Thursday, March 31, 2011

Discovery Alert

I've discovered two very important facts in the past 24 hours.

First, if I ask God to give me understanding about something right before going to sleep, I shouldn't be at all surprised if he wakes me up at 5 a.m. to enlighten me.  What I am surprised about is that I didn't feel the slightest twinge of frustration at having my sleep interrupted like I would if anyone else dared to wake me at that time to answer a question.  :-)

Second, I should never try to figure out what somebody who was speaking male meant when I am not feeling well.  It will color my interpretation a totally yucky shade of negative.  And then I will have to ask God to help me understand, which might lead to being awakened at 5 a.m., which is really not conducive to feeling better.

Battle of the Sexes: Who Holds the Cards?

I had an interesting conversation with a divorced male friend of mine tonight.  Part of the conversation was about who determines the pace and direction of a relationship.

My friend said that women hold all the cards.  His point was that because it's so much about the physical with men, and women are the ones who determine how fast and how far that goes, women hold all the cards. 

I disagree, I think.  It seems to me that because a relationship will never even get off the ground unless the man decides he is interested in a woman (for physical reasons, more often than not - I will give him that much), men hold all the cards.

So who does hold the cards?  Is it the man or the woman who determines where a relationship will go and how fast it will get there? 

What do you think?

Monday, March 28, 2011

An Obscure Post

I'm trying to figure out how to post about what is happening in my life without giving too much detail, yet enough that you can be excited with me.  I also want to be careful not to offend any of my friends with how I describe what is going on.  So in advance, please forgive me if this post is a little vague or if I inadvertently offend anyone.

God has been clearing the clutter out of my life.  He has been removing the unnecessary relationships with men.  All of the men I have met through online dating sites are pretty much gone.  I am still friends on Facebook with several of them, but for one reason or another, I have drawn a line for each of these relationships and said, "This far and no further....we can be friends, but no more."  Interestingly enough, all of those men have stopped communicating with me, except for an occasional casual comment. 

(Lest you think I am a player, let me clarify.  There were three of these, two of whom I met in person one time each, several months apart.)

So now the clutter is gone and I am almost breathless with anticipation.  I think I know what He is making room for, but I am not 100% certain.  Still, there is a sense of excitment, of looking forward to awesome things to come.  And you kow, even if I am wrong about what He is preparing me for, I know how good God is, so I am certain that whatever He has for me, it will be good!

Okay, was that cryptic enough for you?  :-)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Flirting 101

What is flirting?

A male friend told me that men see it as a "conquest," that it has nothing to do with emotions. 

I sincerely hope that he is wrong.

I think there are at least three types of flirting, and maybe more.  One type is casual, with no real purpose other than to brighten someone's day by letting them know that you find them worth flirting with.  My ex-father-in-law and ex-brother-in-law are experts at this form of flirting.  They practice it with waitresses, store clerks, and even women they are related to.  I don't think they put much thought into it, that it is something which comes naturally to them....they see a female, and instinctively turn on the charm.  I have been accused of this type of flirting myself, although I generally don't even realize when I am doing it.  

Another type is more purposeful.  That is the type I think of when I define flirting. For me, flirting is the lighthearted wordplay and banter that goes on between a man and a woman who are interested in "testing the waters" with one another.  This is the flirting that invites the other person to take the next step, to inititate a date and see if there really is any relationship potential there.

A third type is a form of foreplay, but this type is pretty much off-limits to me for now.  If I ever remarry, I will get to enjoy this type again.  It involves looks, whispers, touches, and other secret signals that a couple develop on their own as they become intimately involved with one another.

So where would my friend's view of flirting as a "conquest" fit into those types?  Maybe, just possibly, it could fit into the purposeful flirting...the man "conquers" if he convinces the woman to go out with him.  And I suppose it could fit into the third definition, in the sense that he "conquers" his wife when he finally gets her alone and all the hints become reality. 

Either way, I would hope there is some emotion involved.  Otherwise, when men flirt, they are leading women on and setting them up for a broken heart somewhere down the line.  I would hope that most men wouldn't find any thrill in that type of victory.

So how do other men see flirting?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Grab Bag

First, an announcement:  I have been accepted into a graduate program in marriage and family counseling!!!  I am thrilled, but I will be even more thrilled when I see how God plans to pay for it.  Tuition alone will be between $5625 and $7500 per semester, and we all know that textbooks and other fees aren't say nothing of the gas to commute to school.  So please pray that God will provide the resources for me to go to school, since I truly believe that this is His will for me.  Thank you!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog.

I have so many questions running through my mind, which I would love comments on.  So here is my grab bag of a post.  Feel free to grab and respond to as many as you'd like!

1. How can a divorced person who was cheated on by his/her spouse learn to trust again?

2. How long should a courtship last?  (Hey, I am probably already at the midpoint of my life, so I'm running out of time!  :-) )

3. Why do the men who have been interested in me all have at least one big flaw?  Let's see, so far, one lived too far away; a couple have never had children and would be overwhelmed by life with my four; one had no teeth - no, I am NOT kidding!; one really should reconcile with his wife...

4. How do I let a man know that I am interested, without seeming pushy or scaring him off?

5. Is it bad that my list of what I DON'T want in a man is at least as long as my list of what I DO want?

6. Would I be able to handle being a stepmother?

7. If a man flirts with me, does that mean he likes me?

8. And another one like that:  Why do people flirt if they have no intention of letting it go any further?

9. Since we're on the topic, if a man flirts with me every time he sees me, to the point where my kids tell me he likes me, but then he tells me that he has no interest in dating or remarrying, is he sending a mixed message?  If so, what is the REAL message?

Looking forward to your wisdom on these matters!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dating Again

I have finally figured out why I can't figure out this whole dating thing.  It's because the rules have all changed since the last time I was dating.  Or maybe the problem is that I have changed.

The last time I was in the dating scene, I was a career woman with no children.  Aside from the 40 hours, plus or minus, that I had to put in at my job to pay my bills, my time was my own.  The choices I made affected only me. My own needs were the only ones I was responsible for meeting.

Now, I am a homeschooling mom of four children.  My time is not my own, my choices affect five people, and I have five people's needs to meet.  

This means that I have limited time for dating.  No longer do I have every evening and weekend free to go out.  Going out now means making sure one of my older children or some adult family member or friend is available to watch my younger kids.  I feel guilty if I leave them too often.  Additionally, I have to plan around their schedules, which aren't always predictable, because since none of them drive yet and we only have one vehicle, I am often in the role of taxi-driver.

This also means that I can't choose dating over all other leisure activities.  No longer can I afford to choose not to sleep in favor of dating, because without sleep, I can't function well as a mom.  I also can't choose to put off grocery shopping and allow my dates to provide my dinners, since most dates wouldn't want to buy for five extra people.  :-)  Nor can I choose to go out with just anyone.  Plain and simple, if my kids don't like a man, he is out of the running.

This means, too, that I have others' needs to consider.  No longer can I think first and foremost about what I need...I am responsible to meet my children's needs, and quite frankly, their needs come first at this stage in our lives.  So things that could be put off or recheduled in favor of a date no longer can be.  My children's needs must be met before I can go out and have fun.

All of this makes dating a totally different experience than it was in the past.  Now dating needs to be more utilitarian.  (Anyone want to go out for a fun night at the grocery store?)  It needs to combine fun with responsibility, even if that responsibility is just taking my kids to their next event.  (Anyone want to ride along while I drop the gang off at AWANA tonight?)  And my date needs to impress not just me, but also my four children.  (Anyone think you can outdo the man they've already picked out for me?)

So I will muddle through this.  If I am honest, this time of not dating is good for me.  It is helping me to figure out what my kids and I need and want in a man, which means that I am becoming more choosy and more responsible about who I will go out with.  I'm also learning to wait on God and let Him bring the right man along, one who is willing to put up with all the complications of dating a mom-of-four.  :-) 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lone Ranger Syndrome

Lately, I have noticed a scary syndrome sneaking into some of my single parent friends' lives.  I call this syndrome "Lone Ranger Syndrome."  To be honest, I have fallen prey to it myself, although not nearly as much recently as in the past.

Lone Ranger syndrome is when a single parent thinks he or she can do it all on their own.

Good luck with that. 

God didn't create us to be alone.  Genesis 2:18 makes this clear:

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

A pet can ease some of the loneliness, but animals aren't the suitable helper God had in mind.  Children can be helpful, but they are not the suitable helper that God had in mind either.  Genesis 2:19-22 provides more insight into this.

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.  So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found.  So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh.  Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

So the original design called for a man and a woman to be together, and for a woman to be a helper to her husband.  But some of us are no longer in a marriage relationship where we have (or can function as) that helper.  God, however, has not left us helpless.

God sets the lonely in families...  Psalm  68:6a

So what does this family look like for a single parent home?  I believe that it extends beyond the boundaries of the nuclear family.  I believe that the "family" God gives us includes our brothers and sisters in Christ.

For some of us, our family will be centered on our church body.  The church as a whole will provide some of the needed "missing ingredients" we need help with, whether in the form of finances, meals, or advice and counsel.  For others, our family will be centered on our Christian friends, who may or may not attend our own church. 

I have the privilege of being friends with several other single parents, and these other broken families have in many ways become my family.  My God-given drive to be a suitable helper is satisfied when I give cooking advice to a single dad, or give the children of a single parent a ride to youth group, or point a fellow single mom to a resource that will help her and her children out.  And God provides help for me through these families, as well.  One friend may look over my resume for me, another may provide me with medical advice, and yet another may get me out of the house when I am in danger of burning out on parenting.

In all of these ways, I fight back against Lone Ranger syndrome.  It isn't always easy to humble myself and admit that I can't do it all by myself, but when I choose to see those who help me as a provision from God, it becomes easier.  And I praise Him for putting this lonely woman and her children into a family.  :-)