It’s Not “Supposed” to Be This Way..

I write a lot about the difficulties of divorce. So many get them without considering the consequences. Some know full well and some are clueless. As a child of it and an adult who went through it, I want to clue some of you in.

Some sign in tears gasping for breath and some easily and nonchalantly sign papers. Some spend their retirement fighting for custody and some need a push accepting the inevitable. Some hire detectives and some throw parties. Some wake up and some shut down. Because people grieve differently and some don’t grieve at all, they are each different.

No matter what, it’s an epidemic that needs attention. Divorce causes confusion about how marriage was intended from the beginning and not only the pain of separation for the one left behind, but separation from our children. It’s not supposed to be this way…

Divorce is a life event never to be celebrated in my book. It has caused me so much pain over my lifetime, that it must be my calling. It hurts my heart for every child and adult that encounters it. It’s not supposed to be this way…

My prayer is that these articles comfort those who have been or are going through similar situations and that they warn others. That couples think twice, three times, four times, that they do the work needed, that they consider their examples, that they communicate, and get healthy…together. Because families are torn apart and it’s not supposed to be this way.

That they don’t just stay together for the kids. And never, if it’s abusive or unfaithful without repentance, but to show kids and others what marriage is “supposed” to be. Not easy, but strong. A union of two sinners who have to learn to forgive and how to be forgiven. A testimony to grace.

Once we “get over” the separation of the person we vowed that we never would (whole other article), the separation from our children is brutal.

I’m about to embark on my first month away from my girls and my heart just aches. One week away at camp pales in comparison to a month away. It’s not supposed to be this way..

I know divorced moms do this all the time. I also know it’s hard for them all. I know some travel, some rest, some work more, and some just sulk. I plan to do all of the above. I need to….

The ache in my heart reminds me that Jesus can feel it too. It reminds me of how it was the separation from His Father on the cross that killed him. It wasn’t the physical pain, it was THAT pain that He cried out over. “Father, why have you forsaken Me?”

Sin separates us from our Father. He took on ALL of our sin so that we would never feel the separation that He did. This separation needed to happen in order for us to never be separated again.  And, it killed Him. He knows the pain. It broke his heart. And, still does.

Let us keep looking to Jesus. He is the one who started this journey of faith. And he is the one who completes the journey of faith. He paid no attention to the shame of the cross. He suffered there because of the joy he was looking forward to. Then he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 (NIRV)

Do you know that this “JOY” He looked forward to as He was beaten, nailed to a cross, and separated from His Father for absolutely nothing He did Himself was being with us forever! That outcome was worth all the pain He endured. Oh, how He yearns for that day too. He must after what He was willing to do in order for it to happen.

Even though I was the one who filed, I’ve always stood by the fact that the divorce wasn’t my choice. I was the only one to show up to court. My dad went with me. He walked me down both aisles. I know his heart was breaking too. He’d already been through his own painful divorce. The man who paid for our wedding was now paying for our divorce and propping me up because he knew it needed to happen. It’s not supposed to be this way.

I wanted it to be different. I wanted to stay married. I wanted to get through it, stronger, closer, changed, better. That would have been my choice. But, it takes two to want that. Three with Jesus.

I also get the pain that dads feel separated from their kids. I get it. I’m married to one who misses his. While mine will be gone, we’re happy to have his kids for a month. But, we both know that they have a mama who will be missing them too. We both agree that it’s not supposed to be this way. Kids shouldn’t have to pick or miss the other parents. We didn’t bring them into the world to share them. Neither of us.

We both KNOW why God hates divorce.

Whether it’s camp, college, custody, distance, or death, may the Lord comfort us in our separation and may it be a blatant reminder of how much He hates separation too. Enough to die for it. May He fill in the gaps as only He can.

Last night all I wanted to do was spend time with my girls. They were both caught up with their friends and games. They don’t understand. But, my husband (who does) sent them to spend time with me. He knows the hurt and that time is always ticking….He knows because his time ticks too.

Next month, I’ll lean on him and the people God sends who will listen, care, and accompany me. And, may all of you other separated parents do the same.

Because, it’s not supposed to be this way…..And, because of the separation Jesus endured, one sweet day it won’t be.

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The Best and Worst of Times..

To say the last seven years have been hard would be an understatement. There were times I thought it would kill me or admit me. But God…

He sustained me.

This morning, I’m sitting in my new office in our new house. The space I set up to write. My loving husband asleep upstairs (there were times I never knew if I would be able to write those words). Our kids asleep. Our dogs asleep. Home. A beautiful new home (there were times I never thought I’d write those words).

I knew I wanted them all (a loving husband, a new home, a book)..but THE PROCESS of each one seemed insurmountable.

I’ve received all three of these in three months. To say the last three months have been a whirlwind would be an understatement. But, God…

He will steady me.

I didn’t just want a husband, I wanted a faithful, loving, God-fearing one who lived here and loved me enough to commit and to wait. At fourty years old. And, I would have waited until eighty if I’d had to. I knew I’d only have peace with a man like I’d want for my own daughters one day…

I wanted a new house that gave us more room, but I wanted a very similar location. Just more room. We hoped to move this summer, but when we listed our house last month, we had an offer and signed contract in ten hours. Our pictures hadn’t even been uploaded yet! This was happening so much sooner than we’d planned. One month after getting married and we were packing up. Time to find the new place…

Done. And less than a mile away. I look around and still can’t believe it’s mine.

I was a single mom for seven years. My girls were one and five, too young to realize what was going on, too young to understand, too young to have a clue what was happening or how hurt I was by it all.

At the time, I thought how unfair that was on top of everything else. I didn’t want any of it. And, I sure didn’t want to share them, they were still literally my babies. One in diapers, the other in pull ups.

For five of those years, I bled all over my keyboard. As God would speak to my heart, I would write. I would hope the words would one day somehow touch others. I would wait for the next topic and look for His lessons in each and every heartache. In the midst of the pain and loneliness and stress and confusion and grief. I would listen and ask what I needed to know. And, still do.

I can’t clearly express the pain I’ve experienced, I’m sure there are many of you reading this who can’t either. Pain can’t be put into words, it’s felt in the heart. But, so is God.

Our words could never do Him justice, but still we write and praise and sing.

He may have spoken light and animals and plants into existence. But, He BREATHED us to life. So, with every breath, may I return my gratitude for His mercy, His faithfulness, His presence, His forgiveness, His desires in my heart.

With every breath, may I thank Him for not only what I have now, but for the past seven years of what felt like my desert. Because, it was in those seven years, that He was not only my Savior, but my husband, our provider, my sustainer. He is the giver of every single good gift that we have and there are many.

Even in pain, He gives. And, what I needed the most in my whole life was Him. He revealed Himself to me in that pain. So, I thank Him for it!

My husband with a heart for Him wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those seven years. This house wouldn’t be ours if He hadn’t sold ours when He did. My book wouldn’t be written, much less published if I hadn’t experienced that pain with Him. He called me to write long ago, but I didn’t have the content.

To Him be the glory of it all.

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.”
Joel 2:25-26 (NIV)

 

 

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.

 

 

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.