Beauty over Fear

Since the minute I found out the truth about my marriage I have been dreading the holidays.  The thoughts, “Where will we celebrate? Will I even be with my kids?  How do I make sure my kids have a wonderful season no matter what?”

I don’t know how I had this clarity, but way back in October I had a conversation where I said, “My kids need to be with their Dad at Christmas, and I’m not going to spend Christmas without my kids.”

I drew a line.  All of us or none of us.

That line definitely caused pain.  “All of us or none of us” meant more than a few people chose the “none” option.  Thankfully, I don’t think my kids totally felt the weight of that.  They asked questions of course, and I answered them as truthfully and gently as possible, but one thing I know for sure is:

My family had an absolutely beautiful Christmas.

Man, I feared it.

I was so scared of Christmas–I absolutely dreaded it–and it turned out to be one of the very best Christmases of my entire life.

When we recognized our uninvited reality, Adam and I decided to be very intentional about “new”.  This year was going to be all about us: our choices, our time schedule.  So, we took that freedom and chose to make all new traditions.

Christmas Eve we went to a candlelight service at our church.  I’ve never done that before,  a new tradition that I cried all the way through.  It was unexpected and truly beautiful.

Another new tradition: Adam got it in his head that he wanted to have a cajun crab boil for Christmas Eve dinner.  So, we covered our table in newspaper, dumped that delicious seafood right out in the middle and dug into it with our bare-hands.  My babies LOVED it: we laughed and stuffed ourselves silly.

Then we made fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookies, curled up by the fire and watched Christmas movies all together.

Another first for us, we chose to read scripture every night through Advent together as a family.  On that sweet night before Christmas I watched as Adam read to our children about the “Everlasting Father” our “Prince of Peace” and I thanked God for these beautiful promises.

Then on Christmas morning Adam and I were up by 4:30, too excited to sleep.

We lost our patience around 5 a.m. so we busted into their room and woke our babies up.

Every present was opened and celebrated before the sunrise.

Some of my dear friends found out that Adam and I didn’t have anywhere to go on Christmas and they invited us to their own, “misfit toys” Christmas tradition of going to the movies in their pajamas.  So, we pre-bought our tickets and met up with our “chosen” family at noon.  (Although I did sleep through part of the show, I was up before dawn after all.)

Another first.

Another beautiful tradition.

And we all got wonderful presents, but I got an especially beautiful one.

At some point Adam had asked what I wanted and I’d said, “An experience”.

Well, be careful what you ask for…

The very last present opened on Christmas morning was a letter from Adam informing me that he has signed us up for a Spartan race this summer.  A 13 mile, multi-obstacle, body killer.

(Hey, you asked for it).

And I wept.

Not over the race itself, although I am crazy excited.

I bawled because at the bottom of the letter Adam wrote that 3 other couples had signed up to race with us.

The very same “misfits” that had invited us to the movies.

The people who chose us.

I am so deeply honored to have been shown so much love.

I’m honestly just blown away.

I was hugging and thanking everyone at the theater when one friend said, “Well, I told you I’d die for you, I think I’m proving it now.” And we laughed..

Cause we are TERRIFIED!

Oh my gosh, I’m so scared.

One thing I’m learning, however; is that my fear of the future has never actually protected me from it.

Being cheated on was my biggest fear as a wife, and here I am…still thriving.

My biggest fear in life was to one day wake up and find myself alone, and yet here I am…still feeling loved by my misfits.

I am scared of the Spartan race obstacles, but I’m not going to let fear keep me from the excitement of seeing what other hard things my spirit is capable of.

I feared Christmas–and it was beautiful.

It was lovely in part because Adam and I were intentional about it.  We saw our reality, (we got some obstacles ahead of us) and we prepared for them.  We prepped and planned.  We didn’t let our fear rule our time.

I fear the race–but I expect it to be beautiful.

We will prep for it, we will spend months planning.  (After church this Sunday we spent a good amount of time comparing notes with one friend who is joining us.  I think this race is going to dominate a lot of my thoughts for a while.). We know their will be obstacles, so we will prepare ourselves for them.

I fear the future, but I know it will be beautiful.

And I plan to be intentional about it.

All things new, and beauty in all things.

“Let your faith be bigger than your fear.”

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Take two and call me in the morning…

I know I’m not the only person who has felt heartbreak, and I also know that the holidays can be particularly hard for many people so I wanted to share some of the quotes and videos and songs I’ve been surrounding myself with during all of this.

For when my faith wavered:

For when others made me feel weak:

When I felt trapped by the past or deeply feared the future:

When the opinions of others threatened my ability to carry on:

And there were songs too:

“Mercy”

You delight in showing mercy
Mercy triumphs over judgment

My past embraced
My sin forgiven
I’m blameless in Your sight
My history rewritten

Oh love, great love
Fear cannot be found in You
There will never be a day
You’re uncertain of the ones You choose

I will wake and spend my days
Loving the One who has raised me up
From death to life, from wrong to right
You’re making all things beautiful

You delight in showing mercy
Mercy triumphs over judgment

Better than a Hallelujah by Amy Grant

Key lyric: “We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody.  Beautiful the mess we are, the honest cries of breaking hearts are better than a hallelujah.”

Broken Together by Casting Crowns

Key lyric: “Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete, Could we just be broken together?  If you can bring your shattered dreams and I’ll bring mine, Could healing still be spoken and save us?  The only way we’ll last forever is broken together.”

And the many books that saved me:

 

(And many more.  I love books.)

There are a bunch of great Ted Talks.

The one that helped me the most was by a woman named Esther Perel, and it’s titled: “Rethinking Infidelity”.  It’s specific but would be a good watch for anyone who is affected by infidelity, especially the extended family members.

Key quotes:

“Your first marriage is over would you like to create a second one together.”

“I would no more recommend you to have an affair than I would recommend you to have cancer, and yet we know that people who have been ill often talk about how their illness has yielded them a new perspective.”

(Reminds me of the  song “Live like you were dying” by Tim McGraw)

Of course the whole Bible is good for heartbreak and healing, but these verses spoke to me the most:

Mountains became my metaphor: my faith can move mountains, you were assigned this mountain to prove it can be moved, I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open, etc…

And the biggest verse was:

proverbs_24_16___poster_by_mostpato-d82myfb

Fall down 7, stand up 8.

And I would say it to myself.  Outloud.  Daily.

“You can do this, you are strong enough, wise enough, you’ve got this.  God’s got you.  He will lead you.”

Over and over.

And I will forever be thankful for the kind words and support from our friends, pastors, counselors and family.  The emails, the texts, the phone calls, the coffee dates.  I’ve never been so surrounded by cheerleaders and support groups.  The folks that are walking this with us daily, those of you who sat with us at our worst and kept answering the phone, kept showing up, kept praying.  You are God’s love translated on earth, you are the very definition of faith and family and friendship and unconditional love.  I adore you, I chose you, I cherish you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I’d truly be lost without you.

A dear friend once said to me, “If anyone can do this it’s you.”

And I believed it.

I am strong enough to do this.

I am doing incredibly well.  It’s unbelievable really.

I feel strong.

I feel like a matriarch.

I feel like I kicked this affairs ass, honestly.

And I hope some of these tools will help and bring comfort to those of you that need it.  I thank all of you that have loved and supported me and my family through this valley.

And I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

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When a man is trying to change…

So… most of you don’t like Adam, right?

Of course you don’t.  How could you?

I mean…I liked him 12 years ago, when we first started dating.

I liked him when we got married.

But I’ve liked him less and less over the past few years.

And this last year I downright despised him.

A week before he admitted his affair to me I disliked him so much that I told him that I wanted a divorce.

Did you catch that timeline?  BEFORE I ever knew about an affair I was out.  I disliked him that much.

I’ve NEVER stopped loving that man.  But I did not like him AT. ALL.

Thankfully, over these past few weeks I’ve grown to like him again.  This guy…the sober, helpful, kind, sorrow-filled guy.  This guy I like.

There’s been a few times when Adam would do something: like show up with lice treatment and spend hours combing through our daughter’s hair when I called him for help.  Like bringing me a meatball sub after I’d yelled at him straight through both breakfast AND lunch.  Like going on a self-imposed fast for 12 days in order to cleanse his body of the toxins of this last year…

He would do something like that and I would look him in the eye and say, “This guy.  I want this guy.”

Last night I went to watch Adam play soccer with his local team.  It was his birthday and his last game of the season so I bundled up and went.

It was so fun.  I really enjoyed watching from the sidelines and cheering on the boys.  (brought back my old dance team/cheerleader days) .

After the first game I walked over to talk to him and I mentioned how much I enjoyed watching and how it was too bad that the season was over.

“I should have come to some earlier…although, to be fair…I didn’t really like you much then.”

To which Adam replied, “Yep…fair enough.”

I absolutely understand that people might not like Adam.  That’s totally fair, I didn’t either.

Today, a sweet woman (one of the few people who spoke up in warning for me) met me for coffee to explain that although she didn’t want me to feel left out, she wasn’t ready to just hangout with Adam quite yet.

I get that.  And I crazy appreciate the fact that she was willing to have the awkward conversation with me.

I didn’t want Adam around either.  I didn’t like him either.

But I like him now.  I want him around now.

I’ve done a lot of “just me and the kids” over the past year and I’m getting weary of it.

I went to a Christmas event recently and someone who had been hurt by Adam was there.  Adam (via text) asked if this person wanted him to leave–which they did–and Adam immediately walked away and once again, the kids and I found ourselves alone.

I’m done with this.

I will honor and respect any “uninvitation” I receive with no hard feelings.  Because I get it.

I was just there.

But at this point, any invitation has to be for all of us or none of us.

And thankfully, we have received at least one Christmas invitation to spend with friends and I have absolutely wept with gratitude over it.

My kids have lived without their dad for long enough.

I have lived without my husband.

None of you have to like him ever, but I pray that most of you will heal just like I am.

And I hope that you all can join me in recognizing the man Adam is choosing to be and not hold him to who he was forever.

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The best advice:

On our very first date post separation Adam and I went to the movies in the middle of the day, but on our way we made a quick stop at an outdoor supply store to pick something up.  Right at the checkout counter I saw a book titled: “Called Again: A Story of Love and Triumph” by Jennifer Pharr Davis.

I don’t know why (ahem…Jesus), but I snatched the book up all spur of the moment like, handed it to Adam and said, “Will you buy me this?”

Which he did.

The book is written by the woman who set the overall record for hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2011.  Jennifer Pharr Davis hiked 2,181 miles–from Main to Georgia– in 46 days.  She averaged 47 miles per day.

I mean…what?!?

But the thing that really struck me in this story was not her amazing athleticism, or her drive.  No, what really rocked me was the moment in her journey when she decided to give up.

Near the beginning of her hike Jennifer developed sever shin splints.  She also caught a stomach bug of some sort and was hiking her 46 mile days with diarrhea, nausea and extreme leg pain.

At one point she met up with her husband (who was providing her with food, water and support along the hike) sat him down and told him she needed to quit.  She still had SO far to go, her butt was chaffing, her legs were killing her, she was hallucinating from the lack of calories and sleep deprivation.  In short, her body was shutting down and it was time to give this up.

To which her husband replied:

“No.”

He went on to say that he was certain she would never forgive him or herself if he let her give up while in this state of mind.  In effect he said:

You are in too negative a place to make such a big decision.  I’ll let you quit when you feel good.  Don’t quit while it’s hard, if you still want to quit when it gets easy then we can trust the decision.

This idea:  Don’t quit when it’s hard. You can quit when you’re healthy.

This idea has been my marching song throughout all this heartbreak.  I have been working my whole life towards one goal: Love, family, partnership.  I have been far too broken and sleep-deprived to make a life altering decision about giving this dream up.

I shouldn’t have been allowed to operate heavy machinery, much less make a decision that would affect my life, and the life of my sweet babies, for the rest of forever.

So I just kept repeating to myself.  “Don’t decide now, decide when you’re healthy.”

Almost every bad choice I’ve ever made was done during a time when I wasn’t in a healthy place.

They say you should never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.  Welp, I think you shouldn’t give up on love when you’re heartbroken.

Just wait.  Wait until you’re healthy.

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A 12 days of Christmas feast: More than conquerors…

I wrote a whole blog post this morning, and then I received the worst phone call of my life.

But I’ve had an epiphany.  So, I’m going to share my original post anyway, I’ll just tack on a little extra at the end..

So here’s what it was meant to say:

“On December 1, Adam started fasting.

For me, for himself, for our souls.

Everyday he has dedicated himself to asking for forgiveness for a different pain that has occurred.

He has had no food for 12 days.

12. Days.

One day for every year we’ve been married.  One day for every month of this past horrible year.

12.

In the Bible 12 symbolizes perfection.

It represents completion.

It is finished…

Adam made this plan on his own.  I believe God himself challenged Adam, and my husband showed up.

(This is the guy I’ve always wanted to be married to.)

I could not have asked him for a better Christmas gift if I’d tried.  It seems perfectly designed for our healing.

It hasn’t been easy for him, but he has powered through.  He continued to meet me for personal training.  He still played on his soccer team, he still showed up for our kids.

It’s been very beautiful.  For him and for me.

Just like sitting in, “The Chair” at my counselors office is meant to accelerate healing, fasting rushes through our emotional baggage.  And while juice fasting is often used as a tool to rid ourselves of physical toxins, it also helps our bodies purge any spiritually toxic emotions as well.

It strips away your walls.  It exposes your weakness.

I’ve been so amazed watching my husband work so hard to get his family back that I offered to join him for his last few days.  True to form, I ate my last meal on the 8th, (I really love 8) and have spent the last four days in cahoots with this man.

We are broken together, we are healing…together.

It hasn’t been easy for me either.  I’ve had a handful of dark moments.  That damn chair didn’t wipe me clean for good.  I still got some straggling hurt emotions that rear their ugly heads when aggravated by lack of sleep, or hunger.

There’s more to it.  Adam hasn’t only been fasting from food.  But I’ll let him share the rest of that story on his own someday.

And so, yesterday we took communion together.

Together, that beautiful word.

And tonight we feast.

I am going to get dressed up, buy a big old fatty steak and eat a meal with my best friend.

And I’m going to be thankful for the second chance I have to get to know my first love.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-3

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;  A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up”

Our time of fasting is coming to a close, we have been broken down–it is time to heal, time to build back up,

Time for a feast.

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is now found.’”

Luke 15: 31-32″

That was my original post, then I got a phone call from a loved one telling me they no longer want me in their life.

Weakness exposed.

And you know what.  I’m still choosing hope.

I do not believe in coincidences.  I do not think it was an accident that I got this phone call during the final hours of our fast.  Jesus was also attacked at the end of his 40 day fast and I’m telling you, nothing could cut me down worse then losing another family member.

Yet here I am–and I’m still saying, God’s got me.

Romans 8: 31-39

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? ..Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

If I’ve got nothing left but God I still have enough to start again.

And tonight we feast, come hell of high-water.

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The Train…

You know that moment when the Doctor first hands you your baby.  Or the first time your kid hugs you back?

Do you remember that moment when you realized that you would easily take a bullet for this human?

I’ve said it many times.  I would do ANYTHING for my babies.

I would be that mom that got superhuman strength and lifted the car.

I would jump in front of a train.

I’ve said it all…

Well folks.  Can you take a moment to rejoice with me?

I took the bullet.  I lifted the car.  I jumped in front of the train.

God did it.

He is healing the wound, He moved the car, He stopped the train.

And what the Devil meant for harm, my God is using for good:

genesis-50-20

It has been ugly, and tragic, and hard-hard-hard.

And it has been beautiful, and bright, and holy-beyond-reason.

And I will praise you in this storm!

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

Isaiah 43:2

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Cooperation, that final piece.

Hey friends.  Thank you for all of your advice and encouragement yesterday.  I greatly appreciate it.

I wanted to say that, as heavy as yesterday’s post was, I’ve had a great week.  Which is really saying something when you consider that my daughter got hit with another lice infestation, both kids have strep-throat, and yesterday I rushed my son to urgent care because of intense chest and belly pain.  It just goes to show that when you’re emotions and spirit are light, you can handle anything.

Keep that lightness in mind while we talk a bit about this next subject and, as always, I’d love your advice.

So, one of the consequences of this heartbreak is that I don’t sleep well.

I have a fear of all addictive substances, so I haven’t taken sleeping pills and I simply won’t, so that’s out.

I’ve tried listening to rain sounds, guided meditation, yoga.

I invested in one of these:

 

Twenty bucks on Amazon.  It’s an acupressure mat.  I’ve tried laying on it right before bed, I have worked myself up to 20 minutes and my back is dimpled and RED by the time I’m done, and still sleep alludes me.

I got a nice new mattress pad and blanket:

20161207_095503

And like a true Colorado woman, I bought a THC sleep aid after a family member suggested it and I’ve taken one half of one pill.  (If anyone is wondering, that’s the closest I’ve ever been to smoking pot.  Like I said, scared of addictions.)

But my problem isn’t really with falling asleep, it’s with staying asleep.

For a long time I was waking up every night at 2:45.  I talked with my counselor about it and he informed me that waking up between 1 and 3 a.m. is your body dealing with anger, and that instead of fighting for sleep I should try cooperating with it.

Cooperating is my love language.  I will always jump at the chance to get along with–rather than fight, so this “working with my sleep” idea sounds great.

So, I tried to journal a little.  I pray when I wake up.  I try to take deep breaths and “let it go” with each exhale.

But if I’m honest, I really just watch episodes of Community until I fall back asleep.

I have made a transition however.  I am now waking up at 3:30, and according to my counselor 3 t0 5 is your body processing sadness.

I feel like a lot of the issues I have in my marriage Adam and I have worked through.  He is doing SO MUCH, which is crazy healing for both of us and is lightening my load everyday.

Adam isn’t the one keeping me up anymore,  now it’s the folks I’ve lost along the way that I mourn at 3 a.m.

But I am cooperating to the best of my ability.  I believe and trust that God is in control of all things, and that my relationships will be made whole–just maybe not on the timeline I would prefer.

I want things done.  Like…now.

I have never fully lost my grip on the beauty of this life, and each day I feel drawn closer and closer to joy.  I believe there is something truly magical about walking through the darkness and still believing in the light.

And there is something amazing about experiencing the truly tragic parts of marriage, or any relationship, and still being willing to walk into a partnership once again.

Relationships, like sleep, are not something you get to have total control over.

I can do EVERYTHING I can to welcome and encourage sleep in my life and it can still keep its distance.

So I learning to cooperate.

 

 

 

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