Francine Phillips is a poet, author, and editor living in San Diego, California. Please check out her blog at

Chapter 1

For God So Loved the World that He Gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16. Just saying the reference brings to mind a chorus of small children memorizing it in a sing-song tone, stumbling over the “whosoever” while the teacher waves her hand like a music conductor andmouths, “that means you!!!” And the room is getting hot and stuffy and my Dotted Swiss dress is starting to scratch the back of my knees and one of the boys is always too loud on the word “Begotten” and what does a six year-old know about perishing anyway. Life is already everlasting to a sixyear-old in Sunday School. Especially everlasting in a Dotted Swiss, too-tight dress.

Because God so loved me, Mike sailed into my life. I was coming up to 40, a single Mom for nearly eight years. My marriage to my seminary boyfriend had broken and died, mostly because, like many Christian virgins at 25 years of age, the only thing I had been taught about being a wife came from Proverbs 31.


I was blessed with two incredible kids, Molly and Jesse, who had to compete for my attention after a demanding day on the job. My father died and left me a little money, so we moved to a wonderful property with woods, a pool and a pond. I had a lot — great kids, an interesting job, a cool home, and incredible women friends. I held writers’ salons, parties, painting gatherings, readings, and planted a garden.

But I wanted a man.

Sleeping alone is one of the most painful parts of being a single woman. Just the act of turning down the covers, getting in alone, and turning out the light by yourself is something that those who are alone can’t understand as the loneliest moment of the day. Whether you take a book to bed with you, a strong blast of Scotch, or a bowl of Rocky Road ice cream, nothing is like sharing the warmth of the bed with a man. It just isn’t.

So I prayed for a husband. I told myself I needed a “helpmate,” which is Christian code for sex partner, even though you try to convince yourself that it’s really someone to cut wood for the fireplace, fix the car, help wash dishes, and sit in the driver’s seat. Bottom line, I wanted a man. And I wanted God to bring me one. Pleaded for one. Not that I had been alone that much. In fact, I had just been through a final break-up with my artist lover after four off and on years of whisking the kids away for their Dad’s weekend and scurrying downtown for two days of snuggling like puppies to the sounds of drunks shouting on the sidewalk, sirens in the night, Van Morrison soulfully providing back-up vocals. A million miles from cold, stuck Cheerios, homework papers, lunch boxes, and alarm clocks. That getaway to another world was fun while it lasted.

Now I wanted a man in my world.

It’s a mistake that many divorced women make who have financial security and a certain professional identity. Most are looking for a guy to come into the world they have made for themselves and simply help. My girlfriends and I were like that. We were the “’80s Ladies” that gritty K.T. Oslin sang about. We were women who owned our homes, and had obtained success, recognition and job satisfaction. We got together for poetry readings, gala events, lots of glasses of wine on the patio and laughter over dates from hell. Over the years we had refined our criteria for a mate. I shared our findings, once, with a male friend.

“We have narrowed it down to two requirements,” I said. “Solvent and capable of erection. Is that too much to ask?”

He thought for a moment. “Actually, it could be.”

We didn’t want to particularly change our worlds, just have help with the ones we had created. Husbands to explain things to the pool man, accompany us to the plays that we like, give us a kiss on New Year’s Eve, hold us at the end of the day. We thought marriage was 50/50 and we could probably talk the right guy out of wanting his 50 percent because we were smart, successful, brought home the bacon, and were good in bed.

God so loved me.

On the Receiving End, copyright 2009, by Francine Phillips

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