“God Gave Her to Me”

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This past week I went to an adorable celebration at my daughter’s school called Moms & Muffins. I don’t say this to sound like mom of the year nor to be cliche, but one on one time with my daughter is gold. My daughter and I spent four years, just her and I. And now, with our present day blended family, I share her with three other parents. Are there perks to sharing in the parenting of this beautiful little girl? Absolutely (another post I am working on)! Qualities, attributes, and love shown to her by four parents instead of two is not all bad, folks. Okay, let’s stay on topic here … I am convinced the days and nights we spent just the two of us created something real special. She was my drive to keep my shit together when I was on the verge of losing it. She was this insane beauty beaming through the ashes of my dead marriage. That bright bond we created through such darkness will always be there.

Our morning together, celebrating Mother’s Day at her school is a time I will always treasure. We ate muffins, read stories, and she showed me all of these insanely cute projects she had been making for me. When her teachers asked her why I am special, her response was: “God gave her to me” and then of course, what I was good at: “sweeping the floors” … Oh my, I freaking love her.

Her first answer really did make me want to weep on the spot. “God gave her to me” … I think as mothers we can agree that this is how we feel about our children. God gave them to us. They are our gifts. For divorced mamas especially, they are this silver lining that came from so much heartache. And here I am reading her words, God gave ME to HER. ME? Ugh. I am not sure how many of you are with me in that I feel like I fall short as a mommy more often than not. Yet through her eyes, I am this amazing gift. Humbling, no doubt.

I read this really great piece about the Good Shepherd last week and it spoke to my mama heart pretty hard:

“You know yours, and they know you. Just like the Good Shepherd, you rise every morning to lay down your life again. Even in small ways the world never sees. But the Father sees you and loves you. He knows your heart longs to be like the One who is Love.

If you listen, you will hear His voice. What you long for will lead you.

He promised you this. His promises do not fail. He is the Good Shepherd.”

What an incredible encouragement for mothers. Knowing our shortcomings, our sin, and the stuff we lay down morning after morning is made whole through His love and promises. God’s good grace fills in the gaps of our mommy fails. And our little ones? They have hearts eyes for all that makes up our beautiful mess. We are their gift and they are ours. Let us not forget this truth!

Divorce and single motherhood can really magnify the ways we think we are “failing” our littles. Promise me this, if this Mother’s Day greets you mid-divorce or as a single mama, read some advice I wrote when this too was my reality. As most of you know this will be my first Mother’s Day in four years that I do have an amazing husband to celebrate with (there’s hope!). However, I feel deeply for you ladies on the other side. Give my words a read from last year describing past Mother’s Days.

I pray that ALL the mamas out there will feel loved by their little ones, peace from our Good Shepherd and overwhelming gratitude for the many amazing ways they’re raising these incredible gifts we’ve been given. ❤

I Do (take two)

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I shared my story over on one of my favorite blogs this morning! It’s my first article where I talk about God’s gift of a second marriage and all the feels that go along with starting over. Excited to write more about this current stage of remarriage, co-parenting, and living out our blended family in the best ways we know how. Enjoy!

Tis the Season

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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

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 …”

 

Happy Father’s Day from an Ex-Wife

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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!

Single Mother’s Day

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The photo above is one of my all time favorite pictures of my daughter and I. She’s about six months old and at the time, I felt like I had my dream life. My little family was beautiful, full of so much love and joy. My husband treated me like I was the best thing that had ever happened to him. He adored me as a wife and mother of his daughter. If someone had told me the events of the year that followed this picture, I would have laughed in their face. A double life, the destruction of an affair, my husband moving out, a single mom to a fresh one year old… Actually, had someone even told me ONE of these things was to happen, I would have bet them all the money in the world that they were wrong. Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t make that bet.

My first Mother’s Day was one for the books. What every new mom’s first Mother’s Day should look like. Relaxation and pampering to the max. Didn’t change one diaper all weekend, went on a shopping spree, drank coffee in bed, ate deliciously planned meals with paired wine and cocktails, flowers, cards, you name it … the works. A lot can happen in a year. The next Mother’s Day my husband took me out to brunch where we sipped mimosas and ate some amazing food with our darling daughter. Sounds pretty standard, right? Well, this celebratory brunch was actually his first attempt at coming back to our marriage and family after he had been in an 8 month affair. There were flowers, coupons, and promises galore. Having him come back to our family was a nice Mother’s Day gift in a twisted sort of way. However, it was very short-lived.

The following two Mother’s Days were spent with my mom, aunts, and friends celebrating the sweet gift of motherhood. Celebrating the gift that God gave me this amazing daughter to nurture and raise. And as much as I did feel loved, supported, and thankful, I was still husband-less on this day, which stung. Last year, our divorce had just been finalized and I was greeted with a card, champagne, and flowers from my baby daddy. Of course, it was thoughtful that he appreciated how I was raising our daughter and wanted to acknowledge me. I am not dumbing down this gesture, but it’s still a loss. It was not a celebration planned by my husband. We did not wake up on this special morning, all together under one roof. I had my daughter all day, on my own.

Loss. Even though I felt loved and celebrated, there was loss. This was not how I pictured this stage of life. And that’s just plain hard. It’s hard to see all of your mommy friends with one more baby on the way, spoiled by their husbands on this heartfelt day and you are now divorced at square one. Mother’s Day is meant to celebrate motherhood. The ups, the downs, the beauty, the mess, the joy and the tears. Sadly, for single moms, it can feel like just another day. If you’re a single mommy of little ones, I encourage you to create the perfect day for yourself. And if that means hiring a babysitter, THAT. IS. OKAY. This is one of those days, full of triggers that has the potential of letting you down all over again. We need to do what we can to minimize this. For our own well-being. We look out for the well-being of our little ones all day, every day. Look out for #1 on Mother’s Day this year. Don’t dread the day that you don’t have a husband to spoil you, spoil yourself instead! Spend time surrounded by your mom, loved ones, fellow single moms, dear friends … whoever will bring YOU joy on this day. Give yourself the gift of whatever will help the day be a happy one! I will be praying that your triggers are few and that your cards/flowers/gifts/cocktails are many.

Image by Siana Photography

Helping Kids Cope with Divorce

635815134889715618993136769_Brady-Bunch_article_story_large.imgopt1000x70I had the privilege of hearing an awesome speaker at the Divorced Catholics conference I attended a couple months back. Vince Frese has an incredible faith-based approach to life after divorce and the amazing how-to’s of having a healthy blended family. Tonight he is hosting a FREE online workshop. Here’s a little of what he’ll cover:

“Children are the innocent victims of divorce. This topic dives into all the challenges of single parenting and provides solid, practical advice on how to effectively help children overcome divorce.

This online workshop will cover:

  • How to ensure your kids are raised Catholic after divorce.
  • Strategies for dealing with issues not in the divorce decree.
  • When to introduce children to new relationships.
  • When and why to involve children in big decisions after divorce.
  • The most important ways to help children adjust to life after divorce.
  • Why the former spouse is so critical to helping children deal with divorce.”

I have registered and hope you will too!

Sign up here!

Motherhood is Hard

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This morning I read an article on a blog I enjoy about family and motherhood. It had been showing up in my Facebook feed by some trusted mommy friends, so I thought I’d give it a read. Oh boy. Here I am, teary eyed with coffee in hand. If you’re a mom of a young child, you must read this. It’s so easy to feel like a failure as a parent, especially when you’re in survival mode amidst a divorce. I find myself more often than not struggling with the guilt of what balance looks like and why it’s so different than I anticipated. When you’re trying to cope with the harsh realities of a marriage falling apart, the parenting gig is still just as hard as it was before. Actually, there are whole new levels of hardship. Is she acting this way because she’s 3 or because I didn’t make her apologize that one time or because her parents are divorced? The mind of a mother races endlessly. Calm the race for a moment, head on over to Austin Moms Blog, and read the article below. It will tug on all the heartstrings and remind you you’re not alone in this quest to raise small humans well.

This Stage of Life? It’s Hard by Haley Hengst

Image by Katie Beverley 

 

Dating After Divorce

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When all is said and done, everyone’s favorite question is “When should you start dating again?” As with anything divorce related, there’s no real perfect time frame or solution that works for every individual across the board. Every aspect that goes into dating will look different depending on the marriage you are coming out of and the factors that contributed to your divorce. I will share some insight into my decision to start dating again.

Make Sure Your Marriage is 100% Over

  • Discern if there is ANY chance at all for reconciliation. If you are still working on your marriage, perhaps in a counseling program, or have a lingering desire (on either end) to stay married, stick to Plan A. Dating or letting your heart wander while there is still hope for your marriage will do nothing but add more layers to recover from. Chances are, you’ll have enough craziness to deal with, why add yet another party to the mix. Remember, it’s not over until it’s over.

Take Some Time

  • DivorceCare says, a simple equation for when you’re ready to date is take the time you were married and divide it by two. This number is the amount of time it supposedly takes for you to emotionally heal before entering a new relationship. My ex-husband and I were legally married for 5 years, but he was 100% out by year 4. Meaning, 2 years is my magic dating number. It was closer to a year and a half from the time my ex really left that I started dating my now boyfriend. However, it was two and a half years total from the day he left the first time (so much leaving, who can keep track?).
  • I spent this time seeking council, reading, crying, mourning, praying, and authentically healing. How you spend this time will determine how you operate in your future relationships. I am currently in a healthy relationship (with an amazing man) because I spent this time single and grieving.

Resist the Rebound

  • Set the bar as high as they come. Not in an unrealistic, shallow sense, but in a cautious one. Your heart has been through enough, don’t inflict any more unnecessary pain. From the start of my separation to the very day my divorce was final, all sorts of random friends were coming at me saying they had someone for me to meet. Any time I would make mention that I was going through a divorce or freshly single, their light bulb would go off and all of a sudden everyone was convinced they knew my next soul mate. All of these suitors were slightly off in one way or another. Perhaps there was no attraction or we didn’t share a similar faith or they weren’t super stoked that I had a child or (you fill in the blank).
  • With the online dating world booming, it is so easy to get your profile up, sit back, and wait to see who wants to date you! However, online dating as a divorced person feels less appealing. You can’t explain in the 160 characters About Me section why exactly you’re divorced. I didn’t really dabble in this enough to give an accurate review, but those are my thoughts nonetheless. It seems that it would be discouraging because you have to check the divorce box, and you can’t always explain the whys initially.
  • After you’ve experienced the rejection of infidelity and divorce, of course, the attention is nice. However, don’t use attention from Joe Schmo to help boost your ego and jolt you into a new relationship. It’s always, ALWAYS better to be alone than settling for someone who you’re not all that thrilled about.

It Will Feel Different (and that’s okay)

  • Oh, the feelings! All the feelings! Falling in love after you’ve gone through a divorce feels different. Your heart will experience emotions more cautiously, which is natural. It took me awhile to really believe that history wouldn’t repeat itself. I didn’t come from a marriage where we fought or had marital “issues”, so my ex’s affair and all that transpired because of it was shocking. If this could happen to our marriage, it could happen to anyone’s or my next one! It’s a process that requires a lot of time and prayer. I will say, the love and reassurance that comes from a quality man helps combat the lie that your second marriage is doomed because of your first.
  • Ask yourself if you’re feeling different simply because of the life stage you are in. Take into account the age you were when your former marriage started versus now. Not only will you feel more guarded because of what you’ve been through, but by nature falling in love at 22 feels different than falling in love at 30. That’s 8 years of growth and evolving to take into account. This is far from a bad thing.
  • Lastly on this one, don’t believe the lie that you won’t find love again. I do remember feeling like I would NEVER find anyone I would ever love as much, find as funny, or enjoy life with as much. All of which are false. Other lies my mind would tell were that I would NEVER find someone who would want to date a divorced 30 year old with possible trust issues, a spunky little 3 year old, and a baby daddy still in the picture. Talk about a handful o baggage (and lies). Life is unpredictable and you are who you are because of those unpredictable turn of events. Don’t deem that stronger version of yourself who overcame a shit ton of obstacles a bad thing.  Most men find that strength in a woman to be an attractive quality.  You will find love again and it will be refreshing.

(Tangent: There will be a whole separate post on functioning in a new relationship while dealing with your past and the triggers that come from infidelity and divorce. Stay tuned!)

Careful with the Kiddos

  • Before I started dating, I was convinced that I was not going to introduce my daughter to my boyfriend until we were close to getting engaged. I did not want her to witness another man leaving her mommy. Honestly, she’s so young, it’s doubtful she’d arrive at that conclusion anyhow, but I definitely wanted to be OVERLY cautious.
  • At the start of my current relationship, I obviously told my boyfriend I had a daughter, but I did my best to never put any pressure on the dynamic between the two of them. I wanted to give my relationship enough time to develop on its own before even thinking about adding in the element of my child. And my boyfriend definitely appreciated that I wasn’t trying to force him into fatherhood on the second date.
  • We dated for three months before the two of them met. When they did meet, it was very casual. We treated it like any time my daughter meets a friend of mine. My boyfriend and I didn’t show much affection in front of her and in her mind, he was just another friend. As months went on, we spent more time together and their relationship developed naturally. Naturally, is the key word here. We would go out to lunch, do puzzles, play with Legos, watch movies, go to the park … enjoying all of the activities that take place in my daughter’s normal toddler life.
  • Don’t bring a “disneyland dad” into your child’s life. When the three of us spend time together it is never extravagant or extreme. He doesn’t bring her new toys every time he sees her. He doesn’t let her get away with murder and do whatever she wants. He supports and reinforces the way I parent. Their natural bond developed nicely because it was not based on presents or theme parks, but genuine care and quality time.
  • Finally, NEVER allude that this person is taking the place of your baby daddy (unless your ex is completely out of the picture for legal reasons). Your new love interest is not meant to replace a parent, but join the team. My boyfriend’s step mom uses the term “bonus mom”, which I love. Step can have negative connotation, where bonus just sounds like an added blessing. I definitely plan on using that term with my daughter in the future.

A lot of insight, I know! Stay tuned for my post on functioning in a new relationship while dealing with your past and the triggers that come from infidelity and divorce. My prayer for all of the single ladies out there is that you would be cautious and patient. The right man who helps undo all of the madness you’ve experienced is absolutely worth the wait.

Image by The Melideos

Healing the Family Tree

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I wrote this article awhile back on God’s healing hand in our families. I need the reminder when I fixate on the fear of how my ex-husband’s choices will affect my daughter. A family can be corrupted in many ways, not just through divorce. Happily I hold on to the truth that God takes our ashes and makes them beautiful and whole once again.

“The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.” -Pope John Paul II

If you’ve never been to a healing mass, I strongly recommend attending one. Each healing mass I’ve participated in has had God’s supernatural hope written all over it. Bringing healing to my life in all new levels. In most cases, at the end of the mass, the priest will have the attendees come forward. The priest will then lay hands on each individual and say a prayer. Each time I have received these prayers, they were very specific to what I was going through at the time. Sometimes scary how spot-on the prayers were in speaking to the depths of my heart.

Last year I attended a healing mass titled, “The Healing of the Family Tree.” The entire mass was centered around the healing of families, encompassing everything from addiction to mental disorders to resentment amongst siblings. When I went to the Family Tree mass, the prayer the priest had for me related to both a childhood insecurity and the hardship I was experiencing at the time. I couldn’t believe my ears, as I thought I was going to hear a more generic blessing over all families, not completely specific to mine. I think of this moment often. I reflect and say that same prayer whenever I start to feel the repercussions of what I’ve gone through. I realized we must not discount that our family wounds not only run deep, but affect how we function today. Prayers for family healing should be our lifeline as people of faith.

It’s safe to say that God cares a great deal about family. The comparison of marriage to Christ’s union with the church is a strong depiction of the ruthless and sacrificial love He wants in our families. Catholic social teaching holds that marriage and family life is the basic unit of every society. A society is only as healthy and stable with moral values as its families. A nation can be strong even if it sustains crushing economic and political burdens, so long as its families are strong. Healthy marriages and good, stable family life must be the concern of every civic minded person. The life of the Church depends upon its families. Strong, faith-filled families are made possible by a strong prayer life, genuine devotion to the church and active protection from evil.

As I was doing some light Catechism reading, I stumbled upon this warning of sin entering our family:

Marriage under the regime of sin

1606 Every man experiences evil around him and within himself. This experience makes itself felt in the relationships between man and woman. Their union has always been threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation. This disorder can manifest itself more or less acutely, and can be more or less overcome according to the circumstances of cultures, eras, and individuals, but it does seem to have a universal character.

1607 According to faith the disorder we notice so painfully does not stem from the nature of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin. As a break with God, the first sin had for its first consequence the rupture of the original communion between man and woman. Their relations were distorted by mutual recriminations;96 their mutual attraction, the Creator’s own gift, changed into a relationship of domination and lust;97 and the beautiful vocation of man and woman to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth was burdened by the pain of childbirth and the toil of work.98

1608 Nevertheless, the order of creation persists, though seriously disturbed. To heal the wounds of sin, man and woman need the help of the grace that God in his infinite mercy never refuses them.99 Without his help man and woman cannot achieve the union of their lives for which God created them “in the beginning.”

God tells us our families will encounter sin. In fact, family units are a favorite victim of sin. The other morning I woke up disappointed by something that had happened the evening prior and thought to myself, is there anything worse than sin? It’s just so awful. It tricks you into dissatisfaction while throwing guilt at you from every angle, then ultimately leaves you deeply bothered. It is this very cycle that brings sadness into our families. Sadness that convinces people they’ll never heal from their past. Sadness that paralyzes one’s thoughts, fixating on their family discord being too impossible for God. And sadness that discourages bringing children into our world altogether. We MUST combat this delusion with our faith in God’s healing power through prayer. There are real dimensions in all of our families that need very specific prayer.

I’ve recently started reading through, “The Healing of Families: How to Pray Effectively for Those Stubborn Personal and Familial Problems” by Fr. Yozefu – B. Ssemakula (your guess is as good as mine on that pronunciation). This book discusses different access points where sin can enter your family and how to overcome them in prayer. The four main “access points” this book covers are: unforgiveness and/or childhood trauma, unhealthy relationships with friends, occult involvement, and family bondages. The book goes into a thorough explanation of each point and what prayers to say for deliverance. The end of the book outlines A Family Healing Prayer Service. The mass involves both immediate and extended family members and for each access point, there are scripted prayers and times of confession. What hope.

Where this book is helpful in a practical sense, what is even more important is our belief that God actually can do what He says. I believe in the power of prayer with all that I am. Not only because I’ve seen its miraculous ways, but because I’m closer to God because of it. I’m with C.S. Lewis on this one, I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.”

Pray with fervence that God can heal every facet of sin that has crept into your family. Pray that He protects the family bonds that bring Him glory and believe in His power to figure out all of the crazy in between.  

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