The narrow door

​From my morning devotion….

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7: 13-14
I would rather crawl through the tiny path to glory, then dance in the open fields to nowhere. The harder days, make the better days amazing. Learning to recognize blessings in the ugly… a gift. The narrow gate…. so freaking worth it!

A letter to her

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets

Someday it will happen…. your heart will hurt.  You won’t remember who you ever were in the first place.  Your priorities will have changed and in the process you will struggle to know who you are.  Anger may become a norm in your life where it once wasn’t.  Alcohol may become something that you use to feel something, anything.  You may struggle with depression, self esteem issues, feelings of inadequacies.  Guilt may take over as a constant feeling within you. When it happens… I am here.

I will not judge, I will not say I told you so.  I won’t remind you of all the hurt you caused me during your days, months, years, of feeling like you were entitled to another wife’s man.  I promise not to remind you of the two children that had to continue life without a dad because of your choices.  Nor will I remind you that two kids were taken from my life, and made to feel guilty whenever they attempted contact.

What I will do… offer you a smile, encourage you that life will be okay again.  I will give you a hug and tell you I still love you and I never gave up hope believing in you.  God turns all things into good, and I will remind you of that.  We stumble, we get up, we fall, we try again and through it all… God is with us patiently waiting, encouraging, and loving.  I will demonstrate the same toward you.

You see… God gives us free will, and Satan tempts us.  There is not a person in this world that can say they haven’t fallen to temptation at one time or another.  Jesus also tells us that a sin is a sin, and one sin is no bigger than the other.  So whether it’s stealing a candy bar, or stealing a husband…. they are both sins.  And if you stole a candy bar from my purse, we would both laugh.  I am nothing without God, and because of this ugly storm… I know that!  It’s not the end that counts, we all will eventually have the same end.  It’s how we run the race.  I can only hope that I have run the race to earn eternity.  Eternity wouldn’t be the amazing place it is described without my loved ones though…. so I continue to pray that this stumble of yours is just a stumble.  Just as you are stumbling now, I have stumbled myself.  I was gifted forgiveness, just as you will be.

January 29th

Twelve years ago this was truly one of the most happy days of my life.  It was his as well, despite what he may say now.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was marrying my best friend, and my family of three was doubling.  I was gaining two adorable children, my children were gaining two siblings, I was gaining a partner to share the rest of my life with…. or so I thought.  He was my other half.  Sitting right here though, after everything the last three years have brought me, What I thought then was enough.  And I am thankful.

My journey has been like healing a wound.  A wound so deep and so filled with filth, it took time… lot’s of time, to heal.  A wound that busted apart stitches, and instead had to be healed from the inside out with time,  patience, and faith.  Right now, three years into it.  I am so glad that I have taken the time, and walked this walk with God by my side.  Parts of it were so hard, so painful, and so humbling.  But the healing is strong, the time has been worth it.  The scar has changed me in ways, I never could have been changed without it.

He didn’t kill our marriage, we did.  It was a joint effort of multiple problems.  He did however, refuse to work on it, refuse to fix it, refuse to allow God into it.  I have had to live with that choice, walk through the hardest journey of my life, and heal a wound alone that I didn’t even realize we had made.

This year my focus has been on peace.  Each year I can look back and see a different phase of my journey.  The first year, honestly, was just survival.  I lived in a world of tears, pain, more tears, devastation, dismay, more tears, disbelief, and fear.  I had no idea what the next day would bring.  I cried all the time, I prayed constantly, I rarely slept, I ran…. I ran so much it was insane.  I read marriage book after marriage book, Christian parenting books, and toward the end of that first year…. a ton of Christian women books on finding me.  I texted him way too much…. I just missed him, and I had no idea how to live life without him.  I didn’t know how to navigate the new roll that I was thrown into.

The second year I focused on faith, patience, and love.  If I am honest with myself I think it started out in faith that we would get back together.  That he truly would come home, that God was in control and therefore, it would work out.  By the end of the year though my faith had shifted into more of a “God is in control, and I will be taken care of”.  I still, to this day, believe without a doubt, that God wanted us back together.  God wanted our marriage healed.  But I now realize, that my husband was in an ugly place, and God was working on me to continue on the journey of healing, while working on him for what he needed.  I had continued loving him, but it was changing.  It was no longer an “I need you” kind of love.  But an  “I remember the good in you, I won’t ever forget it, and I will love that you, and be here if you need me, while I learn to love me and find happiness with me”

As the second year ended I became more comfortable with who I was, and I was finding joy again in my life.  I had finished up my bachelors degree (something I had put on hold for over 10 years).  I was looking to make changes on my home for my future, and even considering selling it.  I was looking to a future without him in it, and I was finding joy in everything.  No matter the situation, I was determined to find the joy in it.  There were times I was still so hurt by him, I missed him, I missed our children.  But in those times I tried hard to look at my life now, and feel blessed.  Sure, it made me sad that this journey of change was without him, I would often think of how great we would have it had we both embarked on this together.  And what a gift we would have given our children if we could have shown them surviving the ugly storm, together.  But again, this kind of thinking brought me back down a road of pain, and almost stepped me backwards in my journey of finding faith, love, and joy.

So the third year, I found joy in all circumstances.  I focused hard on it.  I continued spending time in my bible daily.  Spending time in my Christian Women guide books.  I continued focusing in on me, and just where God wanted me to be.  Most importantly, my relationship with God became my number one.  A relationship with my ex, was no longer a desire.  I attempted dating, it wasn’t right.  He was too serious, I wasn’t there…. and for the first time in my dating life, I ended a relationship because I knew it was wrong.  I didn’t continue on, ignoring the gut ache, pretending that it would all become right later.  This tiny little event gave me so much strength to continue my journey.  I sold my house, moved my children and I to a completely different city with a new job, new schools…. I had faith.  I later quit my job, having no backup other than a gut feeling and some prayer time reassuring me that it was the right thing to do.   I later landed my dream job!

So hear I sit, just starting my fourth year into this journey, with a focus of peace.  My wound is nearly healed.  Looking back over it all and thinking “yes, it was all worth it”.  I am so glad, I didn’t just plaster a band-aid over my broken heart and jump back into the world.  I am glad that I focused so hard on my marriage and attempting to repair it for so long.  I am glad that my focus was on God, healing me, and my children.  I am blessed, that my scar, though deep, is thick and strong.  I still pray for him, he is in a dark place.  But I no longer desire him.  I have completely forgiven him, which probably seems weird to some because I have zero respect for him.  He’s chosen a path, I do not agree with.  A path he knows is wrong, yet he’s taken it.  I am finally at peace knowing that that is his choice, and God will not leave him until his dying breath.  So with that, I have to trust God, walk in faith, and turn my back on the man that 12 years ago, I promised to love forever.  I have to be okay with that choice, and not feel guilty.  This… has taken me a long time to get to.  This peace, did not come easy.

What did I gain out of this?  So much more than I could ever put into words.  I am truly happy, for the first time in years.  I feel blessed beyond words.  Spoiled is a word I use a lot around the house to describe my life.  I have two amazing kids, and relationships with both that many parents would give their right arm for.  I have a job that I love beyond words.  I have found a church that speaks to my heart and soul and has guided me, reassured me, and spoken to me through sermons I needed to hear.  I have a relationship with Jesus, I never thought was possible.  I would have never believed it three years ago, if someone would have told me.  Do I miss my husband?  No, not anymore.  What I do miss is the feeling of family, the feeling security, the thought of forever.  All things that were quite false in our life.  Things I have learned were not built on a biblical foundation.  Someday, I do believe all of those things will come to me, in real form… from God.

Peace – Thy will be done

This song is a reminder of the peace I was so drastically trying to find the last few years when I didn’t understand.  When none of it made sense.  The peace that I still feel, and strive for on a daily basis, knowing I did not get my miracle, yet God is still in control.  Without a doubt I got a miracle, just not the one I thought I needed.

Emotional abuse is still abuse

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It has taken me two years to realize the emotional abuse I endured through my marriage.  It started early prior to being married when he plainly explained to me that it was inappropriate for me to have male friends…..  It’s not right for a christian wife.  I was so charmed by his sweetness, caring for me, and his gentleness toward me, I obliged.  It was about ten years before I ever saw some of my friends again.  When we would take vacations, they were based around his fishing or hunting.  I was left behind with the children while he was able to go enjoy himself in his hobby.  I was expected to enjoy it.  And when I struggled (as all mom’s do), my stress was not accepted…. it was actually condemned, which only made me more anxious inside.  I tried so hard to give him everything that a good christian wife would, I was losing me.  It started out slow….  But little by little over the years I became a panicked, anxious, person so scared to do things wrong…. which truly only had me doing things wrong because I wigged out easily.  Food was cooked his way, or he just wouldn’t eat.  I can remember hurting my mothers feelings because she cooked the meat wrong and I knew he wouldn’t like it.  Another time I was panicked with his mother for taking over a dish in the kitchen that I knew he was the only one that cooked in my house.

Prior to us dating I did not drink alcohol.  Slowly through the years I became a daily alcohol drinker.  The quantity of alcohol I consumed in a week was incredible.  I hid my sorrows in alcohol.  I found my joy with him during periods of alcohol.  When he left me and then later got his DUII, I promised to take one year off of alcohol.  It started out to support him, but I later realized it was for me.  I now enjoy a drink occasionally, but that is it.

He never laid a hand on me.  Not ever.   But he did smack my heart down more times than I can count.  He abused me from the inside.  We very rarely had fights.  Probably throughout or entire marriage there were less than a handful of fights.  But when we did it was generally around a discussion of “what about me”  I knew deep inside that something wasn’t right, but I didn’t know how to express it appropriately.  And honestly, looking back, there was no appropriate way to discuss it with someone of this nature.   Then when he left me after 9 years of marriage he said some of the ugliest things…. “I haven’t loved you in years. You knew it was important to stay fit for me. I finally just gave up on you losing weight and slowly I didn’t care.  I need to get my son on the right track and I can’t do it here.  My parents don’t need me to turn them against you, they saw what you did to my kids with their own eyes”  This list can go on and on.  Hurtful words that were only meant for one purpose, to put me down, to take control.  He voices his opinion now regarding me taking his kids away from him.  I find this odd considering they are right here and I have had to beg him in the past to see what his plans are with them.  His kids on the other hand, he has kept from me.  My son feels it is best to sneak here.

I’m not saying we weren’t happy.  We were very happy. He was my best friend.  I didn’t even realize it was an abusive relationship or hurting me.  He was just incredibly controlling.  And if things didn’t go his way, he handled it in such a way that it put me down.  If he gained, he was charming and treated me so wonderfully.  By the time he left he had me believing that it was totally normal for a husband to complain about his wifes weight… and it was my responsibility to stay fit for him.  If he hadn’t left me I would still be married to him wondering about my self worth, easily panicking, and yelling at times.  I am not saying I agree with divorce.  Even with looking back and knowing all I do now, I still disagree with it.  Instead, I prefer to realize how much healthier my life is now.  I now see that I deserve something better.  I used to walk around in fear mode.  Trying to keep everything perfect.  Afraid I would panic or lose it.  I honestly can’t tell you when the last time I panicked or lost it was.  My temper and anxiety seemed to walk out the door the same day he did.  My heart breaks for the marriages he is ruining right now for his own personal gain.  They don’t see it because like me, they are so wrapped up in the charm.  But from the outside, I see it.

I wrote this December 12, 2015.  While I am digging deep on what peace is, this girl that I was speaks to me heavily.  This is who I was. This was my life.  I don’t ever want to forget that, because it is a deep part of who I am now.  Why I make choices I do now.  This man, I loved with everything.  I gave him some of my hardest years raising our four small children (but the best memories). Then he left saying some of the harshest things I could imagine being told.  The man I trusted, the man that brought me so much peace with a future, turned into one of the most painful people in my life.

Moved

I’m all moved and settled in.  Anyone that knows me, knows I have a gift and love for organizing.  It’s kind of a weird passion, but it’s me.  So after moving Monday, putting things away and cleaning the old place Tuesday, I was completely organized and finished with the move on Wednesday.  That’s just how I roll.  It never would have been possible without a few helpers (thanks mom and Gabe!).  So here I am all settled in my new place, comfy, cozy, and so blessed!  This place is so much better than the three story townhouse.  We are all closer together, Orange actually uses his room for more than sleeping.  Teal and I share a room which, believe it or not, it works out really well. We share most clothes and anything else anyway. The hot tub is just outside our door!!!!  It feels like home. Hopefully my next move won’t be for a few years when I’m getting ready to move to a tiny home. Dreams!!!  

New Year

New Years brings on new resolutions for a new me, fresh start, new beginnings.  I think this is all great, but one of the biggest reasons people don’t stick to their “New Me” resolutions, is they forget to include their junk in it, their past.  Our past doesn’t go away, until we change it slowly, and even still…. it will always be a part of your story.   You can’t just drop fifty lbs because you have a resolution to do so.  You have to recognize where you went wrong, what choices you were making before, and consciously make new choices now.  Recognizing your faults, weaknesses, and struggles is the first step toward making new goals.  Otherwise, old habits will sneak back up on you.

The same goes for my walk with Jesus.  I have to recognize the Christian I was before.  I need to recognize the world’s play in that girl and my sense of self worth from the worlds opinion rather than God’s.  I need to remember clearly what it was like to have Satan guilt me, and control my emotions.  Otherwise, old habits will sneak back.  I consciously have to wake up asking for Jesus to walk through my day.  And when I make decisions, I have to ask myself “is this from Jesus, or is this my own selfish desires”.

Self Control is at the forefront of my thoughts throughout a huge portion of my day.

Embrace who you were, and who you want to be.  Be proud of how far you have come in your journey toward new beginnings.  Remember, Every day is a new day.  Big changes and dreams don’t have to just come on the first day of the year.  They can come anytime.

Enjoy the Little Things

Enjoy the little things, apparently my mantra this last year.  I hadn’t realized how much I said it until I got a gift from my daughter for Christmas.  It was a picture of her, her brother, and I with those words.  One of my favorite gifts.  (My absolute favorite book that she filled in every page with inspiring messages about me, her, us.  Ya… It made me cry!)  But more-so because I realized that I am changing their future for the better…. one small change at a time, one day at a time with positivity in all things.

Looking back over the last few years, the changes felt small.  Sometimes useless, sometimes not even changing.  But the small things have truly become the big things in life.  There was a time I would have never spoken openly about God, or faith.  Now it’s my go to in all circumstances.  So much that I get the typical eye roll from my youngest son (the teenager).  But deep inside, I know it’s encouraging to him.  Deep down in his heart, my strong faith, and my okey dokey attitude when things do not go as planned because I announce that “God must have a different plan”…. A foundation is being formed.

If I could go back and take away the years of panic, yelling, and fear in so many things I truly had no control of, I would.  But not because I regret them for the two kids still living with me.  See, these two kids have had the opportunity to watch change happen.  Watch trials become Triumph.  They have watched me screw up, and overcome it with God.  That is a gift beyond any gift I can give my children.  Trials come… hard times hit us all.  Even simple things like exhaustion from motherhood, long days at work, or things just not going our way.  Life is hard.  The biggest message I want my children to take home from my life is that it is so much easier to rely on someone bigger… God, and then trust.  I hope they can see what a difference true faith has made in my life.  So why would I go back and take the years of panic away?  For the two kids not living with me, for the ex-husband that hates me to his core.  They haven’t been given the opportunity to know me now.  And I hate the thought that their memory of me is what I was.  But this, I leave up to God… because that is what faith is.

So remember, it may be hard right now, it may be great right now.  But enjoy the little things, because when you look back… they were the big things.

Merry Christmas!

It has been a busy month.  I have had so many conversations with our Lord, so much love, so many blessings…. yet every time I have sat down to type it out, my mind has literally gone blank.  One thing I promised myself early on was if I had nothing to say from God, no message to give, I would not share.  This gift of writing, is not mine without him.

In the last month I have studied my butt off and passed my CNOR (certified nurse of the operating room).  A challenge I gave myself over a year ago but promised to finish prior to the end of 2016.  I barely made it but I did and I finished my two step process of getting my bachelor’s then my CNOR.  Next up I think I will get my CPN (Certified Pediatric Nurse).

Tomorrow the kids and I are moving into a new place.  It’s our final big change of 2016.  We have had so many changes this year.  All of which have brought us closer to each other, closer to our heavenly father, and closer to healing.  I look at my little family now, two dogs, 1 cat, a boy, a girl, and I…. blessings.  So many blessings in this little family.

Tonight my daughter received a message from her dad.  She didn’t want to respond.  I encouraged it rather heavily.  I felt that I was going to be very pissed at him for not contacting his kids on Christmas (He didn’t on Thanksgiving, they actually haven’t heard from him in months.)  then I should be equally pissed at her for not responding.  It’s hard to be that parent that messages and messages your kid you miss and hear nothing in return.  And honestly, it speaks poorly on the child, or the situation which in this case, would speak poorly in her.  So she responded with a pointed messages saying Thank You but letting him know why she really was shocked he contacted her and why she is still very hurt by him and why she really needs him to leave her alone.  His response…. “what are your grades? How is school?”  Well isn’t that a Merry Christmas to his daughter that he has chosen to quit contacting!  Tears and pain later, I wondered why I encouraged her to respond.  Why I continue to put their feelings on the back burner when it comes to him.  A big slap in my face, that I have a long ways to go on this guilt train and the need to constantly push my kids to be the bigger person when their own dad continues to devastate them.

I had such an amazing Christmas.  The focus wasn’t on gifts, but on family.  Their was laughter, stories, and so much love.  There wasn’t yelling, grief, or going overboard for perfection or impressing anyone.  There was just us.  I won’t let him, and his lifestyle choices affect me or my children.  And so, the best way I can do the latter is live an example of Jesus for them.  Forgiveness…

Last night at church I felt so much peace feeling the love of Mary for her own child.  Talk about the reality of unending love and sacrifice.  I miss two of my kids like crazy.  And sometimes I just hate Mingo for doing to me what she has.  I may actually have very cruel dreams of her lonely years ahead with her family all divided while full circle hits her.  But then I wake up feeling bad for her.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, deserves to live this story I live.  And I decide again to live the life of grace.  I choose to demonstrate Jesus’s love in my own painful story, and show my children the right way.  To break the cycle. Then last night, I hear the whispers of Mary’s life.  And the sacrifices she took as a mother for all of mankind….  That is love.  And that is a story carried on to all of us year after year.  Digging deeper in Mary’s life  I find the real reason for the season.  And I am thankful for the real reason of the season.  So as much as I hate where I am, I love where I am.  I’m given a rare and beautiful opportunity to show love when everything worldly says not too.  🙂

 

Parenting

http://podcasts.ibethel.org/en/podcasts/cultivating-prophetic-families

I recently listened to this sermon.  I love what he said about parenting.  I think as parents we doubt a lot. I think society and modern times encourage that. Which is a lie in my opinion. The truth I have found in this journey is this… is our intent right? Did you do what you’ve done for love? If there are areas we wish we’d done better are we willing to admit it and move forward?  God watches us make poor choices but never gives up on us. Repentance and Forgiveness is his gift to us.  I think it’s our job to demonstrate and live (show) that same lesson to our children.  We are not perfect, God is.  Expecting perfection from ourselves as parents is ridiculous, truly. I think our mistakes in life, and as a parent, are as much a gift as anything else from God. Not that God causes our mistakes, but that he is waiting with Grace to offer us when we keep on trying. We learn from them. We can use them to show our children we are real. And we too are navigating this thing called life as best as we can. I also think Satan is on a mission to destroy families by planting seeds of regret and doubt in our hearts. Don’t listen to him. You know the truth. 🙂

I have spent the last three years loving my children as unconditionally as possible.  this next year I want to dream with them and for them.  I want to dream they can be anything.  I want them to believe that dream. 

I look back over my life, and where I was three years ago.  It’s hard to feel sad.  I have been gifted a ladder to climb out of the hardest journey of my life. A ladder of faith.  It’s been so hard at times. The sadness that grips my heart when I think about purple and green is unspeakable. The pain I feel when I think about Fishy with my best friend, and the lies and pain they directed at me to help them protect their secrets…. it’s no joke! God knows this pain more than anyone.  There hasn’t been a moment that has gone by that he hasn’t helped me grow from this experience. He’s gifted me a few rare years to grow as a mom.