Tag Archives: gratitude

Fall is Here!

Fall is the prettiest season here in MyState. People come from all over the world to visit the national park and October is one of the most crowded times of the year. The small towns near the national park host Octoberfests, Fall Festivals and go all out in decorating for the season. Once fall is over, the towns decorate for Winterfest, a delightful holiday season complete with lights, decorations and special events.

Fall is my favorite season and October is my favorite month because of where I live. I love the different colors of leaves. I love all things pumpkin. I love fall decorations. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. And my daughter was born in the fall. I’ve written before about how divorce is season in our lives – things are always changing. I’ve also written before about finding the new ‘normal’ in your life after divorce, about finding your happiness and moving forward in joy.

Divorce is a very difficult time in one’s life – especially if your spouse is the one who filed for the divorce. (In my case, I filed.) You can feel rejected, angry, bitter and depressed. It’s okay to feel those emotions. After all, we are emotional beings. It’s part of what makes us uniquely human. But don’t dwell in those dark emotional places. Find the places that make you feel accepted and happy.

If this is your first holiday season after your divorce, I understand what you’re feeling. Give yourself permission make this holiday season different:

1. Feel free to ‘bow out’ of huge family gatherings: You may not feel like doing the huge family holiday, especially if your ex will be present. Carve out a time for you and your children, or for you and a few close friends, to have a smaller holiday gathering. If your family gets offended, don’t worry about it. You are the most important person right now – your healing trumps everything else.

2. Make new holiday traditions: Bring the stress level down several notches. Do simple things like: go out to see holiday light displays, go out for hot chocolate and pumpkin pie, invite a few close friends over to help you decorate for the holiday, have a pizza and movie night with your adult children. Keep it simple. The less stress, the better.

3. Give back to your community: Volunteer at a women’s shelter, collect coats for the homeless, volunteer for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign, collect donations for your local animal shelter. Giving back makes you turn outward instead of turning inward and feeling that destructive self-pity.

4. Be an ‘elf’: When you’re in line at Starbucks, pay for the person’s order behind you. When you’re at the grocery store, find an elderly person in the checkout lane and pay for their groceries. Be generous with your time and money. If you know of a single mom, pay her electric bill so she can give her children Christmas.

5. Put on your favorite holiday music and sing along at the top of your lungs! Who cares who’s listening?! Let yourself go! Be giddy and enjoy the spirit of the season!

Divorce can be dark and depressing. It can make the holiday season dark and depressing, too. Don’t dwell in that place! Even if you sing, dance or decorate just a little, at least you’re grabbing some of the holiday spirit. Start out small. One of my favorite post divorce activities was to turn out all the lights except the lights on my decorations – fall leaf swag, Christmas tree, etc. I would make myself a cup of hot chocolate and just sit in the silence with my dogs. It was so peaceful. Let peace reign in your heart this season. Get out and enjoy the sights and smells of fall. This is yet another season in your life. Breathe a prayer of “Thank you” and enjoy the whipped cream on your hot chocolate! Hugs, dear one! Stay tuned. . . .

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The Last Day of Your Life

Whenever I hear of a loss of life, whatever the situation, I always think, “Did they (the people involved) know that was going to be their last day on earth?” Most likely, the answer is “No”. I know this may be a rather macabre subject, but I have a purpose in this post.

The years and days leading up to my divorce were dark – I have shared before that I walked around angry all the time. I was bitter, easily agitated, and not very much fun to be around. Some folks would have cheered my passing during that time! I wasn’t much better immediately following the divorce.

It takes me 40 minutes to get to work since I moved in with Cycle Dude. That gives me a great deal of time to pray, think about life and listen to worship music. This morning on my way in to work, I thought about the phrase, “The Last Day of Your Life” and what it means. I thought, what would most people do if they knew when they woke up this morning that it was the last day of their lives? Would they be more compassionate, more kind and generous? Then I thought, we ought to live our lives like that anyway.

Why wait until death is near to be a good person? To have faith in God? To show unconditional love to others? We should live each day like it’s our last. Yes, it’s easy to get angry, to be irritated by the hatred and evil we see around us. But what if we lived each day with a little more compassion, with a kind word on our lips, with a grateful and generous heart? We may not make a difference in the entire world, but we will make a difference in our small corner of the world.

Psalm 90, verse 12 states: “Teach us to number our days, that we may have a heart of wisdom.” And again in Psalm 139, verse 16: “You saw my unformed body. . . You knew the number of my days before there was one of them. . . .”. Whether or not we know the number of our days, God knows. We are to live our lives with wisdom, being selfless instead of being selfish. Instead of living our days for ourselves – in a self-centered, grab-all-I-can for me, me, me lifestyle – why don’t we live our lives in such a way that shows the love of God, or our belief in the goodness of humanity? Whenever we depart this world, we will leave all our stuff behind. I don’t want to be remembered for amount of stuff I had, but for the amount of love I showed. Stay tuned. . . .

The Number of Our Days

I found out this morning that a former boss passed away back in November. She died of a stroke. She was only 45 years old. I am still in shock. She was a great boss.

We never know when we wake up in the morning if this will be our last day on earth. We never know what’s going to happen. God numbers our days. He alone knows how many we have. How do we live our lives in such a manner that we will be prepared for ‘the day’ when it comes?

1. Banish anger and bitterness: For most of my marriage, I was a very angry person. I woke up angry, stayed angry throughout the day and went to bed angry. After my divorce, I became incredibly bitter. Were my emotions affecting ex, the person they were directed to? Heavens, no! Those negative emotions were killing me! Holding onto anger and bitterness is senseless. Let it go.

2. Practice random acts of kindness: Next time you’re at the grocery store and there is an elderly person ahead of or behind you, pay for their groceries. Donate some dog or cat food to your nearest animal shelter. Rake the leaves in your neighbor’s yard. Go out of your way to be kind to a stranger.

3. Be generous with your time, money and resources: Do you have enough to live on – to cover your needs (not necessarily your wants)? Do you find that you have several hours of free time on the weekend? Donate to a cause, volunteer, take your unwanted stuff to a local thrift store. Whatever you have you can’t take with you. You may as well use it up while you’re still living!

4. Cultivate compassion: Don’t be so quick to lose your temper or to speak out of turn. Resolve to listen to others, to hear their heart, their passion and their dreams. Be an encouragement to others. Be quick to serve others.

5. Smile more: I think if more people smiled, it would lighten the mood that so often seems to bring us down. Have you ever watched the other drivers on your way to work? Those who are not on their phone are usually scowling. Smile in rush hour traffic. Smile as you walk down the hallway at work. Smile when you answer the phone! Smile – it increases your face value and makes people wonder what you’re up to.

6. Say “I love you”: Every day before Cycle Dude goes to work, I tell him I love him. Every time I talk to one of my children, my mom or my siblings, I tell them I love them. Do not hesitate to tell those you love that you love them. Don’t worry if it sounds ‘sappy’. You may not get another chance.

Life is waaay to short to spend it ill-tempered, harboring a grudge, hoarding your stuff or looking like an old sourpuss! Make your family and friends glad to know you! Leave them with good memories. Live one day at a time because it may be the last one you have. 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. . . .

On Being a Parent

I found out Friday evening that my oldest son and his wife are expecting at the end of November. This little one is my first grandchild. He or she is also the first great-grandchild for my ex in-laws and the 5th great-grandchild for my mom. I’m sure my ex father-in-law will be over the moon, because if this baby is a boy, he will be carrying on the family name. That is very important in my ex’s family since there is only ex and his brother in his family and his brother never had children.

When I had my oldest, heaven and earth moved for my ex father-in-law. Then when I had my second son, we were assured an heir and a spare. I am so excited for my son and his wife. I texted him the following today:

” I have to tell you two that I believe God gives us children, not for what we can do for them, but what they can do for us. You will find yourselves stretched in ways you never thought possible – and that doesn’t include (my daughter-in-law’s) body! You will experience the deepest fatigue you have ever felt after numerous sleepless nights due to the baby adjusting, teething, not feeling well or just needing to be loved on. You will experience the greatest joy you have ever felt when your child surpasses milestones as a baby, child, teenager or adult. You will experience the greatest heartache you have ever felt when your child experiences it. You will experience the greatest pride you have ever felt when your child receives their first trophy or other accolade announcing their accomplishments. Being a good parent takes teamwork, flexibility and most of all, humor. You are about to embark on the greatest adventure known to mankind. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!”

Parenting is truly hard work because those little things don’t come with an owner’s manual! What works for one family may not work for another. What works for one child most likely will not work for the other(s). I have two boys and a girl – all happily married. The boys are as different as night and day. Then along came their little sister and I definitely could not treat her like I did the boys. It think children also prove that God has a sense of humor. He gave me three very different children.

However, one of the fun things about the Parenthood Adventure is discovering your children’s personalities, strengths and talents. I have been amazed to watch my children as they have grown and become such amazing people. With each child, God gave me a vision for their lives. For my oldest, we were told he would be like Aaron of the Old Testament – very good at speaking and expressing himself. My son can speak five languages and his college degrees are in Communications and German. With my second son, I saw a vision of a pair of hands, like those of the disciple Peter – hands rugged and worn. My son is very happy to help and serve – only he does it in the background, not wanting any recognition. He is also a very compassionate soul. For my daughter, I saw a sword piercing a flame. She is my prayer warrior. She is very strong in her faith. I have been awed by each of my children and the lives they are living. I am indeed a blessed woman!

I’m sure I will give updates on my grandbaby from time to time. Stay tuned!

All Dogs Go To Heaven

I have written before about my two canine children. The three of us recently moved in with Cycle Dude. Shirley, my Dalmatian/hound mix, adores Cycle Dude. He can get her to do things I can’t by just looking at her (like go upstairs to take a bath). If Shirley had her druthers, she’d sleep in Cycle Dude’s bed every night. Shirley acts like a starry-eyed schoolgirl around Cycle Dude (ok, I do, too!!). He just smiles and pats her head. That’s all she needs.

We should all be so fortunate as to have the unconditional love of someone like Shirley. Granted, she’s a dog, but where else will you find such pure, unconditional love? You find that with the God of the universe! I am convinced that in so many parts of our daily lives, our Heavenly Father shows us His incredible love for us. Did you wake up this morning? Did you see the sun rise? Are flowers blooming in your yard? Do you hear the birds singing? Do you have the gracious friendship of a good person?

I see the amazing love of God in the crazy full-body wag of my dog, Jack. I see His boundless love in the beauty of each sunrise. I see His unconditional acceptance in the way Cycle Dude loves me. Take the time today to stop and listen to voice of God. I am reminded of His voice whenever I hear thunder because the Bible says the voice of God sounds like thunder.

I am grateful for the sweet love of my pups – the way Jack looks at me and the way Shirley loves to give me kisses. I am thankful that God gave me such wonderful animals to take care of. They remind me all the time of what unconditional love truly is – accepting and gracious. Thank you, Father, for such a sweet reminder of who You are! 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. . . .