I’m Still Standing

My oldest sister just celebrated 37 years of wedded bliss. When I called to wish her a Happy Anniversary, part of me was jealous. When I married, I thought I’d be married for a long time. I could never have anticipated the issues that led to my divorce. As far as I know, only one other of my five siblings has experienced the same issues I did in my marriage. Instead of allowing those issues to destroy his marriage and family, he sought help. Now, he helps other men who are dealing with the same issues.

When I heard my brother’s story, I was so grateful to God for working in his life. I was grateful that my brother recognized the value of his marriage and family before it was too late. I was grateful that even though he could have succumbed to a horrible issue and destroy his family, he did not. He ‘hung on by a thread’ and trusted God to rescue him.

My story is different and did not turn out as well as my brother’s. However, what ex meant for harm and destruction, God turned into blessing. I want ex to know that in spite of his actions, in spite of his refusal to abide by court mandated restitution, in spite of his wife’s scathing words to me, I am still standing! I don’t need him to validate my life and my relationships with my children. He no longer has any kind of power in my life.

In the 1990 epic, “Dances with Wolves”, there is a scene where Lt. Dunbar (Kevin Coster) meets Stands with a Fist, a white woman who was adopted as a child into the native tribe. Lt. Dunbar asks her, “Why is that your name?” She replies that when the natives killed her family, she defiantly stood her ground with her fist in the air – a symbol of ferocity and survival.

I stand with my fist in the air, showing ex my defiance, ferocity and survival. I am still standing and I want other women to know it is possible to do the same after a divorce. Don’t allow ex to have power in your life. You may be barely able to stand, but you are standing. That’s the best thing that can happen – to be able to stand in victory after enduring a particularly difficult incident in one’s life. Though I am not able to celebrate ongoing years of marriage, I am able to celebrate survival – and that’s the best thing to celebrate! Stay tuned. . .

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Boogie Shoes

One of my favorite bands of the Disco Era was KC and The Sunshine Band. They sang a song called, “Boogie Shoes”, about how KC couldn’t wait to put on his boogie shoes and get movin’ (dancing) with his favorite lady.

Now that the new year is here, it’s time to put on our boogie shoes and get movin’ as well! We’ve gotten past the holidays which were, for many newly divorced women, their first holiday season after their divorce. Pep talk time! The new year brings new adventures and new opportunities for growth – but only if you get movin’!

Resolve to move forward with life, to live the adventure! Forget about all those other New Year’s resolutions – loosing weight, saving money, working less. Those resolutions tend to bite the dust sometime in early February. The easiest resolution to keep is to move forward!!

Don’t allow ex, his latest lady friend, etc. to keep you from moving forward with your life. Don’t cyberstalk him, ask his friends about him, use your children as spies, or anything else you may think of in order to keep tabs on the jerk. Do resolve to do what you need to in order to move forward – sort through your stuff and toss whatever belongs to him, make sure you know how to manage your finances, and don’t be afraid to chase your dreams, to set goals, and to live the adventure!

I will start out the new year by visiting my first grandbaby. Cycle Dude and I may take another long weekend trip in the spring. I am re-learning to roller skate. Life is too short to let someone else have power in your life that they have no business having! Stand up, shake off the divorce dust, put on your boogie shoes and move forward! This is going to be a great year for us! 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. . . .

Get Rid of It!

The only reason I would post twice in one day is because I read something that I MUST share! During lunch today, I tapped into the internet to get an update from my favorite news station. The screen that appears before I access my ‘favorites’ is the ISP’s news page. I followed a headline entitled, “Removing These 31 Things From Your Life Will Make You Happier and More Successful” (Credit: Mary Cate Williams).

My top 10 from this piece (in no particular order) are: comparing yourself to others, creating unrealistic expectations for yourself, bad spending habits, fear of the unknown, living in the past, unhealthy relationships, the need to be in control of everything, your need to have the best things, feeling sorry for yourself, and grudges. Five bonus things to get rid of: jealousy, blaming others for your mistakes, resisting change, holding on to stuff you don’t need and your social media obsession.

I see a couple of themes here: be responsible for yourself, be yourself, forgive others, stick to a budget, and it’s okay to let life happen. Your only responsibility is to and for yourself – that includes your time, your money, your resources. Forgive others – your grudges only hurt you. Unforgiveness is like drinking poison, hoping the other person will die. Forgive and move on! And for goodness sake, ditch the social media! Is anyone ever who they really are on social media? Do you really need someone else’s life issues to brood over when you have your own?

Don’t spend beyond your means – you really don’t need the latest and greatest of everything. Like the saying goes, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”. Stuff begets stuff and you can’t take it with you. Cycle Dude and I have been on a minimalist kick for a few months. Nothing is as liberating as taking a car full of your old stuff to Goodwill. A constant theme I see at estate sales is the amount of stuff people collected and thought they needed to live a good life.

It’s okay to let life happen. Life is an adventure- live it! If you live the rest of your life cooped up in yourself without ever venturing out to learn something new, go somewhere you’ve been dreaming of or are afraid to love again, you will die a sad, angry person. Live the adventure called ‘life’. If you happen to find someone along the way to live it with, that’s a bonus. Get rid of the negativity, anger and bitterness. Look at the good things in life – nature, friends, grandchildren – and resolve to live a good life. Don’t be the old Ebenezer Scrooge. Be the Ebenezer Scrooge who found a wonderful new life, resolving to keep Christmas in his heart each day of the year. Stay tuned!. . .

 

Tell Your Heart to Beat Again*

It’s easy for me to feel happy and contented seven years post-divorce. I wasn’t always happy and contented after my divorce. The first few months, even years, after my divorce, I was still angry and bitter. It took a long time to get over that. I eventually went to see a counselor for PTSD. Yes, women who have been through a divorce do experience PTSD, especially if there was any kind of abuse involved, no matter how subtle.

Even though Cycle Dude and I started dating not long after my divorce, I was still angry and bitter, though I made sure not to take it out on Cycle Dude. I worked diligently to get past the anger and bitterness in order to have a good relationship with him. He was so patient with me. I cannot express how much that meant to me.

I was listening to my Pandora Praise and Worship station this morning when the song, “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” by Danny Gokey started to play. The first verse and chorus are this:

You’re shattered Like you’ve never been before The life you knew In a thousand pieces on the floor And words fall short in times like these When this world drives you to your knees You think you’re never gonna get back To the you that used to be

Tell your heart to beat again Close your eyes and breathe it in Let the shadows fall away Step into the light of grace Yesterday’s a closing door You don’t live there anymore Say goodbye to where you’ve been And tell your heart to beat again (*Songwriters: Matthew West, Bernie Herms, Randy Phillips – performed by Danny Gokey).

The phrase, “Yesterday’s a closing door, you don’t live there anymore; say goodbye to where you’ve been. . .” spoke volumes to me. I don’t want to be the me I used to be. I am not the same person I was when I got divorced. I don’t live with that anger and bitterness anymore. Yesterday is long past. My heart can beat again. I no longer feel that ache in the pit of my stomach. I no longer cry myself to sleep. God has used Cycle Dude and his unconditional love, two friends and their incredible wisdom and His Word to heal my heart.

Let the healing balm of the love of Christ wash over you this holiday season. Take some time to sit in the silence of your living room and listen – to the quiet, to the voice of God, to your own heartbeat. Healing will come and your heart will beat again. Stay tuned. . .

 

Grace and Peace to You

I attend a church small group on Thursday evenings. The church and the small group are both fairly new to me, but they are a good place to be. Last night, as we were sharing prayer requests, one lady shared that a co-worker had taken his own life after being laid-off from his job. The gentleman was in his early 30’s with a wife and two children. One of the small group members made the comment that the holidays are an especially difficult time for some people – more so when they experience a loss during the season (job loss, death of a loved one, etc.).

This may be your first holiday season after a divorce or you may be enduring a difficult marriage. Your children may be grown and married, or they may still be young enough to need your guidance. Your spouse or your ex may be a jerk who makes holidays horrible. I have known the pain of a difficult marriage, of living with a passive aggressive narcissist, of trying to hold things together for the sake of the children. I know how hard it can be. I contemplated suicide several times during that difficult time in my life.

My best friend often reminded me of my children, of my dogs, of those who love me. Rascal Flatts sings a song, “Why”. Part of the chorus is, “Who told you life wasn’t worth the fight/They were wrong, they lied.” There is no place so bad that it is not worth fighting to get out of. Life is precious and beautiful and worth living. Grace and peace to you if you are struggling this holiday season. I pray for God to place His gentle hand on your shoulder and let you know everything will be ok. After all, He promises to never, never, never leave nor forsake us.

May I prescribe a dose of “The Muppets Christmas Carol” and a mug of hot chocolate? May God bless you this holiday season. May you know the reality of His presence. May you know the Love that sent Christ to this earth as a small, helpless babe. Stay tuned. . . .