Category Archives: Ramblings

Summer’s End: A Season of Change

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when I look at the calendar and realize summer is dwindling down to the final days.

The countdown to back-to-school has begun and with it comes the inevitable question, “Where has the summer gone?”

The start of summer is filled with optimism and promise as the schedule clears and makes room for long days of lounging by the pool side, gathering with friends, family vacations and late nights roasting marshmallows by the fire (in an idyllic Norman Rockwell meets Pleasantville type summer, of course.)

In the beginning, there is excitement in the air and the feeling that summer will last forever.

And then, BAM! It pulls a Kaiser Soze and disappears. Just like that. Poof. It’s gone.

And I’m bummed.

Even though it can be chaotic, even though the kids fight, even though we are without a daily schedule, even though the days can be a little crazy with people sleeping in and breakfast being served at 10am, even though it’s far from the picture perfect Norman Rockwell world – I love it. I love the crazy.

I love the sounds of their voices and their feet pounding upstairs. I love the music they play and the dances they make up. I love the sound of my children playing with the neighborhood kids and the constant stream of people coming and going, in and out of the house like a never-ending parade, but instead of throwing candy – the parade scatters sand and other outdoor debris leaving a trail in their wake.

Ok, I don’t always love the fighting. I take that part back. That part can be annoying. And the screeching of “MOM!” followed by the inevitable asking for something – that part can also be annoying. And the trail of sand throughout the house from the sandbox that makes me feel like I must be living on an exotic beach somewhere (without any of the benefits of living on an exotic beach other than the trail of sand) that part can be pretty annoying, too.

The more I think about it, maybe the reason I love summer so much is because it’s a concentrated time when we’re all together, but it does have an end. Maybe the chaos is great because I know a schedule is on the horizon. Maybe summer wouldn’t be so awesome if it really did stretch on forever.

Maybe instead of being bummed, I should just be grateful.

Grateful that we have had these fun lazy days of summer and thankful that we are about to return to some semblance of normal as the daily routine makes its way back into our lives.

To everything there is a season and maybe what makes summer so amazing is that it is a season (literally.) It can be anticipated, enjoyed and then let go – with the understanding that it will be back again in all of it’s glory.

This year, summer’s end feels a little different for me and my family. The end of summer is more than just the end of a season we love. It also marks the end of our time in Indiana – the state where we have lived our entire lives.

As we are about to pack up our home and move five hours away, I really have no idea what our new normal will be.

Usually at this point in the summer, I have received the School Pak (I refused to shop for supplies after our oldest child’s kindergarten year, but that’s a whole other story).

Usually at this point in the summer, we have opened the boxes and labeled everything in anticipation for the upcoming year.

Usually at this point in the summer, the back-to-school clothes shopping has begun.

Usually at this point in the summer, the dates for the ice cream socials and meet-the-teacher nights are on the calendar.

Usually at this point in the summer, there is a buzz and excitement in the house as the kids eagerly await their postcards notifying them of who their teachers will be.

I know how the end of summer goes here. I know what to expect. I know what’s coming next.

But the end of this summer isn’t usual.

To everything there is a season. I am learning to appreciate and thank God for the gifts each season brings. I am learning that life is a constant ebb and flow. Things are always changing. I am learning how to not hold on too tightly. I am learning how to let go and embrace this change.

Sometimes things can’t be buttoned up and put together. Some seasons won’t allow it.

I may not know what it looks like to live in Tennessee, but I have to trust it will be good.

Back-to-school is a little different for us this year and that’s okay. We will figure it out when we get there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Was I Thinking?

A few weeks ago, I signed up to help tend the courtyard at my daughter’s school. Through an inspiring class project called Seeds of Change, my daughter’s triad transformed a sad looking courtyard into something beautiful and magnificient.

With the guidance and encouragement of their teachers, the children saw something that needed fixed, came up with a plan and then took the necessary steps to turn their vision into a reality.

They raised money. They met with school officials. They met with landscapers. They put their hands in the ground and helped plant flowers. They got dirty.

And they did it. The transformation was remarkable.

In order for it to remain this way and flourish over the hot, summer weeks – families were encouraged to sign up for one week to help tend the courtyard.

This was our week.

Last week, as I was looking at my calendar, I thought – “What in the world was I thinking?”

I couldn’t believe I had signed up for this week.

What. Was. I. Thinking?

I obviously was having a major brain malfunction when I signed up for this week.

This week is the last week before our house goes on the market. This week my husband is out of town all week. This week is the week I need to finish decluttering and painting and organizing.

And we are preparing to go out of town.

I know you aren’t supposed to say that in a public forum for fear that someone is going to come into your house, but I’m saying it regardless. We are going out of town. And I need to pack. And packing for an entire family takes a lot of time.

Did I mention our house goes on the market next week? Did I mention my husband is out of town ALL WEEK?

What. Was. I. Thinking?

Regardless of what I was thinking – we were doing this.

We arrived on Monday and I told the kids this would take around 20 minutes. Water. Pull a couple of weeds. Finished.

In and out.

That was the plan. Until we actually saw the courtyard. The beautiful courtyard was in a sad state of dehydration and was slowly being overtaken by a colony of weeds.

20 minutes was a pipe dream and I was feeling annoyed. Very annoyed.

But what was I going to do? Complain about it? Be a whiny baby? No. Not an option. I was trying to teach my kids the importance of volunteering with a joyful heart. My grumpster, harried, undesirable attitude could not surface.

I forced a smile and got to work.

And as my hands repeatedly went into the dirt pulling up weed after weed and as I looked around and saw my children tending to the plants and the flowers and running through the sprinkler, something in my heart began to change.

A feeling of joy began to bubble up. I was removed from my problems and my stress and my long list of this weeks to-dos.

With my hands in the dirt, my heart changed and the smile I had plastered on in an attempt to mask my true emotions changed into a genuine smile of gratitude.

For the rest of the week, the highlight of my day became tending the courtyard with my children. It was a reprieve from the daily grind. It felt good to be caring for nature and to take part in this beautiful project the kids had worked so hard on all year long.

It was a wonderful reminder that oftentimes the best medicine for my soul is to remove the focus from me and my issues and my problems and to turn it to something bigger, something better.

Serving with my children this week brought my family joy. Hopefully, as this courtyard flourishes, it will continue to bring joy to all who stop in to enjoy the flowers, have a meal at the picnic tables, or read a book under the shade of a tree.

It was medicine for my soul. I don’t know what I was thinking when I signed up for this week, but it worked out in the end. Better than I ever could have imagined.

God’s timing is amazing. It is perfect. He is good. This was just what I needed.

My soul, my heart, my mind really, really needed this. This was a rough week. I needed this – way more than that courtyard needed me.

I thought I was going to serve and instead – with each weed that was pulled, with each flower that was deadheaded, with each plant and flower that was watered and each time I looked up and saw my children participating in the care of this courtyard – my spirit was ministered to.

Isn’t it funny how that happens?

Thank you God that when I’m not thinking, when I don’t know what is best – You are and You do. Thank you that oftentimes medicine for the soul comes from the most unlikely places. In the most unlikely times. 

 

*click on this link to view the Seeds of Change Courtyard Dedication video and see all that went into creating this lovely courtyard – courtesy of the Crist, Franz and Robison triad (the best triad ever!)

 

 

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Life Lessons from House Staging

Part of getting ready to put our house on the market is staging it for buyers. We were told to remove anything personal, make rooms and closets look spacious and take away any reminder of work.

In other words – hide the trash cans, remove the paper towels from the countertop, move the laundry detergent out of sight and on and on.

This is what they do in model homes. They want people to feel like the house is a place where you kick off your shoes and put your feet up. A place where work is minimal, at best.

Our closets are very small, so we were told to remove about half of the stuff. This would give the illusion that they are bigger.

It feels a little like I’m selling a lie. We do have small closets! Of course we work here! There are dishes to do, clothes to wash and carpets to vacuum. We are a family of six and we live here – and living gets messy and those messes need picked up. Just because I hide stuff doesn’t make that go away.

But it works. They do this in model homes because, on some subconscious level, it works.

But here is reality – you can remove the items and make people feel like the house comes with less work and less stress, but that doesn’t make it true.

You will still bring your stuff and your work and your life and your stress with you from your old space into your new space – even if you don’t see a single trash can in the house when you walk through. It still exists.

I am learning some valuable lessons from the house staging process.

Lesson #1 – Like I said before…..Just because I hide stuff doesn’t make that go away.

Like with the move.

Maybe if I don’t talk about the move…..maybe if I don’t think about the move…..maybe if I avoid it all together……maybe if I do everything physically necessary for the move without really dealing with the emotion of it……maybe if I just have a glass of wine tonight to turn off my mind…..

I have been trying really hard to focus on the positives of the move and not be sad about leaving yet. I will have time to be sad about being gone once I am actually there. Why be sad now? I’m still here after all.

But sometimes, I wonder if I am just stuffing it down somewhere deep?

Yesterday, I looked at my calendar and realized how little time I really have left in our home, in our community, with our friends who have become like family. I thought of all of the people I want to hang out with and all the things I still want to do here in Indy and realized I have run out of time to do all of those things.

In an attempt to be positive, I reminded myself I can always come back and visit. Which is true, but it isn’t the same.

I really can’t imagine being gone. It all feels so surreal. I try not to think about it. I’m getting my house ready to put on the market, but it still doesn’t feel real.

But it is real. Even if I don’t talk about it. Even if I don’t think about it. Even if I avoid it.

Just because I hide stuff doesn’t make that go away. 

But, I need to continue to think of the positives. For my children, for my husband and for myself. I know God has a plan in this and I trust in that plan. I may not be able to imagine my future there, but just 8 years ago before I moved from our home that I loved in Irvington into my home I love so much now – I couldn’t imagine my future here either.

I’m not sure if it’s healthy to try not to be sad right now? I’m not sure if that’s just avoidance?Maybe it’s just like me putting the paper towels under the counter so that it all seems less complicated than it is. Maybe it’s less work to focus on the physical aspect of moving and not the emotional.

I really don’t know how to deal with all of this. I don’t know how to say goodbye. Is there some type of protocol?

I need a manual on how to do this.

What I do know is this – I don’t want to spend my last weeks here sad, so I think I will just enjoy each day as it comes. I will take each good bye as it comes. I will try not to dwell on what’s on the horizon and not get lost in the thought of moving, but at the same time not pretend like it isn’t happening – because that’s not healthy either.

But how do I do that? Will someone please write a manual.

Some moments will be sad. Some moments will be happy. Some days will feel like a regular day in our home and others will feel like a sad reminder of our departure.

I think I just need to take each day, each moment as it arrives. That has been the nudge I have been getting from God time and time again for the past few years. Be in the moment. Take each moment as it arrives. Tomorrow is not promised. What you have is today.

I need to keep breathing that thought in and breathing it out. Daily.

Lesson #2 – Less stuff really does bring more peace

Hiding trash cans and removing all signs of work isn’t realistic in a house that is actually being lived in, but I have come to appreciate the peace that comes with simplifying.

A year and a half ago I embarked on a 52 Donations project where I donated something (time, money or material objects) every week for a year. It was a wonderful, life-changing project.

During that time, I simplified our home and got rid of a lot of clutter (or so I thought.) Getting the house ready to move has taken that to a whole new level. I have had to get rid of so much more and it feels good. Really. Really. Good.

I don’t think we were meant to live with so much.

When I walk into a room and there is more open space, I seem to breathe a little better. When drawers and closets and cupboards aren’t overflowing – it just feels good. It feels right.

Honestly, why in the world do I need multiple can openers? Or 20 coffee mugs?

I don’t. I don’t need that much.

Somebody else could probably really use some of my excess and getting rid of the clutter has felt wonderful and necessary and freeing.

I do hope when we move we can continue to keep things decluttered and organized, but…..

Lesson #3 – As it has been said before, “No matter where you go, there you are.” 

When I think of moving, I do get excited about the idea of simplifying our lives. Not just the clutter, but also our schedules. I do look forward to the idea of more time together as a family. I know there are things to look forward intertwined with the sadness of leaving.

But to keep our home and our schedules decluttered will take intentionality. If we aren’t intentional about making changes, we will slowly end up exactly where we are now.

We will still take our habits with us. A new house in a new place doesn’t make us new people. We are still us, in a new location.

If we want to make life changes, we will need to work to make those changes – just like we would have to work to make those changes here and now.

 Lesson #4 – Take nothing for granted.

We have limited time left in the home we love, with our friends and neighbors we love and I don’t want to take a second of the time we have left here for granted.

We have been blessed beyond measure to live in such a wonderful, loving community. I am grateful for every second we have had here. For every memory we have made. For every friendship formed.

I may not know how to deal with the move, but I do know that I am blessed. Very blessed to have experienced all of the kindness, love and depth of relationships my family and I have experienced during our time here in Indianapolis.

I do not take that for granted.

Thank you, God. Thank you.

 

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My Near Death Sandwich: The Final Chapter

On our way to Hawaii, I had moments when I honestly wasn’t sure what would happen. I knew there was such a thing as too hot and I knew we did not have air. I did not know how hot our plane would become and I also knew we were over the ocean with nowhere safe to land. All I could do was pray.

In the hours leading up to our flight home from Hawaii, I honestly wasn’t sure what would happen. I knew I was very sick and was becoming dehydrated. I was not in the comfort of my home and I didn’t know if I would be able to tolerate the plane ride. All I could do was pray.

As you know, because I am sitting here typing this, I made it home safely from Hawaii. I drank a ton of (yes, you guessed it) Gatorade and I slept a lot. Eventually the pain subsided. Patrick finished my packing because he is a wonderful, sweet man and I rested until just moments before we had to leave for the airport.

Thankfully, because we were taking the red-eye home, I had time to start feeling better before take-off. It’s funny how that happens. When we initially booked our flight, I wasn’t sure about taking a red-eye. Now, I was incredibly grateful we were.

I didn’t feel the best on the flight, but I made it. Thanks to lots of prayers and more Gatorade than I had ever consumed before, I made it.

I had the most remarkable time with my husband in Maui –

and this remarkable time was sandwiched between two of the more nerve-racking days in my life.

Two nerve-racking, scary, bunch my stomach in knots and cover me in sweat days. These days both had the same end result – gratitude. 

Immense gratitude. The kind of gratitude that blankets your insides and makes you stop and breathe deep breaths and just be present with all of the thankfulness. That kind of all-consuming gratitude.

Gratitude to be on vacation.

Gratitude to have made it to my next destination.

Gratitude to have my feet on the ground.

Gratitude to be feeling well.

Gratitude to be home with my children.

Gratitude to be alive.

Gratitude.

Deep.

Deep.

Gratitude.

Sometimes, to fully experience gratitude you have to be taken to a place of discomfort. A place of unknown. A place of pain.

People wonder why bad things happen to good people. I know they aren’t talking about scary plane rides and food poisoning, but maybe sometimes you have to experience the bad to recognize all of the beauty in the good.

Maybe those moments that aren’t so great, those moments that drop us to our knees, those moments that have us crying out “why?!” as tears stream down our faces, those moments when we can’t imagine taking another breath because we are so tired and weighed down by the heaviness of life, those moments when we feel alone or scared or weary, those moments when we aren’t sure what our future holds, maybe those moments are the moments that draw us closer to God. Maybe they don’t always feel that way in the moment, but maybe that is the end result.

I know that was my end result.

Gratitude. 

Deep. 

Deep. 

Gratitude.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Short Story About My Near Death Sandwich – Part Three: The Other Slice of Bread

I was scared, but like so many times when fear creeps in and threatens to take hold – the thought of what may happen was much worse than what actually took place.

What took place was nothing more than a breathtaking, exhilarating car ride around an island covered with the most lush, picturesque scenery I ever had the pleasure of laying my eyes upon.

As we bumped and jerked and raced the sun around the twists and turns and eventually saw it drop below the horizon, and as the stars started to twinkle one by one in the night sky creating a blanket of sparkling lights covering us from above, I no longer felt afraid. I felt grateful. Oh so very, very grateful.

We left the road to Hana and headed for our dinner reservations at the very popular, highly acclaimed Mama’s Fish House. And it completely lived up to the hype. It was beautiful and delicious and peaceful and everything you would hope a meal at a restaurant sitting on the beach would be.

After stuffing ourselves silly with delectable fresh seafood, we headed back to the hotel with full bellies and full hearts. We went to bed that night with the knowledge that our vacation would soon be coming to an end, but that was ok. We were beyond happy.

Our next day was spent lounging around the pool and ocean and doing all the other great things you do when you are in Hawaii for the day.

Our evening ended with another exceptional meal at a restaurant down the beach from our hotel. We walked back from dinner once again with full bellies and full hearts. We were content. We were joyful. We were breathing in fresh ocean air. We were together. It was bliss.

We began to pack our bags in preparation for our flight home the next day. We laid our heads on the pillow. And went to sleep.

And then it happened.

The pain. The horrible, awful, feel like you must be dying pain. It felt like someone was stabbing my stomach with a small knife.

What was happening?

I was so sick. So. So. So. Sick.

With each of my children I suffered from horrible “morning” sickness. You know, the kind that lasts all day that makes you wonder why in the world anyone was ever cruel enough to name it morning sickness when it should have been called “all day every day” sickness. I was used to feeling sick. I was used to throwing up. I was not used to this.

This was like something you would see out of a movie. I’m not even sure the word projectile does it justice.

After a couple of hours of the pain, vomiting and other unmentionables – I finally woke Pat up and told him I must have Gatorade. Now. Fast. My legs were starting to lock up and I was starting to feel like I was on the verge of being really dehydrated really fast.

It may have been far from reality, but I was wondering if I would ever get up from that bed. I had never felt so bad.

He called the front desk. They asked if Ginger Ale would do, I politely responded with a faint, “No, it must be Gatorade.”  (This is starting to sound like a really long Gatorade commercial, isn’t it?)

The kind man arrived in the early hours of the morning to bring my beverage of choice – I don’t have to tell you again what it was. For the next few hours, I continued to be sick and drink as much as I possibly could.

And as I lay there in all of my pain, I began to wonder if I would get home.

I was on an island and had not seen a hospital, or a clinic for that matter. While I am sure they existed, at that time I felt very. Very. Far away from home. I wondered where I would go to get fluids. I wondered how I would get on the plane. I wondered how I would endure the long flight back. I started to think about how Pat would have to leave me there and how I would have to come home later. I had never felt so bad.

My flight to Hawaii had been a sauna over the ocean and my flight home was about to be a whole different beast altogether.

*This is part three of a now FOUR part blog series….oh my…..I just can’t stop…….

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A Short Story about My Near Death Sandwich – Part Two: All the Good Stuff in Between

After an unbearably hot plane ride where I thought I may not live to see another day; a 10-hour lay-over in San Francisco; an hour wait on the tarmac (they originally told us it would be two hours, so one seemed pretty awesome) and a bumpy second flight that may have been scary at any other point in my life (but because of what we had just been through seemed like a walk in the park) – we finally touched down.

Yes, it was 3:30 in the morning Hawaii time and yes we were supposed to be there at 1:45 in the afternoon the day before and yes we had been traveling for over 24 hours, but who cares? We made it.

We had arrived. Maui. Paradise.

My husband and I were about to experience the vacation of a lifetime and we were beyond excited. And exhausted. Excihuasted.

We made it to our room and I would say we slept like babies, but I have never understood that analogy. My babies woke up every few hours, cried, wanted to eat, needed their diapers changed and sometimes refused to go back to bed. We absolutely did NOT sleep like babies. More like rocks. I get that analogy.

When we woke up the next morning we were greeted by sunshine, fresh ocean air and a breathtaking view. Our harrowing trip to the island was well worth it.

That evening, we went to a luau and saw people move in ways I never knew possible. They danced with fire and told beautiful stories about their culture and while their hips were shaking and fire was flying, we ate….and ate….and ate some more – and I realized as I looked down and saw the deep purple hue on my plate that even the sweet potatoes in Hawaii are prettier – and I was giddy with happiness.

We rode aboard a catamaran on a bright, sunny day and went snorkeling with exotic fish and gigantic, graceful sea turtles  – and I was sure if one of those sea turtles were to talk they would sound just like Crush – and I was giddy with happiness.

We went whale watching and saw two enormous humpback whales breech and then a smaller, baby whale followed suit a second later. And even though it was only a baby, it was still one of the largest, most remarkable creatures I had ever laid my eyes upon. The whales flew into the air and landed with splashes that were so ginormous it seemed as if they could surely be seen for miles. The captain of the ship told us this was the first double breech they had witnessed all year (and we saw a triple!) – and I was giddy with happiness.

GOPR0888.3gp  (Click here to see some whale breeching footage)

Nearly every morning, we would wake up and go for a jog on a path that wound around the coastline. We ran with clear, baby blue skies above and the ocean beside us. We watched the waves roll in and crash against the rocks, spraying the air with glistening drops of salt-filled water. We ran and we talked and we laughed and we eventually would stop talking and laughing because we were tired from all of that running. My heart was full, my legs were sore – and I was giddy with happiness.

We rented a car and drove along the narrow Road to Hana with its bends, twists, 617 hairpin turns and 59 one-lane bridges. The road to the quaint, isolated town of Hana is roughly 52 miles. Seems as if you should get there in no time. Right?  Think again. This trip took us an entire day. Close to ten hours to be exact.

Part of the reason the trip takes so long is not just the hairpin turns and 25 mph speed limit, but because of the many stops made along the way. On more than one occasion, we stopped to hike and we hiked and hiked and hiked some more and saw the most beautiful sites  –

waterfalls,

lush green foliage,

painted eucalyptus trees,

a black sand beach,

a red sand beach,

and on and on.

God’s great beauty as far as the eye could see –

and I was giddy with happiness.

We stopped at shacks on the side of the road where local food was being prepared with great love and care. The conditions were questionable and I am pretty sure they weren’t being regulated by the Department of Health, but that was fine. It was all part of the experience.

At one location, our food was handed to us inside of a hollowed out bamboo shoot with small bamboo sticks to use as our utensils. It felt as if we had left our country and flown around the world to have our meal.

It was delicious – and I was giddy with happiness.

And finally, after traveling and hiking and eating and just being present with each other and God’s glorious creation – we arrived at our destination, the town of Hana.

We were told that tourists are supposed to drive to the town of Hana, turn around and drive back because past Hana the road becomes more dangerous. We were told some rental car companies make you sign a paper saying you will not drive past the town. Ours did not. We spoke with some locals and they encouraged us to keep going past Hana, saying it wasn’t that bad. Being the rebels we are, we decided to go for it. We had already faced danger along the way.

Driving past the town of Hana did make my heart skip a beat on more than one occasion. The guard rails on the ocean side of the road were rusted and crumbling apart. The volcano side had a flimsy net that was supposed to serve as some sort of protection from any falling rocks. I am pretty certain it would protect us as much as the guard rails. The road became very narrow and unpaved. We bumped and jerked and shook along the way.

But the beauty. Oh the beauty. It was breathtaking. We had left early that morning, but found ourselves racing the sun on the last leg of our journey. As the sun was going down, we were both painfully aware of the plethora of twists and turns on the unpaved, unlit road. We could not go faster, we could only hope for the best. The race was on –

and I was scared.

*This is part two of a now three part blog series.

 

 

 

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A Short Story about My Near Death Sandwich: Part One

The first slice of bread

Have you ever had a moment you thought may be your last?

In that moment, your mind takes off in the direction of all of the “what if’s” and you begin to feel like every part of you is being covered with a heavy blanket of anxiety. You feel like you may suffocate from the weight of it. Do you know what I am talking about?

Have you had that moment?

I have.

I wish I could say in that moment when my mind was all “what iffy” and the endless stream of possibilities were making laps around my head like race cars on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that I was perfectly calm and not all sweaty and suffocatey feeling.

I wish I could say that, but I already told you – I was covered in an Is-this-the-End blanket of anxiety.

Not once – but twice.

The first time was at the very beginning of a vacation of a lifetime – a trip to Maui with my sweet husband.

The other was at the very end of that same vacation.

The vacation is now what I like to think of as My Near Death Sandwich – with both crazy experiences being the slices of bread and our amazing trip being all of the good stuff in the middle.

I have a gluten sensitivity, so it’s not a big surprise that my brain came up with this analogy. Bread has never really been good for me.

Anyways – to fully appreciate where I am going with this, let’s start with the first slice of bread.

The ancient airplane

Patrick and I arrived at the airport bright and early, eager to board the plane for our trip to Maui. We hadn’t slept much, but that was fine because we were heading to Maui for nine days of bliss. We would sleep later.

The first leg of our trip was uneventful (as you want your plane rides to be.) We flew to Dallas and enjoyed some breakfast during our layover while we waited to board the plane that would take us the remainder of our way. An eight hour flight to paradise.

Sometimes, when you’ve been up pretty much all night and it’s 7 am in Dallas and you have already had one flight – you make weird faces

I was excited to see what our plane would look like. I had never traveled for that many hours and was confident it would be something luxurious. I imagined it to be a little bigger than the usual plane – with personal televisions and Wi-Fi – a souped-up plane with all of the amenities.

I boarded the plane, looked around and thought, “This is the plane? This is what we will be in for the next eight hours? What? This plane looks like it may have been the first commercial plane. Ever.” All of my WiFi dreams came crashing down in an instant.

Let me paint a picture of our plane for you……

The plane came with ashtrays. You couldn’t open them. They must have been glued shut or something, but still…..ashtrays. How long ago could people smoke on planes anyways? I know I could Google this and find out, but I would rather just ask the question for effect.

And it wasn’t just the ashtrays. It was also the TVs. Yes, it had TVs (so that was a plus), but these were not the cute little personal screens I had dreamed of. These looked like they were modeled after my first ever computer – the Commodore 64. Seriously. They were small, sturdy boxes hanging from the ceiling. The screens were surrounded by a thick off-white border (teetering on the verge of yellow – maybe from all of the years of smoke exposure it had endured.) You know, like the good ‘ol TVs from the past – big and bulky. The opposite of a flat screen.

Oh well. My disappointment quickly passed. So what if it was an old plane? This old plane was transporting us to paradise. I could live with the ashtrays and the sturdy TVs. I am a reader anyways and had brought my own mini library along – a bag full of way more books than any person could read in nine days.

Patrick and I settled in to our seats. We enjoyed a snack. I even watched a movie on the old-time television. A funny one that made me laugh out loud. I read a little and began to do some work. This flight wasn’t so bad after all.

The heat

As I was working, I started feeling hot. It came on quickly and as the heat was rising, it felt like someone was taking all the air out of the plane. It was hot and stifling, like an intense summer day when there is no air movement and you long for a slight breeze to bring a little relief.

Was it just me? I am too young for hot flashes. I know they are around the corner, but I’m not there yet.

I looked up to turn on the air vent and didn’t see it. I saw the light, but no air vent. I must be missing something. I asked Patrick to help me with the air flow and he didn’t see it either. Of course the plane from 1960 didn’t have air vents. What was I thinking?

I touched the window and it was hot. Burning hot. Like fry an egg hot.

I had to get up. Now.

I wasn’t feeling well.

As I got up and began to walk toward the back of the plane, I realized it wasn’t just me. People were beginning to take off layers, they were fanning themselves, some people were beginning to look around uncomfortably and a lucky few were still asleep.

Something was wrong.

The flight attendant who was sitting in the back of the plane was reading a magazine and eating ice. Very nonchalantly. Wasn’t she feeling this heat? This must be flight attendant protocol. Rule Number One: always remain calm. Never panic or look even slightly phased.

I walked up to her and she raised her head from her magazine with her eyes peering at me over her reading glasses. She smiled.

What I wanted to say was, “Is this normal? I don’t think this must be normal. How hot can this plane get? What is the plan here?!” But I couldn’t say that so I said, “I think the plane feels hot. Is it hot in here?”

Calmly, with a slight southern drawl she said, “I know honey. We’ve had some complaints. Something is wrong with the air. The pilot called it in.”

Ok. My mind takes off like a rocket – Something is wrong with the air? What does that mean? We are an hour over the ocean. What do we do? How hot will this get? How hot is too hot? We can’t open windows. There is no air. What do we do?

“I’m just going to stand back here for awhile if that is okay,” I said.

“Sure honey.”

As I’m standing there, more and more people have the same idea and the back of the plane is starting to fill with people who are wanting to know what is wrong.

“It’s hot in here” and so on and so forth. Her response is always the same. “I know honey. Something is wrong with the air. The pilot called it in.”

Not too long after we have all gathered, a cooler is opened in the back of the plane so that people could stand by it to cool off. Temporary relief, but not a solution. I was still very hot. I was wearing a dress with leggings and realized the leggings were only a hinderance at this point, so into the bathroom I went to remove anything that could help me to cool off.

I realized I could not stand back there for the remainder of the flight, so I reluctantly made my way back to my seat. I was trying not to pass out, or panic. The last thing needed in that type of situation is for someone to start panicking. There was an overriding sense of people trying to keep their cool – literally. I knew I needed to keep it together and try my best not to vomit or do any of the other things that comes with feeling incredibly hot.

The flight attendants began to push carts around offering whatever comfort they could to the passengers. Even though they were pushing around the carts that were supposed to make people feel a little better, the male flight attendant couldn’t help but to grumble about his long sleeve shirt. I couldn’t blame him. I would grumble too. He was dripping in sweat and his face was bright red.

We still hadn’t heard from the pilot and were making our way across The Pond in this oven in the sky –  headed in the opposite direction that I would like to be heading. After what seemed like way too long – the pilot’s voice finally boomed out from the speakers to let us know the plane was hot and they were having some difficulty with the air. Hmm. Really? He went on to say that it was well over 90 degrees (I believe from the way that we were all feeling that means into the 100s….but he probably couldn’t say that) and it had been decided we would turn around and fly back. Because of the storms in LA, we are headed to San Francisco.

Thank goodness.. I did not want to continue over the ocean any longer in this plane. Unfortunately, the gentleman behind me (who may have started celebrating a little bit early…if you get my drift) did not feel the same way. He was determined to get to Maui and said if we could all just start taking off our clothes, then we could make it. He became his own Maui Flight Pep Rally. He said he was going to talk to the pilot.

Oh no.

A minute later he was back in his seat. Thankfully his talk with the pilot didn’t go as he had planned. I didn’t think it would. The idea of all of us getting naked didn’t seem like something American Airlines would go for. It wasn’t that kind of flight.

We were turning around and I was ecstatic, but still covered in that anxiety blanket of what-ifs and how-hot-is-too-hots and all of that stuff that comes to mind when you are in a plane over the ocean and that plane keeps getting hotter and hotter.

I closed my eyes and began to pray. I prayed for peace. I prayed for my family. I prayed for the people on the plane. I prayed.

The red-faced, sweat-covered flight attendant came back around. I asked him for water and he handed me ice – never acknowledging my request for water. I realized they must be out, or something like that. I didn’t ask, I just took the ice and started eating it and rubbing it on my forehead. The man behind me was persistent and determined and started to ask him why we couldn’t just go to Maui? Couldn’t we endure the heat? The flight attendant calmly reminded him there were elderly people, infants, children with asthma and pregnant women on the plane and they were not going to wait to see what would happen to them.

That was the last I heard the man behind me talk about enduring the heat to get to Maui.

As we turned around and headed toward California the plane did cool off a bit. Not much, but a little. I spent the rest of the flight with my eyes closed. Praying. Thinking. Holding on to Patrick’s hand and realizing that everyone will have a moment that really is their last. Whether this was my moment or not, that moment would eventually come. I became very introspective during the end of the flight and determined to make the most of my life. I felt my blanket of anxiety being replaced with a blanket of peace. I wish I could say that happened the minute something went wrong on the plane, but it didn’t. I got there eventually. It just took awhile.

It’s funny how those anxiety blanket moments are usually blessings in disguise. Like most of life’s challenges.

This is already long, so I won’t bother going into detail about the going up and down as we were supposed to be descending. Or the fact that toward the end of the flight the plane started beeping – and wouldn’t stop. Not a normal beep. More like a warning. Or the fact that when we left the plane the pilot was sitting in the first row of First Class staring at the seat in front of him. He wasn’t standing at the cockpit waving and telling us goodbye. He was sitting there. Staring. Straight ahead. He didn’t look well. I think he was as happy as the rest of us that the plane had landed safely on solid ground.

We walked out and felt the cool air – I had never been so grateful for cool air. I felt an enormous amount of gratitude in that moment. Deep, all-consuming gratitude.

Our trip was starting out differently than planned, but that’s how much of life is. We would get to Maui eventually. But for now, I was just happy to be anywhere at all. I was on solid ground, with my sweet husband, and I could not wait to call and talk to my children.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

 

 

*This is part one of a three part Blog post.

 

 

 

 

 

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Today is my Birthday: Lessons from Another Year

Today is my Birthday.

I am one of those people who loves Birthdays. Not just my Birthday. All Birthdays.

A Birthday is a day to celebrate the gift of a person’s life. It is a day to celebrate the unique qualities that make them who they are.

A Birthday is your own special holiday. You can go around all day saying, “It’s my Birthday!” and most people will respond with a huge smile and an enthusiastic, “Happy Birthday!”

When you go out to eat – you get free stuff. When you go shopping – you get discounts. When you check your mail – you find cards. When you look at your phone – you have text alerts and voicemails. When you check Facebook – you realize why you still love Facebook after all.

A Birthday is a day filled with hugs and heart-felt well wishes. It is a day to celebrate.

A Birthday is also a reminder. It’s a reminder of another year gone and a new year beginning. It’s a reminder that time does move quickly and to treasure each passing moment. They are gifts from God.

As I begin my 39th year, I reflect on the joyful moments and lessons learned from another year behind me.

Here are some of the things I have learned in my 38th year:

It is best to live in the moment.

Seems obvious, right? But not always easy to do. I am in a season of my life where it is actually not possible for me to get too far ahead of myself. I have enough time and energy in a day to focus on what is right before me. I have come to appreciate being in this season. It is good to be fully present where I am. I have learned if I try to make too many plans, they often change anyways because there are so many unpredictable variables in life.

It’s okay to not make a bed (until later in the day.)

I had to throw that caveat in because anyone who knows me knows that I couldn’t leave a bed messy all day – but sometimes I have to walk out the door with ruffled sheets and clothes on the floor and that’s okay. I will get to it later. Again, live in the moment and if the moment calls “It’s time to go! Forget about the bed!” Then I better listen.

Sometimes big, scary, uncomfortable choices need to be made.

Choices you don’t want to make. Choices filled with unknowns. Choices that leave you on your knees praying for God to show you the way. We had to make a big, scary, uncomfortable choice this year and it was hard and is still hard and will continue to be hard for quite some time I am sure. On the edge of the unknown lies some excitement. I will try to focus on the excitement and know that God is with us. I know He has gone before us and I trust fully in His plan for our lives. Again, live in the moment and if the moment calls, “A change is on the way, but until then be present where you are, enjoying every last joyful bit of where you are – in the moment.” Then I better listen.

Sometimes the dreams you dream for all of your life do come true.

Like the dream of being able to keep a cottage on your favorite lake where you have a lifetime of memories. Or the dream of being a writer. Sometimes those dreams come true and when they do come true – you do not take one second of them for granted and you look up at the sky and you fall down on your knees and you take a deep breath and exhale with all of your might thinking, “Thank you God. Thank you.” And then you remember, that you should always be grateful. Not just for the big things, but For Everything. Always. Grateful.

Sometimes you need to let go of the future you imagined and open your heart to new possibilities.

Like when the big, scary, uncomfortable choice has been made and you know your future is about to move into a big gaping hole of unknown – then you open your heart to new possibilities and remember it was silly to presume what the future would look like anyway. You know the whole unpredictable variables and live in the moment thing.

And lastly, be kind. Always. Be kind. 

The world seems a little different in this moment then it did at the beginning of my 38th year. It seems a little more divided and a little more unsteady, but my faith is strong and my eyes remain focused on the unseen knowing all battles on earth are truly battles in the spiritual realm. No matter what my beliefs are and how they differ from my brother or my sister I must be kind. Always. Be kind. I need to listen more and try to understand the other side. I need to do more listening and less talking. I must be kind. Always. Be kind.

Today is my Birthday – the beginning of my 39th chapter. A new year with incredible opportunities. To live in the moment. To not be afraid of mess. To trust in the unknown future. To dream big dreams. To let go. And to be kind. Always. Be kind.

 

 

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I Have Been Thinking About Divorce

 

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I have been thinking a lot lately about divorce.

Not because my marriage is falling apart and I am contemplating divorce. On the contrary, I feel blessed to be married to my best friend. Divorce is not on my mind because I want one.

So, if I am not wanting a divorce, then why am I thinking about divorce?

I am thinking about divorce because I am a child of divorce and I am at an age where I am starting to hear of more friends and acquaintances who are getting divorced.

I think I have reached that stage of life. The stage where people have been married long enough that they are realizing that things are not going as they had originally hoped when they said, “I do.”

I experienced divorce as an eight-year old child when my mom and dad divorced, and then again as an adult when my dad and stepmom divorced. Now, I am seeing divorce in a new way. I am watching friends, and their families, go through the pain of divorce. And painful it is. Very.

I mean, who wants to go through a divorce? Nobody walks down the aisle thinking, “I hope this ends with me signing some papers. I can’t wait for that day to come!” No way. Some people may have doubts when they walk down the aisle, but they still walk down with hope. Hope that things will get better. Nobody hopes to have their marriage end in divorce. But it happens. All of the time. It happens.

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And even though I have personally never gone through a divorce, here are some things that I think when it does happen……

1. All parties involved need time to grieve.

I feel like sometimes there is the “I can’t really grieve because I chose this” mentality or the “they were so horrible to their spouse, what did they expect would happen?” mentality. I think regardless of the circumstances leading up to the divorce, and regardless if you were the person who asked for the divorce, or it was a mutual decision, it is still a devastating loss and everyone involved needs timed to grieve.

I believe marriage to be the number one relationship outside of a person’s relationship with God. It is a big deal when this relationship ends.

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And, when I say all parties, I mean all parties. If there are children involved, the children need time and space to grieve as well.

I can remember vividly when each of my parents were remarried. On both of their wedding days I was very upset. I remember crying on the day of their weddings, and even refusing to smile in some of the pictures.

I also remember being scolded for my selfishness. Why couldn’t I just be happy for them? This was a very important day in their lives (no question about that) and all of my sulking was ruining their special moment (I am sure it wasn’t helping anything.)

But you see, although I really liked my future stepmom and future stepdad, I was still hurting deeply from the fact that my parents were no longer together. At that age, I wasn’t able to move past my own pain to rejoice with them in their happiness. I did not have the emotional maturity to behave as they wanted me to behave. It had been a couple of years since my parents divorced and it still hurt.

For some reason when my parents remarried it was like adding salt to the wound. I had so many fears like: Now that they are remarried, what does this mean? One thing I did know was that now there was no chance that my parents would get back together. It was crazy to think that they ever would have, but when you are a kid you think some crazy things. I also thought things like: How do I fit into this new marriage? Would they have more children? Would they still love me as much? If I was going from house to house and they were building new families, was I just drifting between families and not really belonging anywhere?

I knew I was supposed to be happy for my parents on their wedding days, but all of those questions (and the sadness that came with them) is what I felt more than anything. Even though I knew how I was supposed to be behaving, I just couldn’t do it.

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And, there should not be a time limit on grief. I don’t think that somebody should wallow in their grief. I do believe that there are healthy and unhealthy ways to grieve. I also think that grief comes and goes in waves and can hit us at the most unlikely times.

I do not think that someone should be told, “It has been long enough. It is time to move on.” Maybe they have just uncovered a new pain that they need to work through. Maybe a memory has been triggered that needs to be processed, and maybe with that memory comes a little sadness. So, let them grieve. Don’t tell them how long they are allowed to grieve, and definitely don’t expect children to have the emotional maturity of an adult.

2. Being a stepparent must, at times, be very difficult.

Like on your wedding day when the soon-to-be stepchild is having a breakdown. Seriously. Like I said, for me it was a very hard day. But for them, it is supposed to be one of the happiest days of their lives. You find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, and this person does not come unattached. On the contrary, they are a parent. Again, probably not what was dreamed of when lying in bed as a child thinking of the big “I do” moment. ” I —– now take you —–, and all of your children, to have and to hold…” It cannot be easy.

Being a parent is one of the most wonderful things that I have ever had the privilege of doing in my life. It is also, at times, one of the most challenging. I cannot imagine stepping into this role when someone is in their preteen years. This is what both of my stepparents had to do with me. They put up with some serious attitude from me. While they were supposed to be in their honeymoon phase, I was in my starting-to-deal-with-all-of-these-new-hormones phase. I could not imagine returning from my honeymoon to a hormonal preteen girl who is mad that her parent just got remarried. Yikes!

Plus, as a stepparent, you have to figure out what the biological parents are wanting and try to operate within their parenting boundaries. You are a parenting figure in the child’s life, but not the actual parent. Seems complicated.

Not to mention the fact that you are now doing all of these things for a child who may, or may not be, constantly reminding you that you are indeed not their real parent.

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When you are a parent, you are always doing things for your child. You make lunches, drive them to and from practices, do their laundry, help with homework…just to name a few. As a stepparent, you may suddenly find yourself doing all of these things for your stepchild. If the stepchild is anything like I was as a child, then they just expect you to do those things. I was grateful to my parents for the things that they did. Don’t get me wrong. But, if we are being honest, how many kids are thanking their parents profusely for doing laundry or taking them to practice? As a child, you just know that your parents are supposed to take care of you. That’s what they do. That’s how it works.

But, what if you are the stepparent? What if you went from having no kids to suddenly driving these kids all over town? I can remember having a conversation once with my stepmom and she was telling me about how she would have to drive across town to pick me up or drop me off because my dad was working. I can see now as an adult what a sacrafice this was and I am very grateful that she went out of her way to do this for my sister and I, but at the time when she told me I remember thinking, “Ok? What’s the big deal?” In my mind, that’s just what parents do. It was part of the deal. My parents were divorced. She married a man with kids. I couldn’t drive. Someone had to drive me across town. She married my dad, so she had to do the parent thing. I didn’t get what the big deal was. Again, a child thinks much differently then an adult does.

But, God can take this complicated family and turn it into something beautiful. I have wonderful relationships with my stepparents and God has used them to teach me many things. I am grateful that they pursued a relationship with me when I was not all that lovable. They showed me grace at a time in my life when I really needed it. They could have easily thrown their hands in the air and said, “She isn’t my child. I’m not dealing with this!”, but they didn’t do that. Instead, they pursued me time and time again when I really did not always deserve it and now I call them “mom” and “dad” just like I do my parents and I cannot imagine my life without them.

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3. There is no need to wear the Scarlet ‘D.’

I have always been very fond of the book, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In this book, Hester Prynne, is forced to wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ on her chest as a punishment for her sin of adultery. She wears this letter on her chest her entire life. I wonder how often we are like Hester? How often do we feel burdened by the sins of our past? How often do we hold on to guilt and shame and let that define us? And how often are we like the townspeople in that book, not allowing people to move past the sins of their past?

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God offers grace and mercy and does not want us to be bogged down with guilt and shame. There is freedom in Christ. As it says in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Grace. Grace. Grace. That is what we all long for in life. Divorce does not define a person. it is a part of their life, but not the definition of their life. There is no need to walk around feeling shame because a marriage did not work out. Sadness, yes. Shame, no. Relationships are complicated and marriage can be very hard. Marriage is two imperfect people living out all of the good and bad that comes with life together and that is not always easy. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. I am not in my friend’s marriages. I have no idea what is going on behind closed doors, and I have no right to judge. It is hard enough picking up the pieces after a divorce. The last thing that people need is to feel shame for what has happened in their marriage. Our job is to share God’s love, not to reign down judgment.

4. Remember, if you have kids, they never asked for this.

One of the hardest parts about being a child of divorce is that it never really goes away. It follows you around for the rest of your life. It may remain quiet for awhile and then BAM! It rears its ugly head.

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Hear are my words of wisdom (that I realize nobody has asked for, but I am sharing anyways)…..

If your child has moved out of the home and comes back to visit, he or she will more than likely stay at one, or maybe both, of their parents’ houses. If that child is at one house more it does not mean that they love that parent more. They are not trying to hurt you. Maybe they have friends on that side of town that they want to see. Or, maybe they are grown now and have kids of their own and one house offers more space for all of their children.  Whatever the reason may be, it is not a personal attack of any kind. Don’t try to make them feel bad for spending time with their parent. I know you may miss them and the feelings you have are because you want to spend more time with them, but they are doing the best that they can with a complicated situation.

If you have children, then you will have to see your ex again, a lot, and for a long time. At special events like graduations, bridal showers, weddings, baby showers. You get the drift. It is important to remember what you are there for and to try to make it as pleasant of an experience as you can for that child. Remember, they never asked for this and there is no need to add drama to this special occasion that is being celebrated. Save the drama for girls-night out or the next poker game with your buddies.

Your kids do not want to hear you trash your ex. They are your ex and they may have done some really horrible things, but they are still your child’s parent. Kids love their parents. Unconditionally. If they still want to hang out with that person that caused you so much pain, it is not because they don’t care about you. It is because that person that caused you pain is their parent, and the relationship that they have with them is very different than the marriage relationship that you had. The fact that they love this person that caused you pain doesn’t mean that they don’t care. They just love their parent. As they should. And, the more that a person talks negatively about their ex, the more that may cause their children to withdraw from them. It actually has a reverse effect. Instead of pushing them away from the parent that they are bad-mouthing, it pushes the child away from them.

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Here is another one. Just because you are ready to date, doesn’t mean that your kids are ready to meet the new man or woman in your life. I believe this to be especially true if the divorce has just happened. As I said earlier, people need space to grieve and this is true for children as well.

You may have checked out of your marriage a long time ago, but your children did not check out of a house with both mom and dad residing there a long time ago.

Maybe you have moved on, but they probably have not. They are trying to deal with this new reality and that can bring up a lot of raw, new, and somewhat scary emotions. If you bring someone into the relationship when they are still dealing with this, just be prepared to deal with their emotions and try to help them through these feelings as they are going through them. Don’t expect them to be happy for you, just because you are happy.

And, if they seem overly excited about this new person my guess is they probably are not. Not to say it isn’t possible for a child to share in your happiness, but if it is a fresh divorce then I think that it is probably rare for them to be super excited to meet your new “friend.” I think that kids that act super excited about all of the change are probably in denial, and maybe a little scared. Their entire world has just been ripped apart. Things seem very fragile to a child after a divorce. I think when kids are super excited it really means, “I’m scared. If I don’t act like I am happy about everything, then what will happen next? Is this new person going to take my place?” I believe that there is a lot of insecurity after a divorce and if a child hasn’t had time to deal with these emotions before meeting their parent’s new possible love interest then there is a good chance that those insecurities, jealousies and difficult emotions will rear their ugly heads.

Even as an adult, after my dad and stepmom divorced, my dad quickly started dating someone and I had to say time and time again that I just wasn’t ready for this. It wasn’t that I didn’t like her. I was just dealing with the emotions from my dad and stepmom’s marriage ending. I wasn’t ready to start embracing his new relationship. I was in my 30s and still needed space and time. At that specific period of time, fresh off their divorce, I just wasn’t ready to embrace a new person. I needed time to heal. Little kids often don’t know how to express these emotions, so they come out in different ways.

With all of that said, if you have met someone and you love them then I think that is wonderful and I think that it is possible to work through all of these emotions. An overly emotional child isn’t doomsday for a relationship. I think that couples that have to work through hard times have the potential to come out stronger than ever in the end. I am just saying, be prepared that it may be a little rocky at times and that is to be expected. Just help the child work through it and try to see it from their eyes. They aren’t out to destroy your future happiness. They are just hurting.

And, lastly, if your child is expecting you to pick them up for a night, or the weekend, then by golly pick them up. I personally did not experience this. My parents were very good about getting me when they said that they would. I do have some friends who have gone through this though and it majorly stinks for the child. It can lead to all kinds of feelings of abandonment and rejection that can be carried all of the way until adulthood. Don’t leave your child with their bags packed anxiously waiting for you to show up, only to be left with extreme disappointment. Divorce is hard enough without that being added to the mix.

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5. There is life after divorce.

And life abundantly. God can turn ashes to beauty. He restores what is broken and makes it new. I can see now all of the blessings that have come from the brokenness. I cannot imagine my life any other way now.

Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

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As I said, I have not been thinking about divorce because I want one, but I pray for those who do. I pray for those who have gone through divorce, or who are in the process of divorce. I pray for their children. I pray that they will feel God’s love cover them and that they will be showered with love and grace as they are going through a difficult time.

Thank you God for your promises. Thank you for taking what is broken and making it new. Thank you that there is life after divorce.

 

 

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Your Friends Will Come and Go

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“Your friends will come and go, but you will always have each other.”

This is something that I heard often when I was younger.  Whenever my younger sister and I would argue, my mom’s voice could be heard repeating these words.  She would usually preface it with the importance of being kind to one another and then would end with this statement.

“Your friends will come and go, but you will always have each other.”

These words are the same words that her mother spoke to her. These are the words that she spoke to my sister and I.  And, these are the words I speak to my children. They were drilled into my little brain and have remained at the forefront for all of these years.

I used to think this was just another one of those crazy things that parents say to their kids. Like, “Close the door! You weren’t raised in a barn!”, “You are who you hang with”, and “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”   And one of my personal faves, “Remember! Nothing good ever happens after midnight!” (I probably should have paid better attention to that one.)

I used to think some of these sayings were ridiculous.  Of course friends don’t come and go. Do you see this BFF necklace I’m wearing?  The last ‘F’ means forever, remember?  Silly woman.

Well, turns out that silly woman that I love dearly wasn’t silly at all. She was right.

These sayings that I once considered nonsense are actually beautiful little nuggets of wisdom that I have carried close to my heart.

These things that I once swore would never come out of my mouth are now echoing through the halls of our home in the same manner that they did when I was a child.  It has happened.  I sound just like my mother.  And now my kids give me the same crazy looks that I gave my mom years ago.

But someday, they will probably find themselves saying the same things to their children.  Because they are true.

“Your friends will come and go, but you will always have each other.”

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Friends do come and go.  Not necessarily because of dissension, but because that is the natural ebb and flow of relationships.  Life changes. Circumstances change. People change. Relationships change.

This used to be really hard for me.  I wanted all of my relationships to stay the same forever.  I was holding tight to those BFF necklaces.  I have learned over the years that just isn’t possible. It isn’t that you stop caring for these people.  On the contrary.  Many friends whom I am no longer as close to, hold very special places in my heart.  I am who I am today, in part, because of these relationships.  They were at one time ginormous parts of my life and I carry my memories of them fondly with me.  We may not be as close, but that does not mean that we do not still care about each other.   That doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t be thrilled to see each other. Life has just taken us in different directions.

While some of my friendships have changed over the years, there are some that have become almost like siblings. These friends are rare gems. They love every part of you. They see your beauty and they see your flaws and they love you for both.  These friends may be close or they may be miles away, but you know that they are there.  They evolve and grow as you evolve and grow.  They know your deepest secrets. They know the mundane details of your life. They are like family.  You may not talk to them, or see them regularly, but when you do it is like you were never apart.

This is how my it is with my siblings.  They are more than just my siblings. They are my best friends. My relationships with my siblings have remained constant.  We are, and always have been, there for each other.  We may not always see eye to eye, but we have learned over the years that just because we don’t agree doesn’t mean that we don’t love each other.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that if I called any of my siblings and said, “I need you here. Now.” They would come. And I would do the same for them.

And, I want this for my children.  I want them to grow up knowing that they always have each other.  As their mom, I want to reinforce how important their relationships with each other are.  Just like my mom did with me. I want to help them to love each other well.  I want them to speak kindly to each other and about each other, to respect one another and to stick up for one another when necessary.

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Two of our daughters share a room.  Last night, I heard them laughing and talking after we had put them to bed.  Normally I would try to get them to settle down, but not last night.  They were having so much fun that I didn’t even mind that they were supposed to be in bed sleeping.  I thought as long as their joy stays in the room and doesn’t walk out into the living room where I am trying to rest, then it’s Ok.  They were building memories and I was relaxing. It was a win-win.

They eventually settled down and drifted off and when I woke up and went into their room this morning I found something that made my heart sing.  There was a string tied between their two beds.  Hanging from the string was a bucket filled with notes.

I was very touched to see this bucket of notes that they had been passing in the night.  And I could hear the voice of my mom saying, “your friends will come and go, but you will always have each other.”  And my heart was filled with joy.

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