Crickets….

I shared with a few of my girlfriends that one of my prayers entering the dating scene was that I’d rather hear “crickets” than have another broken heart. But, I see now, that it’s  been in the broken hearts and relationships that I’ve learned the most about myself, what I need, what I can give, and what real love is and is not.

I don’t think dating has ever been easy for me, but with social media, texting, dating sites, kids, and the divorced baggage, dating is HARD! As much as I wanted to remarry one day, I got to the point that I was willing to skip it altogether if it led to more pain, confusion, betrayal, or mistreatment. I wanted the girls to see healthy and if that meant mommy stayed single for the rest of my days, so be it.

It’s not what I wanted, I got very lonely. I wanted to be held by physical arms. I cried out in this loneliness, similar to how I did in the loneliness of my marriage but this time without a ring or any potential prospects. The prospects that did come along left more of the same. No lasting connection or commitment. I believed their words, but they fell flat, unable to truly love through good and bad. Once again, try, split, work on forgiveness, and try again. Or should I?

I craved companionship, intimacy, honesty, and reciprocal love. But, this time it wasn’t just about what I wanted, it’s about what the girls and I needed and the example I wanted to set as their mom for their upcoming dating years. I needed a man to set a good example as their stepdad. This definitely raised the ante.

I couldn’t risk falling for just anyone. Even though I still did in the process. God knows I’m prone to fall……..

We needed a patient man. A gentle man. A family man. A man who knows the meaning of and Supplier of biblical love. A man ready to love us all. For the long haul. Through thick and then. These would all take a strong man. If these characteristics weren’t there, then we would be healthier and better off without. And, ultimately, I’d wish the same for them when they consider a husband. So, I asked God to remove if he didn’t fit these qualities.

Crickets.

Hearing crickets on the dating scene isn’t easy. It feels like a big bucket of rejection, but that’s where my faith was tested. I bravely asked God to get all up in my business, so I trust that He did. Even when it hurt. Even when I didn’t like it. Even when the text wasn’t replied to. Even when they didn’t call. Even when the ones I was warned about wouldn’t stop texting or calling. Even when and even then.

I prayed for strength to endure the loneliness and what seemed to be a lack of interest or undesired interest. I reached out to my friends, I asked for prayer, I asked advice, I talked to my kids, I cried, and I learned each time. Deep down I trusted that God had my very best interests at heart. Because I only desired His will.

It never came naturally to me in any way, shape, or form to date casually. My heart is programmed to love and that makes dating (to figure it out) even more difficult….I asked God to guard my heart during the process. Keeping an open and guarded heart is a tough balance.

As I type this article, I’m looking down at a beautiful ring on the fourth finger of my left hand. Engaged to a man that I’m thrilled to have around my girls. A man that I know is super hard to come by in today’s world.

I get to be a wife again. I loved being a wife. But, this time, it’s to my best friend. A man who I can talk about anything with and he does the same. A man with similar interests which is wonderful, but most of all, is sacrificial. He wants to love me all the days of his life. He sees that as a gift. And that makes him the best gift for us! This is how I’d want my girls loved.

Thank you, Jesus, for the crickets. It was then, in the silence and wonder, that I learned the most about You, who I am to You, and who You want for us.

Vengeance is Mine.

When we are deeply wounded, we are changed. God knows this and the devil knows this.

If someone hurts you deeply, ask God how to forgive every day, every hour if necessary. If we don’t have the desire to forgive, we will continue to suffer in the bondage of resentment and bitterness from the pain inflicted which is exactly what the devil wants. This pain can affect every relationship we have, even and especially those who are completely innocent in it, which is also what the devil wants. He loves to watch the collateral damage ravage lives and generations.

Knowing this, it just makes sense to forgive rather than suffer. Haven’t we already suffered enough? But how?

Healing comes gradually… as does relief. We can stay mad at the person for hurting us or we can ask God to help us forgive and view them as He does. Over and over again. We can blame them for our situation or ask God to help us forgive and see where He wants to take us from here. We can obsess over what they are doing or why they did what they did or we can turn our focus to those who do love us and desire us in their lives.

We can HOLD ON or we can LET GO. And that includes revenge. Letting go has got to be one of the hardest things we do in this life. To let go of a person, a dream, a life, is painful. There’s no getting around the pain. We can mask it, avoid it, cover it, downgrade it, but it’s still there.

To let go of the desire to avenge and seek justice on our own is hard. It’s only natural to want to do so. So letting it go helps us. I love how Max Lucado explains…

“Forgiveness doesn’t diminish justice; it just entrusts it to God.”

The person who says they feel no pain or dismisses yours has not dealt with their own. The ones that have get how hard this is and God knows too. He created us to love and be loved. Our hearts are fragile.

 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:19-21 (NASB)

Not only has God promised to take care of it, whatever “it” may be. He asks us to leave it to Him so that we can go in peace. Forgiveness restores our happiness and loving by forgiving and leaving them to Him may even open their heart to Him in a way it never has been before. No matter what, it frees us. Over and over again.

It’s a beautiful thing to hand it over. I thank Him for taking it! Once again, it’s a command given out of His love for us. Let Him carry that too. Let Him have it. That’s what He asks of us and it’s for our own good. To lighten our load and make way for joy.

 

Thankful.

I’m thankful for…

  • The lessons
  • The strength
  • The wisdom
  • The courage
  • The perseverance
  • The time
  • The support
  • The friendships
  • The quiet mornings
  • The crazy mornings
  • The family close by
  • The prayers
  • The steady paychecks
  • The unexpected help
  • The help with my girls
  • The closer relationship with and dependence on Jesus
  • The forgiveness
  • The ones who have made me laugh
  • The ones who have helped me cry

 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)

When They Leave…

Have you been walked away from? Ghosted? Not committed to? Replaced? This is an article for you.

Even when our kids leave, there is a tremendous amount of pain. It’s a ripping. A tearing away at our heart.

I have had all of the above. I’ll bet you have too. If not yet, you may. I want to help you see a positive in the pain.

This is not a pity party post. After my divorce, I boldly asked God to remove anyone not meant for me. I meant it, but never thought it would take so many “tries”. It takes a lot of courage to try again with anyone after such a blow. Even more to stick your neck out with kids and in public. I had no desire to date in the dark or without intention, so I continued in prayer, worked on my weaknesses, gave them to God, and asked Him for help.

As the backs turned, friends too, I thought me being me was the problem. I was even told that, so I did a lot of inner work and crying out to God. Still, in my heartbreak and bewilderment, I trusted God’s heart in the pain and the questions. What was going on? Why? Even my truest friends didn’t understand why this was part of my story. I prayed, they prayed. I loved, they loved.

Rejection is one of the most excruciating things on this planet, but I can say now that I fully trust His heart in each one and would again. I trust He wants what’s best for me. And, because He is it, I trust that anyone He removes will ultimately distract me from my first love, Him, or I them.

My deepest desire is to grow closer and closer to Him together and show His love to others, not the other way around. And, if that scares anyone off, so be it. I hate to lose people, I love people, but He comes first.

I have not only been rejected, I have also done the rejecting. That’s hard too, but I knew and know it was best for me and my girls. I’ll just go ahead and assume the guys who rejected me felt the same. I wish them all the very best. Because of the hurt, I’ve learned from each one.

In the case any of them actually read this, I’d like to say “Thank you.” Thank you for pushing me closer to Him. Thank you for the lessons. Thank you for your part in making me a fighter, a learner, a stronger person. You helped me dig deep for healing and my truest Lover and Corrector.

Now, I realize that the lessons learned have given me a ministry. I wouldn’t have the lessons without the story. I’ve always loved to write, but wouldn’t have the content without the story. It’s been in the confusion and rejection that I found my beloved Jesus and a way to use the gift He’s given me. He’s the One who never turns His back on me or leaves for college or draws a final breath. Rather, holds me closer than ever. Each time of loss this has been confirmed and deepened our relationship.

I pray that this helps me understand and sympathize with my daughters’ dating years better than before. That I help others heal from their childhoods, divorces, and to maybe even gain insights if they choose to date again. I pray this helps others not only stay married, but have a better marriage. I pray this helps others find their worth in Christ and not those who walk away or put them down. I pray this helps women find their beauty in their Creator and men to recognize that we both have the same Creator and Father. I pray this helps us all remember and recognize that we are accountable to Him. What has He asked you to do?

The enemy messes with me. He discourages me and tries to silence me. But, may my lips and fingers never stop praising my faithful God. The One who only lovingly turned His back to protect us from His Glory (Exodus 33:23). The One who will return and never have to do that again. The One who welcomes the prodigal sons and daughters home. The One who asks me to share my heart. The One who craves His time with me. The One who teaches me.

May each rejection, loss, season push you closer to His heart. That is His will for all of us.

To Come…and to Stay.

It took me almost 40 years to get a dog AND a man that won’t run as fast as they can to get away from me first chance they get. For those of you who know my men and previous dog stories, you know what I mean! With men, this has usually been when I’ve stood up for myself. But, now I have BOTH and I thank the good Lord!

When I think and frankly expect either one of them to turn tail and run, they both look at me with those puppy dog eyes, as if to say “Where would I go?” “Why would I leave?” “I want to be right here….with you.”

This is new for me. On both accounts and it feels really nice. I’m used to feeling not good enough, too much, too little, and ultimately second choice. But, I have a very strong feeling, there’s nowhere else either one of them would rather be. And, I am so thankful!

I’ve been told I have a dark cloud that follows me. No matter the thunder, tears, lightning, or circumstances, these two would rather be with me in any weather than without. I’ve experienced rain that no umbrella can withstand. I have stood up where necessary, I have let my guard down, and I have been given the beautiful opportunity to love all over again. What a gift!

I thank God for the people (and puppy) He has sent me who love me enough to never let me or want me to get soaked alone again. Dark clouds or sunshine, they are with me.

 

Nothing Compares…

When you’re living in your God given purpose. When He’s backed you up, picked you up, and broken chains. When it’s His approval you live for…Nothing compares!

I’m thrilled my girls have the opportunity to dance their hearts out. I’m thrilled my girls get to attend the church school I went to. I’m thrilled I was able to buy a house in my  hometown. I’m thrilled I get to serve at the church I grew up in….in a whole new way. And, excited for what’s next for us. Because, I know now. He’s there too!

I’m thrilled for the courage the Lord has provided for me to write and share my story. And, I’m thrilled and humbled by the people it’s reached. To God be the glory!!

I’m thrilled for the lessons I’ve learned about love…and that now I actually have it in return. Beyond thankful for the friends I’ve made along the way. They’ve prayed me through. They always will. They have been my backbone, my confidants, my encouragers to follow where the Lord is leading me. I pray for that honor in return. That’s exactly what it is. An honor. To love and to be loved in return…Nothing compares. It’s God’s design and will for us.

Life after divorce is hard. There are difficulties you’ve never even considered if you haven’t been through it. Some things will never be the same. But, some things will be so much better! God knew. God knows. And, joy DOES come in the morning. For all the sadness and heartbreak I’ve encountered, He fills and uses in His most precious and perfect time.

Thank you, Lord! For loving me before, loving me during, and loving me after. Loving me always. ❤

The One?

There is so much talk about finding “the one”. How do you know if he/she is the one? When you’ve thought you found the one before and it tanked, it can leave a person scratching their head. The whole “You’ll just know” theory is forever tainted.

Something I’ve learned and am still learning…always learning is that “The One” is the one you’re willing to fight with and for which means work through anything and everything. But, it must go both ways. If you were willing to do this for someone and they weren’t or vice versa, you weren’t the ones for each other either. No doubt, you’ll learn a lot from this experience and hearts will break, but making it to the end with each other will take mutual desire and commitment. This is what real love deserves.

The one you can be honest with. The one who loves you in your bad moods as much as your highs. The one you’re willing to trust again after your disappointments and betrayals. The one who is willing to deal with your stuff. And…will you deal with theirs? No one is perfect, including ourselves, so to find a person who you not only want to do life with, but are willing to, is the one. Because, life is hard. Cherish that person.

Love after divorce is different. Eyes are more open, deep hurts have left crevices, sometimes children, exes, and location limitations are involved. There has to be more than infatuation because you know the difficulties of marriage now. What do you need? What can you give?

In order to enjoy the vacations, we need to love well in between. The hard stuff. The mundane stuff. The painful stuff. The unknown stuff. If you’re both willing, congratulations are in order. Because, that’s the hard stuff to find!

The one you want to go through everything with is the one for you.

We don’t love perfectly. We have issues, baggage, fears, scars. But, when you find someone who decides to love you through them and you decide to do the same, enjoy your one. And love and appreciate them like crazy. I realize this more and more as my stuff continues to rise to the surface. To be loved anyway is a miracle in itself.

“All of Me” by John Legend is really just that. For someone to want and take all of you includes so much more than your body. It’s your past, present, future, collateral damage, and most importantly your heart.

Unexpected Ease

We planned it months ago….Time got closer and closer. He got more and more excited, and I got more and more concerned. About the kids. About the money. About the feeding everyone. About the long road trip. What would happen? I feared the whining would make my ears bleed, or worse, his. When he asked me what I was most concerned about, it was that. The twelve hour road trip, just the six of us. For the first time…ever.

When I asked him what he was the most excited about, he had the same answer. The road trip!?!? He yearned for and was excited about the time together. Completely foreign concept. Even to me…

When we arrived at the condo, I watched him pull $1000 cash out of his wallet and lay it on the counter to pay the landlord. This was money I knew was hard to come by and that he needed. This was money he had set aside. This was money that could have easily been used elsewhere, but his priority was us and the memories we would make there. And, even though he paid for the place, he gave me the room with the queen size bed and separate bathroom. Meanwhile, he slept on the pull out couch in the living room and shared a bathroom with the kids.

With his aching back and all, I woke up to his warm smile, hugs, and coffee every morning. He was THANKFUL we were together and it showed. Different rooms, different beds, all the kids. But, together as much as possible in this season.

He showed love by playing games, cards, laughing, putting us all at ease. One of my daughters is super affectionate, the other one not so much. So, when I saw her take his hand walking through town, my heart melted. She must know. She must know he loves her back….

We enjoyed the clear water and white sands of Destin. It was my first time to see it. We enjoyed a condo by the beach, amazing food, quality time with our kids, and LOTS of laughs. All this considered, my favorite part was the unexpected ease. The kind of ease that makes me WANT him on every family vacation from now on…The kind, quite frankly, I’m not used to.

Traveling is one thing. Traveling with ease, laughter, joy, and love is quite another. Thank You, Lord!

 

He Lit My Fire…

I didn’t fall in love with Jesus until He touched me when no one else would or could. I grew up in church, went to church camp, went to private church schools, I sang about Him, I was baptized, I prayed. Seeds were planted, but I didn’t fall in love…until then. And, when this shift occurred, I rushed back in to be baptized again. I came out of that water, heart pounding and in tears. This time was different. My heart was awakened to this great love just waiting on me. My fire was lit.

When Jesus reached out and held me in the coldest and hardest (thus far) time in my life, I fell. And, I fell hard. It was THEN that I knew He was my Rescuer, the Greatest Love of my life. If I had known before, I wouldn’t have been in that spot to begin with. But, I didn’t. So…..that moment of greatest pain turned into my moment of greatest love. He was there for me. Turns out, always had been. I just didn’t know what was missing.

Since falling head over heels for the One who died for me, I look for Him in others. I know now that a heart for Jesus is the safest heart. It would take a fierce love for our Savior to spark and trust again. It would take someone else who has been broken. Someone who gets it. Someone willing to go there for himself and for me. Someone with a similar desire to love again, anyway, and regardless. And, we all know that’s hard.

In the man I’m with now, this is what attracts me the most. We’ve both been broken in half. We’ve been up, down, and sideways, but I’ve never questioned his love for Jesus or me. He’s a gospel man.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples”. John 13:34-35 (NLT)

Over and over I’m blown away be his capacity to love. Me, my kids, his kids, and others, even when it doesn’t seem returned. Tired, stressed, hurt. He loves anyway. And, we all know that’s hard too. This brings us back together and lights the fire over and over.

The fire Jesus lit in me is what, I firmly believe, will light my fire until the day it goes out on this earth.

Sounds strange to say “in love with Jesus”. But, being in love with Him helps me love others better too. It’s His joy and assurance in my heart that brings out the best in me. In all of us. He created us to love us. Embracing that love helps us to spread it like the wildfire that it is.

All consuming, all encompassing, unfailing.

This is the Jesus I want my girls to know. Because if they do, I know now, that they won’t be able to help but fall in love too. So, I just pray for this realization and recognition. The greatest love they will ever know.

He lights my fire.

The Nail Salon…

This is a story that bears repeating. This is a story that sounds too strange to be true, but because it happened to me, I know that it did. This is about that day at the nail salon…

Our relationship was rocky. His employment had been off and on for the two years I knew him. He had been laid off for months now and it scared me. I’m well aware I could lose my job today, any of us could. But, as a single mom to two girls, steady employment is high on my list. I just couldn’t relax and get excited about the future without it. We needed help.

So, he gets hired at a job fair for a well known company in the area, Praise God!! Hired on the spot. Now, to take the tests required and start working. Problem solved and prayer answered, right? ….Drug test, check. Written test, taken. Never in my mind did I consider him not passing this written test. I mean he’d been in this field for most of his working life. I just thought it was a formality. So, when I got the news he didn’t pass, my heart sunk. Now, I KNEW the problem must be him. I mean, why couldn’t he pass? I couldn’t live this way. I was less than compassionate, I was just mad and confused.

I asked God if this was His sign. I know He wants what’s best for me and the girls. All I heard in my spirit was “wait”. Three hard days went by and I waited. I didn’t end the relationship, I waited and remained honest with him and God that I was highly bothered and frustrated with this situation. Everything else seemed to be coming together, except this job situation. And, I just couldn’t overlook it.

On the third day of waiting and wondering, I left work early because my last patient “happened” not to show up. I didn’t have my girls that day, so I “decided” to get my nails done. When I pulled into the parking lot, I “chose” a salon I rarely went to. Still don’t know why, just decided to mix it up. Meanwhile, I’m texting with a friend about her love issues as well. She asked if I would mind talking instead of texting as she just wanted to hear my voice. I told her sure, but that I was heading in to get a pedicure so I couldn’t talk loudly as not to bother others. The staff “happened” to sit me beside a woman in the salon.

I was sharing my heart with my friend about this test that he didn’t pass. I must have sounded extremely distraught. So much so, that the lady sitting next to me tapped me on the shoulder while I was talking and said “I’m so sorry to bother you, I work there and that test had an 85% failure rate, it’s the talk of the company right now.” WHAT?!? I quickly let my friend go to get more information.

She went on to tell me that employees currently employed there had taken and failed this test. The problem was not him, it was the test! I would have never known, he would have never known had this encounter not happened. Not only did she ease my mind about this test and my guy, she told me to have him call her directly since her department was hiring. So excited and thankful, I shared his name and said he’d call her first thing in the morning. When she heard his name, she said she knew him! Not only did she know him, he trained her at a previous job!

Needless to say, he called her the next morning and the ball got rolling. It didn’t roll smoothly, it took six weeks to get a start date. But, start he did. He just finished his first week as a direct employee at an amazing company that he may very well retire at. Not only are the benefits amazing, he is starting at twice the amount of money he would have made had he passed that ridiculous test.

If my patient had shown up, if I had to go straight home, if I had gone to the salon I normally go to, if I hadn’t been talking on the phone instead of texting, if I hadn’t been sat next to her, if she hadn’t reached out to ease my mind in compassion, if she had been wearing her earbuds that day (which she told me us she usually always does when getting her nails done), if she hadn’t have tried a brand new salon to her that day…..so many ifs.

Looking back, God told me to “wait”. My standards were on point and I do believe a steady job and ability to be employable and maintain employment is and should be on our lists as single ladies. I’d want it for my daughters’. If I hadn’t have waited I wouldn’t have experienced this or had this story to share. So share I will. So each one of you will know that when God moves, He moves. Even in nail salons…