THIS is the “norm” for Sundays at 6

This is a short excerpt from my personal journal 2 years ago.

It’s been 2 years since God alerted us to this realization that transition from one home to another, especially for children of divorce, is difficult.  We now choose to stop and pray every Sunday at 6 – a “typical” transition time for American children to go from one home to another.

Schedules, rules, food, parenting and so much more are different.

For a few days my children have lived outside of my “way of life”. They have had time to adapt to new circumstances that brought new rules. And now, in the matter of a car ride, my expectation is that they just remember the way WE do things.

My irritation arises as my plan for the evening slowly turns into discipline and instruction. I quickly forget how my heart longed to just hear their sweet voices as I shush them for the hundredth time. I have to slip away to get a grip on my own emotions, I seek refuge for myself and am reminded that I have security in Christ.
Proverbs 14:26 Those who fear the Lord are secure; he will be a refuge for their children.
Today as I take a few moments to pray for the children struggling through the life of divorced parents I can’t help but be thankful that my own children have a place of refuge in the Lord. My choices tossed my children into this sea of difference, a life split between two homes; and now my choices have to center around calming that storm.

Only through God in me, renewing me, can I be used in the healing of this hurt.
“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 36:7)

Thank you God for covering these children in the shadow of your wings. Father, I pray that you bring gentleness into the parents as they send or receive their children tonight. Thank you for giving us instruction in Proverbs 15 that “a gentle answer deflects anger”. I pray that each of us have “the heart of the godly [that] thinks carefully before speaking”. You alone God are our “refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). I pray Lord that we can be an example to our children, turning to you in every circumstance. Tonight I pray that these precious children feel peace as they enter into new, or old, rules and schedules. Thank you God that we can call on Your name and have confidence that You hear the cries of our heart and You have a plan for each of these children, a plan to prosper them, not bring them harm. Be magnified oh God! Amen

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Sundays at 6

The little boy clung to him with arms and legs and chin buried deep in his Daddy’s shoulder. And the Daddy clung back with his eyes shut.

And Mommy stood impatiently watching.

I wondered what she was thinking – ….. I’m the one who does it all – and with no help from him! I feed him and clothe him and take him to school. I get up with the nightmares and again with the light of day. I do it all ALONE. Why does my son love him so much?

As Daddy put the little boy in the car …. I wish I had more time. Does he know I love him? It will be a long week before I hold him again.

And Daddy was ready to go.

But Mommy wasn’t done.

I couldn’t hear her words but she was so expressive looking him straight in the eye. So wholly speaking to him that she followed him towards his truck – leaving the little boy in the hot car alone. She talked and talked and the Daddy was patient. He leaned against the truck and looked at everything except her. He responded when necessary but showed no emotion. When he pulled his keys out of his pocket she pulled out the tears.

And the little boy sat in the hot car.

I don’t know their story. But today whatever she needed to say to the Father of her child was more important than her child. She momentarily forgot that she was receiving her son and took the opportunity to emotionally vomit all over this man, the Daddy of her son.

And that son sat in the hot car.

This is divorce. This is Sundays at 6 …. or noon …. or Saturday morning …. or Tuesday night.

Sometimes I want to say, remember this from your custody agreement?

“Both parties shall carry out parenting in a manner conducive to the best inetrests of the children.”

Remember this from the word of God?

Ecclesiastes 7:9 Control your anger because anger labels you a fool

– like walking away from your child in a hot car

There is always a choice – to remember a proper time and place and season (more wisdom from Ecclesiastes 3). May God speak into the life of this couple, I pray that someone in each of their lives speaks truth. May God speak peace and love into that little boy.

This is why we pray every Sunday at 6.

Join us wherever you are, stop and pray for children for divorce, for parents who are divorced to make wise choices.

 

 

“MY” vision for divorce – Dare 4

“It’s just a game and Dad said it’s okay at his house.”

 
The anger in me is hard to keep in check. A rated “M” game is not appropriate for a 10 year old. My thoughts are racing as I struggle to find the TRUTH in this situation and speak in love to my child.

 
“Son, when did you know that it was wrong for you to play this game? Was it just now when I brought it up?”

 
“No Mom, I knew you would not want me to play the game from the beginning. So I asked Dad and he told me that he didn’t think it was that bad.”

 
“Son, do you know that the Holy Spirit lives in you and sometimes speaks to you through that funny feeling in your tummy when you are doing something wrong?”

 
We went on to discuss how Christians are not of this world. How the Bible says that a time will come when Son will stand against Father on Biblical truth. We talked about the hard things in life. He cried and told me that it would be hard for him to choose not to play the game. I told him that Jesus promised us an “out” for every temptation. I asked him to tell me some scriptures he has hidden in his heart and told him that speaking or writing those words in a time of temptation will make him stronger. We prayed.

 
And when he left the room I allowed myself the anger that I felt ….
THIS is not how I envisioned divorce.

 
One of the big reasons I’m not married to his Dad is that we hold a different moral compass. I guess I thought that I was taking my children away from a world of mixed signals. Instead, I took them into a world where I’m not there sometimes when life gives them tough choices. My vision for divorce was skewed by society that said it would all be better if we were apart.

 
Thankfully, God is at work in the relationship with my ex-husband. My son told his Dad about our conversation and his Dad has asked to speak to me soon about “his house rules”. This gives me opportunity to pray and prepare and let God work.

 

In The Respect Dare, Nina Roesner writes:

“Did you know God has a vision for YOUR life? He has specific purposes in mind that YOU were specially created to breathe life into for His people and His glory.”

 
In 2 John the Bible encourages, no – commands, us to love one another. “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”

 
My vision for life after divorce was one of going forward with a new life, making decisions for my children and myself and NOT considering the thoughts or feelings of my ex-husband.

 
God’s vision for my life after divorce is one of reconciliation.

 
He has commanded me to love. I show that Godly love by respecting my ex-husband, by keeping myself in check as someone outside of his home, by praying for him to see the love of Christ in me and to turn from his ways toward Christ. I show that Godly love by responding with truth in front of my children, truth carefully wrapped in love that doesn’t cause them hurt (because I spoke a harsh word about their father).

 
What was your vision of divorce? Did you think it would be easier to live the life that you are called to? Were you blind to God’s truth but now can see?

 
Today I dare you to write a Godly vision in regards to your relationship with your ex-spouse. Spend time thinking about ways that God asks us to treat each other. Reflect on the life of Christ and how He treated those around Him – both the ones that loved Him and the ones that despised Him.

 
Praying today that divorced Christians become more like Christ.

What kind of fruit does your childhood yield? – Dare 2

Kelly wasn’t sure where there had been mis-communication.  Since Ron’s ex-wife had been the one to move, she should be the person burdened with the hour drive for her weekend visitation.  Here it was another Friday night and yet again there were changes to the schedule.  Kelly grew angrier with every moment as she sorted laundry and waited on Ron to get home.  He greeted her with the usual smile and kiss … but she was distracted.

“What happened this time?” Kelly demanded

“She said her car overheated and she needs someone to look at it before she drives this far.”

“And? What about the kids?”

Ron knew his answer would upset her, he hung his head and said, “We’re taking them down to her.”

Kelly had been studying respect for several months now but in the moment every lesson was far away…and she challenged her husband.

“Why would you agree to do that?  You know how I feel! This is crazy.  Every time you give in to her you are setting a precedent for the court system.  You have GOT to do this the right way.  Why would you go against me like this?”

And Ron’s humble statement stunned her to silence – “She asked.”

Ron was right, if anyone else, stranger or friend, had asked a favor, he would go out of his way to meet the need.  This was one of the things she loved most about Ron.  And more than that, this favor protected the hearts of his children.  Ron spoke so much truth in that moment.  He spoke of his own character, he spoke with the love of Christ for his enemy, he spoke volumes to Kelly about all that was dark inside her heart.

Kelly was raised in a home where dad was the king and everyone else served him, especially Kelly’s mom.  Kelly had determined long ago to NOT go out of her way for people.  As Kelly’s heart was softened by the Holy Spirit she was learning that maybe she had went too far in the opposite direction of her mom; Still, Kelly’s heart had hardened toward people who seemed to not be able to “help themselves” – there was unfounded judgement there and Ron’s 2 simple words spoke of his freedom to just love.

Galatians 5:14, 16 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love others as you love yourself”.  I advise you to obey only the Holy Spirit’s instructions. He will tell you where to go and what to do, and then you won’t always be doing the wrong things your evil nature wants you to do.

I recently heard someone say, “Our personal opinions become the greatest obstacle of Christ centered freedom. My parents, upbringing, personality, friends and location give more to my opinion than the truth of Christ.”

It seems that was happening in Kelly’s heart and she wanted to change.  Kelly relayed the above story to me several weeks later. It was hard for me to not “side” with her and agree with everything she had said to Ron.  Divorce brings separation, it leans toward choosing sides, it binds people to keep records of wrong  – divorce can lead people to follow their  “own wrong inclinations” (just like in Galatians 14: 19-21).  Even though Kelly had a legitimate reason for not wanting to drive the kids, Ron was clearly following the leading of the Holy Spirit and his life was producing that fruit.  Kelly asked me to pray with her to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22).  I also reminded Kelly that self-control can sometimes mean that we only have the ability to control ourselves and NOT the ability to control others.

Each of us bring childhood into our current relationship and it makes an impact on the way we “do life”.  Kelly chose to be the opposite of what was modeled for her but many others choose to go down the same path.  The Bible has given us clear direction to look for the fruit in our lives and a clear commandment to love.

Today I dare you to clearly label the fruit of your relationship with your ex-spouse.

Is there hatred and fighting, jealousy and anger, a constant effort to get the best for yourself?  – anyone living that life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  If we are living now by the Holy Spirit’s power, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives (even in divorce).

Praying for each of you as evaluate and seek all that is true, noble and right. What kind of fruit will you find?

~Katy

Dare 1: Expectations (after divorce)

“…I realized the truth that people can only really control their own behavior.  When we focus on our behavior as we walk through our circumstances instead of emphasizing other people’s failures and shortcomings, we can create changes that affect our relationships long-term” – Nina Rosener, The Respect Dare page 9.

 

Nina wrote The Respect Dare for married women and she has started a journey through the 40 dares on her blog at www.ninaroesner.com.  I will be following along, taking the dares again (my 4th time through the book) and I’m looking forward to how God will be working in my own marriage.  However, one of my favorite things about this book is that my marriage was not the relationship that was impacted the most from these 40 dares.  God moved in my heart and a miraculous forgiveness occurred in a relationship that had been broken for many years.  Almost every day I am reminded of how just a little respect and a LOT of leaning on God can impact everyone in my world.

Respect is a Biblical commandment for married women, it’s not optional.  Respect after divorce …. well, one could argue that it’s not the same.  The passage in Ephesians is clearly speaking of marriage.  For me, if I had known the truths of respect BEFORE divorce, I may not be divorced today but I can’t (and don’t want to) go back and that’s not true for every situation.  Regardless of the road to divorce, I believe that the concept of respecting all of the men in my life can only bring about positive change for everyone involved.  Because I have children from a previous marriage AND step-children, learning to give respect in all relationships has the potential to change the lives of the children in my home.

Today I would also like to begin the journey of 40 dares but with the focus being on respect for my ex-spouse, his family and even our children. I invite you to join me. I will be blogging about most of the dares from Nina’s book, with permission, (though some of them are very marriage specific and we will take a different path there) so if you don’t have a copy already I encourage you to visit her website and purchase the book so that you can read along (or ahead) and make your own notes.

Through these 40 dares I hope to challenge you to have a better relationship with your ex-spouse (and maybe even your children who are living the divorce world) – specifically, a relationship that reflects the attributes of Christ in your life.  Just as the above quote said, I can only control my own behavior, not that of my ex-spouse.  But what if my behavior impacts him and he is able to see Christ in me?  THAT is my goal.  Are you ready to join me on this road to respect after divorce?  Take a deep breath, grab a pen (or open a word document) so you can keep notes and let’s take the first step together.

…   holding out my hand to hold yours ….

People say that marriage doesn’t come with a how-to manual but for some reason I had this thought that my divorce papers were my how-to manual on divorce.  Most of my divorce papers have statements similar to this:

“In the event the parties do not otherwise agree, then the following schedule shall control the exercise of the parties’ parenting time with the children.” 

I just expected to all-of-the-sudden have things laid out on a schedule and to no longer have surprises. The last few years of marriage were filled with unmet expectations and honestly I was ready for some structure, especially knowing when I could depend on help.  With the divorce rate remaining steady (and high) over the last 10 years, it seems to me that the collective “they” who sign off on divorce decrees would have thought of, and included all I will need to know.

Much to my surprise, finding out that my children would spend Easter weekend away from our traditions every other year was quite a shock.  I’m not really sure how that judge didn’t know that my Mother has hosted an Easter Egg Hunt (with money in those eggs) for the last 15 years and my children haven’t missed it since birth……

Dare 1: Expectations

There is almost a negative tone to the word for those of us who are divorced.  A failed marriage is the complete opposite of our expectation when we said “I do”. My own marriage ended after many years of the little expectations being unmet. So when the divorce papers were signed I put into place a whole new set of expectations.  In that, however, I made the mistake of believing that I was the author and finisher of all future expectations.  No longer did I have to be disappointed.  From now on, I’m alone in this walk, if something doesn’t get done – then the only person to blame is me! If the bills don’t get paid, I have to work more hours; if there are no clean towels, I have to stay up late to get them in the dryer; if the kids are sick I have to stay home; if there is an award ceremony, I have to go.  I had freedom in my expectations …. And then I remembered that he was still a part of almost all that I do.  Suddenly I was back to feeling let-down, angry and defeated.

The truth is, regardless of the decisions by lawyers/mediator/judge, my ex-husband and I still have to communicate and work through a lot of situations.  As our children grow there is a constant desire for them to have both parents a part of their lives. Not only do I have to meet the needs of the children in my care, often I have to go out of my way (and way out of my comfort zone) to include my ex-husband.  Then, if for some reason he can’t make it, I am left with explaining the “why”. I have to remember that this child loves his Dad, and I am called to “not let any unwholesome talk come from your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV).

 

My expectation has always been that my children would hunt Easter eggs at my Mother’s house.  Then I read the divorce papers and my expectation became one of disappointment and anxiety (my family won’t understand, my kids will be so sad).  I had a choice to make – and the only end was communication with my ex-husband. The truth is that my ex-husband doesn’t care much about Easter weekend.  With a lot of prayer and a phone call the weekend visitation was swapped and my children still enjoy a life-long tradition.

Today I dare you to take account of the expectations you have after divorce.

Know, above all else, that divorce does NOT mean you are alone.  Isaiah 41:10 says “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I would love to hear from you.  How are expectations playing out in your journey after divorce?

Learning these lessons with you my friend!

~Katy

If you are remarried I would greatly encourage you to ask your husband to share his thoughts with you about expectations.  I would also suggest that you ask your husband to pray with you and for you as you begin this journey.  Thankful and blessed to have my Knight by my side!

Showers of Blessing

rain

I grew up Southern Baptist……

in North Georgia………

and my Daddy was the Pastor.

We sang hymns.

 I know all 6 verses (and all 4 parts) of Just As I Am and can probably quote page #’s from the *new* (well new in 1980)  burgundy Baptist Hymnal for at least 20 songs.  LOL!!   

The feeling I get when I pick up a hymnal, or sit at my piano with the book in front of me, or walk into a traditional service …. nostalgia!  peace!  joy! thankfulness!

What a wonderful gift my parents gave me – bringing up this child in the way of the Lord.  And as I age I return, sometimes to things that I had NO idea would be such a gift.

Counting my blessings has always been one of those things that growing up in church taught me.  This song was one of my favorites …

♫There shall be showers of blessing: This is the promise of love;

There shall be seasons refreshing, sent from the Savior above.

Showers of blessing, showers of blessing we need;

Mercy-drops ’round us are falling, but for the showers we plead.  ♫

Ezekiel 34:26 (NLT)

I will bless my people and their homes around my holy hill. And in the proper season I will send the showers they need. There will be showers of blessing.

So much of every day life is spent just dodging the arrows of strife, crying out to the Lord, questioning every decision and move … thanking Him for letting the mercy drops fall all around us.

But  God says that in the proper season He will bless us and send the showers we need.   Are we looking for that season?  Is it maybe already here?  Are we missing it?

Today I dare you to look at this verse and remember that YOUR CREATOR, the Father of Lights wants to show you off as the crown of His creation.  I dare you to  take the time to remember what He thinks about you and says about you…… then  see how the showers of blessing are falling all around you even today.

James 1: 16-18 (MSG)

So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God,  nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.

Today I changed my photo here at the blog.  Divorce and remarriage are HARD!  There are a lot of “lessons” and things to learn.  But today I saw this and I saw the showers of blessing that have fallen on me.  Pictured with me are my Knight and our 9 blessings!  

Praise God for His abundance, His showers, His love!!
Source: http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/260#ixzz2qUwP3Aax

Why Respect after Divorce?

I read The Respect Dare as a newlywed …..

4 months into my 3rd marriage!

The truth is I took the class because I wanted to begin connecting with other women in our new church – and that was the only class that seemed interesting.   (I encourage you to FIND A GROUP if you are not already a part – women need women!)

The truth is that if I had known the Biblical truths represented in this book THEN, maybe I wouldn’t be on my 3rd marriage NOW.

 The truth hurts sometimes.

Another beautiful truth:

2 Corinthians 5: 17-19 (Message)

Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other.

 

Praise God that the old is gone and He created the new.  Praise God that my past does not define who I am today!

 

My Knight and I have now been married almost 3 years and every day I am practicing the lessons that I have learned about respect in marriage.  Both Martin and I are divorced so our marriage has been riddled with blended family issues; child support, court dates, a Guardian ad Litem, ex-spouses moving (closer and farther away) … the list could go on and on.  Let’s just say that thanks to a growth spurt in my Christian walk (charged by The Respect Dare), and a true belief in the Covenant I entered into with God and my Knight, we will remain married until death do us part.

The enemy has certainly been active in our world.  All of those above issues could easily have broken our marriage – honestly, I was broken over and over, and we’ve only been married 2 years!!!  So…………..why respect after divorce?  Because the enemy has already declared a foothold into my world and it’s time for me to stomp on his toes and remind him of his future!

Sometimes I think that divorce comes with a big scarlet letter and equally I think that divorce is so common today that it’s almost rated a non-event.  I’m stuck in the middle of the pendulum and given the setting sometimes I get hit with both the letter and the non-event in the same sentence.  That tells me that the world hasn’t quite figured out the “normal” for this thing called divorce.  And that leads to the reason that I feel led to write on this topic …. There is hope.  Hope that the lessons God has taught me will become the “norm” after divorce. 

I’m so excited some days about the things that I want to share here and I sit down and realize that each post has to have a logical point – and then I just stop … because my “woman” brain has all the spaghetti noodles of each story intertwined with the next and it takes energy and time to separate them into something that all of you can understand. 

Did I mention that our blended family is blessed with 9 children?  And we all live together in our home in north Georgia? And I work part-time at Chick-fil-A? And we host a small group in our home once a week? And I do a lot of other stuff because I love people and I love food and I love shopping and I have a heart for babies….  

*smile*   God has been so good!

Today I want to end with the REAL beginning of this call to ministry. 

I’ve followed Nina Roesner, author of The Respect Dare, on her blog and Facebook for the last 2 years.  I was so excited about the things God was doing in me that I wanted to share with her (and anyone else who would listen).  Our friendship grew over time and God placed on our hearts separately that I would become a part of the Greater Impact Ministry team. I became an active volunteer over a year ago and I love getting to know these women!!  Nina has been a true mentor, leader and friend and I’m humbled under her constant encouragement and support.

I’ve known for awhile that I was putting The Respect Dare into practice in every area of my life.  2 months ago I met with Nina and her right-hand, Debbie,  for a few hours.  A beautiful gift of quiet time to walk, talk and pray together.  During that time, Debbie spoke the words – “so you might feel led to share The Respect Dare with other women who are divorced?” – and my mind started rolling.  A few weeks later, I had one of those sleepless nights that really can just irritate a busy lady.  Thankfully I am learning to just give up on sleep and go to the Lord, seeking His will for those hours.  I stoked the dying fire and pulled out my Bible to read by candle light.  That night God showed me a scripture that spoke clearly to me. 

The call for each of us, as Christians, is to love.

Now, that’s not really new information.  I mean we have the Fruits of the Spirit, we have the Greatest Commandment, we have the Gift of God’s one and only Son, the Bible is all about love.

 But love in divorce?

Divorce is all about hurt and separation and if you have kids is usually really ugly.

There’s not a lot of love.

But God led me to 2 John – the whole chapter speaks clearly to this ministry opportunity for me but here are a few verses that really pop off the page. Verses 1 and 5-6

The elder,

To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth—because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:

And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.  And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

 

Please know that I am in NO WAY saying that I have a new interpretation of these verses.  I have not actually read any commentary about “the lady” or “the elder” and this particular situation.  But I happen to believe that God speaks loudly through His scriptures directly into my life today.  This is one of those times for me.

I found it beautiful that the elder chose to direct a letter to just the lady and her children.  So many women today are walking this path alone; whether by choice, by death or by divorce, they are alone and often with children.

The BIG thing that I see here though is the charge to L.O.V.E.  And that the result of love is walking in the commandments.

Wow – what a challenge.

For me, to walk that commandment with the everyday people in my life is not easy.  To love them as Christ loves me, I have to rely on His strength.  But to love those on the other side of my divorce situation ……   it’s one of those moments I want to say “really, God?  Him/her too?”.

So THIS is where the ministry begins.

Today I dare you to stop and pray, by name, for anyone you know that is divorced.  I dare you to pray for love to become ever-present in their lives.

Thanks for joining me on this challenge.  God has shown up for me in this area.  I can’t wait to begin to share the stories.  I also dare you to share this with all of your friends, Facebook, email and in person.  I am excited to see all that He is going to do!

Love to you,

~katy