Saturday, November 29, 2014

For Men & Women: 10 Lessons From Divorce

A Family Divided. 
Lessons & Pain.
Growth & Healing.
Life & Thriving.

Unless you've been through a divorce it can be quite hard to relate to what others have experienced. I can say there is much to be learned from the divorce process and though the lessons can be painful they are worth sharing with others so their path is a little easier to navigate.

Here are 10 things I've learned about divorce…

1. It takes a whole heck of a lot longer to get one complete than what one might think. In Texas we have a 60 day waiting period before a divorce can be completed at it's earliest. I only wish that was all the time it took. For many it takes a year, for some even longer, two years. It seems so backward… we can say "I do" on a whim but trying to undo that knot takes oh so much longer.

2. It takes longer than you expect to get your life put back together. If you've been a stay at home mother you might find yourself scrambling to find a job, a sitter or some form of daycare and keep the lights on. It can seem overwhelming at first now that everything rests on your shoulders but deep breaths… take it one day at a time and try not to look at the big picture if all it does is serve to stress you out. It truly does get better in small steps and one day you will look back in awe at how far you've come with God's grace, power and strength.

3. We may go through our divorce process regarding the kids with the mental outlook of: "Okay, we have a plan in place. Done, let's move on." And really… if it's working why shouldn't that be expected? But often times our ex can have other ideas… constantly changing ideas and chronically wanting to change up the parenting schedule, possession, etc. It will mean being served with papers, attorneys being served on your behalf and having to re-write what you have in place, often with negotiations that are not what I'd really call negotiations but more like the other side bullying his (or her) way into what he (or she) wants.

4. Mediation can be a lifesaver or an absolute waste of time and money. The mediators job is to get both parties to agree and they could care less about whether you like the results as you will be who lives with them. I would never pay for an attorney to be present at mediation again. The fee for a mediator is a grand give or take so paying an attorney to simply sit and hold your hand seems pointless. The process can be undeniably intimidating if you've never done it before but really having been through it twice now… I can safely say that it's not that big a deal. You know what issues you're willing to agree on or not. If you can reach an agreement, great. If not, reply "no" to everything and head to court, it's pretty simple. Mediation may be used by your ex as a tactic to find out what you're willing to agree to and not… so then they can then be better prepared for a court battle.

5. Divorce won't "fix" your spouse. Your ex-spouse is likely still cheap, still stubborn, still conniving, still making poor choices, late, disorganized, super punctual, anal, abusive, ocd, insensitive, inept, lacking parenting skills, etc… guess what? Just because you're divorcing them doesn't equate to all their ways now changing. You will realize (if you hadn't already) you cannot change your ex. You will realize that your attorney can't change your ex. And then you may realize that the therapist can't change your ex into the parent they need to be. That is why sometimes judges have to get involved and change the possession schedule accordingly. Because unless folks want to change often times it's the children who end up suffering.

6. The person you divorce…  divorce tends to reveal their true character… whether it's for better or for worse.

7. You will cross paths with people who you don't even know personally but that think they know you… that believe they know who you are based purely on what your ex has said about you… and they dismiss your existence or even sneer at you in public. Keep your chin up, a smile on your face and move on… they are not worth your time or energy (read that again if needed). It's a lesson you've learned from the receiving end… never base your view of someone on a third person's opinion… get to know them yourself.

8. Folks will naturally be curious as to why your marriage ended… they may attempt to ask in a roundabout way or outright. It's up to you how you handle it… it's your call. You can either be direct or just gloss over it as "there were unresolvable issues"… it's about whatever you're comfortable with.

9. Your ex may try to bribe your children with gifts and freedom. He or she may even be bad mouthing you and causing alienation between you and your children. Your ex spouse has zero right to speak negatively about you or your home to the kids. Recently my daughter told me that her Dad told her: "Well, if Mommy would ever allow you to have a phone in her house I'd buy you one." The fact is, it's your house and your rules; you have every right to decide what comes in your home. He is overstepping boundaries and is in fact dismissing your choices to your child. Document, document, document.

10. He or she who has the house typically has more control. If the photo albums and scrapbooks (that you lovingly made by hand) are important to you… either get control of the house and have your soon to be ex kicked out or stash those valuables at a relatives for safe keeping. People can often be misinformed that everything is "frozen" when a divorce begins… when in fact for many divorces it's really more comparable to a free for all. The morning my ex was served I was at the bank removing half our funds in the savings account. That money came in handy to pay the attorneys more fees. If I hadn't taken my half would he have been so generous and left me anything? Once it was gone would the attorneys have been able to successfully retrieve half those funds that were rightfully mine? Highly doubtful. The smartest thing anyone can do is have a nest egg your spouse knows nothing about. Be smart. Be prepared and don't think just because your marriage is fine right now it always will be.

©  ~ 2014 

God can restore what
 is broken and 

turn it into 
something amazing!

You are never too broken 
for God to use your story to help others

To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading,

commenting and sharing! 

Related Posts: 

Getting A Divorce? Financial Advice: 10 Tips 

Divorce: 5 Common Scenarios In Co-Parenting & How To Respond

Divorce & Kids: Drafting The Final Decree

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Single Parents & The Holiday's: You're Not Alone

December 24th, 2012

names have been omitted in this post 


Thanksgiving is around the corner and Christmas will soon be upon us. And in that busy "I've got one more thing to buy and do" season and when our social lives are often heightened it's easy to be surrounded with people and yet ironically feel completely alone. Especially if you're a single parent.

I remember the first Christmas in the two month aftermath of my filing for divorce... I had to drop my children off at my soon to be ex mother in law's home Christmas Eve around eight that night. Our schedule stated I had Christmas Eve and my soon to be ex had Christmas Day. One would think that would mean I'd have the children the entire night and we'd exchange the children early Christmas morning… but apparently that is not how the court system works here. As baffling and frustrating their interruptive schedule was, I was also angry. Angry that for the first time I wasn't allowed to tuck my children in bed Christmas Eve night, kiss their foreheads and tip toe out of their rooms as they sleepily asked when Santa would be there. I was angry that they didn't have the idyllic vision we had always had… that instead visions of sugar plums were going to be on his watch instead of mine. I may have appeared to have it together on the outside but inside my heart was breaking into a million pieces each shard sharply named "disappointment" and "hurt".

It was after numerous hugs and whispered "I love you's" I sent them forth on their grandmother's driveway toward my ex… it was a cold December Texas night and he stood there in his cream sweater and jeans staring at me. I watched as the kids bundled in their jackets, slowly made their way to her front door graced with a Christmas wreath and tears sprang to my eyes in the dark night. They looked back warily at us like they weren't sure if we should be left alone to our own devices or else we might kill each other. His gaze stayed on me and he spoke…

"Hey, are you okay?" He asked "Would you like to come in for awhile? Or join us tomorrow morning?"


I instantly thought to myself…

"No" I replied stiffly to him and walked away to my SUV. My mother sat in the front seat waiting for me, watching this dismal scene play out.

My babies had gone in.

In that awful house. With him.

And with her.

She had known he'd wanted out. She had known and hid it. She had hugged me like a friend while stabbing me in the back. I had found emails between them to prove it. She was a co-hort to his secret life.

My babies.

They were victims in this disaster stamped with his name on it in lustful blazing red.

No one tells you how hard it will be… 
it's like this alternate universe you are thrust into…
 that no one knows about unless they've lived it.

I got in the SUV, slammed the door shut, roared the engine and took off. I drove and drove. It was all I knew to do. We saw every Christmas light in town that night… while Bing Crosby sang every song I drowned in tears that wet my jacket… I drowned in Crosby's words and sweet melodies of bittersweetness… we saw every twinkling light, every inflatable fat Santa and every Christmas tree in every lit window where intact families read 'Twas The Night Before Christmas, put out cookies and scampered to bed with warm kisses on their cold noses. But not me. And maybe this year not you.

And what I'm writing to tell you is that you are not alone.

It may feel like every family is intact as you go through this darkness of tears and disappointment.

But that is not truth.

There are many variations of family. I know… we want ideal, we want what we want, we want "perfect" we want what were "supposed" to have, we want what we were "supposed" to get.

But it's been through someone's actions… maybe his, maybe hers, maybe yours… it's been re-written and changed.

And I want to tell you again you aren't alone.

In this post are a few tips to help ease you through the holiday as a single parent.

1. Don't Compare
It is hard, I know. But it will literally drive you mad comparing your changing world to someone's who appears intact. It will drive you to the brink. It will make you feel all the more isolated. If you need to call friends and force yourself to make plans, do it. If you need to take a temporary hiatus off Facebook because quite frankly "Mr. or Mrs. Perfectly Poised Facebook Family's" posts are going to send you into a psychological meltdown then just take the break you need.

2. Change It Up
This may be the time to shake things up… do something you don't normally do… so you don't wallow in an empty house or apartment focusing on what is no longer. Maybe volunteer with a local organization that feeds hungry folks on Christmas. Ask your local church if they know of anyone elderly who is alone and housebound and would like some company. Maybe you have a friend who is also single and you can go do some Christmas activities together. If finances allow take a trip somewhere, or check into a hotel and have some pampering done. There are many alternatives to what you've always known… we just have to think outside the box.

3. Get Back To What Is Important
It's easy, especially when things are sailing smoothly to just focus on what we need to do... the groceries that need to be bought, the presents that need to be wrapped, when the biggest issue at hand is "What am I going to buy Aunt Meredith?" but now life has taken quite a turn and those items to be done are minuscule in the grand scheme of things. So it's about getting back to what is important. Peace. Family. Jesus. Gratitude. At the end of the day we know gifts are great but not fulfilling… they are like flotsam… here today then gone tomorrow, not providing infinite joy. But our relationship with Christ is stable… He is always there for you. Maybe you've put Him on the back burner… or maybe not. But He sees your pain, He walks beside you, He wipes your tears.

I will be your God throughout your lifetime 
— until your hair is white with age. 
I made you, and I will care for you.
 I will carry you along and save you. 
Isaiah 46:4

He is your refuge during this time of distraught upheaval. He is who will lead you throughout… He is who will hold your hand while you kiss your kids goodbye and tears escape your tear ducts. 

He is your Savior, who listens to every yearn-full plea of your heart for this to all just stop being so painful and offers peace and healing to you in the form of unlimited resources and love. 

He is your pillar of strength empowering you as you drive away not alone but with the most loving companion there is, speaking words of life into your ear and heart. 


Lord, I don't understand why life has taken this road but I know You walk it with me… I know your ways are better than mine and I will lean on You… I praise You! I know this storm is not forever and I trust in You to lead me through. I know you will restore, strengthen and establish me with your great unyielding love. Amen. 

© ~ 2014 

To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, 

commenting & sharing! 

Related Posts: 

For The Single Man Or Woman: My Hope For You 

"That Was Supposed To Be My Life" She Said

Cheating: 50 Shades of Lies ~ 5 Reasons Not To Keep Him 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Choices: "Yes, You Can Order A Baby…" I Told Her

November 2014 

names have been omitted in this post 


The wipers glide across the windshield, each glide clearing away the tiny drops of rain speckling the glass. The sky overhead is dark and even though it's a quarter to eight in the morning it feels much earlier. Driving my daughter to school I access the freeway, accelerating to gain a spot in the busy morning line up of cars. Everything around us appears gray and dreary like the world has been ensconced in a gray shroud. Red tail lights light up ahead as blurry red warnings and I begin applying the brakes. I crack the driver's side window to let some fresh cool air in because the interior is stuffy.

"Mommy, did you know you can have a baby without getting married?" My daughters voice asked from the backseat. We had some of our best conversations while riding in the car. But this question made my insides momentarily panic and my hand gripped the leather steering wheel a bit harder like a reflexive reaction.

What the…. ? My mind automatically thought and I wondered what this was about. I inhaled and tried to use my breezy calm I'm not a freaked out mommy at all voice but simultaneously my mind raced.

"Oh, really? Hmm… you can?" I asked her, flicking my right blinker on so I could exit.

"Uh, huh… you can…" She affirmed "You can go to the doctor and order a baby."

Shock and a huge sigh of relief ensued. Apparently she had found out about insemination, sperm donors or the like… and wasn't referring to pre-marital sex… thank the good Lord.

"Yes, you're right… you can do that. You can also adopt a baby." I told her as I made the right turn into the residential area the school was near. We had just enough time to get through the car pool line and pull curbside.

"Yeah… so that's what I'm going to do I think. I think I'm going to order a baby." She replied very matter of fact like she was telling me she was going to have cookies with milk for an afternoon snack while doing her homework that afternoon.

I smiled to myself, tickled at her words… "Well, you can certainly do that, sweet pea. I don't see anything wrong with that." I replied and after some thought added… "Just always remember you have choices. You don't have to fit into a mold, you don't have to be limited by what you see other people doing. You can get married, you can stay single, you can adopt, you can order a baby, you can do any of those things… okay?"

She yawned and nodded, already bored with the subject and ready to move on. "Okay…" she said.


I knew if her dad had heard that conversation he'd be ready to glare daggers at me for giving her the green light in having a choice… in choosing to have a baby minus a husband… my agreeing she could just order a baby like a ham at the local delicatessen. He would say he wants her to get married. To find a nice guy. He would say he wants her to find someone better than him.

I focus on the fact she has choices
 instead of trying to persuade 
her one choice is the way to go

Maybe it's being a mother… maybe to be more accurate it's just being a woman. But as women we know the limits the world often tries to place on us in general… the whole list of "you should" do this, "you should" be that etc… expectations of women being demure and walking around with a smile pasted on their faces merely for the enjoyment of men's ogling eyes. Expectations that when I had a man tell me once "You would be so pretty if you smiled!" I retorted "You'd be so smart if you'd shut up!" I let my own ugly honesty hang out in that moment and even though it wasn't pretty, and I'd let my impulsive tongue loose (!)  there was truth to it… as women we aren't put on this earth to caress men's lustful eyeballs with our outer beauty.

It seemed there was always someone ready to tell you what to do… in the male sense… and how to be… once when I was in my twenties I worked for a chiropractor. I didn't believe in it. I simply needed a job.  I have since learned that staying true to yourself, actually believing in what you do is kind of important. But this chiropractor believed I needed my back adjusted. And no matter how many times I told him no he continued, he pushed, he wouldn't let up. Finally one day I snapped, told him exactly how unprofessional he was, called him an a**, grabbed my purse and walked out… him with his mouth gaping open to the floor and about a dozen seventy plus seniors sitting in the waiting room witnessing the entire scene play out with their mouths hanging open as well. I received a screaming language laced voicemail from him later for the lurch I'd put him in… as there was no one to answer the phone and check in patients all afternoon… yet no apology for the way he had behaved… in his eyes his behavior was irrelevant. I don't want my daughter to be at the mercy of any man who believes she needs to be pretty for him… that believes he can harass her, that her needs are less important than his, that she needs to hold back when she needs to speak up, that she has to do what is considered the "norm" in society's eyes and have two kids, a hubby and the picket fence, as there are so many more possibilities out there not just for her but for all girls.

What I want for my daughter is not feeling like she has to have a man if she so chooses not to. I want her to realize that although love is essential in life a spouse isn't. I want her to know that she can order up any kind of life she so chooses just like a pizza… she can make it custom to her liking and no one else's. Is that selfish? It could certainly be argued so. But I didn't have her so she could produce a life to my liking and give me grand babies. I gave her the gift of life so she could create one to her liking one day. If there is any gift I give her I want it to be the knowledge she always has choices… so far she's making pretty good ones and although that may not always be the case… I'm proud of her. She prays, she loves Jesus with all her heart, she's kind and thoughtful and she's beginning to be assertive… she has a way to go… sometimes it doesn't happen when it should, sometimes it's right on point and other times it comes out snarky with a sting … there is undeniably a difference between being assertive and having a loose and reckless tongue as this has been my own battle of plain old rebellion mixed with a case of ADHD impulsivity… but she will get there… bit by bit and in that bit by bit is God… with His guidance, His teaching, His lessons…  namely His conviction and grace…

Maybe I don't just want her to know she can make choices… but that she can make good ones… I've made so many choices I regret… that I wish I had a re-do on… we all have something… I don't believe in that "denial-filled have no regrets" philosophy… I believe our regrets tell much about us… they show the point of where we've been and where we are now… and in between is a dusty road filled with growth and change albeit painful as heck… there in regret is me in a foggy cloud, lying on a bed with wheels covered under a white sheet and hearing the murmur of another girl behind the curtain beside me say "This is my fifth abortion…" and thinking to myself instantaneously how horrible she was… how I was better than her… even in my gross state of ugly wretched sin… and yet then feeling numbly convicted because I had screwed up too… I had chosen death over life and I would spend forever regretting that choice… during that trek on a dusty road doubting if God ever really forgave me… how many times can you ask for forgiveness? And what is worse is wanting forgiveness from your baby while not deserving it… and now I wonder if the girl behind the curtain regrets too… I have never forgotten her, a face I never saw… and I never will…

Like that girl I want my daughter to know that God may not love your choices but He loves you… He has the final say… the final verdict on our lives, He is who brings beauty from the bad choices we make… He is who makes our flesh whole… who brings vibrant color to where deathly gray hung. He is who we go to in our tears of bad choices, our weaknesses, our frailties and our sore spots.

So, yes, dear daughter and girls of the world… make good choices… will you have regrets? That's like asking if you'll ever have grey hair… you will. But cling to God in the good and bad… take one day at a time… order the life you want with God's blessing, do your thing, start a business, travel the world, run a marathon, write a novel, volunteer…

And if you find someone who you love and you make the choice to include them in the life you built with God by your side…

Consider him a beautiful bonus to an already very blessed life…

Illuminated by Christ's love shown for you on the cross.

~ Jennifer Gafford (2014)

To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, 

commenting & sharing!

Related Posts: 

Dear Friend: A Letter Of Love To You

Bravery: Standing Strong & Exposing Our Shackles

Depression: It Affects Us All

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Marriage: Give More. Demand Less.

Give More. Demand Less. 

The idea of giving more and demanding less would help many marriages if both spouses were willing to put forth the concept into action. As humans no matter what or who we believe in… whether we call Jesus Christ our Savior or not we are at heart selfish individuals to our core. Like children we tend to be automatically ego-centric in nature, wondering when our next turn will be, when we will get our chance, when our time will come and what will benefit us. Ultimately we are comparable to the preschooler on the playground wanting our turn with the ball, the slide, our turn to speak over the others and ensuring we get our pocketful of praise… and throw in a gold sticker too, please.

We may look inward to ourselves at times but that doesn't bode well within our marriages. Looking outward instead will ensure we are looking to God for guidance and loving Him… which then affects how we love our spouse. Selfishness is the root of all marital discontentment and discord. It's putting ourselves on a pedestal instead of stepping down and looking upward to God and asking Him what we can do to give, to serve our loved one.

When we demand we begin to nag, harangue, expect and then follow with some form of consequence if those demands are not met by our spouse. This is when silence, yelling, stonewalling, distance, even tit for tat and walls built including resentment begin taking root between a couple.

How can we demand less of our spouse?

We can demand less by asking ourselves this question…

What can I do to make this issue better? 

If one person (or both) is stubbornly determined to stay in their corner and not budge from their perspective or stance it may be time for the other spouse to step up, (someone needs to) to take the relationship reins and guide it to a better place. If you were in a boat with your spouse and you lost an oar you wouldn't just shrug your shoulders and declare "Oh, well!" and then pitch the other oar in the water and sit uselessly. That would be insane. You'd also realize it was childishly stupid to argue over who had to steer with the last oar. You'd instead perhaps come to realize that your spouse may not have the ability to pick up their oar and keep going… like in a frozen immobile state they are stuck… someone has to be the strong one, grab the other oar and get you both moving in a better direction. What can you do to make the issue better? Pick up your oar and get moving… take some initiative… it's either keep moving toward something beautiful like a setting sun in the distance together or move toward a dry desolate land where attorneys and judges lie in wait for you to throw up your arms in defeat and sign the divorce papers.

Obviously not all marriages can benefit from the idea of giving more, demanding less… especially in cases of abuse or even in some cases of infidelity where change is not desired by the one who cheated… the general concept of giving more and demanding less is most helpful in marriages where infidelity, abuse and addictions are absent. But for couples arguing over lesser issues like housework management, child rearing, balancing work and family… in the attempt to prevent these workable issues becoming larger than life looming battles… couples can be proactive in heading them off earlier rather than later.

The next time we begin to slide into a self-pity pile of "Me, Me, Me… What about me?" thinking we can take pause and realize this isn't a reflection of Christ… this is a reflection of self and ego. We can choose to stop holding demands of our spouse and instead ask ourselves: What can I give them?

© ~ 2014 

To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, 

commenting and sharing! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wanting The Dark Clouds To Part: Waiting On God

image owned by gps grace power strength 

November 2014 

names have been omitted in this post 


The weather had turned cold… frigid cold… fall had literally been just a blip of like four or five days and then it was gone. Now the temps waffled between the thirties and fifties, the sun had disappeared somewhere behind the dark clouds and no matter how much we wanted it to reappear thus far it remained in hiding. I navigated the busy Saturday morning traffic… en-route to the bank to withdraw some money for groceries and weekend fun with my daughter. But as I turned on my blinker to make the right turn into the bank parking lot sudden dread filled within… something wasn't right… intuition told me that the bank was closed by the empty parking lot. I peered up at the signs over the bank drive thru and saw that where they typically were lit in green with the word "open" today they were lit in red with the word "closed".

Great…. I thought to myself… that is just great… I took a deep breath inward and determined they must be closed for some reason… I had always been able to access the bank on Saturdays. Okay… what to do now? My mind scrambled like a mouse in a cage. I slowly pulled out of the lot and eased back onto the street to head back the way I'd come.

"Why are we going this way, Mommy? I thought we were going to the bank." My daughter's voice asked from behind me. I glanced at her in the rearview mirror… sitting in the backseat she was looking out the window in puzzlement. Her sweatshirt said "love" across it and she wore soft turquoise gloves… her jacket had been tossed on the seat beside her.

"We are… "I told her. "It's okay…" I added, but as soon as I said those two words I realized they were as much for my own benefit as for her.

I sighed, "The bank for whatever reason is closed today. So we are going to have to go to another bank to get money… okay?" I explained to her "No big deal… " I trailed off trying to sound bright and upbeat, mentally noting that my credit card was nearly maxed out on essentials and needed a payment. As I sailed along the route past the high-end shops twinkling with Christmas decor and restaurants… a life that was no longer mine… I didn't miss the materialism by any means but I missed the fewer problems for sure… I didn't miss my ex… as many of my current problems could be fixed but our marriage was never one of them. And it was then I heard a ding! I glanced at my dash and saw the SUV needed gas. Ugh! Seriously? Did it ever stop? Huge sigh. I already knew I had a ten dollar bill in my purse and a one. I always knew what I had these days. I counted them obsessively. I quickly switched lanes making a left at the green light then pulled into the gas station. "We have to feed this high maintenance animal first." I told my daughter with a grimace as I slowly glided in next to an available pump. I was so ready to ditch this gas guzzler and trade it in for a car. The sky overhead was a bank of dark clouds… it looked like it was going to pour any minute and frankly, my mood was beginning to match it… at least on the inside. I had been sending out resumes as I needed more income, I had been searching for a new smaller home since the last one I had wanted to purchase slipped through my fingers… I wanted to move and I desperately needed more money coming in as my child support had been cut… I was beginning to get just a little irritated… and that was putting it nicely… as for whatever reason despite my efforts nothing seemed to be falling into place…

I was tired of waiting and beginning to question if God was even hearing my prayers. I was beginning to feel like an insolent child that hadn't gotten her way (and yet reality was I was in the hole) and was precariously close to stomping her foot and telling God off. If this was chiseling I'd had enough… I was ready to stand in the warm beautiful sun and have everything in order… because this ongoing time period… this "difficult time", this "growing", this "suffering", this "just plain old you-know-what" or whatever it was (?!) had gone on long enough in my opinion.

I could wait patiently for awhile… even quite some time… I could wait on God, on His timing… I mean, I don't mind waiting but there always comes a point where we begin to break, look above and ask "Hey?! Remember me?! Down here? I need some help! Are you there???" 

I believe we all have problems with waiting
 at some point no matter how patient we are.

Waiting can be undeniably long and painful. It can make us go stir crazy with the "what if's" wondering in moments of doubt if it will all turn out alright, even if we do cling to God's promises of good for us. Even if we know when in a cool and rational thinking that He is there for us… meeting up with us and going with us to the next place in our journey… even if we know this like the truth that birds fly we may come to a point where we waffle… where we have expectations that aren't filled on our time table, where we let worry come in and override faith, where we start to question if He is really hearing us and sees the direness of our situation at hand.

So do we let God encourage us? 
Or do we push Him away out of fear/anger? 

I believe we need to be honest with Him. 

We don't have to put on a face of happy just for His benefit… He already knows exactly what were feeling and thinking… it's no shock to Him. The truth is… He already knows were beginning to question, He already knows our fears, He already knows we are becoming close to what one would define as exasperation, maybe even panic.

What we can do is be totally honest with Him. We can just put it out there… in our prayers and talk with Him we can just admit it… we can tell Him we are becoming frustrated, that we are troubled… that we are struggling… just like in the book of Psalms where there are plenty of folks who pour out their hearts we can do the same… we can open up about our trials to Him… we can even admit our anger… remember, anger is not a sinful feeling… anger can be totally justified… it only becomes sin if acted out.

In our talks with God we can admit that yes, we know He always has a reason in His timing and or delays… relay to Him that yes, you know He is working on your behalf and bringing together the various connections you need… and that you know sometimes that takes time… honestly vent any frustrations you have and yet tell Him how thankful you are… think of all the wonderful blessings you do have… the aspects that are sailing smoothly and the friends, family, and wonderful things you are so blessed to have in your life… find that sweet spot of contentment with the Lord… where no matter what your circumstances you are living… whether it be scarce or humble means, comfortable or excess… whether the skies are dark and cloudy or the sun is out… God wants you to enjoy your life no matter what you're going through… so that when your circumstances improve and your journey takes you to the next (better) destination your inner happiness will be rooted in Him and not the world.

© ~2014 

To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, 

commenting and sharing! 

Related Posts:

Life: It's An Obstacle Course

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

Behind Closed Doors: Who Are You? 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

You Are Not Your Parents Choices - 5 Tips For All Parents

fall 2014 
names have been omitted in this post 


"Daddy and I went to Target the other day…" my daughter told me. She was sitting on her tiny flowered stool I'd bought her at Homegoods. Sitting at the coffee table in the den she was busy coloring a picture with crayon's on white printer paper.

I sat across from her in a chair… the television's volume low in the background… the weather segment was on… I glanced over at her, setting aside my glass of ice water on a coaster and closed a box of cheese crackers.

"Yeah? That's good." I stated.

"Yeah… she said as she intently studied her artistic masterpiece she was working on… "He said to me… "I hope we don't see Mommy in here… because she hates me"."

"He said that to you?" Inside I was incredulous but kept my tone even and calm despite the shock within.

I was thinking to myself how it was so twisted that he was speaking for me and how I supposedly felt… painting himself again as the victim, assuming zero responsibility for his poor behavior and of all things putting all of it upon our eight year old daughter's shoulders… when in reality he needed to keep his mouth quiet. This was a time when his words fell into the category of "what not to say to your kids."

"Yep!" she quipped back and paused, carefully selecting the next crayon she wanted from the box… magenta was selected next and she used it to color the dresses she'd drawn on her stick figures.

"Hmmm… that is a pretty strong word to use… hate… I believe we can not like how someone acts, we can hate their behavior and it makes us so mad we feel like we hate them, especially at first, but after some time goes by we feel better." I sat in thought for a few and finally asked her "So, how did you feel about that? What he said?" I asked her, watching her face intently.

She looked up at me and spoke "It made me feel mad…"

"Yeah… well… did you tell him how you felt?" I ventured… wondering, hoping she felt that she could share her feelings with him…. no matter how he felt about them.

"Oh, no… " she shook her blonde head now looking back down at her picture in progress… her hair partially hiding her face from me.

"Why not, sweet pea?" I asked her gently.

"Because… I can't do that… tell him how I feel. He would get mad." she admitted with her hair still hiding her little face… it was easier for her to share her hurt heart hidden behind a curtain of beachy waves… and as I heard her words my heart ached for her… she was shrinking out of fear… out of possibly yet predictably being scolded by him for speaking her truthful observations. And that… that was just poo through and through. She then paused coloring and looked up at me… right in the eyes and vehemently spoke "But inside… inside my head I was thinking… well, you shouldn't have cheated and you should act nicer too."

Stunned, I searched for words… but couldn't find any… she continued coloring and in the background the weather switched to sports so I rose to turn it off. Then I leaned down and gave her a big bear hug… "I'm glad you felt you could tell me about this. I hope you can always talk to me about anything. I love you." I told her.


In 2001 Judge Michael Haas wrote a letter to divorced parents in reference to their children that has since made it's path all over social media… maybe you have read it.

By Judge Michael Haas - 2001

“Your children have come into this world because of the two of you. Perhaps you two made lousy choices as to whom you decided to be the other parent. If so, that is your problem and your fault.

No matter what you think of the other party—or what your family thinks of the other party—these children are one-half of each of you. Remember that, because every time you tell your child what an “idiot” his father is, or what a “fool” his mother is, or how bad the absent parent is, or what terrible things that person has done, you are telling the child half of him is bad.

That is an unforgivable thing to do to a child. That is not love. That is possession. If you do that to your children, you will destroy them as surely as if you had cut them into pieces, because that is what you are doing to their emotions.

I sincerely hope that you do not do that to your children. Think more about your children and less about yourselves, and make yours a selfless kind of love, not foolish or selfish, or your children will suffer.”


When Dysfunction Is Known By The Children…. 
Growing up I saw how my father treated my mother, really all of us… and it deeply, profoundly affected me. He was of the belief that by opening her car door for her he was a good husband. But that naturally didn't make up for all the ranting, the stomping through the house, the cussing, the screaming, taking the Lord's name in vain, the slamming of doors, the mug throwing, the iron clad control, the tires squealing out of the driveway… him defending his parents and determinedly not backing down off that mountaintop… work always taking first priority…. the house falling into ruins due to neglect and lack of care despite money being readily available to fund art collections or hoarding as more aptly named… it was a crazy train of dysfunctional abuse that needed to come to a screeching halt… and I was keenly aware of it all.

Despite Judge Haas's letter of obvious good intentions but what I see as a partially erroneous view… not once during my childhood did I see myself as "bad" based on my father's behavior. I didn't look at him and feel self-shame for his behavior. His behavior was his own, as mine was my own… I knew we were separate and I certainly didn't take on any responsibility for his actions whether they were good or bad.

You Are Not Your Parents….
Perhaps some children go through a dysfunctional childhood and do internalize their parents actions… maybe they did see themselves as flawed due to dad's alcoholism or mom's infidelities… perhaps they felt deep shame within based on their parents flawed choices that negatively affected their entire family unit… and if that is true… my heart goes out to you… because it is so incredibly important for you to know if no one has ever told you before now that you are not your parents… you are not their poor choices, their regrets, their dreams, their failures nor even their triumphs… you are you and no one else.

So, today… I give you encouragement… to cling to… to remember that just because maybe your dad cheated, or your mom slept with her boss or your parents drank… just because they fought like crazy and their arguments left you hiding in a closet scared… just because they divorced and left behind a zillion bad memories in their wake doesn't make you a bad person… it's no reflection on you… it's not your fault… yes, they shouldn't have cheated… it could be argued they shouldn't have acted so poorly… maybe they could have been nicer… and maybe on some days they were nicer… maybe your birthday and Christmas were the only "good" days from your childhood you can recall, when everyone kept it together for the sake of the holiday… or maybe those ended poorly too…

Regardless… you don't have to subscribe to the notion that their choices define you… that's so far from the truth… the truth is… you are loved by God… you are His… you had His stamp of love from day one… even before you were born…

Your parents may have made lousy choices but you weren't one.

You are wonderfully made and His. 

©  ~ 2014 

5 Tips For Married & Divorced Parents: 

1. Your children are individuals. They are not possessions to be awarded, won, etc. The parent who treats them as tangible items comparable to being won in an auction are merely playing a game of manipulation and parental alienation.

2. Don't tell your children that your spouse/ex hates you. More than likely your ex hates your behavior. Likely they would love nothing more than for you to stop engaging in manipulative ploys to gain allegiance with the children and instead spend that same amount of time and energy into merely loving them.

3. Your children have a right to not like your choices. There is not a single handbook that states that they are in the wrong if they don't agree with what you've done. We can teach our children to respect their elders and authority but they don't have to like their behavior and as they grow older they can learn they have the right to boundaries with anyone they believe to be toxic.

4. You can think that your spouse/ex is an "idiot" all you want… but you can't verbalize it or intimate it.

5. If you don't know what to say to your child the best default "go to" response is always: "I'm glad you felt you could share that with me. I hope you can always tell me anything. I love you." Because at the end of the day part of parenting is teaching our children that all feelings are okay… (albeit, actions made from those feelings may be questionable as we know)… but when they feel something they should also feel like they can go to us… and when they do, that is a parent-child victory.

To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, 

commenting & sharing! 

Related Posts:

Divorce: 6 Things To Never Tell Your Children 

Divorce & Kids: Drafting The Final Decree

Divorce & Children: 50/50 Custody 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Husbands & Wives: You Have 2 Jobs

winter 2012

names have been omitted in this post  


My soon to be ex husband and I sat in the tiny office of the psychiatrist. The office with it's minimally decorated cream walls, modern black desk and three plastic chairs flanking one wall… the three of us sat as the psychiatrist listened to our valid concerns over our sons most recent meltdown or "fit" as we often called them. He would nod as we gave further explanation, acknowledging he was hearing what we were saying… his fingers typed rapidly on his keyboard as he took notes. He listened carefully and then nodded... turning to our son he spoke, "Okay… let's go over this again. When you began coming here… we had a talk. Right?" He asked our son looking to him for agreement.

Our son nodded.

"And what was it we discussed? What was it that we agreed were your two jobs?" He asked him, leaning forward in his black swivel desk chair.

"My two jobs are go to school and listen to my parents." our son told him quietly with his hands in his lap.

"That is correct. You have two jobs. Go to school and listen to your parents. So if you're having fits then that means you're not listening to mom and dad. Correct?" He confirmed giving him a long look.

"Yes." our son admitted.

"Okay… so let's not lose track of what exactly you're supposed to be doing. You need to stick to your two jobs and nothing else. Alright?"

"Yes sir." our son told him.



We all have them. It seems so simple of a concept but listening to the psychiatrist break down everything our son needed to do under the heading of two very simple jobs made it even easier to see where our sons focus needed to be versus where not.

It's really not much different for us, is it?

As women we are often expected to wear many hats… but even men who have jobs that are more demanding than others can relate… we can all undoubtedly get swept away with all the things we need to do… whether it's on a daily basis or just life in general… and sometimes we lose touch with what our job truly is.

When we get married we gain two jobs

And not just any two jobs. But the two most important jobs we will ever have in this lifetime. Today, if you're married I'm writing to gently remind you of those two jobs… because we can tend to forget… I know I did when I was married. We can undoubtedly forget that when we say "I do" there is then much that we choose to "don't" do. For Christian couples who are dedicated to putting God and their spouses first it's essential to review what those two jobs really look like.

When we marry we vow to honor and love our spouse… before God… and we know that not one person in the union is to be the dominant one… instead that the two become one before God and are there to serve the Almighty King. It takes three to have a successful marriage and putting God first at the head of the relationship sets the very foundation for it to thrive. When we realize that our marriage is not truly ours to mess with… it's not ours to neglect, it's not ours to shun or turn our backs on or choose not to serve in… that it's actually God's union, it's in His jurisdiction and we are there to follow what He deems loving and life producing… we will be much better off and our marriage will reflect it.

Today I would ask you what you've done for your spouse? 

Today I would even go so far as to ask if you're divorced... 
What could you have done for your spouse that you didn't?

It's something to think on

If you're married I'd ask you today what you could do that would be choosing selfless over self? What could you choose to do that would be putting God first and not you? What could you do that would tell your spouse "I thought of you" without any strings attached?

And then go do it.

We have two jobs when were married: 

1. Put God first
2. Love our spouse

When we love God first it becomes easier to love our spouse and look out for them… it gets us past our egos, past our own louder than life needs and wants that can threaten to overtake anything our spouse perhaps desires.

So today take a little time… to think of how you could do a better job at your two jobs.

I wrote this post aimed at both sexes because it is something that applies to everyone, not just women, not just men. At the end of the day no matter how good, bad or toxic a marriage is… even post divorce we can look at patterns in our own past behavior and see where we could do better if we ever marry again. Tomorrow would have been my fifteen year wedding anniversary and with that each year reflection is good for anyone who has divorced. In my own marriage I could have done a better job at my two jobs:

1. I could have prayed over my marriage more
2. I could have sought more guidance from God in the day to day annoyances
3. I could have bought him those tickets to the game or race he would have loved as a surprise
4. I could have taken better care of myself (rest) and worried less about household chores
5. I could have just gone with him to see the guy movies (Marvel) he loved and watched them because at the end of the day it made him happy

Granted, these are just a few… obviously all of us would have many more… but it's something to think about… when we say "I do" we obviously aren't also agreeing to neglecting God, to not praying over the little things, to choosing ourselves over our partner, to letting the frictions between us and our spouse grow or to allowing demands from work, kids and in-laws come between us. Yet that is often what happens in marriage because we lose focus on what we're supposed to be doing. Instead, are we saying "I do" to our spouse each and every day?… our job right after living for Him is to love him/her.

So how would you grade the job you're doing?

Would you give yourself an A? B?
Maybe a shaky C?

There is always room for improvement… maybe it's time to go ask Him what you can do to love the one you said "I do" to better.

God will be so glad you did.

© ~ 2014 




To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, 

commenting & sharing! 

Related Posts: 

Marriage: The 10 Do's & Don'ts 

Dear Soon-To-Be-Divorced

A Wife's Expectation Of Her Husband: 
Honey vs Vinegar