Wednesday, November 30, 2011

This Mama Will Raise Her Children RIGHT


I called the Judge's chambers today and got word that my divorce was signed yesterday, just-the-way-I-wrote-it. Which means, I have full custody and I control the visitation of my children. According to New York State, having full custody means that I am responsible for the decisions in my children's lives. This includes spiritual/moral ones, which have been my biggest battle with John lately.

The inconsistency in seeing the kids, asking about them, and talking to them is something I can deal with. I sobbed all day after he told me he was going to be spending Thanksgiving with his girlfriend and her children, not including his own (and then didn't call or ask about his kids for two days after Thanksgiving). Somehow, walking out of their life for two weeks hurt me more than them. In fact, I think they're young enough that not seeing daddy more than once or twice to sleep at his house wasn't even noticed. He has since apologized and apparently (I hope?) realized how wrong it was to neglect them like that. Now, all of the sudden, he demands a visitation schedule. But herein is where the problem lies.

I found out about another woman spending the night while the children were there not through John, but through Amara. Not cool. This has become a problem that he and his girlfriend are very rigid about. However, I am morally opposed to cohabitation before marriage, especially when you have only known the other person 1 week, this is the first time your children meet her, and your children cannot access your bed if they should need to during the night (I believe they are physically safe, since apparently the gate is placed near John's door and he says he gets up if he hears Amara at it). However. What does this say to a 3-year-old about importance and who is more important to Daddy? What kind of message does this give about our bodies and sexuality? What does this say about using good judgement and being patient and relationships?

Prior to this, John was opposed to anyone spending the night while the kids were present. Now, not only is this happening, but I am in trouble for being opposed to it still. And not only this, but I am also told that there is talk of John moving in with his girlfriend and her kids and cohabiting for at least 6 years before she is done with school. BUT, "don't worry," I am told--my children will have their own bedroom at her house! Oh, great, I feel all fuzzy and warm inside now...

The visitation problems, the demanding a schedule so he "can be free every other weekend," etc. (but I am told at the same time that he does in fact want to see his children, and this is not about wanting to see them--ok...)...I can deal with these things. I cannot, and will not, tolerate modeling sin to my children though. None of us are perfect, but it is totally unacceptable to continually and habitually model inappropriate and unhealthy things--and to know you are doing it, on top of everything else!

It has broken this mama's heart the last two weeks to see these things transpire. I have cried many, many tears over my children and their souls that I so deeply want to protect and help to grow in the image of Christ.  But...I have full custody now. My hands are tied no longer. In the eyes of the state of New York, I am responsible for my children. I believe this also means I will be held to a higher standard than John before God for the upbringing of my children. So with all of that said, I am making a few changes.

Let it be known that this mama will raise her children right. Their father can and should be involved--if it is healthy. I will go to supervised visits only if need be. This means, that there will be no drugs even not around the children (which I do NOT believe he is partaking in at this time), there will be no women spending the night while the kids are there (what you do in your own time is your own business), my children will not be spending the night at someone else's house without my express permission. Also, I will have the contact information of anyone who may care for my children, and I will also get to know that person before they care for my children. You will not be swearing or yelling at or in front of my children. You will not break things, throw things, or hurt them or anyone else when they are around. You will model no sexual behavior in front of them if you cannot do so healthily and appropriately. If you profess Christianity, I will hold you to that standard when it comes to my children. I also expect that you will put my children's interest before your own or anyone else's when they are with you.

That's all. It's simple, really. My children are going to be raised right, and with Godly principles. If you aren't on board with this idea, then you had better find another ship.

Monday, November 21, 2011

You have rights, too.


Dear Single Mom,

You have rights, too. Don't forget it. God entrusted you with those beautiful children. You are going to answer for yourself and how YOU parented, not how your ex-husband did or does. Be gracious, but do not allow yourself to lose things that your child would have had you be part of if you were still married to their father.

You. Are. Still. The. Mama. Hold on to those babies, raise them right, be a good role model, don't sin in your loneliness or anger, and remember that you aren't helpless. Your kids want you as much as you want them. Don't let yourself get pushed out of their lives.

Bill of Rights for Divorced Mothers
  • I have the right to be involved in any and every aspect of my children's lives. I can attend any event I want to and be part of any normal thing that may occur, including all Holidays and events of particular significance.
  • I should not be made to feel like I can't or shouldn't ask questions about where my children are or who they are with.
  • I have the right to meet and get to know people that will become significant in the life of my children. This is not me approving or disapproving--it is simply me wanting to understand and relate to the things that affect and are important to my children.
  • If my children ever want me, I have the right to come.
  • I have the right to know about significant things going on in my children's life from YOU, their father, not from THEM. This means if some woman is spending the night at your house while they are there, you should probably tell me beforehand so I don't find out by way of our 3-year-old at dinner the next day.
  • I have the right to interact with you and whomever your significant other is WITH our children present. It is important that they see the entire family unit interacting positively. This doesn't need to happen all of the time, but I should not be told I cannot be around if your significant other is.
  • I have the right to be respected by you, the father. You will not speak poorly about me to our children, nor will disregard my boundaries and standards for our children. If you disagree with something, we will come to a compromise together. Consistency between the parents is important, as is the children seeing that we value each other as parents.
  • I have the right to protect my children. From anyone and anything. They are my first priority, and I am allowed to unleash the mama bear within me if she is needed. God made me a mama.

Bill of Rights for Children of Divorce

Bill of Rights for Children of Divorce

  • I have the right to love and be loved by both of my parents, without guilt, pressure, disapproval or rejection.
  • I have the right to be protected from my parents' anger.
  • I have the right to be kept out of the middle of my parents' conflict, including the right not to pick sides, carry messages, or hear complaints about the other parent.
  • I have the right to have a regular daily and weekly routine, one that is not filled with unpredictable disruptions, chaos, or unpleasant surprises.
  • I have the right to not have to choose between my parents. It is my right to not be expected to choose with whom I will live. Having to make this kind of choice will always hurt someone, and therefore, me. I have this right even when I am a teenager. I CAN NEVER CHOOSE BETWEEN MY PARENTS.
  • I have the right not to be responsible for the emotional needs of my parents.
  • I have the right to know well in advance about any major changes that will affect my life.
  • I have the right to reasonable financial support from my parents.
  • I have the right to appropriately express my feelings to my parents and expect that they will listen to me.
  • I have the right to not be expected to make adult decisions. I have the right to remain a child and not replace a parent in my duties, or to act as an adult companion, personal friend or comforter to my parents.
  • I have the right to like and love as many people (such as stepparents and relatives) as I want to without guilt and without being made to feel disloyal.
  • I have the right to a life as close as possible to what I would have had if my parents had stayed married to each other.

This composition is a widely circulated one. Sad that it had to be written in the first place, but good that it is available since I believe that divorce is always originally caused by selfish decisions--and selfish people tend to not change. A written set of guidelines for those people can be particularly valuable in advocating for the children, and for mediating between the adults about the children in a "broken family" sort of situation. 

I challenge you to create a bill of rights for the children in your home, married or not. Keeping yourself accountable as a parent is the second step in being a good parent. The first step is true love--make sure you know how to do it correctly. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

the papers are filed, and it's good to see

Things are finally through. All of my filing for the divorce is completed as of yesterday. It took a lot of hoop jumping, gas, time, and effort. Oh, and money. Yes, I will be paying my parents back for seven more weeks. LOL

The first time I went yesterday, I had to pick up papers at a judge's office, then had to go to the clerk's office and pay lots of money. Then the man tells me that I have to "re-serve" John, and that his signed, dated, and notarized copy of the Defendant's Affidavit doesn't count because it was done before today when things became "official." I clarify this about three times, attempt to negotiate my way into still being able to file it, and then choke back my tears when I realize it's futile and I will have to make another trip back. The emotional roller coaster of thinking I will be done and then being told that no, I'm still attached, is horrible. The first time I was sent away from the office with nothing of importance filed, I bawled for an hour. This time, I swallowed a lot of saliva and managed while I drove 45 minutes one way to where John was so he could get it re-notarized.

And then I went back to the clerk's office. This was the third time. I paid more money, signed more papers, and then...I walked out. Done. I have often wondered how I would react to things being finalized. While it's still not "finalized" until the judge has signed the papers, my part is finalized (hopefully, I really don't want a letter stating I need to come in again because I messed something up!). All I do now is wait and pray. And I thought that when I got to this point, I would cry and grieve the loss of being married to one person forever again. But...I'm not. When I walked out of that secured building and into the Autumn air, I looked around and it was just like the first time I ever wore contacts. Everything was crisper, brighter. The colors more intense, the details more noticeable.

Everything else ended a long time ago now. I had years to digest that my marriage was doomed (although right up until the moment I left, I hoped for something different), years to grieve the loss of my spouse as I saw him fade further and further away from myself and our relationship. The trauma of leaving (fear, uncertainty) ended shortly after we made that transition. The things that bound me to a relationship like that--subjugation and unrelenting standards--was my main focus after I felt safe after leaving, and those things were resolved after a few weeks of intense dedication. I am in a fantastic place now psychologically, emotionally, and mentally (come on, body! Get in shape and join the party!). And now, the last step is almost complete. Within three weeks, 10 months after we left, I will be legally married no longer.

There is so much more to sight than seeing, and it is so good to know that my entire self will get to be alive for the rest of my life now.

Thank you, Jesus. I like to see.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Letter to My Children

To my beautiful, precious children, Amara and Timothy...

It is the night before Amara's third birthday. I remember my third birthday well; my parents, big sister, and my best friends, an older couple who were our neighbors came over to our house to celebrate. The fire truck I received as a gift that year is something I still have, though a little battered at this point, 24 years later. I remember this night one year ago well, too. Your daddy and I stayed up very, very late, putting together a wooden kitchen set for you. We wrapped it in paper and took photos of you as you came out to the living room in your footed jammies the next morning, saying "wow! wow!" in your big two-year-old way. It is a memory I cherish.

Tonight, Timmy is sleeping in his bed and Amara is snuggled into my bed, waiting for mommy as she sleeps. Tomorrow, you will both wake up, and Mommy will sing "happy birthday" in an over-exuberant, ridiculously happy way, and we will spend the day smiling and giggling and having a great time together, celebrating the life of Amara. But tonight, I am sitting at the computer, and there are tears running down my face. You both have improved so much--your behavior, your peacefulness, your joyfulness, since daddy stopped living here. The transition to a "split family" home has been beyond easy for us three, but I still worry about both of you. I know that a few birthdays from now, you will begin to ask questions, and I will need to have answers. These are discussions that I never thought I would have to have with my children, because divorce was never something I even thought remotely possible in my life. But here we are. And I want this to continue to be a positive thing for you and to never, ever become a negative thing. I believe that is possible. God is our Abba Father, our Daddy, and he is a wonderful, good, and trustworthy father. He will take care of us, and we will let him.

So, my darling children, tonight I write some answers for you.

First, know that you are extremely important to both mommy and daddy. If we thought it would be better for you that we are together, we would be together. Always know that we will never make a decision that does not affect you in a positive way. You are our first priority. You were a big factor in my decision to pack us three up and leave, in fact. There were a lot of bad things going on that scared you, and that I didn't want you to see or experience. It weighed very heavy on my heart, every day, that I was allowing my precious babies to be in a home that was, at that time, so unhealthy. There were a lot of anger problems, and a lot of problems stemming from your daddy not knowing how to love. It wasn't that he didn't love you or me, it's that he didn't really know how, I don't think. He does love you, and I don't want you to ever doubt that.

I prayed a lot about leaving, and God told me that morning that it was time and we were to go. Even after that day, daddy and I tried to "fix" things. So far, many things have changed, and some I'm not sure ever will. Even if it ever did change completely though, there were things that happened that hurt me very, very deeply, and because of that, mommy and daddy aren't able to be married. You deserve and need to see a positive marriage and relationship. We are working hard to model a positive relationship for you, and if God chooses (and I really think he will), you will also be able to see a healthy marriage in the future between me and the man God picks to be a second father to you, too. Don't worry, God only chooses the best, and I am listening to him 100%. You will never be second best.

Over time, you will probably begin to hear and understand what happened before Amara was 27 months old and Timothy 7 months old, for that is when we left. I don't want you to hate your father for this. I want you to understand that I do not hate him for these things. What matters is how much he loves you and how he treats us now. What matters is that he is thrilled to be your daddy right now, and nothing is ever going to take that away. When you hear these things, know that God allowed this to happen, and that while people are responsible for their choices, they hurt other people out of their own pain. It is ok to be sad when you hear these things, but you need to also have joy. Without having gone through these things, I wouldn't be the mother I am to you, and your daddy wouldn't be the father he is to you. There are many, many good things that came out of this whole thing, and the first is that you two were born. You make every moment entirely worth it. I cannot be sad or regret marrying your father, because I am so in love with both of you, and that marriage really shaped who I am. Your parents not being together was not only a good thing for you and me, but it was the best thing that may have ever happened to your daddy. Extremely difficult, but it entirely changed how he is as a father and as a person. I am proud of him.

You don't need to ever feel like you're in the middle, or that you have a horrible life because your parents aren't "together". Divorce is never God's first plan, but sometimes sin happens and it destroys God's first plan. The AWESOME news is that God can create a second plan that is just as good if not better than the first plan, and that is what He is going to do in our lives! He loves us so much, and when he doesn't choose to restore relationships, it's because he has something better for EVERYONE involved who is obeying him! God ONLY gives good gifts to his children who are obeying him. Trust that, my dear ones.

I love you. Period. And I will protect you and raise you up to be warriors for God and lovers of people. Amara and Timothy, you are so precious in the sight of God and your parents. God has blessed our family so very much in the last almost nine months, and he will continue to do so. Trust me when I say that this is the best thing that could have happened in our situation...you are both smiling again, and you are not going to hurt again.

I love you to the moon and back, and thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much,
Your Mommy

Monday, October 24, 2011

I am a survivor, not a victim



The day I left, I was terrified. The night before, he had kept me up very, very late. It was a cycle that was all to common in my household: I come home after 24 or so hours of working straight, I am tired, I get the kids in and to bed (without disturbing him, or at least trying not to), and then we sit on the couch...or he follows me around. No matter what I say or do, he tells me that I don't love him, that I didn't miss him enough while I was working. I reason with him, I am calm. My integrity is questioned, my character attacked. But I know that it's not what I say or do, it's a time thing. Two hours will need to pass before I am allowed to go to bed...

...but I am tired tonight. I haven't slept hardly at all in 48 hours. I have a six month old who I nurse and pump milk for while working, and another beautiful child who just had her second birthday not long ago. I don't even think about the fact that I would love a hug and to be held and to be told I am loved and that he is so glad to see me. I have been ignoring those needs and feelings of mine for a long time, because it's easier to think you don't actually need those things if you are scorned for asking. It's easy for me to still love him, though, and I don't think twice about gently reminding him that we could go to bed, that sleep would help, that I do love him and remind him of the reasons why he should believe this.

I am not allowed to go to the bathroom. I am not allowed to go to bed. I eventually get so exhausted that I am crying. I am scared to have him in my face, to restrain me from even walking through my own house. I am trying to keep it mentally together even though my mind is being twisted to the point it convulses and I want to kill myself. So I finally have a plan...surely, I think, if I go into Amara's room, I could sleep on the floor next to her bed and he will leave me alone so that I can sleep. Surely, he wouldn't wake his daughter up.

Once I have a chance, I make it into her room quiker than his hands or body can stop me. I am quiet, and I stifle the sickness and terror I feel inside, relieved that I will soon be able to ignore it once again and continue being happy and continue loving him. But he doesn't stop. He stands in the doorway and demands that I come out with him. Amara wakes up and is crying. He is livid with me and will not let me sleep, will not let her have peace. I have no choice but to leave the room for the sake of my daughter. So like every other time, I end up giving in and separating myself mentally from him and the situation until it's over and I'm allowed to use the bathroom and allowed to go to bed.

This time, though, we both know. We know our marriage is over, and I cry silently next to him as I pray and I hear God tell me that it is time. I let him hold me, and I grieve that this will be the last time he does, and that I cannot keep going. This was never supposed to happen to me, and surely not to my children. He doesn't ever hold me, and this is how I know that he also knows.

In the morning, I know that he still knows, because he won't leave for work until I promise that I won't leave him today. I feel so guilty for lying. And half of me hopes that I'm not lying, that he will take the van, leaving me only the car which isn't working very well and which doesn't give me the space I will need to pack us up. I beseech God one more time as I lay there, giving him another chance to give me another day, another chance that maybe everything will change. I ask God to make it clear if I am to leave; it would make more sense for him to take the van since it was working, so if he took that, I would stay. If he went in the car, though, a decision that wouldn't make sense, I was to go.

After I heard a vehicle leave, Amara and I went to the door and looked out. And I cried.

It took me a few hours to pack us up. I called my dad, crying and said something about that it was time for me to leave and that we were coming. My family didn't know what was going on. My friends didn't know what was going on. But I couldn't do it anymore. There was no choice. I just couldn't do it anymore. A friend talked to me on the phone for two hours while I grabbed clothing, diapers, food, and toys and threw it all into baskets and into the van. The longer it took, the more terrified I got. My whole body shook.

I wrote a note saying that we were sorry and that we loved him. Amara drew a picture on it. And then we left. This is the beginning of me being a survivor and not a victim.

In honor of domestic violence awareness month

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A better way to love your spouse, Part I

If your husband is not acting in a way that shows love or respect to you, if he complains, doesn't want to interact, or belittles you, then maybe you ought to look at what you are doing. Are you meeting his needs by affirming him and his masculinity verbally, offering your body to him sexually, making sure he comes home to a peaceful, quiet, and clean environment? If you aren't doing these things, then you should not expect him to be meeting your needs, for men need affirmation, sex, and servanthood to feel like "real men." If your man isn't feeling like a "real man," then you are not loving him as Christ would have you love. Take careful prayer and thought so that God will open your eyes to new ways that you can serve your man and make him feel whole...and by all means, do NOT ask him to change, as this is an attack on him. Instead, go to greater lengths to love him, and pray more for him.
...did reading that shock you? If not, then it should. This is a common idea portrayed in many of the "good wife" literature. For a variety of reasons, I do not often read books on "christian" wifedom (yes, I did just make that word up), and this is one of them. Here is what the above thought boils down to:
  1. You should not expect that your husband has the ability or that he SHOULD act appropriately regardless of the circumstances.
  2. If YOU tried harder, then he would treat you better. His actions are a direct reflection on what you are doing or not doing, so ultimately, you are responsible for his actions.
  3. You offer your body, affirm him, and surround him with peace and joy in an attempt to modify his behaivor.
Doing the named things: praying for your husband, thinking of ways to encourage and affirm him, etc., in and of themselves aren't a bad thing...but is approaching them this way the best way? Maybe it is, or maybe it isn't a sin to manipulate a person to do something. Maybe we shouldn't use the word "manipulation" and just stick with "behaivor modification" instead. Maybe it doesn't matter at all...but what if there is a better way? Is it not worth a second look?

What if, instead of doing these things in an attempt to get a spouse to act the way we want them to, we did these things out of love, expecting nothing in return? What if, instead of shutting our mouths and not believing that our spouses are capable of or required to be responsible at all times and regardless of circumstances, we held them to a higher standard, and gently but firmly reminded them that they do have the ability and are expected to act appropriate regardless of how they feel? What if we forgot about behavior modification, the reasons why a spouse may act a certain way, and focused instead on LOVING that person while also holding them ACCOUNTABLE?

...maybe marriages would change, and families would be in a better place. The truth will set you free. Don't be afraid to look at what you are doing, why you are doing it, and if it's actually Biblical or just something you have been taught.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Five Hours Early


Nine pm came early today; at four pm, actually. Five hours early. That's five hours longer tonight that I get to feel...lonely. It's hardest during the stretches when I don't work. Normally, a single parent would go to work, then shift into parent time at home, and then after parent time was done, then the loneliness might hit. Single people, I imagine, experience this upon coming home from work. So maybe today I am just feeling like a single person minus the parent part...who knows. Either way, it is lonely.

Today is day number four in a row that I haven't worked. And I have two more after this one. It's not that I don't love being the primary caregiver of my children--that is a blessing I don't take for granted...but after you haven't seen or talked to anyone over the height of 3' (if even that) in hours or days, you start to really, really crave adult interaction. The little things, like hearing about someone else's day and having them ask about yours, making dinner because there is someone else who actually prefers a real meal over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and relaxing after the kids go to bed instead of cleaning.

Relaxing. There is no one to touch or to touch you. There is no one to listen to breathe at night (ok, well, I do admit that more often than not lately, Amara sneaks her way into my bed toward the morning hours). If you laugh, you do it alone. There is no end in sight, no R&R that's going to bring your loved one home for a little while...so you just keep going. You find joy in the other little things, and transform your sadness over being lonely into joy over the expectation that someday, you will share these things again. Every day, you do it again, and come up with ways to fill that 9pm lonely syndrome so it doesn't overpower you.

But today...today, 9pm is here early. And so as I watch my beautiful babies eat their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, as I wash little faces and hands, as I pick up toys and vacuum cereal off the floor, as I work on my projects...I sing lullabies to myself, hold my own heart, and carry my head high. I will not allow this feeling to affect me negatively. I can fight it for five extra hours today. I will not make mistakes or dwell or feel bad for myself because I am alone. I will instead count today as a blessing, because even in those five extra hours, I am accomplishing things, I am developing into a stronger and better person inside, and after all, once today and these five extra hours are over, I will be one day closer to not being lonely any more.

Love vs. Idol Worship


I am disgusted. Unfortunately, I happened across a keeper-at-home blog and read a post. Might not be such a bad thing, but I tend to avoid these sorts of writings anymore, because I feel that the mindset of a woman's purpose in life being to only serve her husband (because this is how you serve God, if you are a woman) is not only un-Biblical, but FALSE and HARMFUL at best.

Read this post, and then continue reading mine: http://www.abowlofmossandpebbles.com/?p=4040

While I completely agree with supporting your husband, being a helpmeet, loving him through actions, etc., I do not believe that I should raise my daughters with the mindset that everything they are learning is to ultimately serve another person. God gives us talents, desires, opportunities, and abilities. Why are these girls focusing all of their time and energy on the dream of serving a man when they could be developing what God set them apart to do and begin to do it now? Is not this idea placing an idol before God, since it removes the focus of him, and forces you to look at serving him through the object of a spouse?

Instead of using my singleness to focus on being married, I want my singleness to be focused on serving God and reaching people NOW. God created me as a capable person, and let's remember that God is just as much male as he is female, just as much father as he is mother. I am not going to go study books on cars just in case I marry a mechanic. I am not going to go stock up a closet full of homemade blankets just because someday, a man might sleep in my bed with me (or, shall I say, me sleep in his bed with him?). I am not going to practice making tofu dishes just in case he is a vegan. I am, though, going to fix anything within myself that needs healing so that I can be a whole person, thus able to reach out to others NOW and so that I can have a stronger marriage LATER. I am going to earn a living to the best of my ability now so that I can take care of myself and my family NOW and also have a firm foundation for LATER. And you know what? I am going to learn things that I am interested in, develop the talents I have, and work hard to achieve the desires that God has laid upon my heart. Why? Because God put them there, not because I want my future husband to be proud.

Why am I so adamant about this topic? Loving your husband isn't harmful, after all, right? Serving him fixes things, it doesn't create problems, right? Maybe, maybe not. It happens all too often that "christian" women get so focused on being a good wife (because that's what makes us holy, you know), that they forget that God is their head more than their husband is. "Spousal worship" is the term I like to use for this. Your spouse comes home, and like he does every day, he is grumpy, complains to you, belittles you, throws something at you because you aren't as mad as he is, etc.. If you love him and are a good wife, you should just forgive him, pray for him more, and try to make the home environment more pleasant so he will want to come home and treat you respectfully...Right? If this is a regular thing, though, maybe what he really needs is a swift kick in the butt, whether that means you tell him that under no circumstances is he to treat you or your children as if they have no value (if he will respond to this, and if it's a daily thing, he probably won't), or that you pack his bags and move him out (unfortunately, that truly is the only thing that will make some people change). Are you truly loving someone if you continue to allow them to act this way? Is he not sinning? Does God tolerate sin? If you are truly a helpmeet, why do you tolerate this behavior if it is an ongoing thing (we are not speaking of the mistakes that everyone makes from time to time; I am speaking of habitually mistreating people, thus having abusive patterns within your relationship)? And are you, then, sinning yourself, because you have now begun to worship your spouse instead of God?

Be careful, is all I'm saying. Know the difference between loving your husband and worshiping your husband. Know the difference between preparing to be a great spouse and forgetting about the calling that God has for you individually. Realize that you are insulting your creator by not developing and pursuing that which he gave you the ability and desire to do.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Scarlet Letter of Divorce


Just for the record, I don't believe in divorce, either. And ya know what? God didn't believe in us being separated from Him, either. But sin happens. And when sin happens, relationships change. However, both God and I believe in a thing called "propitiation" which means "perfect substitute." We don't get to go back to Eden, but we sure do get to dwell with him FOREVER anyway, thanks to him creating the perfect substitute of Jesus.

So even though I might have to wear a scarlet letter of "D" for the rest of my life, and I may never stop being the victim of life's stone throwers, GOD is bigger, and he can create a propitiation for me, too. He is my protector and provider, and He. Loves. Me. Marriage is not more sacred than our relationship with God. Having a husband does not make you holier. Love. God. That is the ultimatum.

Sometimes, it is a life or death situation. Maybe you don't understand, but here's the thing: you don't need to. You don't need to understand what it feels like to be barricaded, degraded, humiliated, and be forced to do things that are despicable. You don't need to understand what it feels like to have your dignity taken away, to be denied basic human needs, to be unsafe in your own home. You don't need to understand what it feels like to not be able to even cry out to God on your own behalf anymore, to not breathe on your own, to prefer and plan your own death rather than to continue living. And you certainly don't need to understand how it's possible to continue loving, serving, and cherishing the person who does these things to you through every day and night...and how even if you are capable of loving someone through that, you cannot be with that person anymore. (and I will even tell you a secret--God weeps with and rescues his beloved from their oppressors. Try reading the Old Testament. And guess what else--he never told the Hebrews to go back to Egypt even though the Bible also says for slaves to be content in serving their masters. Just sayin'. Relationships change, and everything is not so black-and-white.).

Jesus is my savior, not my religion.


Disclaimer: the intent of this blog is not to educate people on what the Bible really says about issues, nor to defend myself. It is simply to help me process things and to reach out to others. As a result, I will probably not choose to get into any virtual arguments or defenses with anyone who leaves conflicting opinions in the comment section of this blog.

Monday, October 3, 2011

YOU...through music.

God Bless The Broken Road (Rascal Flatts)

Where I Land (JJ Heller)

Hold Me (Jamie Grace)

Boat Song (JJ Heller...yes, again.)

Lead Me (Sanctus Real)

Courageous (Casting Crowns)
Love, Me

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dear Future Husband, I am daring to hope.

Dear Future Husband,

I am daring to hope again. There is a notebook full of letters to you that I have...but it hasn't been written in for a very long time, because I was married to someone else. Since that time, I was at first terrified to think of ever having a serious relationship, let along marriage, again. After the fear left, I was convinced that it would just never happen--that I am of little value now and that no man would think I am worth it. God has brought me to a new place during the last month, though, and I am now beginning to hope again. I realize now that if God can create the perfect substitute of Jesus dying so that we can be with him forever after original sin came into the world, then surely He can create a perfect substitute in my personal life, as well.

I don't know how long it will be until I know who you are, or even until I meet you if I haven't already...but I am ok in the waiting. My heart desires to be with no one but you, and in the right timing as well. You are the one I want, and I think you are worth waiting for. So, I will wait. (in the meantime, try to make your appearance sooner than like, 20 years from now, ok?)

The beautiful thing is that you will be getting a woman who has been in love with you for a very, very long time. I cannot wait to be in your arms, and to smile and laugh with you. I cannot wait to cherish you, protect you, provide for you, and live life with you. I cannot wait to fall asleep listening to you breathe, and to wake up by your kiss. I cannot wait to love you through actions and words...and I cannot wait to let my guard down and let you love me.

I have begun praying for you again. It was really painful for a long time to think of that, but now I consider it an honor to be lifting you up to God, and I rejoice in that opportunity. So until we meet, know that I am praying for you, and that God knows your name. I am waiting for you, and I will continue to wait no matter how long it takes. If I knew the day we would meet, though, I would definitely be counting down.

I love you.

Agape,
Your Future Wife

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rachel's Creed


I believe in healing and the full restoration of wounded people.
I claim that for myself and my family.

I believe in the provision of a propitiation --perfect substitute-- for desperate situations.
I trust that God will bring one about for myself and my children in His timing.

I believe the promise that God will heal the broken hearted, binding up their wounds.
I am comforted in knowing that I won't hurt forever.

I believe the promise that God will turn our mourning into dancing.
I am excited to know my life will be abundant.

I believe that past suffering can be used to bring about the survival of many people.
I will use my journey as a way to lift others up.

I believe that I do not have to be hurt in the same way again.
I will choose to be healthy and protect myself while loving extravagantly.

I believe that God is all I need, and He will lead me beside still waters.
I will not follow temptation to have anything replace what He can give me.

I believe that I am valuable.
I will live in a way that models for my children that one's value is not dependent upon what happens to her.

I believe that my future is beautiful.
I have peace and joy when I think about what is to come.

Signs of Healing

My healing heart has moved in monumental ways recently. I know this because I am able to talk to and be around John without experiencing as much anxiety as before; in fact, it's almost "normal". We were able to watch a movie after the kids went to bed and before he went home last week, as well as go out and eat dinner while discussing the kids (a future 3-year-old birthday party is coming near!)...and it was fine! I had a bit of chest heaviness-anxiety-stuff for the first half of the evening when we went out, but it resolved and we had a nice evening.

Secondly, I was able to just (briefly) look through a Facebook wedding album that some friends were in. Might not seem like a big deal, right? Wrong. I dread anything wedding or new baby related anymore. It's not because I experience jealousy or anything at the sight of these things, it's just that it reminds the ideals I grew up desiring for my future family have been taken away from me. It's a grief thing. I wanted better for my kids, for myself...The fact that I could look through wedding photos and only feel half of my heart aching is a big improvement.

Their is hope for the future. Always.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I cried.


I cried. And not just the "wipe-away-a-tear" cry, but the downright "sniffling and holding onto my best friend for dear life" sort of cry. There's only one patient I have ever cried over before in my life, and she was a beautiful baby girl who had third degree burns and whose name the babysitter didn't even know.

Going to the call, I told Lee that I wondered if this would be a difficult call for me or not. It was the first domestic violence call that has happened to fall on my shift. I don't dwell on these things though, and I dismissed the thought as soon as I said it so I could focus on what I may or may not need to do, wondering what the injuries would be if any at all.

She stepped up into my ambulance, a girl around my age. Her blond hair matted with blood and dirt, her legs streaked with red that dripped onto her sneakers that in an unexpected way actually matched the cocktail dress she was wearing. Her friend was right behind her, demanding to know what her boyfriend did.

It was her arm and wrist that were sliced from the glass door. As I opened a bottle of sterile water, I rhetorically asked the cop if they were detaining the guy. I wasn't impressed with his answer and I informed him in no questionable terms that he had better hold on to that guy or I might just leave my ambulance to do so. Punk.

I was doing ok, but I could tell I had better shut the inner Rachel off quickly because my hands started to shake as I poured the water onto a towel. Soon enough, it was just her and I. We chatted and I wasted no time explaining to her that I left my marriage because of domestic abuse. She grabbed my hand and interrupted herself to tell me that she was really, really glad that I was the one with her because she needed to hear what I was telling her. She talked while I tied linen around her body in an attempt to keep her arm together. I told her to not move her arm, and to keep her wrist bent because any movement was causing her skin and fat to pull away from her body like nothing I have seen before. She thanked us over and over as she removed her ring.

I knew time was ticking before I started to feel again, so I quickly gave the nurse a report and got the signatures I needed after getting to the hospital. Lee caught me outside the patient's room and asked the dreaded question, if I was ok or not. I looked at him and I think he said "no" before I could say anything and then it just came crashing down. Somehow, I got outside...maybe without anyone noticing, or maybe with everyone noticing. I didn't really care. Somehow, the computer was moved out of my hands and to another location, and I buried my face into my arms. He held me while I couldn't say anything, then I curled myself into the passenger seat of the ambulance. I really just wanted to curl up in the ditch and die under the moonlight, moving on into Jesus' arms, never to experience pain again.

After I finished my paperwork, he came back and got the computer to finish getting what I needed so I wouldn't have to go inside. By that time, I was doing better though. In an attempt to console me, he told me that the boyfriend was indeed being detained and things were going to be worked out, and I got myself strong enough to move forward.

I said goodbye and good luck to her, watching as the doctor put stitch after stitch into her flesh. Then, I got back into my ambulance and we drove away...

I cried again as I wrote this. You see, I never bled and I have no physical scars, but I know the sound of things being broken. I understand what it's like to move yourself or your beloved little one out of the way quickly, before you are broken too. I still feel sick when I hear certain words or when some people get too close to me. I was not crying for her. She will get out of that relationship and she will be ok. I am ok, too, but sometimes it still hurts, and sometimes I get tired of being strong. Sometimes, I just want to beat the daylights out of him for everything I went through...but even that isn't what makes me cry.

Yes, I grieve what happened for so long. I grieve the fact that I believe in marriage and it was taken away from me. I grieve the thought that my children will not grow up in a home with both parents living in it. But this isn't what makes me weep. Lee told me at one point while I sat in the ambulance outside the hospital that this would never happen to me again, that no one would ever treat me like that again. I doubt he realized it, but that is exactly why I cry. I cry because I want to be worth someone's forever promise. I want to be safe and not have my guard up. I want to never, ever be hurt like that again. And I am afraid that the people who I know won't hurt me will walk out of my life and I will be left fighting for survival again. Completely illogical, I know, but my heart is still tender and I am only accepting a bright future from here on out in life. My standards are very high and I will not, will not be hurt again like that.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched; the flames will not even burn you. 
-Isaiah 43:2

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Irritated.


Dear Ex-Husband;

I am so frustrated by you right now. I write because I need to get my frustration out. I will not discuss it with you because those conversations never get anywhere and I refuse to induce the stress it will surely bring, and I will not discuss this with someone else for a variety of other reasons.

Number One: would you PLEASE knock off those habits of yours that you KNOW absolutely infuriate me because of how disrespectful they are? No matter how many years I have been calmly telling you that I can't stand you constantly reinterpreting what I say in order to tell me what I really mean or really think (when that is NOT what I said and you are ALWAYS wrong, anyway, because what I tell you is really what I mean and think!), you still do it. You still do it! STOP! And then you ask why I seem upset when you talk to me...

Number Two: would you PLEASE do a few things around here that I have needed done for months if not years? These are things that I CAN'T DO myself. You know that even married to you, I wouldn't ask you to do something I could do for myself. If I am asking you to do these things, maybe that means I really need them done. Like could you lower the lawn mower? It's ridiculous what I go through to mow the lawn here because you can't be here long enough for me to do it. I need the blade lowered so I don't have to mow as often. I also NEED you to hang the curtain rod. Sleep is far more difficult when light is coming through the window and it's only a matter of time before the pin tacks that are holding the curtain up come out of the wall and someone steps on it. Also, move your truck cap while you're outside lowering the lawn mower blade. It's difficult to maneuver around.

Number Three: figure out how to spend less money, because I am picking up your tab and it's not acceptable. YOUR cell phone habits run up the bill and I end up paying the difference. You use my Internet, and I have to pay $60 a month for that. I have no desire to make money off of you, and I have every intention of being able to fully support our children myself...but I do not care to pay your bills, and I feel like some of that is happening.

Number Four: when you read this, you will be mad, no doubt. Why? Because it might make you look bad to someone. Please don't confront me about it. I need to vent somehow, and this is the only way I can think of because while I really just want to go running until I pass out right now, I have to take care of our kids, clean the house, get all of their laundry washed, pack their bags for tomorrow, pack my work and weekend stuff up, and go shopping all before bed time tonight. And it's something like impossible to go running with two toddlers. I am not concerned with the fairness of my statements right now, nor am I concerned with who reads them because after all, this is my blog and my place to get stuff out. Maybe sometime I'll start sharing stories of the past. That should rock the boat...

Sincerely,
Your pissed off Ex-Wife

PS- I understand that you are unable to afford an apartment and vehicle right now that would accommodate our children. So until then, when you have to use my house and my van when you are with them, please try to help out with the cleaning of each.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Thousand Fireflies Deep

Ya know what? I am happy. I don't mean "count all of your trials joy" sort of happy, but the real sort of happiness that you experience at your core. The kind that can't be shaken because even when you get an unexpected bill, you find the contents of a toothpaste tube squeezed out onto the counter, or your ex-husband puts your mind through a blender, that happy part of you isn't touched. It's in a place all of its own at the center of your heart, pumping joy throughout every artery in your body.

Joy unshakeable. Peace unquenchable. Hope with wings like an eagle.

It started with love like a firefly...

Obedience and understanding opened my door to the outside. It wasn't getting "rid" of someone that changed my life; it was finally realizing that God had something different in store for me than where I was, and that part of Him loving me is allowing justice to happen in my life and to stop the oppression. Only once I was willing to break out of that bondage in faith, not knowing what the future would hold or what survival may entail, was I able to begin to breathe again and start to feel the hand of God again. You see, He will not touch us unless we let him.

It took a while to get to the door even after I began to run for it. It was like finding your way through a dark garage that is piled high with stuff, boxes and shelves making a winding maze, and in my case, a labyrinth. Your adrenaline pushes you to be as fast as possible in your escape, but carrying and protecting two small and vulnerable children along the way slows you down as you elbow your way through the mess and pull their faces close to your chest. The thing about a dark labyrinth is that you don't know when it will end, you are unsure of the correct route that will lead to the end, and you don't anticipate all of the debilitating obstacles you bump into along the way before you get to the end. But eventually, it does end and you can begin to dust yourself off, put band-aids on your wounds, and watch the purple of a bruise fade away as you heal.

Once that door opened though, I was able to step out and into the beautiful night. Fresh air, a million stars hovering overhead, and a thousand fireflies deep. Everywhere you look, you see the twinkling and memorizing beating of tiny beads of light, like crystals against the midnight darkness. Like a firefly, it's that love that gently touches you, surrounds you silently, and gives you space as it dances along side of you. It moves with you, and becomes part of you as your eyes process the light it gives. It's peaceful and fluid. There to illuminate, remind you of beauty, and protect you from the night. And if you should ever forget that love is there, it will radiate again and remind you in its lullaby way, a thousand fireflies deep.




Monday, July 25, 2011

Guide To Leaving Domestic Violence

Someone should write a guide specifically on coming out of domestic violence. The thing, though, is that I'm convinced that a woman who leaves a situation like that must:

1) come to her own conclusion to do so, and

2) decide to be healed of whatever is within herself that attracted her to a relationship like that to begin with.

Most women don't do that. Most people have broken parts inside that will never get fixed because they either don't realize that something is broken, don't know how to fix it, or are so comfortable being broken that they don't want to change. As you read this, maybe you will reflect on your own brokenness; maybe you are at a place in your life, too, where you are ready to get healed. It's a blessed journey to travel, my friend, and so worth it in the end.

For the women who are ready to step away from that relationship (for most of us, it's simply because we can't do it any more. It isn't really a "choice"), though, a guide would be helpful. It would include things like this:

1) A list of free or affordable babysitters who are reliable, good influences, responsible, and trained in CPR.

2) Instructions on how to: install a deadbolt, mow your lawn while your toddlers are awake, motivate yourself to do something after the kids are in bed (other than sit on the couch and listen to the silence), change the oil in your car (because who has done that in the last seven years?!), even know how many cylinders your car is so if you have someone else change the oil you can correctly answer this question, and how to remove a huge wasp nest from your back garage.

3) A pass that you can cut out which says "I am allowed to have a bad day and be grumpy." Because...really, this isn't allowed, but it sure would be nice. :)

4) Workout instructions. When you're starting a new chapter in your life, it feels really darn good to be in charge of your body and accomplish something that's so good for your health!

5) Organization and cleaning tips and tricks to make things happen Mary Poppins' style. Who wants to take all of her free time up by cleaning a house?

And then the more serious things, like what to do when you're lonely and 9pm hits. Night time is the roughest. How to maintain your integrity and not make mistakes out of your loneliness. How to know when you're ready for a relationship, and how to not sabotage the next one you have because you are overly sensitive to certain things. How to retrain your brain to have correct thinking about what is normal and healthy in a relationship. How to rebuild your identity, because if you have truly been in an unhealthy relationship, you probably lost hold of who you were along the way. How to not care what other people think about you (as long as you know you're doing what you should be doing, of course). And...

How to have healthy boundaries with the person you were in that relationship with. How to still show that person respect so your kids can see you model how they should act. How to stop reacting to that person out of fear. How to help that person, have his back, and support him while not giving him the wrong impression.

It's interesting, this journey. A lot of unanswered questions and dilemmas, but it's ok, and the journey is good. Behind every rainbow, there is a little rain...and I sure do like rainbows and the promise of God's love that they hold.

Friday, July 22, 2011

You Are Beautiful

Dear Single Mom,

You are beautiful. You may go days without anyone commenting on your physical appearance, and you may think that no one notices or cares, but you need to know that you are beautiful. It's difficult to feel attractive when you get blinded by the grocery list of "why I am not _____", when you notice and compare yourself to every other seemingly beautiful woman you see, and when your ears are hypersensitive to the people around you commenting on how hot that girl is who just walked by. But...

You are beautiful. The wisdom and love that bounds within your soul is worn on your face, and that's not something that all women have. Your smile does brighten the day of the person honored enough to receive it. You do have curves that compliment your figure and resound the woman that you are.

You are beautiful. You are not as fat as you think you are. The circles under your eyes are outweighed by the strong arms of yours that stay up late to rock your babies. Your hair does scream out for someone to run their fingers through it, your lips for someone to kiss. No one notices your blemishes and wrinkles like you do, and if someone does, honestly, they don't really care because...

You are beautiful. You have value. You are worth the wait. You do get noticed, even if you aren't aware of it. So next time you are feeling unattractive or you can't believe your child when she whispers to you that you are pretty, and even if no one has told you in a week...

Know that you are beautiful.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Working it out by writing.

It's getting to me. Normally, I just pick myself up every morning and begin the new day. I feel positive regardless of what happened in the hours prior. Lately, though, not so much. It's a combination of things, I think: the mountains of paperwork that need filling out (divorce stuff, loan stuff, kids' health insurance, etc.) which never gets worked on, the continual cycles of keeping a house running (thank God Amara is in underpants during the days now!), the desire to do so many things but the inability to actually make them happen...

Oh, and then the other stuff lately. Like picking up body parts, being covered in other peoples' blood, running call after call after call for hours and hours and hours on end, and then not saying anything when a man asks if his wife is dead while he himself has tubes and wires and other things going into and coming out of his own body after a horrific car accident. Or maybe talking to a wife while her husband lies there, completely unresponsive. Or maybe knowing enough to not look at the remaining members of a family after a suicide. Yeah. Maybe that stuff is getting to me. I have had more than my share lately. :-\

People, there are bigger things in my life than a failed marriage. I had years to grieve the loss that I knew was coming. I left back at the end of January, was it? I am in a much, much better place now than I was then (which still grieves me to realize--it should definitely be the other way around and I still hate that I had a marriage full of garbage. Marriage should be something beautiful, but that's another post altogether). When you see me stressed out now, it's not because I don't have a husband. It's not because I am any more of a single mom than I was before, because in reality, I was even more so of a single mom up until the beginning of January when John started really picking up the whole "dad" thing (and I am very thankful that he does a pretty decent job now!).

If I look like a I need a hug, it's not because I am missing John or am having second thoughts about not being married. It's because I am human, like you. I get frustrated when I can't EVER get everything done that I need to. I get drained when my two beautiful toddlers need my constant attention for what seems to be all day and all night. I get needy when I feel like there is no space that is just mine--just like every other mom who can't even go to the bathroom or get a shower alone. :) I feel upset when I have dealt with more people who either are dead or who are going to be dead because of tragic circumstances than a person should have to encounter in a month. I am lonely when I have barely had any adult interactions for a while...and I am sure that these things I feel are not so far from what you feel sometimes, too.

Thank God for the friends who pray for me. The friends who send me encouraging, beautiful, inspired by God messages online even as they walk through their own difficult circumstances. The friends who talk my ear off about their own lives so I can just listen to something different for a while. The friends who randomly show up at my house at 1am with frozen pizza, strawberries, and movies. And then stay until 4am...because even if I am tired the next day, I can't tell you how awesome it is to feel so refreshed mentally and emotionally! The ones who come and help me clean even if it is kinda stressful while it's happening (thanks, Grammie).

In case I haven't told you lately, I covet your hugs. And your smiles. And your laughter. And your talking. And your listening. And the just-being-with-you.

It is a wonderful world, and we must not let the weariness or difficulty of it get us down, because truly, lives change instantaneously and it's just not worth it to take life for granted.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Hole Called "Lonely"

I'm so darn lonely tonight. Ya know, you fill your time with healthy things to try and ignore the pains of being alone, but...it doesn't really work. :) You can't talk about it because then people judge you and you may hear a lecture on how you shouldn't be looking for a relationship yet. But really, is that the only conclusion one can find when they think about loneliness?

I was designed to be loved by a man. It is part of my DNA to be a relational person. God did create me that way, you know. This is the first time in my life that I have lived with no other person near to my maturity level. And...it's lonely. Sure, I could calls someone, but I don't because then I feel like I am just using that person or I know that it really isn't going to fill the "empty" box that sits in my heart. So I don't call. In fact, sometimes I even move away from anything that involves contacting another human being because I just don't know how to deal with it. I don't know what to say. Maybe I don't really want to say anything. I don't know what I want to hear. Maybe I don't really want to hear anything. Maybe I just want to be held and have someone there...but how do you ask for and explain that?

You can't be mad at me for this. It's like looking in a mirror but seeing no reflection. You are there, but something that is supposed to react to you is not. It's strange. And a little empty. And so lonely. People who haven't been here suggest all sorts of things: prayer, reading the Bible more, hanging out with girlfriends. But...those things don't work because those things fill the holes shaped for those things, not for the hole called "lonely."

Everything inside of my relationship box is still raw. I can't even pray about a future relationship yet because I am so convinced no one will ever find me worth it, or I would have to just settle for someone which I tell myself I cannot do. Then I think to myself, how selfish is that? If I do have a future husband out there, can he really wait another day to be covered in prayer? Doesn't he need it now? So for the moment, I pray for myself and I quickly hurry through a sentence that shoves the whole relationship box into God's court for him to work on without me having to look at it or think about it. It hurts too much if I have to look at that box. Whatever man (if) gets into that box is going to have to be my best friend in all the world, because he is going to end up carrying me through that journey and will have to be so patient as I become willing to even look at it. But maybe that's part of God's plan, because if someone would do that for me, I would know that he thought I am worth it.

I have hope, though, even though I am not sure I should dare to. There is one area left that I need healing in; a retraining of the mind, an understanding of what is healthy. That, I can pray about. And I did. And God laid it on the heart of a friend to send me the link to a sermon series on exactly that topic. I gather two things from that: 1) God cares and notices about even the smallest things I need and ask for--and he responded IMMEDIATELY! 2) If God thinks this particular subject is important enough to fix within me, then I think the potential for a future relationship is very likely. Who knows what his timing is, but I am ok with whatever He has planned for me because I know my Abba Father, and I know that His ideas surpass anything I could think of or desire within my heart.

So God, could you just put a lid on the Lonely Hole within me for now? I realize it's just part of being human, but I could certainly do without it right now. Close it off, why don't ya, and only allow it to be opened when it's ready to be filled. :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Love Exuberantly

This is what I think...

You should hold your babies more, and never stop kissing them and telling them that you love them. You shouldn't be afraid to rock them to sleep, to let them get messy, or to let them snuggle you in the morning before you get out of bed. It doesn't matter if your floor isn't always spotless or the clean laundry always folded. It does matter that your children know they are loved unconditionally with an agape love. It does matter that you touch them and hold them and giggle with them and smile at them. Remember that the purest form of you is who you are when you're with your children. Let them know that they are the best thing in the whole wide world. Love those children, and make sure they know it. Don't ever hold back; love exuberantly.

This is what I think...

You should spend more time with that person who you are bound to. Whether it's a best friend, a girl friend, or a husband, be with them. You don't know when an accident will happen, cancer will strike, or something unforeseen takes them from you. Cherish your time. Love them. Stay up late talking, watching funny movies, and listening to the rain. Don't be afraid to experience everything possible that life offers with that person. Take every opportunity to love on that person, to fix every problem that hinders your relationship, and to serve that person with bounding joy. Learn to love better, and practice it. Do not take them for granted or take lightly the memories you have the opportunity to create together. Hold on to that person, the one that you can't live without, or at least that you don't ever, ever, ever want to live without. Love that person, and make sure they know it. Don't hold back; love exuberantly.

This is what I think...

I don't know what you felt when you got that phone call, and I won't pretend that I felt your fear. I do know, though, that I will hold your unconscious baby, sing to him, and love him for you when you can't do it yourself. I will do everything that is absolutely possible to give life to your baby, no matter what it costs me in the process. I will always be sure that I know what I'm doing, that everything is ready, and that your child comes first when my scanner goes off and I step into that ambulance. You don't need to fear, because when I get there, he becomes my baby too, and there is nothing stronger than a mama's heart. Know that if anything ever happens; if I can't get our baby to the place where he should be, or if things go wrong and something happens, I will be sobbing too. You may not see it, but I am breaking inside, too.

I won't pretend that I understand what it must be like to see your  unresponsive husband lying on a backboard with blood pooling everywhere. I do know though, that I feel part of your pain when I want him to wake up and he doesn't. When I know that he may never open his eyes again. When I know that you are standing there watching him die while I try to give him life. It's not easy as I gently tell you to hold his hand and kiss him, to talk to him and reassure him. What I am really saying is that you need to tell him goodbye and hold on to him for these minutes that he is still here for. Know that I am doing everything I can, though. Part of a team, I am still watching everyone and everything. I will speak up on his behalf, and I will make sure he is treated correctly. I will talk to him by name as I push oxygen into his lungs, and I will be ready to do everything possible to get him home. But if that doesn't happen, know that I am standing behind you, and that I wanted him to live, too.

This is what I think.
Seize every opportunity possible to love exuberantly. Don't wait for tomorrow, for tomorrow may never come.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I am not who I was

For as long as I've been taking personality profiles, I have been told that I am so concerned with the welfare of others that I will sacrifice and lose myself in the process of serving someone else. There is a term for the extent to which this became a problem in my life: subjugation. I would always take it upon myself to do or approve of what the significant people in my life wanted me to do because I was either afraid of their response if I didn't, or I would feel guilty if I didn't. Clearly, this leads to people taking advantage of you and to you partaking in destructive things. It's as though you love someone so much that you give them permission to destroy you and the relationship.

Times have changed though, and I am very proud right now because for the first time ever, I took a personality profile (without even realizing it), and got this as the result:

You are important. So are other people, especially if they are in trouble. You have a tender heart, but you know how to establish and keep personal boundaries. You are empathetic and compassionate, but you also believe that it's best if people solve their own problems and learn to take care of themselves, if they are able

You are deeply moved by the needs of others, but you know that if you don't take good care of yourself, you'll wind up being of no use to anyone. So yours is a thoughtful compassion. You strive to be fair and sensible, taking care of others while also taking care of yourself.

When someone really is in trouble, you like to collaborate with them toward a solution; they do their part, you do yours. You consider carefully, and respond in a sensible way; they do their part, and together you move through the difficulty.
You seldom act impulsively; rather, when a problem arises, you take your time to think through the situation. This contemplative quality usually means that you'll arrive at a diplomatic solution, one that's fair for the other person and also fair to you. It's frequently a win/win situation.
My heart and mind started changing last Fall, and I have completed the healing process for my subjugation. It's truly only by God's love for me that I was able to understand and come through this (along with lots of literature and work on my part). For the first time EVER, I have a balence. I am now able to love and serve people, but with healthy boundaries in place. This is a huge deal, because this was my largest personal problem. I suspected that I was free of subjugation the last two months or so, but being affirmed now that I have come through this puts a smile on my face, and gives me comfort to face the night.

Tonight, I am lonely, but I am free from the bondage of subjugation and that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

Monday, June 27, 2011

You Are Strong


Dear Single Mom,

You are strong. Don't let them get you down. You can let them know if you want to, but this is your story and your heart...and you can choose to let others in as much or as little as you want. You do not need to bare yourself so they can see the scars. You do not need to tell the war stories. You do not need to give in to their gossip by telling everyone everything so you can have the satisfaction of seeing the pain in their eyes when they know what you have been through and feel guilty for condemning you.

You will be ok. Don't believe everything they say. You will heal. You will be loved. You will wake up tomorrow and begin a new day...and if that day doesn't go so well, the sun will set, you will go to sleep, and you will wake up again. It's alright if you want to sit and cry for hours, but don't feel that you need to just because someone thinks that's what women do when their marriages fall apart. Don't feel like you need to let all of the things that are waging war against your heart and mind right now take over and incapacitate you for the next three months. You do not need to give in to the emptiness, loneliness, and confusion. You see, it's ok to be happy right now, too, and to accept the peace and restoration that God brings to people in times like these.

You are going to make it, and not just that, but you are going to rise above your past and your current situation. You were created for beautiful and powerful things. You have a Father who is holding you, and who was here before you. He knows your name. He knows the mixed pain and joy in the deepest parts of your soul. And he knows that you are an amazing woman with great strength...because he gave that to you for this exact moment.

Keep being strong. You know, and it's ok if others don't.

xoxoxo

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Moving Forward

He is getting an apartment. We will move him in next weekend, probably. It's small. Not any room for the kids, but it's affordable and he can stay at the house when he has the kids. Things will be separate: our money, our living spaces, our days. The cell phone and insurance bills will stay the same, but I will now be taking on the responsibilty of providing enough for my family to keep my house and everything working in it. It won't be easy. In fact, I haven't quite figured out yet how I will make everything work, but that doesn't scare me. I can taste the freedom from the emotional bondage that comes with being married to and living with someone who has hurt you so deeply that some days, even your scars bleed. I love him, of course, but part of my heart died a long time ago and we are killing ourselves trying to revive it. It is time to let go. We both know this is what God has ordained for this time. What the future holds, we have no idea, but we know that HE has already been there...and there is great comfort knowing that.

You know you are doing the right thing when your relief outweighs your fear.

Now, I will focus on relearning to breathe. It will be difficult, but it already is.

1) Support my family. This will require extreme control in spending, using my blog to get things my kids need, and finding new ways to make more money as well as to save money.

2) Reconnect with God on the level I had before I was married. It will be sooooo good and I am looking forward to all of the peace that will bring!

3) Get in shape. I have 364 days left before our not-dating pact is up, so I should probably start getting rid of this mom body. ;-) Kidding. Well, sort of. I kind of loathe my body (awful, I know, but true). It was going to change regardless of my relational status. I am just listing it here because this is my running tally of things to do and focus on, not because I actually have any intentions of trusting anyone enough to date again.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It Feels Like Death

Death can be a calculated thing. So calculated, in fact, that it can end with life.

Having a plan for death prolongs it from happening. You see, if you go over that edge and want to jump out of the moving car, you might be stopped if you already have your death plan in place. Instead of ending your life with a face that was rubbed around the cement and a body that had to be hosed away by the fire truck, you could instead be assured a peaceful (or violent) death with body intact. If you have a plan.

The more important thing, though, is that when you know you've been balancing on the edge that valley for a long time and that you could be pushed over with the touch of a finger, a plan can in fact save your life instead of end it. It's almost like insurance. May sound crazy to some people, but perfectly sane to the sufferer. If you want to die anyway, you may as well wait to run your plan instead of act on a whim. See?

A plan buys time, and time buys change. That's why a death plan is good when you're on the edge; you then have the option to die the way you want to, which will take time to put into place and follow through with when you have been pushed over that edge. Instead of jumping out of the moving car, you will wait to get home and get everything ready. By the time that happens, life, your emotions, and surrounding events can change. It buys you time, and in some cases, time equals life.

No one wants to die, until you want to die. Calculated death...may just be the solution to ending your day alive.

Blackbird


Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lake Walk & Love

There are always couples there. Must be something about lakes; people go in pairs. Once in a while you see a single man who sits and watches, and obviously, creeps everyone out. I wonder when I go if I also would be considered a Creeper.

I first pass a couple. She has wild, untamed, curly, frizzy, everywhere-like, red hair. It graces her shoulders, bare from her tank top that V's to show a lot of cleavage. She's heavy, but it works and her outfit screams that she's alive just as much as her hair screams that she is free. He is facing her three-quarters. Dark hair, a collared shirt. They're kind of making out, pausing here and there to just hold each other and study those who pass them by. Anyone can see the LIFE that spills out of their love. Life.

I walk on in an attempt to find another space to occupy. The building at the end of the pier is empty and I wonder at how my fortune could be so good. As I get closer, I listen to the water lap at the boards under my feet. The railings that beg me to climb over them, the chains that ask me to move them. There is a ship, something that I can imagine taking me to faraway places where the distance between me and my life is so great that anything in my mind can drift away at will. The masts stand tall, the woodwork beautiful.

Then I see a figure, sitting just beyond the building. I go closer, moving to the other side, and then I see the second figure. Yes, always in pairs. Two females. Not standing close together. Talking. I focus on the water and the beating I hear against the rocks. My feet dangle over the water, knees hanging over the edge of the pier. I study the distant horizon and the lights reflecting on the water. I want my surroundings to consume me but they do not. She starts crying, and I decide that's when I should probably leave.

On my way back, I think about everything. How you told me you would get a divorce. How I saw the papers up on the computer screen. How there is a phone number sitting in our den with the number to a two bedroom apartment on it. And I don't know. When you told me on the phone...I don't know. Like a brick wave of sadness, but not because I'm sad about it. Rather, I'm sad that my life went this way. It wasn't supposed to be this way. I swore this would never happen to me.

I passed the love creating life couple on my way back. They smiled at me as they swung their interwoven hands between themselves. This wasn't supposed to happen to me.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

stronger woman (Jewel)


Well tonight, I'm going to be
The kind of woman I'd want my daughter to be, oh

I'm gonna love myself more than anyone else
Believe in me, even if someone can't see
There's a stronger woman in me
I'm gonna be my own best friend
Stick with me till the end
I won't lose myself again, never, no
'Cause there's a stronger woman
,
A stronger woman in me

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How long is enough?

How long is long enough? At what point does the line between trying out of integrity and trying because you're foolish get crossed? Actions can change, but the feelings, thought patterns, and habits that cause those actions are much harder to control. I realize that part of me is where I am out of fear, but as I let go of some of those fears, I am wondering if it is omre unfair of me to stay in this relationship than it is to be done with it. I feel as though I am leading him on by answering his questions "correctly" and responding with the appropriate "I love you's," and "we'll be fine" statements during conversation, for they are pledged to avoid the inevitable questioning of my thoughts and intentions that follows any pause in my speech. If I didn't notice that he wasn't looking at me, then I am accused of not caring that I am with him. Should he text me before I think of it during my lunch break, I am told that I don't want to talk to him and have caused him hurt, confusion, and sadness. All of this because I didn't act how he needed me to soon enough.

I am weary. My heart literally hurts from the stress caused by this situation. The pressure from having to act in particular ways becomes a physical wave that encapsulates your body and soul. Once the cycle begins, it's hard to mentally stay with the conversation, making it worse as I appear uninterested. Having to be oh so careful with tonal inflictions and facial expressions so that your two-year-old doesn't yell at mommy and daddy to stop talking. Trying to gently say "I need to stop talking" or "we really need sleep" with the intentions of genuinely caring and wanting to defuse a situation before it gets out of control is met with pleas, promises, and reasons to continue talking.

It's better, yes, but is it enough? H ave I crossed the line into foolishness when I should have changed directions long ago? What would be best for him is to be able to stand on his own and not depend on me for his happiness and self worth. What would be best for me, though? And what is best for my children? The answer to these questions evades me. If this is because I genuinely don't know the answer, or because I won't allow myself to admit it, I don't know.

Posted at least 1 week after being composed

Safe in your arms

My face is pressed against your chest, burying my ear, cheek, eye, and half of my lips in the softness of your skin and warmth of your body. I listen to you breathe and the steady beating of your heart. There is nothing else around me in this moment except for you. I love this, but it is not what I love most.

Your arms are surrounding me, and I am safe. The encompass me, strong and unwavering. I can feel your muscles as they press into my back and shoulders, your hands as they settle in the curve of my waist and the side of my rib cage under my arm. You are blocking me into our world, turning my face to you and using your body to shield me from the outside. I can trust you.

Nothing needs to be said. We are just there, entangled and inseparable. I can finally rest and let down my guard, because you will carry me. For a moment, I don't have to be strong. Breathing in you, not fighting your arms, knowing that things really are ok...for right now, anyway.

And then I wonder, why would I leave? Why would I willingly choose to step away from the sanctuary you create from me? I don't want the turmoil of the world, the anxiety, the stress of constantly being on high alert and continually pulling from a reservoir of strength that is beginning to run dry. So why don't I stay?

Finally, I am loved with an unselfish, pure love. To be legitimately able to let my walls disappear because you are worthy of my trust. I believe that really you won't hurt me and that I won't ever have to protect myself from you...This is what I love most: being safe in your arms.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Becoming Introspective

I am finding myself becoming more and more introverted with my thoughts and feelings. John would read this and immediately tell me that I can tell him everything, etc., etc....and sure, I could. But some feelings I just don't want to. Some thoughts, I just don't want to. And really, I have no one to unload all of that on. It's a burden to carry alone, but there's so much trust involved in unloading all of your thoughts and feelings onto someone and I just don't have that any more.

To be willing to bare your soul to someone, first he can't be involved in whatever you're unloading. Or if he is, there has to be a way to be neutral-ish. Some sort of separation. Secondly, he has to truly care. It's far too scary to be that vulnerable to a person who may not care about your situation or to not even care if you tell him at all about it. Thirdly, he has to want to protect you. This makes you feel safe when you tell him, even if he doesn't have the ability to protect you (and most likely you will tell him that under penalty of death he is not to do anything in an attempt to "fix" anything you're going through, except to bring you good root beer and chocolate and to keep passing you tissues). Forth, he must have the ability to respond. Pillows and dogs don't count.

There is a unique sort of solace found in introspection, though. Dramatic effects are sure to be left out. There is no risk of a trust breach. There are no opinions but your own...which sometimes works against you since there is no one to correct your wrong thoughts.

Either way, I am becoming more this way...and am thinking from others' reactions that I should expedite the becoming so that I am there entirely.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

it is worth it

It's painful. It's drawn out. It's lonely. Oh is it lonely. It's confusing. It's frustrating. It's angering.

But because I am me, once I am bound, I can't be released by my own will. Part of me is yours forever. We could not talk for ten years and it would be the same way--a piece of me, carefully packaged and branded with your name, just sitting and waiting for you in the depths of my being.

So here I will be. Different, yes. Numb, scared, unsure...but always caring. Always putting myself out there for you even when I know I will just be met with pain. Don't think this means you can use me, though. As time goes on, my protective wall will regenerate itself and it won't be the same for you. You will look into my eyes and see the sadness and you will know that it's now my reaction to you...you won't see any regret though, because I don't have any. And you will still see me smile, because...you still make me happy. It's weird like that.

All of this is worth the pain, because the bond is still beautiful. Mistreated, maybe. Forgotten about, probably, at least for now. But I'm ok right this second.

And I think it, you, is worth it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

dancing with the rain

She stood outside, surrounded by rain with her face turned upward, staring into the overwhelming ominous sky. Shades of grey, moving and churning above her, but at the same time around her and within her as well. The rain was like a blanket, hovering over her and wrapping itself around her and through her as she stood there. Her red dress clung to her, sticking to her thighs and resting at her knees. Her bare legs cool as the water beat against them and ran down into the black high heels that tied around her ankles. Paralyzing, the dance of the storm created a new world for her. One that was safe and personal and beautiful.

The ground underneath her began to turn to mud, pooling water that begged to reach up her shoes as her heart began to beat in rhythm to the thunder. She became part of the storm as it swept over and through her, deafening her to anything but the wind and the melodic dropping of water. Each raindrop becoming a prism of grey hughs, reflecting her spirit as they landed on her body and that of the earth around her. Breathing deeply, she could taste the moisture in the air, and could feel the wetness on her lips and tounge. And as she felt the dance of the rain, as the rhythm captivated her spirit and body, she decided to give in.

So she reached down. Her dark hair, hanging in locks, dripped forward over her shoulder. And time stood still for that moment, as she undid the tie around her ankles and removed her shoes. Stepping into the cold, soft earth, she breathed again, and her breaths took on the wind to match her heart's rhythm of the rain.

Wild, untamed, and overflowing with life. She danced with the rain.

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