Thursday, December 22, 2011

We (I) need a little Christmas...

Matthew 1:23 (Amplified Bible)
Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel--which, when translated, means, God with us.

I'm going to admit something horrible.  Here we are, three days before Christmas and I am not in the Christmas spirit. No matter what I do, I can't catch that feeling.  I grew up in New York City and, for all the bad things NYC offers, it is the best place in the world to be at Christmastime.  Lights are everywhere.  People are kind of cheery (kind of cheery is saying a lot for NYers). It's just the most magical place to be at this time of year.  Growing up, all of my family was there.  Christmas was always loud, with firecode breaking amounts of people stuffed into my grandmother's tiny railroad apartment in Queens.  We had lots of laughter, yelling over eachother and kids running wild.  That's the feeling I'm chasing.

I've tried to catch the feeling. My Pandora has had a Christmas station on all month. I put up our tree. I decorated our house. I went Christmas shopping. I attended two kiddie Christmas parties.  I went to see lights at the local speedway (yes, I'm offically a southerner...and they were lame).  My church has been playing Christmas carols all month. I watched my kids perform "Away in a manger".  I even watched It's a Wonderful Life.  Nada. 

Just this morning I was talking to my cousin about my Scrooge-ish feelings.  I just want Christmas and New Years to be over.  As excited as I am to see my kids open their gifts on Christmas morning, I'm dreading that lonely feeling because (you guessed it) this is not the way I planned it.  I always dreamed of having a "normal" family.  I dreamed of plotting and planning and hiding Christmas gifts with a husband. I dreamed of watching pajama-clad cuties opening their gifts, with both of their parents watching in enjoyment. That's just not the way it turned out.  In fact, as a parent, I've had more Christmases as a single parent than as a married one.

As I was reflecting on my inability to "feel" Christmasy (is that a word?), I started to think about the real reason for Christmas.  I know it sounds cliché, but when you really think about it, I'm sure Mary was feeling anything but Christmasy on the night she gave birth to the King of kings.  I've given birth and my first child came four days before Christmas.  While each contraction seemingly ripped a hole through my abdomen, I guarantee you I had no Christmas cheer.  Receiving my epidural was about the closest I came to merry that night.  We all know Mary had no pain medications.  She had no bed in which to lay.  She had no fancy equipment to monitor the baby's heartbeat, no one to tell her it wouldn't be much longer.  She lay in a odorific stable surrounded by farm animals.  She was giving birth to the Savior.  It sounds glorious, until you remember he was going to be the ultimate sacrifice just a short time from then.

I looked up a couple of verses relating to Christmas (God bless those YouVersion the app if you don't have it!) and came upon the one up top.  This line is the one that got me: "...and they shall call His name Emmanuel--which, when translated, means, God with us".   Do you think that's a coincidence?  Surely God could've chosen a name that meant "Savior", "blameless", "sacrificial lamb" or a thousand other things He was and is.  I don't believe there are coincidences with God though.  That name reminds us, thousands of years later, He is with us.  Always.  In the good times and the bad.  When life has somehow become exactly what we wanted or when it falls into crumbles around us while we watch helplessly.  His presence is the one thing we can rely on.  That alone should bring us comfort and joy. 

I'm still not really "feeling" that feeling.  Yet, like Mary, I want to give birth to hope.  Obviously, bearing the son of God can't be matched but you and I can birth the things which the Christ child offered: joy, peace, hope, love.  Even if it's painful.  If you are a single mom/divorcee, or walking through any other kind of difficulties in life, Christmas can be painful.  Be that as it may, my kids are not going to miss out on memories and traditions because life is a little non-traditional right now.  They are not going to see me sulking the day away, dismissing everything that the birth of Jesus offers.  It still may hurt, but I know I am birthing those things into my life and the lives of my children, and that's a better gift than I could every buy them.     There's a Christmas song we sang at church and one line says, "Joy, unspeakable joy...overflowing well, no tongue can tell. Joy, unspeakable joy, rises in my soul, never lets me go."  He truly is joy and when something overwhelms your soul, you can't help but experience it on the outside.  This season, I celebrate the unspeakable joy he offers, in good times and bad.

Okay, I'm actually feeling a little more Christmasy now!  Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and hopeful new year to you!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sharing is caring

I'm reading a book titled One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  It is one of the best books I have ever read (I only recommend books that I love) and is changing my life! Oh, and yes, there's an app for that (One Thousand Gifts by Zondervan, available in the App Store).  Anyhow, the book is really helping me to deal with emotions I've been stuffing down for years! Yes, I'm a stuffer.

I've been kind of quiet on the blog, on facebook and twitterland because I've been so into the words of the book, and blown away by what God is saying through the author!  I could write a thousand blogs on it, but for now I am going to share one of her blogs.

I so identify with the feelings she expresses here.  Take a look and tell me if you can relate...

A Holy Experience:  When you wonder if you disappoint

Friday, December 9, 2011

There is ALWAYS hope...

Check out this video from  Angela Thomas, who authors the book I talk about here, discusses how there is still hope even when one is single parenting. Check out all the related videos too and let me know what you think in the comments below or on my Facebook page.

There’s Always Hope from Church Initiative on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Being Supermom

When you get a chance, check out this blog!  A friend posted it earlier this week and it's probably why all this "supermom" stuff was on my mind.   It speaks to every mom, single or not. 

The other night, the midget wrestlers came to dinner dressed in their superhero costumes.  I joked on twitter that if my kids were Spiderman and Supergirl, that must make me Supermom.  I say "joked" because I know I am anyone other than Supermom or Superwoman.  And because I'm pretty much always joking around.

I admit it.  I'm not one of "those" moms who makes a homemade advent calendar that I sewed together with thread I found on clearance.  I don't make perfect little color coordinated chore charts.  I don't make my kids' birthday cakes from scratch.  I work.  I probably have unknown species of dust on my wood floors at any given time.  I shout at my kids' sometimes.  I forget snacks for their class.  I don't do 20 minutes of reading with them every single night.  I don't do coupon clipping (yet).  The idea of homeschooling makes me twitch.  J's scrapbook of his first year is only 3/4 finished.  He's about to be 6.  Don't even ASK about the second child.  Oh, and there is a lot more. Add that to the guilt of them growing up in a single parent household and it's obvious -- they've been cheated in this life with me as their mom.

Or have they?

Us women are so quick to beat ourselves up.  I, for some reason, have a hard time accepting compliments.   If you tell me I look pretty, I joke around about how I'm really not as pretty as it looks and I spent an ungodly amount of time doing my hair that morning.  If you tell me my outfit is nice, I start announcing where I got every piece and how much it cost (because it's always inexpensive). I even have friends who tell me "you look pretty and just say thank you before I hit you."  I don't know why I do that..but I do.   Have you diagnosed me yet? Good, bill me.  When people tell me I'm a good mother, in my head I think "ohhhh, but you don't live with me."

You see, this is never the way I envisioned my motherhood experience. I had visions of driving a minivan. My daughters would all go to ballet and my sons would all be in little league. I'd be a stay at home mom and drive them around wherever they needed to go.  We'd go on annual vacations to tropical locales.  I'd have time to volunteer.  On every holiday we'd make a perfect little craft and then I'd save it in my perfect little bin and store it in my perfectly organized garage.  My husband and I (yes, there'd be a husband) would have Christmas parties every year and I'd make 193 homemade dishes for said party.  We'd have movie nights where the whole family would pile up on the couch and stuff popcorn down our mouths.  My children would always be well-behaved. I wouldn't dare co-sleep.  We'd all wear matchy-matchy outfits for Easter.

Ah, life.  It didn't turn out quite the way I planned all.  In reality, my daughter loudly announces every occurrence of her flatulence, no matter where we are. They fight.  Every night, at some point before dawn, my four year old still climbs in my bed.  I don't drive a minivan (nor will I ever).  And, I don't have a husband.

I think every mother, single or not, struggles with guilt at some point or another.  Every time I travel for business, I feel like the worst mother in the world.  Every time they eat fast food, I can almost imagine their little insides rotting away.  When I microwave food, I think "how about if this is the time the radiation is a little too much?"  It bothers me that their dad gets to be "fun Chuck E. Cheese dad" and I have to be "for the 100th time, go upstairs, brush your teeth and get your pajamas on" mom.  (What the FLIP is so fun about Chuck E. Cheese anyway? It reeks of sweaty kid feet and old cheese...but I digress.)

Last night, I took my son to one of those snazzy self-serve yogurt joints.  He dug some change (and lint balls...and a candy wrapper) out of his little pockets and paid for $.65 of the bill.  I told him I was so proud of him for being such a gentleman. He hugged me and said "you are just the most super mommy there ever was and you're the most beautiful mommy in the world".  (Tell all your daughters to take a number.)  I thought to myself "I must be doing something right."

For a change, I thought of what I had done right recently.  I packed his lunch with a little note saying I loved him.  I let him buy a Rice Krispies treat.  I met him at school for lunch.  I bought 20 cans for his school food drive, so his class could win a pizza party (oh yea, and so that hungry people could eat).  All three of us had an impromptu dance party...I even did the Running Man (and no, it wasn't pretty).  I made Josiah mashed potatoes the way he likes them.  I bought E a(nother) fabulous outfit.  We did morning devotions.  I prayed for them before they walked into school. We prayed before they went to bed. I read them a Christmas story.  I listened to my daughter's Christmas wish list for the 104th time.  We made silly (ugly) faces and took pictures of ourselves.

I don't say all that to brag because believe me -- for every thing I've done right, I've done about 100 things wrong (see, I can't even accept my own compliments!).  I only say it to encourage you to think of the things you are doing right.  Push back concerns of everything you can't offer your children, and celebrate what you can.

What makes you supermom (or superdad) in the eyes of your children?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Follow me...

I'm officially a loser. I am asking you to follow me.  No shame in my game, though!  It's a great way to stay in touch in between posts, while also providing you a great way to post feedback!  Go on now...follow me.  Gracias :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Enjoying the ride

"Snowstorm" in Charlotte
I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.  - Philippians 4:11-13


Ever been lost?  My sister, Amy, gets lost everywhere she goes.  And by everywhere, I mean everywhere.  When we were younger, she never had to rely upon any sense of direction because I was older and where I led, she followed.  Actually, she hopped incessantly...but that's a whole 'notha blog.  When she started college, she was a mess. She'd get lost on the same subways we had rode since middle school.  She couldn't understand how the whole uptown/downtown thing worked and assumed if a train said it was going to Queens, it must be the right one.  One year, NYC experienced a citywide blackout. I instructed her she needed to walk home across the 59th Street bridge. Her response?  "WHERE IS THAT?!" (And yes, it was on 59th Street.)

Luckily, I rarely get lost. I've also never really had a hard time feeling like I "fit in."  I've had moments of awkwardness, sure.  However, until all the infidelity was discovered, leading to the separation and divorce, I never felt "lost".

Let me rewind to a Saturday night a few months back.  A friend had invited me over for a girls' night at her house, but I couldn't go because I had no one to watch my kids.  I stopped by to drop off something I had bought for the party and as I left, I felt that familiar feeling wash over me again.  It was the feeling of being lost in between two worlds, seemingly having no place to belong. Yes, I have a family.  I'm incredibly lucky to have two children I'm raising, experiencing both the glamorous and the not-so-glamorous moments in parenting.  We do the family things; food shopping, cartoons, baths, meals, tantrums, hugs, kisses etc. Although they drive me insane sometimes, I am unbelievably privileged to be their mom.  However, I'm also a single woman.  Here in suburgatory, single parents aren't found too often.  It's sometimes awkward going to family and school functions, being the only single parent there.   Almost every single mom (and maybe single dads too) I know identifies with this feeling of being caught in between two worlds.  It's easy to feel forgotten. Life as you planned it is passing you by and there is nothing you can do about it.  

On that Saturday night, I ended up taking the kids out and had a great time just being with them.  A outdoor band was playing and my son shook his bony little butt like nobody's business. (I don't know where he gets it, I swear.)  I laughed, but I had no one to share the moment with and once again, that feeling returned.  I looked around at all the families walking around that night and couldn't help the "why me?".  This is never the way I pictured my life looking and it sure isn't the way I wanted it.

As soon as that thought passed in my mind though, I immediately regretted it.  I looked at my kids.  They were happy, healthy and exhibiting pure tomfoolery in public. Parenting them is tough sometimes but they also bring me joy like I have never known. I am healthy.  I have a great job.  I have wonderful friends.  I have a nice car.  I have a nice house.  I have a great family.  And on this night, I really could not ask for more.

I'm not lost. I've just detoured off the planned route.  However, I'm learning to enjoy the detour, because life is still happening here.  I don't want to miss out on this part of my life, and especially of my kids' lives, because I am so worried about getting back on track.  Even though there is sometimes rough terrain, I know that I am right where I'm supposed to be.

What have you learned on life's detours?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Redemption (and the book you NEED to read)

I know it's been, um, forever since my last post!  Life is crazy and full of school, report cards, birthday parties, book fairs, school lunches and a very active social life...and that's just my kids. As for me, you can find me on any given Friday night in front of an episode of Dateline.  Lucky me.  Anyway,  I promise I have a few coming down the pike very soon!  

Now, if you are a single mom and have a pulse, you NEED to read this book:  My Single Mom Life by Angela Thomas.  Buy It's $6.00 new on'll live (maybe) if you give up two cups of Starbucks to buy this book.

Ok, done?  Great.

So, when my ex-husband first left and I was in an unbelievably confused and stressful emotional state, my friend, who had been through a similar situation, recommended this book (big shout out to my fellow Queens girl, Rachel!).  It sounds a little crazy now, but when it first happened I was so worried about my kids.  Although I still worry about them, my worries are a little more rational now.  Back then, all I could do was picture them as adults on an episode of Intervention, sticking a needle in their arm and explaining, through high-induced drooping eyelids, that this all started when their parents divorced.  I've since learned that, although divorce is never what you want for your children, God is bigger than anything this world will throw their way! They are safe in His arms.  

Okay, Im going off on a tangent here...bear with me! As I was saying, I love this book so much that I have read and reread it numerous times.  Sometimes I read the entire book, sometimes just chapters at a time.  Today I picked it up and although  I had highlighted this portion before, it really blew me away today.  I believe it's because I am now 2 1/2 years away from what was probably the worst day of my life.  I am looking at it from this perspective now, instead of being inside it. I know I've made it out of things I'd never thought I'd make it through.  So, hold on to your hat and read this:

Making a trade (page 26)

Redemption is when you bring something of little value or which has become a liability, and an exchange is made for something better. You trade in wounds and consequences for astounding, lovely blessings, in spite of the negative, or maybe because of it. In the fullness of redemption, brokenness is mended by love. Aimless wandering becomes satisfied, visionary living. Lies are traded for truth. Mourning becomes dancing. A million broken pieces are rearranged into a vibrant, intact, beyond-your-wildest-dreams journey.

That kind of redeeming trade has happened for me.  And the exchange just keeps on going.  The One who is making the trade, the Redeemer, is the One I call Perfect Love, God, the only One who can turn broken into beautiful.  Apart from his faithfulness to me, there would never have been redemption.  I am convinced that His mercy is the means by which my life began again.  Without His precious love, I'm sure I'd be in an unmarked cave somewhere, probably all moldy by now and nearly blind from squinting in the dark.  Instead, I am incredibly grateful that God wouldn't let that happen, even to a woman like me.  And what He has done for me, He is ready to do for you.

He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light  - Job 33:28

Good, right?! I told you.  Oh, by the way, you should really buy the book.

Reading through it, again and again, made me focus on the ways I have experienced redemption in the past two years.

  • I used to cry  Now, I don't! Speaking of, do you ever cry at those new Fisher-Price Christmas commercials?? No? Me neither.
  • I'm not constantly consumed by who, what, when, where and why.  When everything first happened, I was completely obsessed with finding out the truth.  I never found out too much.   These days, I have learned to be okay with the fact that I won't ever know everything.  And that's okay.  Actually, I don't think I WANT to know much more.  Each little piece of information tears out a piece of your heart, and I've learned the hard way that the knowledge isn't worth the price.
  • The peace I have now is something I felt was completely out of reach for me.  
  • I'm getting a little wiser.  Wisdom is something I've really been trying to pursue recently. I've been reading the book of Proverbs and making a conscious effort to KNOW wisdom.  Proverbs 2:10-11 says "For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.  Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you."  Homegirl, I don't know about you, but I want my soul to be pleasant and I want my little family to be protected and guarded by wisdom. As a single mom, you need LOTS of wisdom. I'm definitely not a expert on wisdom...I let my son bring a water gun into the bathtub the other night. NOT wise.  However, I'm pursuing it and I know God has redeemed my worry for His wisdom.  What a bargain! 
  • My kids have survived thus far...and are happy and healthy.
  • I have survived my kids.  
  • I have had numerous people approach me with difficulties they are experiencing in their marriage. I have been able to offer them words of advice and pass on a little bit of the hope I have acquired in the past few years.  I remember how a few friends were my LIFELINE back then, and I am happy to be someone else's.
I can think of a hundred more, but I don't want to bore you. I want to know from you now!  Look back on your life. In what ways have you been redeemed?  Even if you dont want to share in a public forum, I encourage you to write them down.  I promise you that you will be so encouraged!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mr. Right

Loneliness accepted becomes a gift leading one from a life dominated by tears to the discovery of one's true self and finally to the heart of longing and the love of God. 

"Don't worry, you'll find someone who will love and take care of you and those kids".  I've lost count of how many times I heard that statement, especially in the first few months following our separation.  It didn't make me mad.  I knew it was just people's way of trying to make me feel better.  I often just laughed it off thinking "do 'Mr.' and 'Right'" even belong in the same sentence?!  (Don't worry, I'm no longer a man hater).

I never understood how women jumped in and out of relationships, especially after ending marriages.    After being in this situation though, I understand it well.  Single parenting is a lonely job.  I think some are under the assumption that you have children, so you can't be lonely. The opposite is true, at least for me.  You are stuck in between two worlds; that of being a parent/ head of a family, and that of the single woman. Those two worlds have a difficult time coexisting, especially when (as is my case), one parent has full custody.

Don't get me wrong, there are MANY perks to being single!!  My children and I have traveled up and down the east coast countless times in the past two years, just because we can.  I can cook or I can not cook.  New shoes? Yes, please!  I control the remote control and I can blast my music at home, even if it is "chick" music.   I have learned so much about myself and have gotten to enjoy my own company.  There are days when I fully enjoy the single life, but then there are days when I'm over it.

There's nothing wrong with desiring a man in your life.  That's the way God created us! Though I've always considered myself pretty independent, woman are designed to want to be taken care of. It's VERY humbling for me to admit that I sometimes get sick of being alone, sick of driving us everywhere, sick of taking care of myself when I'm not well, sick of car maintenance, sick of handling my own money, sick of fixing things in the house, sick of not being taken out, sick of carrying sleeping children up the stairs, sick of breaking up midget fights...and the list goes on and on.  I can easily understand how it'd be much easier to just jump into a relationship and get all that temporarily resolved.  Temporary fixes are just that though, temporary.  And around here, my temporary fixes are usually never done right.

Just last week it was about 96 degrees outside.  I was sitting at Josiah's bus stop, hot.  Not hot looking, just hot.  Two days later, we woke up to 45 degrees and the daytime high wasn't much higher than that.  I broke out my boots and fall jacket, and enjoyed every sip of my hot cup of coffee...perfect on a chilly morning.  Facebook was full of status updates commenting on the changing season.  Everyone was seemingly over summer and ready for fall.  It made me think – without the scorching summer sun, we would never appreciate the cool winds of fall.  Without the dark winter days, we would never enjoy the spring's sunshine.  In my life, I am learning to appreciate and embrace whatever season I am in.  I value the days where I am happy and complete in my singleness.  Yet I also value the times where the pain of loneliness has been almost unbearable, because I have learned so much during those times. Walking through those valleys has taught me that it IS possible to be alone.  Somehow, I have survived without a man for over 2 1/2 years and I have lived to tell about it!  I wouldn't trade that time for the world.

Allow yourself to feel both the blessings and difficulties that singleness brings and you will never be desperate for a man to come "save" you.   Allow yourself to rely on God for the love that you need, because His love is perfect, fulfilling and stands the test of time.  Take time to figure out what you really want and need in a man, and what you really want and need to be for a man.

So, hold will be worth the wait.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Explaining the unexplainable

My "favorite" son

Proverbs 24:14
Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

My firstborn, Josiah, is the sweetest little guy.  He has such a soft heart and as a baby he'd often cry when my sister sang him lullabies.  Sometimes, when he laughs so hard that he cries, he often ends up actually's hilarious to watch.  Josiah was only 3 1/2 when his dad left, but he remembers him living here.  He doesn't remember much of the tension that was in the house at that time (or he doesn't mention it) but I know he felt it back then. 

After their dad left, I had no idea how to explain it to my children.  My daughter was only 18 months so I couldnt really tell her much, but I knew Josiah needed an age-appropriate explanation.  At the time, I just held him over with short answers and at times, changed the subject. I just didn't know what to say.  He was still seeing his dad regularly, but I knew one day I'd have to explain the situation in a little more detail.

One night when he was about 4, we were driving home and out of nowhere, Josiah burst into tears.  "I miss my daddy!"  Without knowing how to handle it, and without being able to comfort him while driving, I just kept saying "its okay, Josiah...its okay to miss daddy."  By the time we got home, he had already stopped crying but I knew his little heart was still aching.  For a second I considered putting on a cartoon, reading a book, playing a game; anything to take his mind off of it and to save me from having to explain the unexplainable.  However, I knew I had to confront the issue.  How do you explain divorce to a child? I could barely wrap my mind around the questions of "why?" so how was I to explain the unexplainable to a preschooler?

I went up to his room and sat him down. I quickly asked (begged) God for wisdom, hugged him and told him one thing:  "it's okay to be sad".  He looked at me as if to say "Really?!"

As moms (or dads), we want the best for our children.  Unfortunately, its impossible to go throughout this life and not experience pain.  The important lesson I'm trying to teach my children (and trying to learn myself) is to allow themselves to feel the pain and embrace the lessons they're going to learn from that time.  I feel bad for them often. I hate that they're hurting.  I hate not being able to protect them from that hurt. I hate that they don't get to experience a "normal" family (whatever that is these days).  I hate that they may one day experience the issues that having stepmom or stepdad may bring. I hate having to explain someone else's bad decisions to them.  I do know one thing, though...this will not define them.  I never want the term "divorce" to be a crutch to them throughout their lives. 

Yes, its unfair.  However, if handled wisely, hard times can often bring about stronger people.  Even if this never would have happened, difficult times would have still come knocking at their door at one time or another.  I hope that, through this situation, they will gain great wisdom.  I hope my son will learn to honor and treasure his future wife.  I hope my daughter learns to choose her mate wisely, and isn't led astray because she is looking for love in all the wrong places. I pray that they value marriage, even if they don't marry.  Most of all, I pray that they are confident in their future knowing God walks alongside of them, in the good times and the bad.

How do you deal with your child's hurt, whether divorce related or not? 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mourning the loss

Psalm 71:20-21
20 Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
   you will again bring me up.
21 You will increase my honor
   and comfort me once again.

It has rained at almost every funeral I've ever been to.  I was only seven years old at the time, but I can still remember the day of my mother's burial.  My mind can still picture being inside the black limousine, watching the rain fall in sheets outside the window.  There was a dark grey sky and a cold chill in the air.  Depressing, and rightfully so, because my mother was only 38 years old.  She was a wonderful, godly woman and loved by all those around her.  My sister and I were only five and seven.  It wasn't fair. No mother should miss out on raising her children and no child should miss out on having their mother around. 

The day my divorce was to be finalized, I woke up to another dark grey sky, the ground wet from rain.  The day was almost full of torrential downpours and powerful thunderstorms.  After an over ten day stretch of sweltering hot weather, I'm sure many people were happy to see the rain. I wasn't one of them.  I figured a little sunshine would've made the day more bearable.  I wasn't surprised by the rain though, since today was the day I was to face the burial of my marriage and all that came along with it; hopes, dreams, promises, lies, hurt, betrayal, etc.

The day I got the first legal papers, a few months prior, was harder than I thought.  Something about seeing my childrens' names on a legal document broke my heart.  "It wasn't supposed to be this way" I thought to myself.  On this day, however, I didn't have to go to court to sign anything.  I didn't have to face my ex-husband who, at one time, promised to love, honor and be faithful to me.  I didn't have to walk into a courthouse and watch a judge take two seconds to sign away almost eight years of my life; both happy times and sad times. I wasn't going to hear the truth about things that were and are kept secret.  I wasn't going to get any answers to the countless questions I had.

The only way I could describe my feelings that day would be to compare it what I think it would be like to have a terminally sick relative.  You know they are sick and you know their final breath is imminent, but its hard to wrap your mind around the actual threat.  Somewhere, deep inside, you hold out hope.  The day they actually die, there is considerable sadness but there is also some relief.  That's how I felt that day.  Over two years went by between the separation and divorce.  In a lot of ways, I knew that the marriage was beyond help and I already felt divorced in a lot of ways.  Still, the nonchalant email I received from my lawyer's paralegal sealed its fate:

"Dear Mrs. Xxxxx,

I just wanted to let you know that your divorce has been finalized and I have mailed a copy out to you.

Thanks and have a good weekend."

(To which my sarcastic little mind replied, "Oh, you too!")

That day, I had to make a decision in my heart to once again grieve the loss. This time it was final.  Like an actual death, there was some sadness and then there was a small sense of closure.  That chapter of my life was now over.  I could finally exhale.

Just because I have mourned and buried this part of my life doesn't mean I won't ever feel sadness again.  Just like I still cry for my mom sometimes, my kids and I will cry over this.  As sure as I know my future holds some sadness, I also know it holds good things!  Hard times and happy times are on the horizon for my kids and I, and we are not staying at the cemetery!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

God, I look to You

Just a little midweek encouragement for you...

I just heard this song the other day and I've been playing it every morning before the kids wake up, work starts and the madness sets in!  Its a great reminder that I don't really need to worry because I can look to the One who has all the answers.

Here are the words:

God I look to You
I won't be overwhelmed
Give me vision to see things like You do
God I look to You
You're where my help comes from
Give me wisdom, You know just what to do

I will love You Lord my strength
I will love you Lord my shield
I will love You Lord my rock
Forever all my days, I will love you God

Hallelujah our God reigns
Hallelujah our God reigns
Hallelujah our God reigns
Forever all my days Hallelujah

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You reap what you sow

Whose kid is that?
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. - Psalm 126:5

This picture always makes me laugh inside.  It was Thanksgiving day and all was right with the world, except that Ella left her other stuffed animal inside the house and I wouldn't let her go back in to retrieve it.  Mean mom, I know...but one incessantly barking stuffed animal with freakishly long lasting batteries is about as much as I can take!

I have often felt the way Ella looks in this picture.  I was never a person who cried easily, but now I'm one of those girls who cries at Disney movies and baby commercials. I do have things to cry about, some significant and some insignificant.  Crying when I hear my son talking to his friend about how his daddy doesn't live with us?  Significant.  Crying because I'm PMS'ing and can't find a cheeseburger joint when I really, really, really want a cheeseburger?  Insignificant. (I wish I was joking.)

The verse above was written in my journal and dated July 24, 2009...only six weeks after my husband had left.  I spent every day consistently on the verge of tears.  I was so concerned over how all of it was going to affect my children. I worried about their future, my health, what people thought, finances, etc.  On this day in particular, I was looking for hope past the tears.  I longed for the day when the happy moments outnumbered the sad ones.  I found this verse and wrote it in my journal, anticipating the day when the harvest of joy would be reaped.

I didn't really read all the words to this verse.  All my mind saw was "tears" and "joy".  At the time I thought in my mind "sad now, happy later". However, "sowing" involves labor.  Forgive me for knowing close to nada about sowing, but I was raised in New York City aka the concrete jungle...there are no farmers to be found.  I can, however, imagine that sowing seeds must be backbreaking work.  You have to do whatever is required to make sure the ground is fertile, then you have to bend over and get the seeds from whatever you hold them in and scatter them across the ground across miles of acreage.  Then you have to wait.  If you do it all correctly, you gather up the bountiful harvest you have worked for. 

I was listening to a sermon over the weekend where the guest speaker spoke from Mark 4, referring to the four types of sowers.  My pastor made the point that, if you do the math, 75% of those sowers won't bear fruit.  That got me thinking about this verse again and I saw it a little bit clearer.  A lot of people use the phrase "you reap what you sow" with a negative connotation.  However, I think there can be a very positive harvest, if you sow the right thing.    What am I sowing into my life through my tears?  Am I sowing disappointment? Discouragement?  Bitterness?  Failure?  Am I resigning myself to the idea that my kids are virtually screwed because they now come from a broken home?  Believe me, at one point or another I have done all of these and on occasion, still do. Sowing things like that will reap me nothing of value. Instead, I'm now making a conscious effort to sow hope, love, peace, laughter, happiness, faith, humor, gentleness, discipline and other virtues into my life, the lives of my children and those around me.  Anyone who is around me knows I am not 100% succeeding in this area yet, not even close.  I am making the effort though, and I can see joy now and on the horizon!


Crying is all right in its own way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do." - CS Lewis

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I am woman, hear me roar (or cry...whatever)

Now that's a superwoman!
Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG) - ...I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

"Moooooommmmmyyyyyyy, the toilet won't flush again!"  With a sigh of frustration, I made my way up the stairs and prepared for another plunging session.  First try, nothing.  Second try, nada. On the third try, the toilet finally cooperated.  I couldn't celebrate the victory, though. The tears were already welling up in my eyes and I began to once again murmur the lies I was beginning to believe..."I'm not made for this.  Men are supposed to unclog toilets.  I didn't sign up for this.  I don't want to be superwoman anymore."

I practically stomped back down the stairs and my blood began to boil thinking back to the reasons why I was in this situation.  "He needs to know what he's done...that'll teach him!" I thought foolishly.  I called my ex-husband at his job and began to unleash my anger on him.  I must've missed the memo on the whole "not keeping a record of wrongs" thing, because I had his listed in chronological order and reminded him of  The funny thing is that was when I was done, I felt worse. Now I was an angry, bitter, psycho non-superwoman with a punk toilet.

Situations like this have played out in my house countless times in the past two years.  This day in particular though, I was overwhelmingly overwhelmed.  Many single moms identify with that feeling.  I hate to admit it, but at times I do wish there was someone with me, someone to take care of those things, to take care of us.  And then there's that realization...wait, there IS someone. 
  • Isaiah 43:2 - When you pass through the waters, I will be with you...
  • Matthew 28:20 - And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age...
  • Joshua 1:5 - As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you...
His promise is that whoever you are, whatever you face, He is with you.   You may be walking through a very dark place in your marriage, He is with you.  You may be walking through the grief of infidelity or the horrors of separation or divorce.  He is with you.  You may be at the end of the rope with your children, overwhelmed and feeling like a failure.  Yet still, He is with you.

I can't always count on my household running smoothly (as if!) or a man being there to save the day.  I can, however, walk this unknown path laid out before me with full confidence in knowing that God walks with me every step of the way.

Update: July 29
Heard this on the radio last night and it reminded me so much of this post :) Enjoy!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words...

A mom and her midget wrestlers
...or so they say (whoever "they" is anyway).

What they didn't mention was just because a picture is worth a thousand words, doesn't mean those thousand words are worth anything.  Exhibit A: the picture at right. If you find it in your heart to get past the hideous glasses, what words come to your mind as you look at me?  Happy?  Fulfilled? Has it all? Perfectly beautiful little children?   (Oh wait, that's just me).

My sister posted this on Facebook a couple of years ago and I remember one of the comments reading "You look so happy!"  Yet, at the time this picture was taken, I was anything but happy.  I was still trying to get over my husband's first indiscretion, yet evidence of further indiscretions were starting to surface.  Sometimes, when I think back to that time, I can see this photo in my mind.  I know how sad I was on this day.  I know that almost every night after I crawled into bed, the floodgates of my heart opened and silently cried myself to sleep. The hopelessness of my situation was getting hard to bear.  The stress of hiding the truth from those I loved was eating away at my soul.

But this picture doesnt speak a thousand words about heartbreak or hopelessness or tears or broken dreams. So how about the pictures you see on a daily basis?  We're usually so fast to judge photos or be jealous of the seemingly perfect lives displayed in those photos.  Yet no one's life is perfect.  I saw this quote recently:   Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.  That's what I think when I see this picture. I was fighting a hard battle.  Even now, I am fighting hard battles.  And believe you me, I am NOT the only one fighting battles! Mine pale in comparison to others'.  That's the funny thing about life.  No matter who you are, there are hard times.  So make an effort to be kind today, even to those who don't "deserve" your kindness.  You don't know what battles they are facing.

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loves at all times...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lasting love

Isaiah 54
You were like an abandoned wife, devastated with grief,
   and God welcomed you back,
Like a woman married young
   and then left," says your God.

 7-8Your Redeemer God says:

   "I left you, but only for a moment.
   Now, with enormous compassion, I'm bringing you back.
In an outburst of anger I turned my back on you—
   but only for a moment.
It's with lasting love
   that I'm tenderly caring for you.


I'll never forget the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, the day I first realized I was a casualty of infidelity.  It was December 14, 2007. I dont know if I remember the date because it was my sister's birthday, or because the life I thought I created for myself was about to explode in my face.  I had noticed there was a difference in him, but I could chalk it up to lots of things. I had just given birth to my second child four weeks earlier, he had just started a new job, I was recovering from a c-section, we were still in culture shock after moving from our hometown of NYC to Charlotte, leaving most of our family back home. Still, I never saw it coming. I don't know if anyone ever does. 

I won't get into the details of what happened here because my intention isn't to bash him and his choices.  However, going by what little information I had at that time, I decided to stay with him.  I tried to get over it but never really could.  I sank into a pit of loneliness, confusion and insecurity. Most of my friends and family never even knew what was going on.  I put on quite a show. It hurts to look back at pictures of myself during that time.  I can see the broken heart behind the smile. 

I switched over to emotional survival mode and never checked out. I worked and took care of my 2 year old son and newborn daughter, becoming extremely protective over them, especially my new baby girl.  At that time he paid her very little positive attention, and mostly complained about her...she cried too much, pooped too much, woke up too much.  Of course, the day she had explosive diarrhea and shot it all over him was a vindication of sorts. "That's my girl!", I thought!  Looking back, he wasn't in his right mind.  You can't live two lives and live them normally.  He didn't hate her, he just didn't know how to love her in good conscience, knowing he had another life outside the home. 

That went on for 17 more months.  I can count on one hand the number of happy days there were in those 17 months.  Of course, my babies were like little rainbows that peeked through after the storms...but there were lots of storms.

To make a very long and soap opera-ish story short, hidden things began to come to light over those 17 months and he began to fall deeper and deeper into the pit (and it IS a pit) of infidelity.  Here was a man I met and married in church, yet he pushed God further and further can't serve God and lust at the same time. Finally, on a Sunday afternoon in June 2009, I found out what was going on and asked him to leave.  In short, that was the beginning of the end.

I never really grasped the term "heartbroken" until then.  It literally felt like my heart had broken. I could feel the pain in my chest day in and day out.  My stomach was in knots for weeks and I lost over 10 lbs...which at 5' tall, makes a big difference!  For almost a month, I spent almost every day in tears. And when I wasn't crying, I wandered the house aimlessly.  The news spread and I suddenly had to tell close friends and family what I had been hiding for 18 months.  I looked at my children and hurt for them, because I never, ever wanted this life for them.   There was and is so much more involved that I won't get into here, but suffice it to say I wouldn't wish divorce on anyone.  Recently, I saw a commercial for a tv show entitled "Happily Divorced".  Thats an oxymoron.  Divorce rips your heart to shreds and doesn't only mark the breakup of a relationship, but the mourning of hopes, dreams and a million other things.  It has ripple effects on people you love and you are never, ever the same.

Isaiah 54 was a passage God had burned on my heart for years.  I highlighted it in my Bible as a teenager and had read and reread it so many times.  I didnt know why. I always had a burden for young, unwed mothers but I didnt know I'd soon be one myself.  A couple of days after he left, I reread that passage and it was like God wrote it just for me...

"like an abandoned wife, devastated with grief...a woman married young and then left...It's with lasting love that I'm tenderly caring for you."Lasting love.  LASTING love.  Many search the world over to find that kind of love.  Many chase it and look for it in all the wrong places.  Many still are blessed enough to find a spouse who can offer them the best love a human can offer...lasting for a lifetime.  But that's all. Humans are limited by time but God is not.  His love is perfect and more pure than any human can ever offer. His love stays and stands the test of time. His love doesn't know the limits of stress, sickness or death.  His love lasts.

There are many reasons I wanted to start this blog, but the most important reason is so that, whether you've been divorced one day or fifty years, whether you're happily married or hopelessly miserable, whether you're a single mom struggling to make it through the day or a mom who's amazingly content with her life...there is still hope in His lasting love that this world can never offer.  Chase after it and pursue it.  He waits for you.
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