Seasons Change, That’s What They Do

Last night, I laid awake listening to my youngest sleeping next to me. I couldn’t help but think about when I first got divorced. As much as she wanted to sleep with Mama every night then, I thought it was a bad habit to get started. After all, I might get married again someday. Then it would be harder on both of us to get her out. That was my thinking. Now, I can’t seem to put her in her own bed because I know it’s coming soon.

Seasons.

As much as I can’t wait to share a bed with my warm and loving man, I will miss the times it was me and my girls. As will he, I’m sure. Isn’t this how seasons go? Such is life. We can’t wait for our kids to potty train, walk, talk, drive….and then we yearn for when they couldn’t. We can’t wait for our own first jobs, apartments, and cars….and then we yearn for when we had less bills and responsibilities. All blessings moving forward in life, yet we miss how it was.

We love the change of seasons. Nothing like the first dip in the pool, our first taste of fall, or getting our Christmas trees up. I live in Texas so sometimes all four seasons seem to collide into the same week. But still, turning that calendar to October, April, or June does something to my soul. Seasons.

Married, single, raising littles, parents of college students, empty nesters, retirement. Seasons. Even friends fall into this category. We may drift apart for no other reason than our jobs and families. No love lost, only further apart.

I’ll miss sleeping with my daughter so much that I’m having a really hard time tucking her into her own bed these days. Instead, she reads to me and asks to hold my hand while we both fall asleep. Years ago, I did the opposite in preparation for what’s now coming in the next couple months. It may bite me (us) later, but right now, I’m relishing this season.

 

 

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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.

How Can Pain Be a Blessing?

We learn from pain. Some more than others and some quicker than others, but we all do in some form. If not, we wouldn’t be careful around hot stoves or warn our kids not to touch them. We usually have to experience enough pain to change anything about ourselves or what we do. Physical pain brought on by ourselves makes us more careful. You’ll more than likely avoid that coffee table corner after stubbing your toe on it or that person after being hurt over and over.

Pain we witness from others makes us more careful too. “Wow, that could be me!” It can make us think twice. Hopefully, we learn this way too. Pain brought upon us by others makes us mad. We didn’t want this pain. We didn’t ask for it, we didn’t even make the mistake to cause it. Still, so much to learn from this anger and frustration. There’s always something to learn.

As unpleasant as pain is, imagine what life would be like without pain receptors. The only way to know if we were hurt would be to see bones or blood. So, thank God for pain receptors. How would we live day to day without them? Extremely timidly, constantly hurt, and continually supervised.

If we learn from pain, it makes sense that the wisest people we know have experienced the most of it. They haven’t just been through it, they’ve allowed themselves to feel it. They’ve gone there, they’ve grieved, they’ve felt and expressed the pain rather than avoiding or covering it up. They’ve taken it to God. They’ve owned their part and they’ve changed because of it.

The pain of divorce may lead some to fight for marriage while others blame marriage itself and refuse to even consider it again. The pain of co-parenting may lead some to surrender and embrace while others vengefully fight the rest of their lives. The pain of betrayal may lead some to a deeper intimacy with Jesus and others to deem it foolish to trust anyone again or become untrustworthy themselves. The pain of failed relationships may lead some to a deeper appreciation of the one who’s different or to write them off altogether. The pain of family disapproval may lead to a deeper reliance on God’s or a life lived to please others.

Are you being crushed? All of these are painful, but it is in the crushing that the sweet aroma is produced. Grapes and olives must be crushed to make wine and oil, as it is with us. The deeper the crushing, the more pure the outcome.

Have you seen the joy and laughter it brings people to stomp grapes with their bare feet? That’s how I imagine the devil looks while we are being trampled on, thinking he’s doing us in. But, it leads to something so beautiful in the transformation and only possible by the crushing. I don’t recommend looking for pain. But, I do recommend gleaning whatever wisdom you can from it, looking for the blessings during in it, and remaining thankful in spite of it. There is always something to be thankful for. He’s always there and He knows how you feel. He may have allowed it, but He hasn’t forsaken you because of it.

The Lord says, “It was my plan to crush him and cause him to suffer. I made his life an offering to pay for sin. But he will see all his children after him. In fact, he will continue to live. My plan will be brought about through him. Isaiah 53:10 (NIRV)

Jesus wasn’t just crucified for us, He was physically, emotionally, and spiritually crushed before it for us. It’s in contemplating this pain that we come to tears and surrender over what He did for us. The suffering He endured for us is how His love was expressed and our ultimate gift provided.

I hate that Jesus experienced any pain because I love Him so much, but if He hadn’t, I couldn’t live with Him forever. He did it for me. It was because of God’s immense love for us that His worst pain turned into our biggest blessing.

Being crushed for His purposes hurts like no other in the process, but coming out the other side you recognize the honor that it is and the joy it ultimately brings. You’ll come out closer, forever changed, and with a sweet personal aroma (story) of who He is to you.

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.

I Hope You Dance….

This is how Mama dances…

Co-parenting is hard. When both parents want the kids all the time. When both parents want to be involved and at every milestone. Switching weekends and sharing holidays, scheduling trips, and forgetting clothes. When one parent doesn’t like the school choice of a parent or the new relationship of the other. When both parents want their kids in different activities. When both parents have different priorities and dreams for their children. When they attend different churches or one stops going altogether. When both parents care deeply for the kids but one couldn’t care less about the other parents feelings. When both parents….tug of war.

Parenting is hard enough….

My girls dad and stepmom have a more flexible work schedule than I do. Girls asked, so they signed them up for dance lessons. Not just dance class, but multiple classes, even elite companies and competitions. Lots of money and lots of time go into this.  A lot of “my time” with the girls is affected by their dance schedules now. But, theirs is too. Lord, help me. They pay for it and they make sure they get there (since I’m working when most of the classes start).

I can’t help but feel out of the loop, it’s more their thing than our thing. For me to nix it altogether just because I could or because I want them in different activities doesn’t seem fair either. Girls would wonder why?? So, I do my best to support, but it’s hard and it hurts.

Their dance schedules have taken over our lives. Four nights a week and weekends. It just feels like too much. I don’t like it when they miss church for it, I don’t like it when they miss school functions for it, and I don’t like that they aren’t on school teams because of it.

Once again, I feel held hostage by what he wants to do. I also feel like they’re missing out on other things and overextended. But, then I go and I watch them dance. I see the passion in my oldest’s eyes when she does. I see the improvement, confidence, posture, and elegance. She prays about dance. She wants to go to class, she wants to succeed, she wants to keep dancing. How could I deny that? So, I will say “thank you”. Thank you that they even have the opportunity. Because if it were just me, they wouldn’t. This isn’t easy, ya’ll.

I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure co-parenting lately. It’s stressful. Honestly, I have felt more pushed around than primary custodian because of all this. I feel like if this were my idea, I would get an earth shattering “No” from him. But, because it’s his or hers, it’s expected for me to go along with it. I’m not telling them what’s happening, they are telling me. None of this is easy.

I’m sure many of my issues with dance go back to my childhood. Dance was a “no no” growing up, in all forms. Of course, I wanted to. I think about how I have always loved to dance with a pure heart. I think about how beautiful a first dance is and how sweet a father/daughter dance would have been. I also think about how David danced before the Lord. I think about the athleticism involved, the artistry, creativity, and the outlet for expressing emotion. I think about the good things…but still worry about so much.

Once again, I struggle with what people will think and which battles to pick. But, Jesus says, “Look at Me”. In all things, all these hard and new things, I will look to Him and ask Him to calm my anxious mind and thoughts and trust that He is working. I think I will look back one day and say “Thank the Lord they danced.” May they never feel the shame associated with it that I did.

I pray for protection for my babies, their dreams, and their hearts for Him. That they flourish and that they dance to His glory. Meanwhile, I will go to every competition, recital, and performance I possibly can. The alternative would be to miss out on something they’ve grown to love, are talented at, and have a heart for. I thank God for their health and legs that can leap and plié and point. I pray that His will be done in their lives and that His grace abounds in mine. Because, I need it. Lots of it.

He knows my heart. He alone knows and holds theirs….

To my girls, I’d like to finish this by sharing a song that has always brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat, because it’s beautiful and true. I mean this from the bottom of my heart…. Whether it’s writing, drawing, singing, playing, going on that adventure, staying close to home, or twirling in your tutu….I hope in whatever form it comes, when you get the chance to sit it out or dance….please dance.

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance….” — Lee Ann Womack

Storms Take Many Forms

“The lightnin’ flashes in her eyes and he knows that she knows…..and the thunder rolls.” Just like in the Garth Brooks hit “The Thunder Rolls”, we are made aware very soon in life that storms come in many forms.

We take physical cover in hail storms. We watch helplessly as windows and cars are hammered. We can hear the sirens and sounds of freight trains when a tornado comes close. We rush to the stores to stock up when there is talk of an ice storm hitting the metroplex. We batten down the hatches to prepare for hurricanes. We do all we can do, but are still left to watch and see how nature will take it’s course.

Relationships go through storms. Marriages, friends, family….Eventually, someone will get hurt and find themselves in the eye of the storm needing to ask for forgiveness or grant it. And the thunder rolls……

Some make it, some don’t. Kids and others are left to watch helplessly in the wake of lost friendships and divorce. The relationships that do make it come out stronger because the love is made more evident in the willingness to ask, receive, and bestow the forgiveness. Asking isn’t easy, granting isn’t easy. Both take humility and grace.

Financial strains cause storms. The stress associated with being out of work, working when you don’t want to, working at a job you dislike, or for a boss who doesn’t seem to care at all about you, wondering whether or not to go back to work. Asking for help with bills. And the thunder rolls….

Storms come in many forms. May we always look to Jesus in them. May we take cover in His Name, like we do in the closet with our babies covered by a mattress. May we go face down before Him when the storms come and ask Him to carry us through. May we stock up on scripture and prayer warrior friends like we stock up on bottled waters and batteries. These are the storms where an umbrella won’t cut it. These are the storms where we do all that we can do and then hunker down and wait and see what the damage is.

Hurricane Harvey ravished Houston a couple weeks ago. Hurricane Irma plowed through the Caribbean yesterday and is moving towards Florida this weekend. Last I heard there are two coming up behind her. Just like tropical storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, and ice storms are expected on this earth, so are all the other kinds of storms. Sometimes they seem to come one right after another.

Strengthen us, Lord. Batten down our hatches. Help us to ask for and grant forgiveness in our storms. Show us how to reflect you when we inevitably mess up or someone else does. And, thank You for Your grace. Your grace is like the first responders running in when everyone else runs outs. Your grace is the rescue helicopters and semis pulling in with diapers and blankets. Your grace is the food we feast on when famished and in dire need.

And, if the storm rages and ultimately takes us out, may we still look to You because then we will be able to see You looking at us.