divorcehope

My divorce story…picking up the pieces, making sense of the mess, single parenting, and other encouragement along the way!

The Separation September 3, 2013

Filed under: Divorce,Encouragement — justmejesusandsippycups @ 8:59 pm

Continuing with my story…..see my previous post “Ships in the Night” to catch up!

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For me the separation brought great peace. I was in a safe place, living with a family I had always admired, surrounded by a supportive community of Believers, involved at church, getting time with God in an emotionally peaceful environment, and as a result, I was experiencing lots of clarity where there had been confusion. The ministry I was working with was celebrating a huge milestone anniversary, and I was a part of all the event planning as well as traveling some for work, so life was busy.

Peace is really the best way for me to describe this time looking back. Sure, there was grief for the choices my husband was making and for our marriage, but I no longer had to see it and face the pain of rejection on a daily basis. It was really out of my hands at that point. I was standing and fighting for my marriage the way God created marriage to be and the choice was his whether he wanted to make changes and remain married or not. He had broken the marriage covenant, and the relationship was over unless he was willing to make an effort.

For him, the first couple of months of the separation were basically a free-for-all. He was finally free to live the life that he had been so drawn to. He was out drinking and partying almost every night. I’m not sure I’ll ever know the extent of all that happened during that time.

He had agreed to start counseling, so we would see each other weekly during that time. It gave me an opportunity to be honest about how hurt I was and about how I was truly done if he was not willing to renew his commitment to me and to God. He was completely shocked to hear and see where my heart was in these sessions. He had been ignoring my cries, or was simply unable to hear them.

One evening after counseling, we stood in the parking lot and had a conversation about where things had gotten and where they were going from there. He told me he wanted me to accept him for who he was and where he was at. That he would never want to live the kind of life I wanted to live (although we seemed to be headed in the same direction when we got married). I had ignored the nonverbal cues (which I’ll get into later). He made excuses for his extra-marital relationships and justified them by blaming me for setting a standard that was too high. When I told him this was not the life I wanted to live either, he asked if we could civilly divide our belongings, let him keep the house, and remain friends. I told him that after some time, we may be able to build a friendship, but I could not make any promises. It was just so strange to me how far apart we really were.

This is another thing that has been hard for me to reconcile. He used to say that I was his best friend, but I never felt that he was my best friend or really a friend at all. Maybe it’s because I WAS a good friend to him. With the help of the Holy Spirit within me, I truly loved him with a selfless, Biblical love. And while, I was nowhere near perfect, I truly fought for him and our marriage. I sought to know him and value the things he valued. I was patient, kind, forgiving, and long suffering. Yet I never felt like he did that for me. I never felt like he really knew me or even cared to. I always felt like his friends (both men and women) had a deeper friendship, confidence, and connection with him than I had. He told me he loved me when we got married, he worked hard to provide, and every now and then he would throw me a bone by taking me to dinner or to do something together, but it always felt begrudging…like he was just “putting in his time”.

After two months of being separated, and shortly after this conversation, he had a “rock bottom” experience and ended at the ER with alcohol poisoning, unsure of how he even got there. He woke up alone and scared. He began to realize this really wasn’t the lifestyle he wanted and that he did want to be married. He decided he was ready to make some changes.

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I don’t remember the details exactly, but I do believe he thought all he would have to do was pick up the phone and ask me to come home and I would. Thankfully I had a good support system to help me navigate the next couple of months.

With the help of the couple I was staying with, I outlined some steps that would need to happen before I would consider moving back in…mainly for my own safety and emotional well-being. He had been such a pro at lip service and I knew I couldn’t fall for that again. I asked that he remain in counseling, meet with some guys from church for accountability, show up at church and get involved, change his phone number to cut off some of the unhealthy relationships he had formed, and quit frequenting the bar that had been his home away from home. At first he bucked at my requests feeling like they were unreasonable, but eventually complied.

During this time, he would call my mom on a nightly basis and complain about how hard I was making things. She would encourage him (often for hours at a time), and try to help him to understand where I was coming from.

He was persistent in wanting to argue with the process and hurry it along. Why is hindsight, particularly with red flags, so much more clear? Anyway, I was ambivalent about moving back in so quickly, but felt like since he was my husband, and I really did love him, and since he wanted a second chance…I owed it to him.

The other piece to the timing of us getting back together was that the couple I was staying with was expecting their second child in July. So…while the spiritual counselors in my life felt like the reconciliation process needed more time and he needed more time to grow and settle, I had two options – find somewhere else to stay or move back in.

So….in June 2008 after being separated for four months, I moved back into to our home.

Things went very well at first. He was enthusiastic and present, willing to actually work at the relationship for the first time in our marriage. Shortly after I moved back in, against my better judgment, our marriage counselor basically said that things were good now and that we no longer needed regular counseling.  I was absolutely terrified to stop counseling as it was the only place I felt safe to share my true feelings and know that I would be heard. I was not ready to stop counseling and I did not find out until recently that we should have had the option to continue.

I realize this is my side of the story, but the purpose of this blog is for me to work through the details, the grief, and the regrets unto healing, hope, and the ability to love and help others! I know that God completes what He begins, and while He certainly does not will for us to walk through horribly painful times, He goes with us and is always at work behind the scenes on our behalf.

Romans 8:26-28:

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we out to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And WE KNOW that ALL THINGS work together for GOOD to those who love God, to those who have been called according to His purpose.”

While I may not understand the things I have walked through, and my life may not make sense to me at this point, it all makes PERFECT SENSE to GOD because my life is a small piece of a much greater picture. And through it all, He is preparing each of us for something great. When we belong to Him, there is nothing we can do to thwart His plan…NOTHING.

Music has gotten me through some painful and lonely spots over the past couple of years. I loved the lyrics to the following song, “Nothing is Wasted” by Jason Grey. It’s so true that God never wastes our pain. He is a Redeemer….and He wants us to be a part of His love story….He loves us so much He sent his only Son to die for us.

Jesus came to save us, adopt us into His Kingdom, give us a new name, and a royal destiny and inheritance….and then He allows us to partner with Him to overcome evil and reach a lost and dying world. Just like Jesus came to Earth and lived as a man to relate to our humanity, so can our pain and life experiences give us a perspective and ability to reach those who are lost and hurting. He can be trusted with every detail of our lives.

“Nothing Is Wasted”

The hurt that broke your heart
And left you trembling in the dark
Feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie
But what if every tear you cry
Will seed the ground where joy will grow

And nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

It’s from the deepest wounds
That beauty finds a place to bloom
And you will see before the end
That every broken piece is
Gathered in the heart of Jesus
And what’s lost will be found again

Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

From the ruins
From the ashes
Beauty will rise
From the wreckage
From the darkness
Glory will shine
Nothing is wasted

In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

Glory will shine

 

From Lonliness to Hope August 28, 2013

Filed under: Divorce,Encouragement,Uncategorized — justmejesusandsippycups @ 8:48 pm

Hope = joyful anticipation of good. Pastor Bill Johnson said that when we are in Christ, any area of our lives that we are not experiencing joyful anticipation of good is under the influence of a lie.

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I’ve really been leaning into the Lord in my loneliness in this season. My job is a little mundane…so that leaves me with plenty of time alone, away from my kids, to think. This can be a bit maddening if I allow it, but it can also be a great opportunity when applied properly and intentionally!

I have been asking the Lord about the timing of looking for another job where I can be challenged and used more to the level of my capacity/ability, but the response I get is that I am right where I am supposed to be for this season. I am grateful for the stability, provision, and flexibility with my current job, and on the slower days, for the opportunity to take every thought captive, to choose to have the mind of Christ, and to love the Lord with all my mind!

My goal in this season of singleness is to reach deep within and work out as much of the brokenness from my past as possible. I am peeling back layer after layer of lies that I have allowed to become strongholds. I am also seeking to truly depend on the Lord for EVERYTHING – to look to him as my Husband, Father and Father to my children, Provider, Friend, Comforter, Counselor, and Guide. He is my portion, and He is always MORE THAN ENOUGH. The question is….will I allow Him to fill me or will I look to other things which will NEVER be enough?

I do not think it is a coincidence that He is using this season to realign my thoughts and to make me fully dependent on Him before allowing me to move into a new season. I hope to be married again and that God will provide an earthly father for my son, but I want it to be right and in His perfect timing. I want to be completely healed and whole before moving into a new relationship so that  I can offer the best me possible!

We can tend to blame other people or outside circumstances on having to wait for things we desire, but more often, God is waiting for us to change our perspectives, to let go, or to simply surrender and let Him completely fill us despite our circumstances. My mom believed for years for my dad to get saved and give up alcohol…she anguished, waited, and fought. However, it wasn’t until she fully gave it over to God and allowed herself to be fulfilled and completely satisfied in Him that my dad finally came to the Lord. She had to learn to depend on Him first as well as start moving into the ministry God had for her before she began to see change around her.

The incredibly wise Ruth Bell Graham said:

“It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ Himself can be: ready to forgive, totally understanding, unendingly patient, invariably tender and loving, unfailing in every area, anticipating every need, and making more than adequate provision. Such expectations put a man under an impossible strain. The same goes for the man who expects too much from his wife.”

And yet, there are those innate desires that we were created with and that cry out from within. In his book Wild at Heart, John Eldredge describes three longings that lie at the heart of every man: a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue, and an adventure to live. He goes on to say that women have three main longings in their hearts as well: to be fought for, to share in an adventure, and to have her beauty unveiled. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I could say it better myself.

And so the challenge becomes, how do these longings get fulfilled? Where’s the balance between fulfillment in God and fulfillment in a man of God? A question I have been wrestling with lately. I know I will never find complete fulfillment in man, but I also believe that we need each other.

I think it comes down to being content while contending. We must choose to let go and trust that God has good things in store for us because that’s His character. His Word is FULL of His promises for His children…promises that are far better than anything we could ask for or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20) So, we rest in Him and trust in Him. We let go of what we can’t control and trust God to do things HIS WAY and in HIS TIMING. We truly rest in Him and become DOERS of the Word. We allow His Word to renew our minds. We spend time with Him and in His presence because He is worthy of it all.

Take a few minutes to read and reflect on His promises in this amazing and comforting passage of Scripture…and this is just one of THOUSANDS. As a woman who has lived through the drama and shame of a scandalous affair and divorce, these promises bring me so much hope and peace. I choose to believe and stand on God’s Word….I will not be defined by my past, but will continue to fight for freedom and righteousness in every area of my life….not only for myself but for my children and the generations to follow.

I wanted to highlight this whole passage it’s so good!!!! Check this out and let’s choose to JUST LET GO and walk in obedience, trust, and rest in Him!

Isaiah 54 –

“Fear not, for you shall not be ashamed; neither be confounded and depressed, for you shall not be put to shame. For you shall forget the shame of your youth, and you shall not [seriously] remember the reproach of your widowhood any more.

For your Maker is your Husband—the Lord of hosts is His name—and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; the God of the whole earth He is called.

For the Lord has called you like a woman forsaken, grieved in spirit, and heartsore—even a wife [wooed and won] in youth, when she is [later] refused and scorned, says your God.

For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion and mercy I will gather you [to Me] again.

In a little burst of wrath I hid My face from you for a moment, but with age-enduring love and kindness I will have compassion and mercy on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer.

For this is like the days of Noah to Me; as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I will not be angry with you or rebuke you.

For though the mountains should depart and the hills be shaken or removed, yet My love and kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace and completeness be removed, says the Lord, Who has compassion on you.

O you afflicted [city], storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in fair colors [in antimony to enhance their brilliance] and lay your foundations with sapphires.

And I will make your windows and pinnacles of [sparkling] agates or rubies, and your gates of [shining] carbuncles, and all your walls [of your enclosures] of precious stones.

And all your [spiritual] children shall be disciples [taught by the Lord and obedient to His will], and great shall be the peace and undisturbed composure of your children.

You shall establish yourself in righteousness (rightness, in conformity with God’s will and order): you shall be far from even the thought of oppression or destruction, for you shall not fear, and from terror, for it shall not come near you.

Behold, they may gather together and stir up strife, but it is not from Me. Whoever stirs up strife against you shall fall and surrender to you.

Behold, I have created the smith who blows on the fire of coals and who produces a weapon for its purpose; and I have created the devastator to destroy.

But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord.”

 

Pressing Through the Pain May 20, 2013

Filed under: Divorce,Encouragement — justmejesusandsippycups @ 9:26 pm

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Early Spring time has become a difficult season for me…for many reasons. On one hand, it resembles new life, new beginnings, hope and joyful expectation. On the other hand, in more recent years, it brings bittersweet memories of lost love and shattered dreams.

 

And so, as we move into late spring, I’ve just walked through a painful few weeks of grieving. The turmoil inside, the longing, the agony, the confusion, the spinning, the frustration, the disappointment….the pain of a broken heart. The pain is overwhelming at times. Can’t catch my breath, anxious knots in my stomach, feel like throwing up. Do you know the feeling? Still so much unresolved conflict (which may be left that way…guess that’s the nature of divorce), so many unanswered questions, feelings of being misunderstood, and the ever finite human perspective – always only knowing and seeing in part. (That’s a blog all by itself!)

 

In the midst of it all, I’ve been crying out for God to make something out of me…..to make something out of the mess I’ve made. Feeling like I’m not where I want to be, but knowing that God is able to make something beautiful out of my broken life. My desperate prayers have been, “Lord, I need You, more of You, all of You. I want to fall more in love with You…deeply in love with You. Burn away everything that is not of You. Purify my heart. I want my life to bring glory to your name.”

 

Just last night, laying in my bed, I felt a breakthrough in the Spirit and in my perspective. God is so good to bring us through every time when we are sincerely seeking Him.

 

lonely

 

So what have I learned? Keep walking. Keep praying. Keep believing. Emotions can be so fickle, but at the same time purposeful. Lean into the pain…don’t run from it. Face it. Deal with it. Go there. Let yourself grieve. Be honest with yourself (and a trusted counselor)…it’s ok. It’s a necessary part of the healing process. And you WILL get to the other side.

 

My goal through this season of my life falling apart is to DEAL WITH every bit of it. To get to know myself well, understand HOW I got here, and know God more intimately than ever….to allow time for the deep healing so that I can truly move forward into the future God has for me healed and whole. Stronger.

 

And what do I know for sure…now more than ever?

 

He is near to the brokenhearted…even through the pain, He has been there…He is ALWAYS there – Psalm 34:18 -The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent.

 

Psalm 40:1-2 – “I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord: and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up out of a horrible pit (a pit of tumult and of destruction), out of the miry clay (froth and slime), and set me feet upon a rock, steadying my steps and establishing my goings. And He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many shall see and fear (revere and worship) and put their trust and confident reliance in the Lord.”

 

“Sorrow may last for the night (or a season), but JOY comes in the morning!” (Psalm 30:5)

 

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW creation; the OLD has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

 

I heard an excellent sermon on Mother’s Day about Hannah. Her story can be found in 1 Samuel 1. Hannah was the favored wife of Elkinah. She was barren. Her adversary (her husband’s other wife), who had children of her own, provoked her. Hannah was grieved, but she fasted and prayed for years. She became desperate even to the point of bitterness of soul, but she continued to cry out to God and was tenacious in prayer. She had faith and eventually she conceived a son. She dedicated her son to the Lord and God blessed her with three more sons and two more daughters.

 

This was so encouraging to me because I feel like I am in a season of barrenness. Some days, I feel anger and bitterness in my soul. But I refuse to give up or settle. I will continue to have faith and be tenacious in prayer for the dreams I believe God has placed in my heart. Although I have walked through more in the last two years than I ever could have imagined, I believe this season has produced in me an unshakeable foundation, as well as a deep level of compassion for humanity. I pray the Lord allows me the privilege of loving on some hurting people in the not too distant future.

 

Romans 5:3-5 – Let us triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance develops maturing of character, and character produces joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.

James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

 

Whatever you may be walking through today, know that God does not waste our pain, and His Word NEVER returns to Him void, but accomplishes what He desires and the purpose for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:11). Continue to look to Him and watch what He will do for you!

 

A Rough Start – The Early Years May 9, 2013

Filed under: Divorce,Encouragement — justmejesusandsippycups @ 8:41 pm

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Philippians 1:6 (Amp) – And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.”

 

It’s hard to put a 10 year marriage (12 year relationship) into just a few paragraphs. I’m asking the Lord to give me the words and to be concise but thorough.

 

Picking up where I left off in my post “Filling the Voids”….

 

We met the fall of our freshman year of college through mutual friends. I was a cheerleader, he was a football player. It was “love at first sight”…probably more like infatuation….life-long compatibility didn’t seem to be a concern, although we seemed to have a lot in common at the time. We certainly weren’t taking into consideration how young and clueless we were and how much you change in your 20’s (Warning!!!)

 

Nor was I considering the reality of what it would mean to be “unequally yoked”. While he wasn’t a Christian before we met, he seemed genuinely interested and open and there seemed to be some spiritual growth occurring. It wasn’t until much later that I realized his interest in this area was more about winning me than anything else. I don’t mean to sound harsh or judgmental….I certainly cannot judge the heart….and I am prayerful that the seeds that have been planted will continue to grow, however the fruit over time has not proven to be that of a true believer or follower of Christ.

 

Engagement came as a shock to me. While I knew our relationship was headed that direction, we had only been dating for six months, and conversations and plans were to get engaged in the fall. The “question” came in April on a beautiful spring day with a picnic on the nationally-ranked golf course that I had grown up at.

 

It was a complete surprise, but with only internal hesitation, I said yes – I couldn’t resist the moment (or the ring) and felt like we were headed in that direction anyway. Just like that, plans began for a hometown wedding the following June (2002). I loved having the opportunity to plan every detail of the wedding with my mom, sister, and friends over the course of our engagement. It was a very special time of feeling loved and supported by the wonderful people in my life. Only my mom and youth pastor had expressed some reservations, but with little regard, planning ensued.

 

Looking back, I’ve felt frustrated that they didn’t say more, try harder to stop it….but the reality is, I don’t think I would have listened.

 

The engagement was long and rocky, called off at one point when he lied about where he was going one night and went to hang out with some of his “girl-friends”. The wedding was back on by the next day when he made me believe I was just being jealous and insecure – although I no longer had any friends of the opposite sex because he wasn’t comfortable with that. There was another incident just a couple of days before the wedding involving a “girl friend”.  I tried to understand, but if it was so innocent, why did it have to be a secret? Such a grey area and didn’t seem worth calling off a wedding at that point.

 

So we were married on a rainy summer day. The Gospel was preached at our ceremony…as well as a celebration of the meaning of the marriage covenant, which was the focus for me. Our reception was at the beautiful country club my family had belonged to my whole life. We honeymooned in Cancun and just a couple short weeks later, we moved five hours east of our families and hometowns to finish college together.

 

Backing up for just a minute….. it had been a life-long dream of mine to attend a Christian school…to have the experience and to be around other people with the same beliefs. I had hoped to make some lifelong friends and really grow in my faith and knowledge of God. Up to this point, I had attended public school – very conservative ones filled with Christians, but public nonetheless. More specifically, it had been a dream of mine to attend Oral Roberts University right out of high school. I had been on a couple of summer mission trips in high school and through those connections, I had met several current students and toured the campus before graduation. At the time, I wanted to cheer and needed to be able to earn some additional scholarship money to afford the cost of private school. Unfortunately, they year I would have been an incoming freshman, they changed the rules and freshmen couldn’t even try out for the cheer squad.  Additionally, the money just wasn’t there for my freshman year, so I ended up attending the community college in my hometown and living at home.

 

As disappointing as that was coming out of high school, I had a wonderful experience. I was able to cheer on the co-ed squad both my freshman and sophomore years for very talented football and basketball programs. I loved it. The business program and general undergrad classes were excellent as well.

 

So it was a big deal for us to choose a school as a couple. He played football and was looking to go on and play for a good program. We were both business majors and I wanted to go on and cheer if possible. It seemed like a miracle when all the pieces came together and we found a Christian school that seemed to have it all. He received a football scholarship, I made the cheer squad along with an academic scholarship, and we were on our way.

 

Those first two years of marriage were tough. I ended up quitting the cheer squad after the first game because it wasn’t at the level I was hoping for, nor was it was working with our schedule. Since he was on football scholarship and that was his “job”. I had to get a job to help us pay the rent. So I was attending classes in the morning and working in the afternoons. Cheer practice was in the evening right when he was getting home from practice, so it just didn’t seem worth it. However, it made connecting and meeting people hard for me since we also lived off campus. He was meeting people and socializing, and I felt removed and disconnected.

 

These two years ended up being so disappointing and disillusioning for me for several reasons. The above mentioned plus the fact that I knew in my spirit that something wasn’t right with my husband and our relationship, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It caused many ugly fights and being told I was crazy, insecure, distrusting and making things up. It wasn’t until several years later that I found out he was unfaithful that first year.

 

I was also so disappointed with my Christian college experience and really missing out on a true college experience overall.  Frustrated, disappointed, confused, feeling left out and disillusioned are all words I would use to describe those two years. But through it all….I managed to survive, stay married and hopeful, and graduate college with honors. Upon graduation , through a friendship and connection my husband had formed, we decided to move to Nashville. We both had business degrees and through this friendship, my husband had decided he wanted to pursue healthcare administration and Nashville was the capital for this field. I wanted to pursue my dream of working for a ministry, but could do that anywhere….so we packed up and moved to Nashville.

 

Stay tuned for part 3! Thanks for bearing with me. Through all the pain and questions, I am confident of this: “He who began a good work in me will continue until the day of Jesus Christ, developing that good work and perfecting and bringing it to full completion” and He’ll complete the work He began in you too!! While we may never understand the pain we walk through in this life….be it a failed relationship, illness, death, infertility, and so on, I know that God promises in His word never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5 and Deuteronomy 31:6). He’s there through it all as close as we allow Him to be, and on top of that, He promises us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). We cannot go wrong by seeking Him and choosing to live according to His Word.

 

Don’t Doubt or You’ll be Tossed About! April 9, 2013

Filed under: Divorce,Encouragement — justmejesusandsippycups @ 1:33 pm

ocean

James 1:2-8

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

Ouch….again. I’ve been convicted this weekend about my attitude and being frustrated with the parts of my story that I don’t understand. I’ve doubted the way things have played out over the past year and a half, and I’ve even said “I hate” the way certain things have gone.

Oh God, please forgive me for doubting You and being unstable….and for being so easily tossed about by the wind of the opinions of others and my circumstances….

This could speak to so many areas, but in this entry, I am referring to something very specific that I have been wrestling with. You see, there is a piece of my story that required legal action. While it was necessary at the time, and I waited until the 11th hour when I literally had no other choice, it is still not the way I would have chosen, and it leaves me feeling grieved, misunderstood, and frankly alone.

As I look back on the details of how things played out, the truth is that after I genuinely repented of my sin and my part, I gave it all to God and prayed for His covering and guidance every step of the way. While the effects of sin are always death and destruction and the consequences are real, I also believe there is always a bigger picture and a redemptive plan in the making with God. He sees the end from the beginning and is always at work behind the scenes. His perspective is limitless and ours is so finite….and most often self-centered.

By doubting His sovereignty….I have basically said by my words and actions that the way He chose to work things out…was WRONG. In my searching and wrestling, I’ve acted as if I know better than God and as if I don’t trust Him.

The results of the legal action brought some financial provision for me that I literally could not have survived without…as my 10-year marriage and family were falling apart, I was abandoned and left with nothing but a two-year old and a newborn to care for.

I’ve had to completely start from scratch, but I know that God has and will continue to provide as He has promised in His Word. (Philippians 4:19 – And my God will supply ALL your needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus.)

So…it looks like we’re back to trusting God in and for the crooked places. And having FAITH in Him when we can’t see or don’t understand…since that’s the very definition of faith. (Now faith is the very substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen – Hebrews 11:1).

We must choose to forgive those who pass judgment on what they don’t understand….because if we don’t, we will end up bitter, resentful, and angry. And I really don’t want that. I want more faith to trust God for what I don’t understand….and to trust Him when things don’t make sense or when they don’t go according to MY plan or what I think is best.

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young is probably the best devotional I’ve come across. The entries are short yet powerful and always timely no matter how many times I read them. NOT coincidentally, today’s devotion goes along with what I have shared, so I will close with it!

April 8 – I Am With You and For You

“I am with you and for you, your constant Companion and Provider. The question is whether you are with Me and for Me. Though I never leave you, you can essentially “leave” Me by acting as if I am not with you. When you feel distance in our relationship, you know where the problem lies. My Love for you is constant; I am the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is you who change like shifting sand, letting circumstances toss you this way and that.

When you feel far from Me, whisper My Name. This simple act, done in childlike faith, opens your heart to My Presence. Speak to Me in love-tones; prepare to receive My Love, which flows eternally from the cross. I am delighted when you open yourself to My loving Presence.

Genesis 28:15 – “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Romans 8:31 – If God is for us, who can be against us?

Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

 

Filling the Voids March 15, 2013

Filed under: Divorce,Encouragement — justmejesusandsippycups @ 3:27 pm

void5

In my brokenness and selfishness, in my desperation and gasping for a breath of air, droplets of water, crumbs to feed my love-started soul, I betrayed a friend….a sister…someone I deeply loved, respected, admired, and envied.  I betrayed myself, my family, my faith, and I tested everything I believed to be truth.

I became a master of self-deception…..someone I never imagined I could become, especially as a born again follower of Jesus.  I failed to draw on the fountain of Living Water for life and love – I failed to go to the only One who could really meet my needs and satisfy my soul and instead, I fell for the lie (once again) that I could get my needs met apart from relationship with the Living God.

I got tired of waiting, of hurting, and of fighting for the kind of marriage and family I wanted. I took my eyes off of Jesus and began looking around, comparing myself to those around me (bad idea!).

Over time, I became so self-deceived (living a religious life, doing the works and going through the motions) that without even realizing it, I turned my back on my first Love – the Lover and Creator of my soul….the only Answer to my pain and brokenness.  I believed the lies of the enemy that I was doomed….destined for a lifetime to a hopeless unequally yoked marriage. I believed that I would never truly be seen, understood or loved for who I really was. I believed the lie that my dreams of partnership and ministry in marriage were just a fairy tale. I was desperate to experience real love, but I became so desperate and frustrated with my circumstances, that I lost faith and hope for a moment.

Its Christianity 101 really…  We were all created by God for the purpose of living in constant communion, dependence, and relationship with Him (John 15) — abundant, fulfilling, exciting, loving relationship – out of which all of our other relationships should flow.

We were all created with a God spot in our souls that only He is meant and able to fill.  When we look to Him to meet our needs (physical, material and emotional), and when we find our security and purpose in Him, we are free to have healthy relationships with others.

When sin entered the world, however, everything got confused and muddy.  We were ashamed and began hiding from God (Genesis 3) rather than going to Him openly for everything, and we began looking to all kinds of other things to fill that void created by sin and separation from God.  For me, it was approval and acceptance.

You see, I was raised in an alcoholic home (more to come). By nature, I am driven, determined, passionate, funny, fun-loving, perfectionistic, loyal, discerning, caring, and committed.  Firstborn, beloved and wanted daughter, it wasn’t until I was 17 that I realized the brokenness in my own family.  Eldest sister to three younger siblings, it was in my latter high school years that I realized my father was a functional alcoholic.  Hard-working, faithful and committed husband and father, he was also addicted…present physically, but not emotionally, and for me, it left huge voids.

I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was five years old and then made a more mature commitment in junior high to really give my life to the Lord and walk in His ways. In high school, I was serious about my relationship with God and passionate about ministry. I was a leader in my youth group as well as a couple of Christian clubs at school. I went on summer mission trips and was on a ministry team that traveled and did special ministry in churches as well as street evangelism.

While my faith in God kept me pure and from the temptation to party, etc., I still dated and had a tendency to look for fulfillment in relationships. I had a deep desire to be married at a young age – to be free to create my own life and home – one that would be different…

Before I knew it, I found myself 19 years old, freshman in college, cheerleader, living at home – and getting swept off my feet by a boy….a young determined boy that fell for my looks, passion, and naivety.  He was a hunky football player, who wouldn’t take no for an answer.  He said the right things and did the right things to make me believe he was worth the risk.  So, despite the red flags, we got engaged within a few months and were married the following summer.

More detail to come, but the years that followed were filled with loneliness, pain, turmoil, betrayal, and agonizing frustration.

Unless you have experienced it for yourself, I’m not sure I can describe the depth of anguish and frustration I felt to be ONE with someone who did not share the same passion for our Creator. Someone who did not know how to love a wife as Jesus loved the church….someone who did not choose forgiveness and mutual submission, but instead was emotionally neglectful and often emotionally abusive.  Someone who regularly shamed me and held a double standard.  I am definitely guilty of allowing it, but regardless, it caused great damage to my soul.

He was also unfaithful over and over again….to varying degrees, but unfaithful nonetheless. The first time was just a little over a year into our marriage.

Stay tuned for Part 2!  But for now, I’ll leave you with this….whatever you are facing today, whatever voids you are trying to fill – as excruciatingly painful as they may be and as unbearable as they may seem, God is BIGGER and God is ABLE.  It may not happen overnight, but when you call out to Him, truly surrender your will to Him, and ask Him to fill your voids and meet your needs, He will.

Trust Him.  He is the only One who will never leave you and never fail you.  His way is BETTER…believe me!!

 

What if I Fall? March 7, 2013

Filed under: Divorce,Encouragement,Parenting,Uncategorized — justmejesusandsippycups @ 5:39 pm

Psalm 37:23-24 (AMP)

 

The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step. Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him.

 

I heard a great sermon recently on dreams. It was so inspiring, practical, encouraging, anointed and worth sharing! God wants to breathe life to the dreams inside of us that we have let die.

 

This is something I am believing for this year, 2013!  My dreams are coming back to LIFE!  Basically, for our dreams to become a reality and for God to direct our steps, we have to be moving. We cannot expect God to guide us when we are standing still, not doing anything, not willing to step out, step forward, or just take a step!

 

Sometimes, at least for me in my hard-headed perfectionist nature, I am afraid to move because I am afraid to fail, afraid to take the wrong step, go the wrong direction, make the wrong move, say the wrong thing, whatever! Fear can be paralyzing…and if we allow it, fear will keep us from achieving our dreams because God cannot direct what is not moving.

 

My son, Finn, just started walking this past week. It is so precious to see him take his first steps and become more and more confident as he learns to walk. However, if he was afraid of falling, he would never learn to walk, never run, never jump, and so on. He had to be willing to take those first steps and risk falling down. And guess what, he did fall, he has fallen many times, and he will continue to fall.

 

As his mother, have I viewed these falls as failures? Have I given up on him, turned my back on him, and deemed him a failure? Of course not!!! I certainly don’t want him to fall as I know it may cause him pain and maybe some discouragement, but these falls actually make me love him MORE.  These falls are a part of the process, they make him stronger, and they make me more proud every time he gets back up, shakes it off, and tries again.

 

I believe this is the same way the Lord views us.  We are His dearly loved children. He is cheering us on as we learn to walk in Him and as we mature in Him. We will stumble and fall from time to time…..but He wants us to get back up with a childlike faith and determination and keep walking toward Him and we will grow stronger and stronger!

 

When Finn makes me his goal and takes steps toward me only to fall into my arms, I am overwhelmed with love, joy, and prideJ  So friends, let’s choose to keep moving today, toward JESUS. Let’s keep taking steps toward our dreams, trusting that as we are willing to move, He will guide us and be there to help us up even if we stumble and fall.

 

I did a dance to this song when I was in high school.  Little did I know then how true it would be for my life.