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.

 

Advertisements

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  

 

A Special Tribute

There are certain principles that I have always tried to teach my children, those that are the foundation of my value system.  For example, choose a career that you are passionate about (you have to do it for a long long time) regardless of how much money you earn, live within your means and making a lot of money doesn’t equal success, sometimes wealth has nothing to do with money.  My children have probably heard me say these things to them hundreds of times in their short life time.    More than just hearing me say it, one can only pray that someone else models those principles for my kids and it has an impact on their lives.

Earlier this week this world lost a shining example of all of those things.  Karen Crawford, a name that so many knew in our community.  And as I attended a portion of her funeral services I realized just what we had witnessed and what we had lost.  She was a teacher and a coach.  She loved what she did and did it because she was passionate about the kids she taught and those she coached.  Every life she touched she made a difference.  Generations of girls/women’s lives in our community  were shaped and molded by this one person who gave so much of herself.

Her funeral was packed with people who loved her;  both family, friends, former students, athletes and moms.  The people just kept coming and coming, pouring in to pay their respects to this amazing woman and her family.  My daughter drove 4.5 hours to attend and honor this woman who meant so much to her.  There were tears and laughter throughout, with stories being told of her spirited personality and true love of God, Family and people.  In her death, I think we all were able to look around and realize the depth of her influence and a life well lived.

How did we come to know and love Karen Crawford?  She was my daughters high school cheer coach.  But she was so much more than just a coach to Lizzy.  Karen was a mentor, an encourager that anything was possible with a little hard work and was Lizzy’s biggest cheerleader (outside of me) – and really all that knew her felt the same way.  She had a unique way of being that very thing to many people as well as her own family.  I am lucky enough that our paths crossed and she reinforced and modeled what I so wanted my daughter to learn in this life.  I am grateful for the lessons she passed along to not only my daughter but to the many girls in our area that will take those lessons and pass them along to the future generations. Like a pebble dropped in a lake that ripples to the shore – Karen’s legacy will ripple along for many lifetimes….

 

My sincere condolences to the Crawford family.  She is forever loved and will be forever missed.

Coping…..and lemonade

In life there are many circumstances that require us to develop and implement coping mechanisms.  Death, Abuse, illness, Divorce, etc.  All traumatic events equally for those walking through them.  With any thing, some coping mechanism manifest themselves positively and some negatively.  Drinking alcohol is probably the most well known and most recognizable coping mechanism but there are many others that afflict.

It wasn’t until I started going through this journey that I recognized that I had them too. Implemented to cope with what my life had become over the last 25 years.  It took me a while to peel back the layers of my behavior and discover the root of their origin and to call them what they were.

It’s our body’s natural response to protect itself.  Our body has the ability to fight against infections and disease.  The same concept is true when our heart, mind and soul are under attack.  Early on in my relationship, I would try to fight back with words but quickly learned that got me nowhere.  Silence became a learned behavior and my voice was heard only in my journal entries.  Those entries chronicled the worst of our relationship.  I penned hurts and feelings as if I was talking directly to him.  This was my way of coping with being silenced, never heard and not wanting to fight (because I knew I could never win and was always made to feel it was my fault).  Once confronted face to face with infidelity I just stopped writing in my journal altogether.  It was too much for me to feel to write it down, I just needed to be numb.  I numbed my emotions so much so that the dysfunction and lack of feeling anything began to feel normal to me. Eventually stuffing those feelings and not dealing with them in a healthy way made me a neurotic mess.  I would fly off the handle at the simplest of obstacles or roadblocks in day to day life and I became rigid with schedules and how I envisioned plans should be carried out, so much so that I eventually needed to medicate myself with anti-depressants.

Once I began the divorce process – the coping mechanisms looked differently.  They weren’t as deep and rooted into my personality, because once My ex left my physical space, the elephant that sat on my chest got up and went with him.  I could finally breathe. My new coping strategies helped me find laughter in the midst of the storm and they helped me create a new normal, which really was NORMAL and healthy.   Soon after he left, I found myself changing all the pictures in the house to those of me and my kids.  His name in my phone changed to something that was not so nice – but it sure was funny to have siri say it.  My best friend monogramed everything with my maiden name initials – Hand towels for my bathroom, shirts, shoes, bags and purses.   I slept in the middle of my king bed as a statement that I was the queen of my castle. Those things that I knew my ex held near and dear were fair game now – for example, I recently painted a table I bought for the camp and to paint the legs I had to get a little bit of paint on the concrete in the driveway.  Could I have put newspaper under the legs of the table so that I didn’t get paint onto the concrete – Absolutely I could have – but I chose not to, symbolically,   because I don’t care about the paint on the driveway and I know that would have infuriated him had he still lived in my house. Oh, and after just a few short months of him being gone I stopped taking the anti-depressants that once helped me “keep it together” – if you know what I mean, and have never felt the need to take them again.

It’s funny the things we, as humans do to cope with our bag of lemons.  Our bodies and minds go to extravagant measures to protect itself from the pain and sorrow that life sometimes offers, to get us over the hump of the sour fruit and into the land of fresh squeezed lemonade.

And so as I look back at my sour fruit, my lemons, it just reaffirms the way I now live my life – authentically honest.  Because anything short of that gets me what I once had – silenced, numb and a vast array of unhealthy coping mechanisms.  God gives us life to live it abundantly and as I look in my rear view mirror I see that I was not living it abundantly – I wasn’t living it at all.  I was just existing, going through the motions, and medicated at that.  The windshield is vast with opportunities for a life God intended for me to have.  Remixed and plucked from dysfunction so that I could thrive and give him all the Glory, telling my story, giving witness to his greatness and drinking the lemonade.

 

 

 

Broken Things

Society as a whole categorizes people – all people, into many slots.  Over 40, 65 and older, white, black, asian, College Graduate, High School Graduate and last but not least – Married, Single or Divorced.  When you are young and in your 20’s checking the single box is ok and your still good as long as you don’t carry that status over into your 30’s.  And I have heard several people say that that is mostly a southern thing – that our southern population feels the need to marry our young off as quickly as possible after they graduate high school.  I felt that pressure – hence I was married at 20 years old.  But its the other status I want to discuss in this post – the Divorced status.

I can remember when our separation was new and I had just filed for divorce,  I could not bring myself to say I was divorcing  or that he was my ex-husband.  A full session with my life coach was spent talking about this and working through it.   It had alot to do with just getting use to my reality and being ok with what the truth was but the other part was subconsciously knowing how my peers and society would view me.

Women who are divorced are viewed as “broken” .  Maybe its a leftover generational viewpoint from the older generation where divorce was a rarity – I am not sure where it comes from but it is there.  There are people, even those close to me who have never walked this walk and don’t understand the daily struggle but look at me like I am wearing the proverbial scarlet letter “D” stitched to my very being.  All the while those same people are trying to “Fix” me, which is code for marry me off.  They would never say this outright but all of their conversations with me have the same undertone to them –  hurry and find a man and get married again and all will be right in the world – I won’t be broken anymore.  Wait, Stop, slow your roll!  Maybe just maybe I don’t want to be married again.  Maybe Not Broken doesn’t always equal Married. Maybe if I am “Broken” I should be fully healed from a controlling, toxic relationship first before moving straight to jump off the marriage cliff again.   Maybe the effort it takes to be in a forever relationship like marriage is just more than I want to give at this moment in time.

So I examined and prayed about that term “broken” and here is the amazing thing that some may not realize about broken things.  Those are the very things that GOD uses.  All throughout the bible he uses the beggars, the prodigals, the weak and the wounded to tell the story of the love, compassion, mercy and grace that comes flowing from above.  For me that very fact gives me hope that there is a purpose for my pain.  For me it means that I can contribute from this experience, even though I am divorced.  That I do have something to offer even if society views me as Broken.  What story would I have to tell if I had the “All American White Picket Fence life” that I once portrayed that I had?  I can answer that question now – I would have nothing but FAKE news to offer.  I faked it for so long that that should be viewed as broken.   My true “BROKEN” story is one of strength, purpose, obedience and beauty from ashes.

Divorce does not always equal broken… sometimes it equals healthy and whole.  Sometimes its a stage for you to show your beautiful daughter just what you’re made of and allow her to see the strength you have from clawing your way out of that situation into a beautiful UNBROKEN life…… and she does see it (see her Facebook post after my first blog post below).

lizzy fb post

VICTORY!  Her view of me resonates so much with my soul.  Knowing that I am teaching her life lessons through my walk makes it all worth it – every tear I have shed, every judgement that has been cast upon me, every bad day…. all worth it.

So I’ll take broken…. and for now I will gladly check the box next to Divorced and wear that Scarlet letter D because the alternative is to move in the direction with the flow of society and quickly get to checking the married box again and I am just not ready and neither are my children – Bigs or Littles.

 

 

 

 

We Bought a Camp

camp

Recently I made a decision to purchase a “Camp” on the river in this small community East of Baton Rouge.  It was something that I had always wanted to have and even after beginning to look it was a daunting undertaking if not for my best friend from high school and her wonderful husband that live in the area.  We spend a lot of time together anyway and now having them as partners in this purchase made “Camp” ownership a possibility.

And what’s even better GOD knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish in having a camp, as I prayed about it long and hard.  He even addressed my many concerns and apprehensions too.  It’s amazing how the FATHER knows our very hearts desires, our biggest fears and orchestrates answers to each from above, sending those in our paths that were put there for a purpose.

He knew I would need someone to help with the upkeep as well as someone to share my time with out there, “poof” he sent me Desiree and Eddy.  And I cannot say enough about this partnership that has developed out of a life long friendship.  And we each have our roles –   Eddy of course does the manly things that camp life requires, Desiree is our boat captain (as I would never venture to learn to drive, dock and maintain a boat – not in my wheelhouse of things I am good at – but she rocks at it) and I cook, but most importantly we all have FUN and love life at the camp.

GOD also knew I needed a peaceful place to replenish my spirit from the stresses of my life – what’s more peaceful than being on the water.  He knew I wanted to be part of a community that embraced friendship and like to have FUN – and he delivered.  The people I have met in my small camp community are genuine, welcoming and fun loving.  They look out for each other, love to gather up and visit, laugh, watch football, eat and have fun.   Its everything I asked GOD for and MORE.  I have even found a small church home in the area with some incredibly sweet people.

My camp will be a place where good memories will be made with my circle of friends from home, my kiddos as well as new experiences with new friends.  I can’t wait!!!!!

 

Building Blocks to a New Life

There are so many sayings that people throw at you when they hear you are divorcing such as “God never closes one door without opening a new one”, “Just move on . Sometimes you have to give up on people, not because you don’t care but because they don’t” or “Moving on doesn’t mean that you forget about things. It just means that you have to accept what happened and continue living”.  All great quotes to help those of us walking in the valley of Divorce to make sense of what has happened to our lives.  But here is the million dollar question: how do we move on?  How does one create a new life?

My life for so long as a married woman was controlled in every aspect, down to the clothes I wore.  I fought to be able to do the things I wanted to, most times losing the fight and just giving up to what I was “allowed” to do.  Now, like a convict recently released from prison – I have all of this freedom to decide what I want to do and how I will spend my time and most definitely what clothes I will wear.  And although I began this journey thinking I needed to rebuild my life – My thinking has shifted AND… I am BUILDING a new life.  Rebuilding tends to lead you to believe it will look the same or very close to what it was before and I DON’T want my life to look the same.  I have been purposeful in choosing to do things that will increase my friend circle, feed my need for adventure and competition, embrace my love of sports and allow me to be myself.

It has not been an easy task – building a new life.  I have had to be diligent in keeping my momentum moving forward and not letting myself become stagnant. One of the biggest challenges a newly divorced person must overcome is having to redefine or recreate a friend circle.  As once being part of a married couple, my life was surrounded by married friends.  When divorce happens married friends tend to go away – its awkward as you become the third wheel.  But I must admit, my community of friends included a few very special married friends that surrounded me, embraced my singleness and never ever make me feel like a third wheel. I have also reclaimed high school friendships, those where we picked up where we left off 27 years ago (yes 27 years) and had acquaintances move into my “close” friend circle.  And as I mentioned in my previous post – I am surrounded by people that want to be in my life – want to take part in the things that are important to me.

 

“Freedom of choice” is an essential thing in moving my life forward – like the air I needed to finally breath.  I have embraced that freedom and have chosen to reintroduce tennis into my life after not being allowed to play for so many years.  Tennis was always an ever present activity in my family.  I remember my entire family spending many summers on the tennis courts together.   Reconnecting with that sport has been very nostalgic for me and I feel at home when I play.   I started playing with a weekly community league in Lake Charles and have met many great people through that league. I am also playing in a competitive League and again it has led to some great opportunities to increase my territory.  For the upcoming fall league my mother is even dusting off her racquet and playing on my team – and that feels good and right.

I like competition but also like competing against myself.  I have ran 5Ks, a 10K, will be running a half marathon, completed several triathlons and a duathlon.  Even in the moments during a race that I think, this is hard – I want to give up – I push myself through it.  I have to – I can’t quit, just like I can’t quit my life because it isn’t easy sometimes.   I have a “partner in crime” that pushes me and competes with me, as well as a group of people from my AMAZING TRAINER’S gym that compete alongside of me for the running events.  We encourage each other and celebrate our accomplishments, even if they are small in nature.

I have traveled near and far to some amazing places:  from Bora Bora to Phoenix for the NCAA Final Four to Disneyworld and back.  I have more places on my bucket list to see -although I might have more things on my bucket list than I have actual time for.  Being single does present a problem when traveling and even when vacation should be a happy time I find a bit of sadness that comes along with me.   But I am not letting that stop me or put a damper in my spirit.   My big kids are great travel companions but are not always available so I have researched travel groups or adventures where I can go by myself.  Be looking for me to document some of my travels in 2018 – my tentative list includes some breathtaking places.

There are so many, many things that I have become involved with and have chosen to do in the past couple of years that make my life full and make my life look “different” – the different that I envisioned.  Each activity, each interaction, each trip, a block that is stacked upon the other – building blocks if you will – that help me build that new life.

So do I have the million dollar answer?  I am not sure that I have mastered it enough to say that, BUT,  what I can say is that there is healing in me CHOOSING to do whatever it is that I want to do, asking no one for permission and that my friends is worth more than a million dollars.