Category Archives: I believe

Apples and Oranges

One of my brothers and his wife just celebrated 30 years of wedded bliss this past weekend. They’ll tell you it’s not all been ‘bliss’ but downright hard work at times. Relationships usually are hard work. It’s that iron sharpening iron thing – there’s bound to be more than a few sparks.

Something inside me still winces at how long my siblings have been married. Several have been married longer than I was. Sometimes, I get angry about that – that I thought I would be celebrating so many years of marriage. But I will not. Then I think about how my decision to divorce was a matter of life and death for me. I could not continue in my marriage because it had become a nightmare.

I have been with Cycle Dude for almost 8 years. Comparing the time I was married to the time I have been with Cycle Dude is like comparing apples to oranges. Comparing my marriage to my siblings’ marriages is also like comparing apples to oranges. I don’t know what challenges my siblings have faced in their marriages. I know that none of them is married to the type of person I was married to or has to deal with the type escalating behavior I had to deal with.

We cannot compare ourselves to others – our lives, our marriages, our children, our possessions, etc. God creates us to be unique people, a people after His own heart, a people willing to be used by Him for His glory. Wherever we are in our lives, that’s where we are supposed to be. God knows we are not always going to make the right decisions, but He promises never, never, never to leave us or forsake us. Read the lyrics to “How Firm a Foundation”. There is so much wisdom in the old hymns.

God does not compare us. Rather, He likens us to parts of the same body. So, instead of saying, “Gee, I wish my  _____ (fill in the blank – life, marriage, etc.) was like hers”, say, “She is an eye, I am an ear – we are both part of the same body, the Body of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:14-31) We are not apples, nor are we oranges. We are different people with different gifts and talents – all for the glory of God. Stay tuned. . . .

The Tempest

In Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest” caused a shipwreck that killed the main character’s enemies. One may feel that a divorce is like the tempest. Divorce is painful because it is the rending of two souls intimately joined by promise or covenant – that’s what the rings represent. Divorce can feel like a shipwreck, and all you are left with are splintered boards, broken glass and an oil slick on the water.

I have never endured a hurricane or a storm on the open sea. However, I have endured frightening thunderstorms in the Midwest and dust storms in Arizona. The tempest can take many forms – from thunderstorms whipping the atmosphere into a circular frenzy to mighty winds carrying dust into every nook and cranny and powerful storms over the ocean pushing the sea several miles inland. The tempest can also be the emotional storm that accompanies the ripping apart of a divorce.

I thought about this post this morning. I try to encourage others to walk through their divorce with courage, knowing there is light when you come out of the darkness. I know going through a divorce is not all butterflies and unicorns. I know it can be one of the darkest, ugliest and most frightening places you can be. I think only abuse and death are worse than divorce – at least for me.

Shakespeare’s character conjured up the storm for nefarious purposes. I know of One who calms the storm – for His glory. I can honestly say that if it had not been for my faith and the faith of two close friends, I would not have made it through the tempest. I also humbly admit that I did not ride out the storm as a saint. I rode out the storm screaming and shouting all the way – not out of fear, but out of anger and vengeance. I am not the ideal person to emulate during a divorce. However, I can proudly say that I am still standing, I have withstood the tempest because of the love of Christ.

The storm may be buffeting you all around. You may feel as if you do not have the strength to stand. Pray the prayer, “Help!” You will feel the hand of God calm the tempest and steady you. Have faith. Stay tuned. . . .

Encouragement

One of my friends is going through a rough time at his job. Don’t get me wrong, he loves his job and does not intend to leave over the situation. However, he feels he is being unfairly singled out by some of his subordinates. We talked for a bit this morning. I reminded him that he is being singled out because he is ‘administration’ and those in authority are the most visible to employees with an axe to grind. As a fellow Jesus follower, I reminded him that other people are watching him – how is he going to handle this situation with his subordinates? If he talks the talk of being a Christian, is he going to walk the walk when the walking gets hard?

I also reminded him that he is not in his position of authority by chance. Like Mordecai told Esther (in the Old Testament Book of Esther), “You are here for such a time as this”. Why is my friend in a position of authority at his job? He told me that one of his sons knows how stressful his job can be, so his son is watching how his father deals with the job stress. One of my friend’s subordinates is also watching him for the same reason as his son – how is my friend going to handle the rough situations that come his way? I told my friend that stressful situations give us an opportunity to run to God, to lay down our fears and anxieties before Him and let Him take care of them.

As I was talking to my friend, I remembered the two friends who helped me through my divorce and the years following. One of them was an encourager – she would read scripture to me, remind me of God’s grace, and listen to my wounded soul. She has a wonderful gift for encouraging others – in word and in deed.

If you are recently divorced, you may not feel like reaching into someone else’s life and encouraging them. You may wonder if you will ever be able to heal to the point of being able to encourage another person. I took a few moments this morning to pray with my friend. It was a small, sixty-second prayer, but he said it meant the world to him. Did I start my day knowing or asking that I would have the opportunity to encourage my friend? No. But I did know that as a follower of Jesus, I can pray for and encourage others, no matter how small my part might be. Take heart, dear one. You may never know the value that your few encouraging words may have in another’s life. Stay tuned . . . .

There is Life

Jesus followers around the world will be celebrating His resurrection this Sunday. Even if you are not a Jesus follower, there is still celebration – for spring, for the new life that spring represents and for the time spent with family. Spring is one of my favorite seasons because of the promise of new life. I love to see the flowers bloom, watch the little fledglings make their way out of the nest, and smile as mama animals lead their babies out into the world.

I remember the dark days of my divorce when I thought life would never be again, not just that it would never be the same, but that it would just never be. I was angry, hurt, and depressed. By God’s grace, I had some amazing people in my life to help me walk out of that darkness.

Dear one, if you are facing that darkness during this season of Easter, know that there is LIFE! It may not feel like it, you may be so angry and hurt that you don’t know what to do, but take heart. Sit down, take a deep breath, cry if you must. Know that the God of the universe sees and hears your pain. He knows how to bring you out of this. He is the God of the impossible. The same force that raised Christ from the dead cares about every hair on your head. (Didn’t intentionally rhyme that!) Know that there are also many women who have been where you are, so you are not alone. Look out your window at the flowers, the birds, the bees buzzing around. Notice how blue the sky is and how warm the sun is. All around you, there is life. Breathe a prayer of thanksgiving for the life you have been given. Stay tuned. . . .

Lessons from a Coyote

I once heard it said that the two most adaptable creatures on earth are coyotes and cockroaches because a) they can both be found in nearly every corner of the world and b) they have been around for such a long time. That may be all well and good, but, like I a told a PhD Etymologist candidate one time, the only good cockroach is the on the bottom of my shoe. He was appalled and held his Madagascar Hissing Roach a little closer. But, I digress.

Back to the coyote. These wolf-like mammals are everywhere. They’ve become highly adaptable in a world that is rapidly encroaching on their habitats. Coyotes have the remarkable ability to adapt their entire lives in order to survive in different habitats.

I believe God uses His creation to teach us valuable lessons. There are many scriptures that refer to an animal as an example of a spiritual characteristic. When we are going through a hard time in our lives, we may need to stop and look around us at the beautiful creation set before us. What kind of lessons can we learn from a coyote that will help us on our healing journey?

1. Be adaptable: Going through a divorce is just plain nasty. You can either dig your heels in and become angry and bitter or you can shake off that nasty man and continue on with your life. One of the most adaptable animals in the world, the coyote can change its breeding habits, diet and social dynamics to survive in a wide variety of habitats. Urban
coyotes take advantage of swimming pools, dog water dishes, ponds and water hazards at golf courses and other water-bearing human artifacts as a source of moisture. However, the majority of coyotes never see people.

(Read more: http://www.desertusa.com/animals/coyote.html#ixzz4dadmEud9)

What changes does your divorce bring – living on your own again? Moving to a new home, city or state? Getting a job? Instead of fighting the change that is happening as a result of your divorce, embrace it. Learn to adapt to a new ‘normal’.

2. Be resourceful: Urbanization has encroached on the coyotes’ territory, and they have learned to look in other places for food. Unfortunately, that food may be in the form of a domesticated animal, though coyotes don’t usually subsist on domesticated animals. Depending on how wide their range is, the coyote can be singular as a carnivore or more of an omnivore (eating both meat and plants).

As a mid-life divorcee, you may be facing a job change. Start out as a temporary employee or a part-time employee in order to get your foot in the door. Do you have a lot of stuff left from your marriage? Sell it! Use the money for your needs. Take stock of your assets and liquidate what you can in order to take care of yourself.

3. Be patient: The coyote has a great deal of stamina and will stalk its prey for 20-30 minutes in order to wear that prey down. When the prey is at its weakest, then the coyote will strike.

You did not get into the situation overnight (that precipitated the divorce), you will not get out of it overnight. Divorces can be like a festering wound – mean and ugly. Be patient and give yourself grace as you heal. Have stamina and do not allow yourself to get worn down.

4. Ask for help: Coyotes live and hunt in groups. They know there is safety in numbers and more hunters can be more efficient at times than a lone hunter. Coyotes have different vocalizations that communicate their needs. They know one another’s ‘voices’.

My mother always used to say, ‘There is safety in numbers’. As you walk this healing journey, make sure to get connected to a support group or a couple of friends who will ‘have your back’. Voice your needs. No one can read your mind.

5. Be strong: Coyotes are feared hunters because they hunt in packs, like many of their wild cousins (the wild dogs of Africa, wolves, jackals). Coyote pups learn to hunt from their mother. By the time they are a year old, they are strong enough to hunt on their own and begin their own families.

Pray for God to put a ‘coyote mom’ in your life, someone who will walk with you through the divorce and teach you to be strong. Someday, when you are strong enough and healed enough, you may be called upon to be that ‘coyote mom’ for someone else.

Thank God for His awesome creation and the lessons He teaches us through it. Take heart, dear one. You are not in this alone. Not only does God walk along beside you, but so do many other women who have found themselves in this same situation. Stay tuned. . . .

 

 

Finding Hope

A couple of months ago, the US Surgeon General visited Myjob. His topic? The opioid epidemic. The hospital I work at is literally on the front lines of this battle. It is sad to see people in such a state of despair that they would do this to themselves. It is even worse to see babies born addicted to heroin. Photos and videos have surfaced of adults passed out from an overdose with a child in the car, or a child standing over them at the store, etc. So many people feel there is no hope for them.

I know the One who is Hope. I know Jesus Christ. He provides hope to the hopeless. How? He loves us unconditionally, He sees what we do wrong and still loves us, He welcomes us back to Himself with open arms.

You may say that’s all pie in the sky stuff. Is Jesus going to give me a good job? Is Jesus going to mend my relationships? Is Jesus going to give me someone to love again? Yes, Dear One, He is not pie in the sky. He is real.

I was so angry, hopeless, bitter and felt so helpless after my divorce. I felt like I had been given the short end of the stick. I felt that no one knew or cared what I felt and how crappy my life was. However, I belonged to a community of faith. The pastor as well as another church member, rallied around me. They encouraged me, prayed for me, let me cry, let me be angry at God.

My heart and my attitude began to change. I know it was difficult for those two people to walk with me through such a horrible time in my life. But they were steadfast in their love for me because of their love for Christ. They gave me time to heal, to figure out who I was, and to let me rediscover who I was in Christ.

I cannot function apart from Christ. My faith is very important to me. Without Him and my community of faith, I would not have made it through the divorce. There were many times that I felt so helpless, I thought of suicide. Yet, there was always someone there with just the right words, just the right prayer, to pull me back from the edge.

You may not be a person of faith. That’s okay. I still blog for you. What do you if you are feeling hopeless? Find a close friend, journal, seek professional help, find a support group – talk about what’s going on inside of you. What do you like to do? I find hope in nature. You may find it in art or music. I love Aaron Copeland’s “Appalachian Spring”. I enjoy walking with my dogs at dusk or early in the morning just as the sun is rising.

There is hope, my friend. Go rescue a dog or a cat at the humane society. Read to children in a homeless shelter. Download Pandora and dance like no one is watching! Hope is all around you! Look out your bedroom window at the rising sun or the clouds whipping by. There is hope, my friend. Hugs! Stay tuned. . . .

At the Manger

We can get lost in all the frenzy that has become the holiday season – parties, shopping, children’s school plays, church choir presentations, etc. It’s almost as if we can look out on the horizon and see the dust kicked up from the coming craziness!

On a quiet evening at home, with just my Christmas tree lights on and Christmas carols playing softly in the background, I close my eyes and imagine. Imagine I am in Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Christ.

I am an older woman, coming to Bethlehem with my husband, daughter and son-in-law and their two small boys. A friend of my son-in-law arrived earlier and has procured lodging for my family at this busy time of year – the census. The room is a bit small and cramped but we make do. My daughter makes a palette from the blankets that the children have used to ride on in the cart we brought from our hometown. The little ones are tired – it has been a long journey. They quickly fall asleep on the soft blankets. My husband and son-in-law sit at the table and talk about the next day’s activity. I brought my sewing and my daughter brought her mending. We sit and talk quietly by the fire my husband made in the fireplace. The fire will keep us warm on this chilly evening. One lamp is burning on the table where my husband and son-in-law map out tomorrow’s route to the town hall to enter our names into the census.

Tired from the journey as well, we soon lay down on our own blankets. It’s nice to snuggle next to my husband on this cold night. I like the way he smells – of outdoors and hard work. I quickly fall asleep next to him. It seems like I am not asleep long when I am awoken by a small sound. I sit up and survey my family. They are all fast asleep, my husband gently snoring beside me. I hear the sound again – it is coming from outside. I quietly rise, pull on my robe and tiptoe out the door into the street. I follow the noise to a stable on the edge of town.

It is not dark this night, for there is a star overhead that is as bright as the noonday sun! I can see into the stable. Besides a couple of cows and goats, there is a woman and man inside. He is kneeling over her. She moans. I recognize that sound. She is in labor. Do I need to go help her? I have helped birth many babies through the years. Something tells me to stay where I am and watch. If something happens, I am close enough to help. Her husband speaks softly to her, wiping her brow every so often. Soon I hear the familiar sound of a baby’s cry. My heart leaps! That is the most amazing sound I know of! The animals raise their heads to the infant’s cry. I walk a little closer, pulling my robe tighter around me. The woman is lying on the hay, holding the little bundle to her breast. She looks weary but happy. Her husband has cleaned up from the birth and he sits next to her, stroking her hair. They look up as I approach. I smile and nod. They smile back.

The silence is broken by the arrival of five shepherds and several sheep. One points as the others approach and they gather around the new family. Falling to their knees, they speak to the man. Each seems excited to relay their story, as they keep interrupting one another, their hands flying over their heads as they describe something they’ve seen. I remember sitting outside the temple as my husband and son-in-law went in to hear the readings. There are prophesies of this child and the shepherds.

I hear a sound behind me. It is my husband. Rubbing sleep from his eyes, he tells me he woke up and I was not beside him. He came looking for me. I tell him what has happened. He bows his head as he mentions the words of the prophet Isaiah. I realize who this child is and I, too, fall to my knees. I watch as one of the shepherds reaches out to touch the baby. The little one grunts as he stretches. His mother smiles. My husband and I watch for a few more minutes. Then he takes my hand as I rise. The woman has fallen asleep with the infant in her arms. The shepherds begin to disburse, taking their sheep with them. We smile at the man. He looks weary, but he will keep watch over his family tonight. My husband leads me back to our room. We lay down and I fall into a peaceful sleep, his arms around me.

This holiday season, whatever your faith or belief, take the time to stop and meditate on the season. Spend time with family or friends. Put a couple bucks in the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle. Listen to Christmas music. Thank God for His grace and mercy and for another Christmas. Stay tuned . . .