Category Archives: faith

Isolation is the Opposite of Community

My mom always says, “There is safety in numbers”. This principle is seen time and again  in nature – schools of fish, herds of zebras, flocks of birds, forests of trees, fields of sunflowers, colonies of ants. Individuals are often weak and vulnerable. The strength of the community gives strength to the individual.

I have several coworkers with whom I pray and share my daily life. There have been times recently that life has been rather challenging. We can turn to one another to share the burden of what we are going through. Galatians 6:2 says, “Share one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” What is ‘the law of Christ’? To love one another as you love yourself and to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. By bearing one another’s burdens, we love one another as Christ loved us.

One does not have to believe in God to be part of a community. I am a woman of faith, so my community is one of faith as well. Cycle Dude belongs to a group of ‘free thinkers’ who get together weekly. There have been times that I have seen “bear one another’s burdens” in action in this group as well. Caring for one another and bearing one another’s burdens is a human thing, not just a Christian thing.

It is easy to want to isolate ourselves when we experience difficult times. We may feel like we are the only one going through this and that no one else would understand. We may feel that our situation is such that no one would want to understand or want to walk with us through the trial. That is a lie. We experience healing and support in community. We are weak and vulnerable when we decide to isolate ourselves from others. Dear one, seek out friends to walk with you through your difficult time. Do not walk alone – let others share your burden. Stay tuned. . . .

 

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Medals

One of my siblings lives in San Antonio, TX. Every April, the city celebrates Fiesta San Antonio. Each year, new commemorative medals are issued as part of the festival. There are some people who have been collecting commemorative medals for years. Collecting the medals is like collecting pins from different places and events.

I have my own medals – they are known as wrinkles and gray hair. Yesterday, I went to get my hair trimmed. As the stylist was showing me how much she had trimmed off, she showed me the back of my head. I gasped! There, buried under several strands of dirty dishwater blonde hair was a streak of gray hair! I have gray hairs here and there, but I did not know I had such a big streak. I began to laugh!

I have earned every single one of those gray hairs – three terrible two-year-olds, three teenaged drivers, three children away at college, three weddings, one hard-earned Bachelor’s degree, one $%@# ex, four moves in less than two years and four jobs. Those wrinkles around my eyes and mouth? Laughing with my children and friends, smiling at my grand baby, singing in choirs and praise bands, and loving Cycle Dude with my whole heart.

Am I afraid or ashamed of my gray hair and wrinkles? Heck no! They are reminders that the life I have lived thus far has not be easy and has not always been happy. But I am grateful for these visual reminders that I have not stopped living life, that I am not afraid to share that life with others and that I am grateful to God for this amazing life He has given me. (And yes, I do use sunscreen and always wear a hat when I am outside.)

My wrinkles and gray hair remind me that my life has not been perfect, but I would not trade my ‘medals’ for anything in the world! Stay tuned. . . .

Enough

One of my coworkers shared with me this morning that a family member has cancer and the chemotherapy the doctors are using isn’t working. The doctors want to try another chemotherapy that is three times stronger, but has worse side affects. As my coworker shared this, I thought, “When is it time to say ‘Enough’? We’ve tried everything and it’s okay to let go.”

When my dad was sick with cancer, my mom tried several different things to give him more time. She even traveled halfway across the country to get him into a clinical trial at a famous cancer center. It turns out that my dad didn’t have the genetic markers the doctors were looking for and was ineligible for the clinical trial.

When we go through a rough time in our lives – health issues, a divorce, trauma – when is it time to say, “Enough”? Ex remarried and moved clear across the country – while still owing me over $21K from unpaid alimony. When he was still local, I tried several times to take him back to court in order to collect the money. He ignored my lawyer, his lawyer and the judge. I did not have the money to pursue the matter further, so I had to say, “Enough”.

2 Corinthians 12:9, “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'” St. Paul is talking about his ‘thorn in the flesh’ (whatever this weakness is) and his unanswered prayer to have this weakness removed. Christ tells him that He is enough to overcome the temporal weakness.

Christ Tomlin, a Christian singer and songwriter, has written a song called, “Enough”.  The first line of the chorus is, “All of you is more than enough for all of me/ For every thirst and every need.” Christ assures us that He is indeed enough for us – His grace, His strength, His provision, His love. When we are in the midst of terminal cancer, He is enough. When a spouse abandons us or thumbs his nose at the courts, He is enough. When we are down to our last dollar, He is enough. When we say, “enough”, He is there – with unconditional love, with everlasting grace, with boundless mercy.

When in our weakness, we say, “enough”, He is our strength. Stay tuned. . . .

Learning to Love Yourself Again

Valentine’s Day is approaching, or as some folks refer to it, Singles’ Awareness Day. I am fortunate to have an incredible man in my life and I am keenly aware that not every divorced woman has the same. After a divorce, it is difficult to love and to find someone to love. But that is the perfect time to concentrate on learning to love yourself.

After we’ve been through the shipwreck of divorce, we often feel beat up, unworthy, ashamed, etc. It’s as though we ourselves have been bashed against the rocks and there’s just flotsam and jetsam left. May I suggest the following as you learn to love yourself again:

1. Don’t make any hasty decisions: You’ve made enough life-changing decisions during the divorce proceedings, paperwork, etc. Give yourself a break and don’t make any life-changing decisions, like dating, purchasing a new car or home, moving from on side end of the country to the other, etc. Give yourself a little time to begin to settle into the new normal.

2. Don’t rebound date: Very bad idea. You just got out of one possibly abusive relationship and you want to get into another? But how do you fill that void, that need for human companionship? Volunteer, find a new hobby, foster a cat or a dog, plant a garden – do something that uses your time and talents for good.

3. Get your finances in order: Your bank is more than happy to help you balance your checkbook, work out a budget, etc. If you have a good bank, they value your business and they will assist you in any way they can in order to keep your business. A good business knows that word of mouth speaks far louder than any advertising dollar.

4. Reward yourself: Divorce is a long, hard struggle. You feel battle weary. You probably don’t have a great deal of money. Reward yourself for enduring the storm: Have a movie night with yourself – watching something you have always wanted to watch or want to watch again (the two movies I watch over and over again are Princess Bride and The Muppets Christmas Carol), take a long walk in the park, visit your local arboretum, have a glass of wine on your deck at sunset or a cup of coffee on your deck at sunrise, buy yourself some flowers or a good book (good books can always be found at your second-hand bookstore for cheap!), buy a quarter of a yard of pretty fabric and use it as a table runner. There are all sorts of ways you can reward yourself without having to spend a great deal of money.

5. Live the adventure! Each day is a new day full of new adventures. Thank God when you wake up in the morning and take your first steps out of bed. Praise God for the warm shower. Be thankful for food in your tummy and a roof over your head. Look in the mirror and tell that lovely lady, “You got this, girl!”

Sometimes, it takes a while to learn to love ourselves again, especially if we have been the victim of an abusive or addicted spouse. There will be people in our lives who will feel free to voice their opinions about the divorce. Don’t listen to them. This is a new start, a new normal, a new life that will get better with each passing day. Trust God and trust yourself as you learn to love yourself again. Hugs! Stay tuned. . . .

Things That Matter

Last January, I bought a new car – a Nissan Versa in gun-metal gray that I named Jet. Jet does not have many bells or whistles – he does not have power windows or locks, heated seats or back seats that fold down or  lot of other things. That’s fine with me. He has what matters – the ability to get me dependably from point A to point B. He does that quite well and doesn’t use a whole lot of gas in the process. In fact, I discovered this morning that he also does quite well on snow and ice.

For me, getting divorced took me from a house full of stuff to an apartment full of half that stuff. The longer I lived in the apartment, the more stuff I got rid of. When I moved in with Cycle Dude, I got rid of tons more stuff. Truth be told, I could probably get rid of even more stuff.

Stuff wasn’t the only thing I got rid of. Friends who knew ex and I together seemed to evaporate. I also got rid of a great deal of anxiety, suspicion, and (eventually) anger. I felt like my life was like an onion, peeling away layer after layer. I finally got down to the things that matter.

I don’t have the latest, greatest and most updatest of everything – I don’t need it. Jet doesn’t have tons of bells and whistles – I don’t need it. I don’t have a walk-in closet full of clothes or shoes – I don’t need it. I don’t have a house full of knick-knacks – I don’t need it.

What do I need and what are the things that matter in my life? My faith, my children, my grandbaby, my sweetheart (Cycle Dude), my pups, my family, a roof over my head, food in the fridge and a job that meets my financial needs. My perspective has changed a great deal over the past seven years. My needs are met with simplicity and my wants are few. I find happiness in relationships, not things. I get to come home each day to three of my favorite people – Cycle Dude, Jack and Shirley. And for that, I am grateful! Stay tuned. . . .

 

Blessed

Christmas is only a few days away. I am keenly aware that this time of year can be incredibly stressful on its own without adding the additional stress of going through a divorce. I also know that the holidays can be a painful part of the year, too – especially if one has experienced a loss during the year. I remember the first holiday season after my dad died – we felt empty, like something was missing. The holidays are still a rough time for my mom because she misses my dad so much.

I divorced right before Christmas seven years ago. As a result, I didn’t have much money, but I did have a great deal of anger. I was angry that my finances were shot. I was angry that my children did not have good holiday memories like I did. I was angry that ex had more money and was able to give my children more for Christmas than I was. That first Christmas after my divorce was not a very good one.

I was so angry for so long that I lost sight of one thing – how blessed I was. I had a roof over my head, a job, food in my cupboards, a car that ran and people who loved me. God had provided the things I needed. There is a big difference between needs and wants. Our needs are those basics we need for survival, food, shelter and clothing. The wants are everything else – a car, a cell phone, new shoes. Even with as little as I had, I was still richer than many people in other parts of the world.

I am blessed. I do not have the latest and greatest of everything – I don’t need it. I don’t have a car with all the bells and whistles – I don’t need it. I content with what I have, where I am, and with whom I am sharing my life. I have man who loves me. I have a new grand baby. I have six amazing children. My mom is in good health. My siblings are all doing well. I have a good job and a good boss. I have two hilarious pups who think I am everything. I have wonderful friends. What else is there?

The floor beneath my Christmas tree is not stacked high with gifts. I didn’t go into debt to buy gifts this year. My bills are paid. I am content. I am blessed. I thank God for keeping me in His care. As this year comes to a close, I do not wish for next year to bring financial prosperity or more stuff, I wish for more opportunities to serve – my coworkers, my family, Cycle Dude, my church and my community. I am blessed and I wish to bless others.

Keep a quiet heart this holiday season as you meditate on the reason for the season – Jesus. Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed by expectations, relationships and unfulfilled promises. Know that you are loved. Stay tuned. . . .

Talk to God

I used to have long talks with God during the turbulent years of my marriage. I talked to Him a great deal as I was going through the divorce as well. My conversations ranged from anger and almost rage that He would allow this painful time in my life, sarcasm as I asked why He wasn’t working on my (ex) husband’s heart and downright unbelief in His goodness.

Why do we always blame God when things go south in our lives? He has not made us to be blindly believing robots, but He has given us free will – that we would choose or not choose Him of our own volition. The Bible tells us that trials will come our way and that God uses trials to form our character. We are to rejoice in all things, not for all things. Do I rejoice when evil happens in my life, to those I love? No! I don’t rejoice for that, but I rejoice that I know God will not abandon me during the times of trials, that He has given me people who love me to walk through those times with, and that He has provided those people who will pray for me.

Talking to God helps me to hash things out in my own mind. I know that He listens to me, in spite of what my emotional state may be at the time. I know that God is a good, good father. I had a wonderful earthly father for whom I still grieve, almost 10 years after his death. My dad was a godly man and a wonderful example of a loving father. I know many people have not had such a wonderful dad, but I did. I am so glad for his love – for my mom, my siblings and me, and for God.

Need a listening ear in the middle of a dark night? Talk to God. You won’t wake Him up, you won’t make Him angry. Psalm 121 tells us that “the Lord is steadfast; He does not sleep, neither does He slumber.” He listens, He understands and He will move in your life if you let Him. Stay tuned. . . .