Divorce Survival & Recovery

I know that I am a good mom. I adore my boys. I enjoy taking care of them, teaching them, and spending time with them.

But I am drowning in mom guilt.

I tell myself it’s because of my 50/50 parenting plan. I only have them half of the time, and the other half I think of them a lot of the time (much of my waking hours, and a good chunk of my slumber.) I work part time and try to do as much of that while they are at school. I plan most of my life around them, and there is nothing wrong with that, unless it’s never enough.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s enough for them (at least they don’t complain). They seem secure in my love for them. They know (I feel as certain as one can be) that they know how important they are to me. Yet, when I choose to be away from them I feel like a terrible mom. And when I don’t choose to be away, I feel almost as bad.

This is my confession.

But I am not okay with feeling this way. My husband and I are taking a cruise soon, without the boys. I get a little anxious thinking about being away from them. No, this isn’t my first vacay without them; I’ve had several (a big one last summer for my anniversary.) I had a friend ask me if they were coming with us, and when I said no, she said, “I could never leave my daughter behind. We always take her with us.” And while I know her husband probably wishes he could have some alone time with his wife, I couldn’t help but feel like an inferior mom for being okay with “leaving my kids behind.”

I have been thinking through this problem (yes, it’s a problem, not a mom-badge to be proudly displayed) since I learned about the cruise, as I am determined to enjoy my husband and myself. And here are some of my realizations:

  • You cannot be in two places at once–No matter how much guilt you wad up and stuff in your luggage, your work bag, or in your gut, you cannot teleport yourself to your kids so they will forgive you for having a life (or responsibilities) outside of them. So you might as well kick some butt and take some names wherever you are, so you can go home and tell them what you accomplished!
  • Feeling guilt doesn’t change a thing–Great, you feel guilty. You can’t trade all that guilt in for time with your children or for feelings of succeeding as a mom.
  • They need a life outside of you–Whether you are working, jogging, having a girls night out, or just hiding in your bathrobe around the corner for a few seconds of “me” time, these are chances for your kids to become little more of themselves. I am not saying to leave your kids to their own devices, but if they spend time with a daycare provider, your ex, a family member or a trusted friend, they get to do things and learn things that are beyond you.
  • Comparison sucks–The reality is, I don’t organize my life the same way you do, and I don’t value what you do exactly. Just because you do things differently at your house (like grow organic okra, hand sew their underpants, breastfeed until they’re 9, or Pinterest everything that you could potentially get at Target or Etsy) doesn’t mean I have to feel obliged to do it too. There are excellent moms who work 60 hours a week, moms who work from home, moms who travel, and moms who never leave. Who cares how other moms do it. My kids sure don’t. Do yours?
  • Guilt and love are not the same thing–No matter how much guilt I feel, manufacture or deliberate upon, I will never be able to convert guilt to love. I will never be able to kiss away tears, brighten a day, or bring upon a smile with guilt.

Guilt is binding and painful. Love is open and healing. Guilt is a thief. Love is a gift. Never get them confused.

What I really want my kids to feel is loved. But I am not the only one qualified to give it to them. Moreover, I am not responsible for every feeling they have, every time they have them. Yes, it stinks when my kid asks why he can’t go on the cruise with us (we took 3 great vacations with them last year, so they are not being kicked to the curb.) But moping at a Captain’s Dinner or drooping across a zip line like an emo sack of potatoes when I should be making memories isn’t going to accomplish a thing…

…except maybe wife guilt. Yikes.

Guilt is not pure. Guilt is not productive. Guilt cannot be converted to love.

Therefore it is my pleasure to announce that I will be attempting my first guilt-free vacation in 14 years.

I will think of my kids, I will pray for them, and I will call them a bit too. I will even send postcards from our ports, and I will buy them overpriced souvenirs. But I will not ruin quality time with my husband to prove to myself that I am a good mom; because it never has and it never will.

Do you have mom guilt? When does it hit you the hardest? How do you fight back?

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I’ve been divorced. It was 9 years ago. My boys were toddlers at the time, and now one of them is planning on getting his permit next year. Yet, we still suffer from the ramifications of divorce. And in some ways, I suspect my kids always will.

I am not going to list biblical reasons for divorce. I am not going to offer my opinion on “good reasons” to divorce. I am not even going to share with you why I divorced my then-husband. I will tell you it took several years to make that decision. I will also tell you that I am remarried and that I am very satisfied and happy in my marriage. I will tell you, quite plainly though, that there is much pain that encompasses those who have been through a divorce, especially the children.

When I divorced in 2005, I worried about my kids. I worried what would become of them in the climate of the marriage I was in at the time. I worried how the divorce would shape them too. People told me, “kids are resilient; they will bounce back.” I liked hearing that, but years later, I wonder if they really knew what they were talking about.

My boys are good boys. I have a good relationship with them, and I am confident that I always will. They also really love their step-dad. They spend equal amounts of time at my house, and at their dad’s house. They don’t want for material possessions, athletic opportunities, educational opportunities, or chances to worship God. They are well fed, well clothed and healthy.

But there is more to them than that. Divorce, and the subsequent changes to their lives has forever changed them. Now I worry if they will have a chance at a lifelong marriage, or if their paradigm is forever changed in a way that will shape their relationships forever. I see them struggle in ways that children from non-divorced homes don’t seem to suffer. It is devastating at times.

There are many things I could say about divorce, divorce recovery, parenting plans, counseling, etc. And at some point, I will write about all of those things. But right now, I feel it is urgent for me to just say this, it is not too late for you to reconsider your divorce.

If you knew a couple that was about to get married, that had no business getting married, would you tell them? Would you tell them to forget about all the guests who are planning to attend their wedding? Would you tell them to forget about the money they had spent? I would. I would tell them to consider their forever, and not just their now, or how people would view them for changing their minds. Rows of guests in their Sunday best is not a reason to say, “I do.”

If you are considering divorce, I beg you to rethink it. Maybe you have already filed. Maybe you are already dating. Maybe you have your own place, your own bed, your own toaster…but it’s not too late. Whether you have children or not, please just pause, close your eyes and talk to God about all this. Let Him help you sift through all this. He wants to help. And I promise you, a lease on an apartment or a new social media relationship status can all be undone.

I know you might think of me as a hypocrite. That’s okay with me. I often say, “I would rather you hate me than hate yourself.” Divorce is awful. It is final. And the ripple it creates goes on for years, if not decades. And maybe you’re afraid that you will lose your nerve and not go through with the divorce if you stop to think about it. But there may be hope for your marriage that you are bulldozing over as your rush out of there as if the building is on fire.

I am sorry you are hurting. I am sorry he let you down, let you feel lonely, or said things that crushed you. I am sorry you don’t feel close to him anymore, like you can count on him, or that you are in love anymore. I am sorry he broke your trust, damaged your respect for him or let you down again. I am sorry that sometimes he’s an ass, that he takes you for granted, or doesn’t even notice you at times. You deserve more. But if you haven’t let God have His way with your marriage, how do you know that more isn’t possible with the man you married?

How do you know, if you haven’t asked?

I should have been unremarkable, a nobody, but because of God, I am a servant in His Kingdom daily.

When I was asked to speak at a ladies conference a couple of months ago, I was honored. I was asked to discuss my life before and after Christ. unlike many Christians who became followers at an early age, I was very much an adult when I became a follower. The issue for the conference became, what do I talk about? Where do I begin?
The daunting task at hand was: remember all that I was before I met God, and all that I am now that I have, and choose one thing that has changed for me because of Him.

After weeks of praying for God to shine a light on the thing He wanted me to share, my prayers sort of came up empty. I realized that there is not ONE thing that has changed because of God’s love; EVERYTHING has changed because of Him.

When I was a little girl, I remember a lady at church (whom I had never met!) saying to me, “You can’t really love others until you love yourself.” I thought that was the silliest thing I had ever heard. Not only had I never heard of loving yourself, I felt quite certain that I didn’t, nor was I supposed to. It wasn’t until God and I started spending time together that I realized the love He has for me, and His desire for that love to be reflected in my relationships too.

Like many of the women I know, I have been let down and rejected by many people, especially the father figures and other men in my life. I have searched high and low for the security and love that I thought should’ve came from them. At the age of 30, I was divorced.

Five years later, I married again. If you are my Facebook friend, you will know that after 8 years with my now husband, I am smitten. With him I have found security and love. But it has little to do with him. I am a new woman because of Christ and I seek real security and love because of Christ, and I have real security and love through Christ.

That lady was right; I do love others more because I love myself. I am a writer now, helping women grow closer to God. And because of this love, I am no longer an unremarkable nobody. I am a child of God, and I am here to share His love.

Before God rescued me, I felt…

Abandoned
Rejected
Like a burden
Never good enough
Unlovable

After God saved me, I am…

Secure
Accepted
Purposeful
Worthy
Loved

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2. Cor. 12:9-10).

When I was 12 I learned about nuns. I learned just enough to know that they spent a lot of time reading and doing chores. For some reason, the same girl who loved rap music and collected scrunchies was drawn to the quiet convent life devoid of thrills and Bath and Bodyworks. Knowing basically nothing about religion though may have caused a bit of a wrinkle: I wasn’t even Catholic.

 

It’s crazy the things we think we could be, the direction we could have gone, the dreams or harebrained ideas we could have pursued, but didn’t.

 

At one point I wanted to be an artist, maybe in advertising. I can’t watch Mad Men without picturing myself as Peggy Olsen or even Donald Draper, in charge of “creative.” I also dreamed of going to Boston for college. I have never been further north than Ohio, but Boston stole my heart in my mind at least. I chose Austin Peay instead. There was my boyfriend to consider, who later became my husband (and eventually my ex-husband), and then there was the rational reason of in-state tuition. “In-state tuition”: say it out loud; doesn’t it just scream adventure? Yep.

 

I was at the public pool with the kids the other day. It began sprinkling so I moved my chair, Kindle and blanket-sized towel under the overhang, just feet from two college-age lifeguards talking about life. One very baritone fella, sounding much older than he appeared was advising his slightly younger cohort in money management, selecting a career and where to live during college. He had it all figured out: live at home, save that dough, take a safe job, and set it on cruise control. He is exactly the kind of guy I would have liked at 18 (Just 6 years after contemplating the “veil”.)

 

But more than 20 years have passed, and I have made a million safe choices, and a couple of thousand of kind of dopey ones. While I am not suggesting young people abandon all logic or sound advice and run naked through Rome, I am going to tell you emphatically: take risks.

 

Playing it safe has its merit of course, but always walking the narrow path will keep you from seeing and doing some incredible things. It may also keep you from being an incredible person.

 

Here are a few things I wish I had done:

 

  1. Learned Japanese and kept up with learning Spanish, and used it.
  2. Lived in another country and loved a foreign man who could only pantomime his love for me.
  3. Did something truly dangerous like jump out of a plane or dive with sharks. There is a bit of foolishness that comes with youth. I wish I had put it to good use.
  4. Celebrated the New Year in Time Square in a mini-dress in sub zero temperatures and danced way too late into the night.
  5. Talked to a nun, an ad executive, a novelist, a soldier, a stay at home mom, or anyone else that lived an interesting life and asked a ton of questions, followed them around, and tried on their “shoes” if reality permitted.

 

“Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”   Oprah Winfrey

 

Bucket lists aren’t just for people who are middle-aged and beyond. There is no better time to start finding out who you are than now. God has a plan for you, but you aren’t going to find it hiding in your safe place. Risk precedes joy!

Mother’s Day. It sounds possessive, as if we, the moms of the world, actually own the day. A day for mothers. We get what we want. It’s all about us, right?

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For as long as a I have been a mother of two boys that are two years and eight months apart, way too close in size, and way too far apart in attitude, I have asked for the same Mother’s Day gift: for the boys to be nice and get a long for the entire day.

 

I remember trying to get pregnant with my first. I was in my mid twenties, 94 lbs, and looked barely over 16. I had a Martha Stewart complex, and I needed a baby to complete the picture perfect story. I waited a long ten months to get pregnant (I say sarcastically having waiting years trying for our third child) and when he was born he was the most beautiful sight I had ever laid eyes on.

 

Everyday, I watched him for hours, examining every dimple; feeling amazed at what God had created. I waxed eloquent about his eyebrows, comparing them to bundles of finely spun gold. I enamored over his lashes holding him at just the right angle in the puddle of morning sunlight to see each copper-colored quill and trying to kiss each one. I haikued and sonnetted him to sleep and kissed his bread pudding cheeks until I thought I might actually take a teensy nibble. He was my song of songs. I was immensely satisfied and fulfilled.

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I can say without doubt that I spoiled my firstborn. He toddled with authority from room to room demanding his juice and cookies. His stately demeanor had me bowing at his whims. His edible round face and his royal blue eyes pierced through me like Valyrian steel. I was retinue to a tiny commander of the court, and most days, I was still exceedingly happy.

 

The tides began to change a little during my second pregnancy. I was incredibly sick and exhausted from balancing work, hyperemesis gravidarum (morning sickness from the pits of hell and beyond) and an unyielding strong willed firstborn prince. After a night of vomiting ham and onion pizza until I called upon my own death like Job of the Bible, my second son was born with little warning, nearly one month early. I was not ready.

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Since that day more than 11 years ago, I have stayed about two running leaps behind. My youngest was passive, submissive, affectionate, and never let go of me. The first months of his life were a complete blur. He slept across my belly like a sticky lemur, and refused to be more than a domino’s length from me. Content in every stage, he took his syrupy sweet time reaching each milestone causing this What to Expect mom distress and fear. To top it off, the prince had begun to resent his little lemur brother and took court to protest his presence, twice smearing poop on our walls (and every surface he could reach) and once poking his brother’s eye till it bled a little, and when confronted about it exclaimed quite indignantly, “He HAS another one!” My hands were full.

 

I began to lose my patience from time to time. I was one person, wearing many hats: working, cooking, cleaning and attempting to bathe myself on occasion. The worst part of my day was when I prepared dinner. Their dad would want my full and completely doting attention to tell me inconsequential stories about work, while I skittered from cutting board to skillet with a lemur on one leg and a prince on the other. I began to resent their father for letting me drown in the workload and even worse, in my self-inflicted need for perfection.

 

While always loving my boys deeply and unconditionally, I unraveled some days. I remember crying on the stoop with a can of Coca Cola in my hand while my child cried uncontrollably and seemingly without cause for what felt like hours. I remember hiding my prescription of Zoloft under the bathroom sink because their dad despised medicine and did not support me taking it. I remember telling one or two of the women I felt I could almost trust that sometimes, in desperate moments, when the children seemed to outnumber me 20 to 1 in their demands to my abilities, that I would yell, or cuss, or hide. I felt like a terrible mother. No one told me that there would be times I would doubt my own sanity, or completely question my worth as a human. But I did.

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During their already demanding and daunting toddler years, with my oldest just 4 and my youngest 1-year-old, their father and I divorced. It definitely was not because of the boys, but it certainly has impacted them. They are both quite strong-willed now, and after nearly 9 years, they are still healing from the brokenness that their father and I secured for them. Some days, I want to pull the car over, and run down the road towards a field of flowers, lay flat on my back, finding happy shapes in the clouds while my children tell me why I am most deserving of their never-ending love and admiration. But I usually settle for arriving safely without losing my cool and/or my self-respect.

 

I started out wanting the perfect family. Now I just pray my kids survive my inadequacies. I have already braced myself for the day they demand (at ages 30 and 32, I predict) that I pay for their counseling and a trip to Tahiti (just for good measure.) In many resounding, unpredictable, heart-wrenching ways, I have failed them.

 

Now please do not feel terrible for me. In even more ways, I am at peace with my imperfections and my failures. Although I don’t mind it, you do not need to call me and tell me I am a great mom; this is not a cry for help. In many ways I am not. I countless, untraceable yet wonderful ways, I can safely and quietly whisper, “I am.”

 

I have always adored my boys. I have always made life’s big decisions with their best interest at heart. I have always kept my promises. I do not lie to them. I reward them for a job well done, and I do my best to model kindness and respect. I tell them why I have loved them, why I do love them, and why as long is there is a hushed trace of a breath in my lungs, I always will love them. There is nothing they can do or say to chase my love away.

 

Motherhood is the least glamorous job I have ever done, and that’s a big statement coming from a girl who used to sell corn dogs and batter-fried blocks of cheese in the food court. But as tough as it’s been, as many tears as I have shed, and as many pints of gelato I have eaten to get through it all, it’s the most amazing, heartbreakingly beautiful thing I have ever done. I am fully convinced that on this Mother’s Day, my boys will fight, name call, injure and corrupt one another woefully and willfully. And at one point, I will probably cover my face, or hide in my bathroom with mascara-ed tears leaving a trail down my powdered face. Then I will collect myself, remind myself that I have gotten them this far, albeit scraped, damaged, wounded and terribly strong-willed, and that I know that I am doing the very, very best that I can.

 

It won’t be a perfect Mother’s Day, and it’s seriously doubtful that it will be a peaceful one. I am the mother to two fantastically, divinely, magnificently created boys. Some days I am a warrior. Some days I channel Mother Teresa. Some days I am a crumpled and bruised weakling. But just as I know, with the assurances of God’s Son, that my children were known even before they were knitted in my womb, I know that God chose me to be their mother. My heart may break a thousand times over, but I repeat God chose me.

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Call your mom today. Call a mom today. Praise the mother of your children, your wife, or that woman who was a mom when you needed one most. Tell her that your love for her will never end, that it is without condition, and that you know that God chose for her to be exactly who she is. Tell her well done! Bravo! You good and faithful servant! And the next time she walks out of her hiding place, with traces of mascara on her cheeks, and her shoulders hanging low in defeat, wrap her up in your love, and tell her again.

 

With all my love, to all the moms past, present and to-be, Happy Mother’s Day.

 

It wasn’t that long ago that I was a divorcee. It was not an easy time in my life by any stretch of even the most twisted imagination. But one thing is for sure; hope was the O2 of every breath I took.

I am remarried now. And I certainly feel blessed, but I have several friends who are “single moms” and they are some of the most beautifully humble, loving and godly people I know. There isn’t a public figure, famous writer, or inspirational speaker that adds more value and light to my life than these women do.

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And yesterday, as I was meditating on Easter, these women in my life kept occupying my mind: the sacrifices they make, the love that they give and the selflessness they offer all day, every day.

 

I contacted a few of them, and asked them their thoughts on Easter. It was last minute, so I didn’t expect their world to stop for my last minute inspiration.

In fact, two of them weren’t able to speak with me. One was cleaning houses on a Saturday and another was at soccer with her kids all day. The other two came by to see me (or rather to see my puppies if I am being honest). Here is what they said about Easter:

“My life is not some fairytale nor will it ever be. I am a divorced single mother of two and in the world’s eyes, “washed up”, “used”, or just plainly with too much baggage. But I am a daughter of the most High King. I am a mother who is blessed to have two amazing people to carry on a legacy. I learn perseverance, I learn patience and most importantly I learn love.

I believe in a man, born of a virgin mother, illegitimate child in our Earthly eyes, who loved me and my children (and even you) enough to swallow our sin! I believe that He walks with, speaks with me and leads in me.” –Casey O’Connor

My dear friend Lisa Clark Hunter took some time to be alone yesterday, and found herself resting under a cross and writing for the first time in a very long time. Here are her words:

There it is, that place

The place called the Cross

Where we lay it all down

Our fears, doubts, addictions

Our pain, sorrow and loss

Our heartache and helplessness

Our burden

Our brokenness

Our sins

That place where the Lamb of God gave His life

That place where He gave us hope

Where the ultimate sacrifice was given

 

The bloodshed that freed us all 

And in return for this sacrifice

We pick it right back up

Where He paid the greatest price

Are we saying He’s not good enough?

All He wants

All He “needs”

Is our trust, our faith

That our God will set us free

Free from the fears, doubts, and addictions

Free from our pain, sorrow, and loss

Free from the heartache and helplessness

Free from our burdens and brokenness

Free from our sins

Free to live. Free to love. Free to worship.

Lisa and Casey shared a little of their lives with us, the brokenness, the loss, and the fear of giving it all to God. But they also share with us the wholeness they experience through Christ, the completeness that can only be found in communion with Him.

 

It’s easy to pretend that we have it all together, but these ladies, without pretense show us that Christ is their strength and their hope.

 

Easter, even more so than the New Year, is a time for new beginnings. We often crave a fresh start, but what we are really craving is freedom: freedom to be who God designed us to be, freedom to enjoy the minutes and moments of our lives, and freedom to love without fear and be loved without striving.

I have many godly women in my life, and these women are giants in my eyes. They have received Christ’s love and even though they say that their lives are not perfect, they are constantly chasing God and resting in His glory. Easter is all about accepting that gift. Are you ready?

 

[Photo and poem courtesy of Lisa Clark Hunter]

Dear Eve,Dear Eve Letter

Oh how I envy the little piece of paradise you experienced for a short time! I wish I could have felt what it’s like to just be with my husband, never worrying, wanting, or feeling insecure (Gen. 2.23-25)

It sounds like we both suffer from an overly trusting nature, unfortunately sometimes falling to crafty foes (Gen. 3.1). The problem is that we both have trusted the enemy instead of simply trusting in God (Gen. 3.6). Why is that so hard for us? Why do we want control instead of just resting in such glorious reassurance? We also suffer from a lack of minding our own business at times. We want to know what God knows; we want to know the future and His plan for us. Come to find out that is none of our business unless God makes it known to us (Gen. 3.7-9).

I know Adam could’ve done better. He could’ve stepped up and stopped you. He should’ve been a better leader (Gen. 2.15-18). But we can’t make excuses for our own behavior.  We cannot make the excuse that we are waiting to be led properly. We must never sin; nor should we let our relationships bring us to sin. It separates us from God, and it’s the worst feeling ever.

I just would liked to have known what it feels like to be completely at ease in a relationship, never to feel clingy or controlling, always doing what is best for my husband, and never trying to change him.

I would like to have experienced a relationship free of blame, financial stress, and cycles of domineering and control (Gen. 3.16). My first marriage was full of all of this. Eve, in 2014 we have divorce: it’s a consequence of the fall. Men try to dominate. Women manipulate and control. No one is happy or fulfilled, and eventually they give up on their marriage, never finding their way back to “Eden” (Gen. 3.23-24).

I don’t blame you though. If I had been the first woman in the world, I probably would’ve done even worse; I probably would’ve made an apple pie. We are all broken, every last one of us. I hope you have forgiven yourself. You were designed to need God all along.

Your descendant,

Kris

*Check back next Wednesday for my letter to Adam.

You said you weren’t making any more resolutions, but you know that’s a lie. You’ve got goals and plans, and there’s no better way than a New Year’s resolution to announce your plans to the world. But let me warn you, some plans are better left unmade. Here are 5 resolutions you should reconsider.

To Lose Weight–Yes, I know, losing weight by exercising and eating right is healthy for many of us, but be careful of your motive. If you are trying to get your ex back, look better than your secret nemesis, or just plain “look smokin’ hot: beware. This resolution will fail. Resolutions based in vanity or competition rarely last, and you might end up feeling worse about yourself than when you started.

Instead–Find some positive motivation like having more energy for your family, or regaining your confidence. Find the daily encouragement by looking for small improvements in your sleep, your moods, your energy and your overall health. Celebrate those improvements and more will follow!

To show “them” or seek revenge–Okay, someone underestimated you, let your down, or plum broke your heart. Now you want to show them what you are made of. As we say in our house, you better check yourself, before you wreck yourself. Often when we are out to prove something about who we are, we veer so far off track, we forget who we are. When we live to prove ourselves to other, we are in danger of losing ourselves in the process.

Instead–Pray for them and forgive them. Forgiveness will allow you to move on and prayer will help you get there. Focus on your relationship with God and live for Him instead. He will not leave you or forsake you.

To be perfect (at anything)–Please, for the love of Pete, do not tell yourself that you will do _____________ everyday, or never do _____________ again. When you fail, you will be devastated and feel like a failure. Resolutions are big and unachievable. Goals, on the other hand, have smaller objectives. If you aim for perfection you will find yourself making the same useless resolutions year after year, and never achieving them.

Instead–Break a big goal into smaller pieces of attainable (but not ridiculously easy) objectives. Share your plan with someone who will encourage you, and set checkpoints for yourself every month to 90 days and where you would like to be. Chart your progress in writing!

Goals for other people–Do not tell other people what their resolutions should be. It’s like taking a hubble telescope and shoving it in their face and saying, “I see everything wrong with you!” If you make a resolution as a couple, or as a family, you will not be successful unless everyone else sees the value of achieving the goal.

Instead–Ask your spouse or kids what their goals are for themselves or the family. Don’t expect them to get excited about everything you are passionate about without getting their buy-in first.

To get a divorce–The New Year brings upon reflection and life evaluation. With that comes all of our thoughts of failures, disappointments and regrets. Couple this with stressful holidays (time, money, kids, family issues, etc) and you have the perfect storm for a delicate marriage to find its utter ruin. January is the most popular month to file for divorce. Are you ready to be a cliché?

Instead–Ask yourself, have I done everything? Have we done everything? Has God released me from this marriage? If you have any doubts, then stick it out. Marriage was never designed to be easy. If it seems easy, you’re not trying hard enough. And remember, the grass may seem greener on the other side, but it didn’t get there without TLC. If your spouse is willing, start counseling, find a church and/or small group, and sign up for a marriage retreat.

If your motives are selfish, overly altruistic, rooted in bitterness, or just too BIG, then back up the crazy truck! You do not have to get caught in this, “I suck at life trap” again. Get real with yourself, have a few (or more) convos with the “Man upstairs” and make a goal or two that is worth its salt. Let’s not make a Regretalution that will have you hanging your head low in March!

Note: If you are in an abusive or dangerous marriage, please seek professional help.

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I respect step-parents. They are really special people. I was divorced in 2005 and I remarried in 2010. My husband stepped onto the scene when my boys were 3 and 6 years old. My ex-husband remarried last year to a woman with children. So basically, 3 out of 4 of the adults that my children live with are a step-parent to someone. I am the oddball out. I don’t know what it’s like to raise a child that is not from my DNA.

I don’t know what it’s like to:

  • Wonder if the kids even like me.
  • Try to learn the little things about the children that make them tick.
  • Love a child unconditionally even though I don’t “have” to.
  • To tuck in, bathe, tote around, do homework with, go to a recital for, make a sack lunch for, plan a vacation for, pay for private school for, and a million other things for a step-child.
  • To feel like a visitor in my own home at times because there are things, traditions, memories and feelings that I was not a part of and cannot recreate, no matter how much I want to.
  • To be trumped by the birth parent every time, and not really have the “right” to feel entitled to certain emotions or expectations.

But even though I am not a step-parent, I was a step-child, at least until my “step-dad” adopted me many years ago. Even after the paperwork was signed though, we drove each other crazy. They say it take about 6-8 years to bond with a step-parent/child. In my experience, this is roughly accurate. Being a step-parent requires the patience of a saint!

Step-parenting has been around a very long time and about 1 in 3 families are step-families.  And in all this time, no one has coined a better name for a stepparent than this awful, compound word grossness that screams “You came later, your genes were omitted, and you’re not as valued!” Say it out loud: STEP-PAR-ENT. Are you covered in warm fuzzies?

Both research scholars and clinical experts agree that the stepparent role is more difficult and less clearly defined than the parent role. In part, some of the difficulty of parenting someone else’s children stems from the negative or pejorative meaning attached to the term step” in fairy tales, in popular literature, and as perceived by people in general.*

I have racked my brain for years to come up with something that shows the honor to the stepparent that they deserve. This is no easy task! My thesaurus and I go way back, so I have visited it numerous times to no avail. So in honor of Joseph, the earthly father to Jesus, I have landed on Jo. It works for a man or woman, it’s easy for any age child to learn, and won’t offend the birth parent. Get creative if you want to: Mama Jo, Papa Jo, JoJo…the options are endless. Jo simply means: “I love with all my heart, I patiently endure as a parent, I am chosen, and I am as real as they come!”

Thank you to Deanna, for being a great “Jo” to our boys and Happy Father’s Day to my dad and my husband. You are my heroes.

*http://www.stepfamilies.info/articles/the-role-of-the-stepparent.php

†oday’s Word

“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)

†oday’s Morning Glory

My friend and spiritual mentor, Ron Edmondson (you can read his blog at http://ronedmondson.com) posted this today on his Facebook today,

“God is a God of second chances, but He is NOT a God of second place.”

So he got me thinking, What does the Bible say about second chances? So I did what any scholarly and astute individual would do…I Googled it.

What I found surprised me. We all know when we start typing something in the Google search box, it likes to predict what we are going to type based on the most popular searches. What I noticed it that people are more like to search for bible verses on “Second Chances” than they are on the “Second Coming”.  What that sounds like to me is that we are more concerned with our position with Christ based on our past mistakes than we are in the afterlife and the return of our Messiah. Enlightening to say the least.

This is how I break down God’s forgiveness to my kids: there is NO SIN too big to be forgiven by our Father in Heaven if we repent and ask for forgiveness. Here’s the caveat I am quick to mention: Sin separates us from God, so if we choose to sin with the knowledge that God will forgive us, we are not living in His living, active, moving grace and love. In other words, we are missing out on a relationship with Him when we sin even when we know better and are personally convicted not to sin.

When we love people, we want to see them happy. We enjoy pleasing them. As our love relationship with God deepens we will take more pleasure in doing things that are pleasing to Him, even more so than doing things that please us.

†oday’s Prayer

Dear God, I pray daily to empty me of myself and to be filled with your Holy Spirit. I pray for continued guidance as I learn how to rid myself of sin that separates me from you.  Thank you for Jesus as our perfect example. Thank for your forgiveness and grace and for taking away the pains of sin when I come to you in prayer. I praise you and love you! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!