As I look back over the past week, I realize that it was full of many joy moments. But I also know that there was a daily battle for that joy. An internal battle of not letting the sadness take over and cloud out the joy.
This was a big week for Madison. She had her first job interview. She was really nervous but she got her first job. She'll be working at Chick-fil-a and she starts next week. She also had a great week at cheer camp where she was selected as an All American and got an award for being All Around Awesome.
Madison ended her week by passing her driving test and getting her license. She was so happy to be able to go pick up a friend and go out.
Noah finished up his summer working with the Dragons. On Saturday, we helped him move into his dorm and get ready for football camp.
Then the week ended with my baby boy coming home from a week in Tennessee with friends.
I love my kids and I love watching them grow and begin new chapters.
It's my day off. Should I have signed up for overtime? I really need to clean the house. It's been ignored a lot lately. Back to school shopping is right around the corner so the extra money would be good. No, I can't work today. My daughter wants me to be there to watch her cheer performance. She made All American. So glad I was there.
There is so much laundry to do. I can't remember the last time that the clothes were folded and put away. How are there so many dirty dishes? There's only been three of us at the house for the past couple of weeks. The grass needs mowed again. Didn't we just mowed the grass? I got the bushes trimmed by the back door. We don't live in a jungle anymore.
My son moves back into the dorm tomorrow. Did we get everything on his list? I hope financial aid will be enough to cover the costs. Maybe I should have tried to pick up the early shift. I could have done that before heading down to Cincinnati.
I was so behind on the laundry. I'm glad I stayed home today to get stuff done. I actually folded all the clean clothes today. Why is the washer leaking? Hopefully it won't quit on me. How long have we had this washer? Maybe I just need to check the drain.
The house smells so fresh and clean. I washed the dogs blankets and vacuumed the hair off the couch. The dog really needs to have her eyes fixed. I just don't know when I'll be able to afford the surgery. I guess it will have to wait until after the wedding. The wedding is just a few months away. I really need to order Madison's dress. I definitely need to pick up some overtime. Maybe next week I can work a little extra. I wonder if I should work on my day off? I would really love to have a day to just sleep and be lazy. Maybe I can do that once school starts.
I'm done cleaning for today. I didn't get everything done that I wanted to. But the house looks a little less cluttered. I'm glad I swapped shifts for Sunday. I hated giving up a couple of extra hours but now I can go to church and have lunch with the kids.
Ok I really need to figure out what's going on with the washer. I think it is the drain. Next week's schedule is really busy. Maybe I can work one of my off days and get the overtime. There are so many bills to pay. There are so many activities for the kids coming up. My brain is tired. My body is tired. My heart is tired.
But I must keep going. I just have to keep finding balance.
tWhen my kids were younger, I realized that they were starting a bad habit of just saying "sorry" anytime they hit their sibling or snatched something from them without asking for it. They figured that all the had to so was say "Sorry" and that made what they were doing ok.
I wasn't ok with that. So I started teaching them a real apology. Anytime they would do something to hurt their sibling, I would make them look their brother or sister in the eye and say,
"I'm sorry for.......
It was wrong.
Would you please forgive me?"
And then the sibling only had to say, "Thank You for the apology." I told them that if they wanted to they could add, "I forgive you." But to only say if they really meant it. We can't force the other person to forgive us in that moment. Forgiveness is something that is given to us......it can't be forced or just taken from someone else. When we are in the wrong we are never owed forgiveness. We should be grateful when we receive it.
These "apologies" were great lessons on how our actions and words can hurt others. And that even when we are truly sorry for what we have done, saying sorry can't change what we have done and make the hurt go away. It just lets the other person know that we understand we were wrong and we will plan to act differently in the future.
I think one of the most important things to remember about a true apology is that you do NOT add an excuse to it. Saying "I'm sorry I did something that hurt you, but you also did something to hurt me" is not an apology. When you add an excuse to your apology you feel that you were justified for the way you acted and expect to be excused.
I came across an easy way to remember this concept......
When you say, "I'm sorry, but......" you're really just a sorry butt.
And who wants to be a sorry butt?? I don't.
And while we're on the topic of apologies, here are a couple of other great tips:
~ Don't apologize for someone else's feelings. Saying, "I'm sorry you're mad" is not an apology. It's condescending.
~Do apologize for your own actions and attitudes. "I'm sorry I was rude" takes ownership. Be specific for what you've done wrong.
~Don't expect a reciprocal apology. Do no apologize expecting the other person to apologize equally. Just own your part of it. The end.
~Do attempt to make a repair. It's wise to take the next step and ask, "Is there anything I can do to make this right?"
I love this list by Dave Willis:
A real apology requires:
~freely admitting fault
~ fully accepting responsibility
~humbly asking forgiveness
~immediately changing behavior
~actively rebuilding trust
Think about the last time you apologized for something that you had done wrong. Did you give a real apology or were you a Sorry Butt??
Another week has come to an end and it's time to reflect on the things that brought me joy. Those ordinary things in my daily life that I sometimes overlook in the midst of busyness.
My week started with an unexpected gift that was an answer to prayer. It was God saying to me, "I've heard your prayers, I see what you're facing and I'm taking action on your behalf." He is always faithful and has never left me to walk this life alone.
I got to spend some time visiting with my oldest son. His schedule is crazy, so I love it when he gets time to come over. We made some great progress on wedding stuff. Got most of the groomsmen fitted for their tuxes and worked out some good ideas for the rehearsal dinner. The wedding is coming together nicely. And it will be here before we know it.
We recently merged our phone plans so I finally was able to upgrade my cracked phone. It's nice to have a phone without tape on the screen. I also got my glasses back. They had broken a couple weeks ago.
My youngest had a great week at the church retreat. He mad a decision to renew his commitment to God. I'm so proud of the growth he has had in his faith walk.
I ended my week watching my boys play baseball. It's always great to see them and get great big hugs from them!!
A new week has already started and I'm looking for the joy moments in big and little ways.
I am in no way claiming to be a parenting expert. As of right now, I'm parenting two young adults aged 21 and 19 as well as two teenagers age 16 and 14. I've tried many, many different parenting techniques over the years. Some good.....and some that caused craziness for our family. At times I've had rules for EVERYTHING and other times I've thrown all the rules out the window and just flown by the seat of my pants. I wouldn't recommend the latter for an extended period of time!!
As the kids have gotten older, there is one thing that I have done consistently that has proven to be the most effective in my parenting........open communication!! I've tried to be a good listener and give good feedback and guidance. With the young adults, I try not to lecture when they share their plans with me....even if I think that their plans are insane or unrealistic. When my oldest hit the teenage years, I really failed at the open communication. I asked him questions and when he would share things, I would overreact and freak out. It took a few years of practice to get comfortable with being willing to listen more than I talk.
With my teenage daughter, I listen to all the stories about friends and boys. Her world is very dramatic and very important to her. Sometimes she asks me to get involved to help with a friend or speak up about an injustice. Other times she's just inviting me into her world and allowing me to see the world through her eyes.
Now there are days when I come home from work too exhausted to listen and my daughter understands that. I simply just tell her that my brain can't handle anymore talking tonight but tomorrow I'll be happy to hear the whole story. And because I don't do that very often, she will save the story for the next day....and it usually has an extra chapter or two by then!!
My relationship with my oldest survived a very rough time because I did everything in my power to keep the communication open. Even though he wasn't living at home, we met for breakfast regularly and kept connected. I wanted him to know that no matter what I was there for him and he could tell me anything.....even if I didn't like it or agree with it.
I must warn you that in order for this to be effective you have to be prepared to hear some crazy things and not react in a way that shuts down the conversation. They may share that they were offered drugs or that some boy asked them for sex. They may share that they have been feeling really depressed and have been dealing with suicidal thoughts. Teenagers and young adults have a lot of things going on in their brains and talking it out helps them sort through the junk.
They need parents that are willing to be open to hear anything that they have to say without fear of judgement or invalidating their feelings. You don't have to speak their lingo or be their best friend. You can keep your role as parent and still be able to communicate with them. It's all about your attitude as they're talking. If you sigh a lot and tell them to just get to the point, the conversation is over and you might not get another chance. They will remember that reaction the next time they want to share something with you. And how do you think they will respond when you want to share some insight or advice with them? They most likely will not be receptive to it.
Open communication says, "I love you...and there is nothing that you can do or say that is going to change that." When they know that you truly care about what they have to say, then they just might listen to your input into their lives. There are no guarantees but open communication definitely increases your odds.
"Being joyful isn't what makes you grateful, being grateful is what makes you joyful." ~ Ann Voskamp
There is a lot of heavy stuff going on in my life right now. I have been open and real about my battle with hurt and anger. As I was reading through some of my recent blogs, I realized that I hadn't posted much about joy lately. So I've decided to start sharing my weekly joy moments.
This week started with a Sunday off....which meant church and lunch with the kids. One of my favorite things has always been dinners with my family. I love sitting around the table enjoying good food and conversation. It doesn't happen every week like I wish, but I am so grateful when our schedules make it possible.
On my days off this week, I was able to meet up with friends for lunch and encouraging conversation. As a busy working solo mom, it can be difficult to make time to meet with other women. But when I do, I always walk away refreshed and joyful.
I love my kids and I love being a football and cheer mom. Today I was able to watch my youngest play in his first 7-on-7 game as a freshman. Seeing him play a sport he loves makes me a very happy mom.
"Joy is always possible because there is always, always something to be thankful for." ~ Ann Voskamp
As I start a new week, I will be purposely looking for the joy moments....the little and big things that bring joy to my life. Things that I can choose to be thankful for in the midst of the everyday.
Today I came across a message on Youtube titled "How to Recover After an Affair". I figured I would give it a listen and see what 4 or 5 steps they would outline to help me move on. But as I listened, I realized this was something different. This message brought to light some new perspectives for me that really helped me grasp the truth about my feelings and why the actions of my spouse impacted me the way they did.
The message was by Andre Butler from Word of Faith Christian Center in Detroit. If you marriage has been impacted in anyway by an affair, I encourage you to listen to the entire message here. There were many great takeaways for me.
First, God hates divorce but he hates infidelity even more. (Matthew 19:9) It is a broken covenant that causes great harm to your mate. It's a heinous crime that burns down everything in your life. (Job 31) An adulterer is anyone who receives sexual gratification from anyone other than their mate. There are multiple types of infidelity or cheating other than a physical affair. Infidelity includes pornography, dinners alone with the opposite sex, private conversations in person or via text, lusting after another person and emotional affairs.
Secondly, each person is responsible for their own heart. You don't just fall in love with someone else. You open your heart and allow yourself to be seduced by someone else. For your heart to be deceived you have spent some time with that other person. You have allowed yourself to become emotionally close to another person. You have crossed a line and formed an emotional bond with another person. (Job 31:9-12) You ignored the symptoms of pre-cheating. You put yourself in a dangerous place. You didn't set boundaries or you ignored the ones that were in place. Instead of choosing to live holy, you chose to play near the fire thinking that you had everything under control. You didn't take time to think how your actions would harm your mate or that you would ever get burnt.
And thirdly,Infidelity causes a broken heart and a broken spirit. A broken heart is a powerful emotion that turns your world upside down. When you cheat on your mate it causes them great damage, heartbreak, betrayal, rejection, broken trust, jealousy, anger, and grief. It is the death of their marriage as they know it. It can take years for them to process these emotions and move to a place of healing.
Married men and women, I challenge you to guard your heart and your mind. Do not open your heart to anyone that is not your spouse. Set boundaries and don't cross them. You made a vow before God, to love, honor and cherish your mate. There are severe consequences when you break that vow and dishonor your marriage. (Hebrews 13:4)
Life has been a roller coaster of intense emotions over the past 6 months. I've been walking a very difficult road and I've struggled with how to keep focusing on God amidst the hurt and anger. God has been so faithful to walk along side of me and many times carry me through some of the darkest hours of heartbreak. His Word has been a source of life and refreshment for my weary soul.
Each day I feel the cracks in my heart healing just a little more. Each day I get stronger in my trust in God. Each day I'm loosening my grip on controlling the outcome of the situation.
Only in God's strength am I able to say that I have forgiven my husband for the affair. I know that his actions were sins against God and were a result of giving in to temptation and ignoring boundaries. There were unmet expectations and disconnectedness in our relationship. He allowed the lies of the enemy to convince him that another woman was the solution and only cure for his unhappiness.
Seventeen years ago, I responded to betrayal and disconnectedness from my husband by starting an online friendship with another man. I crossed the boundaries and shared details of my marriage that were inappropriate. The friendship only lasted a short time but it caused further damage to our already fragile marriage. Even though I was a Christian at the time, I did not have a deep intimate relationship with Christ. I didn't know how to take my hurt and loneliness to the Father for comfort and healing. I sought a worldly solution to a heart problem. I am so grateful that I know better now. I know how deeply the Father cares for me and wants me to bring all my cares and concerns to Him. I know that He is the only answer for my heart issues. And that's what forgiveness is. It's a heart issue.
Forgiveness reflects your heart attitude toward God and the person who sinned. Before we can have a heart ready to forgive, we must approach God and battle through the hurt and ask him to give us a forgiving and merciful heart.
"Aiming for a forgiving attitude means working to forgive those who sin against us in our hearts, being prepared to offer mercy to the offender if and when asked, and being ready to forgive even if reconciliation may not happen at this time."
Once we are able to forgive, then the even harder work of rebuilding trust begins. I like how Rick Warren differentiates between Forgiveness and Trust.
"Many people are reluctant to show mercy because they don't understand the difference between trust and forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past. Trust has to do with future behavior. Forgiveness must be immediate, whether or not a person asks for it. Trust must be rebuilt over time. Trust requires a track record. If someone hurts you repeatedly, you are commanded by God to forgive them instantly, but your are not expected to trust them immediately, and you are not expected to continue allowing them to hurt you."
Even though I have forgiven my husband for the affair, I admit that I am really struggling with the hateful words spoken and things that he has done or threatened to do in the last couple of months. I don't understand how you can proclaim to love Christ and behave in such hateful ways. I know that God sees it all and hears it all. And in His timing he will deal with it. I just have to remove myself from all contact, at least for this season. Maybe in time there will be restoration.
For now I must remember that forgiveness is a personal conversation between me and God. He knows my heart and he knows the offenses against me. I can lay those offenses at His feet and trust Him to deal with them. And when I'm tempted to pick them up again, He reminds me that those are not yours to carry anymore. That battle belongs to Him.
Lord, I come to you today asking for your strength. I am tired. I am overwhelmed by the weariness and hopelessness. This is the hardest road that I've ever had to walk. It's so hard to ignore the lies of the enemy. Lies that I am not worthy of your love. Lies that you have left me to handle this trial alone.
The enemy is trying to convince me that I'm a failure because I didn't give enough, love deep enough or forgive quick enough. There is an ongoing battle as I try to take every thought captive.
Sometimes I feel like I can't go on. I fear that without Your strength I will not be able to withstand one more attack. I need you to be my defense. There are things going on around me that I do not understand. These things make me feel weak and afraid.
I know that You didn't bring me to this wilderness to just leave me alone but I don't see the way out. I need Your Spirit to guide me and show me the way. I need Your wisdom and discernment to make the decisions that will bring You glory. I don't want to give in to the temptation to react in anger. Help me keep my troubled heart set on You.
You have promised that "If I should say that my foot is slipping, Your unfailing love, O Lord, will hold me up" (Psalm 94:18) Even in the midst of this chaos, I know that You are Lord. I know that this situation is in Your control. You know what tomorrow brings and I trust in You.
You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation
The rock on which I stand
Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There's not a place where I'll go
You've not already stood
I will trust in 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.