind, I was no longer the librarians favorite mysterious yet winsome patron. I was the shallow thirty something year old woman who wanted a date enough to read these ridiculous books. “Would you like to check anything else out?” the librarian said to me sadly. “No, just these,” I retorted with a tear in my eye.

One of the only books that I checked out that looked promising was called How To Date Like A Grown Up.  Okay. Looks like it might be a good research book.

I knew my mistake when I started reading the third chapter, which was called Mortuaries and Other Pick Up Joints. The chapter talks about how it is more difficult in later years to find good dating material in bars and dance clubs. So the author has a few new suggestions. In the section of the chapter called Ladies Night At the Crematorium it talks about how funerals are a really good option for us.

Not. Making. This. Up.

There is a little caption at the bottom of the page with some good advice. How long to wait to flirt with the widower. Seriously, author lady? Seriously?

The next two suggestions of places for women to find good dating material were a golf course and a motorcycle gang.

Midway through the chapter, I looked up and thought, Dear God, what has happened to me? Is this what I have been reduced to?

These are the sacrifices I must make to write this blog. These are the things I must endure.

I DO IT FOR YOU! I DO IT ALL FOR YOU!

Do you feel loved now? I hope so. Because you are.

Never Really Alone

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As you might have gathered from some of my other posts, I had Lymes Disease for seven years. I got very sick, especially towards the end. I could go seven or eight nights without sleeping day or night. I barely slept through the night for four years. I had arthritis all over my body and was in constant pain. I had soars inside of my mouth and on my face, and sometimes I would spit blood. I had to take a year off of work. I lost 35 pounds in less than two months. My best friend has told me that she would sometimes cry when I left her house because she thought I might die. It was incredibly hard.

This was one of the most difficult seasons of my life to be single. I wanted a companion with me, someone who could care about finding a way for me to get better simply so I could rest. Someone who could hold me at night and tell me it was going to be okay. I wondered if I could ever have that, if anyone would ever love me enough to take on such a huge burden.

I remember coming home from a doctor’s appointment in which he had let me know how serious my disease was. He told me that if I didn’t get better I could pass it on to my children. I wondered if I should just opt out of having a family now. I wouldn’t want them to have to live through this. He also told me that with Lyme, my symptoms would probably get worse for the rest of my life.

I stood in my living room after that doctors appointment, my purse and coat still on, overwhelmed with the weight of responsibility on my shoulders. I was the only one in my life who could get help for this. I was so sick that I could barely walk into a grocery store, and yet I was expected to do the hard work of finding a cure to a supposedly incurable disease. (I did the hard work, and I am now cured, by the way.)  I had no insurance and probably could not get insurance with the record I now had. I couldn’t work, and the government would not give me disability as Lyme is not a very recognized disease. It was terrifying. I felt utterly alone.

The AA Big Book says “When we were faced with a crisis that we could no longer postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. Choose.”

I was in my crisis and It was time for me to choose. Was God everything or nothing to me?

One night I had a dream. I was riding up an elevator and the doors opened to a hospital waiting room. A middle aged man who was slightly overweight with the kindest face you have ever seen came up and gave me a big bear hug. I had the distinct impression that we had started out as pen pals, and over the years we had become very close. He was so happy to see me.

I said “how is she doing?” He replied, “She is not well.” He had so much concern in His face. I could tell that he loved her with a very pure love.

It was then that realized that the “she” we were talking about was me. The sick version of me. Suddenly, I was the sick me, in my hospital bed. I was in and out of a coma, and I was very very ill.

Every single time I woke up, this man was there. Reading to me, doing crossword puzzles, holding my hand. Sometimes I would wake up and he would be eating in the room. He never left my side. Most of the time, I was too sick to say anything. I would just look and see him there and know that I wasn’t alone. Then I would fall back into another coma.

Sometimes, he would pick me up and put me into my wheelchair. There was a huge outdoor garden on my floor in the hospital, and he would bring me to look at all the beautiful plants and flowers. He would touch them tenderly and tell me their names and about how they grew. He would take my weak hand and bring them up to the flowers. First a stunning red amaryllis, then a delicate white orchid, then a big purple iris. I could feel the softness of the petals on my fingers.

He would take me back to my room, lift me out of my wheelchair and into my bed, and I would fall back to sleep as he knelt there, praying.

When I woke up from the dream I realized that the man was not a future husband or a father or a friend. This was Jesus.

Our God has many facets. Sometimes He is riding on a horse with stars in His right hand and a sword coming from His mouth, His face shining like the sun.

And sometimes, He is a middle aged, kind man who reads to us when we are in the hospital. He is the one who kneels down and prays for us by our sick bed. He is the one who does not leave our side.

This dream helped me to remember that I was everything to Him. That made my choice simple.

He would be everything to me.

That dream helped me realize that even though I felt alone, I was really never alone at all.

Years ago, I wrote a song called You Are Not Alone. Here are the words:

Sometimes you get so weary that you run to forget

Keep yourself so busy, anything to cover up that sometimes life just don’t make sense

And the reason for your running is a longing to be known

By someone who says your life is worth it, someone captured by your heart- someone you gave up on long ago

But you are not alone- you are not alone-His love is all around- He holds you even now-You are not alone

He will not leave you orphaned- that’s a promise He has made

When others leave you empty and the world has left you broken, still He will not walk away

So come and lay down all your questions- lay down your striving to be free

He has loved you since you’ve breathed and He will love you for forever- really what more do you need?

You are not alone-You are not alone-His love is all around and He holds you even now-You are not alone.

(To hear this song, look for it on itunes, or click here to buy it off my website)

90’s Dating Gone Bad #5: Don’t Date Someone Unless You Are Sure You Are Going To Marry Them

This is the last in my series on 90’s dating gone bad. (For background on this series, start with this post.)

Often, we Chrisitian women complain that men do not pursue us enough. But can you blame them? As a result of the “Zero dating tolerance” era, they are expected to know if they want to be with us forever within the first few dates. The bridesmaids dresses are picked out after the first cup of coffee. These men find themselves in a quandary. “I want to get to know this girl, but if I ask her out, I need to be pretty sure that I’m serious. But how do I know if I am serious about her if I don’t spend quality time with her?” It is a catch 22. I would be scared too. See what a bunch of rules does to us?

I have had good men in my life who were frozen because there is so much pressure in Christian dating. They wouldn’t  give me a chance because God did not give them a vision in which I was wearing a white dress. This kind of thinking seems emotionally driven, and based on the “feelings” you have. Feelings are a good thing, but they should not be the only thing you focus on to assess  whether you would make a good match. There should be a lot of wisdom involved as well as feelings.

As I have stated before, I think slow steady dating where you are getting to know someone day by day is the best way to do things. Something I have tried to do with the last few people I have been interested in is to not think about marriage too soon. I use what I call the “Holiday Effect.” I ask myself “Is there enough enjoyment and beauty and mutual sharpening in this relationship that I want to keep pursuing this to the next holiday?” If the answer is yes,  I invest wholeheartedly in the relationship day by day  to that next holiday, and then I check what is going on with us as a couple and what is going on inside of me. I keep doing the next best thing. Someday, I will get enough information to know whether a future with this person is a good idea or not. (The only bad thing about this theory is that I could potentially be breaking up with someone on every happy day of the year. But you get what I mean. Go in seasons.)

In my experience, few guys have taken the risk to date me like that. They want to know they are “supposed” to marry me (a term I really don’t like as it sounds so much like a duty rather than a joy) or they just want to be best friends with me. Nothing in between. Honestly, I would feel much safer dating and knowing we are praying day by day about where our relationship is going than being best friends. I know a lot of guys think there is more integrity in staying it friends rather than dating, but it can actually be so boundary-less that it ends up being damaging to a woman’s heart.

I have been interviewing married and divorced people for my book. I have heard over and over that a biproduct of this kind of thinking can be marrying someone you don’t know very well and rushing to get married. This can be very dangerous.

What do we do in the wake of our dating hell tsunami?

We need to move from a culture that is scared of dating to a culture that feels confident that they can date well and make decisions with God. In the courting model, we were taught that God wanted to choose our spouse. But God choosing a spouse for someone only happens twice in the bible. Once with Isaac and Rebecca, and once with Hosea and Gomer. As one of my favorite teachers, Dann Farrely says, “a fifty percent chance of marrying a prostitute is not very good odds.” Most verses about marriage in the bible are filled with imagery of being wise, and of choosing with God.

I believe that in order for these deep seeded unhealthy views of dating to change, a revolution needs to happen.  The Christian church at large is in a  pivotal time right now. We are more concerned with social justice issues. We are learning to become less hypocritical and more compassionate. We are trying to read the bible for what it really says, not what culture tells us it says. I would love to see our Christian communities grow in the area of dating as well. To have a revolution in which we are allowed to date and have adult relationships while still maintaing our values and boundaries. To allow a man to feel like he can ask woman out just to get to know her better without everyone in his life asking him when the wedding date will be.

I’d also love to hear sermons for single people where we are being taught good dating principals. Someone once said to me that it isn’t fair to married people to have to listen to a sermon for singles. But how many married sermons have we listened to? There are almost no unmarried pastors out there, so they don’t often think about what singles need to hear. Please, leaders in the church, make it a priority to learn what single people go through, and start bringing healthy teachings for us to grow and for our culture to change.

There also needs to be good books written about being single that will help shape the culture. Namely: a little book called Getting Naked Later which I am almost done with. (Making me rich, famous, and married to a hot guy would also be good goals for my book.)

For out dating culture to change, we all have to change together.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, especially you men.

BY THE WAY: I am thinking of doing a tour to North Carolina and surrounding states in the end of June. If anyone can think of places that I could guest lead worship or do a house concert, or even teach my sexy celibate ways to singles groups, will you let me know? Thanks!

90’s Dating Gone Bad #3: Families Should Be Intimately Involved With Who You Marry

Today I am going to continue my series on 90’s dating gone bad. (Read this article as an introduction.)

We come to our next rule, that families should be intimately involved in picking our spouses. I include this rule because it was one of the main points in “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.” Out of all the rules that we made as a Christian culture from the book, I really think we could learn from this one.

I wish that  family was as important to our culture as it is to most of the cultures around the world.  It breaks my heart that it is not. The importance of materialism and comfort over family is probably the saddest byproduct of our countries’ independence. But the reality is, in our culture there are very few families that are healthy enough to pick our spouses, or to even help us pick our spouses. Fifty percent of them seemed to do a pretty bad job picking their own.

If you have a wonderful believing family that you are close to who you can dialogue with about your dating life, then go for it. If they treat you like an adult but also want to lovingly help you make such a big decision, that’s invaluable. But not all of our families are like that.

If my parents picked a spouse for me, today, it would most likely be a modified kind of a business proposition (like in the Bible) where they found someone who would take care of me and my kids.  I’d probably get an accountant with a nice mustache and some good hair on his chest. (For some reason I have vague memories of my mom telling me she liked those things. Weird.)

There is nothing wrong with an accountant with a nice mustache, but I am glad that I have the opportunity to pick a life partner that I deeply love .

I like that I can look for  someone that I can dream together with about the kingdom and bringing it here to earth.  That I can look for someone that believes like I do: that  loving people is one of the most important vocations we can possibly have, even if it doesn’t pay well. A man who who simply brings home a decent paycheck and doesn’t think about the world around us is not enough for me, even though it would probably be enough for my parents.
I like that I can choose the man I will spend the rest of my life with. I feel like that is my right as a human being.

On the other hand, I don’t want to be the selfish, non family oriented American that I just described. I have a new, wonderful family around me, a family called the body of Christ. Most of the intimate friends I have chosen in this season of my life are the kinds of friends that never tell me what to do, that trust me to make my own decisions, but who process with me about all things that are important in my life and give wise advice.

I want to process with my family. I want to tell my family how I feel, and genuinely listen to what they have to say about the relationship that I am in. I trust them. They are not controlling, they love me.(If your family does not make you feel safe and try to control your dating life or you I would suggest running away fast.)

If I had eight of my most trusted friends  telling me that they are concerned that the person I’m dating could be a bad fit for me, I would be wise to listen. They can see better than me, since at this stage my brain greatly resembles a bowl of hormonal soup. A bowl of hormonal soup does not often think clearly.

I do make the final decision. They get a vote, I get the biggest vote. But I want the people I trust  to be involved in the process.

Another thing I would like to challenge the church on is creating better singles groups so that our “family” can help us in the dating process. Most single groups now involve a bunch of awkward people standing around a punch bowl asking each other if they like star wars. I hate small talk, and so singles groups are the scariest places on earth to me (along with eharmony first dates.)

I went to Bethel church in Redding last year and attended their single life workshop. I was so impressed with the way they went about bringing single people together. We all met in a large group, but had small groups that we sat with every week and had intimate conversations with. The groups were (heaven forbid!) both female and male! And we (heaven’s to Betsy!) talked about very intimate topics in our group like sex, communicating, even struggling with pornography. Somehow the evangelical police did not arrest us, even while talking about those topics with people of the opposite sex.

We also talked about sexual abuse- something I was surprised and incredibly saddened to discover was something many men had suffered. It was the first time many of them felt like they could talk about it, partially because there were women in the group who had gone through the same thing. They felt safe for the first time.I learned so much about men in those groups-  the way they think and date and struggle and how to pray for them. All invaluable information.

We were encouraged to date each other without crazy amounts of pressure. In fact, Bethel has their own dating website for passionate Christians, which includes links to wise teachings on dating. (ondaysix.com) Our leaders trusted us to be thinking adults who can date well. It felt good to be trusted as a single person.

My Christian culture has often made me feel like I haven’t gone through the “right of passage” of marriage, and so I am not as mature as married people. Why try to teach me on communication,  being a parent, or sex when I don’t need to know any of that? (Except how not to have sex, of course.) The leaders of this group made me feel like this information was important for me to learn, even as a single person.  They made me feel like a valuable, thinking adult. I would love to see people taking the initiative to have these kinds of healthy single groups popping up in churches everywhere.

So let’s take this 90’s dating gone bad rule and make it balanced and redeemed. Let’s love each other enough to teach about singleness. . To dialogue about our dating lives in non manipulating, empowering ways. Marriage is a big decision, and it is good to have family around us to walk with when we make big decisions.

Today, I Am Lonely.

“The only cure for grief is a pill called grief. And you have to take your medicine to get better. “-David James Duncan

I just got back from a tour to Oregon and Washington. I led a women’s retreat, taught at churches, and played some house shows. I slept on seven beds in ten days. Hence the blog silence. (For more about what I do for a living, go to my website katehurley.com)

Tours are usually wonderful. I get to travel, do what I love to do, see people’s lives change, visit people that are dear to me. I forget for a while that I don’t have a regular family and I get lost at the wonder of the strange, all over the world family that I do have.

But today I am home.

And today, I am lonely.

Maybe it is that damn website that I went on this morning. When suggesting a password question, it said things like “The place you and your spouse met” or “The name of the maid of honor in your wedding” or “You first child’s birthday.”  I inevitably had to choose “The name of your first cat.” Even if Samone was the best cat in the world, she’s still a friggin’ cat.

Maybe it is that I am working alone for the next few months, trying to figure out what the heck I am doing with my music and ministry next, which is a regular pattern. I love my job at times, but I don’t like how unstable I feel on a regular basis.  I work alone for a few weeks booking music and teaching opportunities, and then I travel alone. The theme here is alone. No team, no partner. I really don’t like working that way. I have had many wonderful journeys because of my job, but they are almost always journeys I walk by myself.

Maybe it is that I have no idea what to put on my phone’s screen saver.  I guess a mountain or something.

Maybe it is that I visited my dear friend Aimee in Oregon. She and I and my other dear friend Kate went through many years of the ups and downs of singleness together. We laughed and wept together. A year and a half  ago, while I was living with Aimee and Kate, they both got engaged the same week. Do you know what was happening in my love life at the time? My boyfriend of two and a half years and I were breaking up.

I was truly, honestly, 100% happy for them. But I was also about 64% sad for myself.

It’s a year and half later. They are both married to absolutely wonderful men.  And they are deliriously happy in their marriages. In my heart of hearts* I am so glad that they share this with me and don’t hide it. I am so glad I don’t hear for the umpteenth time that marriage is so so difficult and that I should appreciate my singleness and that marriage is, as one friend told me “like death.” In fact, on this trip, Aimee said to me that marriage was the best thing she has ever done.

I am 100% happy for her. But I am 76% sad for myself. (My  rule is that the empathy quotient on my singleness frustration is allowed to go up 8% a year.)

Maybe it’s that I walked by a little girl and her mother in the park yesterday, laughing and playing. I ached to have a child, like the prophet Jeremiah said, as if there was a “fire down in my bones.” This happens often when I hear children laugh nowadays.

Maybe it’s that all four roommates in my new house have been on a date since we moved in a month ago. I have not had a date in 1.5 years.

I am 39% happy for them and 82% sad for myself. (I know. Not my normal compassion quotient, but I’m having a bad day, people.)

In an article called “My Secret Grief: Over 35, Single, and Childless” by Melanie Notkin, the author says  “This type of grief, grief that is not accepted or that is silent, is referred to as disenfranchised grief. It’s the grief you don’t feel allowed to mourn, because your loss isn’t clear or understood. You didn’t lose a sibling or a spouse or a parent. But losses that others don’t recognize can be as powerful as the kind that is socially acceptable.”

This sadness, this disenfranchised grief, is what I feel on a semi regular basis. I have not lost a child, but I have never had a child. I have not lost a marriage, but I have never had a lover.

It’s a strange kind of grief, because people don’t often understand it as a loss. It is not socially accepted as a loss. There is not a lot of empathy for it.

It is a loss that is subtle yet constant, like when you suddenly notice birds singing even though they were singing all along.  That’s the kind of loss I am feeling today. Suddenly, I hear my heart aching. A heart that has been quietly seeping out sadness for a long time.

Here’s the part where I say that despite my pain, I am thankful for my singleness.

Here’s the part where I say that married people are lonely too.

Here’s the part where I say that there is a God shaped vacuum in me that only He can fill. (oh wait. That’s not in the Bible. Dang.)

Sorry friends, I’m not going there today.

Today, I am going to have compassion on myself and know that I am experiencing a true, deep loss. Even if it is a “disenfranchised loss” it is a grief that is real and painful.  I don’t have to explain it away or justify it.

Today, I am going to let myself cry.

Today, I am probably going to eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s. (They should make a flavor called I’m Lonely And I Need Ice Cream. Who knows how many millions of dollars those guys have made during our bouts of sadness.)

Tomorrow, it will be wise for me to wake up, take a shower, have coffee with some friends, eat a salad, and remember that my life is still beautiful. If I don’t choose to have a balance, I will get really depressed.

I don’t want to be stuck in this grief on a constant basis. I need to allow myself to have moments of sadness and moments of gratitude. Moments of longing for a family and moments of building a different kind of family. A ying and a yang. (Because ying ying is not a healthy way to live. It is the name of a panda bear.)

But today, I am going to let myself grieve.

Today, I am lonely. And that is okay.

*Side note: where the heck is your heart of hearts? Is that a medical term? Because it sounds sketchy to me.

SPEAKING OF ME PLAYING AND TEACHING: I am teaching and leading worship at a wonderful women’s event called Uniquely Made  April 20 and 21 in Denver. If you are in the area, we are really needing more people to sign up to make it happen.  I’d love for you to come so I can meet you!

90’s Dating Gone Bad #2: You Shouldn’t Date, You Should Only Court

My friend Jordan told me the other day that one of his coworkers who is unchurched read my blog via a link on Jordan’s facebook. I perked my ears, expecting Jordan to tell me that it changed his friend’s life. Not quite. In fact, what the coworker said was,“Jordan, that’s some weird crap on that blog. “

I started thinking about how foreign this entire blog would sound to unchurched people, about how very strange the Christian dating culture can be at times.  This is especially true about this latest series I’m writing exploring  “rules” that came out of our 90’s I Kissed Dating Goodbye culture. (see 90’s Dating Gone Bad #1: Dating Isn’t Biblical.) I think it’s time that we corporately admit that we have all believed some weird crap.

One of the weird things we believed was this rule: You shouldn’t date, you should only court.

When I was in college, I was with my first serious boyfriend, and was in the throes of first love. The same was true of two of my best friends.  One of the couples was on the verge of getting engaged.

One weekend, our boyfriends all went to a men’s retreat. The speaker announced that dating wasn’t biblical. Our passionate naïve men got together and decided that they should keep each other accountable to breaking up with us that very day.

One dumped woman is bad. But three simultaneously dumped women? That, my friends, is a nightmare.

Needless to say, the three of us gathered together after that horrible night and became a heaping pile of feminine despair. Our now x-boyfriends were shocked that we reacted so with so much emotion. I think they were expecting us to say “Oh thank you for being such Godly men and breaking up with us. That was so noble of you! “ Instead, we wanted to slash their tires.

The three men got together and discussed the issue again. They came back to us, saying that they didn’t have to break up with us if they could court us instead of date us. We were so relieved. There was only one problem: none of us knew what courting was.  Within a few weeks, our courting life looked pretty much exactly like our dating life. But at least we were socially acceptable now.

Here is the first irony involving this rule: the word “courting” is not in the Bible, just like the word “dating” is not in the Bible. Therefore, courting is not biblical, which was the initial argument for why we should not date. Most of us assumed that courting was the biblical model for eventually marrying someone. Not true. Marriage in biblical culture was almost always arranged.

After googling “the history of courting” many times and getting nowhere, I finally figured out that courting did not come from the Bible, but centuries later, from the Amish.

In Amish culture, young people get together most Sundays after church for “socials.” Aha! You say! Group dating! But that is not the end of the story. If two people are interested in getting to know each other, they can go in a “courting buggy” which is an open horse drawn carriage. They will ride in the buggy and talk, maybe hold hands. According to my research, going on a buggy ride does not mean that it is a sure thing that the Amish people are going to get married. It is much more casual than that.  It is simply a way to get to know someone. Often, the parents don’t even know who their kids are going on buggy rides with until it gets serious.

I actually think this Amish way of going about dating makes more sense than “courting” version that we were taught. Our strict 90’s Christian version said that we should not be alone and that we shouldn’t spend intentional time with someone unless we were pretty sure we were going to marry them. But how do you get to know someone enough to know that you will marry them if you are not allowed to spend time with them to get to know them? It doesn’t make much sense.

In the Amish courting buggying system,  they get good information to assess over time whether this is a good match, which I have said several times is a very wise way to date.There doesn’t seem to be a lot of pressure if you buggy with someone. You are just getting to know them. They have lots of alone time that focuses on conversing, on getting good information, rather than focusing too much on anything physical.

(The rare Amish community does accept the practice “bundling” or “bed courting” which involves a courting couple sleeping in the same bed as long as they are clothed and the woman has the sheet wrapped around her. I’m not sure if this rule is for me. My inner dragon might come out in that situation. And inner dragons are not often Amish.)

One of my readers the other day commented that we should start a revolution that is more realistic than courting but more committed than dating. I liked her idea of balance. Balance is a good answer to almost everything in life.

But then I pictured my book becoming a phenom like I Kissed Dating Goodbye where people started a revolution that was right in the middle of dating and courting like she suggested.

“Maybe they would call it dorting!” I thought. “Or catering! Oh wait that doesn’t work. Buggying! That’s it ! Buggying!

People will say ‘Hey I really don’t want to date you but I don’t really want to court you either. I want to be right in the middle. I want to buggy you. We could cruise around in my convertible with the top down so people can see us that way we are in a semi public place but still alone. What do you think?’”

Then I realized that I didn’t want that to happen. You know why?

Because that’s some weird crap, y’all.

Let’s just try to date well. How does that sound?

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.