* Updated for accuracy.
Since I filed for divorce in September of 2017, there has been a series of negotiations between my estranged spouse and myself. We have divided debts and assets. We determined custody and visitation schedules. We argued about what would be acceptable financial support. We argued about him getting a real job. Finally the court set a hearing date for us to finalize our divorce.
After a meeting with my attorney a few days before the hearing, I felt confident that my children would be provided for and that I would be compensated for some of the financial burden that I had carried on my own for the last half of 2017. I thought he would finally have to do what was right. But I had been misinformed.
There would be no financial compensation for my expenses. There wouldn't even be any retroactive child support because a temporary support order was never filed. When I arrived at court that morning, my estranged spouse and his attorney decided to agree to our final proposal. Changes were made and typed up by the paralegal.
We went before the magistrate and the agreement was read on the record. We both stated that we had willingly come to the agreement and believed that there was no chance of reconciliation of our marriage. All that was required was our signatures on the documents so they could be filed with the court.
However, that did not happen. My attorney had agreed to allow my estranged spouse to take a copy of the agreements home to read before he signed the final copy. When I asked my attorney about the filing of the child support order, he told me that it wouldn't be filed until the agreements were signed.
I left court that day so disappointed in what had transpired. My estranged spouse was getting to walk away from ALL but 12% of the financial responsibility for the care of his children from May to December of 2017. And now there would be no child support for January and probably February as well. Because after court I learned that he could take up to 20 days to read the documents before he signed them. And the child support order would not even go into effect until the final divorce decree was signed by the judge. And that could be 2 weeks or more after the documents were filed. The couple that have been providing financial and emotional support to my estranged spouse were at the hearing. Upon seeing them there my attorney informed me that they were clients of his.
It has now been 8 days since we appeared in court and I am still waiting on the documents to be signed. I feel that my attorney failed me and when I confronted him about that he stated that he would be withdrawing as my counsel. Today I received notification from the court that if the documents are not filed within the 20 days then the motion for divorce will be dismissed without further notice.
I have dealt with a lot of emotions over the past week. I have screamed and yelled and cried a lot. I have tried to write this blog several times and just couldn't find the words to explain it clearly. I have felt the sting of betrayal all over again. I have felt hopeless and overwhelmed. But God has been so faithful to show me that he's got me and my kids right in the palm of His hands.
On my way to work at 4:30 this morning, I felt His presence and a peace came over me as He reminded me that He had provided so many blessings in the month of December and January. It may not be right that my estranged spouse gets to neglect his responsibility but you cannot legislate the human heart. Only Jesus can change that and cause someone to do what is right by his children. No court ruling can rebuild what has been broken. No judge can repair the trust in a family. No amount of money can make up for choosing someone else and their children over your own.
There are limits to what a broken legal system can fix. I have come to accept that. Life is not always fair but God is always in control. There is nothing that can stop His plan for my life. I have to be willing to trust Him to deal with the difficult people in my life. I can't expect a secular court system to deal with spiritual issues of the heart.
I will continue to fight for what is best for my kids by standing up for what is right and by kneeling down to give Him what I can't control.
Memories flood my mind today and out of nowhere tears begin to fall. When I think about what could have been it reopens old wounds. When I think about him doing life with her, I get a little jealous. And then I hate myself for caring for someone who chose to walk away without a second thought.
What is going on in my heart and mind today? I have made some great progress in healing my broken heart but all of a sudden I want to know why he didn't fight for me. How was it so easy for him to just move on with someone else? Why am I torturing myself with these questions? I know it must have something to do with our upcoming court hearing.
Tomorrow I will stand before a judge to officially end my marriage.... the clock will stop at 22 years. Twenty two years filled with so much life together......at times it's been messy and chaotic, sometimes beautiful, and other times broken. But now it's ending.
The events of the past year have made it necessary to end the partnership as husband and wife. My head knows that but sometimes my heart tries to ignore the truth. My heart just wants to remember the good times, the loving times, the beautiful times.
But my mind can see the cracks. It remembers the broken promises and hears the hateful words. My mind reminds my heart that he didn't persevere when I needed him. He didn't fight for me above anything else. He didn't uphold his vow to me or to God. He didn't know how to love like Christ. Sometimes he said just the right words but there was no follow thru.
There is no need to try to figure out the why. It just makes me crazy. I must keep moving forward. I must embrace the emotions as they come. Feel them fully then give them to God and ask for His comfort, peace and understanding. I can't get stuck in the "I wish's" or "What if's". This is not a Hallmark movie. This is real life and it's messy and it's complicated. The healing process takes time. And if done correctly then I will learn from what I've been through and become stronger because of it. If I try to move through it too quickly I will just repeat the pain and brokenness with someone else.
Today I will feel deeply and fully all of the emotions from all of the memories from the past 22 years. As I continue on this journey of healing, I will embrace it all....the good, the bad and the heartbreaking. I will continue to embrace it as long as it takes to heal it. I will acknowledge the past's influence on shaping me into the woman that I am. I will also remind myself that my value and worth are found in Christ and not the acceptance or rejection of anyone else.
The words echo over and over in my head, "You helped this situation by being the victim, you are good at that rather than take responsibility. You never appreciated what I did. It was never enough for you....never." I know that they are lies but yet they play on repeat in my head.
I begin to doubt the truth....the real truth of what I know. I must fight the lies with the facts. Denying the truth does not change the facts. Just because someone says something doesn't make it true. It could be their perception or their opinion. That does not make it my truth. I don't have to accept it.
When I weigh the facts, I erase the doubt and silence the lies. I take away their power over me. When I win the internal battle then I have peace and joy. I gain strength and courage to stand up and fight.
I am not a victim. I am a survivor.
I am not a victim. I am a warrior.
I will stand with confidence on the truth. I will not let the lies steal my peace and joy. I will not let the attacks weaken me. I will continue to be strong for those who depend on me.
God is my defender. He will fight for me against my enemies to give me victory. He will go before me and make a way. He is my strength and makes me brave. He walks me through places of trouble and suffering.
There is nothing that anyone can say to me or about me that invalidates who I am and what I am becoming. You can criticize me, attack me, curse me, withhold things from me, speak badly of me, bring false accusations against me or try to shame me to try to defeat me. But I will not be defeated because I am a warrior.
I wasn't born a warrior. My pain shaped me into a warrior.
I became a warrior when I chose to get back up after I was knocked down.
I became a warrior when I refused to back down and stood up for my dignity and my self worth.
I became a warrior when I refused to be a silent victim hiding in the shadows.
I became a warrior when I fought in spite of the fear.
I became a warrior when I refused to allow the pain and struggle to make me a victim.
I became a warrior when I shared my story and refused to be ashamed of it.
I became a warrior when I wiped the tears away and refused to be a slave to bad news.
A warrior is that woman who gets up despite others trying to destroy her. She declares victory even when she can't see past the battle in front of her. She knows God is by her side and that he will work miracles on her behalf.
I am that woman.
Tonight you close the chapter on 2017. Tomorrow you will wake up to a new day....a new year.....a new chapter. Be proud of what you accomplished this year. You have learned about the strengths that you didn't know you had. You have seen how God used your weaknesses to grow your faith in Him. You have provided a home and a stable support system for your children in the midst of chaos and brokenness. You have smiled through the pain and not given up...even when you really wanted to.
2018 will be a year of more growth and new opportunities. Your heart will continue to heal. It's a long process and there will be setbacks. There will be days when you will feel peace and joy overflowing. Then there will be days when the raw pain will resurface and you will find yourself struggling to make it through the day. Don't beat yourself up for having bad days. You lost a lot in 2017 and there is no quick fix to handle the memories and emotions triggered by those memories. You are creating a new normal and a new life. It takes time and patience to process it all.
Continue to trust God to provide for you. He sees what others are contributing and he knows how much your bills are. Nothing is too difficult for him to take care of. He makes the impossible possible. Seek Him and His plans above everything else. He will comfort you like no one else can. He loves you deeply and cares for every detail of your life.
Focus on what's important. Don't get distracted trying to change the behaviors of others. Don't waste time and energy exposing character flaws. Instead focus on growing closer to God and to your kids. Pray for them and continue to teach them to honor God with their choices. Work hard and always strive for excellence in your job. Remember that you represent Christ to your coworkers and customers.
Take time each day to thank God for His work in your life and for the blessings you experience. He has great plans for you in 2018. You can rest knowing that He's in control.
Go to sleep tonight confident in His love, provision and faithfulness to fulfill His promises. Wake up tomorrow with no fear of what 2018 will bring.
Happy New Year!!
My mind is full and my heart is heavy tonight. So heavy that I feel like someone is sitting on my chest. My mind is racing and my body feels anxious. So many emotions and thoughts all tangled up together. Usually when something is weighing on my mind, I can process it through writing. But tonight I'm finding it difficult to figure out where to even start. There is just so much.
I am concerned for the well being of my kids. They are strong and brave but they are hurting. And I can't give them the one thing to make their pain go away. I can't make their family whole again. And to make matters worse, I can't even give them the certainty of staying in our current home. I know it adds to their pain when I have to tell them that I will do everything in my power to keep us in our current house but I don't know if it will be enough. Our future is just so uncertain right now.
I am weary from the weight of responsibilities that I have been forced to take on all by myself. Financial responsibilities that should be shared but are not. (11% contribution is not OK). Balancing working enough hours and being home enough to be a mom plus trying to find time to get the house in order is challenging. There's spiritual training and life skills to be taught. There's extracurricular activities to pay for and attend.
And then there's my own well being. Some days I do great and other days I can barely hold it all together. My heart is still healing and sometimes the wounds feel so raw. Some days the wounds are ripped open by hateful words or false accusations. I hate that I let it get to me and cause me so much heartache. But I'm a words person. What you say to me stays with me for a very long time. Especially when those words are spoken by someone close to me. Words are so powerful and they can't be taken back.
As I sit here and think about all that has happened over the past 8 months, I realize that I am a much stronger person for having gone through the struggles. I have a voice now and I am no longer afraid to use it. I am combating the lies with truth and I am fighting for stability for my kids. I will still have bad days. I will still have days where I want to just give up trying to build bridges and finding a new normal. But on those days I know that I can lean on God's strength and love to get me through.
I can't control the actions of others. I can't make anyone become responsible and do the right thing. I can't convince others to see the truth right in front of them. But I can keep getting up each day and doing what's right, responsible and true for my kids.
In my 45 years of life, I have lived in 16 cities in 7 different states. I've lived in 3 of the 4 corners of the United States. I have lived in trailers, apartments, houses and dorm rooms. I've live in the city, the country and everywhere in between. Throughout all of those moves and changes, there is one place that always feels like going home. One place that holds the most wonderful memories. It's a house on a quiet street in a small country town. A small town where a trip to Walmart becomes an impromptu family reunion.
The house on Cherry Street isn't fancy or elaborate. But the memories made there are priceless. I remember as a kid sitting on the living room floor watching the big tv in the wooden box. There were only 2 things on Grandma's tv.....the Atlanta Braves or the local channel with preaching and gospel sangin'. (no that is not a mistake....in small town Georgia it's called sangin') I loved listening to my grandma play the piano and sing old southern hymns. Waking up to the smell of bacon and sausage was an everyday occurrence in the house on Cherry Street. Grandma was a serious cook and breakfasts were a 7 course meal. At night we would sit on the front porch watching the lightning bugs fly around the front yard. I remember laying in bed on a warm summer night listening to the sound of the attic fan. We celebrated countless Christmas mornings in the house on Cherry Street, including my first one as a new mom.
One year when I was a teenager, we decided to just have Christmas morning at our own house. It was the worst Christmas for us. It just didn't feel like Christmas. We all agreed that it was a bad idea and we never did that again.
My grandma is in heaven now but the memories on Cherry Street continue. The house belongs to my parents now. We're all grown up with kids of our own.. But every other year we return home to make new Christmas memories in the house on Cherry Street. Memories that I hope our kids will share with their own kids some day. And even though I have only spent a few Christmases there in the past 10 years, it's the place that comes to mind when I think of going home for the holidays.
This Christmas I am excited to be going home for the holidays. And like the song says,
No matter how far away you roam,
For the holidays you can't beat home sweet home!
Our world is full of people who don't like the truth that holds them accountable for their actions. They want to live their life however they choose and expect everyone around them to just accept it without complaint. There is no absolute truth.....no right or wrong to guide them. Each situation is evaluated based on feelings and opinions. It's a very subjective "truth".
When each person has their own "truth" then there is no accountability. I live my life by my "truth" and you live your life by yours. No judgement. No responsibility. No one is ever wrong.
But that's not how life works. There are laws and rules and commandments. There is absolute truth.....right and wrong. None of us are perfect but we are to strive to live a life filled with honesty, respect, love, and integrity in communion with God and others.
When we choose to live contrary to that then we must be held accountable. If the truth spoken about your actions paints an ugly picture, don't attack the painter. Humbly change your actions and give them something different to paint.
Changing behavior is a difficult task. It can be easier to become indignant against the person who spoke the truth and lash out at them.....especially if you've been living a double life.
Maybe it's time for a truth check. Think about the choices that you are making on a daily basis. How do they align with God's truth?
Think about the things that are being said to you or about you.
Are they false statements? Or are they truths that you don't want to hear?
Are you living a life that is pleasing self or God?
Are you a person who can be counted on and trusted to keep their word?
Are you a person of integrity and true character or do you wear a mask?
Who do you need to listen to today?
Now think about the things that you are saying to or about others.
Are they true statements with no embellishments?
Are you speaking the truth in love?
Are you speaking in a way to belittle or condemn?
Are you speaking truth to bring reconciliation and repentance?
Who needs to hear the truth today?
Speaking God's truth is not popular and may not win you friends, but it is the truth that sets us free. Freedom to walk boldly in our calling and purpose. Don't let the enemy cloud your judgment and ruin your testimony. Seek truth and in it you will find life abundant.
This season of practicing gratefulness has been tough. There have been days where I have really had to work hard to maintain a spirit of gratitude. This week has been especially difficult.
I started the week with my 22nd anniversary. A day that brought forth so much internal struggle. I am thankful for the good times and the children that God blessed me with but I am hurt and saddened by the failing of the marriage. When you've been with someone for half of your life, it's painful to have to say goodbye. No matter the reason why. I am thankful for coworkers who helped me through that day with lots of laughter and silliness. I am also thankful for my Bible study ladies who cover me in prayer on a daily basis but even more on the tough days.
On Tuesday I had to deal with a situation involving my daughter. A situation where she made a bad decision and had to learn a hard lesson. A situation that she and her Dad purposefully kept from me. I am thankful that she reached out for guidance before making the wrong choice but I am so angry that she was not given counsel that told her not to do it. I am so proud of her for being honest about her involvement when she was asked. She did what was right in that moment even when she knew that her friends would be upset with her.
I am also thankful for friends who allowed me to vent to them and process some of my emotions before my daughter and I discussed the situation. I can't even imagine the pain that she deals with on a daily basis as a teenager whose parents are going through a divorce. And then on top of that she has to deal with her Dad seeking her approval for the new woman in his life. I have to find a balance between firmness and gentleness as well as grace and consequences when parenting her.
By Wednesday I was emotionally drained and exhausted. But WHAM!!! I was hit again. This time it was an email from my attorney. After over a month with no communication, we finally had received a response from my husband's attorney. It was mostly good news about the changes we were proposing to the agreements.
But then it ended with this, "Recently your client has been disparaging mine on Facebook with regard to child support. Considering the fact that we are working towards a resolution of this matter, and that my client has generally been in agreement with all of her requests, this behavior is particularly disturbing and unacceptable. Disparaging each other in a manner viewable by the children is inappropriate, please discuss this matter with your client."
I was early into my shift at work when I read that. I felt like I had been sucker punched in the gut. My chest felt heavy and I got this terrible nauseous feeling come over me. I just wanted to crumble into a mess of tears. But I couldn't.
I am so thankful that I was working with my all time favorite co-worker that day. She has walked this journey on a much harder level than I am. And through everything that she has been through, she is still one of the kindest, sweetest, most generous fun-loving people you will ever meet. She has shared so much wisdom and "been there, heard that" counsel with me throughout this whole process. Her and Jesus are the only reasons I could make it through that day with a smile on my face. It was smiling through tears at times, but I made it.
Thursday started with the early shift and a yummy meal with my coworkers. Then it was off to start a new tradition of sharing a Thanksgiving meal with the newly weds and her parents. There was lots of laughter and great conversation. The boys continued the tradition of some turkey day football. We ended the day watching one of my favorite Christmas movies, Elf!! And Friday, I began Christmas decorating.
In 1 Thessalonians, Paul tells us to give thanks in all circumstances, because it's God's will for us. It's not always easy to be thankful. especially when our circumstances are painful and ugly. But if we look to Jesus we can see how we can turn our pain into joy.
It's called "Eucharisteo". "It's how Jesus at the Last Supper, showed us to transfigure all things - take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness. This, is the hard eucharisteo. Lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty." ~ Ann Voskamp
No matter how difficult and painful my circumstances may be, there is always something to be thankful for. It can be a hug from a friend, a smile from a stranger, an encouraging text, God's grace, a good night's sleep or a silly movie that makes you laugh. There are days when you have to lean into the ugly and be thankful in it to experience the joy from it.
Jesus you are my healer and my rescuer. You hold me up and give me strength. You give me calm amidst the chaos. You have always been right by my side and carried me through so much. You have never let me fall.
I can feel your presence with me through all of the disappointments and struggles. Even though I don't always understand the circumstances, I know that I can trust the voice that speaks peace over me. I know that when I cry out to you that you hear and you care.
I need your Spirit to flood my heart and to comfort it today.....especially today. My heart is fragile and weary from the battle. The cracks are beginning to heal but some days what has healed is torn open again.
Today as I reflect on 22 years of marriage, I am saddened to look at the pictures and see the pain behind the smiles. I remember the fun times and the laughter and it brings a smile to my face. We built a family together and had some great adventures. But the suffocating control and degrading atmosphere always there.
Lord, I need you to remind me of who I am in you. As I lose a part of my life, help me remember that your love for me is constant. When hateful and vile comments are made about me, remind me of your truth. Remove the negative thoughts from my mind and replace them with Your truth.....Your love.....Your grace.
I know that I am not perfect but I also know that I have lived my life striving to please you and honor you in my roles as a wife and mom. When the feelings of failure overwhelm me please lift me out of the deep and flood my heart with your love.
Lord, I need your wisdom and guidance as I step into an unknown future. Stop me when I veer off the path that you have set before me. Carry me when I want to give in and give up. Give me strength to persevere through the daily responsibilities of being a solo mom. I thank you for the godly mentors in my life and in the life of my children. I know you use these people to encourage and support us when we're struggling to understand.
Continue to heal my heart and remove any sprouts of bitterness so they don't take root and grow in my heart. Help me to show love and kindness to those who hurt me. And in those times of loneliness, show me that I never walk this life alone and that you are the only one who can bring me lasting joy and overwhelming love.
Your love has sustained me through so many troubles and it is because of your amazing grace and unending love that I continue to live this life with a smile on my face. I know that you will continue to show up and show off how much you care for me and my children.
Thank you Lord for flooding my heart with your love, my mind with your truth and my spirit with your peace.
A few years ago I sat on the couch in her office feeling lost, afraid and dying on the inside. He had reached out to her in an attempt to fix our marriage. We had sat on that couch together every couple of weeks for almost a year. We had made some progress but today he was done. He did not like her analysis of him and his way of doing things. He was adamant that the counseling was not working and that we would not be returning for another session.
I just sat there in silence. I was devastated. For the first time in my marriage I had found someone who listened and understood my pain. She offered me hope that there could be change in our relationship. But now he was taking that away. I didn't know what to do.
I will never forget her turning to me and telling me that she would be happy to start seeing me alone and helping me work through my own personal struggles. I felt hopeful and wanted to say "Yes, please" right then and there. But I was afraid to voice that desire. I was afraid to make that choice for myself. All I could do in that moment was shake my head and softly say, "OK" as she handed me her card.
I don't remember what we talked about or if we even talked on the drive home from her office that day. I was lost in my own thoughts of what if I decided to go see her. I wondered how he would react and if it was ok for me to see her alone. People saw marriage counselors to help them have better marriages. But what good would my seeing her alone do? I convinced myself that I'd be fine and we'd just figure it out and make it work.
About a month later, we had an argument about something. I don't even remember what it was about. All I remember was this feeling of invalidation and fear and hurt. I was so tired of feeling that way and I knew that it was time for a change.
I found the courage to pick up the phone and make my very first counseling appointment for me. And I am so thankful for that 30 seconds of courage. It began a growth process in me that gave me back my voice, my value and my peace.
We have discussed parenting struggles, relationship hurdles and personal goals. She has let me vent and then let me vent some more. We have laughed together and cried together. She has prayed for me, over me and with me. Throughout every session she has always pointed me to my relationship with God and how my daily choices should reflect that. She encouraged me to set boundaries and to use my voice again.
I am so grateful that we had a foundation together before the events of this year sent me in a tailspin. She has been such a vital part of my support system as I have navigated the overwhelming emotions of betrayal and anger and devastation. We have come a long way together.
However, today I learned that she will be leaving the practice to pursue another opportunity. I am so excited for this new adventure for her but I will definitely miss our meetings together. She has been such a lifeline for me this year. So now I am left with a choice. Do I begin a new relationship with another counselor in the practice or do I navigate my way through this life on my own?
It is something I will definitely be praying about over the next couple of weeks while I wait for my final appointment with her.