Tag Archive for: Divorce

In Each Day a New Cup, I referred to a conversation I had with a fellow mom at the club a few days ago.  Going through a divorce, she commented that she is hopeful, because of people like me, who have blazed the trail before her. I thought a lot about our conversation and her perception of how things have evolved for me, and I want to share some things in my life that made the difference of where I am, versus where I could be.

Here are my Five Top Things that I believe will get you from being the trail on which you’re trampled to being the one leading the trail:  In theory, they’re not hard. But they take resolution. They’re behavior and attitudes that can kill us if we don’t pursue them with intention in our most desperate days.

1. Get out of bed.

That’s not to say we don’t all deserve a day to rest.  But the simple act of removing one’s self from the seemingly safe respite of a bed can be an act of God when there’s so much we feel we’re not equipped to face.  I remember a day that seemed even an act of God wasn’t enough for me.  My children, then 10 and 12, got themselves up, fed, and off to school without the nurturing routine in which they’d been accustom.  As I think about that moment, I recall the despondency that prevented me from doing my mom job. Sure, they survived. But that morning is part of their story, too.  A page I wish I could have avoided.  They were hurting, and this mom let them.  I don’t raise my kids to “survive.”  I raise them in the hopes that they will thrive.  There was no thriving that day.

It was one day, fortunately.  The regret I had when I considered the direction my life would take if I let those days accrue was more than I could stand. It didn’t happen again.  That’s not to say that getting out of bed was easy. It was hard. But getting out of bed was worth it.

2. When the phone or the doorbell rings, answer it, no matter what.

It’s hard to believe that life goes on when ours has seemingly stopped.  I recall feeling like the sun was mocking me as it shined high and bright on a summer day. How can it be, while I sobbed in my car on my way to a commitment I didn’t want to keep?  Contradictions to my state of being were all around me. The world did not care.  That reality is harsh and good.  If the world accommodated my emotions, the sun didn’t shine, if strangers shared my same agony, the potential for me to remain in that same state would be great.

On the other side of your door is a boy scout who’s fundraising for his annual fee, and a mother who’s doing her best to do her part to contribute. Everywhere we go we’re engaging with people who need us as much as you need them.  In your crisis, your home can be a sanctuary or a prison.  Create the sanctuary, where you don’t turn others away, but embrace them as Jesus’ hands and feet. If they aren’t, you will know, and will gain wisdom in the effort.

Going through a crisis brings out the best in people. It also brings out other things in people that can be hard to sift through. You will discover who is calling to gather information. Those calls, you can avoid, once you identify their objective. That can change your friendships if you’re not able to entertain those people.  But it’s okay. You’ll discover quickly the people who are a support, not just a cheerleader.

On the day that I couldn’t get out of bed a friend with whom I’d regularly gone to bible study for a couple of years called. I’d forgotten that we were to ride together that day.  Everything in me didn’t want to pick up that phone. Ring, Ring, Ring.  How would I explain the inadequacy of the my morning?  I don’t recall my exact words when I picked up, but she skipped bible study and came to help. She’d assumed I’d been having a hard time, this day she lived it with me.  There were many times it seemed crazy that I would answer the door.  I wasn’t fit to be a friend.  But I remember vividly those moments when a friend or a good acquaintance knocked on the door.  It might be a bible study partner, or a mom with whom I’d volunteered side by side over the years, arriving when I needed that person, in that moment.

3. When someone asks if they can help, say YES.

It seems common practice to answer a request for help with something close to a “No, it will be fine.”  Is “fine” what we want? If we want to move beyond “fine,” be bold in your answer, and honor your friend’s effort.

Try something like this: “Yes, that would be awesome.”  The word “awesome” dates me. I know. I over use that word.  Dig to find out what type of offer they’re making.  Try, “What would you like to do?” or “Would you mind picking up Esmerelda from dance this week? She goes two times to Dancing with the Stars dance studio.”

One of my favorite gifts was cleaned and cut vegetables. In a zombie state, I remember throwing a meal together at the last minute.  Noodles and parmesan cheese (a long time toddler favorite, but at 10 and 12 my kids had graduated to something more), bagels and cream cheese, cereal, spaghetti, potatoes. Carbs, carbs, carbs.  Receiving the nutritious part of the meal relieved me of the guilt that I wasn’t providing the nutrition my kids needed.  And, they weren’t subject to watching me stand over carrots as I peeled them with tears running down my face, imagining the inevitable, that the very kitchen I prepared in, would be someone else’s later.

So many things go undone as a single person without a family to help.  Unlike wisdom teeth being pulled or an ACL tear, a divorce and change in the family as you knew it, a change in your forever plans, is a perpetual state of loss.  If you remain a single parent, wholeness doesn’t come in a few weeks or months. Take the help when it’s offered, because when the newness of the crisis wears off, you will be in a position to ask (which is hard) because the offers will stop.

4. Read the Psalms.

Psalm 1

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

Imagine reading this in a time of despair.  God’s word, and in particular, the Psalms was the water that quenched my aching thirst.  I had a chair in my family room where I sat, as soon as the kids were off to school.  I wanted to remain there all day long. I was desperate for the healing words to soothe me, and I hungered for them to stop the hurt.  I wanted to live in the pages of God’s word.  I didn’t want to face the world as it stood before me.  Grief was my companion, but God was my friend, and I can’t imagine living without his wisdom, compassion, and hope. I carried his words with me with every errand and every commitment I couldn’t escape.

I purchased a pretty journal where still today I record my favorite verses.


Treasures are in this book.

When I can’t remember where to find a particular verse, I go to my book, where I treasure the verse like a found precious object.

I received books that gave me insight and perspective. I loved those books, but my favorite one is called A Grace Disguised. It’s a story of huge loss through a car tragedy. The author is able to communicate so that someone going through loss in divorce can also find restoration.

There’s no question my faith grew stronger as a result of my divorce. As much as I’ve mourned the loss of a complete family, I wouldn’t give anything in exchange for the relationship I have with God today.

5.  It’s okay to medicate.

This was hard for me. My same friend who arrived on the morning I didn’t get out of bed, urged me to consider taking medication.  I recall one friend telling me over the phone that maybe I should consider medication, but somehow in that moment, the suggestion seemed more like I was over reacting about my loss, almost as if I should accept the broken vows and the betrayal of so many things.  On this particular morning, my friend offered that I should talk to a doctor and that it would be something to get me through the worst of it.  I recall not having the energy to navigate the appointment (I was using a teaching hospital and didn’t have a steady doctor at the time). She made the appointment for me, and we drove together a few days later. The diagnosis was “situational depression.” I could live with that.  I got the prescription filled, but for a couple of months it remained unopened in my medicine cabinet. I recall the day I recognized the value in taking it.  I wish I hadn’t taken so long.  I took the medication for about a year, and it was the right thing to do. It didn’t alter my grief, or my personality.  But it altered my perspective enough to manage things. I remember getting pneumonia during that time and running out of the medication. Getting my prescription refilled was problematic.  Abruptly discontinuing the medication was lethal and I had a couple of very hard days that I know scared a couple of friends (myself included).  Be cautious of discontinuing those drugs without the care of a physician.  A couple of months later a doctor helped wean me off without incident.

When I think of “Blazing the Trail,” I think of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind.  I recall my former mother-in-law giving me advice in the beginning and telling me to just not “give a damn” and be like Scarlett O’Hara.  I remember thinking, as wonderful as Scarlett is, I always wished I could be like Melanie Hamilton.  She was angelic, full of strength and grace. I aspired to be more like her, but have missed that mark in so many ways.

I believe I wasn’t intended to be like Scarlett O’Hara or Melanie. I was intended to be myself, to work through my loss with God at the center. He instructed me, and I did my best to listen. Five things that you can do. The world is full of people who haven’t been able to.  When you see a child who has lost his way, or a man or woman on a street asking for money, chances are big that there was a parent who experienced a loss they couldn’t manage.

I’m grateful that I’m here, where I am, living this life. I can share Christmas decorations, celebrate victories and frustrations with my pooches, as well job searches, house moves, and basically the hard that happens at the same time as the wonderful.

There’s really been no “blazing.” It’s okay if it looks like that, as long as you know this: It’s one morning, one day, one Psalm, one friend, one YES, and maybe one pill, at a time.

Christmas Mug of the Day!

Christmas Mug of the Day!

The great thing about these mugs is that I recall many of them.  Who gave them to me, the time of my life, etc.

My blog of December 3rd ended with a hope that I’d be getting up at 5 (or 5:30) to work out.  Lest you think I’m a rockstar, let me come clean. I’m not. This week has been a bad week for early workouts. I’ve stayed up later than I want to, and unless I can get 7 hours of sleep, the lead on my eyes when that alarm goes off is heavier than any effort I can muster.

That morning I made it to our gym at 8:00, which I truly hate. It messes up my day. I see people with whom I enjoy talking and my 1 hour workout becomes a 2 hour workout, by the time I get myself home and productive, that is.  On this particular day, I faced even more distractions: The Holiday Showcase of local artists.  Ugh! Ugh, not because I hate it, but because I love it!  I found three items I decided I couldn’t live without.  Once I found them, I avoided other areas of the club so I wouldn’t be tempted to spend more money or time.

That experience reminded me of why I love to get my workout in early, when there are fewer friends, and those who are there in the wee hours are there because they feel the way I do: Get in, get out, and they’re not yet awake, so chatter is at a minimum.

However, just as I said in my December 3rd post, nothing is wasted.

I ran into a local mom with whom I’ve connected more in the last year.  She’s going through a divorce, and we’ve had a couple of brief heartfelt conversations.  This morning she made a comment that most likely meant nothing to her, but meant a lot to me.  She said that people like me, who have blazed the trail before her, have given her hope.  Blazed the Trail Before Her.  I worked hard to focus on her words from that point on, but my mind wondered about the hope I was giving, and the perception I’d created, at least in her mind.

I would never consider that I’ve blazed any trails.  In fact, the first year I was the trail, feeling like a long dirt road, on which I was trampled.  After five years, the trail has improved, but it’s been a long process. Three homes in five years does not emote a sense of victory or peace.  Yet, a different perspective would tell me that third home in the series is sign of success.  I recognize some things that have kept me moving, so slowly possibly, that to some it might seem like a transformation, kind of like that child that grows up over night, but we know that it was eighteen years of hard labor.

In my next blog I’m going to share with you some things that I believe got me to this point. Above all else, it’s been God. A father who walks with me daily, who loves me when I cry, scream, and want to give up.  A father who shows me the joy in the my loss, and helps me scale my mountains. 2nd Samuel 22: 33-37 says:

33 It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.
34 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he causes me to stand on the heights.
35 He trains my hands for battle;
    my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
36 You make your saving help my shield;
    your help has made me great.
37 You provide a broad path for my feet,
    so that my ankles do not give way.

I’ve deviated from my decorating. In time I hope my blog will have different categories that will allow for the lighthearted as well as a sincere effort to talk life. For now, one page shares it all, so enjoy a few glimpses of the lighthearted: Christmas Decorations!

DSC_0577 DSC_0612 DSC_0624 DSC_0630

I get to go to a party tonight. More lighthearted. Dressing up. Yea!  I’m wearing a favorite dress I’ve had for twenty years that’s probably been worn less than five times.  Somehow it still fits. I’ve purchased a great looking pair of pumps to go with it.  I pray my feet tolerate them.  I hope your day finds you experiencing something that brings out the you, you were designed to be.  For me on this day, it’s enjoying the company of people in the atmosphere of twinkles, good food, and some bubbly.


The new doggie set up looks good to me. Now, I have to convince them of why it’s more appealing to be in a cold garage than inside a warm house. Hopefully the appeal will be that their kennel, doggie bed, food, water, access to the outside whenever they choose (no waiting for their human to open the door for them), and constant music (I purchased an old radio at an estate sale) will entice them. So far, they’re not convinced. But I saw glimmers of hope that they will adjust and I will no longer resent the dirt they drag in every day, or be anxious when working away from home.

They'll get used to this, won't they?

They’ll get used to this, won’t they?

Even if they don’t appreciate this, I do. This is the Taj Mahal compared to a couple of weeks ago:

That's the same wall the doggie door was built into. My joy that this job is finished is like a snow day after Christmas vacation. WooHoo!

That’s the same wall the doggie door was built into. My joy that this job is finished is like a snow day after Christmas vacation. WooHoo!

I love wearing white vests in the winter.  But, I discovered a long time ago that white vests on a person who wears make up is no longer a white vest after a couple of hours. I don’t even wear that much make up!

It's embarrassing! But I can't be the only one whose face transfers on to one's clothes.

It’s embarrassing! But I can’t be the only one whose face transfers on to one’s clothes.

It’s a pain to wash that white vest after every wearing, so I decided to try Soft Scrub. It whitens my sink so I put some on a damp rag and it whitened my vest! I took a photo, but it’s not showing up on my phone, so no photo of that. But trust me. It worked. One word of caution… wipe it off better than i did before wearing the vest. Bradley got in the car and said, “Why does the car smell like bleach?” I love the smell of bleach, and swimming pools. So, if I did notice the smell, I enjoyed it. Next time I’ll be more mindful of that, though.

I’m pretty much done with Christmas decorating. The tree isn’t trimmed, but that’s okay. It’s up, it’s green, and smells wonderful. I’ll post more photos of the decorations later.  It feels good to be this far. I can focus on things like more job resumes, interviews (I do have one next week. Yea!), networking, classes, etc.


I discovered something I’m missing. Something big. I’m missing a statement piece that proclaims our love for Jesus, the gift that he is. I have an idea that I’ll share with you, if I get it done! But it would replace that piece of art that I think is so beautiful, IN THE FALL! It stays there for now.

It was a productive day, for sure. I also showed the house I’m managing to a couple. More praying. This would be a great family to rent to because they’re a family of six, so the house would be well utilized.  When I was showing the home, and we were looking out from the upstairs bonus room, I got a big surprise.

Me, not really paying attention: "It's such a pretty view from up here" Her: "Ah, is that, that tree, is that in their property, or the other peoples'?" Me: Well, look at that. It appears it's on both properties!"

Me, not really paying attention: “It’s such a pretty view from up here.”
Her: “Ah, is that, that tree, is that in their property, or the other people’s?”
Me: Well, look at that. It appears it’s on both properties!”

It was the weirdest thing. Needless to say, that took some time!

My days are full and I’m certain where I need to be. God’s goodness is evident. While I was showing the house, the potential renter and I talked about job opportunities. No experience is wasted. The woman’s husband and she founded a non profit for disabled people.  It’s called Incight. Their mission is “unlocking the potential of people with disabilities.” The woman and I had a great conversation, I was exposed to a new worthy cause, and it’s a potential opportunity for me to explore!

So, that’s a day. I’m hoping to get out of bed at 5… this morning it was 5:30. 5 is not only early, but in Portland, Oregon these days, 5 is very cold, and windy!  Although… is 5:30 any less so? Brrrrr and good night!

I’m not quite ready to show you a decorated house, because a decorated house isn’t quite done. However, take a look at my garage!


A new place for the laundry basket on the shelves my friend’s husband installed.


Oops. It looks like I took this pic prematurely. I see a bird that didn’t make it in a box. The buckets in the middle are Christmas, so they don’t count. They’ll go back into the attic.  However, I’m going to hold off until I get the ladders installed into the attic, next week.  Yea! Hauling the ladder that fits up into the attic back and forth from outside is a big pain.

Next up: Doggie Door is installed today.  Much of the impetus in having an organized garage is to create a home in the garage for the dogs while I am away. Also, right now the dogs’ primary in and out of the house is through the family room, which means a lot of outside traffic brought into the house, which drives me nuts.

A couple of months ago I strongly considered giving the dogs away.  The effort, responsibility, and money that goes into pets is huge.  I considered the constant responsibility of their well being and my own.  The amount of money being spent on just home maintenance around the dogs was increasing: The furniture, the back yard being made secure, the carpets being cleaned, and now the doggie door. It’s a big chunk for a single person wanting to create a home and focus on a job, not to mention the primary responsibility of one’s children.  Deciding on the doggie door in the garage is my commitment that I have decided to keep them.  As much as I wanted to shed the responsibility of the dogs, every time I considered the unpredictability of their future if I let them go, I cried. They are staying.  But owning a dog isn’t something I recommend, unless you have people in your life who are frequently available to help out when you’re out all day, and basically want to take over for you.

The Christmas mugs are out, and a favorite part of my day during the holiday season is choosing one of my coffee mugs.


Ignore the splatter inside the cup. That happens when the Verismo splashes up on the sides.

Last night was the Football Banquet. It was long.  I love listening to the coaches talk about the various kids. They only talked about Varsity, so there was nothing about Bradley, but I love it, anyway.  I think I’m in the minority because as we walked out, I heard comments like, “Man, that was long.”  One coach got really choked up as he talked about one of the seniors who got injured and was cheated out of his senior year.  Granted, not all coaches are as expressive. I soak that stuff up.

For the banquet I assembled these little cookies. I didn’t have much time for much else.


Ginger Snap cookies from Costco: Spread melted white chocolate and sprinkles on top.

I submitted another resume yesterday. I haven’t heard back for an interview from any of the resumes that are outstanding right now. I’m doing my best to embrace where I am, keep my productivity up, so when I’m called on, I can move forward knowing that home is in a relatively good place.  It’s not so easy, but it’s my strategy and I’m sticking to it.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It’s complete with good food and good bad food (meaning, some is nutritious, some is downright bad for us, but I love it). It’s without the pressures that we’ve come to know around celebrating Christmas. I twinge a bit when I hear myself pronounce that Thanksgiving wins over Christmas. Under my breath I give Jesus a quick apology, and pray he understands where I’m coming from. In the same breath I can say that Jesus’ birth is my favorite birthday, so I hope that makes up for my sentiments about Christmas.

Our family has had a tradition of not listening to Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving. Many of you would agree with us that commercialism introduces Christmas sooner than we’d like. Christmas begins in some stores in October, before we’ve gotten to experience Halloween. But yesterday, each of us confessed that this year we couldn’t help but listen to Christmas music before our traditional hold out of the day after Thanksgiving. Each year I buy one Christmas CD. This year it’s Idina Menzel.  I was obsessed with her voice as Elphaba in Wicked.  Today I’m going to break tradition again, and open up her CD.  I’ll let you know what we think, but I anticipate walking around all season long pretending I’m Idina Menzel.  I’ve also been known to impersonate Kristin Chenowith who played Gahlenda.

If you know me well, you might know that my list of frustrations is probably as long as my list of things for which I’m grateful.  But today, I am grateful to forget my frustrations and focus on the gifts that I know come from our heavenly father.  The list is long, and you’d be annoyed, so I will only share a few short things.  Among them is that Bridgette is home. We all went to a late lunch yesterday. It’s a new restaurant in our neighborhood that doesn’t feel like a suburb restaurant but like we might be downtown or on vacation, which for me might as well be the same thing!  It’s called Bethany Public House.   The kids made fun of the way I ordered a beer (which was comical, since they’ve probably never seen me order a beer… it’s not typically my drink of choice).  Bradley met us there, which in itself is a change in our life.  He commented the other day how it felt so weird to hear me say, “Then you pulled up.”  I guess that until one drives, one attaches those phrases only to people who drive, and unless you’re at least sixteen, that’s not you.  So, for that phrase to be applied to him made him feel kind of like he had arrived (pun intended).

The three of us together just felt different and good.  Something is happening to Bridgette at school. She’s not just learning about math and science. It makes me wonder if we shouldn’t all start backwards. Send them to college first, bring them home, and see how things pan out over the years. Experiencing the world on our own opens our eyes to the gifts we receive from others.  It’s nice being on the receiving end of that.

I am grateful for the hopeful spirit I have regarding a permanent job. I continue to be intrigued at my sense of hope, when the right job hasn’t produced itself. I believe that hope comes from God; the peace that surpasses all understanding. I also believe that when we are in motion, we produce an energy that encourages us and stimulates us to another step. I’ve submitted numerous resumes, I’ve talked and met with several people, I continue to sub at the school district and am working on my rental property. Each of those things involves interacting with people who know people who know people, and the percentage of success increases with every opportunity in which I participate.

I received a rejection email from a journalism company last week. I read the email briefly, had a moment of disappointment, later revisited it for a moment to determine how I wanted to proceed, and ultimately decided to move on without any follow up with them, or even the essay I had submitted. Time is precious and one thing I’ve discovered is that there are many opportunities to explore. There’s no point in lingering over that one and missing out on others.

I’m grateful for two pairs of pants that I had tailored. They are probably about eight years old. They were bell bottomed but I decided to take them to the tailor, and for $25 each, they’re a new trendy pair of cords, and I love them.

Reinventing this pair of pants to work with bootie shoes.

Reinventing this pair of pants to work with bootie shoes.

I’m feeling more and more satisfied and just plain happy that our house is becoming a home.

Thanksgiving today, this will be Christmas tomorrow (well, maybe not tomorrow).

Thanksgiving today, Christmas tomorrow (well, maybe not tomorrow).

I got Bridgette’s room looking pretty for her arrival home yesterday. What says “Welcome Home” more than clean sheets and candles?

I got my room in better position to look more like a bedroom than a storage unit, and all of this allowed me to enjoy cooking in my kitchen yesterday and watching Les Miserables with kids on our big TV last night. That is satisfaction for me.

Possibly one of the most meaningful things to me this Thanksgiving is our relatives who disguise themselves as friends and who have welcomed us again into their home to share this holiday.  They are a piece of foundation under our feet that gives us a solid place to land on this day.  I understand what it must be like for those who don’t have that place to land. Holidays are kind of that day when everyone is expected to land, but for many, their ground has crumbled below them.  The other day I heard my reply to a cashier when she asked what we were doing for Thanksgiving. “Oh, just going to spend it with family.”  F-A-M-I-L-Y.  Music to my ears.  After a divorce, family is divided. There may not be that family for which you took for granted all those years.  If that is the case, and that ground has crumbled, the absence of that foundation leaves you continually navigating to a safe place.  I am incredibly grateful and in love with this arm of the family who has continued to love us.  Because I’m no longer married to Alex, their sense of obligation is absent, and it is by choice that they embrace us. Grateful today for a landing place.  May our children always know that place.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends.