Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How Faith & Family Affected My Experience

In my Family of Origin (FOO), I perceived that divorce was not considered an option.  It was wrong.  It was frowned upon, it was sad, it was failure.  I don't know if I knew there was any reason for which a divorce would be a proper course of action.  Our family life centered around church and within the conservative surroundings of the church twenty-five years ago when I was growing up and forming life concepts, divorce was quite uncommon in our circles.

My faith is based on the Bible and I learned that "God hates divorce" and that husbands and wives are to love as Christ (unfailing) and be submissive to one another.  Because my spouse said that he held these concepts to be tuth, too, I mistakenly believed we were operating on the same levels of trust, respect and protection of our relationship. 

I did everything I knew to do in order to protect and nurture our little family.  My world view was that our family was always better if it remained intact.  I thought my role was to always support my husband, regardless of his actions.  I didn't realize that the most loving thing a wife can do is to sometimes say, "No - this isn't going to be part of our life, our marriage, our home."  I've learned much and my naive trust is likely gone forever.  But make no mistake, I still believe the best outcome is when spouses to remain together, working through our failings to become healthier, stronger and mutually supportive.  This is when God gets the most glory.

I can't put it succinctly how this experience has opened my eyes to the broader scope of Scripture and God's character.  I know he speaks to me and he will to each woman faced with the challenge of how to respond to a difficult spouse.  Much of what I write is formed out of this new learning. 

Yes, God hates divorce.  He also hates abuse, betrayal, lies, pain.  But we have all been guilty of such things and He loves people.  He loves the person who inflicts pain and He loves the wounded.  Being in a vulnerable position automatically draws God onto your team and He will direct and make your path clear, if you learn to listen.  Sometimes, God chooses the very thing you never wanted, thought you couldn't survive to deliver and empower you. 

I remember the day when I heard God say to me,

"Choose Me.  You have depended on him [my spouse] for your future, your emotional and financial well-being.  You made him your God.  You have seen and witnessed what your life will be like with him as your God.  But choose Me - trust Me for your security, your future, your children's future.  It's more of him and what you've always had, or take the deliverance I'm offering and let me write a new story of your life." 

I chose Him.  It wasn't easy to lay down the story I had authored, even in my naive faith.  It still isn't easy when there are not clear answers and a predictable outcome all tied up with a happy bow.  I know there are great trials yet to be faced.  Every morning, I wake up in freedom.  There is hope and possibility before me daily and God has provided for all my needs ... even when it seemed impossible.  One day, shortly after the court documents were filed and I was weary and drained, I won this bracelet which has engraved, "With God all things are possible. I know it was a gift straight from Him to me.  I remind myself that He gives me the gift of Himself and His word daily.  Don't you forget that either.

Remember: If you're facing a tough marriage that seems hopeless, there is help and you are not alone.  My therapist was a critical part of my support system, I learned much through my time with her.  My spiritual leadership played a role in helping me to understand when and how I was acting in line with our Lord.  There is no need to rush decision-making or get lost investigating or obsessing over the things that have happened.  Work on yourself, take care of yourself.  God will make your path clear in His time and when you are ready.  I never want to come across as one who 'promotes' divorce nor do I believe it is a solution...in many ways you are trading one set of problems for another.  Please know that when two people are actively seeking to remain together and God mixes in His cohesive blessing that marriage is the most beautiful demonstraton of grace.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Some Thoughts on Denial

Denial is such a powerful and subtly destructive coping skill that is often further exploited by the genuine hope that whatever I'm denying isn't true.  In the earlier years of my marriage, it was clear that my spouse viewed graphic online material that was a betrayal to the intimacy I thought we shared.  Even when hard evidence was before me, I confronted him one time and let it go forever.  When I suspected there was more, logically I knew the excuses he told me were untrue, but I mentally forced myself to believe the lies - it was what I was supposed to do, right?  I should be able to trust my own husband.

One of the things I continue to question and need to learn from my past is why I allowed the 'junk' to happen and continue for so long.  Why did I not throw an absolute fit when I was belittled, insulted and demeaned?  Why did I believe the excuses that didn't quite add up to my questions?  What could I have done to stop the cycle of bad choices much earlier and perhaps changed the course of our relationship?

So far, I've come to two overarching themes:
  1. Faith and family
  2. I felt powerless to change
  3. Denial
Myspace Sad Lonely Graphics Crying Clipart
In the short term, denial can help one get through a time where there is no 'extra' energy to deal with a situation.  But over the course of a relationship, living in denial forces the issues underground where they are never able to be dealt with in a healthy manner.  The very coping skill I used to get me though the day may have been what kept us from getting the help we needed in time to save our marriage.  That is one of my great regrets.

Tomorrow, I'll share how my faith and family kept me from confronting the reality of my relationship and later how I learned I was not as powerless as I felt. Till then tell me, have you ever fallen into denial?  Did it help or hinder your growth?

Thank you for the linkup at Since My Divorce.

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's good, but it's not the same.

I rarely splurge on a steak, but my little ones love them and so I splurged at the grocery store and grilled two steaks this evening.  They all gobbled up their bites and asked for seconds while I read our evening story during dinner.  I waited till they were in bed to savor mine but it was a bit of a let down.

M used to grill delicious, juicy, perfectly-flavored steaks and this one was good but didn't satisfy quite like I expected.  It made me think of so many of the things in my life now it seem- good, but very different from what I expected. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Find Your Cleaning Routine

I love a clean house, immaculate counters, tubs and showers, spotless floors, order and inventory ... but the truth is that I love my children and having a life more!  So I've learned what is clean *enough* for me and I try not to get behind.  But when I do inevitably get behind, I don't let it get me down because when I think of my childhood, I don't think of the spotless kitchen floors but I remember the many times we had fun in the kitchen.  I want to live my life, not be distracted or engaged in less than important activities.  There is a general level of hygiene demanded, but my home doesn't need to be ready for a photoshoot at all times.

So I've learned to embrace the idea of "Clean Enough" which I first learned about at The Inspired Room.  For me, the must-clean areas are the kitchen counters & stove, bathroom counters and fixtures, orderly beds and general clutter control. This is what I need to feel peace and function well inour space.  In light of these needs, this is my daily cleaning routine:

Morning Routine: Make beds, wipe counters after brushing teeth and getting ready, empty clean dishes from the dishwasher which makes room for the daily dishes.  My family members are on board with me to hang wet towels and make their own beds (with help).

Afternoon:  Before nap/rest time and again before dinner we pickup the floors, straighten the sofa pillows and try to get back to a 'clean slate.'  This state does not last long!

Evening: one more clean-up, make sure art desk is trash-free (lots of cutting takes place here), dishes are taken from the table to the counter and chairs are pushed in.  After the children are in bed, I ot the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, wipe down the kitchen counters and stove then wipe down the children's toilet with a flushable wipe (necessary with two young boys), and I wash & fold one load of laundry just to keep up.  I often spot-vacum out of necessity.

Weekly: In-depth toilet scrub, change bedding, whole house vacum and sweet wood floors.

What gets left out: Mopping - my least favorite household task...this only gets done in extreme cases, otherwise I generally wipe problem areas as needed.  Dusting - again, I let this go until it demands attention.  Stressing - I find if I keep up with the basics, my house is clean enough to be functional and presentable for guests.  It works for us, especially in this season.  I want me children to remember me, enjoying their space, not a rigid home where they can't relax and let down.

Here are some other great resources and inspiring finds:

Simple Mom
Emilie's Creative Home Organizer (oh, to be this organized!)
The Nesting Place
The Creative Mom

Today, decide what you need in order to function and have peace at home, then let go of the rest.  Think about what works and what doesn't and the expectations we place on ourselves.  Enjoy your space and your life by intentionally letting go of what doesn't really matter.  And please, share if you have any ideas or great resources, and what must be done in your home daily?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Fun

This time of year is energizing to me and I get lots of ideas for things to do. Number one on my list is to get outdoors!  This weekend I spend lots of time in the yard, clearing garden space, weeding, removing winter debris.  Here are some other ways to remind your soul that it is spring and new beginnings abound.
  • Flowers - plant some, buy some, pick some wild ones.  I promise, a fresh flower will lift your mood.  Think ahead, too.  In many parts of the country, now is the time to plant seeds that will bloom in the summertime.  If you really can't grow anything, silk/fake flowers can still boost the mood.  Hobby Lobby has a 40% off coupon this week. 
  • Try something new with your children.  My firstborn took off his training wheels this weekend and we practiced riding a bike.  Is there something you want to try but have been putting off, with the extra hour of daylight, this is the perfect time to make it happen.
  • Move - we all know we feel better with some exercise, so make it a priority.  Your body will thank you this summer and you will gain the mood boosting benefits now.  Take a walk, take a hike, get on your bike or just play outdoors with your little ones.   Do something silly - my kiddos crackup when I dance, but they soon join in. 
  • Lighten Up - Take advantage of the sunshine and open your shades.  Put the bulky winter sweaters in the back of the closet and keep a jacket or cardigan on hand when needed.  If you're in an area where you still need to bundle, try wearing brighter colors to remind yourself that winter won't last forever.  Even mealtimes can be lighter with less complicated meals.  Try something different - even a picnic indoors or dine al fresco just for fun.  Play music that inspires.
  • Feed the Birds - yes, put out some bird seed and watch the celebration among the wildlife.  Remember, God is caring for those birdies and he cares for you, too.  Birds are a huge decorating trend, so add some around the house.  I've got pictures of the ones around our Little House in the Foothills.
  • Be generous - stay aware of those around who might need a little pick me up.  It is so rewarding to be the one who makes someone's day.  So purchase that box of girl scout cookies.  Walk next door and say hi to the nieghbor.  Invite someone over for dinner. 
  • Look beyond yourself.  I can't help but imagine the great grief that exists in Japan today...the overwhelming losses and continous fear of aftershocks and radiation must create great anxiety for the survivors.  Let's pray for the people of Japan, for those who may still be trapped and those who will rebuild.  If you can, give.  Find a reputable agency and give.  Imagine if it was your town, your family your life crumpled and swept away. 
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come...
Song of Solomon 2:11-12

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Thoughts: Gentleness, Tenderness and Softness of Spirit

I'm starting off my spring fever thoughts on a bit of a serious note.  In church today, our pastor reminded us, "Don't get hard."  The title for this post was already in my folder, but it reminded me of how true this is.  For those of us who have experienced loss, it is easy to construct a well-guarded wall that keeps more hurt from entering our world.  I lived this way for many years without realizing it.  One thing I learned was that shutting down feelings of pain also shuts down feelings of joy.  We cannot pick and choose which emotions come into our life.

This weekend I spent time in the garden. Much energy was spent breaking up the ground which winter had hardened, preparing it for the new life of spring and glorious beauty of summer. Life is has the same cycles. Perhaps you have endured a long winter in which your soul has hardened against the elements of abuse, betrayal and disappointment. It's time to prepare for a coming summer season. Soak in God's word (The One Year Chronological Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt)). Engage in community with others - I can't say enough about being involved in your church. Plant seeds of friendship, beauty and faith that will bloom in a future season.


One of the ways we can remain soft, is to be aware of others.  When hurting, it's easy to become oblivious to the fact that others are hurting and in need around me.  Instead I want to be engaged and open to other people.  I desire to be a woman fully involved and living life with hope and joy.  I do not want my disappointments to determine my desitiny.  I want to remain soft, tender to our Lord's leading and available for blessing.

This weekend I spent time in the garden.  Much energy was spent breaking up the ground which winter had hardened, preparing it for the new life of spring and glorious beauty of summer.  Life is has the same cycles.  Perhaps you have endured a long winter in which your soul has hardened against the elements of abuse, betrayal and disappointment.  It's time to prepare for a coming summer season.  Soak in God's word (The One Year Chronological Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt)).  Engage in community with others - I can't say enough about being involved in your church.  Plant seeds of friendship, beauty and faith that will bloom in a future season.

It's natural, it's easy to be hardened by life.  Life is tough.  It isn't fair.  So do the different thing, be soft!  Respond not with harshness, but a soft and open spirit.  It takes practice and patience, so get started today...I am!

Note:
Please know that I emphatically agree with healthy boundaries.  (Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life).  Without them I was irresponsible with my own precious spirit.  I just know, too, that the pendulum can swing in the opposite direction where our boundaries become bondage to fear and we shut out blessing.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Declaration: I have spring fever!

While spring breaknext week doesn't mean much change in my schedule, I declare that I do have spring fever!   So I'm going to talk about several "springy" topics:
  • Grow Your Spirit
  • How to Find Your Cleaning Routine
  • Spring Fun Ideas, frugal and simple
  • Tenderness, Gentleness and Softness of Soul
Do you have spring fever?  How are you celebrating the season of renewal?

Friday, March 4, 2011

I Like Cotton Underwear

I do.  I think cotton undies are more comfy than the satin, silk or poly-blend stuff - but I often avoided them when living with my man.  He didn't like the cotton variety so much, and it was a small thing to sacrifice in order to be desireable, so I wore the flirty fashionista underpants.  Sorry, even when married, I was never a thong girl - TMI!  Now that I'm single, I wear lots of cotton undies.  There are really cute cut and patterned ones out there and it makes me feel fresh and feminine without trying so hard.  It's very freeing!

Along these lines (not panty lines, ahem), there are lots of things I do now because I'm not living to please my husband.  The bedding in my room, the colors of the walls in our home, our family dishes, our television viewing habits, and the way I spend money are all different now than when I was married.  They are different in a positive way as I seek what's best for me and for our children, in line with the Lord.

There is freedom in moving away from trying to please and 'keep' a spouse.  I didn't realize the bondage under which I lived until that yoke was gone.  I shared some of the isolating feelings about when he left, and one of the first things I did was to claim what was our bedroom as my own space.  The empty spaces in our room where his dresser and things were screamed that he left, that I was alone.  So I made it my mission to claim my space.  Here's how -

Thursday, March 3, 2011

We're Not That Different

Sometimes, I feel just so "other" than many of the moms I know.  I can't ask my husband to watch the children while I meet my girlfriends for lunch.  I don't have the extra cash to indulge in a manicure.  When we are invited to a birthday party, I bring all three because I don't have a spouse to watch the off-age siblings.   

But like every mother my heart grew ten times when my newly born babe was first placed in my arms.  I plan and plot and provide them with the best my resources allow, learning to accept that this is enough.  I get frustrated with the never-ending cycles of clean, then dirty dishes and laundry, toys picked up, then played with and scattered again.  I am exceedingly proud of my children.  I have worries for them.  I stress about their health, emotions and eating habits.