Lost image…

When we experience a hardship or pain, it can scar us in more ways than we realize. We tend to focus on how such events change the way that others perceive us… but what about the way we perceive ourselves???? I believe divorce impacts us in such a way that we can completely lose ourself. Not only we do we see our Ex in a different way, we say ourselves in way that we never imagined we could. We may have done or said things that brought out a side of us we didn’t even know existed. We likely didn’t set out on a mission to get married and divorced. And at some point – we have probably judged someone who is divorced. So now what? We’ve become what we looked down on?? 

This weekend at church we had the privilege of having Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott teach our Marriage Conference and then Dr. Les gave our Sunday sermon . And man was it good! His message on Sunday was on relationships and he started it with this nugget –

“If you try to build intimacy with another person before you have gotten whole on your own, all your relationships will be an attempt to complete yourself – and they will fall flat. Only God can make us whole.”

Now that’s good stuff!

Most of our issues are not because of the way other people see or even treat us – but our issues are found in the way we see and treat ourselves. Not to say that others don’t mistreat us – abuse of all kinds is very present in our society and it is absolutely harmful. Our self-image can be tainted by any number of things. But to get better and be whole, we need to view ourselves from God’s perspective. We can’t see who He says we are when WE are constantly telling ourselves who we are not. So let’s unpack the negative self-talk and learn how to stop it dead in its tracks!

What did you just say???

Proverbs 18:21 New International Version (NIV)

21 The tongue has the power of life and death,

   and those who love it will eat its fruit.


WORDS ARE POWERFUL! BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ARE SPEAKING – NOT JUST INTO OTHERS, BUT ALSO INTO YOURSELF.

What is self-talk? It is an inner voice that combines conscious thoughts with unconscious beliefs and biases. Our brains use it to interpret and process daily experiences. It can be useful when it is positive, talking down fears and boosting confidence.  But our nature is more inclined to negative self-talk, however, and to make sweeping assertions like “I can’t do anything right” or “I’m a complete failure”.

Negative Self-talk -is a negative inner voice that we use to reinforce irrational or skewed beliefs about ourselves. Our negative inner voice can be unrealistic and even harmful. It often  paralyzes us into inaction and holds up progress in our lives. 

Rumination – is a thief of joy. It happens when you replay troublesome or cringe-worthy thoughts or events over and over again in your head. Thinking through a problem can be useful, but if you spend a lot of time ruminating, small issues get much bigger. Constant rumination can make us more likely to experience depression or anxiety. Don’t sit down and constantly ruminate over conversations and interactions from your divorce or your ex. Could things have gone differently?? Yes, they could have – but as my friend Leslee would say, ” you can’t change what you already said anymore than you can go back and change what you ate for breakfast”! 

***Remember one of the enemies greatest weapons is DECEPTION! The serpent “deceived” Eve into believing what she THOUGHT she knew, was wrong. He convinced her to believe something COMPLETELY irrational – so far from reality that we still question why she was fooled by  it. From our view, its plain as day – but she was deceived by it.


What are some ways negative self-talk affects us everyday?

  • Limits our hopeYour thinking will be limited to what you believe you can do or have, so you limit yourself when you say “I’ll never have someone that loves me” or “I’m not strong enough for that”. Those statements take away your hope for your own future.
  • PerfectionismYou start to  believe that “great” isn’t as good as “perfect,” and that perfection isn’t an unrealistic expectation. Ever heard the quote “better is the enemy of good”? People that are high achievers tend to be happier than perfectionistic because they are less stressed and satisfied with themselves and their work. When hold ourselves to a standard of perfection, we set ourselves up for failure everyday. It doesn’t take many days of feeling like failure to start believing that failure defines you.
  • Depression– Research has shown that negative self-talk can increase feelings of depression. Negative talk to ourselves only reinforces insecurity and uncertainty. This becomes a cycle as we continue to support the feelings of depression with our own negative self-talk.
  • Relationship Struggles– We can’t speak negatively to ourself about ourself and expect others to see the positive in us. When think less of ourselves, it comes out in conversation and interaction with those around us as self-criticism. Constant self-criticism can make us seem needy and insecure. Sometimes we turn our negative self-talk into more general negative habits – creating a negative environment around us. It’s hard to believe others value you when you do not value yourself. But more importantly, it’s hard to love others and believe good about them when you do not love yourself.
1 Peter 3:10 New International Version (NIV)
10 For, “Whoever would love life
   and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.

Hush your mouth!

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

WE ARE DAUGHTERS OF THE KING MOST HIGH! HE HURTS WHEN WE HURT AND HE HURTS WHEN WE HURT OURSELVES!

What are some ways to stop all the negative chatter??

  • CATCH YOUR CRITICPay attention to what your inner voice is saying, take note when you say things to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a child. Catch yourself in the action. Is what you are telling yourself aligned with what God’s word says? Would you want someone to speak to your daughter that way? Every woman has met a “mean girl” – one that is just mean for no reason. Don’t be that way to yourself. The Bible says in 1 John 3:1 (NIV) See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him..

#nobodylikesameangirl

  • THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS ARE GOOD LIARS Thinking negative things about yourself may feel like you are making educated observations, but your thoughts and feelings about yourself ARE NOT facts. Nor can they be considered the perception of others. Your thoughts can be distorted and lead you down a rabbit-hole that is so far from reality it would be comical to those around you. Choices lead and feelings follow – choose to align your thoughts with Gods word, even if you don’t feel it. The Bible says in  Proverbs 28:26 Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.

#aliceinwonderland

  • CALL THE CRAZY OUT – Anyone remember the Saturday Night Live character known as “Debbie Downer” ? She could find something  negative in any situation. I know this sounds crazy… but give your inner critical voice a name! My therapist taught me this and it works. It absolutely helped me recognize that those critical thoughts were real but they weren’t me! Sometimes giving that negative voice in our thoughts a name can help us identify it and even see how ridiculous or irrational our thoughts can be. We have an enemy and he has a name. If God gave the enemy a name, then I will too! And just for laughs – I’ll tell you that I named my critic Susan. Sorry to all the Susan’s out there – haha!  The Bible says in  Revelation 12:9 (NIV) 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

#whateversusan

  • TAKE YOUR CRITIC TO COURT  That’s right, put her on the stand! I mean cross-examine her. Negative self-talk often goes unchallenged. That is why we believe it, we accept whatever negative-talk throws our way.  No one knows what you are saying to yourself so others can’t tell you if you are wrong. When you catch yourself in negative-talk, ask yourself how true it is? Say it out-loud – sometimes when we hear our thoughts we realize they are unrealistic. Write it down or even run it by a trusted friend – support from our friends is the best way to shine light in our dark thoughts! If someone spoke to you negatively, you would likely defend yourself – challenge it, why don’t we challenge the negative things we say to ourselves? We have been instructed in God’s word to keep nothing hidden in the dark and test our knowledge against God’s word. So check your thought to see where it came from and if it is aligned with God’s word. The Bible says, 1 John 4:1 (NIV) 4 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

#youdontneedalawdegree

  • BE A FRIEND OF YOURS – Our inner critic can be our own worst enemy. We say things to ourselves that we’d never say to a friend. So try reversing this and try to imagine yourself saying this to one of your friends. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend – or at least not in the same way – Don’t say it to yourself. We spend so much time building up our friends, reassuring them that their negative thoughts of themselves are not true, but we never befriend ourselves. God has taught us that kind words give life but harshness crumbles us! The Bible says in Proverbs 15:4 (NIV) 4 The soothing tongue is a tree of life but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

#donttalktomyfriendlikethat

  • CHECK YOUR VANTAGE POINTEver seen the movie Vantage Point?? The short of it is there is a major event that takes place in a city, but the event is recounted by individuals who witnessed it from different places – so they each have a different perspective of what really happened. So apply that to your own thoughts, if this were someone else’s issue – how would you perceive it? Would it be a big deal if it wasn’t your issue? Is it going to be something that will really matter long-term? Does it affect your eternity? Is your problem really that big? Remember, your Father moves mountains! Don’t be paralyzed by something irrelevant or an earthly vantage point. We often get so focused on the small stuff or the things behind us that we can’t even see the path that has been made before us! The Bible says in Colossians 3:2 New International Version (NIV) 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

#thewrongangle

  • ROADBLOCK – This is easier said than done for most of us.  But we can come up with little reminders to help us. Imagine a stop sign or take a picture of one on your phone. When you see your thoughts headed in the wrong direction… pull up the image! I encourage you to find something funny to use to block negative thoughts when they start. Think about the YouTube video where Terry in his wheelchair lights the fireworks but can’t move – and his friends are yelling “Reverse, reverse – back it up Terry”! I know that sounds silly but we won’t to reverse those thoughts – stop them in their tracks and back them up! This is most helpful with negative thoughts that we repeat over and over like “I’m so fat” or “I hate my hair.” Pull out the Armor of God and protect yourself! Get those those in line with Gods word. He has equipped us with the tools we need to fight back when we are under attack – use them! The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (NKJV)

#backitupterry

  • REPLACE BAD THOUGHTS WITH SCRIPTURE – This is one of the most effective ways to overcome a thought that we have allowed to become a true belief.  In fact, once we replace a thought with scripture – we can forego all the other steps I’ve mentioned above – because this will do it all. Write down thoughts that plague you day in and day out, put them on a note card and write a Bible verse on the opposite side – MEMORIZE and repeat it when your bad thought creeps in.  This is not only encouraging but it’s also accurate. We are called to live by truth and God’s word is the only real truth – everything is just opinions/perspectives. The Bible says in Philippians 4:8 (NKJV) “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.”

#ineedaverseforthat

The #HASHTAGS are just for fun but I honestly included them in hopes that they will float through your mind and help you remember how to stop those nasty thoughts. YOU are a child of God – He wants you to see yourself the way He does. He has defeated the enemy, we only need to stand in the victory! Don’t allow negative thoughts to hold you back and paralyze you in fear or insecurity. The road you are walking is hard but it isn’t impossible! Allow God to define who you are and what you are capable of. He will go before you and light the way – it may not be easy but He will see you through it!

Not crushed…

I’m so glad to be back!! It’s been a long break for the holidays followed by twenty-one days of prayer and fasting, and then jumping straight into my ministry and leadership classes. I intended to be back the last week of January, but as much as I want to do it all, I just haven’t found a way yet – haha! So in all transparency, I’ve had to re-prioritize my to-do list and get a grip on my crazy schedule! Our home church starts small groups back this week and my group will meet tonight for the first time of this semester… I miss my readers and  I miss my small group girls! Looking forward to lots of new readers/followers this year and new ladies in my group on Sunday nights. But most of all, looking forward to seeing some ladies freed from the weight of hurt and divorce – through relationship with our God Most High! Let’s get back to the basics today – and surrender it all!

Ephesians 2:4-7 New International Version (NIV)

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Fractured but not crushed. It’s the best description I have for the hurt and chaos that followed me from the time of my parents divorce all the way through my own divorce and the aftermath. Not until I encountered real relationship with Christ did I begin to see those little fractures heal. I had to stop focusing on me and what I could do to make it better and start focusing on My Creator and what He could do. And He far out-did even my wildest expectations! God’s big y’all…

Jeremiah 17:7 New International Version (NIV)

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.

But for some reason, after divorce, it’s hard to go all in and not think He needs our help sometimes – hard not to get caught up in worry, anxiety, and control. I personally believe it’s harder to surrender a fractured heart to Him than it is a whole heart (it shouldn’t be, but we make it that way). That may sound odd, but seriously! Isn’t it easier to give someone something when it’s in one piece? If something has been fractured, it requires us to hand it over piece by piece. So if our hearts were whole, surrendering to Him and trusting God would look much different – with one swift action, we would be able to hand over our entire hearts. For some reason, when our hearts are fractured, WE complicate it. We try to give Him little pieces – here and there – where we know we won’t get hurt or the areas of our life we know we have already aligned with God’s word… you know, piece by piece, like I said before.

Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.[a]

Ever had anyone trust you a little bit, maybe with some things, but not with others?? I have! I’m gonna use my teenager as an example… since God is our Father, I’m gonna use a parental comparison. My daughter has never asked me if I have enough gas in my car to get where we are going. She never questions if her things will still be in her room when we get home. Never, not one time, has she asked if I was gonna pay for our families meal or if she needed to… lol! She sincerely trust that I already know to make sure we have gas, she trusts that I didn’t throw her things out of her room – except a few dirty clothes…lol, and she has never been responsible for providing dinner for our whole family so she has no reason to question that. <<< She fully and completely trust me in ALL of those areas (and many more)! BUT she doesn’t fully trust me for advice in her social life (because I am FARRRRRRR from cool) nor does she think my motives for not letting her participate in certain social events are pure. In fact, she likely thinks I’m just being mean for not letting her ride across town – on the interstate – in a car full of teenagers – in five o’clock traffic to go to a school basketball game!?! As a parent, my intentions and motives are absolutely in her best interest. I can see what is ahead of her and I’ve already been in many of those situations. I know what kind of decisions she will be faced with and to keep with my transparency – I know the consequences for some of those bad decisions. Oh how I wish she would just trust me! I wish she wouldn’t question my judgement – I really don’t NEED her help. However, no matter how many times she questions me or how many times her decisions don’t align with mine – it doesn’t lessen my love or my hopes and dreams for her future.  Sound familiar????

Isaiah 55:8-9 New International Version (NIV)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The hardest part about fully surrendering our hearts – and all the fractured pieces at once – is TRUSTING Him. When we question or worry frantically over things, those are areas that we haven’t fully surrendered to Him. When we try to control the outcome of situations or our environments – we aren’t fully trusting His ability to handle what isn’t naturally in our control. But He DOESN’T NEED our help. He truly has good planned for each of us. He’s already been here and lived where we are. He has experienced rejection, physical pain, ridicule, and exhaustion. He knows what it is like to not fit in or no longer be accepted where we once felt at home. HE HAS BEEN THROUGH IT HIMSELF. He knows what we are facing and He knows what consequences await our bad decisions.  We still have the opportunity to seek Him and His ways and fully trust Him. Do we want to continue to fight and struggle through wrong turns and consequences or do we want to go all in now? I know in about ten years my daughter will finally see the answers for all my “no’s”.  But wouldn’t you go back and listen and trust your parents sooner if you could? I hate for her to make the journey rough or harder than it needs to be, but I will stand by patiently loving her all the same until she comes around. God will do the same for you.

2 Peter 3:9 New International Version (NIV)

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

To be honest, it’s much harder to surrender a fractured heart because we try to hold onto to some pieces and handle them ourselves. He wants all the little pieces. He doesn’t need us to ration it out. It’s much harder for us to fix things – we didn’t create them… He did. He knows how every little detail of our lives has come together, He can single handedly move those pieces to make our mess something beautiful. He doesn’t need help or instructions. Only surrender. Full surrender. To partially surrender is a constant battle between serving your flesh and serving your Creator.

So on my first blog of 2019 – I want each of us to fully surrender every area of our hearts to Him. He can’t heal or restore the pieces we don’t give Him. So all those ugly little nuances from your divorce – you know – the ones you said, the ones you did… the anger you carry around, the guilt, the bitterness, the jealousy, the fear… GIVE IT ALL TO HIM. Join me on this journey allowing His love and His grace to make your fractured heart whole again! Let’s start putting the big “D” behind us and start focusing on the Cross before us….

Who is she??

And by she, I don’t just mean me… Of course, that’s me in the picture. But I’m asking who are you?

I guess it was somewhere around 2009, I looked up and didn’t even recognize myself. And I don’t mean physically – I was actually in the best shape I had probably ever been in and my inner thighs weren’t touching for the first time in my life! But I truly stared myself down in the mirror in my bathroom one day. I just kept thinking – Who am I? I’m not who I always thought I would grow up and become and I’m not who I used to be. I couldn’t tell you my favorite restaurant, the last book I had read, my favorite store, the last time I had worked on my hobbies or the last time I had stepped in a salon. I hadn’t really found my niche – I had been divorced for several years, lost touch with most of my married friends but I had a six-year-old so I didn’t exactly fit in with the single and mingle crowd either. I was literally floating through life. Part of that, I believe, was God calling me to Him- I always considered myself a christian but had never really come into relationship with Christ until 2010. But I believe the other part of not knowing who I was, at that time – was just the role that society creates for Mom’s/Wives – I had been taking care of everyone but ME.

1280x1280

 

Where is that girl you used to be? Somewhere in the midst of stress, marriage, children, finances, and divorce… we lose our luster. We are women, we are serving by nature. The typical Mom/Wife serves so well that she often overlooks her own needs.

Our wants, needs, and sometimes our dreams are set on the back burner. We notice it.  We crave and sometimes beg for time and attention and even material items for ourselves. But there is such a stigma of guilt around doing or buying for ourselves that over time, WE CHOOSE not to do for ourselves. We decide that the price we pay through guilt is more costly to our emotions than the neglect of doing without.

Christ didn’t call us to give up every last piece of ourselves for our spouses or our children. He only called us to give up ourselves to HIM.

Okay, before we get too far into this, I have to remind you of something. Whatever you gave up in your marriage is not your spouses fault. This post is not a poor, pitiful – victim post. I’m not writing for a feminist movement or to say “we shouldn’t be treated this way”. I’m writing to say WE SHOULDN’T TREAT OURSELVES THIS WAY. I understand that some of us may have been taken advantage of or even abused. But you do not have to continue to be a victim of your past or your circumstances. This post is actually about taking ownership of our responsibility in taking care of ourselves  and changing our perspectives so we can let go of our bitterness, failures, and rejection. So just as a reminder I’ll drop this little quote here…

mydesign

If I still have you, then that means the last paragraph and quote didn’t make you click the “X” in the top right corner… we are off to a good start here!

I want YOU to know who YOU are. The first step is healing our hearts but we can’t heal wounds that we don’t accept and we can’t correct mistakes that we don’t take responsibility for. I’m not saying your marriage was a mistake. In fact, my true belief is that God can RESTORE any marriage where either spouse has not remarried. I pray for restoration for each of you. But while you are walking on this road of divorce that looks so dark and dreary – I want to help you see the light. I want you to see the UNCONDITIONAL love of Christ. I want you to find purpose and understand yourself the way God sees and created you!

While my ministry is not about RESTORATION it’s not because I don’t believe in it. Its because I believe I’m called to help you walk the path you are on… If you are interested in restoration, please email me – I have lots of resources and ministries I can refer you to ♥

EXPECTATIONS

Before we dig into ourselves, I want to go ahead and call out some unrealistic expectations society has placed on Moms and Wives. I think being transparent with ourselves and others is easier when we realize that no one could possibly fill all of these roles. Again – social media comes into play here, and it has really stepped up the feeling of failure for lots of Momma’s and Wives out there.  But we are experiencing feelings of rejection and failure based off of expectations that aren’t even achievable, much less biblical or necessary to fulfill our purpose in Christ. What makes it so hard to let go of these expectations is that its not an ex or a friend or a sister that holds us to them, IT’S OURSELVES! We have this idea of who we want people to “think” we are and usually consist of conquering all of our weaknesses.

1 – We should all be a size 2 and look like the Vicki C’s centerfold… you know who Vicki C is, I shop there too! We are much more critical of our bodies than anyone around us. I can stand in the mirror and count each little dimple of cellulite, but the lady behind me in the Wal-Mart line probably won’t notice them and if she does, she only see’s one or two… haha! Seriously – we should all take care of our physical health and try to be fit enough that we can enjoy life – THIGH GAPS ARE NOT REQUIRED. And should your marriage become restored or you get remarried – I promise, the six-pack abs are not what he is most interested in… sorry, I have to be real here! Y’all know how we can get all caught up in what “he” thinks is SEXY – if you are in a marital relationship – ASK HIM! Otherwise, you are running a goose chase after something he doesn’t even notice and its not what he loves about you anyway – this paragraph could go on for miles but I’ll stop here. If you need extra reassurance or resources to help in this area, please reach out via email  or comment on the thread!

2- Our homes should be spotless… Do you live in your home? It’s not gonna be spotless. I would never do another thing in my life, until my teenager and toddler twins are grown and my hubby goes to see Jesus, if I had to keep my house spotless. Most items are in the room they belong in, notice – I said MOST. From where I am sitting to type, I can see a hairbrush on a table and four Minnie-mouse slippers in the middle of the kitchen floor. The toys are all in there basket because the twins are napping, but in an hour or so, the basket with the broken handle and crayon stained liner will be empty and the toys will be from one end of the living room to the other. We have all hardwoods and tile, we try not to wear shoes in the house the help preserve the mopping I try to get done once a week or so… usually more like every two weeks, sometimes it doesn’t happen and that’s just that. But for some reason, when it comes to the way a home is kept the judgement lies solely on the wife/mom. No one ever walks in a messy house and says “this guy isn’t a good housekeeper”. BUT THAT IS WRONG. Unless you live alone – get everyone involved! Set those cute kiddo’s up for success with good habits, they aren’t slaves but you can’t take responsibility for EVERYTHING. You only have two hands and two feet and there will never be more than 24 hours in a day.

3 – Your decor should look like it’s straight out of Chip and Jo’s Magnolia Farm and you should continuously update it to keep up with the lady down the street…. A new front door hanger for every season, every year. NO, JUST NO! Jo is super kind-hearted and didn’t start her shop for you to keep up – its her passion. I’m not decor savvy – I’m artsy and nerdy, I can paint, sew, read and refinish with the best of ’em but can’t decorate a room to save my life. Its not my gift – but why on earth do we feel like we have failed when we don’t go out and spend money we don’t have on stuff we probably don’t even need? Even if I bought the stuff, I still wouldn’t be able to put it all together the way Jo does. And if you’re like me, you aren’t home long enough to entertain anyway. Don’t get me wrong. We have nice stuff but we’ve lived here since 2011 and I still haven’t hung curtains in the living room – we have blinds and its just not my priority.  Yes, I have had two people in those seven years mention something about needing drapery around that huge window in my living room – still not done – and they haven’t been invited back, haha – not really but I certainly would’ve liked to have said “sure, go buy some and hang them as a special gift for me”…

4- You should have it all together, everything and everyone should be organized in some fancy schmancy personalized planner you ordered online… I have that planner!! I love it – it is so stinking cute and it looks great sitting on my desk. BUT I haven’t written in it since August – the same month I bought it. I use my google calendar, its easier. And even with that, sometimes we just barely skim by and get everything done and get everyone where they are supposed to be. Last week, on Thursday night, I realized I had forgotten to cover Friday morning with a baby-sitter. I had a special function for the College through our Church. My original sitter had canceled earlier in the week with the flu, but I was driving when she text me so I never followed back up and got another sitter. I was scrambling last minute – but you know what? It all got taken care of the same. I would say I’m not a super-duper-over-the-top organizer. It’s not my gift – but I pretty well stay on top of things. There are most likely some old fries under the carseats in my car, and my half drank coffee from yesterday is still in the cup-holder. My teenager’s ball bag is in the third row seats, which means there is probably half of a ball field of dirt back there too! I’ll go through the car wash today (I just got monthly unlimited membership to goo-goo wash and I’m pumped) and then vaccuum it, but it will all happen again next week – and that’s okay… IT’S REALITY! My hair may or may not get washed before I go lead a small group tonight. I might dress cute with heels and a stylish scarf or I might not have the energy for all that and pull out a trusty warm pull-over and beanie. THAT IS JUST LIFE.

I know these are only four of the thousands of expectations we feel, but I wanted to unravel several of them so you would know that it is absolutely unrealistic to do it all. Social Media often portrays that most people have it all together but we know that is a lie. We are each gifted in different areas, we all have our own weaknesses too! Embrace your gifts and be aware of the areas you struggle – ask for help! Find someone who is strong where you are weak and seek advice or tips for getting better in that area. Don’t hold yourself to expectations that are far beyond necessary.

Who are YOU?

We touched earlier on taking responsibility for taking care of ourselves. I just want to point out more time, whatever you have missed out in your past isn’t someone else’s fault. Most of the time, we ourselves are to blame for overlooking ourselves or not standing up or speaking out for things. I know some folks won’t agree but we can’t blame everything we missed on our ex. So the first thing I want you to do is list 5 things you didn’t do or feel like you’ve missed on (either in your marriage or even now in your divorced life/single mom life). It doesn’t matter how vain or silly they seem. Here’s mine from 2009:

-Not taking time to read and learn new stuff (told y’all I’m a nerd)

-Went four years without getting my hair or nails done in a salon (while I still only go twice a year to get my hair done, its just refreshing to be pampered)

-Didn’t spend time doing any of my hobbies (I’m artsy/crafty and love to put my creativity to work – its my number one outlet for frustration or anxiety and when I here from God the most)

-Didn’t take time to rest and reset (just relaxing with a cup of coffee on the porch once in a while or taking a nap)

-Never wore or even bought make-up or accessories for myself (except for the trusty ole neon green and pink tube of maybelline mascara)

Now here is the reality. I NEVER MENTIONED TO ANYONE AROUND ME THAT I WAS BOTHERED BY ANY OF IT. At this point, I was a single mom and had been for some time. But I still should have set some boundaries for myself. Even more so at this time, than ever before. There was no one pouring into me emotionally but me. There was no one covering my back except for me. So I thought anyway. Luckily, Jesus was lining up a more than perfect walk for me and I had no idea. But in the meantime, I knew I had to find the me that I had lost in my marriage and my divorce. The happy, confident, trusting, and hopeful person that I remembered.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see first? Do you see who you are or who you think you should be? The beauty that exist or the things you wish you could change? After divorce, we are so broken. We see so many things we gave up or we wish we had. But it is more important now, than ever before, to learn to pour into yourself.

If God called you on the phone and said, “Hey, it’s God… I have a daughter who ran out of gas, would you mind filling up her tank for me?” What would you say? I’ll bet my right foot that you would drop everything and go fill up at that tank. You are His daughter – don’t run out of gas. You can’t get anywhere on an empty tank in your car and you can’t get anywhere in life if you’re empty either… make sense??? You would go fill up someone else’s tank in a heartbeat – why not fill your own?

I’m not saying going buy a G – Class Mercedes because that’s what you want. I’m saying set boundaries for yourself so that you don’t run out of gas and find yourself stranded in an emotional rut where you feel as worthless as your car when its tank is empty. If you enjoy taking a walk or reading a book, do so. Set time, even if it’s only ten minutes a week, to pour into you. You will be a better employee, a better friend, a better mother, and a better daughter when you do so. If new shoes is what your thing is, set aside a few dollars each month so you can go pick a pair on a rainy day – if you prepare by setting aside money, you won’t feel guilty after the purchase. God wants to use us for His purpose. He needs our spirits to be full and overflowing so we can pour into those around us. If we let ourselves go and continuously feel neglected, then WE aren’t able to answer the call when God needs us.

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The God of HOPE…

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So I’m a little late posting, I generally post on Wednesdays but I just didn’t have a good feel for what direction I wanted to go with this last weeks blog. It’s a God thing. But this week, as I met with my small group, God gave me the direction I needed through them. This is a group of ladies that are AMAZING. From day 1, this group has been unlike any other. These women are transparent, diverse, broken, and beautiful, hurt yet full of life. They are newly divorced. Each of them comes from a different walk. Some are divorced and don’t want to be, some of have been torn to shreds by infidelity, and some are the cause of their own situation. BUT we are united by Christ. They pour into one another, and usually do it better than I could myself. They will be victorious through Christ. They are a blessing to lead and bring so much joy to my heart – I’m writing this week for each of them… There’s hope for each of you to experience JOY in the truest fashion!

Elohim-Yachal – The God of Hope.

I’m gonna take two different approaches on “hope” here.  The first is on finding hope for our current situations (Temporary Hope) – divorce, communication with our ex, relationships with our exes and their family, and the everyday issues that arise. The second approach is on Eternal Hope – our overall hope for our lives, our future, and the future of our children.

Hope is such a small word in the English language, but it carries such significance.

How many of you feel like you could justify being hopeless based on your past? Have any of you experienced rejection? Everybody can likely answer yes to both of these questions. But should we let past rejection and failures steal our hope for our future?

  • In 1919, Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because the Editor thought he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”.
  • Lucille Ball was considered a failed actress (B-list) prior to I Love Lucy. Her drama instructors urged her to find another profession.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high-school basketball team his sophomore year.
  • Babe Ruth had 1330 strikeouts in his career.
  • Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California School of Theatre, Film, and Television three times. He was accepted into another program but dropped to pursue directing.

This is just a few from the long, long list of highly successful people who had every reason to give up but chose to persevere. The point here is that they CHOSE to PERSEVERE. I’m not certain of where they found their hope but I know where we should find ours. Hope is the fuel we need to persevere through desperate and hard times. When we have hope, we can tolerate and push through a lot more than if we feel our situation is never-ending. Sometimes hope is just that small still voice in your head and sometimes we truly have to dig into to God’s word to find that hope. Either way we must find hope in every situation that we intend to conquer…

 

Hope is the fuel we need to persevere through desperate and hard times…

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Temporary Hope

Don’t be confused by the title of this portion… our hope shouldn’t be based on or found in anything temporary. But rather all of our hope should be in God, the only real- true being capable of perfect love. The temporary part is in the title because we need to learn to cling to that unshakeable hope when we are facing temporary struggles. Let me remind you now, PEOPLE, SITUATIONS, and MATERIALS are TEMPORARY. Don’t put your hope in people – they will disappoint you, don’t put your hope in situations – they won’t always workout the way you want, don’t put your hope in materials – they will lose their luster.

Divorce is hard. And that’s putting it lightly. Most of us have never faced the turmoil we find ourselves in after a divorce. Even if your divorce was on the more amicable side, you still face issues you never imagined would arise. Who would have thought we would be arguing over such trivial things? How in the world do we find hope in this mess we’ve created?

The first step is God. We pray and stay in relationship with Him. We focus on His word and we apply it to OURSELVES and our situations. ALL of our situations. When we are facing a temporary struggle, so often we let it take control of us. We focus on the negative aspect of the situation instead of finding hope. We find ourselves in a place where we are desperate. We are exhausted in the arguing and disarray of things. We look for little tiny fixes in our daily interactions to find hope in…

We start hoping our ex will understand our side. Hoping his family will change. Hoping our children will like us. Hoping our ex will trade weekends with us so we can go to the beach. Hoping we won’t be alone the rest of our lives. Hoping our financial situations improve. Hoping our ex will change. Hoping we will change. Hoping we can finally get along. Hoping there won’t be fall apart when exchange the kids this afternoon. Hoping our ex will apologize. Hoping our ex will finally recognize how valuable we are. Hoping others won’t judge us for our situation. Hoping the holiday plans workout the way we want. Hoping… Hoping… Hoping.

But in all of these things our hope is in something temporary. Its in the situation. What happens when that thing we were hoping for doesn’t come to be??? Let me answer that for you, we find ourselves with a new unmet expectation, another reason to argue – another thing to blame on our ex or his family. When we put our hope in people, situations, and materials – we give them the power to steal our joy. If our hope is truly in these temporary struggles then it only takes a little ripple to rock our whole world.  And let me drop another little tip here – if you give your ex the power to steal your joy, he will do it every single time. Not because he is mean and intends to, but because WE ALLOW him to.  Finding hope in the wrong places often leaves us to be the repeated victim of the circumstances that surround us. We are constantly let down by people, situations, and stuff.  Constantly wounded by unmet expectations.

What if Walt Disney or Lucille Ball had given up when the expectation they had was met with rejection? What if they had found their hope in the people who rejected them instead of believing in the dream they had?

Do you dream of finding peace with your ex and his family? Do dream of the day your anxiety doesn’t hit the roof when you realize you need to communicate with your ex? Do you dream of the day that you aren’t shattered by the fear of uncertainty? Tired of being the victim?

When you face temporary struggles, I challenge you to place your hope in God. Let Him be the one that fills you with acceptance and joy. Let Him be the one you look to for help when trouble is creeping in. God doesn’t change. He doesn’t waver. He will never let you down. In every circumstance, He will see you through and use it for your good. Unshakeable hope is found in Him alone. It’s the only hope that doesn’t loose its luster when our situation doesn’t workout the way we wanted – He is still the same God…

That removes the pressure from every little interaction we face with our exes. If the situation doesn’t workout, it leaves us UNOFFENDED. We put so much focus and so much pressure on every little interaction that, to be honest, sometimes I’m not sure we could meet our own expectations. But when we pull that pressure off and place our hope in Christ we often find that He exceeds our expectations!

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Eternal Hope

Can any of us truly comprehend eternity? It seems so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, we lose sight of how little our temporary struggles are in the grand scheme of eternity. Our eternal hope is found in Christ. Even when we know that, it’s still pretty easy to get distracted.

What exactly is hope? It’s a mindset, ones own ability to choose to focus on the positive possibilities and promises of Christ in all situations rather than honing in on the negative aspects of life.  Hope isn’t a feeling its a choice. We can choose it.

We have to remember that when we are struggling, when we are hurt, when we are desperate… we are only in a season. The way we perceive that desperation can ABSOLUTELY determine how we handle it.

“Desperation will open doors that complacency will keep shut” – Pastor Robert Madu

We have a choice in how we perceive all things. You know that little verse we refer to all the time “take captive every thought, and align it…“?? Guess what, perceptions are thoughts and we can choose to take them captive and align them with the word of God. We can choose to perceive that our desperation is only a small season and an opportunity for us to cling to the hope that Christ has promised us OR we can choose to perceive it as another terrible circumstance that we are a victim of.

The victim mentality puts the end to our problems in whoever made us a victim. It gives someone else the reigns to decide our future. Even if we are the cause of our situation, sometimes we still make ourselves of a victim.

Finding hope in desperate times instead of choosing to be a victim does not mean you are responsible for what has happened to you. It means you are responsible for what WILL happen to you, in light of the circumstances.

The hope mentality enables us to take the weight off our own shoulders. We can cast our cares and truly focus on the promises of our future. Hope is knowing that God can use your circumstances, no matter what they are, to build something beautiful.

Hope is believing that your past does not prevent you from fulfilling your divine purpose.

The truth is that there is ALWAYS hope! Unless whatever you are facing can undo the price Jesus paid for you, you still have hope. Hope for better days, better relationship with Christ, better friends, and better circumstances!

Do you need to adjust your angle??

Look around you. Now, hold your phone up in the air and take a photo. Is what’s on your phone the same thing you see when you look around? Nope – but both realities still exist… right?

Genesis 50:20 English Standard Version (ESV)

20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people[a] should be kept alive, as they are today.

We can choose what angle we view things through. Evil is present, so is JOY. We can see life. We can see death. We can speak into either of those. But more importantly – we can choose who we seek perspective from.

Sometimes even the most successful and brilliant minds overlook grand opportunities. We surround ourselves with our safety net. We lean on those we trust most. That’s wisdom. But sometimes we are blinded by our own perspective. I’m gonna share a few examples with you…

In 1977 Kodak had a young employee who developed the first digital camera – Kodak patented the product but set it aside because they made too much money off of film to invest in its development. In years to come competitors continued to develop products similar to Kodak’s and by the 90’s their technology far exceeded that of Kodak’s. As of 2015, Kodak is still operating at a loss of almost $2,000,000.00 a year. What if they had been open to this young inventor’s idea?? Where would Kodak be? How much earlier would the general public have had access to digital media?

In 1999, EXCITE had the opportunity to purchase GOOGLE  for $750,000.00 – this was only 1% of EXCITE’s net-worth at the time. The CEO of EXCITE, George Bell, refused the offer because GOOGLE CEO Larry Page wanted to include a clause that would force EXCITE to replace all of its search technology with GOOGLE’s technology. George Bell didn’t like the GOOGLE interface and thought it was a step behind EXCITE. Today, we all know GOOGLE is the largest search engine in the world, never mind all the other markets that GOOGLE has entered. EXCITE is no longer. What if that CEO had sought out other perspectives?

Blockbuster turned down the opportunity to purchase Netflix. In 2000 – Netflix proposed an agreement with Blockbuster for Netflix to handle all of Blockbuster’s online components and Blockbuster could host Netflix as an “in-store” component. Blockbuster refused – they were later given the opportunity to outright buy Netflix. Again, they refused. Blockbuster had the market for online inventory and wasn’t interested in Netflix, as it was struggling to stay-a-float. But in 2007, after a change of CEO’s, Blockbuster dropped its development of the online component. Within three years, Blockbuster filed bankruptcy and Netflix is the leading online video component. What if the CEO had been open to the online media component? We could all still have our Blockbuster key fobs – lol!

In 1999, a simple math error cost NASA and the space program millions of dollars.  A Mars Orbiter was lost in space because of a simple miscalculation by dozens of NASA engineers. The manufacturing company used imperial measurements while the NASA engineers used metric measurements. Somewhere in the process, they forgot to communicate and convert the differences. The Orbiter was worth $125,000,000.00. It never made it back into orbit. These are some of the most brilliant minds on earth that overlooked something simple.

Xerox and Nokia could be added to this list as well, they both made similar errors that gave competitors the edge they needed to take the lead in their industries. I’m certain there are dozen’s more. It’s so easy to overlook opportunities for improvement when we only see things through our own perspective.

In society we see and hear all kinds of remarks regarding the “Millennial Generation”.  Also referred to as the “Snowflakes”.  How many opportunities do you think will be missed by business executives with “millennial” inventors because someone is blinded by their own perspective?

**on a side-note, please forgive my inner nerd and history buff! I love this stuff! I’m sorry if I lost you in the bore of the facts… tune back in here ↓↓

So now you are wondering what all these crazy business blunders have to do with you and your divorce????

EVERYTHING.

Imagine if these business tycoon’s had adjusted the angle in which they viewed the opportunities ahead of them???

 

Are you using the instrument on the left, when the tool on the right is available? See, just like tools and technology, we have new resources and perspectives available to us everyday. We just have to use them.  So often we want to see a change in ourselves or our perspective but we keep using the same tools and resources. If you want to see a new perspective, look around and survey the instruments your using. Can you make a change?

Colossians 3:2 English Standard Version (ESV)

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Who do you call first when an emotional crisis is brewing? Who do you call first when your ex screws something up? Who do you call first when your mind is flooded with the thoughts of all that went wrong in your marriage? Who do you call first when you aren’t sure how to handle a situation? Which instrument do you pull out of your tool box? The one on the left, that you have to figure out how it works? Or the one on the right that does the work for you as long you put it in the right place?

Proverbs 11:2 English Standard Version (ESV)

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
    but with the humble is wisdom.

Yep – I’m talking about God. HE SHOULD BE YOUR FIRST CALL. He is the first step in changing your perspective. He’s the first step in changing your reaction. And He’s the first step in changing your outcome. So the first adjustment we need to make in our angle is going to Him before anything else.

I’d love to make this post look like I have it all together and all I need to do is call on God and I’m done. Technically, yes, that’s the only call we really need to make. But let’s be real here, how many of us still feel worry and anxiety and give-in and make another call even after we’ve given something to God??? ME! I have! I still do, sometimes! But who is that second call?

Do you call the same friend with the same response time after time? Don’t get me wrong. I have a very best girl friend. I call her on the regular. I can be open and real with her. No judgement. No regrets for sharing my struggles. BUT – she loves me and my family just like her own. That means, sometimes her perspective on a situation is very close to mine. Sometimes – No, A LOT OF TIMES,  I’m wrong. But those closest to me don’t see it. They, too, are blinded by their own perspective because their angle of the situation is the same as mine.

When you are facing adversity in dealings with your ex, if you want to see a change. BE THAT CHANGE. Instead of calling that same friend – even the one that isn’t afraid to tell you that you’re wrong – try calling someone different. Try asking someone who has been where your ex is. NO MATTER HOW WRONG OR RIGHT YOU BELIEVE THEY ARE. You will never overcome the obstacles of divorce by continuing to see things only from your perspective.  To be frank, its ultimately why most of us ended up divorced to begin with. If you don’t want to be bogged down with the constant chaos and arguing that comes with co-parenting children after divorce, then use a different instrument out of the toolbox you have been given. Our friends and family members have great intentions, but sometimes they aren’t the right tool for the job.

Proverbs 18:15 English Standard Version (ESV)

15 An intelligent heart acquires knowledge,
    and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

 

If you are a member of a church, find someone in your church family that you believe has been in a similar situation to your ex. Ask them their thoughts. Ask them how you could communicate or function in a more effective way. It doesn’t mean that person will be right or have all the answers. It’s just you taking a step towards adjusting your angle on a problem. The more perspectives you see and hear, the easier it is to let go of your own. Now, I don’t mean go crazy with it – you need to use prayer and discernment in choosing who you speak with regarding any situation you may be facing. But I believe God surrounds us with wisdom and knowledge, the Bible says we only need to seek Him and ask for it.

 

James 1:5 English Standard Version (ESV)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

It doesn’t have to be a fellow church member that you seek perspective from, but do try to find fellow believers. Ask people young and old. Ask another single mom. Ask another single dad. Ask people who were a product of a divorce home. If you have permission from a parent, sometimes its helpful to even ask a Childs perspective on a situation. The point here is not that this other perspective is right or even the answer to our problem. The point is to open up our hearts to empathize, even with someone we are deeply angry at or hurt by.

The analogies for perspective are endless. But I will close with one last comparison. I have a fifteen year old daughter – if you’ve read all my post, then you already know this. But if this is your first time reading my work, this is my child from my first marriage.  She just recently got her permit to drive back in September. Let’s just say this teaching her drive thing is a test for my patience – lol! But I realized something on perspective about the third day she was driving. I had mentioned to her several times that she was hugging the white line on the right side of the road a little too close.  I was a little annoyed that she had not corrected it – I mean she had been driving for three days now – geesh! So, as she is cruising along she comes within mere inches of a mailbox of a neighbor that I’ve known to be less than understanding of other mailbox assaulters. So I shout out “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? GET OFF THE WHITE LINE!”.  She reacts by slamming on the brakes and coming to a complete stop in the middle of our small town backroad that everyone else likes to use as the Nascar Speedway.  I scream again, “GOOOOOOO – WHAT ARE YOU DOING?? YOU ARE GONNA GET US KILLED!”. Finally, she goes. The tears start pouring out and I realize, she really has no idea why I am so worked up.  We are a block from our house.  As we round the corner and pull in our driveway she says – “I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong – you drive that close to the white line too.”

In my brain, I’m thinking – how in the world could you not understand you are driving on the white line and there is NO WAY in Hiroshima I drive that close to the line. But then as I’m praying in my head on how to apologize for my lack of patience, God reveals something to me – SHE’S USUALLY IN THE OTHER SEAT. Her perspective is totally different and she doesn’t realize it. She is used to riding in the passenger seat and being that close to the white line. It hasn’t dawned on me or her to adjust her angle because she isn’t sitting in the same place!

Same goes for us in our divorce. After divorce, we need to adjust our angle. We aren’t sitting in the same seat anymore.  Our roles and expectations have shifted. Our boundaries are different. We need to remember we no longer have that authority in our exes life and they no longer have it in ours. We need to be ready and open for changes. Even ones that aren’t exactly what we want or think is right. If we open our hearts to new angles before the new angles get here, it makes it much easier to empathize and understand when they arrive.

We all have areas that we need to adjust our angles in. You don’t need to like or even agree with someone to be able to empathize and understand their angle. You might find that your assumptions about that person are wrong. Maybe your assumptions are right. Either way – when we adjust our angle, we change our response. We don’t have to agree with that person but seeing their perspective can allow you to have the empathy you need to respond to that situation in a Christ-like way….

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Lamentations of the Heart…

Let’s dive into Lamentations. A not-so-popular book of the Bible – one that we don’t typically get excited to read. It’s a little deep and harsh but, to me, the desolation that is described so closely mimics the reality of a broken home, a broken nation, and the broken world we live in.

Lamentations 1:2 New International Version (NIV)

Bitterly she weeps at night,
    tears are on her cheeks.
Among all her lovers
    there is no one to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her;
    they have become her enemies.

I believe, America, as a whole, is in a crisis of fallen marriages, broken homes, and relational poverty. WE all crave relationship. Whole relationships – with parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends. But we are each so broken we can’t make relationships work. We question the legitimacy of love, trust, and loyalty. We didn’t just arrive here because of one recent divorce.

Having lunch with a friend of mine earlier in the week, I was talking to her about how I got to where I was emotionally when I decided I was ready for divorce. I told her that we never get there in one step. We all start at our baseline. None of us wake up and set out to trash a marriage. BUT – one little step at time, we get pretty far from our baseline. Let’s say our baseline is at zero. If I step to the left to one, I’ve just stepped a little out of the way. Not far enough for anyone to notice or for me to feel terribly guilty about it. But then, a bit later, I step over to two. Because I had settled in at one, I still don’t see that two is a big step. This process goes on and on and on. One day, we look up and realize that we are on a hundred and miles from our baseline or what we set out to do. Does that make sense? I kind of see our culture that way today. Americans never set out to abolish the idea of true love or forever. They never intended to destroy families and generations. But little by little through each generation we have taken little steps from the baseline of how Christ wanted us to live and reap the benefits of His promises.  When I look around, I am generations from the family relationships Christ intended for me to have. I can’t possibly operate out of the fullness He intended for me to have. Not without HIM.

I know as a divorcee, you probably do not want to be reminded of how we have each contributed to this crisis. But the reality is, if you look around you –  at least half of the people you see have been damaged by divorce in some way. Maybe through their own divorce, that of their parents or even grandparents. Divorce leaves a legacy of brokenness behind us. So many of us are grieving what we thought was forever. We are weeping and lonely. Full of uncertainty inside and yet we don’t understand what keeps causing us to fall.  A path of destruction that we never intended. And one that we MUST break. Through forgiveness and repentance we can change our legacy. Walking in relationship with God can completely fill us. We can learn to trust and love. We can pour that fullness into our children and generations that follow us. ONE STEP AT A TIME, WE CAN GET BACK TO OUR BASELINE. Who Christ created us to be.

In Lamentations, we see the fall of Jerusalem. It was in complete ruins. The people of Jerusalem had lived in sin. They had stepped way off the baseline they were given. God allowed terrible destruction, but not without compassion and hope for the future.

First, a little history on Lamentations for you – just so you’ll be able to get the context of it’s verses. Lamentations doesn’t say who wrote the book, but the general consensus is that it was Jeremiah the prophet.  None-the-less, the author was present when the Babylonian Army  captured Jerusalem and demolished Solomon’s temple in 586 B.C. He laments over the destruction and serious suffering of the people during the siege and the  aftermath. The author was clearly a victim of this tragedy but also a spectator. Many of us are victims of our own divorce but also spectated the divorce of our parents or grandparents. Back to Lamentations…

lam·en·ta·tion

/ˌlamənˈtāSH(ə)n/
noun
plural noun: lamentations
  1. the passionate expression of grief or sorrow; weeping.
    “scenes of lamentation”
    synonyms: weeping, wailing, crying, sobbing, moaning, lament, keening, grieving, mourning

    “the survivors’ lamentation”
    • a book of the Bible telling of the desolation of Judah after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.
      singular proper noun: Lamentations; singular proper noun: Lamentations of Jeremiah; noun: Lamentations

Obviously, Lamentations is not the book we turn to for the quick pick-me-up scripture. However, within its pages we can find some powerful lessons about God and the truths that hold dominion over our lives. I think its important, as we walk through the steps to rebuild our lives after divorce, that we are honest with ourselves. Honest about what the Bible says regarding divorce and honest about things that we may have done to contribute to our divorce.  And we’ve all done at least one thing that we could have done better. The scripture is very clear to me, divorce is a sin. There are some exceptions noted. And this is a highly debated topic. But what I want us to take away from this is that it is so important to align our present and our future with Gods word.

I don’t believe for a second that God is casting each of us down to Hell for our divorce. I do, however, know that there are earthly consequences for my sins. (That’s the beauty of the grace Jesus died for – He paid the eternal price for our sin – we have access to forgiveness through repentance).

One of those earthly consequences for me was the emotional and financial disaster I found myself in after my divorce. But the disaster wasn’t that God was bestowing suffering upon me because I did wrong. The disaster came because we can’t live by earthly standards and sin yet still reap the benefits of the joy God promised us. Not because He doesn’t want us to have it. God used His word to warn us of sin because He already knows the destruction each sin can cause in our lives. Some of us even become “self-destructive” in our sin. So please – don’t take this wrong. I’m not trying to make you feel bad or guilty. I’m standing right beside you saying – “Hey, I screwed up too!”. There is hope in destruction. And when we get down to our bare bones and have nothing to cling to, God is still there. He can rebuild, restore, and repair us.

 I believe God desires to bless us rather than afflict us:

Lamentations 3:21-25 New International Version (NIV)

21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;

No matter what your situation looks like today, find hope in Him. No matter the mistakes you’ve made or the sins you’ve committed, you can repent. Turn back. Change your ways. You can choose to align your life with God’s word and have the joy and happiness that He promises us in the Bible. Lamentations of the heart are temporary. Hope is eternal. Your sorrow and hurt from your divorce will pass – don’t let it define you. Even in your greatest despair, you are not alone. Choose what you want your legacy to be. Everyday do one thing to contribute to that legacy. One day you will look over your shoulder and see that step-by-step God healed you and changed you.

Unforgiveness, Fear, and Lies – Look in the Mirror…

Get comfy for this one… Hold onto your seat and be prepared to get mad at me. We’ve all been told that forgiveness isn’t necessarily for the offending party, but rather, forgiveness sets US free. TRUE STATEMENT. But lets take that a step deeper… deeper into our own souls and how it really can change us more than most of us even understand.

UNFORGIVENESS, FEAR, AND LIES. 

I can hear it now – you think I’m referring to your adversaries. Your ex. The other ex. The side chick. The ex-mother-in-law. The new wife. The step-mom. Whoever it may be in your case. I’m not talking about or to them. I’m talking about and to YOU. I promise – if you’ll be transparent with yourself for just a little bit here, you’re gonna find some soul ties to unforgiveness, fear, and lies. This topic is extremely broad but for our purpose, I’m gonna reel it in and relate it specifically to divorce and the obstacles we face through it.

I wish there was a way to really break this down and separate the three into individual categories. But they are so closely linked, I can’t hardly speak about one without tying it into the other. So instead I’m just gonna break it down into different situations and how they can and WILL be toxic to us. Let’s start here:

When we believe lies, we empower them!

-Pastor Bill Johnson – Bethel Church, Redding, California

Powerful lies…

Did you know that research shows that we are told more lies in our on minds than we are told by all the people we encounter in our lives? We hear more untruth’s about ourselves from the enemy than we hear if we added up every lie we’ve been told by another human. THAT’S SCARY!!!!

When we believe and empower lies – we align ourselves with them. One of the biggest lies Satan uses is fueling anger and bitterness towards other people. So I’m gonna drop a bomb right here. Let’s say that your ex was unfaithful. Maybe once – in a long term relationship with another person, or maybe frequently – with multiple partners. Regardless, you’re angry about it… right?

If you’re a woman, I’d be willing to bet you’ve looked at this other person. You’ve analyzed her. You’ve measured up every inch of yourself to her. It’s highly likely that you have access to photos of her in your pocket. Either on your phone or through social media. You look at her and think she has something you don’t. Your flesh needs an answer, why??? Satan gladly answers that question for you – She’s prettier. Her boobs are bigger. Her hair is blonde and yours isn’t. She has it all together. She’s more fun. She’s younger. She’s older. She’s taller or shorter. She’s skinnier. There. Has. To. Be. Something.

But when we allow those lies to come into question in our minds, we empower them. WE GIVE our adversary power over us! Not because our spouse lied to us. Not because this person betrayed us. But simply by believing a lie that the enemy has presented in our thoughts about us. This lie isn’t about them, it isn’t from them. But is much more powerful than any lie another person could tell. In the course of believing these little lies, we now align ourselves with them… we change on the inside. We look in the mirror and we see less than. We feel hurt and anger. And then the enemy strikes again – he convinces us to look again. To analyze a different area. We open our phone we look at the picture again – and instead it making us feel better like the enemy deceived us into believing, we now see something else. We hear another lie. We believe it. We empower it.

The most powerful lies in our divorce are not those we’ve been told by our ex. They are the ones that the enemy tells us about ourselves. These lies start a chain reaction of events that is hard to get a grip on.

Betrayal > Unforgiveness > Bitterness > Anger > The enemy sneaks in > Lies from the enemy > Fear sets in > We believe the lies >  More anger > more lies from the enemy > more fear > repeat cycle!

Forgiving the unforgivable…

What kind of wrongs are unforgivable? Any kind of wrong that you are still considerably affected by is UNFORGIVABLE TO YOU. And of course, there are those wrongs that we want to forgive but can’t seem to shake. And the kind that we have to forgive daily, because just when we forgive one wrong – there is another offense. So I’m gonna share an experience my husband and I have been through and are still walking through. An experience that has and can STILL bring us down if we don’t keep our thoughts captive and our circumstances in perspective.

My husband and I have been married for six and a half years. This is a second marriage for both of us. He came into our marriage with three children from his previous wife. I came into it with one child from my previous marriage. That makes four kids total and we now have twin two-year-olds together. So a grand total of six kids. That’s quite a mouthful to spit-out. But there’s also a whole lot of room in there for the enemy to rear his ugly head. And Satan has done just that. We married in 2012 and it didn’t take long for the enemy to pounce.

Here’s how the attack manifested –

In 2013, my husbands ex-wife launched some pretty nasty allegations against him. Abuse that was alleged to have taken place in our home. Allegations that greatly inhibited his relationship with all three of his children. This set in motion an overwhelming investigation. Our local police, DHR from our home county, and DHR from the county that his children resided in, our District Attorney, and the District Attorney from their county – ALL INVESTIGATED. No charges were ever filed. The case was presented to the Grand Jury where it was “no billed”. The DHR investigation from both entities found the allegations to be “unfounded”. To narrow down what my husband and I already knew to be true – no abuse took place.

Unfortunately – this investigation took almost two years to complete. That means for two years – we had no visitation with his children. In that time – they relocated over two hours away with their Mom and her new husband. It took us an additional two years and a private investigator to pinpoint there whereabouts to attempt to rebuild what was broken. Were they false allegations??? Yes, but I think they were made with good intentions for an ulterior motive. I don’t think the allegations were made specifically to hurt us as much as to protect her own relationship and role in the life of her children. Now, y’all are gonna think I’m crazy here but I’m not mad at her for it. Did it turn our world upside down? Yep. Did it shake us?? Just for a few minutes – it did! It completely robbed the hope we had for the future of our family together.  But those allegations did not succeed in taking our future away, it just made it look different than what we had planned.

Why would she make those allegations if they weren’t true? UNFORGIVENESS, FEAR, AND LIES. I don’t pretend to know her heart. But through years of hard and honest talks with God – He has enabled me to see her in the way He sees her. A beautiful but wounded Mom – just like me. I can truly say my heart hurts to think anyone else has to walk the broken road of divorce or has to experience any of the fears associated with a broken family dynamic.

Here’s how the enemy played his part –

UNFORGIVENESS, FEAR, AND LIES. Until you put your kids in the car with another woman that will be “playing” the role of Mom for them for the weekend while they are at there Dad’s, you don’t understand the fears and anxiety that come over your Momma heart. Same goes for the men, until you’ve shared your role as the Father of your children – you don’t understand the thoughts and worries that are provoked. I’ve done it – God just happened to help me overcome those feelings before they overcame me. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever think them, it means I constantly replace them with scripture.

There is no way for me to ever really know what was taking place in her mind and heart during this time but I truly believe she experienced some of the exact same fears, anxieties, and lies from the enemy that I did. The enemy will fill your head with thought’s like:

“Why do they think their step-mom is so awesome?”

“If I do break the relationship down with the other parent, then I can have them all to myself.”

“Is there step-mom fun than me?”

“What if they like her better than me?”

“She has so much to offer that I don’t have…”

“She’s enough for my ex-husband and their Father, and I wasn’t – will my kids think she’s better?”

“Why is she fixing my kids hair? Why doesn’t she worry about her own kids?”

“Why is she getting in my Mommy space?”

I could literally type out a list of real thoughts that have crossed my mind and it would be a hundred pages long. But the point is that these are lies that the enemy plants in our mind. And they set in motion a chain of events that can take us so far from reality that we find ourselves believing COMPLETELY IRRATIONAL LIES. See, when we combine these little lies with our role of parenthood it stabs us down to our very core. We come up fighting –  and it is straight “fight or flight” mode! There is nothing we won’t do to fight for our children. This is a good thing… when it’s based on truths. God fights for us, His children, in this same way. He will part seas and even let us wander aimlessly for forty-years just to get to our hearts. But “fight or flight” based on untruth’s is dangerous territory.

I honestly feel like these doubts and fears and anxiety of the unknown, along with sharing the kids, was a driving force behind these crazy allegations. So, believe it or not, I’m not mad at her. My battle isn’t with her, its with the enemy who lied to her. I believe she did what she thought she needed to do to protect her relationship with children and her role as their Mother. I believe she truly hated my husband at that point.  I believe she still had some unforgiveness towards him and she allowed that bitterness to justify her actions in her heart. I wasn’t around before or during their divorce but I’m 100% positive that they both did and said things in anger. They both walked away with bitterness towards one another – I saw that unfold in a courtroom in 2013. My heart actually hurts for her. It hurts because I know that fear. I’ve believed that lie before. I’ve given it power over me and it has beaten me every time I believed it. Certainly, she is responsible for her own actions. But I must admit, she’s a good Mom. She loves her kids and they love her. So often we lash out at the person who is hurting us instead of the enemy who is fueling it. She is NOT a crazy-evil lady – haha! But her actions are based on crazy-evil lies from the enemy.

The root of the problem is built on fear. Fear that was allowed inside through a little door we left open called Unforgiveness. What’s the most common way we fight fear??? Control. When we are fearful, we exert our control in any way we can. So when the enemy plants a little lie in our thoughts and we believe that lie – we empower it. The second we allow a lie to take root in our hearts – it has an immense amount of power over us.  We do crazy things over something that isn’t even truth. We are now controlling the environment around us to keep the lie that Satan planted from coming into fruition. But it was lie – so it was never going to come into fruition anyway…

Again, when we believe lies – we empower them!

When we empower lies we start a never-ending cycle of trying to stay on top of the what-if’s. So here is a better visual of how this cycle looks:

Betrayal > Unforgiveness > Bitterness > Anger > The enemy sneaks in > Lies from the enemy > Fear sets in > Fight or flight >  More anger > more lies from the enemy > more fear > more frantic fight or flight > repeat cycle!

It’s a cycle we can’t quite seem to get out of. But in order to keep from adding to that cycle, we truly need to forgive those who are acting on the lies. We need to see things for what they are. We need to see people the way God sees them. But do you know what keeps us from forgiving?

Fear keeps us from forgiving…

Most fears are based on lies that have been strategically given to us with one purpose in mind. That purpose is to thwart us from the path and life that we experience when we live in relationship with God and His truth.

How do we stop UNFORGIVENESS, FEAR, AND LIES?

The first step is to come into relationship with Christ! The second step is to replace those lies with truth’s. As cliche as it sounds, we have to take EVERY thought captive. One of the girls in my small group pointed out last week that so often we hear the first part of that verse – take every thought captive, but we don’t read the rest of it. So here it is for you…

2 Corinthians 10:5 New International Version (NIV)

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Taking our thoughts captive means making them obedient to Christ. To do this, we must align EVERY thought that sets itself up in our minds with the word of God. Whatever that thought may be, whether about ourselves or someone else – we must align it with God’s Word. If it doesn’t line up with what God says is true, then we need to replace it with a scripture and make it obedient.

Aside from coming into relationship with Christ, one of the biggest things we can do is forgive. Forgive those who betrayed us. Forgive even when we don’t want to. Forgive and choose to see our offenders the way Christ sees them. As much as we hate our ex, the side chick, the ex-mother-in-law, or the other ex… Jesus loves them. He loves them as much as he loves us! We need to remember to see their actions for what they are, your battle isn’t with the side chick and mine isn’t with my husband’s ex – wife. It’s bigger than that. It’s deeper than that. Truth be told, that offender is broken and wounded. They are hurting too.

Forgiveness isn’t always a one-time deal. It’s not something we just say and it happens. It’s a work of God in our hearts that takes place over time. I truly do not believe we possess the ability in our flesh to forgive without the help of Christ. Some offenses are harder to forgive than others. Some days I don’t feel like I’ve forgiven things as much as other days. Some times its hard because we forgive and before we can heal there is another offense and then another. Forgiveness is a journey we live out everyday. Everyday we have to make the choice to walk with God in forgiveness for those who have hurt us. EVERYDAY I pray to stay open-hearted towards my husbands ex-wife. I ask God to help me to continue to choose to see good in her and continue to allow me to see her the way He does.

Breaking the power of Unforgiveness, fear, and lies doesn’t start with our offenders, it starts with us! When we look in the mirror we should see how valuable God says we are…

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1 Peter 3:4 New International Version (NIV)

Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.