Category Archives: relationships

Be Prepared

I walked into work Tuesday morning to find that a survey team from a national  healthcare accrediting organization was on campus. The people at Myjob have been preparing for this organization’s visit for the better part of a year. The organization comes every 2-3 years to inspect the hospital for re-accreditation. Even though we expected the survey team in the fall, my boss said they could come as early as late spring or early summer. My boss has been preparing his team for this visit since October.

I am glad we have been preparing for this event. I have learned a great deal more about healthcare and what it takes to run a hospital. I have learned that it is better to be proactive than not. It is better to anticipate possible scenarios than to sit back and “let it slide”.

One thing I have learned, especially through my divorce, is to be prepared. I can honestly say, I was not prepared to divorce and then to deal with all the emotional, physical and financial flotsam and jetsam that accompanied it. Sure, I knew it was coming – I knew that several years before it actually happened. But I was still not prepared.

I wrote about this subject in a post entitled, “Storm Warnings”. However, I’d like to apply a little of what I have learned in preparation for this healthcare accreditation organization visit.

1.  Categories: Organize your divorce preparations into categories – financial, household, relational, work-related, etc. Sit down and make a list of these categories, then add the following: under financial – income, budget, savings, retirement, emergency fund (even though you may get alimony, don’t count it as income because it’s not going to be around forever and you don’t want to become overly dependent on it); under household – will you sell your home? Move into a new home/apartment? Need to have a yard sale? Need to replace household items? (hint: estate sales are good places to get household items – furniture, dishes, etc. if you need to set up a home.); under relational – How soon will you tell people of your (impending) divorce? Who will you tell? How do you break the news to important people in your life (children, parents, siblings, etc.)?

2. Rank: Once you have your categories and have broken them down into sub categories, give each sub category a ranking from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) in order of priority. What things will you take care of first? What things can wait? Work on the #5’s first and cross them off your list when done. Number fives should be things like income (how are you going to support yourself?), housing (where are you going to live?), and debt (pay off old debts and don’t create any new ones until your are financially stable).

3. Finish: Once you have finished an item, cross it off your list. If you are really good and make a spreadsheet, hide that column/row when you’ve completed it. Once it’s done, it’s done.

4. Document, document, document: Keep a copy of all your records. Keep a phone log of your conversations with ex or of any electronic communication with ex. You may have to produce this information if it comes down to “he said – she said” in court. Be aware that unless you inform someone you are recording the conversation with them, that communication may be against the law. A good rule of thumb regarding keeping records and documents is 10 years. Instead of tons of boxes full of paper crowding up your spare bedroom, scan documents and store them on a flash drive, backup hard drive or on the ‘cloud’.

Everything we experience in our lives in a learning experience. We can take what we learn in one aspect of our lives (ex. work) and apply it to other aspects of our lives (personal). The thing is we should never stop growing and learning. And, yes, we can even learn from an unpleasant experience like a divorce. Stay tuned. . . .

Family Reunion

Next weekend, various family members will be heading to MyState for a family reunion. The last time my siblings and I got together was for my mom’s 75th birthday. She will be 80 this year. Some family members are coming that I have not seen in years! I am excited! The only bad thing is that it is supposed to rain the whole time my extended family members are here. Oh, well.

I would not be as excited about this family reunion if I hadn’t taken a bold step last October. My middle son and I were talking one evening about the family reunion and he said something that made me think about my familial relationships. There was one family member that I had not gotten along with for years. I knew she would be at the family reunion. I did not want to make everyone uncomfortable by continuing this feud with her. I prayed and I asked for prayer because making peace with this family member was not real high on my “To Do” list.  Yet, I felt that it was something I needed to do.

I flew to the state this family member lived in. I stayed at another family member’s home and made arrangements to get together with the feuding family member. I knew I needed to approach her as honestly and sincerely as I could. Long story short, we resolved our differences. I was so relieved! Now, this family member and I are going to be first time Grandmas together – her first grandbaby is due two months before my first grandbaby. Now we will be able to share in one another’s joy.

Making peace with that family member was difficult. It is not something I would have done five or even two years ago! Yet, I knew this family reunion was coming up and I wanted to honor my mom’s 80th birthday by having the focus be on her and not on my feud with the other family member. It took courage and it took the willingness to do what I knew to be right even if the family member did not reciprocate.

So what does this have to do with being divorced? Do you have family members with whom you have not talked for a while – perhaps due to your divorce? Perhaps you and another family member said angry words to each other at one time? Perhaps you had a misunderstanding? I would urge you to resolve your differences as soon as possible. Pray about it, think about it, give it some time, but resolve to move forward to make peace.

Why? A couple of reasons: we are not promised tomorrow – make your peace today; you may see your family member at a family gathering – it’s much easier to be at peace with one another than to spoil the gathering for everyone else because you are feuding; and because the Bible commands it – Romans 12:18 states, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Be willing to live at peace with others. 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 . . . .

Everyone is Different

After ex’s initial foray into adultery, I began seeing a counselor. I saw her on and off for the next 10 years plus and into my divorce. When I finally divorced, she told me that on average it takes women two-and-a-half to three years to get over a divorce. It took me the better part of five years before I was finally able to let go of the pain of the divorce. It wasn’t until I saw another counselor for help with PTSD that I finally felt free of ex.

I remembered what the first counselor told me and I kept thinking, “Why can’t I get over this? Why is it taking me so long? She said between two and three years!” Sometimes, I felt hopeless. Then I realized that everyone is different.

For some women it may take less time to get over a divorce. For others, it will take longer. Why? I think your healing time depends on the size of your wound. One is able to recover from a paper cut much quicker than one is able to recover from a broken leg or major surgery. What happened in your marriage determines the amount of time it will take to heal from the divorce. If you experienced any kind of abuse – physical, mental, emotional, financial, verbal – it will take you longer to heal because abuse not only hurts your body, it hurts your soul. If you were in a co-dependent relationship, as I was, it will take a while to heal because you have to cut the chords that bind you to ex. You have to figure out a new ‘normal’. If you were betrayed through infidelity, it will take you some time to learn to trust again.

How long it takes you to heal from your divorce is up to you – no one else. There are three ways that I experienced (and continue to experience) healing from my divorce:

1. Support: I had two amazing friends who walked with me through the yucky years after my divorce. Cycle Dude was also there, but I kept as much of the yuck from him as I could. I did not burden him with how I was feeling. That was my baggage to get rid of before we got serious. I encourage you to find a support group or a couple of close friends who will be encouragers, accountability partners, and prayer warriors for you and with you.

2. Professional Help: Sometimes I just needed someone to tell me I was not crazy and would not run off the edge of the world. Sometimes I just needed someone to be objective, someone who didn’t really know me, to let me know it would be okay. Divorced women do indeed fight PTSD. Get help to heal.

3. An outlet: I journaled, I wrote poetry, I walked my dogs, I listened to music. If you keep everything that you are feeling bottled up inside of you, you will make yourself sick. He is not worth the price of your health. Physical activity is a good way to work off stress and anger. Getting your thoughts down on paper is a good way to decrease their negative power over you. Find something constructive to do with all that negative energy bound up inside of you. Let it out – but in good ways. You don’t want to hurt yourself (drugs, alcohol, overeating, not eating, etc.) or someone else because of those negative emotions. (Blogging in one of my outlets!) However, if you do find yourself in destructive behavior, please seek professional help immediately!

Remember that your healing journey is very personal – don’t let anyone put a timeline on your recovery. YOU are the one who is walking through this dark time. Dear one, know that you will come out on the other side of this a changed women (and hopefully for the better!). Hugs! Stay tuned. . . .

 

Making Good Decisions

Part of my responsibility as a parent was to teach my children how to make good decisions. Much of my ‘expertise’ came from experiences in my own life. I can say that there were many times I did not make good decisions and suffered the consequences. I would tell my children what I would do in their situation then let them think about it and make the decision they thought best. I had to give my children the necessary tools for making good decisions: inquiry, research, counsel, and decisiveness.

1. Inquiry: You are presented with a choice. Ask yourself how your choice would affect you and/or others involved in the decision. How will it affect you and others immediately, a month from now, a year from now?

2. Research: Make a list of the pros and cons of your decision. If your decision involves a large purchase or service, get three different quotes from three different companies so you can make a wise decision.

3. Counsel: Seek out the advice of trusted friends and family members. I sought counsel from several trusted friends. I asked my children, Cycle Dude’s children and my mom how they felt about the decision I have to make. Five of those six people are the ones who would be most immediately affected by my decision. (One of my children, as well as my mom, told me, ‘You do what is best for you’.) I felt I owed my mom the courtesy of seeking her advise as well. She has advised me well in the past.

4. Decisiveness: Once you have asked yourself about those affected by your decision, researched your options and sought trusted counsel, move forward and make that decision with confidence! Many people don’t make decisions because they are afraid of “making the wrong decision”. If you wait until you feel fully confident of your decision, you will grow grass under your feet and cobwebs under your arms. Making a decision does include an element of risk. Trust your gut and move forward.

I feel that I am ready to make that decision. I feel at peace about the whole thing. I’ll let you know what happens! Stay tuned. . . .

 

Keeping your New Year’s Resolutions – Relationships, Part 2

There is a saying, “Make new friends and keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” I found out that after my divorce many of my friends were gone. People I had known with my ex just seemed to evaporate into thin air. There were a couple friends that remained in contact. One of my friends I have known since 2003. She had been a rock for me through the divorce.

Sometimes, friendships just drift away and there is nothing you can do about it. People change, places change and one just has to ‘roll with the punches’. How do we continue to nurture those old friendships in spite of the pain we feel from the divorce?

1. Re-evaluate: Friends who like you for you and not because of your ex will most likely stick around. Those who drift away because of the divorce perhaps weren’t that close to you after all. You know who your real friends are when you’re standing waist deep  in mud and covered with poop. Hard times in our lives tend to feel like that. True friends will get in the mud with you and help you clean off the poop.

2. Be intentional: The friend I mentioned above recently retired. I can’t call her every day at work. She is feeling overwhelmed because of being retired, not really wanting to be retired, and having to get all her ducks in a row. I text her daily or every other day. I need to be intentional with her, to continue to cultivate out friendship, to polish that gold. Continue to invest in those gold relationships.

3. Give: Send an occasional note in the mail, call for no reason, send flowers for her birthday (even if it isn’t her birthday!), let those friends know you are thinking about them. I even do this with my children. I have known my children for over 30 years – they are those gold relationships that are worth the investment of my time and energy.

4. Accept: Friends may not know what to say or how to give to you after a divorce. That’s okay. Accept that they may feel awkward. Accept that they may be distant and silent because they feel uncomfortable. Accept that you will most likely have to make the first move to reconnect with them.

5. Be kind and merciful: No one is perfect. Extend grace to your friends. Reach out to them when God puts them on your heart. Pray for them.

God doesn’t want us to walk through this life alone. That’s why He gave Eve to Adam. That’s why the twelve disciples lived in community with Jesus. That’s why we have friends and loved ones – people who care about us even when we are at our worst.

I challenge you today, dear one. Have you been thinking about someone, a friend? Send them a text msg, pick up the phone and call them, write them a note and send it snail mail. Friends are the gold in our lives. Stay tuned. . . .

 

 

Finding the Good

Last week, I challenged some of the young ladies in my small group. For a week, they were supposed to tell their husband something they appreciated or admired about him – but not sexual.

That challenge began a wonderful, ongoing conversation of how we look for the good – not only in our husbands, but in others as well. One young lady posted this :  http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/looking-for-the-good-in-your-man/ (author: Kathi Lipp).  Proverbs 31 Ministries is devoted to encouraging Christian women to become the woman, wife and mother that God intends.

I am going to take Kathi’s suggestions and apply them to other relationships in our lives.

1. Receive well: Sometimes, it’s easier to give a complement than receive one. It’s also easier to question the complementor’s motives than to say, “Thank you” and move on. Luci Swindoll (wife of Pastor Chuck Swindoll) said, “Take everything as a complement. You’ll live longer.”

2. Look for the good: In the midst of a disagreement, it’s difficult to look for the good in someone. Next time you’re in a heated discussion with someone close to you, stop. Look at them and find something good about them (“Your hair looks great today”, “I never noticed that your eyes are so blue”, “That shirt looks good on you”, etc.). Or simply say, “You want to hear a joke?” It takes more effort to find something good than it does to say something mean.

3. Create a friendly environment: Whether it’s husband-friendly, kid-friendly, etc;, make it safe for your family and friends to show love. Thank folks for their thoughtfulness, complement your friends on things that might not otherwise be complemented (“I like how you know what to say to make me laugh”, “I appreciate you letting me vent after I’ve had a rough day at work”, “I admire your self-control in rush-hour traffic”, etc.).

It’s easy to be snippy with others – it’s more difficult to reign in that negative emotion and look for the good in others. It’s easy to toss out a bad word or an angry look – it’s more difficult to practice self-control and tame our tongues. Sometimes, digging for that seemingly elusive gold nugget of good can make a world of difference in a person’s life.

I want to challenge you, my readers. If you’re married, spend the next 7 days telling your spouse something you appreciate or admire about them. If you are a parent, do the same for your children, especially your teenagers. If you are single, but have a good friend, do the same for them, too. Perhaps even try this challenge on that particularly difficult person at work. Look for the good in people today – you may just make a difference. Stay tuned . . . .