Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dear Daughter… An Open Letter To My Little Girl


Dear Daughter,


Hey, it's me…. you know… your mom? I just wanted to write you a note and tell you how incredibly proud I am of the young lady you are growing up to be. You are well on your way to becoming the strong young woman you will be one day. You've had a rough start and I know it hasn't been a picnic. Believe it or not… I was little once too and know plenty about rough starts. And yet I know with those rough starts there is victory waiting for you.


I know you didn't realize you were going to be introduced at such a young age to allergies and epi-pens and yet you have persevered. I know you weren't prepared for ADHD testing and not getting a sister like you wanted so badly. I know you didn't anticipate your family home being divided into two separate homes one day… and yet you have kept pushing forward. I know it's hard for you to vocalize how you feel and yet I'm proud of how you occasionally take the chance of letting those walls down and sharing your thoughts. I love it when you speak up on behalf of others like when someone in the school cafeteria at lunch begins talking about how different another student is… and you reply "Yep, he's different. God made us all different and that's okay." Sometimes we have to speak up... and it's better to speak with a voice that cracks than to keep silent. It's awesome to me that even though at times you may struggle, you come to me and ask what I think (you'll never be too old for that)… and although I tell you "I'm happy to give you my thoughts" I want you to share yours too… because it's important that you are able to think for yourself.


Whenever a boy is being mean to you I begin my round of twenty questions and look up his parents in the school phone directory like a mobster… Who is this kid? Who are his parents? What's his issue? Why's he bothering my little girl? Because I will protect you to no end and any little boy messing with my little girl is not doing it because he likes you as society's backward mentality wants to believe… he's doing it because his father is likely disrespectful toward women and is not setting the correct role model in the home. I won't have you growing up believing that when a boy gives you attention in a negative manner he likes you... reality is he's being a bully. Yes, he needs grace but he needs correction too and his father needs help… this seems to be a common issue today that needs serious attention.


When you look in the mirror I hope you see what I see… a beautiful little girl who has beach wavy hair, flushed cheeks and pretty eyes… I hope you don't see flaws or specks because in my eyes you don't have any… you are perfectly you in every way possible. I hope you know that you are fully capable of your goals and dreams and you can do whatever you set your mind to. I know you get your independent fiery streak from me because I see glimpses of it here and there trying to peek out from beneath your reserved surface. It can undeniably have pros and cons. It's a fine balance being a female… it's a constant battle to embrace some spiritedness and not end up becoming the anti-proverbs 31 woman... there will be days you miss the mark, you push the limits, cringing and hindsight will be 20/20... don't beat yourself up; press on and learn your lessons. I wish success for you and yet not in the form of fancy cars, maids and mansions… but a kind spirit that wants to help others, someone who if they earn more than they could ever need will use it all to help people in need. My wish is for you to always see your great worth in a humble manner and remember God's love for you… I love you but no one will ever love you more than God… no other human can fill that hole within like He can. I know you are adamant you will never ever get married and I could be incredibly selfish and say "Oh, sure you will, I want grandbabies one day"… but I won't. Because it's important that you be yourself and march to your own drum… not some guy's drum only to then wake up one day and realize you forfeited your drum for him to have his… and then to have him say "Sucker" and walk off. What you choose… marriage or not… kids or not… I support you.


I can tell you one of the most important things to be in life is genuine. People love genuine people… who give genuine smiles and emanate warmth from their heart and eyes… and even if by some chance they don't care for you… at least you are being you. The girls who are remembered as being genuine and kind in school were the ones who were nice to everyone. Everyone genuinely appreciates people like that… who include others... girl's that don't ensconce themselves into just their click but will reach out to the girl alone in the corner or the boy who dropped his books in the hall… if you're remembered in any way… be remembered as kind… which you are… I see it when you let a classmate borrow a pencil… when you buy your friend popcorn after school on fridays… when you help someone to the nurse to get an ice pack for their knee. The world needs more of that and I value what you do to contribute your part… as the little things are truly the big things.


You always have the right to say no. Saying "No" is not to be seen as mean. Practice it every day because it will be needed all through your life. Every time I watch the Bachelor and I see these wacky stunts they pull where the girls are expected to jump from the top of a building or take their clothes off for some anti-fur charity…. I want to scream at my television set. Because any "Bachelor" with any decency wouldn't let you take your clothes off, number one. He'd have more respect for you than that… I don't believe it's necessary to undress for a cause… you can volunteer your time or open your wallet just as easily. If you ever feel like you need to jump from the top of a building to "trust a guy" and get a rose, then you're in a mess and you need to phone me immediately and I will come pick your butt up… because that is pure insanity. You shouldn't have to "prove" anything to get a rose, a date, a meal or anything else. And the fantasy suite? You have zero business being alone in anything called a "fantasy" with a guy before marriage. Keep your eye on Jesus and if any man is Godly enough for your hand (and you actually want him) he will show up.


Just remember… always be you… always be content with who you are… jealousy does nothing but breed a never ending cycle of discontentment… be happy with your body, your hair, your smile and personality that God gave you… He doesn't make mistakes. If you want something someone else has… a goal, a career… that has nothing to do with them, so don't resent them for it… that's all you, your issue. So go after what you want, send those prayers up, put in the hard work and extra effort… and always remember this…


I love you with all my might… forever and ever…

and the one who loves you even more is your Daddy Almighty God.


Love you sweet pea,

Mom


© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014 

To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, 

commenting and sharing! 


Related Posts: 

50 Things To Teach My Daughter
http://gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com/2013/03/50-things.html

Women/Beauty and The Comparison Trap
http://gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com/2013/05/womenbeauty-and-comparison-trap.html

Life: Everyday We Have A Choice To Shape It
http://gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com/2013/11/life-everyday-we-have-choice-to-shape-it.html

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Divorce: What No One Tells You



spring 2014 

some names have been omitted from this post 


******************


It was a bleary, gray, rainy day… the windshield wipers dragged across the glass before me and swiped away at the minuscule drops of rain falling from the sky. I drove past the University at a snails pace… students began crossing in front of my vehicle and I slowed to a stop so they could safely reach the other side. I glimpsed long blonde ponytails, backpacks and umbrellas... youth in a blur beyond the wipers that dragged… I heard faint laughter amongst the crowds of students and cracked my driver's side window to get some fresh air… cool wind came sailing in and the path was cleared so I could begin my way down that wet street… small burger joints and ice cream shops were soon in my past and before long I approached the curving lanes that led to the higher end district of shopping. Pressing buttons for something on one of the Christian radio stations… yet finding nothing but babble, I select a contemporary station. Switching to the middle lane…  I take the curves… the tall trees passing me in a sweep of majestic evergreen… and then my ears pick up an oddly, subtly familiar tune…


Weep for yourself, my man,
You'll never be what is in your heart
Weep, little lion man,
You're not as brave as you were at the start
Rate yourself and rake yourself
Take all the courage you have left
And waste it on fixing all the problems that you made in your own head


But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really messed it up this time
Didn't I, my dear?
Didn't I, my...

Tremble for yourself, my man,
You know that you have seen this all before
Tremble, little lion man,
You'll never settle any of your scores
Your grace is wasted in your face,
Your boldness stands alone among the wreck
Now learn from your mother or else spend your days biting your own neck

But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really messed it up this time
Didn't I, my dear?
Didn't I my...


~ Mumford & Sons , Little Lion Man (some lyrics changed due to language) 





….. the wipers swipe back and forth… 
seeing a red light ahead I press the brake and come to a slow stop.

"I really messed it up this time, didn't I my dear?… "

…. the words continue like a loop in my head and 
as I listen to the lyrics a memory comes flooding back… 
a moment I had forgotten… 



Spring 2012 

********************


Walking into the bright master bath I saw him at his vanity combing his dark wet hair before the mirror... that song playing on his iPhone laying on the speckled granite countertop beside the sink. It jangled loud, permeating throughout the bathroom bouncing off the cream walls and bank of windows near the high ceiling creating almost obnoxious noise. I walk past him and say amidst the deafening tune...  "What is that? Why do you keep playing that song? I feel like I'm in a pub." I tell him… not really waiting for answer, I grab what I need from my drawer and leave. 

************************


"I really messed it up this time, didn't I my dear?… didn't I my dear?"



I never really listened to the lyrics of that song.

I never took the time. 

Now I hear the words loud and clear. 

I hear you in there… I hear it all. 

Yes, you messed up. You did. 




Little things like that still 
pop up quite some time later 
in the aftermath of the finalization
 and all of a sudden you're transported back in time… 
wishing these interruptions would come to a stop because
 they resemble disruptive little gnats that won't go away. 




No one tells you that… 


One night you may be medicating with Ben and Jerry's and the next relishing seeing a movie with your friend because you're hitched to no one now… and yes, it's absolutely wonderful. 


That last night while picking up some essentials at the drugstore you saw the cutest little boy toddling along with his mother and joyfully beamed back at him when your eyes met but tonight when you saw a little girl and her mother choosing a craft to do on the craft aisle at Target you watched from a distance with wistfulness… wishing that was your night too because suddenly you really, really wish you could hug your own daughter right now… but you can't because she's at her dad's. The emptiness you suddenly feel is overwhelming and you just want to bawl between the scarves and handbags. 


You get angry that your daughter has zero good male role models in her life… you get tired of hearing her continual hurt and crying when she's telling you: "Daddy ignores me at his house… he only talks to my brother. Girls are invisible"… and yet you still hold out hope that maybe, just maybe one day someone will fill that role of a father… because you value that huge responsibility and know it's importance… and yet it's better to have no one than another negative one. Her dad doesn't attend her school meetings, he doesn't go to her psychology testing appointments and thinks just throwing a bag of chocolate at her suffices as attention. She watches across the cafeteria with sadness while her father continually has lunch with her brother and never with her. 



The past will try to sneak up on you and fill your mind with doubts and whispers of "if you hadn't done this or that, if you had held your tongue, if you had been more patient, if you'd said this or that…" etc and you have to shut those little torpedoes down before they destroy you… you know rationally like anyone you could have done better here or there, that's without a doubt, we all could have… but at the end of the day if someone is not healthy, if someone becomes emotionally abusive… it was a sinking ship regardless of all the admitted coulda, shoulda, woulda's. 


One minute you are undeniably enjoying your freedom… the next you are longing for someone to share it with. There may be feelings that contradict one another. Don't act on any of them; their fickle as the wind. Just stay focused on your kids, your career and re-building your life... everything will fall in place.


It seems the people who are married often want to be single and the singles often want to be with someone. No one needs a man… for sure. No man needs a woman. Yet we are created for…. we are meant for companionship in this life… we are meant for connection and love and mutual care for one another. We are meant for sharing ideas, for intimacy and for communication. We are meant for all these lovely things and someone special to share them with till the end of time.



You may think when you divorce someone they will go away… I mean, divorce is a dividing, not a joining of people… and yet just because you've flung off your ex doesn't mean he will go away quietly or stop infiltrating himself into your life. Suddenly he's friend requesting your Facebook friends, he's having dinner with your father and you're offended. Yes, you have every right to be irritated. It's confusing why some people continue to wreck havoc in your life when they have no place in it… like an attention seeking little boy he must continue to do things even if in a negative light just to gain notice. Some people will continue to do whatever they can to "punish" you and stir the pot… it's really ironic because if they'd put that much energy into the marriage that they've put into irritating the heck out of you in its aftermath maybe it wouldn't have gone to pot… but at the end of the day its a reflection of them not you… move on and ignore them.


Your ex may put only his name, address and phone number in the school directory… he got the form and didn't tell you, leaving you out in the cold. Birthday party invites, etc all now go to his address and you're left wondering why on earth the fellow mothers don't reach out and send them to you. It's moments like this you once again are reminded of his manipulativeness how he does everything possible to keep you out of the circle and himself ingratiated within. This does nothing but create issues and only further cements why you divorced him to begin with.


Fridays, or "exchange days" are always bad. Always. That day… whatever day you exchange your children on is a day of him calling, texting, etc that you "didn't do this or that"… or "you didn't put this or that" in the bag, etc… stuff that doesn't even matter or have significance… just so he can cause stress and tell you that you don't have it "together".


They will mess with your mail. This can be beyond aggravating and putting in a change of address for an entire family versus just an individual is what they love to do to create more chaos. I'd recommend a P.O. Box in the days/weeks leading up to filing for divorce and alert your mail carrier of your situation and change your mail as an individual so it's forwarded to your box. The ex messing with your mail creates all sorts of havoc because then your bills, attorneys statements and copies of documents don't reach you in a timely manner.


You will have to decide whether to keep your married name or not. People are often shocked if you keep your married name if your spouse cheated but the truth is if you have even less than wonderful feelings about your maiden name then you may reluctantly keep your married one. Some people understandably feel its best to keep the same last name as their children… others are more than ready to dump their married name and move… others I'm sure wish there was a third option. Take some time and decide what's best for you.


You've asked him numerous times to please drop off and pick up the kids at the street or end of the driveway. But no, the inept ex who continually has to push the limits, pulls all the way up in the driveway and is on your porch ringing your doorbell, his face in yours. It's best if all exchanges are done at a neutral location like McDonald's.


There may be times you feel alone but you are never ever really alone. God is watching over you as well as family and friends… those who are supporting you are cheering you on.


Just because you are signed up to communicate on the site Our Family Wizard doesn't mean they will communicate with you. They may "view" your messages but ignore 90% of them and not reply. 


One day you may feel pity toward your ex… another day anger and the next just sadness… these feelings may occur all within the same day or same hour…. going through a divorce is a process… and it's a process of emotions too… that continue even in the aftermath of the finalization. Sitting in front of my attorney one day he asked me what I wanted, what my expectations were in my case… that's a good question to ask yourself, too. He told me with a laugh… "I'm an attorney, okay? I'm not an assassin"… going into divorce it's important to have some idea of what exactly you are wanting… you may get a "fair settlement"… but remember, no one ever truly "wins"… least of all the kids.  


© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014 



To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, 

commenting and sharing! 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Like Fireflies: Being A Light & Sharing Our Story



Have you shared your story?

Have you spoken about your journey?

Have you shared your testimony?


I leave a trail of these everywhere I go... 

image created & owned by gps grace power strength 



Making these by hand, I've by now likely left hundreds of these little slips of paper in places I've been... I've left them in hotels, in courthouses, at the post office, in the ladies room at restaurants and stores, I've passed them out on college campuses, tucked them under windshield wipers and more.


Each of us have a story to tell… with many chapters… a story that God has guided us through… with perhaps dark beginnings that have led to later pages filled with light reflecting off them… maybe your chapters intensify with song, with beauty, with triumph, with God's love for you as you leaf through them, prisms of glorious color streaming from them as more of your story is written each day…


What a beautiful thing to be able to share those glorious pages with someone you know and care about… maybe someone to inspire… maybe someone to encourage and lift up… maybe someone you love. When we share our story not for our own glory but take a backseat and let the light of Jesus shine front and center… to show people only by God's teaching, His grace, we have grown... we have changed from walking in the dark fumbling, tripping over ourselves, searching for that much sought after light switch… and now have found the light and owe everything to Christ… to let people know that only because of Him we walk in the light due to seeing a light cast on our sin and realizing that we stand in dangerous chaos, in murky darkness… and that only by following Christ can we be saved.


When were driving down a dark, unfamiliar road the first thing we think of needing is… light. We desperately need light to find our way, to see ahead, to know where we are headed. But left without light that is impossible… left to our own devices to muddle our way along, we are on treacherous roads… we may skid out, we may hit a bump and go off the road completely… but with light we can see… and we know where we are headed… the gospel itself is light and light always gives…

COMFORT.


No matter how good you are, how skilled at driving in the dark, you won't make it alone. But light… the word of God… Jesus Christ, our Savior who came to cast light on our sin, make us aware, convict us of wrong doings and then ask us to repent… for us to receive His forgiveness and give us much needed comfort…


Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.
 “They are plans for good and not for disaster,
 to give you a future and a hope.



 God promises good things 
for us and one includes comfort


It was in the aftermath of losing my sister to a drunk driver that brought me face to face with the realization that I desperately not just needed God because I was hurting... because I was crying out in despair and pain… and NEEDED HIS COMFORT… but that for once in my life… for the very first time, I WANTED to have a RELATIONSHIP with Him.

It was small moments here and there… like bright spots of sunlight that peek through a wood fence on a sunny day, spots of light shining in and you're so incredibly happy and relieved to feel that sunshine on your skin… on your face. Because those beams of light represent something called hope.

Sometimes the people in our life are like light… like sparkly fireflies they happily offer help and are like bright spots of light through the darkness... to the eternal beacon of hope, healing, and comfort... our Savior. In the weeks, months following my sister's death I was enveloped in darkness; comparable to a black duvet, I was curled up in a cocoon of pain, of loss and hurt… crying out to God "Why??!!" and yet clinging to Him… because I realized just needing wasn't enough anymore… but wanting to be near Him.


A friend I've known forever suggested we go to Mardel, a Christian store and look around. I'd never been to Mardel and didn't really know what to expect. As she led the way through the books and gifts, we finally came upon the music section. As she selected a couple of cd's she was going to purchase I browsed the music… my curiosity was there but I had never listened to Christian music in my life. My life had been an ongoing playlist of AC/DC, Metallica, Gun's N' Roses, Pantera, Audioslave, Ozzy Osbourne, Rage Against The Machine, Sneaker Pimps, Kidd Rock, Limp Bizkit, Alice In Chains,  NIN, Dr. Dre, Notorious BIG, 50 Cent and more… a playlist that was less than soothing but instead reflected the angry, the boxed in and the sinful flesh. Feeling completely out of my comfort zone… not certain what to choose I finally asked her for some recommendations. Narrowing it down to MercyMe I would soon find it was the perfect choice. Playing "My Heart Will Fly" until I nearly wore out the cd was soothing and before I knew it I was channel surfing and stumbled upon Joyce Meyer late one night… soon followed reading Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo… these tiny steps in the aftermath of losing my sister brought me along a path that was begun by my friend suggesting Mardel one day. Just one moment led to a series of moments. A few years later when I had her on the phone one afternoon I said:

 "I just want to thank you." I told her… " For what?" she asked. "For taking me to Mardel that day. For suggesting it. Because of you, of that cd I bought... it led me to other things… to watching Joyce Meyer, to reading books to finally picking up the bible and having a relationship with God. " 

There was shocked silence on the other end… and I seriously thought she'd fainted. Finally she spoke "I'm so glad, Jennifer. I've been praying for this for a long time… for years. I kept wanting this! I kept hoping… but you were so stubborn!" she laughed and I laughed too. Oh, yes, she was so, so, so right. And God knew this too. And I was so, so, so incredibly blessed by God. Thank God for her and all my friends.


Never, never, never give up that your friends will never know Jesus. You may step back from time to time in admitted frustration… you might question if your persistence (and loving patience) will really make a difference... but always pray, still reach out and know that there is still that chance, that hope that yes, the light will penetrate their black cocoon they are in… that it will cast into that dark inky hallway they are pacing like a caged animal, like a slave to their sins…. know that each and every one of us are capable of being a light to others too.


Ephesians 5:8 ESV


For at one time you were darkness, 
but now you are light in the Lord. 
Walk as children of light. 


What a gift we are given by God… to be a light to others in this life and share the good news of the Gospel… to share our own story and let others know the only reason we made it through those trials, through those dark times and emerged from that cocoon bathed in glorious light...

Is because of His unconditional love for us… 

And sometimes we find friends who love us like that too. 


© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014 




To My Readers:

Thank you for reading, 

commenting and sharing!


Related Posts: 

Anxiety, Panic & Entrapment: Facing Our Fears Head On With God

Equating Easier With Better 

When All You Have Is A Prayer

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Getting A Divorce? 10 Financial Tips





If you ever have any questions about your legal rights or finances
 be sure to consult your attorney and they can help you or point you to the help you need. 


So you're getting a divorce. 

Or at least contemplating one. 


It's imperative to be smart about how you pursue your divorce money-wise and with some foresight, some planning… you will be in a better position financially than what you would have been.


Having been through one, I can say however expensive you think it is… trust me, your number is too low. Aim higher. Attorney's fees are comparative to merciless little blood sucking vampires and seeing your monthly statements from your attorney's office is not for the faint of heart.

There are different "types" of attorneys. Often how much they are willing to work with you will depend on what they are like. If they have a "down home" feel, if they are laid back… they may be more willing to work with you on payment plans, etc if you begin getting low on money to put toward your case. If you choose a slicked out attorney that is all sophistication and glitz… beware, they are more likely to be "by the book"… now, granted… this may NOT be the case for everyone, as there are ALWAYS exceptions but this has been my personal experience.


As a woman, divorce is much harder on you if you haven't worked. If you've been a stay at home mom, even for a good share of your marriage (a part time job during your marriage to pay for a few "extras" doesn't support you in the long run) be warned… it's going to be a tough road. If you have little to no education on top of that… it's going to be even more difficult.

This is admittedly my personal opinion of an "ideal" divorce... and yes, I know for this scenario to work you likely have to be in a marriage that is still amicable...  a divorce process where you can still somewhat communicate constructively and the husband can look at what is best for the mother of his children in the long run… If you're blessed enough to have this be your scenario (which I know they exist, I've known some) I would recommend you stay married for awhile. The husband needs to tell his wife: "This isn't working. I want a divorce. But I care about you as the mother of my children. I want you to go get a full time job… or get some additional education… something before I file. Let's give this a few months to let everybody adjust first to you working. Because you need to be able to support yourself in the long term." I know… you're thinking…. but that's what child support is for! That's what spousal support is for!


Well, here's the truth: 

It used to be in the old days that if you were in a ten plus year marriage as a woman you had a good chance of not only child support but also spousal support… at least for awhile. Not so much anymore. I was in a marriage over ten years and have little education and he cheated… no spousal. I'm not saying I was "owed" this or that. I am however stating the facts and it's important you know this. If you're a woman and you are in the same situation I was in or even similar I must tell you that you are in a very precarious position as a stay at home mom/wife. I would tell you from the day you get married you need to create a nest egg. I would say every time you go to Target, Wal-Mart, etc and you pay for the essentials your family needs ask for twenty dollars back in cash. Or whatever amount you can reasonably fit into your budget. I know there will be some women (and men) who read this and will be flabbergasted, appalled, angry, etc I'm telling you to put money back. (Keep it in cash and put it away and DON'T spend it.) Maybe you're thinking "that's really underhanded"… and yes, perhaps it is…. and yet it's SMART. One day you may need that money and if you don't have it you will be kicking yourself. If at any given time your husband comes to you and says: "I want a divorce. I'm done" you need to be ready at ANY given moment to have money on hand to pay for your portion of it.


Because guess what? Husband's don't always pay for the divorce anymore. They don't always have to foot the bill. Yes, even if you've been a stay at home mom in a long term marriage. It's shocking, I know. That was my case. You may be fully expected to pony up for your attorney's fees and if you don't have any money saved you're in a real pickle. What people don't tell you is any lump sum "settlement" you get the remaining attorney's fees, debt, etc will be taken off the top. That whittles it down quick.


10 Money Tips Regarding Divorce: 


1. The day you file for divorce, go to the bank first. Take out exactly half of what you have in the savings account. You can either take your half now or let him take it all. Get a receipt. Keep it in a safe place. Start a Manila envelope or binder with all your divorce documentation.


2. See how much cash you have saved. Hopefully you've been putting cash back. 


3. See what you can sell. Can you get him to agree to sell the pool table? Do you own any art? Now is the time to begin selling it. Luxuries are not a necessity. Do anything you can to pare down your belongings and make some money. 


4. You can sell your wedding ring (make sure you go to a reputable dealer) and wedding dress (it won't bring much). Those are always an option for bringing in some additional cash.


5. Attorney's fees are costly. The AVERAGE divorce costs $15-20 thousand in the United States. The more it becomes contested, especially over child custody the more expensive it will become. You will wish later you had all that money back. Don't let your emotions run your divorce. Think rationally about your finances. 


6. It's not just attorneys fee's. There are court costs... think about fifteen hundred, two grand... there are mediation fees... another five hundred at minimum, maybe upwards to two thousand or more. There are court-mandated parenting classes and those can run the gamut from eighty dollars to over a hundred. There will be the cost of an Ad Litem if you have children which can run anywhere from twenty five hundred upwards depending on the length/ugliness of your case. Then there may be psychological evaluations. Another couple grand. Realize that everytime you call your attorney, you email, anything, there is a charge. And many of these charges are out of your control. Even if you're keeping YOUR communication to a minimum your spouse's attorney WILL be reaching out to yours... often as a strategy to up fees, make you cry "Uncle!" and to wear you down.


7. You could go bankrupt getting a divorce. It happens. It's essential you make wise decisions. You need to be schooled in taxes and how they affect your settlement. If you're getting a lump sum settlement from your husband will you be taxed? Will your child support be taxed? What about spousal support? At tax season will you file married or separate? If you have two kids, always choose the youngest as the tax deduction. 


8. The faster you can get your divorce done.... the better you both are at coming to an agreement, the better it will be for you both. The longer it goes on the more costly it is and more taxing on you emotionally and even physically. 


9. If you have to re-finance your house, if you have to get a loan from a bank or buddy to pay your spouse their "share/settlement"... there will be costs associated with that. Renting requires deposits, a new home requires new accounts for electric and water, etc. Have you factored all these expenses in to start your new life? It's likely you will be living at a lower level you were previously. You may have to rough it a few years before getting back on your feet. Just be aware.


10. If your car is paid for it likely makes financial sense to keep it... at least for awhile. Don't forget to change your cell phone plan if you share one with your spouse. You may have iTunes accounts, Ebay accounts, Amazon accounts, etc you share as a married couple and you may have to get your own. Get your own credit card if you don't already have one and get any debt you have paid off. If you must go into divorce you want to go into it debt free. 


If you're contemplating marriage for the first time be sure you ask your future spouse all the tough questions. Do you know their credit score? What is it? Do they pay their bills on time? Do they have any loans? Do they invest? Do they have stocks or bonds? What about CDs? Are they a saver or a spender? Have they started saving for retirement? Do they have credit card debt? Do you need a pre-nup?

Kevin O'Leary (off the ABC show Shark Tank) gives great financial advice and it would be worth picking up his book: Cold Hard Truth: Family, Kids & Money to read and take notes from. As a woman it's important to think about investing for your future regardless of whether you marry or not. Some of his best tips are: 

1. Invest only in stocks that pay dividends. 

2. Only invest 5% in any one stock. 

3. Only invest 50% in bonds and 50% in stocks.


If you're contemplating a second marriage you may understandably be much more cautious the next time around. If you marry a guy and you both want to purchase a new house together (fresh start) you may still have your own house to consider. One option may be to keep it as a rental property. (Hey, if it goes downhill you still have a house) But be aware that any income from that rental could be considered community property depending on your state. Be informed, read up on your legal rights so you can make wise decisions. You may want a pre-nup going into your second marriage. It's important to review your will as well. Cover all bases and you will be well on your way to being prepared financially for the future. 


© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014 



Recommended Books:

Kevin O'Leary series 


                                



To My Readers:

 Thank You for reading

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Being Your Husband's #1 Fan


What are you a fan of? 

It seems everyone is a fan of something today. Maybe it's football, maybe it's basketball or skiing. Maybe it's cheering on your favorite hockey team while they battle it out on the ice… maybe it's fishing, camping, a vacation spot or yes, even shopping. Maybe you're a fan of beauty products with pretty packaging, of a certain brand of clothing or a favorite restaurant.

But maybe, just maybe you are a fan of someone. Someone in particular that you know and love.


Who is this person you may ask?



Maybe it's your husband.

Are you a fan of his?

Of course! ...
You acknowledge and dismiss there being any question about it.



Are you his #1 fan? 



Being his #1 fan you'd never speak ill of him to others.

Being his # 1 fan you'd never embarrass him with jokes at his expense.

Being his # 1 fan you'd never take pot shots at him when he's an epic fail.

Being his # 1 fan you'd never rub his nose in other's triumphs and victories.

Being his # 1 fan you'd never compare his skill set to the other guys you know.

Being his # 1 fan you'd never hold back when it comes to encouragement.

Being his # 1 fan you'd never not tell him how wonderful he is when he has doubts.

Being his # 1 fan you'd never withhold love and affection when he needs it most.



Encourage Him… 

Wives can be assured that one of their greatest gifts to their husbands is being an encourager. He loves to hear words of life spoken to him about his work, how he provides for his family and even in the bedroom. He wants to hear that yes, he's doing a great job at providing, that it is worthwhile, that what he does all day between eight and five or longer has value to you… he wants to hear that you admire what he does for a living, that it makes a difference in your world, that the scrimping and saving for that vacation, the long hours he's put in… are totally worth it in your eyes and incredibly appreciated.


You remember when you are dating and it's all new and exciting? It's an influx of good feelings coming in like warm butter hitting the inside of your stomach because all that dopamine is kicking in and you feel electricity up and down your spine… falling in love is like that… all your senses are heightened and every moment is special… like pancake syrup on your lip it's sweet and you don't this phase to end… <insert blissful sigh>


Then, marriage begins and although the electricity has been replaced with warmth, with security and sweet familiarity that we all know has limitless value, the dopamine undeniably flatlines to some extent (why it's so important to continually do new things together to keep the relationship fresh) and before you know it you may be crossing into territory that is perhaps not so peaceful… but instead resembles an ugly no man's land of opposition… maybe as a wife a few years in you find yourself rolling your eyes, crossing your arms and slamming doors because "Mr. Right" has become "Mr. Does Everything Wrong."


I hate to break it to you but here's the truth: 

That behavior is not going to bring him closer to you. 


That will not alleviate the issues between you, fix the problem at hand nor make him want to engage with you. Those actions will make him want to flee to the next room, the garage, outside, maybe take off for a few hours because all he sees is a five foot-something angry little person (who he assumes is on her period) on a raging rampage through shared space that is sure bent on making everyone know she's mad but not in a constructive healthy way. The best thing to do? Stop with the dramatics. No eye rolling, no sighing, no door slamming and no arm crossing. Give yourself some space first. Take a deep breath. Then go to him (on commercial break, please… don't interrupt the game) and tell him exactly why you are upset in a calm, respectful manner using the statement "I feel <blank> when…." 

Be soft, 
unlike the hardness of the world. 

Touch his arm, give him hugs, pat his shoulder, smile at him! He wants to feel like you actually like him and not that because of one irritating moment you have complete disappointment in him.



Brag About Him… 

You know how you brag about your love for your favorite team to others? Well, your husband wants to know you talk to others about how crazy you are for him, how much you admire him, how he's your hero, how he fixed the such and such or just got a great promotion, or just oh my goodness… brought you home your very favorite cupcakes(!) from the local bakery on the way home "just because"… he wants to overhear you talking about the sweet things he does for you on the phone to your best friend, your mom and your sister. It makes him swell with pride that yes, he is doing something that matters to you, that you are taking notice, that you are appreciative, that you are thankful. It makes him want to do more when you follow up in a few days with  a hug and a "You know… I'm still thinking of what you did… that was so sweet of you!" Watch him beam in return… he won't be able to wipe the grin off his face… guaranteed. 



Lift Him Up When He Falls… 

This week Rich Peverley with the Dallas Stars collapsed from a heart condition… sometimes your favorite team player falls, maybe he has a health issue, maybe he misses an opportunity, we all have something… the same holds true for your husband. Maybe he is down and out, maybe he's struggling with something… whether it's the death of a family member, a missed promotion at work, maybe a demanding project that just isn't coming together as he had hoped… all these things can cause frustration, a dispirited mindset, maybe doubt. But a wife can step in and lift him up with words of encouragement, with physical touch and affirmation that yes, he is still the great man she knows him to be… that yes, he is a child of God, he will overcome, he will succeed, he will prosper…. most importantly that you are by his side, not on the sidelines or watching from afar if he's on the bench for awhile.


No matter what life brings…

No matter how the game ends,

No matter what his triumphs,

No matter what his losses,


He won't have to worry about you putting down your pom poms and walking away….

Instead, you're right there, cheering him on.


© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014 


But what if you're single? What if you don't have a husband? You can still pray for the man you will marry one day. You can still keep him close to your heart and hope nothing but the best for him, for God to mold him, chisel him… yet while doing that… ask the same of God for yourself. Ask God to help you learn as much as possible, to become the woman your husband will need, to be the woman God desires you to be. 


Proverbs 31:10-31 

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.




there's no such thing as perfection… only progress 






            To My Readers: Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing! 


Monday, March 10, 2014

Sin, Forgiveness & Reconciliation



If we were to sit down and make a list of every glaring sin we've committed… every bad word spoken, every ugly and vile thought, every poor choice and disobedience to God… all the lustful images, all the less than lovely ways we've behaved going all the way back in time… our lists would be undeniably long.


We are imperfect 
and loved by a perfect God.


Thankfully we are blessed to be given grace and God's unfailing love bestowed upon us… we are given forgiveness despite our glaring inadequacies and specks of flesh and sin.


So if we've been forgiven by God of our own sins why on earth can we not seem to forgive others or at the very least struggle with forgiving others of their sins against us? Good question. Probably because the sins of our own on that list just mentioned above are so easily forgotten, pushed away and shoved to the back burners of our minds. Despite perhaps much guilt over our past regretful choices…. we as humans may develop sudden amnesia when it comes to our own sins when we are mistreated by others… and instead have tunnel vision… only able to see the hurt inflicted and the grudge we hold against the boss who ticked us off last week at the office, the teenager who rear ended our car yesterday, the ex who won't stop pestering us and the person were related to by blood that continually wrecks havoc in our life.


Have we forgotten our sins God has forgiven?...  have we also forgotten the magnitude of those sins? We aren't "little sinners"… or "baby sinners"… or even "medium sinners." No, we are big sinners. The sooner we accept that fact, the sooner we face it and can admit, "Yes, I am indeed a sinner. I need heaping grace everyday not dinky teaspoonfuls…" the sooner we get over ourselves, push past our egos however big or small and we realize we need to forgive others. By focusing on the enormity of God forgiving all those ugly blemishes in our life, all those sins on our list of past and present, we will soon see how crucial it is to forgive others of their sins as well.


Can you say: 
"I'm the chief of sinners?" 

Can you say:
"I'm the worst sinner of all?"

Do you dare you utter the words: 
"My choices have been the ugliest of everyone's?" 


Are we walking in pride or humility? Admitting our gross sin isn't bragging… instead it's realizing how incredibly toxic it is to act like it doesn't exist… like ignoring a monkey on our back… when we address our sins openly with God instead of trying to hide our burdens or smuggle our skeletons into a dark closet we are not only pleasing God but releasing light into our life and pushing out darkness.


So no matter what we've done… no matter how big, how glaringly huge our sin is… we can repent. Ask for forgiveness. Then turn to our fellow man, our brother or sister and forgive them of their huge sin as well. God is looking for those who are ready to turn from sin and get back on a path that entails a right relationship with Him. He wants each of us to forgive and love others as He forgives and loves us.


forgiven 
people 
forgive 
others 


Forgive yes... Reconcile too? 
People often think forgiveness and reconciliation automatically go hand in hand. Like a tidy package. A wife may mistakenly think a husband who is abusive toward her and who cheats on her must not only be forgiven but reconciled with. She forgives him but then what? Is she to close her eyes to his ill behavior if it continues? No. He has to earn her trust again. He has to jump through hoops to be with her. He has to commit to therapy. He has to show through repeated action that he can be trusted to do the right thing, that he is where he claims to be when he's not with her and not yell, scream, rant or hurt her ever again whether it be emotionally or physically. 


The 3 questions to ask yourself: 


1. Is my spouse a person who is essentially "good" who just did a very bad thing and WANTS to make things right? 

2. Or is my spouse a person who is very bad, who has shown a PATTERN of continual sinful behavior? 

3. Do my children and I benefit from staying... is the reward greater with reconciliation or with leaving? 


The husband who has committed great sin in a marriage has to roll up his shirt sleeves and dive in. Does it sound like a lot of work? Yes, it is and yet those are part of his consequences. God never said there wouldn't be consequences we had to live with. {We've all had to live with consequences due to our sins.} Part of the consequences from his poor choices is that to continue to be married to his wife he must prove to her he is willing to change. He must prove he is willing to repent, to kneel before God and admit all of his sin with humble sorrow. His promises to change, his words spoken to his wife are just empty pockets of air without substance if he won't follow throughIf she wants his passwords to all his social media accounts, if she demands to have his vehicle tracked by gps, if she states counseling is essential and he will be held accountable for every purchase he makes and every time he's five minutes late… he will comply if he's serious about earning her trust again and willing to ask God for help. A man who is ready to change and is truly repentant will humbly ask his wife "What can I do to help remedy this? What can I do to fix it? What can I do to help you?" Only once changes are visible to his wife over a period of time can she even begin to consider the possibility of trust and reconciling with him. If he can't walk the walk but can only talk the talk the relationship is infiltrated with stagnant sin that has a reeking stench… not renewal, not change and certainly not a deep desire of his to please God. 


© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014 


A wife who realizes that her husband is truly sorry for what he's done, 
that he is devastated by his sin and how it's affected her… 
is in the position as he to learn all she can from their counseling as well.  


He may be clinging to his sin… 
he may be unwilling to let go of the affair… 
he may be deeply entrenched and not willing to change. 
He may be defensive and prideful and feel justified. 
It's not to say that he won't regret his choices one day. 

He likely will. 

His regret may be instant. 
Or it might take time... maybe months... maybe even years…. 
however long it takes.... the question is… 
are you willing to wait, to stay and see that day?
Or does he need to walk that path without you? 


Even if it doesn't work out… 
even if we choose divorce… 
we can still choose to forgive,
we can still choose to use kind words toward our ex
and ask God for comfort and healing. 

***********

He may at some point try to reach out… 
if he's a good man he may try to later, long 
after the divorce still try to make things
"right" and apologize. 
He may try to extend olive branches and such. 
You may forgive and yet still that trust isn't there. 
That fear is within you, 
that fear that if you leave yourself open, 
if you let down that wall and extend love he will hurt you again. 
So we close ourselves off… 
we may keep a far distance in the name of "protecting" ourselves. 
And although that's perfectly understandable… 
we also need to remember this about fear:

God says: "Do not be afraid…" 


Romans Chapter 8

“37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


King James Bible
What shall we then say to these things? 
If God be for us, who can be against us???


To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading,

commenting and sharing! 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Godly Or Ungodly? Is It Love? 5 Questions To Ask Yourself



October 2012 

names have been omitted in this post 


***************


He sat across from me at the table for two… birds scattered at our feet on the outdoor patio hoping for a bit of food, a tiny morsel to eat. The breeze ruffled my dark hair around my shoulders and on the gray slate table sat a basket of tortilla chips between us and two ice waters. The conversation was non-existent and he munched on his plate of fajita's while I sat in silence watching him. He had chosen the place to eat and I was in no mood to eat at the moment... instead thinking about how his behavior had been increasingly abusive the past few weeks. The restaurant was ensconced among downtown buildings and pretty white lights were lit for a festive feel behind him. It was a lazy sunny Sunday afternoon and we should have been like the other couples nearby… laughing over a late lunch, indulging in our food and connected. But instead I watched him with a stiff back, with a piercing silent gaze… him avoiding my eyes… instead concentrating on the chip he would select from the basket and then chomp on it absentmindedly looking off in the distance at nothingness.


What had happened? Why was it so bad? He had changed. Drastically. Gone was the guy I'd met when we'd dated. Gone was the guy wearing the fleece jacket, boots and driving a truck with glasspacks. Gone was the guy who used to adore me and bragged about me to everyone. Gone was the guy who liked to go country western dancing and gaze at the stars overhead. Gone was the guy who was down to earth and shared my love of chicken fried steak. This guy sitting before me, he was a person I didn't know. This guy liked loafers, designer suits and wine. Which weren't really the issue at hand, admittedly puzzling as that was considering the drastic change... but instead the ego, the image that he wore with it was a huge issue for me, causing me to continually wince and cringe. The truck had been replaced with a Jaguar that I hated, along with an arrogant attitude and a sense of entitlement I hated even more. The once patient, listening and kind facade was increasingly falling away and being replaced with this person who stonewalled, who didn't feel a need to communicate or explain himself, who believed by simply yelling "Jennifer!" he could shut down an entire conversation and walk away. He made me actually begin to dislike my own name because whenever he said it I would cringe. The mean, nasty side had been revealed and his words spoken to me "You look like shit" rang in my head. How had this happened? How can someone change that much? And yet at the time what I didn't realize is that he hadn't really changed. He was always arrogant and behaved entitled… he was just better at hiding it from me once upon a time. That's what changed... his ability to keep it under wraps as he previously had. The more I saw of the ugly side, the more I saw of the true side, the side that occasionally slipped out… the less I liked him, the less I respected him and the less I wanted to face the reality that yes, I was indeed married to him. 


After he paid for the ticket given to him by the waiter we rose and walked out… Once to the car I slid in the gray leather passenger seat and he began driving. There was silence between us and the brick wall was becoming higher by the day. I finally spoke…

"If you had to guess one thing… one thing about you… what would people say is your biggest flaw?" I asked him.

He drove with his hand clasped on the leather steering wheel with a rigid expression on his face… sunlight streaming in from the sunroof overhead glinting off his Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses that had recently replaced his old Oakley's. His profile was set and he didn't flinch. He showed zero hesitation and replied… "I expect perfection of people." His reply was even-toned and matter of fact without a hint of apology.


Perfection. 


Ah, yes. That was it… funny how he knew it and yet made no apology for it... he saw no need for working on it and the truth was his exceedingly high expectation of perfection of others didn't really even begin to touch the surface of the whole picture but merely the tip of the iceberg of all of the dark blemished stinking toxicity underneath. I realized he viewed his expectation of perfection from others as merely a fact about himself, something he believed everyone else needed to work around and accept at their own suffering.


Things were unraveling quicker than you could re-spool thread but I also didn't yet know he was cheating. In that time frame I thought it was all still fixable. I naively believed if we could find someone worth a darn who could help us, who could counsel us we might have a chance at salvaging what was left although I also at the same time questioned just what that was exactly? When you're in these situations as anyone knows who has been there, your objectivity has been virtually stripped and the world you live in is clouded like dirty fogged over contact lenses… you can't see very clearly, navigation is tricky and you just aren't sure what to do.



Questions, Questions and more Questions: 

Does he love me? Does he act like someone who does? The answer was a glaring big fat NO. Did he love who I was? What I stood for? Did he appreciate what I believed in and brought to the table? Did he acknowledge and actually care about what I thought? Another big fat NO. Did he like my traits, my personality, my wit and humor or did he merely look at my outer shell… the superficial package and like how it enhanced his ego, his extension of himself? A big YES to the latter.


Did I like and respect this person who was beside me day in and day out? NO. I liked the person I had been presented years ago but this new person was a stranger, someone I didn't recognize. He wanted someone to idolize him, to accept anything he threw at them and to keep their mouth shut, to never question or reproach him and I wasn't that person. I'm the person who blares my horn at a cop in traffic that cuts me off without lights or a siren on… yes, and I'll do it again… because I have issue with people who abuse their power. I'm the person who will intervene on behalf of seeing a kid being bullied… because it's not right for anyone to be subjected to that behavior and standing by silent is unacceptable as well. I'm the person who will engage the mom who looks like she's about to lose it on her kid in a store with friendly conversation because reprimanding her and shaming her just creates more strife. But he would believe all of that to have zero value… because to place value on those actions means to stand for something good, for something honorable and just… for truth… something someone who is sociopathic cannot even begin to see worth in because their very nature, their very basic thinking is… What is this person's price? Everyone has a price. How much can they be bought for? What can I get off them? What can I get her to do? What are her limits? How far can I go? What can I get away with? This lack of character made me sick to my stomach and yet here I was joined as one to this seemingly sub-human.


Life would be much easier if the people who are sociopaths stuck together and the ones who want to live a life of good moral character had an easier way of seeking each other out. Maybe this is one time we could use labels… when it comes to narcissistic sociopaths and people with loving hearts. 



5 Questions To Ask Yourself If He Really Loves You: 

1. Does he love you as a person? Or merely as how you make him look to the world? Does he like you better when you aren't questioning him or trying to have a discussion? Do you get the sense he merely wants a robot who just nods and agrees with everything he says?

2. Do you like who he is now? Sure, at one time you probably liked who he was… we all do when were first with someone. But what about now? If you find yourself recoiling from his CHARACTER… that's a bad sign. If you don't want him near you physically that's another bad sign. 

3. Is he open to counseling? Is he humble? Is he willing to admit his mistakes? How does he take criticism? Does he bristle and yell or argue or does he discuss it? And in a calm manner?

4. Are you in a partnership? Or a dictatorship? Pretty self explanatory. 

5. Do you see any change? This is about spiritual formation. Is he becoming more as Jesus would want him to be or is he becoming more and more like the world? 


© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014 



To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, 

sharing and commenting! 

Related Posts:

When Love Isn't Enough & He Doesn't Provide

Standing On A Road She Didn't Plan: A Single Mom Dating

When "Love" = Death: What I Wanted To Tell Her