I love music. It speaks to my heart and soul. When I'm feeling down, music helps me process my feelings and lifts my spirit. During happy times, I love to sing my favorite songs driving in the car with the windows down or dancing in the kitchen. At times when I can't find the words to express what's going on in my head or heart, I can usually find a song that does a pretty good job.
I've had a lot going on in my head and heart over the past few months. And so many songs have been therapy to me. They give my thoughts and feelings a voice which keeps me from burying them deep inside. So many praise and worship songs have reminded me that God is with me and will not let me walk this journey alone. They have ministered deeply to me. They have become prayers that I sing to God.
However, there is a country song that says so well the wishes that I have had during the aftermath of the affair. I had heard it before but never really listened to the lyrics. My daughter shared it with me a few weeks ago and then last night we heard it on the radio. The song is "Better Man" by Little Big Town. Here are some of the lyrics:
I know I’m probably better off on my own
Than lovin' a man who didn’t know
What he had when he had it
And I see the permanent damage you did to me
Never again, I just wish I could forget when it was magic
I wish it wasn’t four am, standing in the mirror
Saying to myself, you know you had to do it I know
The bravest thing I ever did was run
Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I can feel you again
But I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man
And I know why we had to say goodbye
Like the back of my hand
And I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man
A better man
I know I’m probably better off all alone
Than needing a man who could change his mind at any given minute
And it’s always on your terms
I’m hanging on every careless word
Hoping it might turn sweet again
Like it was in the beginning
But your jealousy, I can hear it now
You’re talking down to me like I’ll always be around
You push my love away like it’s some kind of loaded gun
Boy, you never thought I’d run
I wonder what we would’ve become
If you were a better man
We might still be in love
If you were a better man
You would’ve been the one
If you were a better man
I have spent a lot of time and energy wishing that things could be different. Wishing that he was different. But all that wishing is just wasted time and energy. He is who he is and that's not good enough for me. I don't want selfish, controlling love. I want love that dies to self willingly and humbly seeks to serve. I don't want condescending attitudes and cruel words. I want to be valued and affirmed.
I'm learning that I'm better off on my own. The cost to remain together is too high emotionally and mentally. My head knows that but my heart has a hard time accepting that. It's taken some time but each day I get stronger and more confident that it's time to say goodbye.
No more wishing for things to change. No more wondering what might have been. It's time to finish this book and begin writing a new one.
We're currently on vacation in Florida. We're staying in a condos on the beach with my parents and aunt. My siblings and their families will join us in the next day or so.
I love the beach. I love the ocean and the sun and salt air. The sound of the waves crashing onto the shore is so relaxing to me.
Today as I was walking out into the waves and they were crashing over me, it reminded me of the song "You Make Me Brave". The chorus says:
As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
The amazing thing about waves in the ocean is that they never stop. They never end. They just keeping crashing one after the other.....over and over and over. You can try to run from them but you can't stop them from rolling in. Sometimes the waves are small and just flow around you. Other times they can be powerful and overwhelming. Even when we leave the ocean, the waves never stop.
That's just like the love of God for us. It never ends. It just keeps coming in waves.....one right after the other. It's crashes over us and drenches us. Sometimes His love and care for us is too overwhelming to comprehend. We can run away from God but when we come back to Him, we find that His love is still there.
God's love calls us to step out away from the shore and put our trust in Him. When we do that we can face anything that comes our way. The song continues:
I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace
You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way
I'm so thankful that God's love gives me strength and makes me brave. I don't have to live in fear of the future. I can walk confidently into the waves and let His love wash over me.
"Nothing is more beautiful than a real smile that has struggled through tears."
I've been quite open about the chaos that is currently going on in my life. It's no secret that I have struggled with how to move on past the hurt and pain. It's been really challenging for me to take the steps necessary to find the joy in life again. I have always been an optimistic person and have tried to see the good in every situation. But this betrayal has weighed heavily on my heart and spirit.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have begun to feel a change taking place. I'm enjoying the little things in life again. I'm appreciating the blessings that God has given me. I am thankful for God's provision during this difficult time. He has used many different people to provide just what I needed.
Last week I had several customers tell me that I had a great smile. One told me that my smile increased my overall beauty. It was just what I needed to hear in that moment because I was feeling down after some negative conversations.
While sitting in the airport on Sunday, I couldn't help but notice my kids laughing and joking with each other. It made my heart so happy. In that moment, I was so grateful to be getting to go on vacation with them.
I'm usually not one to chat with strangers sitting next to me on the plane. I prefer to spend the time reading the latest book on my Kindle. But this time was different. I spent the entire flight chatting with the person next to me. We talked about everything from college football to careers to how we both thought one of the flight attendants looked like a ventriloquist's dummy. It still makes me laugh when I think about it.
And then today, I travelled to my happy place.....the beach!!! I love the sound of the waves and the smell of the salt air. I hope to be able to move to my happy place when my nest is empty in a few years. But for now I will enjoy as many visits as possible.
It feels so good to smile again.....and to really mean it. To know that I have true joy and peace about the future gives me a new perspective on the everyday stuff. I will be smiling a lot this week as I make memories with my kids and my extended family.
My life may have taken an unexpected turn and not be going the way that I had planned, but that's ok. I will keep smiling and keep trusting that God knows what happens next.
Sometimes you just need a good cry to relieve the stress and release frustrations. That was me tonight. I hit that point where I just had to have a little pity party and a good cry. It was fueled by a combination of exhaustion, lack of sleep and mental stress.
I just feel like I don't have enough hours in the day to get it all done. I know that I can't do it all, but finding the right balance is not easy. I'm trying to work enough to pay the bills, but not so much that I'm not available for the kids. I want the kids to do chores around the house but I don't want them to have to do it all because I'm too tired from too much work and not enough sleep.
It sucks carrying the weight of the family on my own. But right now that's what I have to do. I have to keep getting up each day and giving 110%. I don't have the luxury of being selfish or chasing my own dreams right now. I have to work hard every day to make sure that my kids have what they need. It can sometimes become overwhelming when I think about all of the "what if's" and "impossibilities".
I just have to remember that I'm not doing it alone. God is right there with me every step of the way. Only in His strength does the impossible become possible.
So every now and then I have a good cry to cleanse my soul and refresh my spirit. The tears wash away the negative thoughts and feelings. Then in my weakness I cry out to God and he lifts me up and carries me through the stressful moment or difficult day. With His help I don't have to get stuck in the negative junk. I don't have to have it all figured out. I just have to trust God one moment....one decision....one day at a time.
I must remember that I'm human and it's ok to have a melt down every once in a while. It's good to cry it out but then I must refocus of where God is leading me.
This weekend was my daughter's 16th birthday. It was filled with friends, family, food and fun!! Since she had the BIG party last year for her Quinceanera, this year was a sleepover with friends, shopping at the mall and lunch with the family.
When I look at her, I am blown away at what an amazing young woman she is becoming. She is loyal, fierce, strong willed, determined, blunt, a justice fighter, beautiful, intelligent and takes no crap from anyone. She hates fake people, sugar coating and liars.
She has been betrayed and has had her heart broken but she still loves others in a big way. She pushes through fear and anxiety on a daily basis. When she steps out of her comfort zone she surprises herself at what she can accomplish. But I'm not surprised. I see this crazy, wild, fighter who can do anything she sets her mind to do.
She knows how to push my buttons and drive me crazy. We have lots of mother ~ daughter "discussions" about clothing and chores and curfews. But we also have lots of real conversations about friends and boys and life. I'm thankful that she still includes me in her drama filled high school world...even if I can only stay for a little while. We don't always agree on things but at the end of the day she still tells me that she loves me and that makes it all worth it.
In a couple weeks she'll be getting her license and a little more freedom and independence. It's a big step in the "letting go" process for me. I'm excited to see her continue to grow and do amazing things as she prepares for the next chapter of her life. I just pray that God will give me the wisdom to guide her and the strength to hang on for the ride.
I want you to smile more than you cry. I want you to find joy in the little moments of the day again. I want you to rise above this madness and chaos. I want you to choose love over hate. I want you to move past the anger and hurt of your husband's infidelity and angry threats. I want you to love living life again. I want you to stand strong in who you are as a beautiful, valuable, hard working, kind, loving woman. I want you to find true peace in your soul so that you can say, "Through the storm, I am held. It is well."
I know some days it feels impossible. The grief comes crashing in and takes your breath away. Remember when you first discovered the affair? Your mind couldn't comprehend your husband's actions. You were devastated and didn't think you would survive the pain.
You just knew that once you confronted him with the truth that he would apologize and seek your forgiveness. But when he chose the other woman over you and your children, you felt like your world had ended. You weren't sure how you would have the strength to get up each day and continue with the responsibilities of life.
BUT YOU DID GO ON!
You've woken up 56 days since your world was turned upside down. Your eyes have opened, you've gotten out of bed and you've found the strength to face each day. You've given your children the strength to stand and face each day as well. Remember when the sadness was overwhelming and the anger consumed you? And the nights that you wept uncontrollably as you tried to make sense of it all? That part is over now.
For 56 days you've survived a pain worse than you've ever known. You've gone to work, paid the bills, cared for the kids, and taken care of the house. You've grown stronger and stronger with each passing day. I bet you never realized how strong you truly were until you looked into the face of your children and realized how much they needed you to not give up on life.
I know you didn't realize just how much you loved your husband until he betrayed you and chose to speak such hateful words to you. When you realized that your marriage was over, your heart broke into a million pieces. Your mind travelled back in time through all the wonderful memories, family celebrations and even the disappointments and disagreements. You wondered how you could walk away from someone after 2 decades together. As you processed all the emotions and began picking up the pieces of your heart, you put them in the hands of your Heavenly Father. He took those pieces and put them back together with great care and gentleness. He reminded you that you are His daughter and that He cares so deeply for you. He rescued you from the darkness and upheld you with his love. He has filled the void in your heart and life with His presence. He has surrounded you with an army of prayer warriors and an amazing support system. He has proven to you that He will never leave you to walk this journey alone.
There is no magic formula to heal from infidelity. You must embrace the pain and not run from it. Don't be ashamed of your sadness. Don't feel guilty for the joy and freedom you're experiencing as you look to a new future. Don't let this affair change who you are deep down inside. Share your thoughts, your fears, your joys- all of it matters and is more important then you know.
God has a special plan and purpose for the pain that you have experienced. You can trust Him with your heart. He will take the broken pieces and make you new again. Remember to love yourself. Embrace happiness. Seek to honor Christ in everything you do. Pursue your dreams. Cherish every moment you spend with your children.
You will survive this.
No you will do more than just survive....you will thrive.
"Used carelessly, words have the power to leave you feeling shamed, unloved, unappreciated and disrespected. And while words can be forgiven, they cannot be unsaid, unheard and unfelt."
We use bridges almost everyday. You see them in cities, suburbs and rural communities. A bridge may look like a simple concept used to connect people but they take painstaking planning and tedious labor to make them safe and secure. A typical bridge may take less than a year to even a decade to construct.
Our relationships with others are bridges that connect us on a personal level. Our love, trust, honesty and mutual respect for each other are the planks and supports in that bridge. When our supports and planks are in place then we can feel safe and secure in that relationship.
But what happens when we use words carelessly and harm someone else? What happens when selfish actions rip out those planks or knock down the supports of that bridge? What happens when choices that we make blow up that bridge? How do we rebuild that bridge and heal that relationship?
"Trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair."
The most important thing to realize when rebuilding a broken relationship is that it will take time and lots of patience. We must first commit to be honest and admit our mistakes. We can't tell half truths and try to protect ourselves or the other person. We must be brutally honest with ourselves and tear down the walls of deceit that we have been hiding behind. It will be messy and ugly, but the only way to move on is to get everything out in the open.
We must then take ownership of those mistakes without justifying our actions. When we do that we are putting back the planks one by one. Each time that we validate someone's hurt and pain, we are strengthening the supports of that bridge. When we are patient and not rush the person to "just get over it", then we acknowledge the depth of the pain that we caused them. One of the worst things we can do is attempt to get them to "shut up" while expressing their anger over our betrayal. Each person processes things differently and in a different time period. We have to give them the time that they need....however long it takes.
While we wait for them to process their feelings, we must be dependable and consistent. Our words will only matter if our actions back up what we say. We can say that we love them and care about their feelings, but if our actions are hurtful and selfish then we cause more damage to the bridge that we're trying to rebuild. We must honor their boundaries and put their needs first. It will be uncomfortable for us to wait. We can start to think that we've waited long enough and they just need to put it in the past and move on. But that's not how the grieving process works.
"Hearts will heal on their own timetable. Never presume to know how others should deal with their pain."
When someone is betrayed and trust is broken, they go through the stages of grief as they process everything that has happened. They are grieving the death of a relationship...the death of what was. They realize that the person they loved and thought they knew is gone. And even though there is the possibility of restoration, it will never be the same ever again. The relationship will be forever different. It will take time to accept that reality.
If we truly want to restore what was broken and build something new, we have to be intentional in our words, actions and choices. We must make every effort to patiently rebuild the bridge one truth at a time....one kind word at a time...one kept promise at a time.....one plank at a time.
I never expected that I would be in a position to care so deeply about child support laws. As I'm navigating my way through this world of separation, dissolution, divorce and child support, I'm learning that the system doesn't really care about the kids.
So I'd like to step up on my soapbox for the next few minutes and share my frustration with a broken system.
Child support is supposed to help provide basic necessities including food, shelter and clothing as well as extracurricular activities, school expenses and entertainment. It's supposed to help maintain the same lifestyle that the kids experienced before the separation or divorce. The key phrase being "supposed to"
The reality of child support is much different.....especially in the state of Ohio where I live. Ohio calculates child support amounts based on the combined income of the parents. The parents are each responsible for a percentage of the annual support amount set by Ohio.
In my case, my base salary is 25% more than my estranged spouse. But somehow with the Ohio formula, his attorney estimates that he only has to pay 20% of his salary!!!! TWENTY PERCENT!!! A whopping $63.20 a week.....for the care of 2 teenagers!!! While 100% of my paycheck is used for their housing and care. And on top of that I've been informed that as I pick up extra hours at work to make sure that my kids have food, shelter, electricity, internet, transportation, and clothing, his percentage will go down!!!! As I work overtime or work hours for my coworkers to pay for athletic fees, cheer fees and other extra expenses, his contribution will decrease. HIS CONTRIBUTION WILL DECREASE!!!!
Can someone please explain to me how that makes any sense at all????My extra work will not benefit my kids....it will benefit my estranged spouse!!! That really infuriates me!!!
My kids well being is worth so much more than a measly 20%!!! I wish the broken child support system realized that!!
During a military operation innocent people can sometimes suffer injuries or even death. This is known as collateral damage. In our lives sometimes our choices can cause collateral damage to those around us.
A drug addict can overdose and leave innocent children as orphans.
A drive by shooting can take the life of an unsuspecting bystander.
A business owner can make foolish decisions that cause his company to collapse taking away the livelihood of his employees.
A drunk driver can drive recklessly causing a crash.
A pregnant teenager can decide that abortion is the only solution.
An unhappy spouse can look outside the marriage for fulfillment and destroy a family.
"People at war with themselves will always cause collateral damage in the lives of those around them." ~ John Mark Green
My own family is dealing with collateral damage right now. The affair ended last week but the damage is catastrophic.. The other woman has moved on. The reality of her choices have sunk in. The marriage is broken beyond repair and heading towards divorce. The hurt and pain for my children is real and raw. They wrestle daily with how to process their anger. They love their Dad but they don't understand his choices. Deep inside they doubt his love for them. They question how he can claim to love them and do what he did.
"When a marriage is affected by an affair, it can be like dropping a pebble into water. The ripples of devastation grow wider and wider and can last literally for generations." ~ David & Cindy Taylor
As they look at the destruction to the world that they knew, they are confused and not sure what to do next. They are a Carlson...but what does that mean anymore? How do you put the pieces of your family back together when your Dad is not coming back home? How do you grieve the loss of someone you thought you knew?
Over time they will begin to pick up the pieces and create something new with their Dad. Right now nobody really knows what that is going to look like. How long before Dad is with someone new? Will he understand that they're not ready? Will he understand that they need more time to forgive him for the affair? Until he grasps the devastation that his choices caused in their lives, the rebuilding process cannot begin.
Truth has power. It can destroy illusions and reveal character. It can inspire movements and bring down barriers. When we make truth an integral part of our life we become a person of our word. People will trust us and know that they can depend on us. Telling the truth in a moment of difficulty takes great strength and courage. Unfortunately, many people choose instead to be cowards and hide behind lies. They take what seems like the easy way out to avoid the conflict or pain of being honest. But lying will cost you everything. It destroys relationships, damages trust and causes life altering consequences.
"Truth is like surgery. It hurts but cures. A lie is like a pain killer. It gives instant relief but has side effects forever."
Speaking truth is viewed by some as being hateful or harassment or disparaging to them. But being truthful is not hate. It's just the opposite....it's a sign of great love. Speaking truth protects others from a lifetime of pain and regret.
When you force people to face truth and be completely honest with others and with themselves, it can get really ugly. Especially if the person is comfortable in the world that the lies have created for them. When you tear down those walls, you are exposing who they truly are behind the mask.
When our mask is removed, we are faced with a critical choice. Do we admit our failures and change or do we lash out and attack the person who had the courage to speak truth to us and about us?
"The only people who are mad at you for speaking the truth are those people who are living a lie. Keep speaking truth."
Proverbs 12:22 tells us that "the Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth". Telling the truth brings great delight to our Heavenly Father. It's not easy. It takes courage and reliance on God. Job 27:5 says "I will have the moral courage to make my actions consistent with my knowledge of right and wrong." It takes practice and maturity to be a person of integrity.
"The truth always has a way of coming out in the end, no matter how hard anyone tries to hide it or stop it. Lies are just a temporary delay to the inevitable."
You can try many tactics to suppress the truth. You can bully or threaten those who know the truth about you. You can even try to take legal action against them. But the inevitable will happen. Your lies will be exposed and the truth about your character and choices will be evident to everyone who knows you.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.