The Weekly Recap: You All Are the Best

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You all are the best…

Let me begin by saying how completely overwhelmed I have been this week by the response to Redemption in Divorce. I honestly wasn’t mentally or emotionally prepared for the responses that came, but I feel like God really showed up in the middle of it all. My heart just about stopped as the truth of “It’s not just me” flooded over me. I heard from so many of you who have stories similar to mine, and oh, how I wish I could sit down with each and every one of you and just talk over a cup of coffee, or tea, or whatever your beverage of choice might be. I am really so very thankful for those of you who reached out with kind words and encouragement and with your own stories, and I hope that we can connect again soon.

I’m a Hot Mess…

To say that this week has been busier than the last would be an understatement. Besides the normal routine of work, church, school, soccer, and a graduate level class, this week required a few extra activities for soccer, my class, and May Lee’s school. Somehow, I’ve managed to keep us fed and in clean clothes, though those clothes very rarely make it out of the laundry basket and onto hangers these days. Also, the general state of my house could best be described as “gross”, and that would be fair. I would like to say that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that very soon some time will free up, but that is not the case. Rather, I’m simply getting better at lowering my standards in some areas, prioritizing my time in a hardcore way, and working in the margins much more efficiently. It may look like chaos on the outside, especially when I forget things like packing May Lee’s soccer stuff or bringing my computer to work, and that would be because it is chaos. But deep down there really is a purpose and structure to it all. Hopefully, by the end of this busy season, I will have sharpened my time management skills to such a degree that Franklin Covey will offer me a plaque in recognition of my mastery of planning and prioritizing. It’s all about the big rocks, people.

Also, I’m not holding my breath about that plague.

The Single Mom Gig…

We had a pretty great weekend. Soccer pictures were this weekend, and I have high hopes that the prints will be adorable. You wouldn’t have guessed it from the sour attitude my child wore all over her face right up until the very second the photographer hit the button on the camera. Then and only then, did my child turn on her precious angel smile. And that was after she took somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 MINUTES to walk from the parking lot to the field where the pictures were being taken. I mean, the girl had to work hard to walk that slow. God love her hard-head and tender heart. She will rule the world one day!

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The leaves she collected on our scooter adventure…we were out there for awhile

Did I also mention that is was approximately 10,000 degrees outside on Saturday? The poor photographers at the soccer fields were visibly wilting. Being that we were already sweaty, we decided to go ahead and hit the up local festival. We had a good time doing all of May Lee’s favorites- face-painting, pony-ride, sand art, mini golf, and she even attempted to climb the rock wall. I was proud of her for doing that, because she has been wanting to do it but got scared on the first step up. Sometimes, I worry that her anxiety keeps her from trying new things or from putting forth effort on things she thinks she can’t do perfectly. So, it did my heart well to hear her say later in the week during an afternoon walk around the neighborhood “I didn’t come out here just to scooter. I came out here for an adventure.”

Finally, we have entered the stage of the hypotheticals, and I have learned that I have precious little patience for hypotheticals. “What if there wasn’t just one left, what if there were two left?” “What if that car really did hit that other car?” “What if that leaf were red instead of brown?” Or how about the time I told her to get water to drink, because we were out of milk. “But what if we WEREN’T out of milk?” she said. “We ARE out of milk, so get some water” I replied. “I know, Mom, but what if we WEREN’T out of milk?” I just don’t even know how to respond these questions, other than to roll my eyes to remind myself that this is just a phase. Let’s just leave it at I have room to grow in this area.

The Life Overhaul:

I finished The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, and what a practical little life-changing book. I realize that I have gone on and on about this book, and that is because it is amazing and you must read it. I’m working on implementing the ideas in the book in my daily life, and so far the only one that I’ve really done consistently is to create a practice of gratitude. Now that I’ve gotten it down to where consistently do this practice every morning, my next project is finding a fun gratitude practice that May Lee and I can do together every day. Something other than the standard bedtime prayer of “thank you for my family and my friends”. I was thinking about something more creative and hands-on. I have not consulted the great and powerful Pinterest yet, but I’m sure the ideas found therein will be numerous and somewhat intimidating. I’ll keep you posted about what I find and what I end up trying out.

Creativity is the word on my mind lately, and I’ve trying to save space in my over-scheduled life for it. Making sure that I have this outlet once or twice a week has saved my brain from completely melting and running out of my ears as I have plowed through journal articles, book chapters, and discussion boards for my class. I recently picked up Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, and it seems like a timely read as I’m trying to incorporate creative outlets into my life.

Other than saving space for creativity, exercise has been another thing that has saved my bacon during this busy season. Especially since Brach’s Autumn Mix and a Sonic Oreo Blast made their way into my life this week. I am powerless against the Oreo. But in all seriousness, it’s been really difficult to get in even a few crunches and a decent amount of steps each day. I’ve really been working in the margins of my time to make it happen, like the day I had to use my lunch break to drop something off at my daughter’s school. I had 20 minutes until I had to drive back to work, so I took a quick walk around the campus. The weather is finally cooling off, and I am deeply craving to start running again. I just don’t think my schedule can flex enough to make it happen, but I haven’t given up trying to figure that out just yet.

Coming Up Next:

Don’t know if y’all have heard the news or not, but there is this small, discreet, and well-mannered political campaign going on. I have some thoughts on it, but most of those thoughts are not directly related to politics but more along the lines of what God has convicted me of in light of the political campaign. As a result, my perspective and attitude has changed quite a bit.

On a side note, Twitter was my absolute favorite place to be during the political debate. I know you think I’m crazy, because hello, social media and politics DO NOT PAIR WELL. But I have a whole new love for Twitter. I have a personal account, but I can’t say that I have ever enjoyed it. However, this week I set up an account for the blog, and with some help, I have been able to find “my people”- my favorite authors well known for their humor. Twitter is now my new happy place. I was LAUGHING UNTIL I CRIED during the presidential debate. The handle for this Twitter account is @Singlemomonmis2 if you’d like to join the fun.

Things I Like that I’ve Mentioned in This Post:

It occurred to me that I talk about things that I love or have discovered on this blog, and then I totally leave you hanging about where to find it if you want to check it out. So, below I’ve put links to the things I’ve mentioned.

To begin, I believe that I’ve already mentioned my love for Franklin Covey. I literally have my whole life in my Covey planner- calendar, financial forms, address & phone numbers, business cards, financial worksheets, notes & ideas….shall I go on. https://franklinplanner.fcorgp.com/store/

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown: https://www.amazon.com/Gifts-Imperfection-Think-Supposed-Embrace/dp/159285849X

Fitness 22 Great Abs App. Please do not believe for one second that I am currently in possession of “great abs”. A bathroom selfie snapped with one hand while my other hand lifts my shirt to reveal rippling abs all the way down to my low-slung pants will not be forthcoming. To me, this app would be more appropriately called “Abs for people currently without muscle tone in any portion of their core”. Abs for beginners, if you will. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/great-abs-sit-ups-crunches/id967725498?mt=8

7 Minute workout App. Again, for people who need to survive a workout by reminding themselves that they can do anything for 7 minutes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/7-minute-workout-challenge/id981527855?mt=8

 

Redemption in Divorce

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If I had remained married, today would have been my anniversary. This day has become like the New Year’s holiday to me, because I tend to reflect deeply about the time that has passed and the time that lies before me. I do not set goals like I may choose to do for a New Year, and I guess this is where my holiday analogy would move toward Thanksgiving. On this day, I find myself so very, very thankful and deeply humbled at the redemption the Lord has brought to my life, which leads to a story that I haven’t shared with many people until this moment.

When my marriage reached the pinnacle of insanity, I dug into my Bible looking for answers. At least, I thought I was looking for answers, but I was really looking for justifications. I was using what I was reading in the Bible to prop up my own insane thinking and to justify continued efforts to ignore all the very obvious evidence that my child and I were in very real danger. I would pray for protection, for 10,000 angels to form a protective perimeter around my house, but I would not leave. I would not leave, because “God hates divorce”, “the husband is the head of the wife”, and “wives obey your husbands” (that was my ex-husband’s favorite) and all those other scriptures, not to mention all the Christian judgments that have become so deeply ingrained in some sectors of Christian culture that they are mistaken as scriptures, were perpetuating the same cycle of shame as the abuse I was enduring. I was trapped by “my faith”. My ex-husband knew it and I knew, and he exploited it for all that he could.

It was not long until I reached a place of such deep mental and emotional anguish that I cried out to God from a place so deep in my soul that I never knew it existed. And you know what, He answered me. Clear as day, He answered me with, “If you will trust me to lead you out of this, I will give it all back to you. Family, friends, everything that you’ve lost will be restored to you”. In that moment, scenes from the last year of my life flashed across my mind, and I recognized them as opportunities God had put before me to escape that I hadn’t taken.

You might think that I packed us up and hit the road right then, but I did not. Trust was not something I was in possession of at that time. My head was all messed up, and I had a long history of poor judgment to prove it. Trusting God to lead me out of that deep hole was out of the question at that time, but like Gideon and so many others, I kept asking for confirmation. I bought a little notebook at the dollar store and carried it around in my bag everywhere I went. All day long for months and months, I would write my prayers and questions for God in my notebook, and when those answers came, I wrote them in my notebook too. In this way, I started building trust with God. He started giving me small successes that helped me begin to trust my judgment again.

That process played out for a year or so, and I finally did leave. And you know what? Only 2 people threw the whole “God hates divorce” thing up at me. One of them was my ex-husband and one of them was another man who had chosen to exit my life for the entire 8 months of my divorce process, and therefore knew next to nothing about what was going on but chose to levy his opinion against me the week that my divorce was final. It makes me wonder what those 2 men have in common that out of all the people who knew the scenario, from professional counselors to preachers to close friends and family, that only those 2 men expressed eerily similar opinions that had I followed them would have kept me in danger. It begs the question: what compels us to use the Bible the way we do, much like a shield to hide our secret sins? But this I know without a doubt: everyone’s secret sin will be exposed at one point or another. All houses built on sand eventually fall. I’ve spent years crawling out of my own collapsed house of sand, learning what true repentance means, trying to show my family and friends that I understand and take full responsibility for the ways that I went wrong, and that I intend to spend every day of the rest of my life following the path that God has laid out for me.

With that being said, let’s go back to the promise God gave me the day that I stood in the bedroom of my beach duplex, face to the ceiling, crying out for relief. The best part of today is looking back and counting the ways He has been faithful to that promise over the years. The first year, I won the right to move out of state from the Florida Court. The next year, I accepted a job that would allow me to support my little family. This year, May Lee and I moved into our very own home. And that is just the “big” stuff! I see His promise answered in some small way just about every week, whether its rekindling relationships that were lost to the chaos of my marriage and divorce, new relationships that have come into my life, advances at work, being able to enjoy experiences that I never thought I would be able to have again, and being able to dust off and reignite talents that have been dormant under the heavy frost of trauma for so long.

All of those things are so very awesome, and I will admit that I am amazed and deeply humbled every time I recognize a new layer of His promise coming to fruition. But I think the best part is yet to come. Some day, when someone else’s sandcastle collapses and all their secret sin is revealed to what feels like the entire world, I’ll be there to help them dig out the way only someone who has had the same experience can. One day, my story is going to help someone else see the light at the end of the tunnel, as well as the light of the One who wants to restore everything they have lost. That will be a great day, my friends. Who knows, maybe that will be one of the experiences I’ll be sharing with you a year from today. Either way, today I trust in His promise fully. I trust the instincts and ability to use good judgment that He has restored to health within me, and I know that goodness and adventure lie ahead.

AMEN.

Eunice Gave Me Some of Her Giddy-Up, and It Has Been Glorious

For a period of several months during my morning quiet time, the itch to get back into writing tickled the back of my mind. God really uses that morning quiet time to put things on my heart, and He’d been pressing the writing issue quite a bit while I, in turn, was faithfully ignoring Him. All the standard objections were levied: I haven’t written in years, I have nothing to say, I don’t have the time…and so on.

In the middle of this cosmic volley of divine requests and pathetic excuses, I received an e-mail invitation to fill out a form and potentially be a part of a book launch team for Sophie Hudson’s new book, Giddy Up Eunice. I was delighted by the thought, because I love her books and it was kind of like a Gideon-and-the-fleece moment for me. “Ok Lord, you say you want me to write, so I’ll know you’re serious if I get selected for this thing.” So, I filled out the form and almost immediately forgot about the launch team, because I fill out lots of these types of forms and I have yet to win any of Dave Ramsey’s money. I did, however, make a mental note of the release date for the book, because I wasn’t missing out on that action.

Let me tell you a little bit about my journey with Sophie Hudson’s books. I cannot remember the where, when, or how of my discovery of A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet, but it was shortly after I relocated from Florida to Arkansas. May Lee and I were living in my parents’ house while recovering from divorce and the insanity that led to the divorce. I was back home but didn’t really know how to be back home. A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet brought wave after nostalgic wave of home and family history, and it really helped break the ice of being back home after a very long ordeal. It also made me laugh until I had to put the book down and wipe the tears from my eyes so that I could see to continue reading. Straight up, uncontrollable belly laughs, my friends.

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If A Little Salty broke the ice around my heart while also turning my giggle box upside down, Home is Where My People Are took the thawing out to the next level. Sophie’s stories felt so familiar to me that they took me back to a time and place before all the heartache and helped me remember what having true friends and family was like, how much I was missing out on by sitting on the sidelines, and how deeply I wanted those kinds of relationships back in my life. It really renewed my motivation to start bringing down some of those emotional walls and try to genuinely engage in relationships again. And like before, Sophie had me crying both tears of laughter and tears of genuine heartfelt emotion.

Then the day arrived that I opened my e-mail and received the notice that I had in fact been chosen for the Giddy Up, Eunice launch team. At this point, God had put a name for a blog on my heart, and now He had responded to my Gideon-esque launch team fleece. So naturally, I immediately obeyed. Just kidding, I have a hard head, so what I really did was take it to my spiritual running partner who tried not to knock me over the head as she kindly stated, “I think you need to write a blog”.

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Eunice arrived at my doorstep soon thereafter, and I read that thing like my life depended on it. I usually read slowly, only reading small sections at a time so that my mind can digest the content. Not so with Eunice. I couldn’t seem to put it down, and when I hit the pages where Sophie hops on her soapbox and demands that we not discount our importance and STAY IN IT, I was ugly crying. Honestly, I’m getting a little misty-eyed right now just telling you about it. Powerful stuff, ladies.

But it didn’t stop there. Oh no, the hits just kept on coming. I came to the pages where Sophie recounts all of her doubts about writing and they happened to be pretty much identical to my own fears: “what if people don’t read it? Or worse, what if people read it?! I feel icky about sharing my feelings!!!” But then Sophie’s wise friend asks her if she believes God gave her the words. When Sophie says yes, the friend lovingly commands her to trust Him with it. “YOU TRUST HIM WITH IT.” Deeply convicted doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings after reading that passage.

If A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet and Home is Where My People Are were gentle icebreakers and sweet reminders of the joys of living life, Giddy Up, Eunice was the swift kick in the rear that I needed to actually get going and make a move. The next day, I started this blog. While reading Eunice, I participated in a women’s walking/running group that ended with a 5K, I started working with my running partner to generate ideas about how to serve the women of this community, and I finally got involved with my church by volunteering in the 2nd grade.

Like all of the other books, Eunice came just when I needed her. I’ve started reading the book again and in small sections so my brain can really digest the content. This time, not only did I get a great reading experience, I got the wonderful fellowship of the ladies on the launch team. It has been a joy, and I am truly grateful for the whole experience. Now, I highly encourage each and every one of you to Giddy Up!

https://www.amazon.com/Giddy-Up-Eunice-Because-Women/dp/1433643111

http://boomama.net