Tiptoeing through the Eggshells

Guest Post by Kim Gunderson

No one told me how difficult marriage could be.

Most of what I knew I gathered through observation. Observing my parents navigate cross-country moves and long work hours. Observing my newly-married friends enjoying one another’s company while striving to put the other first, learning the power of love and respect.

But no one told me marriage doesn’t always look like that. Challenging, sure. But no one spoke of the other kind of marriage. The darker side after saying “I do”. The secret longings and hidden hurts. The silent treatment and unmet needs. Fear-driven what-if-someone-finds-out thoughts locked behind closed doors.

Learning how to tiptoe through the eggshells.

That was the kind of marriage no one told me about. And then it happened to me.

My marriage began in crisis. Three months in, my husband experienced a devastating stroke. “Took out the left side of his brain” according to the neurologist. Who knew I’d live out “for better or for worse” before the better had barely begun? No explanation. No cause. Seizures, extreme tiredness, memory loss, and depression combined forces as we battled through the years that followed.

I think I ran on adrenalin during those early years. There were decisions to be made, appointments to attend, and health issues to navigate. Add to that raising three kids while pregnant with our fourth and working full-time and all we had was a recipe for exhaustion. Who even had the presence of mind to squeeze in a date night?

But then the other stuff began to reveal its ugly face. The stuff I still don’t share but you may know and think . . . me, too. Stories of broken dreams and unmet expectations. Stories of hopelessness and confusion as […]

Guest Posts Coming in October

I belong to an amazing writers’ group, a collection of women who love God and use their unique voices to change the world.

This month, I’m going to be sharing the hearts of four of these women with you.

Every Thursday during the rest of October, you will be hearing from a different Redbud, as they share their take on marriage in all its sweetness and trials.

I have no doubt that we will all be encouraged, made to feel not so alone, and gently challenged in our thinking.

Please be kind and welcoming to each one, as I’m sure you will be.

Gratefully yours,

P.S. I’ll continue to post new material on Mondays.

P.P.S. A reminder that I now have SIX resources available to you for whatever delights you!

Relational Loose Ends

There is a verse that has been niggling in my head and heart for a little while now. I both love it and, I’ll be honest, dislike it very, very much.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.                                                                                                        -Romans 12:18

Here’s why I love it. I love it because it frees me. It reassures me that sometimes, there’s only so much you can do. It reminds me that I am only responsible for my side of the street, as they say in recovery. And so I can do my part and then if my part isn’t deemed good enough, I can move on with my head held high.

But here’s why I dislike it. Because I have hurt some people, all without wanting to or trying to. But I have. I’m human. And I have a lot of rough edges. Like my sarcasm. Like my shyness that comes across as snobbery. Like my lack of ability at small talk that makes me look like I want to be done with you in a conversation when I really just don’t know what to say next. And many other things, I’m sure, that can make me hard to love.

And so this verse makes me feel a little bit like I’ll never actually be able to live at peace with everyone, because I feel like I’m such a relational mess, like I have more relational issues than the average girl.

And right now, I do. I’ve got some relational loose ends.

I can think of a handful of people whom I do not speak to anymore. All for different reasons. (But, all pretty much related to my divorce in different ways.)

Some have […]

Are You Working on Any New Books?

That’s one of my most-often-asked questions by well-meaning people in my life who care about me.

My answer is something fumbly and covering-up-y these days but the real answer is simply, no, not really. Which I say with an odd mixture of shame and it’s-okay-ness all at the same time.

The life of a writer/speaker/blogger/creator is a quirky one. One I wouldn’t trade for the world (I LOVE what I get to do) but one that is precarious at best, hard-on-the-soul at worst.

For those of us who write, we not only put our hearts out for all to see and judge, we not only bleed on the page for others to take in and then potentially throw stones at, but we are placed in a position where we must get enough people to like us to push us to the next level. (Icky.)

Allow me to pull back the curtain for you sweet readers who are non-writers (or perhaps for you sweet readers who are writers who think there is some magic key to unlock the mysterious doors of writing professionally…)

In 2000, I set out to find a publisher for my first book. I did things all backwards back then. Wrote the entire manuscript. Didn’t hire an agent. Just started sending the entire thing to one publisher at a time. And after fifty-two rejections (yes, FIFTY-TWO…good thing I have a thick skin), Kregel picked up my devotional, Calm in My Chaos. Hundreds of emails and a trip to Grand Rapids later (basically to make sure Kregel was a real publisher and not some creepy guy in his basement just messing with my mind), my first book was published by an actual publisher and I cried and I […]

How to be a Good Man, to My Son

Sweet boy, you are a young man now, almost ready to go out into the world on your own, starting your senior year of high school.  You have had to walk through things that a lot of kids your age have not, have had to deal with issues that most have no clue about.  I’ve been thinking about what a good, godly man looks like a lot lately, and so this is your mother’s opinion, and it’s my hope and prayer for you.

A good, whole, godly man listens to that voice inside him that says there is Something bigger. And he does something about it. He doesn’t just take on what his parents have taught him, but he figures it out for himself. And then he lives what he believes, even when it’s difficult.

A good, whole, godly man believes he was created for a purpose and seeks to find what that purpose is. He lives it out. He realizes life is a gift, and not about him, and does good with his one life.

A good, whole, godly man has friends that he cares about and helps out and shares his thoughts and burdens with, because this life can be hard and lonely, and friends make it so much better.

A good, whole, godly man is respectful to his parents, even when he disagrees with them.

A good, whole, godly man is respectful to and protective of his siblings.

A good, whole, godly man looks for a woman to share his life with who he can take care of, not who he can abuse and lie to. He won’t look for someone who is gorgeous or who laughs at all his jokes. He will look for someone he […]

Single & Broken or Married & Healed: You Pick

A woman from my private separated/divorced Facebook group wrote me recently saying that her counselor shared something with her that was unnerving:

“There is only so much healing you will do as a single person. Deeper healing will come when/if you are ever in a healthy relationship with a man who loves you.”

She said she both understood what her counselor was saying and yet it stunned her a bit and she wanted my thoughts.

If she had told me this, say, a year ago, I would’ve balked at her counselor’s words and I would’ve said he didn’t know what he was talking about, and how dare he for making her feel like her healing had a ceiling placed upon it by her singleness.

But now that I’m remarried and in a healthy relationship with a man who loves me, I can say that I agree with the counselor.  And yet…

I believe that God brings us just the right amount of healing at just the right time for each of us. I believe that he could heal all of us in an instant, but he chooses not to because there is so much for us in the journey from broken to healed, so much richness and joy and goodness.

I also believe that as a single woman, I was as healed up as I could be. Sure, some bumps along the road. Heck no, not perfectly whole…none of us are. But I had come so very far…so very far. And I bet that my friend who wrote in with the question has also come so very far with Jesus.

But alas, I am now writing from this side of a wedding day, and I am in a healthy relationship, and […]

I Can Still Be a Hot Mess

My divorce was final three years ago this summer.  I have gone through DivorceCare. I have gone through counseling. I have led a couple small groups on divorce. I have created a retreat for divorced women. I have written a book about getting through a divorce. I have healed, a ton. And I am now happily remarried.

But nothing, and I mean nothing, can unmoor me like having to talk with my ex.

Something came up – a dispute, shall we say? – that landed us in mediation. For the week leading up to the meeting, I was sick to my stomach every time I thought about it.  I spent a couple hours writing out what I was going to say, and rewriting, and rewriting. I took a Calm’s Forte. I drank chamomile tea. My husband and my girls were hearing all the details of how I was feeling. I asked two thousand Facebook fans to pray for me.  I had an extra-long quiet time.

And I walked into that meeting not feeling an ounce of the peace that passes understanding (sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t), as nauseous as I could be. And it was a nightmare.  I was instantly the meek, walk-all-over-me woman I sometimes used to be in my first marriage. We fell right back in.  For about ten minutes.

Because the mediator saw what was going on and separated us and told me he would never put me in a room with him again.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, kind sir.

So, why am I telling you this?

For one reason, really.  (For the reason I share most of what I share here, and it’s this.)

I want you to know that you’re not alone. I want […]

Why I Am Such a Controlling Mother

I have been told that I have raised my children in a bubble.
That I have raised mini-versions of myself.
That I perhaps do too much for my children.
That I take everything too seriously as a mom.


So let me tell you why I have been such a controlling mother.  Because I absolutely have been.

When my daughter was six-weeks old, in the dead of winter, someone came up to me at a family gathering and told me that I was going to have to be the one to drive us home.  It was in that moment that I realized I did not have a parenting partner to help me protect the life of my daughter. It was in that moment that, against my will kicking and screaming, I realized the very heavy mantle of parenting fell completely on my shoulders.  I was both terrified and devastated.

I had a choice in that moment and in many, many moments like that afterwards what to do with that burden.  Shirk it and live in denial of what my life really was (in part, an absolute sham) or take it on believing completely that someone had to be in charge of raising the two gifts God had entrusted us with, even if it meant I basically did it alone.

Some might say that there had to have been a middle ground.  But those people have not lived in the kind of marriage I lived in.  Those people lived in regular marriages and were living somewhat emotionally- and relationally- and spiritually-healthy lives and they don’t get it.  Those people were trying to raise their kids and protect them from the evil in the world.  They didn’t have to worry about […]

What Does a Christian Man Look Like?

For years and years and years, I had an idea in my mind – a carved-in-stone idea – of what a Christian man and husband and father looked like.

He, of course, was a Christian. Meaning, he could name the date when he asked Jesus into his heart.  You know, because that’s what it says in the Bible. (No, it doesn’t.)

He took his family to church every Sunday morning. And every Wednesday night, if Wednesday night church were something his church offered.  Which it should.

He served in leadership in some aspect at church, even if leadership were not one of his spiritual gifts, which he would know because he, of course, had taken the spiritual gifts class held at said church.

If he didn’t lead a men’s group (which he should, even if encouragement and teaching and shepherding weren’t his spiritual gifts), he at the very least participated in one every week.  Along with, duh, participating in a couples’ small group weekly.

He had his own quiet time, in the morning before work, every day.

He did devotions with his wife, at least weekly, that he initiated. All his idea. No nagging necessary.

He did devotions with his family, at least weekly, that he initiated. All his idea. No prodding necessary.

He did not drink, heaven forbid.

He did not waste his time by watching too much television, even if his wife were perhaps a TV-aholic.

He worked on the honey-do list without being asked, as a way to die to himself like Christ died for the Church.

I believed all these things, whether I verbalized them or not, for many years.  Not only am I not sure where I gathered these images and how I compiled this version of a Christian man/husband/father, […]


I’m one of those people, that when passed by a speeding car, does two things: prays for a cop to see this errant citizen and pull him over and give him a huge ticket, and then totally relishes when I pull up behind said speeding car at a stoplight, proving my point that they just broke the law for no reason because they are, what?, five seconds ahead of me now.

I have what I believe is an overblown sense of justice.  When someone gets away with something, it drives me absolutely mad.  It’s a great quality if I were, say, a criminal justice attorney. But for just a regular girl, it can be a downfall.

So imagine throwing that character trait into the mix of a marriage with a hidden addiction. It was a dangerous combination, mainly for me.  I became obsessed, a private detective who found receipts and called stores and begged Jesus to help me find little brown bags with empty bottles in them.

When I was married the first time, during the final year or two when many others had circled the wagons around us and were helping us and praying for us and telling us what to do and not do to try to keep our marriage from drowning, I was told that I was a record-keeper, and that I needed to work on it.

Well, yeah, I am! No one believes me! I have to prove it to all of you!

And there was some truth in that. There was a small benefit, for a small season, of me being what my intuitive counselor called hypervigilant.

You know the phrase looking for a devil behind every bush? Yes, well, that was me. Only I […]

%d bloggers like this: