Follow Along

FullSizeRender (59)

I am in the process of reorganizing the content on the blog into more defined categories. This was a suggestion from one of my readers. There are so many pit stops on the long journey from an affair and divorce to co-parenting and re-marriage. I want to make sure this community is comforted at all of the various points along the way. As I am putting some finishing touches on my book, I am reminded just how long and continual the healing process is. I want to be your hope for love again and a healthy heart, but I also want to comfort your grief and encourage your healing!

With that, I wanted to encourage you to follow my friends over at Bloom. You can check out their site, but even just their Insta is awesome! Nothing like thumbing through your feed to find just the encouragement you need at the exact time you need it. I recorded a podcast with them a couple months back and partnering with them was a real treat!

So there’s a quick update from my heart to yours. I have much to share in the next month about small triumphs from my summer. Sending an, “atta girl” your way for all of the triumphs made, big or small. Keep it up!

All Your Strength

FullSizeRender (58)

Here’s some inspiration for your Wednesday! Even if your strength level is low this morning and you are feeling burdened, you can still put all of who you are into the tasks before you. I have been praying for all of your hearts, whether freshly broken or on their healing way. Even though my blogging has been less in these summer months, my prayers have not stopped for all of you. Keep sharing your stories with me. We are in this together, pouring whatever strength we have into the beauty of continued healing.

I Said Yes

IMG_4256 (1)

I was weary about sharing this exciting news with the Her Soul Repair community. I know the range of fragility that is out there and I wanted to be respectful of where you all stand. When you’re freshly separated or divorced it’s hard to even stomach the idea of marriage (at least it was for me). You launch into thinking of how this could all happen again and how much more could you possibly handle and so on and so forth. However, here I am to show you that there is hope at the end of the healing tunnel! One broken marriage does not have to equal a forever broken view of this sacred partnership. The cynicism will lessen and you will see the beauty in a forever love once again. Here I am, living proof of this.

One of my favorite bible verses and one that God repeatedly promised to me during the hardest times of my life was, Joel 2:25. Verse 25 says, “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[b]—my great army that I sent among you.” The version of the verse in New King James uses the word, restore in place of repay. “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.” I believed God when He told me this, but my belief had a skeptic undertone. There were years of the locusts eating up every part of my life. And there God was acknowledging that He had plans for restoring these very years.

Fast forward to my recent engagement and here I am sitting back, watching God’s promises revealed. And not only revealed, but better than anything I could have ever imagined. When you can see God’s hand in a promise that was at one point just a nice idea, it’s unbelievably humbling. The whispered promises I heard are now being shouted from the rooftops. I am overwhelmed by how much He protected me from what the locusts had destroyed. Patience is rough when the locusts are destroying every facet of your life, but God’s promises are always true. My prayer is that if you’re waiting for God to repay you for those years that were destroyed by infidelity and divorce, you’ll find hope in my story. The years may feel long now, but God’s plan for your happily ever after is worth the wait.

Book Teaser: Square One

IMG_4207

Pictured above is my latest writing companion. My little one is at camp for the week, so I’ve been spending some real intense time finishing up my book. Working on the book has me at times fighting back tears of sorrow, re-reading the story in disbelief that all of this really happened. And then moments later, tears of overwhelming gladness seeing how beautifully God has pieced my life back together.

Here is the next book teaser in the blog series. It is 12 of 15! There is a bright light at the end of the book tunnel. I am feeling accomplished and excited to share the final product with all of you.

  1. SQUARE ONE

“…The label of being divorced frightened me. But the label of being divorced before 30 TERRIFIED me. Even though I fought for my marriage and was not at fault, I couldn’t possibly explain that to EVERY stranger on the street. I was now the target of so many assumptions I didn’t sign up for. I remember driving to my first job interview during the divorce in a total panic. All I could think of were ways to describe to this principal why I was unmarried with a two year old daughter. As if my marital status really had anything to do with my qualifications as an elementary school teacher. Either way, my happily ever after took a really wrong turn!

I would say starting all over was a long and gradual process. It took time, and that’s why it was genuine. When BD was in the affair (before I found out), he was acting very odd, and the whole double life was causing a huge disconnect. This started the gradual separation between him and I. When news hit, and he moved out, the general public knew nothing about the troubles in our marriage. We went to weddings together, we celebrated holidays together, and on the surface level, it appeared as if nothing was wrong. I was not ready for this reality, mostly because I was expecting the huge turnaround. I truly acted as if nothing was different. Then when BD came home, I tried desperately for things to go back to our happy go lucky fun couple self, but it was just impossible. His attachment to the homewrecker and his lack of desire to stay married gave me little to work with regarding the happy couple. It did help in the continued detachment and healing on my end, though. By the time he moved out the second time, he hadn’t hugged me in months, so I didn’t miss his affection. He hadn’t talked to me all that recently and the time spent together was nothing quality. Let’s just say when he left that second time I wasn’t sad because I missed the connection we built; I was just super disappointed that he gave up so easy.

With all that, I did feel like I was unmarried for about a year and a half before the divorce process started. Not because I wanted that status, but because my husband’s heart belonged to the other women.

At this new place in my life, I was not quite ready to jump into a dating relationship. I did make some fun new friends and would often laugh to myself about what my online dating profile would look like:

Hi! I love Jesus and drinking beer. I have a crazy fun group of girlfriends that are unlike anything I could describe. I don’t recycle. Oh! And I’m a mom! I believe in prayer and want my life to look like The Gospel. I also like road trips, picnics, and spontaneity.

Seeking: A man of God who will drink beer with me. A “real” Christian, who will love my daughter, as much as I do. A critical thinker. A man with mental stability, a non-alcoholic with no history of pill addiction. A real honest Abe. Sarcastic and attentive. Affirming, but not smothering. One who welcomes doing things God’s way. Oh and by the way, if we get married, I’ll most likely have many specific issues/requests such as NO female friends, mobile phones always in a central location, not allowed to come home late from work, and your wedding band must be super-glued to your skin … Take a number! Who wants a piece of this?

I challenged myself to get involved in “young adults” groups that offered social activities, bible studies, and overall outlets for me to meet other single people. I wasn’t looking for my next soul mate, but more just single friends. The majority of my friends were married and in some of those friendships the dynamic turned to a blurry awkward, something I wasn’t all that fond of. Husbands of my friends didn’t know how to treat me or what to say. Their cancer eyes were real, and they were as confused as I was. It was a healthy step for me to switch from couple mode to single mode.

Having our daughter helps a lot more than it hurts, but regarding moving forward socially, this brought a lot of sadness. I was involved in a Mom’s group and for a long time, I could not go to any of the organized family events. The idea of being around other young, growing families brought me to tears. Last year we were that adorable family in church, and now I am alone while my daughter spends the day at the beach with BD and the other woman. The brutal reality of this truth did help me to book my days by the hour when I wasn’t with my daughter. Instead of surrounding myself with married couples with young children, I would fill my time with all things I enjoy as an individual. It helped ease the pain my little family was in the company of the homewrecker.

This new stage was very freeing. Even though it was not the outcome I wanted, it was an outcome. One I could accept, pick up the pieces from, and move forward with. It gave me time to bring back some of the confidence I had lost. It gave me time to become comfortable as a single person, a single mom, a Ms., and the list goes on. I let go of many roles I once loved and embraced ones I thought I forever let go of at the altar.  It was a tough pill to swallow, and there were some real difficult moments in there. But like everything as long as you focus on seeing these hard moments as refining your character and transforming you into a stronger person, there’s purpose. And there you have it, that’s what any hardship is about, finding the stronger you…”

Summa Time

FullSizeRender (57)

Summer has me blogging less, mommying more, moving to a new city after 13 years (wowza), annnnnd finishing up my book! What does this mean for the blog? I will be reposting interesting reads I’ve found helpful and writing some original pieces on some recent co-parentng endeavors.

I found this little Belong To Where You Are board and adored its message. We all find ourselves in places we don’t expect to be and sometimes wish we weren’t at all. This does not change that we must own that place and time. As of lately, “belong to where you are” has meant soaking up every moment with my sweet daughter and being as intentional of a parent as I possibly can be. Kiddos aren’t little forever and I don’t want to miss moments.

That’s where I’m at and what you can expect from the ol blog for the next month. And wherever you are, belong to it. Take full advantage. Whether it be a high or low, it’s all part of your make-up and your process. As always, I am praying for this community. For your hearts, your healing, and your future.

Image by Letterfolk

Bloom for Women

Happy Thursday, friends! Today the podcast I recorded with the folks over at Bloom is live. Check it out as we delve into the inner workings of betrayal and recovery. It was an honor to work with such a rad organization that encourages healing through so many creative outlets.  Click here, grab a cup of coffee, and give it a listen!  

IMG_3105

Tick Tock

FullSizeRender (56)

What you do with your time during the days of a divorce makes or breaks your overall well-being. Here I share some helpful time management tips on how to make the best of those sometimes long and sad days.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” -Anne Dillard

  A life well lived does not just happen. It takes time, intention, discipline, and commitment. How we invest our time defines much of our lives. Thinking about the very idea of time sometimes has my head spinning. Every facet of it. How it can go by both ridiculously fast and painfully slow.  The art of managing it well. How easily it can be wasted. How immeasurable its value is. The directions in which it can pull us. How important it is to balance. And how so many outlets rob us of it altogether. Lately, my world has been taken over by all things time.

Summer typically does this to me. The six weeks off of work (teacher perk) and the long days of sunshine have my mind wandering to all of the ways I could spend this time. I welcomed summer with the start of a new writing course (nerd alert). In one of the very first lectures, the professor simply said, make every word count. Now, more often than not, I have moments where simplicity blows me away and I am left like a deer in the headlights. This was one of those experiences. A simple message took me from making every word of my writing count to making every (fill in the blank) of my life count. Every relationship, conversation, text message, gift, prayer, trip to the grocery store … you name it. The habits we develop to make our time count are life-giving. In pondering what routines result in fruitful time management, I give you my favorite four.

But First, the Soul. Rise and shine and tend to your soul. I need Jesus the very second I open my eyes to start a new day. From the tone I have with my daughter, to the judgemental thought about the person next to me, to what feels like an endless amount of scenarios my sinful nature can get me into, I need Jesus. And I desire to give Him my first. If you think of the time in your day divvied up by minutes, let your first minutes reflect that your priorities are in line. God first. Everything else next. Spend time preparing your soul for what the Lord has for you in the day to come.

“O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” Psalm 5:3

“But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.” Psalm 59:16

“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8

Prioritize Your Purpose. Go through a mental breakdown of what the day holds. Prioritize what will move you closer to sanctification. And this doesn’t mean spending the entire day at church or in silent prayer. I mean, if your life allows that time, great! However, holiness needs to come in the day-to-day. If you know that you’ll be interacting with a co-worker you clash with, pray for that extra dose of patience and decide early on to put on a big smile. Allow the spirit to work in your best laid plans. Where we can try our darndest to plan out how we would react and respond in the moments that make up our day, sometimes God has other plans. There’s purpose in everything. Yield to Him. Prioritize what God has given you in the order of His glory.

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:16

For everything, there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Invest in People. I am embarrassed to admit how often I spend time with people, but am not fully present. It’s quite disappointing. Our society has created this culture where we must be available to anyone and everyone at all times, including the times we are physically spending time with other people. The phone-checking pressure is real. It seems silly, but I have made a point not to look at my cell phone when I am spending time with friends.  As I work toward investing more genuinely in others, this small practice has been helpful. I yearn for my life to be full of conversations that emulate devotion and wisdom, not the status update of someone I went to college with. The time we spend with others builds community, nurtures innate parts of who we are, and is God’s design for us here on earth. Our investment in others reflects the most authentic type of love.

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” Proverbs 15:1-2

The White Space. White space is defined as life’s breathing room. I find that the more time I give myself to stop and take a breath, the more focused and clear I am with the tasks at hand. Depending on your personality, it can be very difficult not to over-commit yourself. Learning to carve out white space, is a very beneficial practice. It may feel selfish at first, but it helps ensure that you are not simply going through life’s motions. On the flip side, be intentional with the idle time. Using it to fixate on the sorrow of our lives or the world around us, defeats the point. White space is meant to free you up, not bring you down. Use this time to reflect, regroup, and make sure you are where you should be, closely in line with God’s will.

“And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” Mark 6:31

My prayer is that these practical tips will direct your time toward holiness and help guard the moments of your days.

“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other.” ― C.S. Lewis

Image by Kayla Ewell

Watch by Larsson & Jennings

 

Happy Father’s Day from an Ex-Wife

FullSizeRender (55)

I stood in the greeting card aisle at Target for a solid half hour just staring at the words in the husband section of the Father’s Day assortment. I am sure there were quite a few people confused by my glazed over stare or scowl as I read the phrases on these cards. “To my amazing husband on Father’s Day…” “There’s no one I’d rather raise kids with…” “We sure make cute babies…” These cards made me sick to my stomach. And not in a nauseating cuteness type of way. In a my husband is none of these things and I feel like throwing up type of way. I picked up my phone and called a friend, trying to whisper under my breath so I didn’t create a scene, “Where are all of the Father’s Day cards for cheating husbands!!?” After she talked me off the ledge, she simply said, “Move away from the husband cards and simply get one card from your daughter.” And that I did. Who knew greeting cards could be so emotionally draining?

A couple years (and Father’s Days) went by, and I found myself in the same boat. How!? I thought time was supposed to help these things! One of those years I took the more bitter/comical route and got him this mug as a Father’s Day gift. Before you think I am a heartless b-word, he still gets a good laugh over it.

I think the reason this day was always extra hard for me has to do with my love for holidays. I love any excuse to spoil and appreciate someone in my life through a day that celebrates them. As a wife, Father’s Day is up there on the list because it’s celebrating this little life you’ve created and the ways you’ve survived parenthood together. That day is lost in divorce. Well, maybe not completely lost, but different. This brings me to my next point and present day stance on the holiday.

Pardon my french on this one, but, shitty husbands do not always equal shitty fathers. I  know this concept is hard to wrap your mind around especially in the early days of divorce, but it’s the truth. Sure, if your ex-husband left the marriage (as mine did) they’ll forever have that one major life choice that altered their child’s future forever. However, when you’re moving forward in that future, the role of the other co-parent (the ex-wife) should not be one of punishment forever because they left the marriage.

This took me TOO LONG to learn and I still have days where all I want to do is punish the heck outta my ex for what he did to not only me but my daughter’s future. Where is that grace and mercy I preach and desire to live out if I am too busy punishing? If we are talking present day, all I can really ask of my former spouse is that he’s a good father to our daughter. And that he is. My daughter adores her daddy and for good reason. I am so thankful for this. I am thankful he’s not a Disneyland Dad. I am thankful that he helps us financially and in the way we split our time. I am thankful that he disciplines our daughter the way we agreed upon. I am thankful for what he teaches her, that he doesn’t spoil her, and for the love and care he has for her. My point is this, it’s okay to think your ex is a good father. It’s actually more than okay. You can’t stay in the punishing judgment stage forever. If you can find things about your fellow co-parent in a positive light, your child will greatly benefit.

Children need their fathers (and mothers) regardless of faults and imperfections, and regardless of what happened in your marriage. Why? Because the minute they came into this world, they earned the right to have the love and nurturing that can only come from parents.

This Father’s Day put your personal feelings aside. If your former spouse is NOT a great father, do what you can to help the day for your children. Don’t jump in with the bashing. Be the adult, and do what you can to help protect your children’s emotions from the turmoil this day may bring. If your former spouse IS a great dad, let him know. There’s nothing wrong with that. Three cheers to ALL the amazing dads out there that love and sacrifice for their kiddos!

Book Teaser: Soul Repair

FullSizeRender (54)

This chapter talks about how I started to rebuild and the importance of self-care when you’ve endured the trauma of divorce. When you are in pieces yourself it’s hard to even know where to start with trying to rebuild a life. You must rebuild your ego, your trust, your instincts, your thoughts… Every part of you that has been crushed by the divorce must be carefully handled and put back together. Slow and steady would be my big take home for this portion of the healing. This doesn’t happen overnight. I will say looking back, the two solid years I went through of rebuilding seems like a short time span, even though the days felt long and suffocating at times. This chapter is choppy. I didn’t like how the first draft read so I am in the process of rewriting most of it. Here is what I’ve decided to keep.

  1. SOUL REPAIR

“Time is a revealer and an enabler. If you plant a seed in the ground and water it, in time it will grow and reveal its species. If you plant that same seed and never give it water, it will never grow. In the same way, if you go through the process of healing, in time you will be made whole. But if you skip the healing process, you’ll be left wondering why you are the way you are.”

…You are responsible for your own healing. This is both your best friend and your worst enemy. It cannot be dependent on the choices of anyone else. Keep reminding yourself of this truth.

Before deciding to act as Mother Theresa and dive into full forgiveness, I beg you not to rush the necessary recovery needed from the pain you’ve encountered. It will get better, but take every moment as it comes. Experience the pain and move forward. Every single emotion that you feel and every single loss that you grieve is part of your recovery process. Own it. There’s no need in skipping any of it. Fully experiencing it will produce the stronger version of you. And by fully experiencing it, I mean sobbing over a song during your manicure or going back to a familiar “marriage spot” and making a new memory. The spectrum is long and every point will help in the healing.

There is much beauty in forgiveness, even if it seems utterly impossible. Keep your mind on that you are forgiving to create the better version of yourself, not because they deserve it. They don’t, but who really does? When push comes to shove, no one really deserves forgiveness.

There were months where all I could do was think in terms of forgiveness. The act of it was mind-blowing. I knew this was what I eventually needed to accomplish, yet it all seemed so impossible. I read, I prayed, I researched all things forgiveness. I found a helpful book, The Supernatural Power of Forgiveness by Kris and Jason Vallotton. This book described a similar betrayal that I had been faced with.

Supernatural Power of Forgiveness is a great resource for picking up the pieces and moving forward in your marriage as well. It gives practical ways to rebuild trust. “Trust is not built by the absence of mistakes, but rather on how well we clean up our messes.” If you are working to save your marriage, make this your mantra! Your marriage will thank you in twenty years.

DivorceCare also had many grand ideas on forgiveness. It was Session 11 of 13. They knew it was going to take some easing into. I debated skipping this session many times. They broke it down as follows:

Consequences of Unforgiveness

  • Emotional Prison
  • Physical Effects
  • Hurts Relationships
  • Bitterness

Forgiveness Is Not

  • Minimizing the hurt or offense
  • Trust
  • Reconciliation
  • Forgetting
  • A one-time thing

Forgiveness Is

  • A promise to cancel a debt
  • Liberating and healing
  • A hard thing to offer
  • First a decision, not a feeling
  • Motivated by God’s forgiveness

How Do I Forgive?

  • Don’t give up!
  • Don’t wait until you FEEL like it)

Experiencing God’s Forgiveness

  • There’s nothing God can’t bring us back from

I made the commitment to forgive BD. I use the word commitment because it’s a continual choice. Nothing about it is easy. Nothing about it is deserved. However, the one thing about this particular commitment is that it pieced my heart back together. This choice I make day in and day out is for the greater good. For my daughter, for the other loves in my life, for the better version of myself. The only alternative to forgiveness is unforgiveness and as Joyce Meyer puts it, “unforgiveness is like taking poison and hoping that the other person dies.”

Image by The Hipster Housewife

Annul What?

FullSizeRender (52)

Annulment. A foreign and often misunderstood word to most of the non-Catholic friends out there. Actually, I think it’s safe to say it’s even misunderstood by some of the Catholic community as well. I am going to share my take on the process and what I learned from my experience. If this topic interests you or you are thinking of starting the process, I would encourage you to read this article. It does a real good job of explaining all that the process entails in layman’s terms.

When my divorce was looking more and more final, I thought to myself, what more can I possibly handle? I knew because I was married in the Catholic church I also needed an annulment and I selfishly thought that it was asking a lot of me. Divorce and annulment? I was not on board. Initially, my reaction to all things annulment was a very emotional one. If I was the victim, why did I have to go through this long-winded process to erase my marriage from the Church. It wasn’t my fault my marriage ended. Shouldn’t I get to skip ahead to the auto annul stamp? And how will my baby feel when she finds out that the church erased the very union that brought her into this world. At one point I remember thinking, I won’t do that to her, I’d rather not get married in the church to prove my point. Crazed thoughts all over the place.

When the emotions were somewhat removed and I was able to wrap my mind around this idea, I met with many priests, nuns, and strong Catholic influences. I would be visiting a parish or at a retreat or at confession and I would just ask and ask. I wanted to hear different perspectives from different circles. I wanted to talk with and find out everything there was to know about why this was necessary. I also wanted to talk with children whose parents had gone through a divorce and annulment. I wanted to hear their take on it and how it made them feel. Turns out the folks I spoke with all said that an annulment is a second chance at the way God intended my marriage to be. It’s the church’s blessing on your future, especially if that includes remarrying in the church. It’s declaring that, sadly, one party in the marriage did not enter their life-long vows with permanence in mind. I understand how heartbreaking this is, but in reality, there is a level of truth. Did your spouse say their vows in hopes of the marriage falling apart? Probably not. But in my case, my ex did feel that he had the freedom to be unfaithful only three years into our marriage. That doesn’t exactly scream permanence. And from a child’s perspective? Not one of the adult children I spoke with had any ill feelings about the fact that their parents had an annulment.

If you are Catholic and are debating this process, do your research! As I said, I read A LOT, listened to many respected people, and prayed for an open heart. Don’t rush this process. It took me a good year before I saw the beauty that this process had to offer. Please contact ME too. I would be happy to walk you through any misconceptions or details you’d like to know about.

Once the emotional exhaustion lessened and I understood the goodness this could bring, I decided to embark on my petition for the annulment. As I was starting the extensive packet of questions and recaps, I couldn’t help but respect how the church views marriage. These questions were thorough to say the very least. There was a set of questions for myself, my ex (who chose not to participate), our family members, our friends, and the deacon who married us. The questions explored many elements of the marriage and at all different points of the relationship. They asked questions of people who knew us before we met, while were dating, while engaged, in our marriage, and in our separation. The feel I got was that they weren’t just handing out annulments like candy. There needed to be REAL reasons for the marriage ending in order for the annulment to be granted. I liked this. After all the questionnaires were submitted by myself, friends, and family members, we waited. The case was reviewed by the diocesan tribunal ( a group of respected priests and deacons in the church).

Right around a year later, the annulment was granted (just last week. yay!). This was an exciting time as it meant, if it’s God’s will, I was now able to remarry in the church. It felt as if the scarlet letter I had been holding on to had been removed. It also felt like one more final nail in the coffin. Those moments of further finality help in the healing of your heart. A process that once brought me emotions of annoyance suddenly brought me peace and assurance. A sacred blessing over moving forward with what the future holds.

Image by The Hipster Housewife