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.

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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 couldn’t overlook it in our courtship.

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…

My Love Story….

My love story will be different…It won’t be a “married to my high school sweetheart” story. It won’t be a “rocky marriage and reconciliation” story. It won’t be a “happily ever after right after divorce” story. No, my love story will be different.

My love story will be learning about how much God loves me, even in the midst of painful losses and rejections. My love story will be learning to love myself in the midst of them to0. Learning to love myself even when made to feel unlovable. Learning to love myself after being torn down to a nub by men in my life. Learning that not all men and women are the same….

Right after my divorce, I fell hard for a guy. He gave me more attention that I’d ever received from my ex-husband. We dated over a year, but he refused to commit. So, heartbroken again, I knew I had to stop the rollercoaster of not knowing what he wanted from me. Cue the next few guys who wanted to marry me after our first date. And some even before. What was going on?!?

First guy turned out to be on parole for double homicide (his wife and another guy)! Next two had mental issues, so much so, that suicide was mentioned after ending things. The fear of God set in. What was a single mom with two daughters to do?  Just stop? Or keep trying, trusting God. I chose the latter……My love story will be different.

The only way I could trust God with my romantic life after these stories was IF I loved Him enough and trusted His love for me. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve cried out, thinking it won’t happen for me. It just can’t after these stories…The fear would be too great or the rug would be yanked out from under me, again.

I dated a guy who truly loved me, but we split over spiritual beliefs. I’ve dated a guy recommended by one of my best friends. I thought that he was my reward for standing up for my beliefs. That turned out to be false too and ever so painful and confusing all over again. What was going on?!?

The guy before has come back around. God spoke to his heart in my absence and it turns out our spiritual beliefs aren’t as different as we thought. Surprisingly, close. He knows all my fears, issues, and concerns. His love still rings true. God’s will be done.

My love story will be different….God will be my first love. My love story will be an open book of the love we share. I will run to Him when I hurt. I will lean on Him when I’m scared. I will share who He is to me. I will trust Him with my life. And, if it turns out that He just wants me all to Himself, my love story will be complete. I will live to please and honor Him all the days of my life.

 

 

Always a Risk…

A calculated risk is still a risk…One thing I’ve learned in the medical field is that we can only do so much when it comes to prevention. We can and should do what we can do, but nothing guarantees we won’t be born with a congenital defect, have a heart attack, arrhythmia, or cancer.

We’ve all heard the stories about people who contract lung cancer having never smoked a day in their lives and about the women diagnosed with breast cancer and absolutely no family history. I’ve personally scanned multiple young healthy patients who have had heart attacks. They exercise every day, maintain a healthy weight, eat clean, yet still…I’ve also scanned the 500 pound smoker who’s heart is as healthy as can be.

We should do everything we can as far as preventive screening and healthy living to avoid and promote what we can. But, just like every time we drive a car, we risk getting into a wreck. Every time we fly in a plane, we risk crashing. Every time we change jobs, we risk not liking it like we’d hoped. The same goes for relationships and marriage. They both run the risk of break up and divorce.

This is not intended to be morbid post, but a truthful one. I’ve also learned that although we can never be a perfect spouse, we can be a GREAT one and still get left. Our spouse can die unexpectedly or our own lives can get cut short. Because of this, do what you can in the process of picking a mate, pray fervently, ask for God’s help, make your list, be true to what you want and don’t want, and then try and trust. Trust that if the break up comes before marriage, He’s watching out for you and if it comes after, He’s still beside you. Yes, there’s risk, but you’ll never know unless you try and fly.

So, eat your veggies, stay away from tobacco, limit your alcohol, watch your weight, wear your sunscreen and your seatbelts, get your mammograms and teeth cleaned, lock your doors at night, and give that guy a try. The one who fits. The one who has what you’re looking for, but you’re too afraid to try or what people might think. Know that every relationship, romantic and otherwise, is a risk we have to be willing to take. Truth is, we can’t experience love without potential heartbreak.

The more I learn about relationships, the more proud I am of the risks I’ve taken. I’ve tried, I’ve lost, I’ve learned, I’ve let go, and I’ve tried again. There’s so much to be said for perseverance, patience, and priorities. It takes a lot of courage to get back up on that horse after getting bucked off, especially multiple times. But, you’ll have to get back on in order to ride off into the sunset one day…

What Have You Gained?

When we lose something, it hurts. Transition is hard. And, change is never easy. But, when we look again or look back, we can see what we’ve gained.

I suffered great loss with my divorce. Looking back now, I can see what I’ve gained after it. A closer relationship with Jesus and mounds of wisdom from the pain. I got to move back to my hometown and live close to family. My girls also get to attend church school. Neither of these would have been possible if we’d stayed married. I not only get to attend the church of my childhood, but also serve as a women’s ministry leader there. I also gained this blog as a source of healing, sharing, and connecting. Such an honor and privilege. All precious gains from a devastating loss.

Fast forward five years. This spring I lost a relationship that I thought was “the one”. He was recommended by friends, we knew many of the same people, similar church backgrounds, said he was looking for someone just like me. It ended, when that changed. Another heart wrenching, confusing loss.

Since then, what have I gained? Home renovations, a new job, a new puppy, a new sense of me and what I need in a relationship, a renewed set of standards, a whole new appreciation for a loving, honest, caring, consistent, family-focused, attentive man. Yet another opportunity to be with this type of man. A sense of pride for trying and a sense of humility for sharing. All gains from another bewildering loss.

Last night, my daughters started a conversation with me about how much they both wish I had a boyfriend/husband. They want this for me, even after all we’ve been through. They have both been open and accepting of each one of my relationships. By God’s grace, never rude or unwelcoming. Rather, hopeful.

My oldest daughter told me she just wants me to be honest with her. I confided in her that I don’t open up to her as much as she’d probably like because I want to protect her. I explained that I don’t want to get her hopes up or down anymore. Still, she insisted, just as I would with her in the same situation. So, last night we had a good honest talk. She agrees wholeheartedly with what I’m looking for and why it hasn’t worked out yet. She understands so much more than I give her credit for. She asked me to be honest with her, just like I’d want her to be with me in her dating years….I consider that conversation a huge gain and a blessing after multiple losses.

Dating in front of kids is HARD, but, I’m learning it can also be a tremendous learning tool. They know I have standards, the same standards I’d want for them. When the time is right, I’ll find the courage to choose love. But, I’ll need them met first. In the meantime, I will focus on my gains, opportunities, and adventures.

With GOD there is always a gain in the loss. It might be finding strength you didn’t know you had, it might be new friends, it might be more money, it might be more time, it might be more help, but it will always be more of Him. He wants to fill every void in our lives. With Him, we can trust that each loss still has His goodness written all over it.

The next time you lose something or someone, ask yourself “But, what have I gained?” Oh, how He loves…