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Fresh Eyes

It is 6:30 a.m. the Saturday before Easter. I am alone in a bed and breakfast just a few miles from home, and I have been consistently working to catch up on all of my classwork that has fallen through the cracks the last few weeks.

Why am I in a bed and breakfast? How am I even paying for such an indulgence?

After receiving my tax return, I put it all immediately in my savings to offset the lack of income I will have this next summer…although I also need new tires for my car, my computer is dying, and I have holes in my rental house walls that need professional repairing. (Yes, I am rambling…sometimes fear creeps in.)

But my mental health was failing. The busy-ness inside my home was creating a whirlwind inside my brain. My young adults come in and out. My teenager is struggling with his schoolwork. My home is cluttered. I have been in and out a lot these days. I could not seem to clear my head long enough to focus on what needed to get done.

I realized that I could push through, but I know me…at some point in the near future, I would eventually lose it and hurt someone’s feelings. I have been jumping from activity to activity, attempting to see progress within the house while also trying to get some of my schoolwork (and real work) done. I have been doing a minimal job of completing my schoolwork, not allowing myself to fully grasp the information I need for my future. And in general, I have been walking around frustrated at everyone instead of taking the time to process my feelings, deal with them appropriately, and communicate them.

So I gave myself a budget and permission to spend 2 nights away from the chaos. To clear my head and focus my vision.

Plus…there is this other thing that has sneaked in and has been causing me a bit of unexpected emotions. I needed to allow myself to feel those, so that I can continue moving forward.

I don’t think a lot of people allow themselves to deal with their sh** after a divorce. They move forward and carry all of that mess with them…either that, or I cling to my sh** for a long stinking time. But I don’t think so. I think that as a society, we expect people to move on quickly from their feelings so that the discomfort for those around us can go away. And people move forward believing that the sh** will just go away if they keep doing stuff to push the emotions away.

For me, 25 years of marriage (and a whole lifestyle) was a lot to lose…it would be for anyone. It was only 3 years ago that I was pursuing intense therapy to try and figure out if my marriage could be saved. Back then, my then-husband was working to convince me that he wanted to be married to me. So I kept trying to have an open mind and to be logical.

But on Easter Sunday 2018, a decision was made that confirmed that my marriage could not be saved.

And on this Easter weekend (2021), I am working to reframe that part of my story. Bear with me as a S-T-R-E-T-C-H Jesus’ story to help me along.

Jesus died…betrayal set that in motion. And then He rose again.

A part of me died…because of betrayal. But I am rising again as a new woman. (Told you I was stretching it a bit!)

When I choose to look at my life in this manner, I see encouragement. I see the hope I am giving to others. Has this path been difficult? Yes, beyond anything I could imagine.

When I look around at those who have suffered betrayal, I see many faces. Some of us fall into despair and cannot get up. Some of us fall into rage and become angry women seeking revenge. And some of us pray (beg) daily that God keeps our hearts soft so that we can gently lead others to see Jesus.

My season of difficulty has not yet ended, but I am seeing the fruit of sharing my story and of me leaning on Jesus.

**At least 3 women have come to me and told me that they left abusive relationships…because I shared my story.

**2 young men came to me and told me that they were groomed by older men in trusted situations…because I shared my story.

I have thought that I needed to stop sharing my story, but my story is important. My story gives hope to those who have experienced horrible things…and it is not even the worst one you will ever hear.

But it shines a light in the dark corners that some of us try so hard to hide. It creates a space for people to have a voice.

So this time away has given me fresh eyes. Some things I see:

  1. I love what I am learning, and I need to take the time to create a space to absorb all that I can.
  2. My children are experiencing growing pains and need the space to feel those pains without my intervention.
  3. My heart continues to heal. Allowing myself to feel those pangs of confusion and grief as they pass through my body, not judging them, but accepting them as simply part of the healing process.
  4. I am doing great things. Maybe not from a huge platform, but in teeny, tiny private ways, I am making a difference.
  5. And this job I have but don’t love…I am doing pretty good at that, too. Messages from parents expressing their gratitude about what they are seeing and hearing from my classroom are confirming that I am where I am meant to be.

I encourage you. When your mind is filled with an overabundance of moving parts, and you cannot seem to see clearly, give yourself permission to step away from it all. Fresh eyes bring clarity and peace.

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Tired of Trauma

The word trauma is on my mind this morning…honestly, I’m beginning to feel as if the word is overused. And yet, it is the most accurate word for what so many people have been walking through the last several years.

Someone used the word trauma on my facebook post yesterday in response to all that Texas has gone through. All day, I pondered it and began making a personal list of all that has occurred since Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

While I acknowledge all of the things that have occurred, I want those of you reading it to realize that I have made certain that I have had the help I needed to persevere through it all. I have not attempted to walk this out alone, nor have I powered through out of sheer will-power. I have leaned on the resources around me, and I believe that I have a relatively balanced outlook on all of it. It is a lot and I will not minimize that, but I want you to see that when you acknowledge that things are difficult and tap into resources, you will find that you can make it through stressful seasons without bitterness and anger, and you may even come out on the other side emotionally healthy.

  1. August 2017 — Hurricane Harvey — devastating for Southeast Texas, although not to me personally (a lot of survival guilt during that time)
  2. November 2017 — My ex-husband resigned from his job to avoid being laid off
  3. November 2017 — My oldest son had his first deployment…with submarines, you do not get to know where your loved one is
  4. January 2018 — One of my dearest friends was diagnosed with breast cancer
  5. February 2018 — I found out from my daughter that my husband of 25 years was gay
  6. Throughout 2018 — Struggled with guilt about my own family drama occupying my mental resources while wanting to pour my heart into caring for my friend
  7. March 2018 — One of my children had a complete meltdown and had to be admitted into a psych hospital
  8. March -July 2018 — Information beyond my comprehension was exposed to me
  9. April 2018 — My oldest son came home traumatized from what occurred during deployment
  10. July 2018 — Filed for divorce
  11. July 2018 — My ex-husband barged into the home and had to be removed by police
  12. August 2018 — I began working as the divorce court appearances began
  13. October 2018 — Sold my home and became technically homeless (thankfully, I have dear friends to took us in temporarily)
  14. December 2018 — Moved into new rental home
  15. January 2019 — Divorce finalized
  16. March 2019 — I am sued by my ex-husband
  17. April 2019 — Reality hits…some friendships die when there is a divorce
  18. May 2019 — I get accepted into graduate school
  19. August 2019 — My graduate program begins; my daughter moves into an apartment and begins college
  20. September 2019 — Tropical Storm Imelda unexpectedly floods Houston, trapping my daughter and me in my car downtown
  21. October – December 2019 — Ongoing harassment from my ex-husband’s
  22. January 2020 — I cannot pay my bills, so I make the decision to finish the semester, reduce my hours to part-time student status, and make plans to go to work full-time in May 2020
  23. March 2020 — The world stops because of COVID
  24. April 2020 — I begin searching for a job, because that was my plan…COVID or not
  25. May-June 2020 — Major race riots in America consume our cities
  26. August 2020 — No job in sight so I begin monitoring students for online schooling
  27. October 2020 — My students go back to in-person school, so I begin subbing in the school district and baking to bring in enough income to pay my bills.
  28. June 2020 – January 2021 — Major election drama and people are harshly divided…an insane amount of rage surrounding everyone
  29. January 2021 — I am hired part-time to teach at a small private school
  30. January 6 2021 — Our US Capitol was stormed
  31. January 2021 — My oldest son leaves for a 7-month deployment
  32. February 2021 — Winter Storm Uri wreaks havoc on Texas
  33. February 21, 2021 — Today

For 3 years and 5 months, there has been extreme stress in my life and many others throughout the US. That stress is trauma.

Trauma is real, and it affects us deeper than we realize. I do not want to dwell on all that occurred during these last years; however, I also do not want to minimize all that has happened. So many of us are taught to persevere through hardships without ever acknowledging that things were REALLY hard for a while. And that is simply wrong.

Just because you survived it and have made steps forward; the fact that it was a lot to walk through should not be negated.

I know that I sound like a broken record this morning. I keep seeing and hearing faith platitudes that are meant to encourage, but sometimes feel like reprimands for not having enough faith when we are just tired. There are times when we simply need someone to come alongside and hold up our arms as Aaron and Hur did for Moses.

Being tired is real. Pretending as if we aren’t is not.

Yes, for those of you who Believe, God does love us. God’s presence is real. God will sustain us. AND it is okay to say that we are tired and weary…and to rest in the knowledge that God loves us through it all.

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Something New

Here it is. The beginning of 2021…I am so glad 2020 has ended!

I am grateful for 2020. I have learned so much this last year, and as odd as the year was, I am appreciative of the insight it has given me.

As 2020 ended, I worked through an inventory of my life. What went well this year? What went wrong? What did I grieve? What brought me joy? What can I learn, and how can I grow from all of it?!

2020 was HARD. Not nearly as emotionally hard as the previous two years, but hard for different reasons. I have learned that I am a person who seriously likes to ignore things…I am an avoider. Let me clarify. If I have to deal with something uncomfortable, I will do it (eventually), but I will tiptoe around the issue as long as I possibly can.

I realized that I need to change the way I live. It isn’t healthy. Not physically, emotionally, or spiritually. This is where I want to blame others, which would be an easy out, but it would not be the truth.

It’s time to embrace my life as a single adult woman with children. I need to stop putting my kids first…3 of them are adults. They need my encouragement, but they are perfectly capable of stepping into their own lives. As for my 16-year-old, it’s time to begin empowering him toward independence.

Now that I realize all of this, how do I make the necessary change?

These two verses have been rattling in my mind for the last few weeks. As the end of the year has come and gone, I’ve decided to cling to them for this next year: Isaiah 43:18-19 CSB “Do not remember the past events; pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”

Faith and hope. Fully embrace the future. Keep my eyes looking forward, and allow the past to remain behind me.

Although I have continued to progress forward, I have also felt tethered to the past…to Code Red, to the abuse, and to the horrors of what was. It is time to let all of that go.

It means that I am ready to come to peace with what was. It is part of my story, but it is no longer going to hold me captive.

So here I am, in 2021, feeling as if I am sitting on a hill, looking to see what God is going to do next?

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Crisis? of Faith

For as long as I can remember, I have struggled against the Christian beliefs of my friends and family. I have rarely felt as if I truly understood or was understood when discussing Scripture.

It has been a long-time joke among my friends that I am the “wrestler.” I will wrestle for years over what something means and how I should live out my life. Many times, this has left me a bit insecure and uncertain as to whom I can trust to converse with about these things.

However, I have never once strayed from my belief that Jesus is real and that God is truly for me and every other person on this earth.

What that looks like to others, I do not know.

I refuse to argue my core beliefs. As for many things, I honestly am not willing to waste my time in aggressive disagreement. If you would like to discuss/debate it, I am more than happy to engage, but the moment one of us creates a line in the sand (with anything other than my firm belief that Jesus is the Son of God and the only way to God is through Him), I’m out. I believe that if we aren’t willing to listen and change, we lose all of our credibility as Christians.

To the depths of my soul I believe that God loves EVERY.SINGLE.PERSON.

As I have observed people these last few months, I have been shaken by what I’ve seen. Lines in the sand are regularly being drawn, and it grieves my heart to see the losses that are occurring. If I am to be completely transparent, I have been tempted to draw some lines of my own…and I hate that about myself.

During this season, I haven’t known how to walk out my faith. I do not want to lose people I love, and I do not want to make allowances for things that appall me.

  • How on earth do I navigate my personal Christian faith walk among the issues running rampant throughout our country these days?
  • How do I pray?
  • How do I remain true to God’s word among the many voices shouting?

Since I have been struggling a bit, I wondered if others might be as well? So I decided to share what I’ve been doing to help keep me grounded.

As someone who came from the Charismatic “movings” of the Holy Spirit, someone who believed that if she simply prayed and had enough faith certain things would center and become right and good, I am now a woman who believes that simple practices of faith are grounding, create steadfastness, while also creating safe spaces within the volatile Christian community.

  • It began with the simple practice of reading a Proverb each day. No prayer, other than “God, You know my heart. I do not have the words.”
  • I then added The Book of Common Prayer. Meditating on the words set before me each morning, noon, and night have given me focus.
  • The Apostles Creed – repetition and grounding.
  • And my latest (in the words of the creator, Aaron Niequist) “A New Liturgy No 8: The Lord’s Prayer is a 25 minute guided journey, line by line, through the Lord’s Prayer. It’s designed to help people create holy space every day by entering deeply and creatively into this historic prayer. And not “holy space” to escape the world…but to get free enough to engage the world with courage and compassion.”

I do not share all of my practices to try and convince you of any one right way of doing things. These are my practices that have helped to guide me through a borderline crisis of faith. Not my faith in God, but my faith in humankind.

Your journey is your journey and I do not assume that I know best. I do; however, know that when we share our journeys, there are moments when our hearts and minds connect to encourage one another. That alone is my hope today.