Shedding Skin…

This year has been one for the books. Not JUST Covid and I work in healthcare. Not JUST this election year and I cringe at both options. Not JUST tackling distance learning for the first time ever…

For me personally and in other ways.

This year my daughter graduated from the private school she attended for the last eight years. I am so thankful for that option and am still counting the blessings and friendships she formed from that opportunity. Time to pick a new school.

This year, both girls went to a public school in their dad’s district, not mine. You can imagine how hard this transition was. If you can’t imagine, consider yourself so grateful for that. So much fear. Fear of losing them. Fear of what others would think. Fear of change. Fear of public. It was hard. The legal decision was mine to make, but still made in this direction, for now. With all the fear and angst my body could feel, it went forward. With boundaries shared and more prayer than I knew was possible, I followed the Lord. In a direction I never thought we’d take.

This year, I strummed up the courage to take my ex-husband back to court. After eight years. For our daughters’ passports. I filed prior to Covid, but here we are. Still going forward in a world where travel is harder than ever. Even if we never get to use them, I don’t think he has the right to prevent them. With legal action taken and more prayer than I knew was possible, I did what was right for our new family. In a step I wish I never had to take. But, am still proud I did.

This year, even before Covid hit, I started therapy. To help my current and heal my previous relationships. To help process why I struggle with certain things and determine what is mine to own, mine to fix, and mine to let go of. So much hard work. But, I was ready. It is no one else’s job but our own to get the help we need to better our relationships or to let go of the ones we need to.

This year, I asked both of my parents for better relationships. And what that would look like to them.

This year, I feel like a snake shedding its skin. That skin of fear. Fear of how I’m perceived. Shedding the fear of change. To set a boundary. To concede when necessary. To compromise for the chance of better relationships down the road. To give even myself grace if it still comes crashing down or goes another way. To honor my own intentions even if misunderstood by others. To ask for help. To extend love anyway and to appreciate love received more than ever before.

This year, because of Covid, changing schools, and churches, relationships have changed. Shedding skin. Wishing the best, welcoming the new, and appreciating the constants. Giving back and letting go. Loving from afar and looking ahead.

I credit my God and my current husband for this shedding. The love that covers it all and helps the shed to take place. I’ve never felt so loved in my life. The healing, strength, and action that can occur in this environment. An environment I pray all of our kids feel married or not. And that I also pray that I can be part of. To love them this well. To help them shed.

I don’t like snakes, my husband is more of a fan. He knows quite a bit more about them than I do. He told me that before a snake sheds, its vision gets cloudy. Because it can’t see well, it tends to perceive everything that encounters it as more of a threat. Makes sense. It can’t make out the difference. Oh, how I’ve been there too. Like a cloudy eyed, itchy, uncomfortable, irritable snake that feels everyone and everything is out to get it. But, it’s also necessary for a snake to shed in order to grow. Time to shed.

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly”. Similar to a cocoon experience. “What’s happening? I can’t see? Am I dead?” No, time to shed. And to fly.

The devil appeared as a serpent in the Garden of Eden. The serpent instills fear. His greatest tactic is to let fear have its way. But, beautifully I’m reminded.

No fear exists where love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear, because fear involves punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn’t have perfect love. 1 John 4:18 (GW)

I can’t let the fear of people or illness or change stand in the doorway of the joy and courage Jesus wants to give me. All fear does is cloud our vision. Of the abundant life Jesus came to give each and every one of us. Fear gets us uncomfortable in our own skin. Time to shed.

Even if court doesn’t go in our favor, I’m glad we’re going.

Even if the school choice ends up too difficult, I’m proud to have tried.

Even if we get Covid, I’m thankful for medical care and ultimately the hope we have in heaven.

No matter who is elected, God has the final say on when this world will end.

A snake shedding its skin from the fear the deadly serpent wants all of us to wear. No, I cast you out, Satan. Out of my life and into the lake of fire you will one day end up in. You have no power here. I’m leaving that skin behind.

Strength in a Spouse

One of the best things I’ve noticed since remarrying, is the strength I receive from him. He builds me up, supports my calling, kisses me every day, hugs me a lot, tells me I’m beautiful, holds my hand, sends me funny memes, prays over me, and texts me Bible verses when I’m anxious.

We have similar interests. We love to travel and can’t wait to be able to more.  We love to cook and try new places. Last night I hugged him and told him being married IS like a sleep over with your best friend, right? This is something I’ve never had. This is a happy happy thing. This is such a blessing, what marriage is intended to be.

He respects me and corrects me. Because of his tenderness, I receive it. He even encourages me to put myself first at times. He knows how hard that is for me. Just last night, he told me “Honey, sometimes it’s okay to think what about me?”

He is polar opposite of what I’ve experienced and his character is exactly what I prayed for. Kind, patient, strong, and supportive. I thank God for the growth I needed and went through to desire this. A true partner and friend to do life with.

He thinks I’m amazing and reminds me most every day. He helps inside and out. He admits when he doesn’t know something and his favorite place to be is with us.

He isn’t perfect, but doesn’t expect me to be either. His view of perfect is me being me. All of it. That’s his favorite version.

To feel stronger rather than weaker. To speak my mind more rather than less (he urges me to). To not fear disagreement because the love won’t change. To know that my smile is the most beautiful thing in his eyes and that my tears hurt his heart. To know I can ask for help or do nothing at all and his love is the same. To know he knows his own weaknesses and takes steps to protect himself knowing that protects us. To know he loves me that much.

This morning, I’m inspired to write this about him. He doesn’t get nearly enough credit. So, as you sleep honey, know I’m thanking God for you too. All of you.

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.