Do the Hard Thing.

hard thing

When I got married, my dream was to stay married. I know that’s the shared dream for the majority of us when we marry, but my dream of a lasting marriage may have been for different reasons than some. I wanted to know that marriage really could last forever. I needed to prove it to myself. I was very much pro-marriage and still am. 

My parents divorced when I was in the 8th grade and it was hard. Divorce is hard on everyone. I’ve heard that research has shown that kids from divorce tend to divorce more often because they see it as an option. I was the opposite. I felt like my parents’ divorce fueled me to stay together come hell or high water……no matter what. I was in it for the long haul. The last thing on earth I wanted to go through or put my kids through was a divorce. I’d lived it and I knew the difficulties and pain involved.

I wanted a happy, healthy, and whole family for my husband, kids, and myself. Our marriage wasn’t happy, healthy, or whole because the people in it were not healthy or whole to begin with. I wanted so desperately to break the cycle of divorce that I displayed and permitted behavior that shouldn’t be accepted as normal in a healthy marriage. The example we were modeling for our children was neither healthy nor happy. It was quite the opposite. The marriage disintegrated while I prayed consistently for it to be restored. I poured my heart out to God over and over again pleading with Him to step in and save the marriage for the sake of our children and my dream to just stay together. Instead, the divorce happened. Looking back now, I know it needed to.

The reality of divorce has been the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through thus far in my life. Now, in the aftermath, it’s still hard. It’s hard because of too many reasons to list. It’s hard because the girls have another woman in their lives now. It’s hard because they go back and forth between homes. It’s hard because we don’t have the same rules at my house as he does at his house. It’s hard because our priorities are different. It’s just hard and I know as a child of divorce that it always will be.  It will take a daily surrender and annointing of grace, mercy, and forgiveness to prevent the devil’s stronghold of anger, bitterness, and resentment to fester. I know now more than ever that I need a daily dose of Jesus every single day for my children and myself.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve felt God tell me that He wants me to do the hard thing again. And that is to forgive and extend mercy to all involved. Forgive for the love of God and for the love of my children. When we have “every right” to be bitter and wish the worst, God asks us to do the hard thing. I know I can’t do it on my own, my flesh is entirely too weak. But, I’d rather forgive than suffer. I’d rather forgive than let the magnitude of what happened affect what will happen in mine or my children’s lives. I am willing to do the hard thing. But, I can’t do it on my own. He’s going to have to prop me up and do it with me.

I have no doubt God could have saved our marriage, but He chose not to. That wasn’t a part of His plan. I do know His plans for me are good. I do know He wants me to forgive and continue to love. I do know He wants me to live an abundant and joyful life.  To live the life He desires me to live, I believe I will have to once again do the hard thing. I believe that forgiveness equals freedom and I also believe He loves me enough to help me do it because He has forgiven me.

 

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Raising Two Different People

sisters

My girls are almost exactly 5 years apart and just turned eight and three years old. The age difference is tough because they are into completely different things and, until now, couldn’t even carry on much of a conversation with each other. My oldest is extremely strong willed and my youngest is extremely sensitive. Competely different people! Just like so many other things in parenting, once you think you get it down, something changes.

I can relate more with my youngest’s personality. So, I “get” her actions and reactions more. But I’m also very aware of the struggles that come with heightened sensitivity and hope to build her courage, will, and sense of worth. My oldest appears to have no problem concerning self confidence, buy may need some sensitivity and gentleness training now and then. Lord, give me strength and patience.

I knew I had a strong willed child when my oldest was three.  I asked her numerous times to pick up her toys in the living room to no avail. I decided to get firm, surveyed what was on the floor, and told her that I would throw the ones she didn’t put away in the trash. She picked them up and threw them in the trash herself. She was THREE!!! What do you do with that? How on earth do I handle that strong will?? Lord, give me strength and patience.

My youngest is very sensitive. She’s a crier. Sometimes she still cries for absolutely no reason. It’s like it’s her native language….Lord, give me strength and patience.

Raising little ones doesn’t come with an instruction kit. The same discipline tactics may devastate one and not even faze the other. At least half the time I feel like I’m doing it wrong. But, I do LOVE my babies with all that I have. Their strong will and sensitivity are important parts of what make them who they are. It’s day in and day out, it’s hard, it’s humbling, it’s a daily lesson, it’s a precious gift. Lord, thank You for the strength and patience to raise two different people.

Daddies and Daughters

daddy

This is the best list that I’ve come across to explain the importance of how much daughters look to our daddies for love in the form of approval, acceptance, grace, tenderness, and direction. We CRAVE it. Our earthly fathers have a tremendous responsibility in shaping our hearts for the future. We look to you first for acceptance and approval (especially when we mess up). We look to you to determine our self worth.

Before we learn to seek and look to our Heavenly Father for our sense of worth, we look to YOU. This is why we tend to turn to men that treat us like you do for comfort and eventually marriage. This is why it is SO important when we are young for us to truly feel your love. If you get the privilege of raising a daughter or stepdaughter, learn to love her in her language (it’s probably different than yours), show her how to be treated and what to accept and not accept from a man, fess up when you mess up (this teaches us that humility is honorable), and tell her how beautiful she is (alot)! She will ALWAYS look up to you. She will learn about who God is to her by the way you treat and value her. She will ALWAYS love you fiercely.

Here is the list:

1. How you love me is how I will love myself.
2. Ask how I am feeling and listen to my answer, I need to know you value me before I can understand my true value.
3. I learn how I should be treated by how you treat my mom, whether you are married to her or not.
4. If you are angry with me, I feel it even if I don’t understand it, so talk to me.
5. Every time you show grace to me or someone else, I learn to trust God a little more.
6. I need to experience your nurturing physical strength, so I learn to trust the physicality of men.
7. Please don’t talk about sex like a teenage boy, or I think it’s something dirty.
8. When your tone is gentle, I understand what you are saying much better.
9. How you talk about female bodies when you’re ‘just joking’ is what I believe about my own.
10. How you handle my heart, is how I will allow it to be handled by others.
11. If you encourage me to find what brings joy, I will always seek it.
12. If you teach me what safe feels like when I’m with you, I will know better how to guard myself from men who are not.
13. Teach me a love of art, science, and nature, and I will learn that intellect matters more than dress size.
14. Let me say exactly what I want even if it’s wrong or silly, because I need to know having a strong voice is acceptable to you.
15. When I get older, if you seem afraid of my changing body, I will believe something is wrong with it.
16. If you understand contentment for yourself, so will I.
17. When I ask you to let go, please remain available; I will always come back and need you if you do.
18. If you demonstrate tenderness, I learn to embrace my own vulnerability rather than fear it.
19. When you let me help fix the car and paint the house, I will believe I can do anything a boy can do.
20. When you protect my femininity, I learn everything about me is worthy of protecting.
21. How you treat our dog when you think I’m not watching tells me more about you than does just about anything else.
22. Don’t let money be everything, or I learn not to respect it or you.
23. Hug, hold, and kiss me in all the ways a daddy does that are right and good and pure. I need it so much to understand healthy touch.
24. Please don’t lie, because I believe what you say.
25. Don’t avoid hard conversations, because it makes me believe I’m not worth fighting for.

“It’s pretty simple, really. Little girls just love their daddies. They each think their daddy hung the moon. Once in a while when you look at your little gal twirling in her frilly skirt, remember she’ll be grown one day. What do you want her to know about men, life, herself, love? What you do and say now MATTERS for a lifetime. Daddies, never underestimate the impact of your words or deeds on your daughters, no matter their age.”

This is priceless information. So true!

Double Trouble

trouble

Here on earth you WILL have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33 (NLT)

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. We WILL have troubles. If there is one thing we all have in common, it is that we have troubles. Pick a wallet, pick an office, pick a family, pick a marriage, pick a medical chart, and if there isn’t current trouble, there has been or will be. There’s a saying that goes “if we all threw our troubles in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.” As distressing as that might sound, it encourages me that we are in this thing together and that we aren’t struggling alone. Sometimes just thinking we are struggling alone is worse than the trouble itself. We are not alone. We have a Helper, Healer, Deliverer, Comforter, Provider who LOVES us and is fully capable of getting us through them one by one. And we have each other.

To ask for a life without troubles is to ask for heaven on earth. We aren’t in heaven yet, but what we CAN ask for is help with our troubles as they come. He WILL help, strengthen, and comfort us during our trials and sorrows. He WILL supply wisdom, power, and mercy when called upon. He WILL hear our cries and cover us with grace. He WILL open our eyes and hearts to see others as He does with compassion and forgiveness if we ask Him to. There’s no doubt that we will have troubles. The doubt lies on our side. How to deal with these troubles? Who to blame for them?

We have troubles because we are imperfect people who live in a fallen world with other imperfect people. We have hope because Jesus has overcome this world with His sacrifice. We have peace because He loves us in spite of our weaknesses. We have strength because He fights for us. We have an eternity of trouble free living to look forward to…..the ultimate paradise!

 

Angels Among Us

angels

This week my dad came over to fix my broken television and my brother fixed my broken toilet while I was at work. What a blessing these things are in single girl world! Angels. I also received a series of texts from a friend that floored me. She nailed EXACTLY what I needed and I didn’t even know I needed it. What a blessing that is! Angel.

This week I had a patient ask to pray over me and that has NEVER happened. I’ve had patients say they’ll pray for me as I have them but after this particular patient’s test was finished she literally took my hand, looked me directly in the eyes, and said “Guard yourself against hardness of heart. God will protect what the enemy wants to steal. In the name of Jesus Christ, you will not be harmed.” Angel. Her words brought immediate tears. I didn’t even know I was struggling until she called it out. I’m so grateful for this woman’s BOLD faith and strength to speak that over me. There were no words after, only tears and hugs. It took me a good 30 minutes to just catch my breath after that. What a blessing she is! Her boldness blew me away….. Amazing faith. Amazing strength.

I received a phone call just this morning that confirmed once again that there are angels among us. Yes, we have guardian angels watching over and protecting us, but God also uses us, His children, to do His work and show His love in each other’s lives. When someone helps you, encourages you, prays for you, forgives you, shows you grace, speaks truth over you, lifts you up, they are doing God’s work here on earth. Recognize it and thank GOD for them. I am BLESSED to have a couple friends who text Bible verses to me faithfully, family who pray for me, friends who love me (all of me). These are priceless. Money can’t buy love. God graciously gives when we need it most. He gives when we don’t even KNOW we need it. Thank GOD for the seen and unseen angels in our lives.