Dear Kids, I Loved You Too Much (A Guest Post)

This is a guest post from one of my very best friends, Sheli Massie (one of the most authentic, gorgeous wordsmiths I know).

Dear kids,

I love you.

I love you with all my heart. I love to watch you sleep at night (not like creepy crawl in your window to watch you) but more like I want to count the freckles on your sun kissed face. I love to hear the sound of your voices laughing with each other, whispering secrets while you are supposed to be sleeping. I love to watch you scream with all your might when your brother scores in soccer. I love to curl your hair when you want to be just like mommy. I love to take you out on dates all dressed up and sit across from you and wipe the whip cream off your lip. I love to find notes on my pillow from you. I love to watch you make new friends or even just try. I love to see you help each other up when one of you falls. I love to watch you smelling the neighbor’s flowers after you decided that all of ours needed to be picked. I love writing you notes to find in your lunchbox or on the mirror in the morning. I love to plan the perfect gift for your birthday that only I would know you loved. I love to hear about your day and who made you mad. I love to watch you explain just why being an apple farmer makes sense for your life. I love to listen to you sing 1D in the shower and then pretend that you don’t even like them. I love to watch you […]

I’m Not Over My Ex-Husband

I received a reader email recently that left me thinking one thing: “That sweet girl is not over her ex-husband yet.”  And I must admit, that’s not the first time I’ve thought that about someone who has emailed me or commented on my blog or shared something in the private Facebook group.

And I get it, I really do.

Marriage is not a casual thing. It’s meant to be a lifetime commitment. So when it is ending or has ended, it doesn’t just fully end all in one fell swoop. Love doesn’t just stop. Caring for someone doesn’t just diminish instantly at the signing of a document or the banging of a gavel. Being intertwined takes a lot of disentangling.

But how can you know if what you’re experiencing is normal or if you are hung up on your ex- or soon-to-be ex-husband?

Read through this list of real-life accounts that some of my very brave private Facebook group girls shared with me of some of the actions they took during their separation and post-divorce:

I followed my ex-husband around town.

I followed my ex-husband’s girlfriend to work.

I snuck back into our marital home before divorce day just to feel what it was like one more time.

I looked back through years of cell phone records to try to figure out patterns of phone numbers.

I stalk him on Facebook, read all of his posts, respond to his posts, and message him.

I read all his girlfriend’s Facebook posts.

I sent him long texts about things that had nothing to do with our children.

I sent him texts saying I missed him, asking if we could try again, even though he was with someone else already.

I sent him […]

My Friend is Getting Divorced (But I Don’t Think She Should Be)

Oh man, this one is so tough. It’s tough to live through and it’s tough for me to write about, for a handful of reasons.

One, I had friends get divorced before my divorce, and I was judgy and distant.

Two, I got divorced and had friends who were judgy and distant. (And it broke my heart.)

Three, since my divorce, I’ve tried to show everyone grace.

Four, since my divorce, I have had friends do things I disapproved of and have failed at showing grace.

Five, I have a couple situations going on right now where I don’t agree with a few people and their choices and I have either said my peace and/or put distance between us and things feel weird but I’m moving forward.

But specifically, what can you, as a believer, do or say when you have a friend who is divorcing?

I fully believe that whether your friend claims to be a Christ-follower determines how you handle this.

So, if your friend is not a Christian, you need to prayerfully discern whether to say something or not, keeping in mind that if she doesn’t believe what you believe, you may just be adding shame to her when she needs to see grace from you.

Also (and this is solely my opinion), I don’t think the same rules apply to unbelievers. What I mean is this: though God’s standards are the same for everyone, if your friend doesn’t believe what you believe or even know what you know, it seems odd to me to hold them accountable for something like this.  Don’t get me wrong: God will. But if all you offer her is judgment right now, you may alienate her even further from Jesus.  Right now, what she […]

How to Have a Good, Good Marriage (it’s really a thing)

I write all the time about what not to do in a marriage.  But I thought I would ask some people in my life who I believe have good, solid, actually happy Christian marriages for what they think it takes to actually have what they have.

Here’s what they had to say:

Believe the best about each other.

Give each other the benefit of the doubt.

Pray for your husband daily, knowing that the changes that result will be in you. Any other changes will just be icing on the cake.

-married 9 years

Go against your human nature and love and serve your spouse and treat them as your teammate even when they don’t do it back.

-married 20 years

Be willing to show up every day, own YOUR stuff while not attempting to own the other person’s stuff, and work together to solve the problems that arise. Always keeping in mind that the enemy wants to keep you separated and in conflict so your husband is NOT the enemy. Together you stay united so that the enemy cannot get in and when he does squirm his way in you fight like heck (you AND husband) to get him out.

That sounds simple enough, but is extremely difficult to do. There are times in marriage that you just feel “off” and that is completely OKAY. You keep showing up every day and acknowledging that “we are off” while reaffirming that we “want to be on” and are doing our best to get back “on.” Trusting that sometimes it is through the “off” times that God teaches one or both of you something they need to move forward into our relationship with each other and ultimately with Him.

Let each person have their OWN […]

How I’m Preparing for My Second Marriage

So, I shared that I’m kinda scared to get married again. But I’m not the kind of person to shy away from things that scare me. And I’m not the kind of person to bury my head in the sand. If something scares me, I move forward while doing my due diligence.

So here are a few of the things I’ve been doing to get ready for this transition.

I am literally making room for Tall-Shadow.  I feel like I did before I had Sara and Jack: I’m nesting. It’s the weirdest thing.  I spent a week or so going through every room in my house throwing out stuff I didn’t need, making literal room for him and his things.

In a post I wrote a ways back where I talked about being terrified to date and remarry, I referenced not wanting to give up part of my closet as one of my big reasons (shallow, anyone??). So I hired a closet organization company to come in and prepare my master bedroom closet to hold double the clothing, even designing a fun little wall at the back.

Also, I just got done somewhat redoing my office, where I hired a friend of a friend as a surprise to come in and hang up some of my sweet man’s memorabilia like his grandfather’s electric guitar (so cool), an antique telephone, a picture of his platoon that I framed, his army coat with all its pins, and his favorite (huge) Michael Jordan famous “wings” print.

I’m also adding his knickknacks to the living room and have framed some prints of him and his kids.

I’ve been very clear with him for a while now that I don’t want him to feel like […]

I’m Scared to Get Married Again

Let me say this upfront: I like Tall-Shadow. I love Tall-Shadow. I’m in love with Tall-Shadow.  And I believe to my core that he likes, loves and is in love with me right back.

I mean, c’mon…

Let me also say upfront: I believe God is in this.

So when I say I’m scared to get married again, I do not mean I am scared to get married to my sweet man.

I think when I say I’m scared I mean a few things.

One, that all of my quirks that he thinks are now adorable will turn into annoyances and he will stop liking me and stop thinking I’m cute. You know, things like how I hate waking up to a dishwasher full of clean dishes. (I’d rather stay up late and unload or not start a full dishwasher til the morning. I have no idea why.) Or like how I have a fifty-seven step (okay, maybe eight-step) morning routine. And how I get a little, umm, something, when it’s disrupted.  Or like how I really, really prefer getting ready by myself instead of sharing the bathroom. Or…I can go on. Trust me, I can go on.

Two, that all of my quirks that I have gotten used to will be impeded upon, and I will become not so nice anymore.  You know, because I’m high maintenance. And I’ve, at this point, been living as a single person for four-and-a-half-years. And because I’m old (-ish). And because I’m set in my ways. And because I’m way less go-with-the-flow than he gives me credit for. And because I’m stubborn.  And because I can be super selfish.

But those are kinda little things. So I think even more than all that, […]

Taking Care of Others & Yourself, At the Same Time

Question from a reader:

“As someone who has been through an abusive relationship and now offers counseling words to others facing the same issue, I have a question: how do you do it? I have a friend in an abusive relationship who comes to me for counsel; it’s triggering me and it’s wearying to me. How do you remain strong for all of us but take care of yourself at the same time? How do you be a caretaker when you’re still a little broken?”

This is such an excellent and important question.  Because life does not stop for everyone else when we go through a crisis, there will be times when our sad seasons will overlap with our friends’ or family members’ or children’s rough patches, and so a great skill to cultivate is learning how to take care of ourselves and others simultaneously.

So I have three tips for you.

Get filled up. If you are in a situation where you are counseling or walking someone through a difficult life circumstance, it can be draining even for people whose lives are going just fine.  Add the dynamic, though, of you trying to get through your own thing, and it can be a recipe for disaster if you’re not careful.

So, I would make sure that you are in counseling, in a support group, in a small group, have a mentor, and/or have a friend that is there to listen to you.

Know your limitations. When I was in college, I decided to apply to be an RA. I wasn’t immediately accepted and I think I know why.  I recall describing to the interviewing team that a friend had come to me for help, how I prayed and fasted […]

Haters Gonna Hate

I’ve talked here often about how I’ve been judged through my separation and divorce process (heck, I was even judged for the kind of wife I was) and how much pain that added to my already broken and fragile heart.

And I was reminded of the harshness of judgment when I saw a post on Facebook.

A fairly famous couple were congratulated for fifteen years of marriage.

Their back story is that they were both married, then they both divorced, and then they married each other. There was speculation over the nature of their relationship throughout their marriages, though they claimed to have only been friends until they were both divorced.

And though most of the thousands of comments seemed kind, here were a few that stood out to me:

Have a hard time supporting a marriage that destroyed another Christian marriage…..and calling it “Godly”!

Sorry, but their marriage didn’t begin in a godly way and another marriage was destroyed to make way for this one. Not something I can pat them on the back for.

Don’t support them; she was a married “Christian”.

Nice but too bad two marriages had to BREAK UP so they could get married!!!

They both divorced their spouses to marry each other.

I don’t support them at all. They broke up their families to marry each other. That is against God’s law. No way will I wish them happiness.

Wow. First of all, this is a celebrity couple. I’m wondering how many of the above people actually know them, are friends with them. I’m guessing zero.  So, in other words, they do not know the details of their individual or collective stories.

Secondly, this was on a public Facebook page, inviting words of congratulations.  Have these adults never […]

By |March 23rd, 2015|judgment|7 Comments

My Daughter is Leaving

I was the mother (and by was, I mean, I still am) who marched her kids to the front yard for a first-day-of-school picture and then cried as I walked home from the school or drove home from the school or, now, while my kids drive away to the school themselves.

This past August, we had our last both-kids-in-the-picture picture, because Sara leaves for college this fall.

But here’s the thing.  She’s already leaving. And I’m already grieving.

Technically, she’s been leaving me since the day she was born, something us mothers know deep down but pretend with everything in us isn’t our reality.

But more specifically, she’s been leaving the past six or so months, it seems.  She has a boyfriend. (As do I.) And our men have ended up being cushions for us, preparing us to move away from each other a little at a time.

I think it starts with the reality that through my divorce, Sara and I became closer. 
And then there’s the layer that she’s my firstborn. 
And a daughter.
And that she’s so much like me (and yet, fortunately for her, so very much her own self).
And I’m it on the parenting front. She’s just got me right now. And I think I feel the weight of her leaving as if I were two parents in one. 
And the man I brought her into the world with, well, we barely speak (not that I’d want that in anything other than theory at this point). 
And then there’s simply: I enjoy being with her; she is a delight to me.

And she’s leaving.  And I can feel it.

She and I have talked about it.  How the next several months are going to be […]

How Can I Help My Friend Who Is…

This post is for anyone who has a friend or congregant who is living in a difficult Christian marriage, or who is going through a divorce, or who is a single mom.  You want to help her. You want to support her. But if you’ve never been in her shoes, you might not know what she needs.  But I’ve been all of these, so I want to help you to help her.

If your friend is in a hard marriage:

Pray. Ask the Spirit to help you know things you do not know, to give you the right words, and to soften your  heart.

Ask her. If your friend openly talks about the difficulties in her marriage, great. But if you just think she may be in a hard marriage, or even an abusive marriage, you will need to go to her. But be prepared that she may be defensive because she may either be in complete denial, she may not be ready to admit it to herself, or she may not be ready to deal with the potential fallout.

Read up on the subject. There are some amazing books out there on this subject. I’d recommend The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick, Foolproofing Your Life by Jan Silvious, or my e-book Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage.

Gather resources. Do some investigating for your friend. What kinds of support groups and social service agencies are available in your area that you can recommend to her?

Offer to go with her to talk to someone. If your friend readily admits that things in her marriage seem more difficult than they should be, gently suggest she talk to someone that she trusts, and offer to go with. First of all, […]

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