Friday, December 31, 2010

The Perfect Woman

Since my last post was on the Perfect Man (for me), this one will need to be on the Perfect Woman, whom I will endeavor to become in order to attract the Perfect Man.  Or something like that.  This is actually more along the lines of my resolutions for 2011, but if I achieve all of them, then maybe Mr. Perfect will indeed notice me. 

First and foremost, I resolve to continue to grow in my walk with God.  Of the four dimensions (heart, soul, mind and strength), I need the most work on heart and strength. 

I need to learn to submit my emotions to God and allow Him to use them for His glory.  Since pity parties are not really all that fun anyhow, this year my goal is to learn how to deal with the loneliness of being unmarried in a constructive way.

As for loving God with all my strength, this year I will take better care of myself physically.  I have two plans to do this.  First, I will exercise more self-discipline when it comes to my food choices.  And second, I will join the YMCA and begin walking.  Oh, and I will make every attempt not to refer to the room that contains all the workout machines as "The Torture Chamber," just in case I get to the point where I am able to enter said room without being intimidated by all the Barbie dolls there and learn how to use some of the torture devices...uhm, I mean some of the fitness equipment.

As I am walking or otherwise exercising, I will pray.  But I also would like to begin a prayer journal, so I can be more systematic about praying.  Praying for my friends in alphabetical order works, but once I move beyond my inner circle, I tend to be too haphazard about my prayer life.

Praying for my children will also be more deliberate.  I plan to work my way through the little book Watchmen on the Walls, by Anne Arkins & Gary Harrell, in order to pray character into my children. 

And speaking of children, this year we as a family are going to embark on reading through the Old Testament in our personal devotions,  and I endeavor to make it a topic of daily discussion, so that we can spur one another on in our Christian faith.

Finally, my goal for 2011 is to make our home a hospitable place where our friends are always welcome.  This means I will need to do some serious decluttering, although that process is already underway, and keep up with the housework in a more disciplined fashion than I have in the past.  I may also need to learn to bake cookies.  :-)

So there you have it:  my aspirations for myself are at least as daunting as those for my Perfect Man.  Can I do this?  Well, not on my own.  But with Christ in me, all things are possible, so I will set my eyes on Him and move boldly foreward into 2011!

The Perfect Man

As promised, I am going to share what I would like in a potential future husband.  Lest anyone misunderstand, this is NOT a "Wanted" poster, nor a classified ad.  This is just a list of some of the traits I have come to admire in men I know.  Some of them are negotiable, some of them are not.  Some are just preferences, others are requirements.  Disclaimer complete.  Here goes my list of what the perfect man (for me) would be like.

The perfect man would above all, love the Lord our God with all his heart (emotionally), all his soul (spiritually), all his mind (intellectually) and all his strength (physically).   This is non-negotiable.  I realize that nobody is perfect, but if a man isn't striving for this level of devotion to and relationship with God, he may as well not waste his time on me.  We would be headed in two different directions.

This implies that he will know God well, both on a personal level and an intellectual level.  He would be a man who reads his Bible daily and spends time in prayer.

His family would be high on the list of his priorities.  Honestly, the men I am most attracted to are those who are involved dads.  I have a special soft spot for single dads who have 50% or more custody of their kids.

Along those same lines, if he is divorced, he will be someone who fought for his marriage.  His divorce would be on biblical grounds (adultery or abandonment by a non-believing spouse), but he won't be someone who gave up on his marriage without first trying to make it work in every way he knew how.  As a side note, if for some reason, he was divorced for non-biblical reasons, my understanding of scripture is that he is also free to remarry if his ex-wife has remarried.

The perfect man will be a man who takes his responsibilities seriously, one who works hard at whatever he does, and does it well. 

He will be a man who is able to communicate and be honest in his communication.

He will be a man who respects women and appreciates the differences between men and women.

The perfect man will not be afraid to be the head of his household, even if it means he must occasionally make an unpopular decision.  But he will also be willing to hear what those affected by his decisions have to say before making his decisions.

On a lighter note, one of my preferences is for a man who enjoys contemporary Christian music.  (I despise country music, so if God brings a man who likes that kind of music into my life, He will have to change me, LOL!)  My kids and I enjoy our annual vacation to a Christian music festival, so it would be helpful if I were to marry someone who also would enjoy that.  Oh, and since that festival is held at an amusement park, a love of roller coasters would be especially helpful, too.  :-)

I would also prefer a man who doesn't mind camping, who enjoys exploring different historical sites and museums, and who knows how to play and is patient enough to teach me the games and activities he enjoys if I don't already know them.

And on the totally frivolous list, I'd like a man who is comfortable with public speaking, has an easy voice to listen to, and has eyes that I can get lost in.  If he can give good backrubs, that is a definite plus!

Am I asking for too much?  Only time will tell.  :-)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why I Want to Remarry

Why do I want to remarry?  I've been asked this question by a wide variety of people, from my mom to married friends to happily single friends and relatives.  So here is my attempt at an answer.

Let me preface this by saying that if God doesn't want me to be married again, if He doesn't connect me with a man He has picked out for me, then I don't want to remarry.  I might have to fight discontentment more often if I remain single, but I will fight it, because above all else, I want to be in the place where God can best use me.

But if my desire to remarry is from Him, then in no certain order, these are some of the reasons why I want to remarry.

I want to be married because I believe that I can serve God more effectively if married.  I know that Paul says that those who aren't married can serve Him better, but Paul isn't referring to single parents.  A partner in parenting would free me up to serve.

The flip side of that is that I am a good mom.  If I were to marry a man who has children, I would be able to serve him and his children by easing some of the burden that a single father has, from cooking meals and taking care of household matters, to providing one more loving adult for his children to relate to .  If my remarriage is of God, we would also be able to model a healthy Christian marriage to our children, who may not have seen this in our previous marriages.

I also want to be married because I function well as a help-mate for a husband.  I am most fulfilled when I am serving the husband God has given me.

I want to be married because there are certain aspects of marriage that I really miss, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual intimacy.

I want to remarry because I miss backrubs and kissing and holding hands and slow dancing and somebody to keep me warm at night.

I want to remarry because I miss having someone to discuss politics and religion and current events and the books we are reading and what we are learning.  I want someone who is willing to explore and learn alongside of me and my children.

I want to remarry because I miss hearing "I love you," and those private little sweet nothings that a couple whispers to one another.  I miss having someone lock eyes with me across a room and we both know what the other one is thinking.  I miss having someone melt my heart with his smile.

I want to remarry because I enjoy having a spiritual "head" in my household.  I like being under the protection of a godly man.  Nothing would thrill me more than to find a man who is willing to study the Bible and pray with me!

On a very selfish note, I want to remarry because being a single homeowner is hard work.  It's expensive and I am not very handy.  It would be nice to have someone to share that burden.

So what kind of man do I want to remarry?  I think I will save that for my next post, but rest assured, if God wants me to remarry, He will provide a man who is exactly what I need!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Gentle Art of Rejection

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I had signed up for an online dating site or two.  Well, after a couple months, I've decided that I am not cut out for online dating.  I'm not certain I am cut out for any dating.  I think I may be too nice to date.

Here's the problem:  I haven't learned to deal with rejection. 

I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  Mine have been hurt enough that I don't want to inflict that kind of pain on anyone else.  Sometimes, the men who contact me are genuinely nice guys.  But I can't have a committed, loving, monogamous relationship with every nice guy who comes along just because he is a nice guy.  So I need to reject the ones whom I am fairly certain are not my type.

But how? 

I'd rather not give a man a laundry list of what is "wrong" with him, because chances are that the very traits that I could not live with are the ones that another woman could not live without.  Yet most men want some reason why we are not compatible.  Sometimes, it isn't even a reason I can put into words.  It's more a case of what isn't there than of what is.

So how does this gentle art of rejection work?

Do I tell a man why we don't belong together, or do I just say, "I'm sorry, this isn't working for me?"  How long do I give it before I make that call?  Is it kinder to cut off all contact with a man I am "rejecting" as a potential suitor or do I say, "Let's just be friends?"  Do I let a relationship die of neglect, or do I kill it off in one fell swoop?

Any and all suggestions are welcome.  And if you have any suggestions for the flip side of that (how do I let a man know that I am interested?) I will gladly entertain those ideas as well.  :-)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas From the Garage

I'm back at the car dealership, and since they block Facebook in their internet cafe, I guess I will blog again.  :-)

Last night was the first of the family Christmas get-togethers.  It was great, but as I left my dad's house, my van ended up in a ditch. To make a long story short, after numerous attempts by my male relatives to get it out of the ditch, I ended up paying a nice guy named Jeff $63 to pull it out with his tow truck.  We made the hour and a half drive home safely, but the brakes were doing something funny (sorry, I can't be any more accurate than that - I'm female!), so here I am at the garage again.

I'm struggling.  I want so badly to maintain an attitude of gratitude and to be happy and upbeat for the sake of my kids.  And I do have so very much to be grateful for.  But the unexpected expense is making that difficult.

Additionally, Christmas Eve was one of my favorite times in my marriage.  We would attend a candlelight service as a family, then come home, do the final "Adornament," and send the kids to bed.  Then we would wait for the kids to fall asleep so we could play Santa.  Once the stockings were stuffed and the gifts set out under the tree, we'd turn down the lights, and by the light of the tree, we'd exchange gifts with each other.  It was probably the most romantic part of each year.  I miss those times.

This afternoon, I will be taking my two middle kids to a movie.  Then this evening, we will attend the Christmas Eve service.  I am hoping these two events will lift my spirits some, because I really, really want to be able to focus on the reason for the season.

May you all have a very blessed Christmas, and know that I am praying especially for those of you who are coping with changed family situations this year.  God is good, and He did, after all, send His son Jesus, also known as Emmanuel, God with us.  We are blessed indeed!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Maybe I can blame it on the rampant teenaged hormones in my house (my three oldest children are 16, 14, and 12....and no, it isn't nearly as bad as it sounds, usually), or maybe it's just me, but I miss kissing.  Actually, it may be genetic, considering the behavior of two of my older female relatives recently.

Yesterday my aunt, who is a never-married 69-year-old, and my mom, who is almost 72 and divorced, took my kids and me out to lunch at a local inn that has a buffet.  While in line, the two of them started chatting with a man in line behind them .  When they returned to the table, my mom said to my aunt, "He seems to be all alone.  You should've invited him to join us."  To which my aunt replied, "I should have. He is one nice-looking man!"  At this point, all four of my kids shrank in their seats, while I twisted in my seat to see if I could get a better look at the subject of the discussion.  For what it''s worth, since we didn't invite him to join us, he WAS nice-looking, he WASN'T wearing a wedding band, and he appeared to be about my age.

Near the end of the meal, my oldest son's 14-year-old hormones took over and he was ogling the waitress, who indicated that she was a college sophomore.  I don't think she was ogling back.  But you see, it seems to be a family problem, this attraction to the opposite sex.

At any rate, I miss kissing badly enough that I may have to skip the New Year's Eve get-together I was invited to.  It is being hosted by my friend who has a wonderfully mushy relationship with her husband, and I honestly don't think I can stand several hours of their stolen kisses and lovey dovey looks.  Not this year.

In the meantime, I am wondering if I could get away with one of those hats with the attached contraption that holds a piece of mistletoe out in front of the wearer...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Counting My Blessings; or How to Bless a Single Parent

God takes care of single parents and their children, and He often chooses to do it through the people in their lives.  But sometimes it is difficult to figure out what you can do to help someone, so today I will share a few stories of how I have seen God work.

1.  When I was in high school, money was tight in our single-parent family.  I needed a $5 workbook for my French class and there was not an extra $5 in the budget.  Somebody, and I suspect it was one of my teenaged friends, sent me an anonymous letter with $5 and a card that said "Philippians 4:19," which in the NIV reads

 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

2.  That same verse showed up just a couple years ago, when gas prices had soared and I was having a hard time making ends meet.  I received two gift cards for a local gas and grocery store with a card with the same verse as the signature.

3.  Back to high school.  A family with four kids, one of them a boy who loved to fix things and often got quite dirty, can be very hard on a washing machine.  Our washer died, and my mom started making the trek to the laundromat when needed.  But she didn't have to do it for long, because one day, a local appliance store called and asked when they should deliver her washer and dryer.  She told them she hadn't ordered one, that she couldn't afford one.  They replied that somebody who preferred to remain anonymous had come in and paid for the washer and dryer in question, and they just needed to know where to deliver it.  So we were blessed with a new washer and dryer.

4.  Blessings don't have to be expensive.  On more than one occasion in the past few years, I have been blessed by someone offering to take one or more of my kids so that I can either have one-on-one time with one of the others, or time alone. 

5.  I've mentioned before that transporting multiple kids to their multiple activities can be challenging for those of us who are cloning-challenged.  So anytime someone offers to give my kids a ride to an activity, I am very blessed!

6.  Do you ever wonder if those "adopt-a-family-for-Christmas" drives really benefit anyone?  When I was in high school, one year our family was the recipient of one of those drives.  A department in the local factory "adopted" us and were given our ages and sizes.  We heard later that the ladies in the department really enjoyed shopping for us, and I was thrilled to get a very stylish outfit, something my mom never could've afforded to buy for me.  They bought everything, right down to some cool shoes.  I still smile at the thought of that outfit and how much confidence I had when I wore it!

7.  One way my church blesses my family is by accepting donations of unsaleable merchandise from a local grocery store.  They then invite those of us who need a little extra help to "shop for free" whenever we need to.  This is a ministry that wouldn't have happened if someone in the church hadn't taken the initiative to contact the store and ask if they would be willing to donate this merchandise, and if someone in the church didn't take the time each week to go pick it up, and someone else in the church didn't take the time to unload it and place it on the shelves in an orderly fashion so we can see what is available at a glance.

8. A group of friends once helped me to clean my house from top to bottom.  What a blessing, since the chances of having it all clean at once when I do it on my own are slim to none! 

9.  There is a man in my church who is trained to work on cars.  When my minivan had a problem not long ago, he volunteered his time to check it out and see what was wrong.  The repair was one that needed to be dealt with at a dealership, but I went in knowing what was wrong with it, so I wasn't taken advantage of.  This same man checks with me each Sunday to make sure my van is running, and he reminds me to take care of routine maintenance.

10. A friend's husband once blessed me by taking my sons fishing when he took his own son.  That may sound like a little thing, but to boys who don't have an involved dad, this was a HUGE blessing.

So those are ten ways I have seen God work through His people to bless single parent families.  The next time you feel led to do something for a single parent, I hope this list will offer a spark to your creativity so that you can serve in this way with confidence!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Custody Quandry

Holidays for my children are governed by a custody agreement.  Christmas is handled differently than most other holidays, at least in my state.  Here,  the standard agreement is that one parent gets the children from noon on Christmas Eve until noon on Christmas day, and the other gets them from noon on Christmas day until noon the following day, and the arrangement alternates from year to year.  I happen to think that is the most ridiculous arrangement I have ever heard of, but that's the way it is.

Last year, my ex was "taking a break" from the children.  He claimed they were disrespectful and that he wouldn't be able to see them, so he stopped by a few days before Christmas for about five minutes and dropped off a bag of gifts rather than spending 24 hours with them.

This year, my children haven't seen their father since a week after he moved to Canada in early April.  They haven't heard from him via phone or email or any other way since Labor Day weekend.  So I emailed him a week ago and asked what his plans were for Christmas, whether he would be following the custody agreement, or if he needed to make adjustments, since he lives so far away.  I offered to allow him some extra time, since I thought he might wish to take them to his parents' house.

I have received no reply whatsoever. 

So what do we do?  Do we sit at home all afternoon on Christmas Day, skipping the traditional open house at my aunt's house, just in case he decides to exercise his custody rights?  Or do we go about our celebrating, and hope that he doesn't take us to court for violating the custody order?

These are the types of quandries that happen in broken families over the holidays.  Please pray that I, and others who are dealing with Christmas custody issues, will have wisdom and peace this season.  Thanks!

Top Ten Reasons Why It's Good Not to Have a Husband

Just in case anyone thought I was whining or complaining about my marital status in my last post, today I am going to give equal time to the up side of my state of being.  Without further ado, here are my top ten reasons why being unmarried is a good thing.

1. Nobody steals my blankets on cold nights.

2. Nobody keeps me awake with their snoring.  Well, at least not in my room.  Several of my children snore on occasion, sometimes loudly enough to wake me.

3. Nobody hogs my bed by taking his half out of the middle, leaving me to dangle precariously on the edge.

4. Nobody's alarm wakes me hours before I actually need to get up, except for my teenaged daughter, who sets hers early so she can beat me into the shower.  Don't tell her, but I actually prefer to let her go first, so I can sleep in AND have a warmed-up bathroom when I go in.

5. I don't have to have dinner on the table at an exact time each evening.  In fact, calling it "Catch What You Can Night" and letting each person find whatever leftovers they'd like whenever they are hungry is okay sometimes.  (Don't ask me how many times this week.  It was a busy week....)

6. I don't have to rush home from activities we are all enjoying so we will be there when someone gets home from work. 

7. We can all fit in a normal family-sized car in a pinch, although it's tight stuffing two adult-sized kids in a backseat with my only remaining child-sized child.  Still, when there were six of us, only minivans or SUV's were practical.

8. Along those same lines, there is room to bring along a friend or two in the van.

9. We can enjoy activities that my ex-husband didn't care for, like tent-camping.

10. I get to make all the parenting decisions.  In fact, I get to make all the decisions for my household.  Because my view on a wife's role is based on the Biblical standard of "Wives, submit to your husbands," this is something I would not be able to do if I were still married.  Also, it forces me to rely on God for the wisdom on how to parent my kids, since I don't have a husband to guide our family.  And really, who better to rely on?

So being without a husband isn't all bad.  There are good things to be found even in my unmarried state, which is why I can say with the apostle Paul, "I have learned to be content in whatever state I am in!"   I may occasionally feel as if I am missing out, but truly, I am blessed no matter what my marital status may be!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Top Ten Reasons Why I Miss Having a Husband

I'm sitting in the "Internet Cafe" at an automobile dealership, waiting for repairs on my minivan to be completed.  This is just one of the many reasons why I miss having a husband.  So I think today I'll make a list of those reasons.

1.  I miss having a husband to deal with vehicle repairs.  It would be great to have one who could do those repairs himself, but even just one who would be willing to deal with the service people would be great!

2.  I miss having a husband when I am cold.  A warm body to cuddle up against would be nice, and somewhere warm to put my cold feet when I go to bed at night would be wonderful!

3. I miss having a husband when two or more of my kids need to be in two or more different places at the same time.  I still haven't learned the art of cloning myself.  :-)

4.  I miss having a husband when something exciting happens and I want to share it with someone who cares.  Yes, I can tell my girlfriends, but I would love to have someone whose life is so interwoven with mine that my joys are his joys.

5.  I miss having a husband when I am stressed.  Husbands are great for stress-relief.  I especially miss backrubs.

6. Along those same lines, I miss having a husband now, when my back is itchy from the dry weather.  If only I had someone to apply lotion to my back, or even just to scratch my itches for me!

7.  I miss being married at church and concerts and plays and even at restaurants.  It's very difficult to look around and see so many happy couples.  Sitting behind a lucky woman whose husband has his arm around her at an event is sometimes almost physically painful for me.

8. I miss having a husband when my friends are not getting along with their husbands.  I want to tell them, "Hey, at least you HAVE a husband, even if he is behaving like a jerk at the moment!"  Okay, sometimes I DO tell them that, LOL!

9. I miss having a husband when my teen-aged son, who is bigger than I am, allows his testosterone to get the best of him and speaks to me disrespectfully.  I sometimes imagine what it would be like to have a husband to tell him, "That is my wife and you will NOT speak to her like that!"

10.  I miss having a husband at the holidays.  Yes, it is stressful to figure out what to give the love of my life as a gift, but you know what?  I would give almost anything for that type of stress right now!

I don't want to end on a downer, so I will leave you with this thought.  If you have a husband, stop and thank the Lord for him.  Then go give him a hug and let him know how grateful you are for him.  As for me, I think when my van is finished, I will go treat myself to an ice cream cone, since I don't have a husband to tell me that it's crazy to eat ice cream in this weather!  :-)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Scarred Hearts; Hard Hearts

First, I apologize for not writing much in November.  It was a difficult month for me, since four years ago in November I found out about my husband's affair; two years ago in November we were hammering out our divorce agreement; and this November my ex-husband got remarried.  I didn't expect his remarriage to bother me, and I thought I had put all those other things to rest, but I was wrong.

On the plus side, at least it lets me know that I am still soft-hearted enough to feel something. 

Which brings me to my topic for this post. 

I have talked to several divorced friends recently and I have seen an interesting phenomenon.  When the first dating relationship after the divorce ends, it is almost more devastating than the divorce itself.  It feels like someone has torn open the divorce-wounded heart and roughly rubbed salt in that bleeding wound. Eventually, the pain lessens, but the divorced person is left with yet another scar on his or her heart. 

How many scars can a heart have before it becomes hard and unfeeling?

This is exactly why I don't want my teens to play the dating game!  Each break-up a person goes through will leave its mark on their heart, and we all know that scar tissue is tough and knotty and ugly.  I don't want my children's hearts to be like this.  I want them to be able to give a soft, vulnerable, loving heart to their spouse on their wedding day.

To tell the truth, I'd like to do the same, but it may be too late for me.  And even if it isn't, people in my generation only know the dating game.  We have no experience in the lost art of courtship, so we continue to risk our hearts by dating.

In my perfect scenario, I would meet a man, we'd become friends, our families would play together, work together, and worship together.  As time went on, we'd gradually realize that our feelings for one another were growing into something beyond friendship.  We'd see that our families fit together, that we played and worked and worshipped well together, and we'd make the decision to become one family.

Can that happen?  I don't know, but I do know that the dating game comes with the risk of a hardened heart.