Comeback Time

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Happy Saturday, friends! My best friend passed this podcast along and I wanted to share it with all of you. I encourage you to grab some coffee (or wine), go outside, and give this a listen! The episode, How Do You Turn a Setback Into a Comeback, is from Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations. On this episode, she talks to Tim Storey, author, motivational speaker and ordained minister, about how to transform a setback into a comeback.

I think we can all relate to the feeling of wondering if you’ll ever come back from certain setbacks, divorce being one of them. This podcast gives you encouragement and practical tips for not letting your setbacks define you, but rather transform you.

Go somewhere peaceful and take in these life-giving words. Enjoy your weekend! ❤

 

Dating Q&A

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First off, thank you to all of you who wrote me in response to my dating after divorce post! I was excited to do a Q&A with what you were all interested in knowing. I’ve said this before, but I do feel like I shy away from talking about the stage of dating and remarriage out of sensitivity for my readers who are still in a place of grieving and healing. However, I do want to share the amazing hope I have lived through in starting over after all of the pain.

I picked the top three questions I saw the most from those of you who wrote in and gave my best response. This is what I did and what helped me. As with everything divorce related, there is no real perfect answer for every situation, so keep that in mind when you’re reading my responses.

Question One: How soon did you start dating after your divorce? When were you ready? The legal process of our divorce took a year and a half. Not because there was some dramatic court battle, but because we went the budget-friendly route with mediators and in my opinion, they just took their time. But I digress, in addition to this year and a half of the legal process was a year prior of an on and (mostly) off time of separation and “working” on the marriage. So, that put us at two and a half years of the craziness before the divorce was legally final. My own personal conviction about this matter was that I was not going down any dating road until I got that official D notice. Call me crazy, but, I am a firm believer in it’s not over until it’s over. Aside from that belief, I had a lot to sift through on my own. I needed to heal. I needed to get back to myself. I needed my confidence and worth back before I even entertained letting someone else in. In hindsight, I am SO thankful for that long stretch. Was it easy? Absolutely not. But that time is why when I met my now husband I was ready to dive in without the crazy baggage weighing me down. I met my now husband three months after my divorce was final. And because I stayed so obnoxiously single through the two years prior I was whole and ready for a new relationship. There is no magic answer for this. Wait until things are really over and wait until you are back to the person you are proud to share with someone else. And surely don’t settle for meh dating. Wait until someone quality comes along and then take the dating plunge.

Question Two: When did you know he was “the one”? Call me cynical, but I don’t believe in “the one” idea. When we started dating I was not guarded to the point where I would back away in an unhealthy way, but I was hyperaware. I observed his character. Was there anything shady about him? How did he react when he was angry? Was his faith real? Did he have a temper? How did he treat strangers? What did his friendships look like? How was he with his family? I was ready for the red flags. As months went on and I didn’t see the red flags I was looking for, I started thinking about the amazing qualities he did have and how they would pan out in a marriage. I kept my mind and heart in that place … this man has the qualities of those I would want in a husband As things organically progressed it became more and more clear that we were both in it for marriage. There was no real aha moment, but a lot of careful time and consideration. We dated for eleven intentional months before getting engaged. Then, six months later we were married. If nothing else, don’t settle. My husband is the most amazing man. He puts our love first, puts our family first, and ALWAYS thinks I am the hottest girl in the room. My best advice for if you’re in the dating game is keep your eyes wide open for the red flags and just observe the heck out of his character. Remove the rose-colored glasses for good and take it all one day at a time.

Question Three: What reservations did you have about getting remarried? And what triggers from the past have spilled into your new marriage? I did not have any reservations about getting remarried because through our dating relationship I became fully confident in the man I was marrying. I was cautious in getting to know him and by the time marriage was on the table, there were no reservations. Sadly, in the back of my mind, I did think, “anything can happen.” I didn’t go into my first marriage ever in a million years thinking it would end the way it did. But it did. So, why was this one different? Well, again, that goes back to careful observations of character and being hyperaware of any red flags in sight. As time has gone on, I don’t think this way anymore. I don’t have the doubts of anything could happen. Time and natural progression have helped this.

For me, in the beginning, the hardest part was the idea of having another wedding. I know that sounds SUPER shallow. I already had a big ol wedding and my pride was like, “Nope!” to another one. Well, thank the good Lord, I got over that. How selfish to not celebrate this union and love. Annnnnd my husband had not been married before. So, I was going to rob him of this celebration because of my dumb pride. I am SO thankful I got over that. Our wedding was the best! And there was so much to celebrate I could cry just thinking about it.

The less fun parts of remarriage are the triggers that come from the past. They will happen from time to time because of what you’ve gone through. However, the right man will just reassure the heck out of whatever the trigger brings to surface. And then it’s your job to trust in this new love as different from the last one. Give yourself that gift. There’s no reason to let your past ruin your future. Talk yourself out of those dark places and find the guy who will reassure you till he’s blue in the face.

Again, thank YOU for writing in with your questions. I did get some questions about when I brought my daughter into the mix. I will address this, but there was so much to say, I wanted it to be an entirely separate post. I pray my answers were helpful to you and if you’d like any further answers, please don’t hesitate to ask! I love sharing my story in hopes of helping yours.

My Latest Obsession

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If you’ve talked to me either via social media or real life during the past month, it is very likely that I have brought up, Girl, Wash Your Face. To say that I am obsessed with it would be an understatement considering you can find me relistening (yay Audible) to my favorite chapters on the daily.

In short, this book helps us counteract the lies we believe about ourselves. Each chapter is a different lie that the author, Rachel Hollis, has at one point believed about herself, the story behind it, and then what she did to help it. I related to every. single. lie. she voiced in the book. Every single one. What this tells me is we are all so connected in ways we don’t even realize and that really is beautiful. And with that connection comes the responsibility of sharing our souls and our secrets. Sharing how we worked our butts off to come out on top. How we conquered what has been weighing us down for years. Rachel did this. She shared her dark times, she shared her triumphs, and she shared the powerful truth that we are the only ones in charge of the outcome.

Divorce teaches you this if you let it. You have zero control of circumstances, other people’s choices, or how life pans out. What you DO have control over is how you handle it, how you grow, and the strength you gain in the meantime. We are in charge of this. And as Rachel discusses in her book, we are in charge of combatting all of those damn lies that come our way. Divorce will attack you with every lie in the book. You were a bad wife, you are not worthy, you failed your marriage (and your kids), you are not attractive, you won’t find love again … and they go on. Rachel has not been through a divorce personally, but she does talk about trauma and experiencing something hard (which, hello, is the D word). She gives life-giving advice on how to get through the ruts and how to get the lies out of your head.

Motherhood, self-worth, sex, following BIG dreams, body image, marital issues, judgment, hard work, mental illness, therapy, adoption … she goes to ALL OF THE PLACES. And she does it in a beautifully raw fashion that makes you fired up to conquer it all! I wholeheartedly want all of you to read this goodness. I know it will change your life. And I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s the honest truth. It will change your life for the better. Who doesn’t want that? ❤

A Strong Woman

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Good morning, all! I am stoked to feature a writer I connected with recently who’s heart is all about helping others heal after divorce. Alexandra Hoffman is the founder of Divorced at 30. She’s a mental health advocate, motivator, and an optimist who loves to speak her truth. Follow along with her on Insta as well, @divorcedat30. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy her words this morning.

A Strong Woman… listens to the stories and wisdom of others.

A Strong Woman… is proud of her successes even if others are intimidated.

A Strong Woman… stands up to injustice and aligns herself with others who seek to make the world better.

A Strong Woman… falls in love, but always loves and honors herself first.

A Strong Woman… makes mistakes, but learns from them.

A Strong Woman… treats the janitor with the same respect she pays the president of the company.

A Strong Woman… speaks her truth.

A Strong Woman… knows how to say goodbye to a job, a friendship, or a relationship that no longer serves her.

A Strong Woman… adventures but doesn’t lose sight of home.

A Strong Woman… knows how to manage her finances and how to live independently.

A Strong Woman… has a past filled with both joys and sorrows.

A Strong Woman… isn’t afraid of a challenge or of change.

A Strong Woman… puts others before herself, but not at the expense of herself.

A Strong Woman… shows gratitude even when it feels like there’s nothing to be thankful for.

A Strong Woman… lends her voice to issues she is passionate about, even if others disagree.

A Strong Woman… knows how to mend a broken heart: hers or a friend’s.

A Strong Woman… can be sassy, can be shy, can be outspoken, can be funny, can be smart – can be whomever SHE chooses to be.              

A Strong Woman… knows when she should speak her mind and when she shouldn’t.

A Strong Woman… celebrates other strong women, and honors their struggles and triumphs.

A Strong Woman… stands up for herself.

A Strong Woman… knows how to engage in difficult conversations without offending the other side.

A Strong Woman… knows when to say sorry and how to give a genuine apology.      

A Strong Woman… empowers those around her.    

A Strong Woman… knows where to go to recharge and who to turn to for comfort.

A Strong Woman… makes her mental, spiritual, and physical health a priority.

A Strong Woman… knows when to say no.

A Strong Woman… may lose her footing and get lost, but is able to find her path again.

A Strong Woman… has stories only she knows.

A Strong Woman… knows how to take care of herself, all by herself; however, knows when to ask for help.

A Strong Woman… loves passionately even though there are no guarantees.

A Strong Woman… isn’t afraid of the effort and time required to make her dreams come true.

A Strong Woman… acknowledges the amazing possibilities that each new day offers.

A Strong Woman… is in charge of her own happiness and her own destiny.

A Strong Woman…

knows she still has lessons to learn.

 

Your Sunday Will Come

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Happy Saturday, friends! This post will be a two-part piece. One part anticipating the hope of Easter and how symbolic it is for those of you in a hard place right now. One part co-parenting reminders if you have the littles.

First, I think a lot of you can relate the pain and suffering you’ve experienced to that of what Christ went through for us. With that, it’s the hope of how the redemptive story ends that gives us hope for our own story. In reflecting on Good Friday, I found this gem. Joseph Wirthlin wrote this goodness on the anticipation of Easter and it realllllllly spoke to me. Claim this Easter as YOUR Sunday. The one that will come and bring light to the despair in your life.

“Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays. But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.”

YOUR Sunday will come. The day that you wake up and life is bright and hopeful. The day where there are more happy moments than sad ones. The day when you feel whole again. That’s your Sunday, and it will come.

Now, read on if you have the little ones … here are some reminders on how to interact with those you co-parent with. It’s Easter, after all! We must love all of the sinners Christ died for (even your ex …ugh).

Swallow Your Pride. Prepare your heart in prayer for the interactions you’ll have. Pray for your parenting example to be one of unconditional love, forgiveness, self-respect, humility, and kindness regardless of the circumstances.

Focus On Your Child. There’s nothing more magical than children during holidays. Nothing should squash that excitement. Let their pure bliss take over your situation. Encourage the joy and stay in that place with them. Your child will always be the brightest of all silver-lining in the heartache you’ve experienced.

Check the Trash Talk. Venting is important, but not meant for holiday gatherings. It is meant for the ears of close friends where children are not present. Remember your child knows that he/she is made up of both parents. If you are talking negatively about half of them, they will start doubting their worth and self-esteem. Give your child the gift of holding your tongue.

I am praying you can get through these interactions like a champ and that you’ll keep your focus on what the hope of Easter means for YOU and YOUR Sunday.

Reckless Love

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In my prayers for you this morning, I have been searching for words that communicate what I want your hearts to gain from these next days as we approach Easter. Reading through favorite commentaries and well-known prayers of saints, nothing felt like it fit my thoughts exactly. For me, this Lent has been a bit of a personal failure. Relying on my own self-discipline failed me real hard this time around. Trying to go through the motions of giving up something tangible or saying an extra daily prayer without seeking the help of God or making it a spiritual practice has made my weakness all the more pronounced.

However, what this Lent revealed was deeper than my normal sacrifice of giving up social media. What God made an extra point to show me this year was His love for me. The depths of God’s love for humanity is something I’ve always had a difficult time wrapping my mind around. My logic takes over and the self-loathing of how many times I fall short gets in the way of fully experiencing God’s love. In looking back, I can see God’s love for me in my life. I saw His care for me when my heart was broken into a million pieces, I saw His love when he gave me supernatural peace through devastating times, and I saw/see His love as he pieces me back together time and time again. It’s in the day to day that I’ve had to learn to accept the love though. Not only in the monumental sorrow, but in the newborn feedings and cooking dinner.

Whether you’re in a place of trauma today and or simply in your daily routines, I am praying that you too will experience this love on a new level as I did. During this season of Lent, I had the song, Reckless Love, on repeat most days. Give it a listen as it really spoke to me. I like the word reckless in this sense because it describes how you can’t escape the nature of His love. It finds us wherever we are and is here to stay.

On a separate note, if you’re familiar with the Easter story, then you know the infamous roles Peter and Judas played. I’ve really connected this week with Jesus on a level of the betrayal and denial he experienced from his closest friends. They denied and betrayed him during such a pivotal time. Most of us who’ve experienced an affair or deep betrayal in our marriage know how devastating it is. I encourage you to unite this pain with the same disappointment that Jesus felt. Head over to Blessed is She and read their piece on 3 Saints to Turn to During Times of Betrayal. Connect with those saints, knowing you’re not alone. I am praying you experience the essence of God’s love and find peace knowing that even Jesus experienced the sting of betrayal by those closest to him. As always, my love and prayers are with you. 

Everyone’s Favorite Question

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When to start dating again? The million dollar question. I posted an article over on Divorced at 30 about dating after divorce. I wrote this one a while back when my now husband and I were just dating. If you’re ready to take the plunge into dating after the big D, I suggest giving this a read. There are a lot of triggers and emotions that go into starting at square one in the dating scene, the more prepared you are the better.

I’ll be doing a Q&A follow up to this piece. If any of you have more specific questions about discerning dating and what my experience was, I would be happy to share! Send me your questions and I will answer them in a post next week.

Praying your burdens are light today and that you’re feeling hopeful about all the goodness that’s yet to come.  

Image by Rachel Hollis 

Love, Lent, & Baby

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I’ve seen this Letterfolk message on my social media feed a few times this week and have cracked up every time. I hope it brings you that same laugh. Every year on this day, I love to share a piece I wrote a couple years back. It can be a hard day, no doubt, but I want you all to stay in a good and prayerful place. If you’re dreading what the day holds, READ THIS. I am praying for all of you and hope you are able to take a non-Hallmark spin on the day ahead.

For my readers who observe Lent, how great that it starts today! Take this time to spiritually prepare for the season to come. Every year for Lent, I pray for the intentions of all broken marriages to be healed and all single people desiring a healthy and loving marriage to find that. I love lent so much because it brings us to a place of suffering. Even if in the smallest degree, it unites us to Christ on the cross. If you’ve gone through the suffering of a destroyed marriage, you know that although the hardship is there, much of suffering brings a part of our character that is so rich. It’s hard to focus on that in the midst of the pain, but when you see the glimpses, it guides you toward that stronger version of yourself. This notion is much of what Lent is all about, giving up something that seems impossible, but finding that supernatural strength to power through. Suffering and sacrifice peeling away to a core you never knew you had. I read a great article this morning from Blessed is She reminding us not only of the sacrifices in Lent but the healing God wants to do in us.

God is asking for us to return to Him this Lent. Our best offerings are the very hearts He Himself set within us. He wants those hearts back. He will heal us. He wants us back. He doesn’t want my chocolate or your Dr. Pepper. Those are our reminders. He wants us to return to Him, hearts in our hands, sharing our joy, our love, our sorrow, our brokenness. Everything that we are pondering, holding within, regardless of its beauty or ugliness. He wants it all.”

Annnnd on a completely separate (but happy) note, YES our baby boy, Everett finally arrived! 8 days late. He will be one month old tomorrow. He’s the sweetest boy and we are overwhelmed with gratitude to God for how beautiful new life is. Thank you to everyone who reached out with well wishes, congratulating us.

As always, my prayers are with your hearts not only on this day but during this entire season of Lent. Please feel free to send me specific intentions and I will be happy to pray for them! ❤

Welcome, 2018!

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Hello, all and Happy New Year (one weekish late)! I write to you starting this new year with a heart of gratitude. Not because this is always my natural outlook (although it should be), but because it is a focus of mine for 2018. I want my life to be consumed with more gratitude and less of the compare game. If you’ve followed my writing for awhile, you know I am big on making gratitude lists (even when it’s hard to muster up). This has been my biggest weapon against bitterness and comparison. Comparison is one of my worst vices and I am working extra hard to squash it this year.

With each new year, I lose some of who I was and find who I want to be all at the same time. I just love how we are constantly changing as humans. These changes are refining and humbling. I want to embrace them and find contentment in the in between.

Speaking of changes, I have some changes coming at me any day now, as our baby boy was due on Sunday. With this, I am still committing to invest in this community and my writing. However, it will look different. Not because of the baby, but because my life is vastly different from when this community started.

While my heart/priority is always to help women through the trauma of betrayal and divorce, you will see a shift in the content on the blog. This shift is because I want to share my present-day life with you. I want to share the co-parenting wins, the hope of an incredible second marriage after divorce, and the triggers that still surface. I want to share the rich blessing of starting over and the benefits that come from going through that raw healing I speak of so often.

As always, wherever you find yourself in the journey of betrayal, divorce, and moving forward, search this place for what will help you today. Use the categories of my writing and find what will speak to the current state of your heart. This is always the prayer I have for my readers as there are so many pieces to put back together.

I thank you for your continued support and look forward to this new chapter of the blog and the hope it will reveal to your future. 

 

Four Keys to United Co-Parenting

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The past seven years of my life have looked a little something like this: happy marriage and sweet baby … turned affair, betrayal, and double life … skip to divorce, grief, and healing … and now, finding love again, an amazing second marriage, and blending all of the above. Successfully navigating through the past seven years has been tricky at best and now, the co-parenting dynamic in a blended family is no different. The complexities that go into the relationships that now make up our new family unit run deep. This has a lot working against us at times. We, however, are all working for one thing, our daughter. So, in my experience, here’s what has helped the most.

We Leave the Past Where it Belongs

More often than not the reason people arrive in a blended family is the product of heartache and trauma. At least two people in the co-parent foursome have experienced the pain of their divorce and that takes serious time and healing to recover from. Taking that time to grieve is crucial in how you’ll operate parenting together. Our magic number was three years. During that time, no one had re-married quite yet, allowing for some focused healing, forgiveness, and mourning the losses that came from the divorce. This time set us up to interact on a healthier level for the sake of our daughter. By the time remarriage was on the table there had been enough time and healing in place to move forward. And what to do with that extra water under the bridge? Make the choice not to drown in it. As co-parents it’s not about your former marriage, it’s about your child(ren).

We Keep the Lines Open

Aside from how we all arrived here, if there’s one thing we can all agree on present day it’s that we want to raise our daughter to be the best little human, thriving in every way possible. Talk about common interest! We could all go on and on about the funny things she says, how amazing her latest painting was, and how proud we are of who she is at only six years old.

As a parent, I will say, hands down the most lingering pain of divorce is sharing your child. From missing the major firsts to simply not getting to tuck them in every night. It gets really sad if you keep your focus there. The ways we soften the blow are a whole lot of pictures, videos, and updates in our “team sweetie” group text that the four of us have going. I missed my daughter’s first flight this past summer, but the video her bonus mom sent me was as second best as it could possibly get. I watched that video on repeat, and it made my heart so happy knowing that she was experiencing this first with a set of parents who love her as much as I do.

This solidarity doesn’t just apply to the joyful and gushy moments of parenting, it’s just as important (if not more) when dealing with the challenges. The behavior issues, the discipline, the consequences, the consistency in all of it … and if you’re a parent, you know that the list goes on. Once you’ve semi-handled one stage of your child, they throw you for a loop and it’s something brand new to deal with. We keep our rules and expectations as identical as humanly possible across the households. And with this, we are all in the know about everything that goes on. If there’s a behavior issue at one house, we all know. At school or soccer practice, we all know. She knows she’ll get the same answer, consequence, reward and so on from each one of us. She knows that we all talk and share and that between the four of us, she can’t get away with much.

We’ve found that there is an exception to the parenting rule when your child is one of a blended family. Some days, they need a little grace when going back and forth from household to household (and that’s okay). They aren’t robots and we can’t expect for them to act like ones. We notice more emotional outbursts and acting out in our daughter when she goes from house to house. She doesn’t express exactly what she’s feeling, but there’s something she’s processing internally that’s beyond us. Do we let her get away with murder? No, but we are mindful that there is an adjustment period needed at times. We give her that space to settle into one environment, family dynamic, and set of parents to the next.

We All Show Up

Softball games, parent-teacher conferences, dance recitals, school meetings, soccer practice, birthday parties, preschool graduations … We all show up, all the time. We continually show her that she is not only lucky enough to have the love, support, and encouragement from mommy and daddy, but also from her two bonus parents. She will never be short on love or support, that’s for sure. We also show her all of our different strengths and interests and see if they spark anything in her. Whether a child has two parents or four, personalities and passions will differ. Children will find that in certain seasons they’ll relate better to one than the next. We hope that she sees what each of us bring to the table separately as something that helps guide her. Parent to parent will always look a tad different, but what looks the same is the consistency of love and support our child receives. Our daily choice to all stay united and show up for our daughter trumps every reason the past has tried to divide us. We choose day after day to be the adults, to show up, and to ensure our daughter always has the loudest cheering section at the softball game.

We Respect Each Other (and our new family units)

As much as it benefits our daughter to be a united blended family, we are still big on developing and fostering each individual family unit. She has separate outings, traditions, and routines for each household. This gives life to each family unit on its own. Yes, we are blending and co-parenting, but we need each side to have its own individual foundation. We respect that in the other. It’s easy to have that sense of “I was here first” when watching an ex-spouse start over. However, this is not the hand we were dealt, nor is it the attitude we should carry. Point one on repeat. We leave the past where it belongs, and let our new families start over and grow. We keep our communication about our daughter and nothing else. We give each family unit the necessary space. If our daughter misses any one of us or wants to talk/facetime while she’s at the other household, we always allow her to, but we also try to respect the time she’s spending with each set of parents.

Her relationships look different with each one of us and we all respect that as well. No one is out to replace or compete against each other. We respect our daughter’s feelings towards each one of us and find joy in the relationship she has with each of us individually. We each take her out on solo dates, we spend time with her in our separate family units, and we spend time all together. Each facet of time spent is respected, encouraged, and important.

Divorce doesn’t end family life; it reorganizes it. The points made above are all daily choices we make FOR our daughter. Some days there are triggers of the past or painful memories that work against our choice, but we don’t let them win. All in all, we keep our heads above that water left under the bridge and focus on that greater good our child deserves.