My mom recently brought a box over to my house. My son was doing a project for my dad and needed information on his service in the military. When I opened the box – what I found was so much more. The box was filled with every letter that my dad had written my mom while he was away at war – The Vietnam War. My dad had even made audio recordings of him talking to her and she kept those too. What a treasure! As I held those 50+ year old letters and read the words in some of them, my soul was moved. I was holding the evidence of a real love story! The endearing words on a page written by a fresh faced, scared 19 year old facing the possibility of death every day. But in those circumstances, clung to his new wife and their love to get him through. I told my mom that day to make sure that these letters and audio recordings are preserved, no matter what! She was a little taken aback at my passionate reaction to the letters. Here’s why:
That box.. full of letters will be passed on to our family’s future generations and will serve as a reminder of what love, commitment and marriage really are! That they do span a lifetime, that they are committed in good and bad times – even through wars. That box is my parents love story…. the legacy they leave their children, grandchildren and one day great grandchildren and beyond….
And now, more than ever, I want my children and their future generations to know my parents story and know that it is part of the fabric of our family. I come from a long line of committed marriages, beautiful families. All 5 of my uncles and my aunt that got married are still married or were married to the same person until they passed away. The generation before them – the same. Divorce, for the most part, was not a part of our family’s story – until me. And statistics say that the reality of Divorce in a family will resonate for 7 generations before a cycle is broken. I do not want that reality for my 4 children. I want them to look around at the people in their family history and know that they come from a LONG line of committed marriages, beautiful love stories – each with trials that they all overcame, stuck it out and chose LOVE over anything else. I want my kids to know that when they do chose to marry that the vows they say – mean something and should be honored no matter what comes your way. I want them to write beautiful love stories for my grandchildren and great grandchildren and have their own BOX to pass on……
If you read my blog you probably know that in August of 2017 I bought a camp on the Tickfaw River in Springfield, Louisiana with my best friends from Baton Rouge. We have spent time down there since purchasing but have not experienced a full summer there. BUT… Summer is kicking off on the River and this past weekend was the Tickfaw 200 – an annual powerboat poker run that happens on the river and I got to experience it to the fullest.
This post is not to detail out what we did because frankly “what happens at the river, stays at the river” (LOL) but moreover to express my gratitude at how beautiful my life is now. Sometimes in the valleys I can forget how far I have come and that my life HAS been rebuilt and it is full of people who love me and want to spend time with me.
There were moments when I caught myself this weekend, just taking it all in. Looking around at my TRIBE that came to enjoy the weekend with me AND ALL of my friends I have made at the River and thinking – “this is good – like really good”…… And the people in my neighborhood and those in the surrounding area that have embraced me and my peeps, inviting us, welcoming us, sharing good times with us, is exactly what I envisioned when I purchased this place. I could not have asked for more. For the FIRST time in 3 years I felt normal… I didn’t wake up or go to sleep with any sadness looming. I was excited to see what the next day held. Again, another hurdle crossed , another step forward in the healing process.
My place on the river – isn’t just a camp – but an extension of my life where I welcome my friends and family to enjoy good times. Its a place of solace and healing. A place where I can have fun and laugh and be encapsulated in peoples goodness and kindness……it is overly abundant there.
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….
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!
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.
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.
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.
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……