Plan B

Here I am again, in front of this same screen, struggling to write something.  My struggle isn’t what to write this time but how to articulate what I am feeling while still staying true to my purpose of this blog.  (Disclaimer… my blog is not a place where I allow myself to whine but a place to document my truth and hopefully help some folks that are struggling with similar things along the way).  So here goes….

Let me start by saying I have encountered many failing marriages lately and although some circumstances and details are a mystery, it saddens my spirit knowing the pain those families will likely face as they move through the “land of divorce”.  And lately my words of encouragement are few.  The “time heals all” and faith filled uplifting sayings are not my first response.  The feeling in my gut is “I’m losing faith”.  Faith that the family unit will ever be honored and treasured, faith that people will inherently do the right thing and be committed to their marriage vows and faith that all things wronged will be made right.  It just doesn’t feel like it anymore.  It seems that moreover those doing the wrong things are rewarded time and time again, while those that try to do good and be righteous in their ways get the shaft.  Like really… I want my happy ending…  I want to not have to share my children, I want to live without guilt that my 2 littles will never know or have an intact family, I want to be able to go to my kids events and not have those that cheat and lie in my space and certainly I want to raise my children without the influence of those same immoral people.  And lastly (way last) at some point I would like to have a partner that I could share my life and family with and it look like it is suppose to (biblically – not meshing together of families from 2nd and 3rd marriages)  Needless to say,  I want a lot of things – all of which I am not going to ever get – without Michael J. Fox and his Delorean Time Machine.

My plan A – husband, house, children, dog, white picket fence – obviously did not work out.  And what’s bad is I had no expectation that it would not work out.  In my mind I never even dreamed I would need to come up with a Plan B for my life.  And let me digress for just a hot minute – please don’t misconstrue my outpouring in this post as me wanting my marriage back with my ex-husband because I don’t – it was unhealthy and I can honestly say that I don’t miss him one bit.  I just want the things that went with the marriage to remain intact – all the things that I loved about my life to remain the same. So on to this Plan B – this 2nd choice life…. Can it be good or ever feel right.  I am not sure, that remains yet unseen.  BUT even in my darkest hour, the stamping my feet  because I am mad at GOD – I still look to him for answers and comfort.

In the Old Testament Elijah went through some terrible struggles and although he was a faithful servant of GOD, one who GOD anointed as a great prophet, he still felt the struggle and the pain.  God provided for Elijah – yet he still had to encounter the tough times.  Which was not something I really wanted hear but that is TRUTH straight from the WORD.  Even more to my dismay…..the bible also says that GOD makes the sun rise on the evil AND on the good, and sends rain on the just AND on the unjust.  Again, I didn’t want to hear that either….    Why can’t my struggle have a timer on it – and to my count I have long expired the timer of suffering and struggle in my life.  Why can’t it rain and sunshine on those that do the RIGHT thing, leaving a dark drought on the others – it might make me feel better.  However, Its the truth of God’s word … and although I may not like it – IT is what IT is.  So here I am left looking to put the pieces together of this fractured Plan B of a Life.  Will they ever fit together just right,  absolutely they will NOT, so I guess I must change my expectations of what it should look like.  That’s been the toughest obstacle to overcome thus far and I am certainly not going to profess I even remotely know how to do it.  I will say this… Even when I don’t feel like GOD is listening, even when I am pissed at GOD and even when I don’t much feel like it – I will TRUST that God is working this one out.

In the meantime, I am trudging forward day by day.  Good changes are on the horizon and good times with the folks I love the most sprinkled throughout my year. So there….

putt putt

 

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Loyalty – The real kind…

I have been struggling lately with what to say in my blog.  I do not want to sound like a broken record – life is hard, holidays are tough, blah blah blah. So after coming off of an Easter Holiday that was spent half in tears and half in “heaven” surrounded by all of my children and family it has taken me a while to collect myself enough to write about something… anything for that matter.

So my post today is about Loyalty, because I have seen and experienced examples of TRUE loyalty and what it looks like as opposed to the “not real”  noodlely kind of loyalty (yes I made that word up.)

During this journey of divorce, my friends have shown up in full force to rally around me, stand in the gap for me. make me laugh and support me when I really need it.  Even 3 years down the road there are still times I need to call for reinforcements.  Here is a glimpse of what I mean.

Since before Thanksgiving the relationship between my ex and I has been ok.  We have set aside our differences and have made concerted efforts to “play nice” especially in front of the kids.  What I have not written about is that the “playing nice” also includes his girlfriend (or whatever she is these days).  The 20 something year old girl who was dating my ex-husband while we were married.  You get the picture?  I have set aside my feelings for the greater good of my girls but this also requires me to swallow my pride and my words (a few choice ones too) when the 3 of us attend any school function, field trips, extracurricular activity or kid focused celebration (birthday, gotcha days, graduation, etc).  Its a hard pill for me to swallow – very hard.  Most days I walk away from those “together times” feeling a bag of mixed emotions – from sadness to anger and everything in between but yet I smile (at least most of the time) through it all for my kiddos.  Those feelings take time to go away each time we have to be in the same space and yet by the time I am feeling better its time to do it all again – day after day – week after week – event after event. Its a viscous cycle.

BUT!  There are my friends that know me and know how hard those times are and change their schedules and go out of their way to be there for me.  They take vacation from work to drive with me to Houston to sit at a Hospital all day because they know  I will be not only struggling worrying about my child who is having surgery but also having to deal with the dynamic of having those 2 in my space.  THAT is what Loyalty looks like my friends.  All I have to do is text that I need reinforcement and my friends come running, some just know that I am struggling because they know me so well and show up in various ways without a prompting from me.  Those that live out of town and can’t be there physically always find time to call or text to help alleviate the awkwardness and my sadness.  They come to birthday parties, even though their kids are grown, Gotcha Day Celebrations, Soccer games, etc.  and they do it because they do love my girls but moreover because they are Loyal, true friends.

I have seen the opposite side of loyalty – the side that isn’t so loyal, both in my marriage and in so-called friends.  Its not pretty and there is no value there.  I guess what I have trained myself to see or am training myself to see through my trials, is the beauty and value in the relationships I have now, the small things that have a huge impact on me – the ones that make a difference in my life. Those small gestures that make the reality of my life and what I have to deal with a little easier to swallow and sometimes a little funnier too.   Loyalty…. priceless. I will never live without it again!

Prodigal Son

Everyone knows the parable Jesus tells about the Prodigal Son.  I have heard that parable many times in my life – it’s probably the one I remember the most.  However, ever since I was younger and could grasp the teaching of the story – I often wondered how anyone could feel like the brother who stayed.  Why would anyone be upset when the prodigal son returns home?  Its a joyous celebration when someone who is lost and strayed from God’s kingdom returns – I just never understood where that feeling would come from or why the other son felt that way.  WELL….. I get it.  God penned that story for a reason and Now I finally understand.

prodigal son

Throughout my divorce, I have put on a face of grace and mercy.  I have continually asked my friends to pray for Keith and his salvation and they have, same as I have.  Many nights have been spent on my knees praying that he would find Christ in his life – that just him knowing the Lord would make it easier for him and I to have a co-parenting relationship together.  Well, it appears that prayers are being answered and the spirit is moving in his life.  He seems to be committed to his church and its teachings and Him and I are getting along and able to co-parent our precious girls.  Great RIGHT?!  WRONG… I was pissed!  What a bitter pill to swallow that NOW after all the destruction that was left in his wake he finds Jesus.  NOW after all I ever wanted was him to be the spiritual leader of my family does he find Jesus in his life and lead.  I had to collect myself for a moment – because even though I was feeling this way – I knew that was not the way I should be feeling.  My prayers and the prayers of my tribe were paying off… and all I could think was the same thing the other son thought in the Parable..  What about me father!  Haven’t I been faithful all of this time?  Why would you be happy that HE comes home after all he has done and squandered and destroyed!  He has been terrible – He was a terrible Husband, Father and Person.  On Cue, as always, God provided yet another beautiful passage of scripture that put me in check.  Luke 15:4-7 says “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.  There it is!  An attitude adjustment straight from Heaven!  It still hurts and as I said in my last post forgiveness is minute by minute.  But I choose to continue to forgive and to work through my sorrow to see the true joy in the return of the Prodigal Son – The lost Sheep.

Divorce is not easy…  Even after several years apart – its still not easy.  Anger, bitterness, unforgiveness can creep up and try to steal your joy at any moment if you let it. The devil is alive and looking for a way in.  My saving grace is my people that have stood in the Gap for Keith and still stand in the Gap for me when I most need them to.  They talk me off the ledge, pray with me, pray for me and talk me through to the other side – the side where I can see all the amazing things GOD has done for me.  The beautiful life he has given me, one with some tough life lessons, but beautiful all the same.  I just keep thinking – Do I have a great testimony or what?!!!

So………… through my tears of sorrow I will praise God as one of the 99 – that the 1 has been found.

 

 

Gotcha Day #8

Today, while wars are being fought across the globe, people are facing sickness, death, discrimination and many other tragedies and triumphs – the world stops,  even for a brief moment on this day as we celebrate one special little girl.  A little girl, who at 27 months old united a family and continues to do so, even through our own struggles.  We celebrate everything that Maddie is today, 8 years home, and everything that she has the potential to do in her very bright future.

Every year on Maddie’s Gotcha Day I feel something different.  Reading my Facebook post from last year – that feeling was grateful – grateful to even be part of her life and the things yet to come for her.  This year I feel pure JOY!  Joy for every hurdle, milestone and accomplishment that she has overcome and I have gotten to witness!  JOY that she is a SHINING light in my life.  Her smile, her infectious personality, her spunk, her tenacity and her sweet spirit.

When I look at Maddie’s sweet face – it reminds me, in my soul, of what is important in this life.  It humbles me every time I think about her story.  Her story of humility, love and triumph!  A true depiction of so many of GOD’s promises – Beauty from Ashes, An abundant life, etc.  How do I react to those reminders….  I push myself to be better, to be the person that GOD needs me to be for this little girl that he so graciously saw fit to place into my life.  People need to know that to see Maddie and be a part of her life – is to know that you are witnessing Greatness! – witnessing the Hand of God himself!

So Happy GOTCHA Day Maddie – I love you more than you will ever know.

 

Holidays are Hard

This post began as a cry, more like a temper tantrum,  that Holidays are Hard for me.  And like most posts that are self absorbed and focused only on myself – God shined some perspective on me today and this post will not be a “stamp my feet” tirade of “what was”  and “now what is not” but a post about “Come and see what God has done!”

This journey of divorce is hard and I have chronicled the things I have struggled with over the last 2 to 3 years in this journey. And although there have been tough things (really tough things) to overcome this is one I have yet to master and still struggle with every year.  Holidays are tough for me.  They are a bit tainted and a stark reminder of what is broken forever. To know that all of my children will forever have to balance and schedule their time with 2 households to celebrate the holidays – separate and apart saddens me.  That delicate dance they must now do not to hurt any feelings on the parent homefront.  And I know that dance will become increasingly more difficult when they are married and have children of their own to consider.  So my heart aches for lots of different reasons. But this Christmas season although I started as a Grinch I have been transformed into “a woman who is in awe of the power of prayer and what GOD is doing in the lives of others around me.”  This Christmas season is bright with Hope that someone that I have prayed for many many years is dealing with their issues and has hope that one day they can be whole and can redefine their legacy.  I step back and recognize that many prayers are being answered – that God is working in my ex-husbands life.  I just keep reminding myself that GOD’s timing is perfect.  And how much more perfect than when I am struggling to see the light in this Christmas Season, a light shines bright on a little bit of GOD’s work and I’m reminded about the JOY of the coming of Christ – that he came to earth to walk among us, in hopes that everyone be saved.  That’s an attitude changer for you.

So even though my Christmas traditions are no longer and I must look for new ones – I am going to celebrate this joyous occasion and exclaim “Come and See what GOD has Done! because he is doing great things, working them out, making all things right.

I am also so blessed and lucky to be surrounded by many close friends who sometimes give me a wake up call, shake me out of my bad attitude and speak the truth – the harsh truth – that although my holidays have changed a bit and I must share my children that it can still be good – just different.  And what puts things in perspective for me is that my colorful collaboration of friends are celebrating the holidays in grand style even though one sits with the loss of child, one the loss of her beloved father, another the devestation of divorce and broken children and yet they see the Joy in the Season.  I have a lot to be thankful for – good friends, healthy and wonderful children and my relationship with them, great work family, supportive family, a life coach that rocks,   Do I have it all figured out – what will my new holiday traditions be – no I have not even a clue.  But those will evolve as life goes on and I will muscle through Christmas morning without my children knowing that I am blessing anothers life with my generosity in allowing those moments to be shared from year to year.

I will take the opportunity of Christmas morning without my kids to spend supporting a friend who is going through the same struggles that I know so well with this being their first Christmas as a redefined family.

Holidays are Hard…..  I am hopeful they will get easier with time but in the meantime I choose Joy and I choose to see Christ in this blessed season.  He is the reason for the season after all.  Merry Christmas……

DS Snowscape

 

 

Forgiveness

I had written a blog sometime last year that talks about me being brave – listening to the words of a song that says (and I am paraphrasing) God helps me be brave as we walk in troubled waters and as the waves crash over us – God makes me brave.  At that time in my life Brave meant helping me face the despair and destruction of divorce and to forge a new life, a better one.  And I was Brave, God did empower me to be brave.  But it doesn’t stop there although I thought it did.  I thought he would continue to make me Brave as I plugged along in my new found life and would be with me as I face new challenges.  I never once thought there was more to my journey.  I never once thought that he would give me courage and make be brave enough to do something that I did not in my heart want to do and certainly that which society is flippant about  – FORGIVE.  Extending forgiveness to those that hurt me.  Those that destroyed what I fought so hard to keep together.  Could I be brave enough to do that?  I fought long and hard against that forgiveness, harboring what eventually wound up as hate and it was eating me alive and stealing my peace.

I recently was at my wits end and decided to fast and pray.  My girlfriend told me that Mountains are Moved when you fast and pray.  GOOD, I thought, I need God to move this mountain! My prayer during that fast was for GOD to change the heart of my ex-husband as we have been battling in court over many things and it has gotten nasty.  The summer was horrible as the proverbial “Gloves had come off” and both of us were constantly on the defense.  I wanted GOD to change him and to help me be Victorious in this court battle.  After many months in limbo in the court system it was finally our turn, we could finally have this behind us.  That was not to be – our case was continued for another 6 months.  6 months I cried  and through my tears shook my fist and was mad at GOD.  I needed this to be over so that I could go on with my life!  Then I got over myself and thought Ok GOD your timing is always perfect.  So this is what I thought  – my internal conversation with myself – God’s maybe giving us more time to gather more evidence or maybe God is giving us more time so that my ex’s heart could be changed.  All the while, my heart is full of unforgiveness. But surely GOD cannot expect me to forgive the wrongs that were done to me?!  Nope I want my victory without forgiving and I dug my heels in.  The harder I fought against the path God wanted me to walk down the harder God fought for it.  Then, over the course of the next few days GOD spoke so clearly to me and here are some things I heard from the almighty himself :

– How can you come to ME and ask for forgiveness when you will not forgive.  MY forgiveness is unconditional but you want to put conditions on your forgiveness with those that have hurt you.  (WHOA – that was a lightbulb moment for me yet I didn’t take any action just pondered it )

– How do your big kids see you?  Do they see the picture of grace, mercy and forgiveness?  Have you set the example to them of what forgiveness looks like? (another WHOA and these were hard questions for me to answer)

– In all of our fighting it has been the little girls that suffer the most and we both were starting to see the effects on the girls.  Did God allow me to bring those precious girls into my family only to riddle their childhood with bickering over things that don’t matter and cripple their development and potentially hinder them reaching their full potential and embracing their purpose on this earth?  Did I really think GOD plucked those girls from obscurity to just exist on this earth in Southwest Louisiana surrounded by unforgiveness, blame and fighting?    Was I not called to a higher purpose when he chose ME to be their MOM?  Do I love them more than I hate my enemies?  These questions and realizations were the game changers for me!  Those 2 girls are destined for greatness and I love them and GOD enough to ensure that I do not impede what GOD has for them.

So there I stood, alone, looking around at the mess unforgiveness has created and I knew that I wanted something different.  I knew I needed to forgive and try to bridge this divide and hopefully heal this family.  I knew I wanted my kids (all 4) to look at me and be proud of how I handled this entire situation.  Forgiveness is not easy folks.  It is probably the hardest thing I have ever done and will ever do.  Forgiveness isn’t a feeling that you have one day and all the hurt, bitterness and anger just float away to never never land.  Nope, hurt, bitterness, anger they still remain – but I choose and will choose forgiveness.  And its been minute by minute for me in this forgiveness journey I am on – and in those minutes where I don’t think I can and the anger creeps up and finds me – I envision the face of my daughters – that they are worth it – that again I love them more than I hate those that hurt me.

God’s word tells us to forgive 70×7 times – an infinite amount of times.  It’s easy to forgive your child for breaking your favorite decorative candle holder or even your best friend for hurting your feelings.  The true test of forgiveness is to forgive those that have really hurt you.  That’s a daunting task but one that is not done alone (God always gives you the strength) and one that frees YOU and allows peace to reside in your soul.

I am hopeful for the future.  I am humbled before the LORD that he never gives up on me and continues to push me in the direction I need to go.  I am committed to being forgiving even to those that I may not feel deserve it – I am giving it anyway – because I get that same forgiveness every day from GOD.  I am encouraged that my ex and I can put this derailed train back on the track and love our girls and the bigs together.

And my parting thoughts for this post…..  Forgiveness is a true and authentic statement of God’s  Love.  The more I chose it, the more I experience it and can share it.

 

Body Talk

There are many ways of communicating.  Of course, we use our voices to speak to each other but there are various other means of communication.  Sign language for those that are hearing impaired, the written word is used to communicate in various different platforms to many different audiences. However, that is not the only way we communicate.  A person can communicate disgust with a single look on their face.  Our bodies are great at communicating different emotions and feelings, and sometimes whether or not we are telling the truth.   The FBI even has employees that are experts in reading body language.  But have you ever stopped to think about how our body communicates things to itself.  For example, we have all had that GUT feeling when something just wasn’t right about a situation or a person.   Sometimes tragic news can spark a nauseous feeling in our bodies.

But outside of tragic news or those gut feelings, our bodies do talk to us, send messages, that sometimes are disconnected from our brains or maybe we just choose to ignore.  Once I got out of a 25 year dysfunctional relationship I did some deep soul searching and examined all of my behaviors, good, bad or indifferent to determine where they came from, are they healthy and if not, how can I change them.  And that is when I discovered that my body had been telling me for the longest what my mind took 25 years to acknowledge and act upon.

I knew that something was amiss in my marriage, even if I didn’t know what it was or what to call it.  My body told me – screamed at me at times.  I remember my ex-husband getting his pilots license and a plane and me being scared to death to fly with him. Really looking at the issue – I wasn’t scared to fly on any other plane or even a small private plane with another pilot.  I would gladly hop on any flight without a second thought or even an ounce of fear or anxiety but that wasn’t the case with him.  My body was telling me that I did not TRUST him, and frankly he was and is a great pilot.  I intrinsically knew from the core of my being that I couldn’t trust him on any level and that reaction of anxiety and fear was screaming “WE HAVE TRUST ISSUES”!  There were tears that would come immediately after intimacy, they would well up and fall so fast I didn’t even have time to react to squelch or swallow them back. I would think “what just happened?” – “Why tears?” and maybe I thought I knew the answer but just couldn’t articulate it in those moments of obvious emotion/grief/pain whatever it was coming out of my body via the tears.  The numbness and not longing for his touch in any way – hugs, kisses or even to hold his hand – just that dead inside feeling.  My mind told me I was broken – something was wrong with me instead of seeing it as a sign that my body was reacting to a relationship that was broken, non-committed and non-trustworthy.  And those feelings and reactions didn’t just pop up in the last years of our marriage – I had them for YEARS, almost from the words “I do”.

Sometimes in life we make bad decisions that we choose then to follow through and stick it out, whatever they are – and we may be able to fool our minds into thinking everything is ok but our body’s know.  Let me give you an excellent example of that outside of my marriage examples.  Many years ago, 21 to be exact, when I was in the hospital about to give birth to my 2nd child, I remember this odd incident during my labor.  The doctor had administered my epidural so I was feeling no pain.  Contractions were coming and were being monitored.  My mother in law was in the room watching the monitor and visiting with me.  She noticed that I turned my head and looked at the monitor just at the time I was having a contraction.  She asked if I felt any pain and I assured her I felt nothing.  She insisted that I must feel something because I reacted to the contraction by turning and looking at the monitor.  I dismissed her theory and was a little perturbed at her at the time because I know what I felt.  However, looking back it is exactly what I am talking about now – my body knew there was pain even though suppressed by medication,  which is why my head turned to look.  Our bodies know and so did mine for all those years.  It was communicating to me and I refused to listen.

That reactional communication that comes from the internal core of our bodies isn’t by happenstance  – our bodies are created in God’s own image.  Our creator designed us that wayHe created a masterpiece when he created us- fearfully and wonderfully made the bible says.  Equipped with our own internal alarm system – no additional wiring required.  We just need to listen, be truthful with ourselves and acknowledge the sirens when they go off and stop hitting the snooze button.  My body is keenly aware of my internal sirens and I now do acknowledge them – it still takes me a while with some things – because Oh that snooze button is easy to push.  But thankfully I am a better listener and less of an ignorer.   I hear my body talk to me so clearly these days and I am making sure I never ignore what it is saying again.  It speaks only truth.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalms 139: 13-14