Pick Your Battles

Anyone who thinks that the moment the judge bangs his gavel is the moment your problems with your ex-spouse are all over is – and I say this gently – delusional. Especially those of us who have children.
But we cannot fight over every single thing.  As hard as it will be, we must – absolutely must – pick our battles and choose what we’re going to fight for and what we’re going to let go, otherwise we will remain entangled not only in court but with the person we are trying to extricate ourselves from and heal up from.
Over the past three+ years of being divorced, I have come up with three filters to decide what I’m going to fight for, regarding my children. Hopefully they will help you a bit.
My children’s safety. When my kids aren’t safe, the Mama Bear in me comes out.  If your children are not physically safe in your ex-husband’s care, tell someone. Tell your lawyer or a counselor and find out what steps you need to take to protect them.  Unfortunately, even serious things may not be taken seriously by the court system – depending on your state – so there may be situations where no one will intervene and you will have to come up with creative ways to set boundaries and work with the situation at hand.
Morality issues that directly affect my children’s lives and/or hearts. When my kids have been lied to, and I have found out about it, I have told them the truth. When something has been violated that was an agreed-upon tenant during our marriage, even though my children are older, I have chosen to stand up for what’s right so that […]

Holidays for the Hurting: Forgiveness

The holidays typically mean that you will be spending time with extended family. And perhaps you’re in a place where a family member has hurt you, or even is currently hurting you. Maybe just the thought of Thanksgiving dinner with someone makes you nauseous because of the pain they have caused you.

Might I suggest something that you might not want to hear?

This might be the perfect time to offer forgiveness as the best Christmas gift you could ever give.

A few reminders:

Forgiveness is not the same as condoning.

Forgiveness is not about the other person; it is about you and your heart.

Forgiveness takes one person; reconciliation takes two.

You are only responsible for yourself and your thoughts and your words and your actions. No one else’s.

Forgiveness can set you free.

Unforgiveness is deceiving. It makes you feel like you’re in control, like you’re a better person than the offender. When in actuality, unforgiveness is a trap that keeps you in places you don’t want to be.

Has someone in your family hurt you?
Are you holding on to that pain?
Are you dreading your family get-together because of it?

It’s time, sweet one. It’s time to let this go. It’s time to forgive. It’s time to move on. It won’t be easy, oh no. It will be one of the most difficult things you do.

But I believe Jesus came to set the captives free. Let him set you free from unforgiveness this holiday season.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…” –Luke 4:18-

God, you know that I am […]

Holidays for the Hurting: Broken

No one wants to feel broken at Christmas. But you do. We want brokenness to stop for holidays and special events, but life just isn’t like that. So here you are. You are moving slowly. You are hurting. You feel listless, painfully aware of what’s not right in your life or in your heart.

And then there’s Christmas. With the lights and the gifts and the baking and the dreaded Christmas letter (how do you sum up where you are right now in that darn family Christmas letter?! Ahh, maybe this is the year you don’t write one).

How can you and your brokenness coalesce with the Christmas season? You don’t want to do Christmas. You want to stay in bed until January 2nd-ish.

Here’s how.

You tell God – who sent Jesus as a baby and who holds your circumstances in his hands – how you feel.

You lay it all out before him. You tell him you feel broken. You tell him you’re done. You tell him you’ve had it up to here. You tell him that Christmas, this year, will just have to go on without you.

You roll it all onto him, as my mentor says. And then you wait. And you rest. And you take a look at your holiday to-do list and maybe scratch out a thing or two (no one will miss that letter).

You just let yourself be broken.

Do not for one moment think that you need to be something that you’re not. That you need to muster up wholeness and fake-happy just because it’s December.

You do not.

And if you think you do, who told you that?

If it’s anyone other than Jesus, you do not have to listen.

You, sweet one, just walk your […]

Fighting Scares Me

Richard and I had a rough day recently (as all marriages have from time to time…please don’t worry), and after talking it through and reconnecting, I said to him the next day, “I don’t know about you, but fighting in a second marriage scares me way more than fighting in a first marriage.”

“I concur,” he said.

Now, I don’t mean that I cower in fear. I mean it emotionally freaks me out.

(I want to be careful in that I’m not downplaying the role of arguing in a first marriage, especially if the relationship is abusive and you are actually fearful. That is a whole different issue, and I’ve said before, if you or your children are in actual physical harm, create a safety plan and find a place to stay; and/or if you or your children are in emotional harm, get outside help to aid you in creating safer boundaries.)

But here is why I think it’s scarier in marriage number two.

When you’ve been married for a number of years, you have a long history that holds you in the palm of its hand. You can look back and see annoyances let go of and issues fought through and fixed, and then you can look up ahead and know with assurance that you’ll get over the one you’re in just like you have all the other ones in the past. But when you’ve been married, say, six months, your history is small. The assurances come in hesitant whispers like ‘let’s hope we get through this one…’ as opposed to bold proclamations of ‘we’ve got this!’. So, you know, freaks me out.

When you’ve been in a difficult first marriage filled with fighting, as […]

By |November 16th, 2015|remarriage|2 Comments

Follow Up to “It’s All His Fault”

I don’t typically do this but I received some comments regarding a recent post, and I feel I should clarify my statements. I never want to add to anyone’s pain or shame or burden, and I fear I may have done that.

I said, basically, that you and your spouse or ex-spouse are equal shareholders in your marriage or in your divorce.

Allow me to give an example to further explain what I mean.

A ways back, someone wrote me a letter that was completely inappropriate. . I can honestly say that I did not instigate it, and I can now say I believe I did not deserve it.

In this instance, I was a target. Just like if your spouse were unfaithful, or just up and left you, or has been abusive to you, you are a victim in that situation. I am not minimizing that.


If I stayed in relationship with that person who wrote me and allowed them to continue to do that to me over and over again without putting up boundaries of any kind, that would fall into my responsibility. I sadly had to take steps to put distance for my emotional health and my heart’s protection.

If I had been mean back, that would be on me. But I wasn’t.

If I had been mean to start with, or if I had done something to push buttons, that would be on me. But I hadn’t.

So, when I say that you and your spouse or ex-spouse own equal shares and equal responsibility, I mean simply this:

You are responsible for you.
You are responsible for yourself as a Christian.
You are responsible for yourself as a woman.
You are […]

It’s All His Fault

When I was married the first time, I was the word that rhymes with witch. I really wish I could come up with a better word, but that sums it up. Now, not all of the time, of course. But I was controlling. I was a nag. I was a codependent enabler who both lived in denial and laid out guidelines that I didn’t enforce. My predominant emotions – in my then-husband’s presence – were deep sadness, loud anger, profound disappointment and utter disapproval. (I was a joy to be around, you can imagine.)

Had you asked me while in my marriage if that were the case, I would not have agreed with that assessment. Because I was in pain. And pain tends to skew our perceptions.

But I wonder, do you think about your marriage and your husband or soon-to-be-ex-husband and what he’s doing to you often? And by often, I mean, all the time? More than anything else? When you’re falling asleep, in the middle of the night, when you’re in the shower, when you’re putting on make-up, when you’re running errands, when you’re driving? If so, there is a chance that you are obsessed with your hard marriage or your ex-husband and you have made it (or him) an idol.

So, this is a gentle warning to those of you who are living in the daily stress of a difficult marriage and to those of you who are newly separated or freshly divorced.

Shift your perspective. Your entire life is not defined by your marriage or your divorce. It shouldn’t be. Just like your entire life shouldn’t be defined by your job or by being a parent, it shouldn’t be defined by one role or […]

I am Completely Alone

I get emails from strangers frequently asking me very specific advice about their situations. I always answer pretty much the same way:

I’m so sorry for your pain . My suggestion would be to find a Christian counselor, a Bible-believing church, and a mentor.

And I sometimes get back a reply like, “I figured you’d say that,” or “I have no one to talk to.”


This may sound harsh – which I don’t mean to be – but I believe it to be true:

You are not as alone as you think you are.

You may feel alone. You may live in a small town. You may feel there is no one who will understand your situation. You may feel that if someone knew what your marriage were really like, your whole world would implode. You may feel that you are being judged because you are divorcing and that your church or your group of friends or your family have turned their back on you.

And all of those things may be true.

But in our day and age, there are always, always ways to find support.

In person, even if you have to drive a bit. We actually had a gal in our Unraveling small group who drove NINETY-FIVE MILES ONE WAY to get to our group. (That woman is determined. And her determination paid off in that she said she didn’t feel alone just knowing we were there for her.)

You can find a support group:
Celebrate Recovery

You can find a counselor through Christian Counselor Finder, and though it sometimes is expensive, most places work with a sliding scale or take insurance.

You can pray and look around and ask someone to be your […]

How to Be Okay with Things that You’re Not Okay with

I have been praying a prayer lately that I don’t think I’ve ever prayed in my entire lifetime of faith, and it’s this:

Jesus, help me not care about __________________________________.

In my journal, I literally have that sentence written down a dozen or so times. There are just that many things right now that don’t fit in my head, that have fallen completely out of the realm of what I expected my life and relationships to look like right now. And I honestly do not have a place for them in my heart. No room. (Okay, I have room, I just don’t want to take them all in…too painful.)

Let me say upfront, this is one of the unhealthiest prayers I have ever prayed. This is not a prayer that serves my wholeness. This is not a prayer of strength to take it all in and recalibrate my life and move forward with a new resolve. This is not a prayer of a woman who relishes living an authentic life.


This is a prayer, I’m realizing, that is basically asking Jesus to make me into someone who I am not.

There are things going on in my life right now that require me to be a certain level of flexible and spontaneous and laidback. Spoiler alert: I am not flexible or spontaneous or laidback. But my circumstances are making me feel badly about this. Because if I were more flexible, spontaneous and laidback, a couple certain things would just roll off my back, not bother me in the least. But that’s not how Jesus made me. He made me organized, he made me a planner, he made me to like knowing what my […]

I am a Hypocrite (& Other Things I’ve Been Accused Of)

(Warning: this post contains swearing. Pardon my French, in advance, as my Gramma would say.)

I was recently told – from a few sources, combined – that I am a victim-card-playing, ludicrous, bull-shitting hypocrite who doesn’t actually care about people who are hurting.

Yep, that sounds about right.

I am all of those things.

I want people to feel sorry for me. For my past, for my present. I want people to look at me and think I rose above the ashes. I want people to think that my current circumstances are just too much for one person to bear, that I should be pitied, and lauded, and maybe brought a meal. Yes, I play the victim card.

I “bullshit” people. Now, with this one, I sincerely do not think that I set out to do this. (I could be wrong…maybe I do.) But truly I don’t, for instance, start writing a blog post or enter into a conversation with the goal to mislead. But I’m sure I do. I’m sure that I have painted a picture of my former marriage and I paint a picture of my current marriage and I paint a picture of my heart, and those pictures are just downright inaccurate. (Spoiler alert: no one’s version of their life is 100% accurate. There is your version of a circumstance, my version of a circumstance, and God’s {TRUE} version of a circumstance.) I don’t intend to “bullshit” anyone, but I am absolutely sure that I do.

I love my kids with my whole heart, but I selfishly place myself before them on a regular basis, especially with my time.

I say that God is my number one priority, that my faith is what holds me together, […]

By |November 2nd, 2015|pain, wholeness|14 Comments

Holidays for the Hurting Releases Today!

Hi sweet ones,

The holidays – which are just around the corner – can be so very hard if you are in a season of pain.

I have walked through maybe a dozen painful holiday seasons over the course of my lifetime. While other people excitedly bought presents and baked cookies and opened up their homes to family and friends, I was doing everything I could just to stay above water, to act like I was joyful when that was the farthest emotion from my mind.

If you are in a difficult marriage, if you are going through a separation, if you are reeling from a divorce, if you just found out that you are sick, if you have a child who is making poor choices, if you or your spouse lost a job, or any manner of hard-life situations, you may be dreading this holiday season. And I totally get it. I’ve been there. (I’m there now.)

And because I get it, I decided to write a collection of devotionals for the hurting soul to sit with during the holiday season. Life doesn’t get magically better just because “it’s coming on Christmas”.

But I’m here to tell you that your life does not have to be perfect – or even close to it – to experience a meaningful holiday season, to deeply experience the love of the Baby-Jesus-turned-Savior. But it can be filled with more hope. And I believe that God will meet you where you are, even in your season of sadness or confusion or pain.

Here’s what some readers think about Holidays for the Hurting:

“In Holidays for the Hurting, Elisabeth offers a gentle companion through the season for […]

By |November 1st, 2015|holidays|0 Comments
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