Take Heart

fullsizerender-82

Oh dear ones, I can’t believe the last time I wrote to you was during the Christmas season! Well, from one holiday to the next, here we are at Valentine’s Day (sigh, for some). I wanted to connect and let you know that even though my blogging has been sparse, my heart is still woven in with all of yours. I pray for all of you, I think of all of you, and I am here for all of you!

A few things I wanted to update you on …

First and foremost, for those of you who’ve followed my story for awhile now, you knew that I had met an incredible man who I was starting my Life #2 with. Well, we got married two weeks back! Yay! There is SO. MUCH. HOPE. for life after betrayal and divorce. I will be writing a separate post on that, but had to give it a shout out!

Second, I am doing a Valentine’s book giveaway. Just like last time, first five to message me will get a free copy of my book in the mail as well as a valentine from me!

Lastly, if you’ve been dreadddddding this upcoming Hallmark holiday, head on over to the Valentine’s Survival Guide I wrote last year about getting through the gushy love days. It will help you survive the 14th of this month. Whether your heart is waiting or broken, there is hope and joy to be found during this season. My prayer is that you find it real good. 

Tis the Season

fullsizerender-74

Hello, all! And a happy Christmas to you! This season feels rushed each year and as much I attempt to press the slow-mo button, it never seems to happen. Maybe next year when I have a tad less competing with the holiday spirit (marriage/wife prep, home renovations, motherhood, working full-time, wedding planning, and book launching) I will be able to slow it down a bit. Enough of the rambles, I have two gifts to share with you!

First! I am doing a HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY. The first five followers to email/message me will receive a FREE copy of my book! I would love to give the gift of hope to the broken and hurting hearts out there during this holiday season. So go ahead, be the first five! And my story will be all yours to read.

Last year I wrote a post about co-parenting during the holidays. Give it a read because if we are honest, we all need that refresher when it comes to dealing with co-parenting. Even with the progress of each passing year, triggers will come up that need to be handled. Prepping your heart in the best ways you can will set you up for a smoother holiday exchange.

My prayer for you during this time (and always) is that you will hold on to the hope of healing and peace that will come. If you don’t feel them now, I am sorry. Keep taking care of yourself: mind, body, and soul. My heart breaks for your breaking hearts, but please be encouraged and know that you will be whole again. Sending you many prayers of peace. Trust in God’s ability to redeem the pain and suffering.

Image by The Hipster Housewife

Give Thanks

photo (1)

One of my all time favorite sayings about this time of year reminds us to act as the changing leaves, taking all that is dead in our lives and letting it go. This truth applies to any part of your life that needs to stay in the past.

For wives who are mid or post trauma in their marriage, my prayer is that you would be able to completely let go of the dead relationship you’re recovering from. I pray that you would see a fresh start as exactly that and move forward full of hope for your new life.

For wives, who are now exes. The ones whose marriages died and that was that, my prayer is that you will be able to fully let go of that life. Grieve it, but let it go.

Either way, reminders of the former life will come, both good and bad. I pray that you’ll thank God for the happy memories and that He’d heal you from the bad ones. I pray that God would give us all the peace to leave the dead things in the season where they belong, the past.

In addition to leaving the past right where it belongs, we must remember what we are thankful for in the present. I remember seasons where it was difficult to be thankful. And currently, I have pages upon pages filled with gratitude. Whether you find one thing or twenty things, keep your heart focused on what you are thankful for. Gratitude combats bitterness. So start your list and keep it close. Meditate on all that brings you a thankful heart. ❤

Book Launch!

2016-lauren-15

Today marks the official launch of my book! Stop Wrecking My Home: How to Come out of a Broken Marriage in One Piece is now available for sale on Amazon. As many of you know, this project has been in the works for going on three years now and I couldn’t be happier to have it out there, ready to help women. Thank you to everyone who supported and encouraged this endeavor of mine. 

If you haven’t yet picked up your copy, just know that my story will help your heart heal. There’s nothing quite like hearing the words of someone who’s gone through what you have to move your life forward with hope.

Photo by Elissa Voss 

Cover Design by Kurtis Schureman, Caveman Crayon Design

Let it Heal

fullsizerender-69

First off, if you love Jesus freak worship music as much as I do, please do me a solid and listen to the songs below. I heard them this morning and was reminded how we can get through anything with the Lord’s comfort and presence (divorce included).

Good, Good Father

The Lion and The Lamb

Other great reminders I have encountered this week have been reflections of a past conversation and reading through a motivational piece on healing from painful experiences, both of which I’ll share.

I remember having a conversation pretty fresh after the affair about how I just couldn’t imagine my life without my (now ex) husband. We committed to forever when we got married and when those vows were said I removed the idea that this person would ever leave my life. So when the unthinkable happens, and they are abruptly taken from your union, it feels impossible for life to go on. The advice I received was this: Think of the life you had before the two of you met. We met when I was 22, so that would be 21 years. 21 years of experiences, friendships, adventures, growth, you name it … Rich and fulfilling years lived without this person. And guess what? There will be those years after he’s gone.

Now, at the time, this advice probably caused a scene of me sobbing in public. I didn’t want to imagine life without my husband. It just brought me too much sadness. However, over time this advice rung truth. My life and all that made up who I am was amazing before he was in my life and it will continue to be after he’s out of my life. I totally get that you feel like there’s no life without that person, but I am here (and living proof) to tell you there is plenty of life to be lived without them. And like the good kind of living, not the kind weighed down by someone else’s toxic choices. So please, remind yourself over and over again, that your life existed before and it will more than exist (and then some) after.

On to my next piece of Wednesday encouragement! I was reading a piece about how to recover from painful experiences.

I loved how simple, yet powerful this was:

Let it hurt.

Let it bleed.

Let it heal.

And let it go.

Good stuff right there! Last and certainly NOT least, thank you all so much for your encouragement and support over the release of my book. The “official” launch date is coming soon, but I can’t thank you all enough for the incredible feedback I have received. This community was a huge motivator to finish writing the book as some days I did not have faith that it would actually get done. As always, I thank you for sharing your hearts with me and I am happy we are together as one tribe moving forward from divorce.

Much to Celebrate

fullsizerender-68

Today marks the one year anniversary of Her Soul Repair! It’s been such a gift to share my life with all of you. Beyond that, the stories you have opened up to me have been so amazing. This community is so incredibly brave. Broken marriages, regardless of what causes the heartache, are just straight difficult. I am proud to see how many of you have taken that high road in piecing yourself back together. Many of you know, much of what pieced me back together was my writing. My book, Stop Wrecking My Home – how to come out of a broken marriage in one piece, is now available on Amazon (Kindle for now, paperback coming soon!). If you’re interested in the entire story of how I ended up here, give it a read. I promise you will laugh, cry, and feel everything in between. Thank you to everyone who offered their story to me this past year. Regardless of where you are on this journey, you will be whole again. Here’s to another year sifting through all of this together with hope in our hearts. 

Book Teaser: Life Goes On

fullsizerender-67

A nice reminder from The Village Magazine as I prepare to release my book in ten short days. Yesterday for the first time, I felt panic about this story of mine. What will people think? Was I too harsh? Too blunt? Will women even be encouraged? And the thoughts circled round. Reading this reminded me not to be afraid of failure. I am proud to release my book. It’s my story to tell and regardless of how people respond, I took the chance and did my thing. That’s enough for me.

Well, here you have it. The very last book teaser…

15. Life Goes On

“‘For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.’–Cynthia Occelli

I adore that Cynthia Occelli describes growth as complete destruction. People who haven’t experienced core-shattering growth wouldn’t quite understand this illustration, but for me, it spoke to every part of my being. Complete destruction happened. It happened to my marriage, my family, my future, my trust, my mind, my judgment, you name it … destruction happened. With all growth (destruction) the rebuilding is an articulate, careful and beautiful process. The rebuilding trumps the damage. This is true for any situation. I don’t wish hardship upon anyone, but the growth that comes from it is so unique that in some twisted way, I think humanity should endure it. Maybe we’d all be a tad less self-obsessed? Okay, another day, another book.

Life post affair can take one of two turns. Your marriage can be saved and restored tenfold. Your family could continue to grow, and you could live the life the two of you had planned, looking at this as a minor (some days major) hiccup. Your story could be the picture of encouragement and hope to all couples who’ve encountered such trouble. You and your spouse can be stronger than ever with a bond only created by hardship.  I pray this is the turn your marriage took. My heart hopes that your marriage is saved, and you can write to me telling me your beaming success story of redemption.

Or one of you will give up, and your marriage won’t survive. You will start a whole new life apart from the old.

For me, one of the hardest parts about picking up and starting over is leaving behind the old version of you. Of course, you are still the same individual you were, just with a newfound badass strength, but there are things and roles about yourself you must abandon. I say abandon because it portrays the harshness that needs to happen. Attempting to play the old with the new is always trouble.

Starting my life over was refreshing, but surely had moments of grief. I knew 110% that I had given my marriage every fiber of my heart and soul, making moving forward in life #2 a peaceful experience. Over time the hard moments got less. Remember to let yourself experience the sad moments for what they are worth, though. A divorce is a sad and devastating process, even if you’re handling it like a champ. Call it for what it is. Allow yourself those sad times because a beautiful time will come where the joyful moments are more than the sad ones. It’s bliss, and it happens.

If you are not ready to read about a life #2 yet, then put this book away and pick it up when that route doesn’t bring you sadness. It took me awhile to stomach starting life all over. I want to share the beautiful hope of a rich life post-divorce, but if you’re not ready, and you’re still grieving, that must take priority. Fully mourning life #1 in all of its losses must happen before moving forward.

For those who are in the place to read about the joy possible for life #2, read on.  Life #2 meant a second chance that I didn’t always want. It meant full circle in a way I didn’t anticipate. It meant reinvention. Reinvention spanned from new digs to finding love once again to drinks with the other woman…”

Image by The Village Magazine

 

 

 

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry

fullsizerender-66

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

fullsizerender-65

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

FullSizeRender (61)

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 … “