Saturday, December 31, 2011

I'm Ready

It's a new year! A new opportunity is upon us. Possibly, if you read my blog, you are either a divorcee, or have been through some other traumatic experience that left you in a space and time where you needed to start from the beginning, again. Maybe, you needed to look at your life as a blank page and see some possibility there, then figure out how to make something with what you had after the storm. I have been there, and am still in the middle of the message. I am still working out my miracle!

That is what every day of my life is about - trusting God to make a miracle out of every one of my tests which have become testimonies and my trials which have becomes triumphs. He will do that for me, and for you because He has never respected people, caring for one of us more than another. But He requires something from us - we have to do the work with faith.

So, you don't need any resolutions today. What you need is a made up mind and a modicum of faith that God will take care of you. You need to be sure within yourself that there is something worth developing in you that must come to fruition; that God will not stop manifesting the evidence of those things not seen but surely hoped for; until the day of their completion.

There are so many ways for us to be ready. This year, I am going to concentrate on helping to get us ready. I am going to focus on introducing us to all of the concepts and elements that are helping me rebuild my life. That will include some writing, some video broadcasts, and even some fun giveaways.

We have an exciting year ahead of us! I am ready to embrace it and all it has to offer. Hey 2012 - I'm Ready!


Friday, December 16, 2011

And this just in...

The non permanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of summer and winter seasons.
                                                        Bhagavad Gita
 
Recovering from any traumatic circumstance can be a daunting process. Whether it be illness, divorce, death or even financial ruin, there is surely going to be an assault on your mind and your Spirit if you dare to mend and live again. It is part of our destiny that arrows will come by day and by night - if we dare to stand.

In this past year, there have been tests and testimonies, trials and triumphs, the nature of which I never imagined, in my life. Me: always independent, worker, studier, faithful to a fault; caregiver, provider, fixer of things in general wherever they seem amiss - sidelined by a somewhat mysterious illness with no real known origin and no definitive cure. One of those hidden diseases that allows me to look normal everyday (okay, NEARLY every day) even while uncontrollable symptoms rage through my nervous system producing incapacitating pain.
 
There really are some things that are beyond my control. Who knew? At some point, my very own body has turned traitor and revolted. Fibromyalgia will do that. This disease has rendered me unable to work, and sometimes not able to pay a bill that before was a routine task. Some days, I have even doubted myself whether all this is real - how could a perfectly healthy woman go through two years of illness and come out in this condition? God knows this was not my plan for my life.

I find strength in the fact that this too shall pass. Tomorrow promises not to be the same as today. 3 months from now will certainly not present the same circumstance or pomp as this present moment. We have the promise that right now God is working out something in us that will be for our good and for the good of others.

I've had to learn to accept the goodwill of others, while also knowing the difference between goodwill and burden. No matter how much people want to help you, you can only be a receiver for so long before it becomes a burden. I have embraced the knowledge that I can give of myself in so many other ways than I previously knew. I've mustered up a seed of faith and watched it snowball into a garden of fortitude. The hope that makes me not ashamed and keeps me pushing forward is that I have this treasure in my earthly body that must be revealed.

I may have to defy my doctors to get back to work, because a man that doesn't work doesn't eat. Yep, I know that word really pertained to men in the gospel story, but in our society it pertains to everybody. In the mean time, I am building my health, my character, my Spirit - all to fulfill the promise that is within me.

I have a lot planned for 2012, including a methodical plan for success.  
How things look on the outside of us depends on how things are on the inside of us.
                                         Confucius




 


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When I review children's books, I look for a couple of elements that make them acceptable for my children. If they can pass muster in my family, then they are good to recommend. It's kinda the Litmus test for Readable Books for the Towns family.


How amazing is it when the issue of a child's heart is gratitude? Anthony DeStefano's This Little Prayer of Mine not only entertains our children, it teaches them how to pray and expresses gratitude to God, among other things.


A book has to have a purpose to make it past round one in our house. This Little Prayer of Mine finds purpose in teaching all children that prayer can be simple, is accessible to them, and is an international method of communicating with God. This little book is packed with purpose.

Next, the book should pronounce it's main message simply and make it easily understood. DeStefano more than meets this requirement by providing a rhythmic cadence and words that my 8 year old finds familiar yet new again in this setting. He gets the simple message: prayer is talking to God.

Finally, the book has to have excellent illustrations. Little Prayer of Mine offers detailed illustration of children from all nationalities with primary and bold colors that cause the reader to linger on each page. Bothy my son and I spent time just looking at the pictures and talking about them.

Little Prayer of Mine passed our litmus test with flying colors. We have read and re-read many times already. This is a book that will find a permanent place in our library, and in our hearts.

Find out more about the author on his website: Spirituality Made Simple.

Note: This book was provided for me by Waterbrook Multnomah for review purposes. The thoughts and ideas expressed here belong completely to me.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Diamond Candles Company Giveaway Opportunity

Have you experienced a soy candle with amazing aroma that inspires and makes your holidays go smooth and relaxed? Have you seen anything like waiting with anticipation what's going to be peaking out of the hot soy liquid while the candle is still burning? If not, then Diamond Candles Company would like to invite you to Review and Giveaway their Precious soy candles. Why "precious" you'll ask?

Well, each candle harbors a ring valued anywhere from $10-$100-$500-$5000 each. It's anticipation that really gets you going! What kind of a ring am I going to unveil from the glittery pouch hidden inside the soy wax?

The Criteria for Your Participation can be found at Celebrate Women Today. Hurry over and find out more!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Consider, Review and Revise: Vision Casting

Once I decided that I would be healed from the wounds of broken vows and this broken relationship, I knew I had to have a plan for recovery. There is no way to sustain healing without a plan to live healed. I had to consider the best ways to help myself and my children through divorce and create an atmosphere of wholeness and healing for them. That included having a working relationship with their father. That took planning.

While I was on the path to divorce recovery, I got sick. Not just flu or pneumonia - disablingly ill. For nearly two years I battled illness in addition to awesome nature of this huge life change, going from having a husband and a full nuclear family to being a divorced woman with children.  I had actively engage as a  focused advocate for my family AND advocate for myself in a sea of doctors, specialists and human resource people for my health and our financial livelihood.  It took a plan.

Annually reviewing the outcome of my choices, I question whether I've lived up to the standard I set and if my life is in a desirable condition. Am I living how I want? Did I achieve anything? Was I a good parent, sister, daughter, friend, servant of the Lord? Did I do all that I could to represent Christ on this earth? Was my stewardship equal to the mandate of my Christian life (did I spend my money, time and gift accountably?) Did I do anything to bring something good into the world? What do I need to do going forward?

At this very moment you are sowing seeds that will bear fruit in the next season of your life. You reap what you sow. In order to influence what your gonna reap, you have to be cognizant; aware of what you've planted and plan to plant better or differently. I call this process Vision Casting.

"Choice, not chance creates our destiny."
Bishop C. Garnett Henning

Consider springs preparation for summer - what an easy correlation. We all know the idiom that April showers bring May flowers; or that Spring comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. These both suggest that a certain condition (rain, wind, temperature) affect another condition (vegetation, temperature, bounty).  There is a connected process; real evidence that its a cause and effect thing. What nature does in the spring affects the conditions of the summer.

For my personal vision casting, I block out uninterrupted time to give it my full attention. Get a room in a nice hotel, put out the do not disturb sign and try NOT fall asleep, but focus on the task at hand. (Yes, I have so gotten a room for the weekend with this intention and spent most of that time sleeping. Hmm...being a woman is hard in an ADD world!) Get some comfy lounge wear, pencil and paper, nice comforting music and energy food, and go for it - dig into it. Start with a free flow of writing about the year in review.

You could Vision Cast without reviewing, but I believe the results are just better if you know who you are. To know that is to bear in mind from whence you came. Talking or writing about the successes and failures of this past year gives a tangible, concrete picture and positions us for new growth.

Intrinsically, I know the value of looking at the past before making a new plan. One of the most credible reasons for review is supported by the very existence of the Bible - a look at the past of our Christian faith to show us how to live in the right now.



We live in a world of situational attention deficiency - there is just too much going on. Our fast paced technologically sustained world and the constant situations that arise won't allow us to effectively store the detailed plan in our minds. To move steadily through an experience like divorce we need the presence of peace and purpose with a steadfast hope for those things to come.

The word of God plainly mandates us to record our visions to make them understandable, which will give us the strength to stay focused in fulfilling them. Writing it down, taking it from your mind and making it tangible, takes some of the chaos out of living.

Do you do something similar to vision casting in your life? How has it helped you? Do you believe that not making a plan is still the same thing as making choices about your standard of living? What have you read, heard or experienced that helps you manage your life? Share it with me in the comments section.

Although this is not a contest posting, there may be a gift for fruitful comments. Make sure to include your email address in your comments!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Winter Wonderland Giveaway!

Welcome to the Winter Wonderland Giveaway Event. We have partnered up with lots of different and wonderful bloggers to bring you some fabulous prizes, just in time for the Holiday Season! Giveaway starts December 2nd at 12:01 AM EST to December 15th at 12:01 AM EST. Giveaway winners will be announced through the Rafflecopter widget and notified by email by the end of the day on December 17th, 2011. Winners must reply to email notification within 48 hours of delivery, or a new winner will be chosen.
Participating Blogs that made these giveaways possible:

Pink Dandy Chatter
Outnumbered Mama
PS Mom Reviews 
Pawsitive Living
Spilled Milkshake Thrifty Divas
Indiana Coupon Savings
Social Studies Momma 
  The Frugal Mom Debs Dealz 
Mamalou's Gems 
  Magical Mouse Schoolhouse Disney Contests and Sweepstakes
$uper $avin' Momma 
  Personalized Sketches and Sentiments Half-Pint House Handouts
Horseshoes 
Chitown Cheapskate  Get Outta My Head Please 
Capturing Magical Memories Finger Click Saver
  Tenuous Thoughts of Candy Reading Teen
  Sober Julie Doing Life One Busy Moma
All In One Mom Luv Saving Money
Jenny At Dapperhouse
My Secret Home
Black, Divorced and Virtuous A Gal Needs...
  Mommy2Nanny3Doggy1 
Sweeping The USA Between The Lines
  Mommies and Beyond Crunchy Beach Mama
  Savin' It Up 
  Mayra's Secret Bookcase
The Working Writer's Club
Counting My Kisses 
Lily's Laundry 
Thrifty Mommas Tips 
  Yummy Boy Mummy

GIVEAWAY PRIZES:
* Winner will receive one Wi-Fi, 6" E Ink Display Kindle Touch
*This giveaway is open to the US Only

*There will be 1 winner chosen to win this giveaway
***
* Winner will receive one $50 gift card to use at Amazon.com
*This giveaway is open to the US Only


*There will be 1 winner chosen to win this giveaway


GIVEAWAY ENDS THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15TH AT 12:01 AM EST
GOOD LUCK!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday Survival 101b

Around this time of year, we usually get at least one sermon about getting through the holidays and remaining ambassadors of Christ, giving love and inciting hope. Our Pastor would give us  Holiday  Survival 101, reminding us that we already know what the holiday will bring, and we should be proactively positioned to remain Christ like in our responses and actions during this season. In other words, as she would say "don't bring God any slaughtered lambs" that have been wounded with our thoughts, words or deeds because of a tense holiday gathering. I appreciated that annual reminder.  It helped me to develop a giving and forgiving mindset and enjoy the holiday's with love and laughter.

This  season should be filled with good feeling and great vibrations; yet statistically it's a time with high rates of depression and suicide. People feel more alone than at any other time of year.  It's also a time when even the most confrontational family member is going to be sitting around the dinner table and stirring up the trouble brew. If your family is anything like mine, there will be a lot of laughter and love, and a couple of thinly veiled barbs and jibes. If nobody takes the high road, a neatly lobbed barb could spark a cold war. You have to be careful to remind yourself that this is about love and nothing less.

For a family of divorce there's an added dimension to the holiday frenzy - shared parenting. One parent is going to be without the kids during a time that extols the virtues of family togetherness. You can really see the effect of divorce on everybody, including the extended famlily.

This year, I felt myself getting melancholy on Thanksgiving, not having my children with me. I have to admit that for the first time, I felt lonely without my babies. My 7 year old was with his father, and my teenage daughter was with her cousins. Me, a woman who loves her own company and rates it at the top of the list when it comes to people I want to spend time with; I felt lonely.

It was such a foreign emotion, I had to get over the shock to allow myself to feel it and face it. Then, I tried to call my best girlfriends and my sisters, because I needed somebody to bear witness to my loneliness. When I couldn't get in touch with anybody, I asked God who I could talk to about this unfamiliar emotional territory I was embracing. Ironically, or not, I begin to talk to Him. Out loud. In my car. I got therapy that people pay thousands for; and it was immediately effective.

To know my family is to understand why it was necessary to have permission to embrace a notion such as loneliness. The whole lot of us have driven, A-Type personalities and appreciate the company of our own selves so much that recognizing loneliness is as extreme as wearing white after labor day. (You just don't do it. It's not debatable).

Depending to whom you speak, admitting to feelings of loneliness can result in anything from the need for a 24 hour suicide watch to a family wide discussion on how you should get your mate back and never should have let him go. It's a sign of weakness.

Just because God is so lovely, He reminded me that in my weakness, He is made strong. Plus, loneliness does not equal weakness. How I handle my emotions, though, could very well expose a weakness. When I was done having a little talk with Jesus, I was no longer lonely. I was, however, still alone.

I recognized I need a plan of action for holiday's with or without my children. Thanksgiving morning I joined my Mom and sisters for Coffee Time. I did light housework and nearly nothing else. It was such a shock to my psyche that I felt guilty about it! You know the saying - an idle mind is the devil's workshop. The flip side to that a mind concentrated on Christ is not idle - it's occupied.

I'm divorced and this is a regular part of my lifestyle. For that reason alone, it requires planning.

When my kids came home, I was relaxed and excited to see them. Now that Thanksgiving is past, I think I will get ready for Christmas. I will definitely have a plan in place from now on, whether with or without kids on any given holiday.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mmm...that's good

My son loves these Chiquita Juice & Fruit duos. He eats them in his lunch, after school, and when he wants a snack. I had to taste it to see if it was as good as he makes it seem. I LOVED it. The juice is so fresh and the fruit is crisp and lovely. There are plenty of varieties and they are all our favorite! Try 'em


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Healing for your Heart

Have you wanted to understand why you reacted a certain way to your spouse, your children, your siblings? Or maybe, you wanted to figure out why after you told yourself you would not react to the ex-spouse in an explosive manner no matter what, the same argumentative end of the encounter occurred?

Author and Pastor Andrew Stanley has written an incredible work of healing in Enemies of the Heart: Breaking Free from the Emotions that Control You, that dives right in to our heart situations with great precision and puts on notice the enemies of our heart: guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy. Stanley gives us the tools to fight back and gain foundational balance in facing down the enemy and getting the victory over the matters of our hearts.

Haven't you wanted to have a more fruitful relationship with the people you love, or worked better in a professional relationship, or understood how to be a better parent to your children? This is the book for you.

I have had all kinds of Franklin Covey classes, instruction in understanding personality types, being a better me and managing my personality with others for productivity. I recently read When the Hurt Runs Deep by Kay Aurthur, which is also a brilliant read; yet Enemies of the Heart spoke to me in a completely different way that gave me insight into some small hidden spaces God needed to get into and sweep clean.

Stanley is no nonsense in  his conversational deliberate delivery of this informative anointed text that makes you feel like you are just having coffee with a good friend, and a really great conversation too. One that you both will walk away from changed.

I highly recommend Enemies of the Heart to anyone who wants to improve their interpersonal relationships, understand what the battle is about, or just live and love in a better way.


Note: This book was provided for me by Waterbrook Multnomah for review purposes. The views expressed here are solely my own.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

And the beat goes on...just like our love

Let me tell you a little secret...love is what it is. Period. In my personal experience, people sometimes harbor a vile anger toward an ex-spouse. Except that anger is not really towards a person. It can't be, logically, because one person wasn't in that relationship alone. Anger can mask fear of another emotion, in this case it is often fear of bottled up hurt and pain. There are some emotions that are not easy to face; some, even, that require giving God full permission and exclusive entrance into your soul and situation.

One of the most difficult exercises in faith is asking God to show you all of you. The difficulty lies in the fact that you are not all that pretty in entirety, and not at all what you have pretended to be, either publicly or privately. It is a humbling experience, but also one full of freedom and revelatory wisdom. There are issues I am still facing that make me cringe.
Like, how come I cannot tell a person is secretly mentally ill until I have already engaged in a friendship or relationship with them and they become diabolical, and then I feel all bad because they are nuts? Am I secretly nuts for attracting them? What did I do wrong? Who, me? Okay, as you can see I still have work to do. We all do - it's a continuous work in progress. He did say the perfecting would continue until the coming of Christ Jesus. Don't judge me. It will take too much time and you'll get all caught up in it, and have no time to spend with God on yourself. It's a trick of the enemy, don't let him use you today. I digress {and isn't that normal?}.

Let me try, in my human way, to tell you what I know from experience as the benefit from looking through a Spiritual mirror at your pretty/ugly self in entirety. I love my ex husband. Yes - this is as big a surprise to you as it was underwhelming for me to accept. I want him to have a successful, fruitful and blessed life in Christ. I want my children to have a healthy and whole father who can show them the truth about what a father and a Godly man looks like. Here is something else you should know: he is not the same man he was when we went through our divorce, and while we worked up to it. That is because of God and not by any work of his own hands.

Now, to say that I love him is not the same as saying that I want him, or I want to be back in a marriage with him.I do not want to be married to my ex husband. That would be to limit myself to experience only that particular aspect of love. The past happened, really. It is forgiven, but it is not erased. That is what God can do - he can forgive your sin and remove it from Him as far as the east is from the west. Not people. We can forgive each other and not charge each other for our past in present and future dealings; but we will not forget. That would be insane. Who among you can say that you can erase history? You lie, just like that.

Would you not think it odd that a lioness and a jackass were married? What if the jackass told the lioness he was born again? That is an extreme example of uneven yoke. I am often amazed when people say they are born again and think that means God made them a completely different physical and mental person than they were before. He did not. He gave you the mind of Christ that if you would be disciplined to use it, you would do right when your flesh would tell you to do wrong and you are still of the same species. If you don't work out your own soul salvation and understand that you are man made in the image of God after you accept salvation, you are still like a baby - trying out everything. Pulling your own hair even though it hurts every time you pull it.

What allowing God to work out my hurt and pain does is allow me to embrace my love for my ex husband, free me to embrace the good memories we made together, the family members we have in common, and substantiate the new relationship we are building as parents, without malice.
Because of this freedom, I don't have to be in a rush to find somebody to 'replace' him to prove to him, naysayers, or even myself that he is replaceable, because I know that any new intimate love can only enhance the past love I have experienced. I don't believe Jesus ever intended for us to dwell on any one experience of love, but to embrace each experience of love as a new and more exciting, invigorating engagement.

We have a propensity toward cloaking love in human conditions. Love is a separate entity that exists outside of our humanity. It's completely superior, and that is why we mess it up so easily. Love is about beauty and ugliness, perfection and flaws, good and bad, success and failure. That is why Peter admonishes us in I Peter 4:8 that above anything else we do, let the deep love that we have for each other show, because it COVERS OVER a great number or collectivity of; a great amount of sins.

It's everlasting.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8NLV

Friday, November 4, 2011

Stronger and Wiser

Can you complete this sentence? If this happens__________; then this will happen__________. I have been working through a Beth Moore bible study on the book of Esther, and at a point she asks a similar question. What happens when you ask yourself about what will happen when the thing that you fear actually comes to fruition? In Moore's study, she suggests that the thing most likely will never happen, and the whole concept is that we need to trust God in spite of whether that feared concept happens or not.

I wanted to call Beth up and tell her that I do trust God in spite of the odds, and many of my fears have come to fruition, and I'm still standing. I don't even have to complete the sentence anymore. One might say what if a spouse or significant other cheats on me? I will just die. No you won't. You will find an inner strength and understand that he comes from a background and has a weakness somewhere in him that is crying out for help.

You may or may not be the woman who can stand by him while he gets that help. But you had best believe, you are the woman who can reach out for the hand of Jesus, who can and will help you through the hurt and betrayal of a moment in time. The first time I knew my husband cheated, I forgave him. It was never a deal breaker, because I expected it of men. The next time, it made me judge his character. Finally, it became a deal breaker because it was a was about discipline and self control, and about love and respect for me. But it did not kill me. Instead it made me define my self worth and what I wanted my children to know about a woman's worth and a man's respect thereof.

Frantic children might say, if my mother or father dies, I don't think I will be able to make it. Yes, you will. You will realize that that parent has poured into you the very best they had to give you and it would be trampling on their legacy for you to give up now. It is ours to stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, not sit on the curb where they once made history.

I looked up at the window from which my father fell to his death, and I felt the quickening of my pulse and anxiety rising in my being. "Be still my soul." I spoke aloud. "He wouldn't want to come back here." It's alright to miss a loved one, but not to stay in the moment of the loss. They are NOT watching over you - to believe so is to believe they are in torment as they spend their eternity watching the messes you are making on this earth. They are in eternal rest and peace. The only way you get to catch them up on the Days of Our Lives is to go where they are. Get right saints, and lets go home.

Materialistic people might say, if I had to walk away from all of this today, what would I do? You would do just fine. I walked away from a completely furnished Victorian home with one basket full of clothes for my children and myself and moved into a 2 bedroom garden studio. The Holy Spirit spoke to me when I walked into the apartment and said that this was the place. I brought my children to see it and they walked through and said 'mom, this is our home'. We moved in over the next week. We have been here over a year now, and every single piece of furniture is new. It is fully furnished. We still have clothes, furniture, toiletries, etc., at the old house.

One week after I moved in here, my Doctor called and told me I had to go into surgery 5 days later. Six weeks after that surgery, I had a stroke like migraine that was the beginning of a year long health debacle which has left me still searching for answers. The whole way God has provided for every need and even some of our desires.

Of course, in all of this I have asked God, why? Why does this need to happen in my life? God doesn't really answer why questions for me. He gives me another, more relevant question. What now? What will you do now? Will you use what you have learned in the midst of this trial to live again, or will you sit in a corner and act like that will make the next tribulation pass you by? Life can still see you in that corner. Your destiny is still yours and if you let fear keep you from it, you will have just walked through your life WITHOUT LIVING. But you still went through.

These trials come to make us stronger. Look at yourself and see what kind of stuff you are made of - question your faith, your fortitude, your character - then think about whether you can or even want to finish the statement if, then. Or would you rather be the type of person who says, Whatever be tide, God is the master of the earth and sea, and safe in His arms is where He holds me?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's almost November, so that means it's almost time for Christmas shopping. To help you get a head start, the One Stop Christmas Hop is an amazing giveaway blog hop. Currently there are 44 people signed up. If you'd like to join, go here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How Much Do they Know?


At my daughters school, journal writing is a routine exercise. Daily, students write reflectively in journals by whatever prompt is provided. On one such occasion, the writing prompt was Proverbs 5 from the Holy Bible.

As is customary, I received an automated email to inform me that my daughter never completed this assignment. This troubled me, because of all classes, she had never gotten a report like this from Bible class.

I looked at the email a couple of times before deciding to read the assigned scripture, Proverbs 5, for clues as to why she rejected the journaling assignment. Two things my child loves: to hear herself talk, to admire what she has written. She is gifted at both. Grabbing two of my bibles, I got cozy on my sofa, prayed for understanding and began to read.

First I read the King James Version. The first 6 versus set an alarm off in my heart. The scripture was instruction for a man, cautioning him to be sensible and warning him about the perils of another mans wife. The scripture goes on to tell what will become of a man who does not heed the warning. This was touchy for my daughter, who still harbors discontent with her father surrounding our divorce.

Versus 15-20 helped me understand why she had skipped this journal writing all together. These verses caution a husband to love the wife he has, to be faithful to her, and not to give his love away in the streets. The scripture ends by telling that such a man will be caught up in his own wicked ways and sin, and will perish because he is foolish and cannot control himself.

I read it a second time in the New Century Version of the Bible. I consider this to be my comfortable Word. It clarifies and highlights my understanding. This made my Spirit ache. I was pretty sure why my child didn't complete her journal entry. This Proverb was talking about her life and the adults in it. How could she comfortably write about that for someone else to possibly see and read?

I had to talk to God about this again, then I contemplated calling my ex husband. Deciding against it. I thought about how far God has brought us safely, and knew I would need to start by talking to my child.

We sat down together, and talked at length about the scripture, what it  meant, and how it made her feel. She read it again at my suggestion (insistence) and then she journaled. We both felt better, because we know God's Word is divinely inspired.

Just when we think we are passed this albatross of adultery and divorce, something like this rear up. However, we have the hope of salvation, and the power of God on our side. He works all things together for the good of us who love Him and are called according to His purpose.





Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tending The Garden


Gardens are being gleaned for their final fruits, and jarring and canning is in process. We are doing the fall work to prepare for Winter. There is a lot of fruit to be tended to at this time of year.

If you garden at all (which I mostly do by using my supervision skills); you know that there is a method you have to follow if you intend to continuously reap from the land. In the fall, when the garden has given all of her fruit, it is time to prepare for the winter ahead.

My mom is a good gardener. Competitive, some might even say. She begins to take the steps necessary to make sure this earth can bear good fruit again next Summer. The very final step she takes is in covering the prepared earth with the beautiful fall leaves. When the snow comes, it falls atop the leaves, which have been naturally composted by the rain and weather of the fall.

The weather is fighting to change into full blown fall/winter here, with trees shedding beautifully hued orange, red and brown leaves into piles on days when the sun beats down 70 degree rays. Home of a Big Ten college campus, radios, televisions, retailers and fans all turn their attention to football - high school, college and national. Sweaters are changing into heavier jackets, tailgating is on tap, and area farms are touting pumpkins and apples,hayrides and hot cider.

This is a family time of year, so naturally, I think of my family as it is now and as it was. When you have been divorced, separated, or otherwise ended a life altering relationship, you should look at the seasons of that puppy, and check on what kind of fruit it produced, and why. Though hindsight is always perfect, it also allows for reflection to fine tune for the future.

The beginning of the relationship is like Spring - everything is pretty, new and fascinating. The earth, showing off the most beautiful and vivid colors God has created. Showing each other our richest jewels - what we have to offer at our first love.

Summer time is when seeds planted start to give up their first fruit. Some of them bloom and produce beautiful fruit; some wild, racing vines and flowers, and still others never bloom, or become entangled by weeds. We begin to know each other in our intimate or inner selves; finding out there are some wonderful gifts, some hidden dreams and talents, something wild and yet untamed, and yes, some bondage and trouble spots. We start to know how we compliment each other and encourage the greatness in each other, and others start to recognize what the combination of our gifts produces.

Fall brings a calming change in the weather. Brightly colored fruits of Spring begin to fade and fall away, leaving bareness, nakedness. Roots are revealed as the origin of the different good or bad items in the garden. A good gardener starts to rake away some of the roughage. If we plan just right, we can turn this roughage into a compost that will invigorate growth. This is a time that encourages slumber, when work is necessary. One of the most important seasons. If we slumber through this season, Winter will not be kind to our garden, or to our relationships.

I don't deign to tell you how to tend to your relationship; just that as an acquaintance of mine suggested recently, if you want to know what the good stuff of it i is look at the Spring and the Summer. If you want to affect what will yield in those times, take that knowledge and prepare during Fall for the Winter, A good gardener progressively cultivates the garden, and employs key ground preparation at the pivotal times.

Take some time to look at what the fruit was or is from your intimate relationships, both good and bad. If there is something that you can do better, more often, or stop doing to cause it to change in a way that bears more good fruit, better quality fruit, or relationship sustaining fruit- shouldn't you do that? Even your relationship with God can surely use some pruning. I am looking at my garden now.



-E

Here are some thoughts to ponder and a place to start:

What season do you think your relationship with _______ is in currently?

What steps do need to take to cultivate the relationship in this season?

Write it out, make it plain, and get busy.




Saturday, October 8, 2011

Valley growth

Tonight was a prime example of how God allows growth in the valley. My 7 year old son sang in a children's choir by himself for the first time, and my 13  year old daughter assisted with the choir. My kids sing in this choir every year, and it is an amazing event.

Normally, my son and about 4 of his cousins sing in the choir, and my daughter sings as well. This is her first year helping with the choir because she has graduated - she's 13 now. His cousins were either out of town or not participating. He was alone with about 45 friends and acquaintances. Yes, I know, but it is not the same. He was nervous.

Okay, I was nervous.

I am always early as the choir members need to arrive half an hour before the event is scheduled to start. 

I sat in the front as usual but not in the very first row. Yes, I am a hyper parent who sits in the very front row. This time, I sat about three rows back toward the center aisle, so I could see him and he could spot me at his leisure. My son is different from my girl child. He wants to know you are present, but not that you are up front singing all the songs and doing all the hand movements.

Okay, maybe I shouldn't do that. Ever. I can't help it.

My family was not able to make it tonight. I was a little nervous about this too. Nervous about not having anybody sitting next to me to support my babies. I know that I am enough for them, but I am overly sensitive about family support. So I sat alone - almost. In the row ahead of me was a friend whose son was in the choir with Elijah. Across the aisle from me was a couple whose daughter was in the choir and whom I see almost daily because our kids go to school together.

Two rows ahead of me were two women I had become familiar with from the church we were in tonight just from being around for different events over the years. On either side of the auditorium were scattered people that I knew from choirs, groups and churches my children had interacted with over the last few years.

See how God works? While we were going through the dark night of divorce, I was involving my children in local activities and specifically christian choirs and events, so that they would continue to develop and grow. I was trudging through the valley, and He was busy supplying me with Christian friends and acquaintances that surround me so I don't feel alone.

I was overwhelmed with God and overjoyed at the discovery that I was in His house, with His people, not alone, and encircled by family - my Christian family. God sits high, looks low, and inclines His ear to my heart. What kind of God is this? I love Him.

Ex-husband and his mom sat near the back of the sanctuary through out the concert, and when Elijah's part of the concert was done, he sat with them. I moved over to sit with my daughter. Even here we sat with people we knew from our summer program and two community choirs the kids sing in (that preposition hurt). We sang right along with the choir, laughed at the customary bible skit with Uncle Frank and the gang, and had a great time. Ms. Cynthia Gowen is the absolutely most talented anointed woman with children and music I have ever met.

We hung a round a little after the concert, my ex husband and his mom, our kids and my friends. We greeted others and the kids talked to their friends and ate cookies.

I left with my kids, and we came home. We talked about the choir, the songs, and the day. This is our family, these are our friends, and our life rocks. I am grateful.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Have A Little Talk

There are times when being a divorced woman, a single parent, amd a woman with an issue (fibromyalgia), all become overwhelming. Everything collides and the impact is formiddable. I am alone without a mate parenting two children who need physical, educational, emotional and spiritual guidance, trapped in a physical body that is not at topnotch performance or condition managing within an adjusted micro economy. It's incredible.

I stay organized and on task, all hands on deck and constantly active to make the best of our lives. I thank God for family support. But every so often, I forget to give my heavy yoke over to Jesus, and I almost break under the burden.

So, this past Saturday, I spent a day doing absolutely nothing. I didn't achieve anything, except a shower and clean lounge about clothes. I had no unction to function, and I did not want to think about what the next obstacle in my life was presenting. I didn't want to give up, and I didn't want to run head on into the storm, either. I just wanted to sit still.

It is hard to sit still when you are a results oriented person. Guilt overrides every other sense because you know how much there is to get done. Somewhere in your wharped mind, the sky will fall if you don't get it done. Never mind the sun still rose whether or not your floor was vacuumed.

I got up and cleaned the kitchen, sat back down and returned to continuous episodes of Bones, one of my favorite television crime shows that I only watch on Netflix or Internet, got up and loaded the washer with laundry. My niece came over in the evening and figuring that it would be a good idea if I ate something healthy, I made us a great salad with grilled chicken and fresh spinach and parmesan cheese. With back to back episodes of Bones. You get the picture; but it was still rest for me.

I needed to wrap my mind around the concept that everything was not going as planned. As a matter of fact, apparently some folks had not even READ my plan, or had simply discarded it. Because a small mess was brewing and an act of God was going to be necessary to get this plan back on track. It is in this very moment that I had to pull on my resources and say to myself, "self, I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor His seed begging bread". I had to speak to myself and say "and if I ask these things, believing, He will do it"; I even had to remind myself that I am "a peculiar treasure" and "a royal priesthood". In other words, I had to speak over myself, and encourage myself, in the Lord.

Another of my nieces called me this evening, and had her version of a pep talk with me, which is how I know without anything like a DNA test that she is my Mothers grandchild. "Aunt Buffi," she says "you have a little talk with yourself and get it together. Don't you be sitting over there being depressed. We don't have time for that right now in our lives. Now I will make dinner for the kids tomorrow. You get it together, okay?"

I laughed, because that really was what I was doing. I was getting it together, reminding myself that though there be trouble, joy comes in the morning light; remembering that though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; remembering that His promises to me are Yea, and Amen and I am His beloved; and that this race is not given to the swift or the strong but to the one which endureth to the end.

That is what I have to do at times, and maybe I am wrong, but I am sure there are times when you have to do that as well. Times when you need to remind yourself that even though you are having a valley day, there is so much in the valley to gain that you know even this is a part of your victory.

By Sunday morning, I feel my help returning. The situation has not exaclty changed yet, but my faith is restored and that is more than half the battle. That is the whole thing. I encourage you today to speak words of faith and encouragement into your own life and over your own situation. Sometimes, you have to do it.



Give-a-Way Winner

The winner of The Shack Give A Way is Diane. You will receive an email with more instructions. Congratulations and thank you for entering. More give a ways to come!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

He Heals us because He loves us....

On Friday evening I went to a local church to hear Wm. Paul Young, author of acclaimed novel, The Shack speak. Over a year ago, I listened to the book on audio - first in part because it was all that I could handle; and then in it's entirety. Then I listened again a few months after that. It changed my perception of the Holy Trinity; and my understanding of God's love. More than that, it helped me survive multiple tragedies. I had this date marked in my calendar for over 3 months; I intended to be present to hear this author, whose story of publication was just as profound as the story itself, speak.
Purchase at Barnes & Noble.com (click here)
A week before the event, a good friend emailed me to ask if I had heard of this author or read the book; she wanted to know if I was going to hear him speak. This further confirmed that I needed to be present. I was late getting there, but I still pressed through - there was something in this place I had to get.

I settled in near the back of a scatter crowded sanctuary, while Young himself stood center stage, excellently telling his story. Some of it I already knew; but he divulged more and more about God's love and his life. There were things I had forgotten or maybe never knew, like "the time in the Shack represents 11 years of my life," and "God is a God of relentless affection".

He talked about the life he had lived, one of "learning to live inside of and adapt to other peoples boundaries" because he didn't have the ability to set boundaries of his own, until his facade came crashing down, I was so wrapped up in the presence of God in that place and in his story, I was completely unprepared for what happened next.

"If God loves me at some point the facade has to come crashing down." I sat looking at this man, whom God has chosen to carry this magnificent message, and waited with the rest of the room, to find out what it could have been he was hiding. "What my wife now knew was that I had been in an affair with her best friend for 3 months."

I felt like I had been slammed against a brick wall. "God, why am I here?" I asked "Why do I need to know this? Why now? Jesus."

Given my own situation and the conditions of my divorce, this is a relevant response. I felt certain that it was the right response. I almost got up and walked out. What stopped me was this: God has made a wonderful testimony out of this mans life, and out of his marriage. He must want me to know something to have brought me to this place, and to have made so emphatically sure that I got here tonight.

I stayed. Surely if God forgave Paul, and Kim forgave Paul, I could forgive him too. And why in the world would he need my forgiveness?

I stayed for the rest of the event, and I received much more that evening, and went home. I thought about some of the things Paul said about why Kim didn't throw him out immediately after that horrid time. There were two things that made the difference in their marriage. The first was that he didn't blame anybody else - he knew it was about him; about his own mess and messiness, about his own sick state of being and he took the blame; and the second was that he opened the phone book and called a crisis center and asked for help.

I spent a lot of hours thinking and praying about why it was important for me to be there to hear what Father, Son and Holy Spirit wanted me to hear that evening. It is not simple enough for me to put it in a few sentences, but here is the down home truth of the matter:
"God forgives His children who commit hurtful acts against others of His children because nothing we can do changes His affection for us. While we may have conditional love for one another, God was already well pleased with us before we were formed in our mothers wombs, and His love is unconditional. Just as God never abandoned me in the midst of my mess, He never abandoned my ex husband either. Now, He just wants to heal us, both, individually; and all of us, collectively, because that is the ultimate goal of our faith - the restorative healing of eternal life with God." - Elizabeth
Have you read The Shack? It is on my highly recommended reading list. I encourage you, challenge you even (was that Mean Ole Lion-ish) to read it.

Win a copy of The Shack!

One follower will win a copy of the book just by following my blog and commenting. Note: You must follow Black, Divorced and Virtuous, and you must leave a comment section. Don't forget to leave your email address so you can be contacted if you win.


Comment should answer this question: Have you ever experienced an urge to be somewhere, even when things kept getting in the way of you being there? What happened?


A winner will be picked on Friday, September 22, 2011. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

When does the good stuff start?

When does the good stuff start? Shoot, as my Grandma would say, my good stuff started on the first day I realized I was free from bondage. Free from all of the heavy weight that held me down so strongly that my shoulders bowed forward when I walked.

The good stuff started when I believed that we could heal, grow and even be a healthy family unit in a different way. In my blind faith, the kind I always have, I thought we were well on our way. Even though it didn't quite work out that way, I still held on to what I knew was true - God is in the healing business.

When you are a co-dependent spouse, you need time to heal from all of the years of wounding a spouse's "growing" or "sowing wild seeds" can do in your life once they determine to get well. It is not possible for us to heal in a prescribed amount of time because that spouse is ready for us to be healed, or because the clergy said we should be healed. One thing I learned from Griefshare and personal experience is we all grieve in our own time and our own way.

Just as I couldn't tell my ex husband when and where to cheat or be faithful, man up and be committed to his family, honor the vows he made before man and God, or reverse any other curse inflicted on his little family at his hand, he couldn't tell me when to be healed.

While we started out waiting for God to deliver him from some pretty tough obstacles of his own, supposedly giving him one more year to work on his own progress and deliverance, he was also working on a relationship with a new woman who belonged to his church and remarried just a few weeks after our divorce was final. Neither our children nor myself was aware of what was happening, but on that day, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and told me to go around to the church. It was the Holy Spirit that told me my ex husband was about to be remarried. I went to the church, and only when I actually saw him did I know it was true. My children were crushed, but I didn't interfere, I took them home and explained to them that their father loved them and what he was doing was not at all a reflection on them. I wrapped them up in a bundle of warmth and love and assured them that his love for them would not change.

The next day, I took them to their counselor, and we started at ground zero, almost back to the day of the separation. As parents, we often do not even think about how our choices are going to affect our children, let alone our own lives 3-5 years down the road.

My ex husband had decided that he needed to move on quickly with his life, and waiting for me to be healed from damage caused by the past was not in his plans. God didn't prescribe that for him. It took me a minute, but I am okay with that, because God knows what is best, He's seen the whole story - He wrote the book, and I have come to believe He also didn't plan for me to go backwards into the briar-patch.

After I got over the hurt (about 4 days later) and forgave him, I felt all kind of weights and bondage lift off of me. Most of the time, we get along fine (until somebody passes along some misinformation or we have third party involvement). My  children and I were in the healing process together and we were learning to be a new family, embrace life, love and worship God, build a new life. This is the good stuff. 

See, for so long I had been weighted down in my every day existence by the nightmare of living that had become our 'relationship plus others' that I couldn't breathe without wondering what the next curve ball would bring.

Suddenly, there was morning after mourning, breaking through night like a new day and I was alive, alert, and ready to heal; live, fly, forgive, move on, embrace my children; the future, the right now.

Oh my goodness - look at all the good stuff that is available for us. Even for you. Let's take a moment and just breathe, and heal.

Friday, September 2, 2011

When It's Cold Outside

The unemployment rate is at about 20% among African Americans today (that's for real with reported and unreported). Money is one of the biggest contributing reasons for divorce. Theoretically, this means more African Americans should be experiencing divorce than ever in our society.

This statistic is strange to me, because it seems that when things are at there very worse, you should want someone to hold on to and encourage you when it's cold outside. The reality is that many men feel pressure and shame when they are unable to find "suitable" employment in an economy like this to take care of their family, whether their spouse is working or not. Tension can build incredibly with the pressure either spouse may feel from the mounting bills, unkind economy, stress, and pent up frustrations.  The truth is, everything doesn't work out like a Tyler Perry play with a couple good gospel songs and an apology.

If I were to counsel anybody who had an ear to hear who was on the verge of divorce right now, I would tell them these things:

Remember your first love. Think about how you first loved each other. When you commit to be married to another person, it is not always about the pictured romance of movie and book fables. It is about the ability to support each other when the facade of greatness is gone; when the outside appearance of grandeur has been stripped away and you can only see each others weaknesses. Then let love abide.

Fight for your marriage. Remember the sanctity of the union. You may believe you have outgrown each other, but you have not outgrown God or the promises you made before Him. If there is any way to do it without denigrating or belittling each other, honor the vows you made. Agree to both be in the fight. Everybody's situation is different. Only you know why your marriage may end in divorce; but it doesn't have to be that way. Not everybody has irreconcilable differences.

Pray earnestly, and together. Pray for each other and for your marriage. Admit your fears and shortcomings one to another and pray without ceasing. Find a group of prayer partners who will pray you through. Be ready for change, because if you  want your marriage to survive and thrive, you are going to have to embrace a new way of living and loving. What you were doing before was not working - that is how you ended up where you are now.

Communication - Keep communicating with your spouse. Remember that you do not hate this person. There may be times during this experience when you cannot, realistically, speak to them at all. Accept those emotions for what they are, but don't let them turn into hatred. Forgiveness is for you, not for them.

Can a divorced woman give advice to married folks? Yes, I can, because I walked through a valley you don't know anything about yet. I walked through it with grace abounding, and two things got me through it with victory: obedience and forgiveness. I definitely fought the good fight of faith before I became a black, divorced and virtuous.


Friday, August 26, 2011

From fear to faith

Fear

Rat tail bastard liar.
Whispering to me in my left ear
drowning out truth yelling in my right
Telling me I was only good for coming home to
at night

Tryin to make me believe I should turn the other way
every time I could see the blemishes and and the stains
In the eyes of all his friends, then his fam and soon
his frenemies
Everybody knew, only the last to know was me

and Fear, such a weak blood sucking beast
thinking to ride me was a free lunch opportunity
I'm a hustler by blood, not one to be ridden
Trying to find out where the profit is hidden

Fear such a foolish child
put you back in your place
stand down, sit a while
let grown folks do real woman business
Tackle silliness in men without visions
and
dignity
who lack true and valiant missions

Yeah, fear, such an empty shallow space
absence of
equals bold shattering faith


What Are the Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Children? | Divorce Ministry 4 Kids

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Children? | Divorce Ministry 4 Kids

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Black, Divorced & Virtuous: Open your hand..there are new things

Black, Divorced & Virtuous: Open your hand..there are new things: What new things does God have in store for us? How often have you learned that when He allows a door to close in our lives, another one open...

Open your hand..there are new things

What new things does God have in store for us? How often have you learned that when He allows a door to close in our lives, another one opens? It is true. The only way we don't see the new opportunity is when we are to busy focusing on what is ending. That happens a lot because we are afraid of what we do not know, having become so comfortable in what we have.

Although I knew what had to be done, I was almost like a bean counter, calculating how many other lives would be affected at the cost of rescuing mine and those of my small family. The biggest decisions I made when I took my life back were based in fear of losing what I loved or had become accustomed to; and hurting or disappointing people.  God had already given me an open door. He knew what I was going to face, and He knew His plans for me.

It was everything and everybody that I would leave behind, be under the scrutiny of; and even cause pain to - that was the cause of my biggest remorse. I really had to hide under God's shadow to get through that part. First, I took care of what God had given me. I talked with my babies, prayed with them, got them into Christian counseling, got me into Christian counseling for their sake, and ours was a veritable house of prayer. We walked very carefully through a minefield blanketed by angels. God laid out His promises to me, which are in His word.

Oh, I nearly lost my mind in the process, but He kept me. See, sometimes in letting go of what is old, you have to pry your own little fingers loose so it can get completely out.



When the word and divine revelation come together, something amazing happens. I know what it means to have my mind staid on Jesus. It used to be a statement the elder 'saints' made at church. But when I had my mind staid on Jesus? He staid my mind.

This is real, so let me see if I can explain it a little better. For probably the better of six months, I was not carrying myself. Everything I did was in and of Jesus. In those six months I went through Griefshare, I went through counseling with my kids, I read and studied His word, and while I attended to the things of God, He attended to the things of me.

One of the most amazing things that happened was my ears were shut to the voices that held the most emotional blackmail power in my life. I just couldn't hear them. Because of that, my focus was directed toward action, planning, and healing. I kept my house in order; helped my children to thrive in mind and body and surrounded them with Christ minded people; better than that - kept those who did not have the mind of Christ at bay. We changed our environment completely. Our communication, our love for God, our health and family relationships - better than before. We still have those that were closed off to us during that time to work on, but the best part is that God worked forgiveness so tough that we can handle it.

It is almost as if Christ was doing His own surgery even while I was going through life sustaining surgeries at the hands of medical doctors with my failing health. But when it was over my life and health were recovered and I was renewed. For that I give Him praise.


I am sharing this with you to get to this point: old things become new. Yes, my relationship and marriage together extended over 20 years, and that is almost half of my life. That is a big chunk of who I was invested in another person and who they were and it came to an end. Not abruptly, but slowly through deterioration, neglect, and a form of ungodliness. But yet there was love there. God does not want me to dismiss that love. He wants me to embrace it, forgive in every way and love past my human capacity to blame, hate, loathe and fear. Then when I have reached my capacity, I understand that His love for us is far greater than my love can ever extend.

That exercise alone helps me get understanding, wisdom and healing.

I know that I will love again (doesn't that sound like some schmaltzy love song?) even though I am not quite ready. I have the revelation that a new thing is happening. An old door is closed and that can mean only one thing. Somewhere, a window of opportunity is opening.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Black, Divorced & Virtuous: Why can't we have the fairytale?

Black, Divorced & Virtuous: Why can't we have the fairytale?: "This weekend, I found out that two of my friends marriages were ending. I was not happy. I encourage all of my married couples to make sure ..."