Friday, August 26, 2011

From fear to faith


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
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 ..."

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 they have done all possible for the success of the relationship before ending it. My counsel is to seek wise counsel - pray together; and then get into counseling. Fight for your marriage. Don't let the enemy win.

When I heard about my friends marriages, I just wanted to ask God why. Why can't we have the fairytale? Why wont you let our marriages survive?

It seems so unfair that our children have divorced parents, and go through the heartache of mom and dad separating physically, emotionally and spiritually. It seems so unfair that after loving each other enough to commit to a lifetime together, a number of years have equated to enough.

I know that these friends have loved enough, forgiven enough, fought enough, cried enough, tried enough, survived enough, prayed enough, and even stayed enough that they should have been guaranteed successful marriages, the same as I should. Where else do you give all of yourself to another person and a cause for 10-15 years and then end up severed from that person? Eventually you return to stranger status. Where does that happen?

But life does not work like that. Even as I was asking God why, He was reminding me that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours, and our limited love is much different than His unlimited love. If some relationships do not last for a lifetime, it is not the end of the world. Nor is it the end of the story.

The further I grow into this divorced person that I am, trusting God with each new step in the process, the more I realize that I still have to pray for my ex husband and care for him. He is not a stranger. He is the man that I loved enough to take a journey that I would not with another man.  I loved him enough to have his children and support his dreams. Really, that love does not disappear, it is just redirected. A lot of times it turns into bitterness and anger, if we do not understand that God has given us the imperative to love beyond reason.

I sometimes think my ex husband is the most frustrating person walking the face of the planet earth. I wonder why he is still speaking in the same atmosphere in which I am living. But I still have the capacity to love him beyond his faults and pray for his needs. I am not a saint, and I will tell him what I think of his best laid plans that are all for naught faster than I can remember my Godly purpose is to love past pain, which is temporary, and into life, which is empowering.

I am still hurt that my friends marriages are suffering, and maybe ending in divorce. I want them to survive. I want the enemy to lose at all cost. I want my own failed marriage to be an anomaly, not the norm. I want to pray for them with a power that wins. But in the end, I want them to be able to love each other beyond pain. Love beyond their normal capacity for love - like Jesus did.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Black, Divorced & Virtuous: Mommy is not your friend...

Black, Divorced & Virtuous: Mommy is not your friend...: "I woke up this morning feeling burdened because I had to make a decision that would disappoint my teenage daughter. I went through so many ..."

Mommy is not your friend...

I woke up this morning feeling burdened because I had to make a decision that would disappoint my teenage daughter.  I went through so many changes - I felt inadequate, burdened, lacking. I knew that in the scheme of things it was not that big, but for me in that moment it was huge; as it was for her.

Since I had tried so hard to make it happen, I decided to pray about it and ask God for direction. I felt like there was a message I was missing.  It can get a little bit tricky when you are the good parent, the bad parent, and all the parent most of the time. I felt God was telling me to share with my daughter my own disappointment in not being able to give her everything she wants, but also share with her how important it is for me to be able to give her everything she needs.

I went to church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the church building reminded me of being a child in service. The Sunday school lesson was led by a church mother with just enough spark under her fervor for the Lord to excite everybody about learning God's lesson: God has a ministry for each of us. Just after Sunday school, we found out one of the loyal church members sister, who the Pastor was set to visit after service in the hospice, had passed away.

After praying and consoling each other, we went into communion service, where the message from the Pastor was exactly what the Lord would have delivered to the people who had loved one who had passed on from labor to rest. How could the Pastor have known and planned this perfect sermon for today? She didn't, but God did. That message was that no matter what the situation looks like, this is not the end of the story.

That was in essence what I wanted to share with my daughter. I wanted to tell her that I was disappointed that I couldn't give her what she wanted. More than that, I was hurt that she would be hurt and sad. But it wasn't the end of the story. There would be more opportunities for her to experience joy in this lifetime, more chances for me to give her above and beyond what she had asked for or thought possible. This wasn't the end of the story.

However, even the best laid plans....

When I went to tell my daughter how sorry I was, she began to tell me how unfair it was...I expected this, because she is a teenager. Then, she began to tell me how her expectations were not met. She begin to talk of how this is what she always gets and it is what she should have and it is not right or fair that she doesn't have it.

While she was talking I thought about what lengths I was willing to go through to get for her what she wanted, even humbling myself to people who took pleasure in knowing how much it cost me to do so. And for this attitude of entitlement and ingratitude. God was showing me what I had to see about how far I was willing to go to appease an ungrateful child. I was out of order, and the words of an elder in Sunday school rung back through my heart. "Grandfather disciplined us with the word. He never lifted a finger. But he tore us up with the Word. These kids today don't get that." Woooah Nelly. Jesus take the reigns, because I am surely driving the wrong direction, right and now.

I am sure she could tell when I stopped speaking that something had gone clearly wrong in our conversation. I was in a different conversation with Jesus. I was asking Him to give me the words that would bring new life instead of scar beyond recognition the life that had already been put in my hands to shape and mold.

I took stock of the situation. My child is bible trained. She can quote scripture, but more than that, she comprehends the Word of God. I told my child that while she is still mine, in no way shape or form is she entitled to all of the accoutrements that she has experienced in her life thus far. I will not spare the rod to spoil you. "These amenities have come at the behest of my sweat and labor, and sometimes tears, and only because I want to give you the very best life has to offer when it is within my reach to do so.

However, the only expectation placed before me while you are in my care is that you maintain breath so that you can fulfill your purpose before these last days expire upon this earth. You, child, need to think before you speak. You need to use the mind that God has given you to think about the things that proceed out of your mouth, because the betray what is hidden in your heart, and then people know what kind of heart you have. What is in your heart?"

I looked at my child, little entitled self absorbed child that she is at this moment, and waited for anything. She said 'I want to sit here for a while'. I let her sit.

(Note: By this, her 13th year of life, she is accustomed to the fact that when I really need to get something out, the way I talk changes. I can't be bothered to break my thoughts down into simple words. I have to talk the way my brain thinks. This is probably why she had such a dangerous vocabulary by the time she was 7 years old.)

It is hard sometimes being a divorced parent. Some things I have to figure out on my own without any earthly help. But with God? I know this is but a brief moment and a teachable one for me and my daughter. We both found out some today.

On another note, before my little girl even got to her room to think about herself, her cousin was here to pick her up to go over another cousins house, and her grandmother had called for her. She wants her to call for a private conversation between "me and her". Yes, this is why she feels entitled right now. Jesus help. But in the midst of all this spoiling, there is a teachable moment. What is in your heart, child of God?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Under New Management

Most any mother can tell you that once you birth a child, your priorities change. They are reorganized, placing the child(ren) at the center of most decision making processes. This innate homing apparatus is ramped up times 100 when you get a divorce. I know I felt as if a horrible injustice had been done to my kids, and statistically they were now doomed to certain failures in life because I couldn't manage to make this marriage work. I am a books person, so I researched statistics, and started looking at the case studies on children of divorce who eventually defied statistics. How did they survive?
To sustain your children mentally, physically, socially; some changes to the schedule are in order, so priorities shift again. To sustain your economy, a lot of elements may change, including child care, work hours, school locations, even in which activities the custodial parent and children can and will be involved. There's a lifting of hands, to say the least. Prayer is never ceasing, if you hope to get any of it right. Let God arise and the enemy be scattered.

For a long while my major goal was adjusting with the greatest amount of success and progress and the least amount of damage. That included christian counseling, relocation, sustaining faith and participating in our faith community, taking on new writing ventures, a new school for my kids, and later on, dealing with some major medical issues for me.

All of this hinged on us depending on God for our direction, and learning time management from Gods point of view. My Dad used to tell me that sometimes God just has to lay you down to make you rest and let some things go, because you won't listen when he is talking to you in a still small voice. Read about Elijah in the bible if you don't know that God speaks in a still small voice. With all the things that were happening in our lives, all He wanted from us was simplicity in time management.
  1. Put Him first. Every morning, we pray together. We take the time to place God above our situations and circumstances and place our day back into His hands. I am the head of this household right now, so I have to teach my kids how to place God first. The simplest way to do this is to pray the way He taught the disciples and then to remember the second greatest commandment - to love my neighbor as I love myself. 
  2. Work out your own souls salvation - we daily learn and grow in grace. How can I do the things I know of in the Our Father and how can I love myself so that I can love my neighbor if I don't understand what that means? Study to show ourselves approved. Private christian schooling, constant learning at home, faith based fellowship, personal relationship with Christ.
  3. Stir up the gift within - We all have gifts. If we are doing something we love to do, our gift is most likely based in that area. God wants to use that gift to bless us, and to draw others to Him. It is a big deal for me to walk past fear and walk in my area of gifting not just to bless my church family, but to take care of my children and provide for my family. I had to work diligently on this, and because I was not, I had to experience some setbacks so that I could step forward. Don't get me wrong, God took care of us during those setbacks! He also realigned my vision so that I could learn how to use my gift more effectively.
  4. Remember Him - Worship Him in Spirit and in truth. It is awesome to worship God. What more amazing rush has ever been had then to be in true worship? What is worship? Showing God your love for Him with your whole being and Spirit, in truth. 
Once our time management was revamped, there was little to no time left for some of the things we would have wasted our time on before. Our thinking was realigned. What we put into ourselves is different, so what we get out is different.

Shortly into this process, I found that my children have some very specific food allergies and reactions and removed certain foods from their diet, and from mine by happenstance. Their moods, behavior and school performance were affected almost immediately, for the better. I gained an improvement in my health, as well.

The quality time we spent together changed. We have always spent a lot of  time together, but the nature of that time changed. We have become a more cohesive family based on the nature of Godly precepts and grounded by our experience.

My children and I are not perfected, by far, but He is perfecting this work which He has begun in us.

I am still human, I still have the gamut of emotions. I am angry at times because of what I feel like my babies are missing with their other parent. I pray through that and God reminds me of His promises toward them. I run into walls, but I know how to pray about a situation so that the window in the wall opens; or the wall crumbles.

What I know is that when your life changes, you have to change with it or you will be lost. Do something a new way. Since you have probably tried your own way, try God's. A year and 7 months ago I walked away from everything I had with two kids and some clothes. I am absolutely sure God is able.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Black, Divorced & Virtuous: Are we fighting? O Hayle No...

Black, Divorced & Virtuous: Are we fighting? O Hayle No...: "Sometimes we have disagreements, even in divorce. Usually, these disagreements are based in part in the source of the divorce. We are remi..."

Are we fighting? O Hayle No...

Sometimes we have disagreements, even in divorce. Usually, these disagreements are based in part in the source of the divorce. We are reminded how we got here to begin with. Pray and work. Work and pray. It is still an evolving relationship. 

It is statistically true - crimes are about money, sex or power. Of those three things, two of them are usually intrinsic - money and power. Divorce issues are no different. They are either passionate about money, sex or power. Let me cut to the chase where mine is concerned: money, sex, power.

It is time for school to begin anew for my kids. That means tuition finalized, new uniforms, school supplies, daily packed lunches, field trips, club fees, sports equipment, tutoring, etc.

I allowed my ex-husband to provide a very low amount of child support for the first two years so that he could get on his feet, economically, and with the agreement that he would help with extras, i.e. - school tuition, uniforms, club fees, etc. In his mind, he does help with those things, quite a bit. Probably even more than half. On a cold day in hell, that is just as true as it is in his mind.

Regular visitation? That has never worked. He sees the kids when it fits his schedule. I don't complain, because I don't make excuses for other human beings, therefore it does not reflect on me. That is a whole 'nother blog. Let me show you the money.

Ridiculous child support comes anytime after the 1st and 15th of the month. Although those are his pay dates, it could come on the 9th, 12th, 17th or 23rd. It is so unreliable and insignificant that I don't count it as household income. Most times I use it to buy whatever things the kids have been in dire need of since the last little check came.

I get phone call promises all the time of how much financial help the ex is going to be in the next two weeks, month, two months, future date to be announced. I allow them to slide right out of the ear not attached to the phone. They are invalid.

This is not to say he never helps outside of child support. He does. Last year he took our 6 year old to get soccer cleats and socks. He bought both of their mattresses, and he gives them pocket money from time to far in between time. He bought the boy a bike.

Meanwhile, our daughter had a summer math camp that was not free; he couldn't help with that. Our kids have a remaining tuition amount to pay for the upcoming school year, plus uniforms, school supplies, soccer and drama fees, and uniforms. He has $125 on all of that. All I hear is pennies dropping in the bottom of a barrel. I just kind of hold my peace and my breath, while imaging holding my piece.

Come February, he will definitely have more on everything. It is going to be cold outside and in Child Support court. Yes, that means for about 2 months we may not be able to have a civilized conversation, because he will be angry I took it that far, and I will be angry he forced me to have someone else illustrate his responsibility for the children I clothe, feed, pay medical care for, spend hours teaching, nurturing, loving, and raising.

The irony of the whole situation is the amount of time he spends telling me how much he helps me with our kids. How much financially he aids me in taking care of them, and how good he is at caring for them. And he believes what he is saying. I remind myself not to talk poorly about this man in front of his children or to myself, and to treat him as a person of value.

The truth is, I may see the $125, and I may not. The reality is, I am not depending on it a at all. I am depending on my day in court. That is all.

Black, Divorced & Virtuous: Divorce & Death: Awkward Moments

Black, Divorced & Virtuous: Divorce & Death: Awkward Moments: "Having dated my ex husband for so many years prior to our marriage, our families had developed close interpersonal relationships between ind..."

Divorce & Death: Awkward Moments

Having dated my ex husband for so many years prior to our marriage, our families had developed close interpersonal relationships between individuals. There is a lot of love between  us. There is still regular communication between several of us, and we are determined that we will never stop loving one another or lose contact with each other.

I don't want to give any fairytale ideas to you about extended family and divorce. People you think are your friends will turn tail and run the opposite direction without rhyme or reason, and sometimes in very mean spirited and negative fashion. Some folks have only been waiting for this excuse to tell you how they really felt about you all along.

However, there are just as many wonderful cousins, aunts and uncles with whom the relationships you have built over these years will withstand the test of the divorce hail storm and continue to grow.

In addition to this, when there are children involved, there are still existent family ties. Your children remain a part of both families, forever.

All of these details make it incredibly difficult when a family member dies. There are so many avenues to navigate. Dealing with this for the first time after my ex husband's remarriage adds even more twists to the proper protocol. My immediate response is to call those closest and console, comfort, care for them. I pulled back because it isn't reasonable. The cold reality is that although my children are a part of this family, I am not, even though we still have love for each other.

After I step back and pray for perspective, I have talked to my children, explained all to them, we have prayed together.  I realize I can send my condolence through my cousin, and contact the family matriarch by phone. I definitely got busy doing what I could right away, and made plans to do more later.

Although my ex husband will provide me with information, there is a good chance I won't be at the funeral service. It's okay. These are some of the changes that come along with divorce. Life changes, but it does not stop.