What I learned today

Making an image icon is not so hard not impossible!

Thanks to SITS girls helpful Saturday sharefest post. I decided to try my hand at my very own button to represent my new group on the Mom Bloggers Club. It’s about connecting life bloggers with other life bloggers. Now I am not saying a giveaway here or there, a review here or there excludes someone, just that the blog itself should have life content that gives insight to the family or blogger. I was finding it difficult to connect to other bloggers on the Mom Bloggers Club that had the same kind of blog as me. So…I started a group.

I made an image and voila!

Photobucket
Clicking on the photo will take you to the group page.

My goal is not to have a super successful popular group. It is only to invite others like me to have a place to go if they want. I don’t blog to get sponsors or make a brand. I just blog for JOY. I read blogs for JOY. I just enJOY it. If you do too, then come join us.

🙂

Today is gorgeous outside! I am planning on getting some sunshine. I need a little warmth in my soul. I can’t wait until tomorrow. There is a BIG Easter egg hunt that Grandma Sue is hosting for all the kids after Church. I plan on taking lots of pictures, eating LOTS of chocolate, and just reaping the benefits of children on Easter Sunday. Abundantly joyful with angel lights shining from their precious eyes.

I will remember why Jesus came. He came to destroy hostilities between races, to rescue us, to give us faith, and to show us the worst evil is meant by God for good. Freedom, mercy and love for all. ♥♥♥♥

I will rest my burdens at the foot of the cross. I will bow my head grace filled. My heart softened by his strength. I have hope in my future because of his past. I am forgiven. I am free. I am imperfectly me.

May you be blessed this Easter and always.

Sunday’s Healthy Reflection-Positive Cycle of Forgiveness

Without forgiveness life is governed by…an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.
– Roberto Assagioli

The positive cycle of forgiveness

OK, be honest. Do you hold grudges? Do you allow old drama to determine your behavior? Is there someone you just can’t seem to forgive? Grudges and a non-forgiving attitude do nothing but harm both parties. You might feel like you’re “winning” by not letting someone off the hook, but you’re only increasing your own worry and stress. Bitterness can lead to hate, which can sour a life. Today, write a letter explaining your point of view to the person you feel resentful towards. Clear the air; forgiving him. Even if you don’t send it, it is an excellent way to relieve tension. Forgiving someone does not absolve them of the wrong that you experienced. It can simply free you to live a life that isn’t anchored to the hurt and resentment of past events.

Brought to you by Sparkpeople

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I was never one to hold grudges. Nope. I got even, usually, without the person even knowing it. Imagine evil gleam in my eye as I plotted. HA HA HA. My passive aggressive style was brilliant. But then I grew up, or life happened, and I discovered some things just weren’t that important. Revenge was one of them.

I learned something else as well. I wasn’t always right. Is that to say I was never wronged? Of course not. Is that to say life is fair? Uh, nope. Aren’t I really just a door mat then, taking it and taking it? I am not.

There is a lot that happened in my past that I could be bitter about; angry about. A lot of resentments I could harbor, but I CHOOSE to live my life in such a way that everything is a blessing. Good or bad. That doesn’t leave any room for resentments or anger because there is none.

Somehow, someway whatever it is, is going to turn around. When my daughter’s dad and I divorced. I was young and hard hearted. I cared about me, and me only. He dared to want full custody of our then, 3 1/2 yr old daughter. I was floored and angry. Babies belong with their mothers. This is how I grew up and this is how she would grow up. How dare he! Did he really think I was a bad mother?

I didn’t think about what was best for Sydney. Nor did I think about what was fair as parents, who both had a part in bringing this life into the world. I was full of revenge, and resentment towards him wanting to keep me out of the picture.

Turns out, back then, his attorney advised him full custody wasn’t an option. I felt like I won! Revenge was sweet.

Years later, I am horrified at my behavior and thought process. How could I have been so cold? So selfish? Why in the world did I not think of Sydney? Was I numb to her broken heart when I picked her up from her Dads and she cried for him the whole 40min drive home? Why did I think it was about her rejecting ME for him? When it was really HER needing more time with her Dad.

Today, I am with a man who has two young daughters. He has visitation every other weekend and very brief dinner time twice during the week. I see their joy when he takes them in his arms. I see how much they need him and miss him. I hear their cries on the car trip home to their mothers.

Friends, I have come full circle from being that mom on the one side, to being on the other side in the Dads situation. I understand my part, from way back then, more than ever. The blessing? I have more compassion towards Jason and the girls than I ever would have had. I understand completely. My love overflows for them and their anguish.

I have forgiveness for situations like these that are so very hard. I can forgive myself for my part of the custody arrangement with Sydney’s Dad. For being so hard, unrelenting, and immature as an inexperienced mom who just didn’t consider other possibilities than what I grew up with.

Luckily, her dad and I were good friends a little after the divorce. He cared for Sydney whenever he wanted. We lived in the same town, and even the same street for a while. It worked out in her favor, but only because I allowed it to and did not hold my resentment a prisoner in my heart. And you know what? Neither did he.

He was not out to get me. He was out to do and be the best father for his child. I wanted the divorce not him. He was just trying to survive the aftermath with his baby he dearly loved.

I am grateful for my positive cycle of forgiveness. I am grateful for all that I have learned (and will learn). My hope is that it carries over into the lives of our children. I hope they will practice forgiveness and live free and happy.

Choose to forgive, don’t waste any precious time nurturing the seeds of bitterness. Spit them out, swallow your pride. Be kind to yourself and fill up with good things. It will make way for great love and understanding in your soul. It will bring you peace and joy.

Taking hold: Overcoming-my divorce(es)

OK. Time to dig down deep and pull up all the thick black crud buried deep down in the pit of my gut. Scrape away the residue and explain to you —my deepest darkest crime.

Not only being divorced ONCE. But to reprehensibly do it TWICE.

The shame is profound.

I have beat myself up over them, so many times, I have permanent bruises. I have HUGE indentations on my heart, that, one would call scars. No, I don’t think I will EVER forget the pain those created, nor will the pain of those divorces, ever truly be abolished. They will always remain intricately woven into my very being forever.

Have a I learned to live with them? Yes. Will I ever marry again? Yes. Have a I grown and learned from them? Yes. Would I be who I am today without them? No.

My divorces, explain who I am and why. They represent, an unchangeable, growth I had to endure.

First off, my life of divorce did not begin with my own divorce. It began with my mother’s divorce, before I was even born. My brother and sister have a different Dad. Then, my mom married my Dad, and my brother and I were born. Finally, she married my step dad when I was about 5yrs old. I was BORN into divorce. My life was swallowed up by it and produced from it.

My first marriage, I was very young. I met my first husband when I was 18, married him at 21, and had a baby daughter at 22. We were young and immature and barely starting our own lives. So, when things didn’t go EXACTLY as I wanted it, when my marriage faced many trials, and losses, I fled. I just checked out. It was easier to run than to work through the problems. What did it matter? I was a child of divorce and I survived. My child would survive. My life would survive.

The breakdown happened when I began conversing with a client. He was young, cute, and cool; something different, something new. I had a big crush. Rather than let it be that, a crush, and  just fun. I entertained the idea of a “relationship”. And that my friends,  knocked my marriage off the proverbial rails. Once the idea was entertained, I couldn’t keep my mind from it. And it was ALL I thought about. I pulled away from my husband and father of my child. I spent as much time away from him as I could. Hanging out with my crush and my single girlfriends. Frequently, we met out for drinks at pool bars or clubs in Deep Ellum. It gave me a distraction from the LOSSES I faced in my marriage.

The loss of life from losing pregnancy after pregnancy. The loss of a motherhood, that a husband, an emotionally challenged man, could not understand.  An unwillingness to work through it,  but rather just move on to someone else. I was 28yrs old. I’d like to say I really didn’t understand what I was doing, but rather, just imitated what I knew from my life experience. I’d LIKE to say that, but truth is, at any age, we know we can do better.

GRANTED, it was not ALL my fault. Yes, he was distant at times. He had stopped visiting my family with me. We had stopped doing things together. He was mesmerized by ESPN sports center which came on TWICE a night. He would take jobs out of town and be gone for a MONTH. I was taking care of a baby all by myself. I wasn’t happy. I was lonely. WHY, if I’m doing it all anyway, should I even bother? So I didn’t.

My marriage slipped through my fingers. The immediate bitterness and pain was enormous. What made it worse, I didn’t even want to TRY counseling. He was upset (understandably). I was defiant. I told myself I was doing him a favor. That he deserved someone that truly *loved* him. Man– what a crock. I destroyed a perfectly good marriage that could EASILY have been fixed. I ripped a baby’s father out of her life, and his, because I didn’t want to *work it out*. Instead, I chose to have fun with my new guy and my fun single friends.

Fun I had all right, barhopping, and carrying on when I didn’t have my daughter. I went to New Orleans with my crush. We hung out, drank, danced and clubbed. It was awesome. I was with who I wanted and it was a dream come true. In the long run? It was so NOT worth it.

He never committed. He couldn’t commit. Not to me anyway. I was great. I was a challenge. I wasn’t anything *serious*. How could I be? Didn’t I cheat on my marriage with him? Didn’t that make me untrustworthy from the get go?

He moved to Boise, Idaho the next year. I saw him one other time when I drove ALL the way to San Antonio while he was there on business. I keep in touch long enough to know he did eventually marry. I think he has two kids now. Point is, he never had my best interests at heart. If he did, he would have not pursued me either, out of respect for my marriage. Period.

In the meantime, I partied and partied and partied and partied and partied –it’s no wonder I didn’t die driving drunk thank you God– and partied and partied until, I met my 2nd husband in a bar Feb. 9 ,2001. I was 30yrs old.

He pretty much took possession of me right away. I was too nice to realize it. I was waaay too nice to catch all the red flags. He pretty much moved in right away. *why did I let him around my child? wasn’t he a stranger?* Needless to say, my judgment was on ice in a cooler of beer, and certainly not in my head. He told me the day after I met him, that he just got out of prison, not jail, PRISON. I thought he deserved a clean slate.

We had unbelievable chemistry. He spent every moment with me. His control was showering with me affection, and playing on my sympathies. He told me about his rough childhood. I felt bad for him. I just wanted to hold him and make his life better. I wanted to fix him. *I just knew I could*  He told me I was beautiful every single day.

We married one year later on our anniversary meet date, Feb. 9, 2002.  I felt out of this world, most of the time, until he had a bad day, which happened more and more because honestly? Bad luck followed him around. His attitude attracted many adversities.  I became distanced from my family. He wasn’t all that wonderful to them. He began to rage. We started using “recreational drugs” on the weekends. For him, I know it was to numb his pain inside. It didn’t work, he raged more.

But on rare days, when all was right in his world, that wonderfulness consumed me, and I lived for those days; those moments. I had to answer for everything. The wrong answer I was punished. This made me very careful about what I did and said. I never wanted him to preceive me as having a roving eye. I did not want to look or entertain ANY kind of other man idea. I learned that lesson already. But it didn’t matter, I was always under the microscope. One wrong move or decision that wasn’t up to his standard and he went OFF.

Life for me was a roller coaster. Constantly. I did everything I could to keep the peace. I kowtowed. I pleaded. I prayed for relief. I basically did everything I should have done in the first marriage but nothing worked. He was just adverse to being happy, helpless to help himself, and paranoid as all get out. Not to mention, so many other things that I just couldn’t FIX.

The drugs really affected our emotions. He could, after a few days on speed, go completely out of his mind. I was accused of cheating, taking trips with clients, bugging the house, and recording everything he said. He insisted I had two hard drives on my computer and would switch between the two while he walked up to hide my online “chats” with who knows who.

He broke that computer too many times to count, presumably, trying to find the hidden hard drive that didn’t exist. I was working from home.  I was so lucky I didn’t lose my job, which was the only means we had to live on. He was usually out of work or making very little money. Sleeping on the couch most of the day,  waking up long enough to turn the TV on loud, while I was talking to clients. I burned inside with the shame of it. The utter disrespect.

However, I didn’t want to be divorced again. I was determined NOT to repeat my first mistake. But I won’t lie, it was HELL.

One time, during an accusation, he knocked over a coffee table in front me, almost sending a splinter of wood through my eye. Another time, he was so angry he drove, recklessly, down a busy street screaming at me while I held my breath and waited for the crash that would probably kill me and leave my child motherless. It was the scariest and most hurtful time of my life. It was the DARKEST time of my life.

There were a few rays of light, that, were his good days. They were few and far between. He became more and more tortured inside. He constantly cycled; from begging me not leave him, to pushing me away, to being paranoid of his closure, to promising the world. I was dying. From the inside out. I thought I was crazy.

Crazy to live this way. Crazy NOT to leave. This new life affected my child too. My daughter turned ADHD. I would learn, later, that is a symptom of anxiety in children that go through a life change, like marriage, and moving to the other side of town. I thank GOD her Dad was there for her. He moved close to us. It saved her I just know it. She had some normalcy.

I did try to leave him. After a fierce blow up, I packed my car and my dog and I left. My daughter moved to her Dad’s. I actually moved in with my first husband’s mother and brother. That’s right, I moved in with my ex-mother-in-law. I was so grateful for her. She took me, and my black lab, Salem into her small house. I had no place else to go.

My second husbands mom had given us her house for our wedding present. She decided to sell it the day I left. She had never really given this house to us after all. At that point, in 2004, I knew my life was completely changed. I went from having my own place, all my bills paid off, money saved to marrying him and losing it all. As with anyone whose life is upside down,  I sought GOD and guidance.

I found it in The Bible and The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I found it in my Uncle Bub, we had long talks nightly. His wife, of over twenty years, had left him. It careened his life a different direction. He didn’t take care for himself and lost his left leg and most of his right toes, to diabetes. He was in wheelchair for life. What happened to him, made me think twice about leaving my husband. I could see his pain and his heartache. It tore me up.

I, finally, talked to my second husband again after a month. I still loved him. He swore he would be better, change, get counseling, etc. I believed him (again). The Bible said to honor your husband, to love him, and to to not get a divorce. I truly thought I was doing the right thing. I thought it didn’t matter that he didn’t believe in God. I would do the “biblical” thing and abide by what The Bible said. I would submit to my husband and stand by his side til death.

For two more years, things did not change. The cycle continued, worse now, because he barely slept. He raged MORE. He began doing badly at work. I suspected he was doing drugs again but could never prove it. Maybe he was just bi-polar, a disorder I knew nothing about. By this time, we had a bought a house (my dream home). I was deeply in debt. For the first time in our marriage, I REQUIRED him to contribute to our living.

He never paid a thing before, but I could not pay a house payment, two car payments, all the utilities,  and raise a daughter. I needed him to financially survive, but he continued to bring home about $200.00 a week, which only paid for his GAS and food. He continued to do badly at work. It was financially devastating, the hardest time of my life. I loved my house and didn’t want to lose it. I didn’t want to move my daughter (again). I wanted him to get counseling, to get help, to find God even, to banish the demons that tormented him and made him sick. We tried a therapist. He made fun of him and disregarded him as a quack. We visited a Church. He squirmed in his seat, awkward, uncomfortable and never went back again.

Finally, I hit my breaking point. I came home on Monday night after volunteering, at Cook Childrens, in the NICU; my God place. I had my Cooks shirt on and my volunteer badge as I entered the kitchen. He looked me up and down, then hatefully barked, “What’s that red mark on your neck?” I answered warily,  “I don’t know”. I was exhausted from his constant dictate. Honestly? I have reddish skin. I scratch and get a mark but the way he looked at me, was like I did something BAD. It FLOORED me. My nephew DIED in that unit. Did he really think I would use it as an alibi? A cover story, while I went off and had an affair. SERIOUSLY? Do people really do that? And if so, HOW? The malice in his eyes struck me to the deepest part of who I was.

I was done.

It took me months to get out. I had no where to go and no money. I had no nearby relatives to stay with. I prayed and prayed and prayed. My heart wrenched over leaving my home; the one I paid every house payment on. In the end, it wasn’t worth the pain and the misery to be there. Each day, answers to my prayers were revealed in solutions, doorways , paths, directions, LIGHTS, oh the glorious, lights of hope and strength and a future BRIGHT not dark.

The day I moved, seventeen, dear friends showed up with trucks and trailers to move me, and my daughter, out of a four bedroom house in two hours. Praise God. It would not have been possible without their help. The most amazing thing was, I didn’t have friends married to him. He had alienated me, from them all, the last six years.

Strangest of all, it snowed in Texas that April. It wasn’t even a normal Texas snow, barely visible, with a flake here or there. It was actual SNOW. I can still see it, like a dream, floating down; sometimes slow, sometimes fast. HUGE white flakes of fluff, rarely EVER seen, particularly in April. It was astounding. To me, it was a sign from God. He was saying “it’s what I want for you”. He was saying –my struggles were over. The Angels were shaking their wings, as an ending turned to a beginning.

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you, ” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give hope and a future.”

Truly, my life renewed on that snowy day in April. I was healed of the verbal, and mental abuse –suffered six long years. I was cleansed of my guilt, co-dependency, and my undeserving nature. I was given in it’s place, goodness, gladness, heartfelt JOY, and LOVE. Oh the wonderful LOVE I found. Love from a savior that WILL pick you up at your lowest point and give you NEW life. A savior that is always there, whether you believe in him or not. A savior that doesn’t just give you any life, but a life he CHOSE for you. One of peace and worthiness in his amazing grace. I found in myself, a life deserving and forgiven.

I now understand why abused women stay with their abusers. I now understand how hard it is to fight drug addiction. I now understand so many things, God wanted me to know. Needed me to know.

It’s been over two years since that last April. Today, my heart is full. My soul is at peace. I am truly blessed with ALL that life has to offer. I lost two marriages, but gained two lives, myself and my daughters. We are free. We are saved.

1 Timothy 6:19
Take hold of the life that is truly life.

May you always know true love………………………and true life.
God doesn’t want you to hurt.

If you are in an abusive marriage, seek help. If you are not abused, maybe just not happy in your marriage, know that it can change. Ask God into it. Let him perform the miracle of healing and restoring. Anything is possible, but not if you give up.

Believe and take hold.

45 Life Lessons

I got this the other day by email. I’m sure I’ve heard & seen & read it before at some point in time. But some days & sometimes different phases of your life breathe new meaning into words like these. It was worth re-visting & cherishing each statement. I can only hope to live my life with a little more understanding. Perhaps I can try & make it more of a treasure to behold.

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger..
19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion, today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone and everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business..
30. Time heals almost everything. Give it time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does..
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a “gift.” (that’s why it’s called the present)

So take a deep breath. Do the best you can. FORGIVE. Let go of that bitterness & hate inside you it does nothing for you. If you know God’s true love for you. You will be open to true love from another. You deserve it. You really do. I am praying that whoever reads this needs it and it changes your heart today.