Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry

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Today is the feast day of my favorite saint, St. Padre Pio. His life magnifies the beauty that can come through suffering. I clung to his words many times when I felt that my pain was too deep to handle. I have shared my favorite quotes from this incredible man that will hopefully encourage you to find peace in the trials you face.

“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”

“My past, O Lord, to Your mercy; my present, to Your love; my future to Your providence.”

“The life of a Christian is nothing but a perpetual struggle against self; there is no flowering of the soul to the beauty of its perfection except at the price of pain”

“Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God’s heart. You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips, but with your heart. In fact on certain occasions you should only speak to Him with your heart.”

“The longer the trial to which God subjects you, the greater the goodness in comforting you during the time of the trial and in the exaltation after the combat.”

“The most beautiful act of faith is the one made in darkness, in sacrifice, and with extreme effort.”

Book Teaser: If You Have Littles

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Edits are coming back for the book and I can’t wait to share the final product with all of you in less than a month! All of it lined with a mixed bag of emotions, of course. Sometimes I weep at this story just because it happened. It’s awfully sad. Other times I weep because it was my daughter and I that it happened to. Again, sadness. And then most times, I weep at God’s restoration of the story. The joy of where we are now and all that has been redeemed through the sorrow. That, my friends, is worth weeping over.

This next book teaser is the second to last! It’s for the friends out there with kiddos. Or as I call my daughter, the brightest of all silver lining. Here’s a little preview on how to navigate through parenting and divorce.

  1. If You Have Littles

“… Do we agree on anything anymore? Religious beliefs? Nope. Moral life decisions? Definitely not. Basic conversation topics? Can’t even do that. I remember times where having a simple conversation (post affair) felt like pulling teeth with a stranger. There was nothing. Our unity was destroyed.

Then there was our daughter, who we’d both take a bullet for. This little being we created with the sweetest smile and the most darling personality. If you’re still fighting, trying to live through the long months of a dying marriage: focus on your little one. Remember that this small human being you created represents the love you once had for each other and the love you share for your child. Remember when you decided to have this child it was in the fine print that your family would stay together forever. Keep your eye on that fine print and fight for your family.

So here’s the deal straight up: Kids can’t be the reason that two people stay married. The couple needs the drive to keep their marriage a separate, thriving relationship, one that their children see as secure and loving, not based on a child. It’s far too much pressure for children to feel that they are what’s keeping their family together. It screams emotional immaturity.  Kids are a huge motivator to make things work, but you need more.

At times, our daughter was my only motivator and had there been a shared effort, she would have been a huge driving force. Let’s be real, no one wants to share their child with a step-parent. I would’ve done anything to avoid that. However, this decision was made for me.

As much as having a child from a broken marriage adds a level of raw difficulty, it also reminds you there was a purpose for your union. I remind myself daily: I’d go through it all again if it meant I had my daughter.

While talking pure difficulty, your child also holds you to a completely new level of accountability in how you treat and respond to your ex-spouse. DivorceCare had some very helpful “easier said than done” reminders on the topic of co-parenting. This session was entitled, “KidCare: Effects of divorce on children. Mistakes parents make and how to avoid them.”  It started with a downer video clip about how pretty much all children of divorced parents are doomed as human beings and susceptible to drug use, suicide, poor grades, teen pregnancy, depression and every other worst case scenario a parent can imagine. Where’s the encouragement! This wasn’t my daughter’s fault. Then it got into how to prevent the terror described in the opening scene. Thank God.

Much like anything that children encounter in their upbringing, how the matter is handled by the parent drastically changes the long term effects that are had. Our children learn more by observing than any other way, so we must be careful how we handle our anger, conflict, and how we speak of our ex.

Here are the mistakes that parents make (according to Divorce Care):

  • Lack of Stability
  • Lower expectations
  • Trashing child’s parent
  • Keeping child from parent
  • Using child to spy on ex
  • Putting child in the middle
  • Making child choose
  • Treating child as an adult
  • Dumping child on counselor
  • Overindulging children

As a parent whose child will have divorced parents, I’d like to avoid all of the above. I’d say it’s a good idea to avoid all of the above as a parent, even if you’re married and simply in a rough patch. For me, I take basic parenting principles and apply them to the situation I will forever (I say forever, because we will always be co-parents) be in with BD. The type of parent I attempt to be is one who models unconditional love, forgiveness, self-respect, humility, and kindness regardless of circumstances.  I try to show my daughter these qualities in every situation I am faced with. Obviously, I am human and far from perfect, but I do my best.

I would say that all of these qualities are lumped into the most difficult discipline for me personally and that would be holding my tongue. He didn’t unconditionally love me, I can forgive but not forget. I have self-respect and that’s why he left, my pride often drowns out my humility, and what kind words are to be said about a cheating husband. Rant done. I say discipline because that’s exactly what it was. Implementing the no trash talking is a discipline that takes practice. It is not natural nor does it come easy. However, I love my daughter more. My love for her took over my need to be a petty shit talker about her father.  Bashing your spouse or ex-spouse is a horrible act any way you look at it. Now, I will say, venting is important, but also meant for the ears of close friends where children are not present.  

Remember your child knows that he/she is made up of both of you. If you are talking so negatively about half of them, they will start doubting their worth and self-esteem. If nothing else, remind yourself that your little one would not be here if it weren’t for that other parent. The child you adore is half of them and would not exist without them. And repeat …”

 

Book Teaser: Bang, Bang

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Happy September, friends! And hello! My summer blog hiatus is coming to a close. Between house renovations, wedding planning, going back to work full time, and launching my book, it’s been a bit of a crazy time. Not too crazy for God though. He always has a way of bringing me back to that the much-needed stillness, revealing my purpose in all that’s unfolded in this life of mine. And I thank you all for that. It is your raw stories and bold courage to reach out that humbly reminds me where I have been and how to show you the hope in it all.

Book launch, yes you read that right! You guys! It’s unreal that this book will be released NEXT MONTH. Mark your calendars for October 17th, which is also the one year mark of Her Soul Repair. So much to celebrate! I have three more teasers to share on the blog before you can read the book cover to cover. This next one is on triggers. Emotional ones, silly ones, physical ones … There’s just nothing easy or fun about them. Read on to see how I dealt.

  1. Bang, Bang

“…One step forward, two steps back. Damn you stupid triggers, leave me alone. Triggers of your former life can make your current life hard. They can take ecstatic joy and turn it into the real ugly kind of crying. They are the reality of letting go of anyone significant in your life. And they come when you least expect it. The best way I found to handle them was to experience the pain they bring and then redirect.  Pick up the phone and call a friend who will make you belly laugh. Or text a friend to tell them what a piece of shit your ex is. Or exercise! Get that hot bod you’ve always wanted. Grab a cocktail with your girlfriends. Take a nice long walk somewhere beautiful. Do whatever will pick you up. Riding the emotional roller coaster in Triggerland gets exhausting. Take the fast pass on the ride and then run for the emergency exit.

For me, triggers came from just about everywhere. When BD came home, we bought him a white Ranger, the same model of truck that he had when we first met. We were trying to be cute and go back in time. A sweet little plea to start our lives over together and go back to where it all started. At the time, I loved the idea and thought it was adorable. However, when trying to heal and move forward, it was much less adorable. White Rangers were following me. On every highway. In every parking lot. At every stoplight. They were out to get me. Until of course, BD bought the homewrecker a gray Mazda. It was then that the white Rangers backed off, and the gray Mazdas planned their sneaky attack …

As time goes on, certain triggers, once shot through your heart can actually be humorous. Two trigger stories during our divorce come to mind when reflecting upon the progress I had made.

When BD moved out, he took some of our dinner plates. These plates were wedding presents, ones we chose together while we were engaged. I found it odd that he’d want our wedding presents christening his new studio apartment he shared with the homewrecker. One day he came over and told me he had just bought some new plates, so he wanted to bring ours back. As he started, filing them back into my kitchen, I stopped and asked, “Who exactly has eaten off of these (knowing full well, the homewrecker had dined with them)?” His face said it all. The next day I took the complete set of Crate & Barrel plates to The Good Will. I imagine they were bought by someone who felt that they had hit the dinnerware jackpot and now reside in a wonderful kitchen. This experience was a good mark of growth. Had this happened earlier on, those plates would have most likely been Frisbees chucked at BD’s head. No Frisbee toss was had, simply a pay it forward donation. Deep breath and keep going.

Final Destination: Hell (too much?). I always had a great time daydreaming about hilarious happenings I wished upon BD and the other woman. During our divorce, they went on a little vacation together. So romantic, right? I thought about sending a list of prayer requests to all of the local churches. Attention all prayer warriors! My adulterer of a husband is currently on vacation with the woman who took part in destroying my marriage. My prayer requests include: the runs (for one or both of them), bed bugs wherever they lie together, declined credit cards at all bars and restaurants they attend, irritating (but not fatal) car problems. This always brought a smile to my face. The tricky part is you have to know when the hilarity is taking up too much space in your mind. There’s a definite balance to the laugh and release! When you can joke about such things (even in a half kidding fashion), it’s sign of progress … “

Follow Along

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!  

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Tick Tock

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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

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