Infertility, Miscarriage, Still Birth and Abortion Support

Infertility, miscarriage, still birth and abortion are hard topics with deep, unique wounds associated with each.

We have experienced infertility and miscarriage and those were difficult days. I had a miscarraige very early in a pregnancy that resulted from IVF. My Doctor explained early on that my HCG levels were not normal and that the pregnancy would end naturally. Instead my HCG levels kept rising after daily checks to the point that we had a valid 8 week ultrasound report. Two weeks later I miscarried. These were painful days.

I can’t begin to imagine the pain related to having a miscarriage later in a pregnancy, having a stillborn child or having an abortion.

By God’s grace in our personal situation of years of infertility we were surrounded by an incredibly loving family and church family. Both sets of our parents prayed for us, encouraged us and supported us in big decisions we had to make. In addition our church family prayed for us and supported us also. God also used his Word and the Holy Spirit to minister to us through this time in some of the most profound ways. This blog is based on a verse that God showed me during those years of pain – Job 2:10 “Shall we accept good from God and not adversity?” So while those years of infertility were so painful we survived without becoming bitter or resentful. We had hope in the painful process.

Recent stats tell us that infertility effects 1 in 7 couples. And 10-20% of women who know they are pregnant have a miscarriage.

This means that if you have any sphere of influence other than your own backyard then you most likely know a woman who is going through infertility, has had a miscarriage or had an abortion.

Maybe she’ll share her struggles with you or maybe you’ll stumble on them.

What will you say? How will you encourage her?

This is where we make things harder than they need to be all because we don’t know what to say.

And I get it. I’ve said untimely strange things to people in an attempt to express my love and concern during difficult times. If we’re honest we’ll admit we’ve all said stupid things before. But can we just put our big girl panties on and acknowledge it, apologize if necessary and do differently next time?

Refuse to let your past awkward words paralyze you in such a way that you decide it’s just better not to get involved at all for fear of saying the wrong thing.

Loving others will be flat out awkward at times. But it’s totally worth the risk. The more we do it the less awkward. Or perhaps the less afraid we become of being awkward in our loving of others.

The other side of this coin is extending grace to others when they say something to us that is well intended but wounded instead. It happens. The quicker we realize this the better we will love each other.

There’s a resource I’d like to tell you about that I have found to be helpful over the past 15 years in dealing with these topics. From receiving personal help to knowing what to say and what not to say to people during times of utter pain.

Caleb Ministries  is a Christ centered ministry that addresses what we’re talking about at LIABOW today. Rarely do you find a ministry that deals with all of these issues specifically and in such detail.

One of their many sweet resources is a P.A.T box – Providing A Treasure

It includes a handmade burial gown, knit booties, baby hat, and a baby blanket. Also included is a book called “Morning will Come” by Sandy Day, Founder of Caleb Ministries. It really is a beautiful treasure for a young Mom and Dad who have just lost their baby.

Maybe Caleb Ministries is a resource that could help you or a friend. Being aware of these resources is helpful because we never know when we or someone we know will walk through a journey that involves these painful things.

Have you walked through any of the things we talked about today? If so, how did God meet you in the midst of your pain? I’d love to hear. 

 

 

 

Seductive Senior Pictures

I’ve started this post a million times not wanting to tread on sensitive ground yet want to talk about something that has been concerning to me.

I’ll just get it out there.

I’m concerned about all the seductive senior pictures I’m seeing in facebook land.

Girlzzzzzz…….some of you are pulling off sexy really well but what you’re doing is dangerous. You’re setting yourself up for harm later on.

Before your eyes roll all the way in the back of your head just listen for a few more paragraphs please. I care about you. Enough to say this stuff because we both know it’s kind of awkward to talk about.

There are some way cool trends in Senior pictures lately. The possibilities are endless. You can choose a location that makes you feel most in your element – an urban setting, a park or beach, sports field, or performing arts center. Really cool stuff.

And while there are some amazingly creative options in photography there will be choices you need to make.

I know this seems like a peripheral issue compared to the big things in your life right now like boyfriends, getting your license and making college plans. But this little issue can set you up for some bigger issues down the road.

I want to encourage you to make wise choices in how you pose and what outfits you wear for your Senior pictures. Your countenance and facial expressions – you know what I mean. All these things have a part in the message you’re sending in your picture. Even if you feel that your photo session is not something that represents you typically – it is still you in those pictures. You are sending a message whether you realize it or not.

When your time comes to dress and pose for Senior pictures think about this – if someone had to describe your picture at first glance in one word what would it be? And do you really want it to be “sultry, provocative and sexy”? Because that’s the word I would use to describe quite a few of the Senior portraits I’ve seen.

Of course people may interpret things differently than we intend. And we can’t be all about what others think of us. But we do need to be responsible in the message we send by how we conduct ourselves. And this includes how we dress.

There’s a time and place to look and feel sexy. And I promise you it’s not in your Senior pictures or on Prom night. There’s unique treasure and delight in saving all the sexy for one special person in the future. Your husband.

If you know me at all then you know I’m not suggesting you throw on a pair of polyester culottes with a  turtleneck and wrap your hair tight in a granny bun and sport some white reeboks & tube socks for your photo shoot. No, please don’t even. We’d all throw up.

Know this about yourself – God made you beautiful. You’re already chosen and accepted by Him. You don’t have to prove anything. You don’t have to one up your friends. It’s not necessary to dress a certain way to impress your boyfriend. You can trade in provocative and sultry for confident in Christ and already accepted.

Don’t get sucked into current trends of our culture that block out who you really are. Some girls don’t know who they are in Christ. But some do know and they are falling into an easy trap that we must all guard ourselves against.

As Christ followers we are different. We will look different – even in the little-big things like Senior pictures.

Sometimes we do things and look back on them and realize we’d do it differently next time. Our God gives us grace and we need to give grace to others as well. So if you’re one who has learned or is learning the hard way – don’t walk in shame. Don’t feel condemned. But be encouraged to do differently now and to encourage others on a right track. This is what the body of Christ does for each other.

Good luck girls to finishing out your school year. May you radiate Jesus Christ, your creator. May He fill you with a satisfaction in Him alone so that when you go to pose for Senior pictures it’s really not a big deal. It’s just someone snapping a pic of who you really are.

 

 

 

 

Powerful words to frame our circumstances

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This spoken from a friend Mama whose little girl has CF and is fighting for her life right now. This spoken from Jesus to his Father as he faced death by crucifixion.

These are hard words to utter sometimes. Because God’s will isn’t always what we desire or want. We can’t see the whole picture and understand his ways and so life just won’t always make sense to us. But the reason we can be okay with these words “Thy will be done” in every single circumstance in life is because of who our God is. Even in the midst of not understanding his ways He is good. He is faithful and won’t ever leave us. He is compassionate and His mercies are new every single morning. He is fully aware and knows everything about our circumstance. The details of the valley you’re walking right now – I’m walking right now – He knows it. And while He might seem distant and far away, He is not. In His silence He is not punishing you or me. He is working his will and his plan. Trust that he is good and his love for us is individual and intimate. This is why I can say, “Thy will be done.” It might come with tears streaming down my face and a meltdown on the front porch but I still want these words to reign in my life. These words to hover and frame every single circumstance and season of my life.

It’s not easy to do. I’m preaching to myself friends. My Mom is very sick in the hospital and being six hours away and unable because of my own surgery recovery to be there has been extremely difficult for me. My sister and brother live within 5 minutes from my Mother so they are giving me updates and keeping me in the loop all throughout the day. My Mom fell a few days before coming to help us with my bowel resection surgery in August. A CT scan didn’t reveal anything going on with her head and her back injury wasn’t addressed through X-ray or CT scan. Three other Dr. visits and Urgent Care visits still didn’t reveal the hairline fractures she had in L2-4 in her back. It was when she was taken to the ER and admitted that they did a CT scan of her back and realized this. But she has now developed something called “Ogilvie Syndrome” which mimics a bowel obstruction. The Dr is 99.9% sure this is what it is. If medication doesn’t take care of it then she’ll have to have surgery removing a large portion of her colon. She’s been through so much in the last two weeks and experienced pain like she never has before. There are risks with the medication and there are risks with the surgery. And all I can do and the best thing I can do is pray and tell God, “Thy will be done.”

I had my meltdown moment for the first time yesterday on the front porch. I was hiding from our daughter because I didn’t want her to see me cry and then upset her on behalf of her Grandmother. I texted my sister and said, “Mom’s going to be okay, right?” She called me a few seconds later and I answered all sniffly and she said all big sister like, “Quit crying. She’s going to be fine.” And I laughed.  And I got my head back on relatively straight. You see sometimes I replace those powerful words with “My will be done.” And so it’s a process of speaking Truth to ourselves and to each other. Reminding our hearts of what our heads probably already know. Walking in those Truths and knowing we won’t always get it right.

Well, friends, I would be so touched by your continued prayers for my Mom, Sue, and my sister, Linda, who is her main caregiver right now. Will you pray specifically that God will heal my Mom? But at the very top of that specific request let’s tell God we want what He wants because we trust him more than we do ourselves.

Thank you so much.

 

The hard stuff I’m dealing with right now – the stuff I don’t care to talk about.

So here’s the deal and the low down about the stuff I don’t care to talk about but it’s a big part of my life right now. I want to remain transparent on this blog and not just in the good times.

I’m having surgery on August 22nd to have 20″ of my colon removed and resectioned. I have ischemic colitis as a result of a recurring volvulus. That means my colon has been twisting and kinking and forming a blockage preventing blood flow in that area so it has to come out. Yeah. Not fun. And no, I don’t have to have a bag. Thanking God for this because I just really don’t think I could handle that. I was scared to type that because you know how sometimes things go after you say something like that. Yeah, but we’re not doing to dwell on that are we. Nope, cuz it’s not going to happen. No bag. Just a simple little resection procedure. La-lah-la. Ha! Okay, this is where I get weird. Randy tells me I get weird whenever I have surgery. I’ve had a few. More like six. And apparently I start making jokes and act like it’s nothing but then I do what I’m doing right now which is just being totally weird and all.

Talking about weird……..at my last colonoscopy I told the dude that was going to knock me out with sleepy medicine that I was afraid of not being totally out during the procedure. So I asked him to make me count to 10 before doing anything to me. He said, “Nah, it doesn’t work like that with this medicine. You’re awake but not awake.” Apparently this answer didn’t satisfy me and I talked to him incessantly and looked at him with eyes wide open during the entire procedure. CREEPY!!! I don’t even want to know what I said. How do I know all this? Because after the procedure he came and told us.

So yeah, I get weird when big things like this come up.  So if you see me and I’m being weird it’s because I’m trying to pretend that everything’s perfectly normal when it’s not. My hubs is helping point this out to me. Like when I got really sick one day with this colitis stuff and wasn’t able to finish some VBS work I was doing in decorating. I didn’t call or text the person in charge to let them know why I wasn’t there. Because I didn’t want to talk about it. Rude and weird. But I wasn’t ready to acknowledge it.

Getting to the point of recognizing the weirdness is a long process. I’m stubborn. It takes a 2×4 to show me where I’m wrong or being weird. So after years of trying to convince my man that it’s perfectly normal to play counting games with your anesthesiologist…. or to send out dress up accessories (wigs, sunglasses, etc.) to your family in the waiting room while I’m having surgery with a note of who to give the china to if I died. (Seriously yes. Don’t even ask. First surgery.) I’m finally realizing that it’s true. I get weird.

So these days I’m trying not to be weird about this upcoming surgery. I’m talking about it in this space which may or may not be weird. But it’s my blog and I can write about my colon if I want to. Ha! Yeah, I’m pretty sure this is weird again. But I want to thank you for journeying with me as I learn how to un-weird myself.

Here’s how you could pray for me if you’re willing:

*For the surgery to be a smooth procedure with no complications or infections.

*For my husband and kids as they walk through this with me. It’s not easy on the caregiver. My husband has been by my side with every single surgery. And while he is willing to point out my weirdness he has allowed for my weirdness ALL these years with incredible grace. Cheers (holding up my miralax cocktail) to the hopefully new unweirded me!

*That I will tolerate the pain meds okay – I have issues with medicine.

*For Sophie & Mitchell not to be worried. They will have one week of school under their belt when I go in for surgery. New routines and schedules will still be under way so I’m asking God for grace in this process for them. Sophie has already shed a few tears over this.

I am thankful that according to the Doctor taking this section out will take away the issues I’m having completely. It’s a mechanical problem and so having this area removed removes the problem itself. This is a huge blessing. My stay in the hospital should be 2-4 days. Recovery (if done laporoscopic) will be 4 weeks or longer if an incision is made. I have a lot of adhesions and scar tissue so that’s why we don’t really know if it can be done laparoscopic.

I thank God that he has provided us with an amazing support system through our family, church and friends. We will be covered in prayer and encouragement in this time and that is a gift directly from God.

Thank you for your prayers friends! And thanks for putting up with the weirdness. I’m pretty sure there was plenty of it in this post. Ha!!!

4 things to the Woman still waiting to be a Mom:

To the desiring woman still waiting to be Mom,

It’s hard, isn’t it? Still waiting. Hoping that this would be the Mother’s Day you celebrate as a Mother with a child in her arms. While you’re still hanging on to hope and know God has a plan there’s still a deep ache inside your heart. And you wonder if you can make it to Sunday morning service where all the Mother’s are recognized. The oldest, the youngest – if it’s like our church there will even be some sassy and fun categories that you can’t help but laugh at. The prizes of course are fun to win and you’re happy for your friends. But you still wish it could be you this year.

I have some words for you based on real life personal experience.

God has not forgotten you. He is working out a plan for you that is far better than you can possibly know. It doesn’t feel like it but it’s true. One day you’ll be encouraging others with the same words as you look back and see all that God was doing while you were waiting.

A few things to consider during your wait:

It’s okay if you cry. I didn’t do this well. I hid my tears many times and felt like if I cried that I was in essence saying God wasn’t enough for me. And that is so far from the truth. One year on Mother’s Day – soon after a failed IVF cycle –  we celebrated Mother’s Day at my Mom and Dad’s house with all our family. As soon as we got to their subdivision the tears starting welling up. I held them in all morning at church. But as soon as we pulled in they gushed. I asked Randy to back out of the driveway and do circles until I could pull myself together. And of course the guys don’t know what to do with us when we cry and it’s just all around awkward. But looking back I wish I had been more willing to cry openly.

 Don’t beat yourself up if you simply can’t make it to church on Mother’s Day. I know this goes against the grain of so many in my former circles of friends. You just don’t miss church – like ever. I never missed a Mother’s Day due to these reasons (probably more out of pride than anything) but going back I’d give myself more grace. One young woman struggling with infertility called me up one year and explained her struggle and how she didn’t think she could sit through a service that coming Mother’s Day Sunday but she was feeling very guilty about it. I told her to stay home and don’t feel bad. You’re not a wimp if you need to sit Mother’s Day Sunday out because the pain is so great. Not everyone needs to do this but if you do – don’t feel bad!

 Keep a journal. If you’re waiting on a baby through pregnancy or adoption start your journal right now. Include specific prayers and ask God to show you Bible verses for your child. Record these things because when you look back a few years down the road you will be amazed at all the things God was doing behind the scenes – on the Mother’s Day when you sat holding back the tears; on the days you looked at yet another negative pregnancy test. God was working through all of that to accomplish something greater. You may not see all of it but you I promise that you will clearly see traces of it if you start recording and then look back.

Don’t totally roll your eyes when someone says, “But you can still be a Spiritual Mother.” (Spiritual Mothering could be defined as bringing one under your arm through discipleship.) A little eye roll, yes. Because I get it – and you get it – Spiritual Mothering is great and all that but you still really want to be a physical Mother with baby hanging on hipster hip. But don’t let this baby wait distract you from why you’re here on this earth. It’s to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. So keep praying and asking for God to work his way in what Motherhood looks like for you but don’t dismiss Spiritual Mothering – bringing others under your arm of discipleship – it’s not second class Mothering.

Lord, for my friends still waiting – let them know you aren’t waiting. You are actually working a plan you have for them. Help them to trust you in this process. To cry when they need to cry. To cling to scripture and record their heart’s cry so they can one day look back. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

When the healing doesn’t come

I’m in a small group Bible Study and we’re working through Jennifer Rothschild’s study called “Missing Pieces” and it’s so very good.

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Jennifer is blind and she shares openly of her years of praying for God to heal her. I love the ladies in my study and last night after hearing Jennifer’s session on being thankful FOR and not just IN her blindness we were all in awe. And we had some really good discussion. Like is it pie in the sky thinking to be able to be thankful for the very things we ask God to remove or change?

I’ve had a lot of discussions with people and read a lot about the topic of healing and honestly I think Jennifer’s teaching segment in session 3 of this study is the very best teaching on healing. I love her position and her spirit while talking about these things. She’s Biblically grounded and open to the fact that God can and does heal today. But we aren’t “entitled” to his healing. We don’t “deserve” God’s healing. Sometimes he heals and other times he gives grace in the situation instead of healing.

The Apostle Paul being a perfect example of this with his “thorn in the flesh” whatever it was. I think he was bald and wanted more hair. Just Kidding. I don’t think that was his thorn but whatever it was God didn’t remove it. You guys! What if he really had like a REAL THORN in his flesh?! Ha! I’ve never thought about that before until this very second. Like people forever have been offering attempts to guess what the “thorn” was: blindness, stomach problems, etc. what if that time he got shipwrecked and he had to live off the bush country and thorns and thistles – what if he really got a thorn stuck in his side? And we’ve just been overthinking it all these years. Okay, that’s just insane. Sorry about that. But God never healed Paul. He gave him grace instead and God’s power was resting on him because of his weakness. (II Cor. 12:6-10)

Jennifer helps us see that God can do what he wants when he wants to. Sometimes he heals and sometimes he doesn’t. He has a right to not heal. What we actually deserve is hell (because everyone is born in sin and that penalty is eternity in hell) but the good news is that we don’t have to get what we deserve because Jesus died to take our place. We didn’t deserve that. Jennifer calls it the divine unfairness of God. It wasn’t fair that he died for us and became poor and cursed so we could be rich and not have to be cursed if we choose to accept Jesus through a relationship with him. It’s not what we deserve but it’s what we can have.

Jennifer makes this statement that I’m still processing: “My friend, if what we really deserve is hell, then anything else God gives us or spares us from on this side of eternity is a privilege – even suffering.”

This is where she talks about not just being thankful IN all things but being thankful FOR all things. I’m still chewing on this honestly. I understand this in light of her blindness. My infertility. Things we can’t change. And even then it’s hard. She talks about that as well. She doesn’t claim it’s easy to be thankful for suffering. And she still prays for healing but she’s thankful for her blindness in the meantime. How incredible. But where I’m struggling with this is when it applies to abuse, rape, murder, etc –  things where someone has been willfully wronged through sheer wickedness. I’m just struggling with how you can be thankful for any of that. To me recognizing that God is always in control and he is still good even when horrible things happen is different than being thankful for them.?

So yeah – I’m still praying for God to teach me what He wants me to see. I want to have the kind of heart that is so tender towards God that I can be thankful for all things. I really do want that kind of trust and faith. In the meantime I’m continuing to be in awe of the divine unfairness of God in his taking my place on the cross. That is simply amazing.

When our kids grapple with faith

I’m not ashamed to say that I see my son grappling with his faith right now. Asking a lot of questions. Wondering why God did things a certain way when He had all the power and control to do things differently – things that make more sense to him. Like – not putting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden to begin with. Not letting satan tempt Adam and Eve. Not allowing sin to enter the world. These things.

A Bible paper that is due next week on the life of Noah has also spurred on some deep questions. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone back and looked at the life of Noah. As Mitchell and I looked into scripture together about Noah we read these hard but true words,

” The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”

God regretted the very creation he made. That’s tough stuff. I found myself wanting to defend God as Mitchell asked questions like, “So did God make a mistake when he made that generation of people?” “Why is he so angry with us?” “If he knew that was going to happen why create in the first place?”

I felt myself getting all tight inside my heart. I didn’t want to mess up by attempting to explain. I didn’t want my son to see God as an angry God who wiped out people because he didn’t care. I wanted him to know the deepest foundational point of God wanting to be in relationship with these people – with us – and that his love and mercy allowed a new start. That our sin separates us from God because He’s holy and we are not. Sovereignty and free will and all that. Still. It’s a hard truth. An entire generation wiped out.

But these questions are good. And I’m so glad he’s talking them out loud and not afraid to ask. They are excellent questions. And yes, truthfully I have to say, it is a little scary to see your child chewing through and asking such tough questions and not being sure where they’ll land. But I am trusting God and praying that the Holy Spirit will keep opening Mitchell’s eyes to the Truth of his word and the essence of who God is. Nobody can force an authentic believing faith on anyone. That is between the Holy Spirit and an individual.  So I don’t have to get uptight in pleading and defending “my faith case” to him. I can as gracefully as possible tell him I’ve had some of those same questions. We can look at different parts of scripture (because interpreting scripture in light of scripture is crucial in understanding God and his ways) to identify who God is. Not that we can ever figure him out or understand him fully. And that’s what faith is – trusting and believing when we don’t have all the answers or understand or like what we see.

Questions are good. Grappling with faith is good. God can handle our questions. He’s big enough for that. When our kids do it we need to be okay with it and never rebuke them for asking such questions.   But with a tender praying heart ask God to guide us in coming alongside our kids as they journey through their own faith walk. Some kids just need to wrestle it out more and ask lots of questions. Others don’t necessarily do that. And that’s okay too. I kind of think wrestling for something helps us remember it better. We may come out limping a bit but we’ll never forget what we learned.

So Lord, today we pray for our kids who are trying to understand you. For the ones who might be mad at you. For the ones who aren’t even thinking about you. We ask in your name, Jesus, that you would reveal yourself to them in such a personal way that they know you love them and want to be in relationship with them. Draw us and our kids closer to you. Let our walks be individual walks of faith – never attempting to hang onto the coattails of parents or religious activities. Increase our faith Lord. We need you to do that in us. In Jesus Name, Amen. 

P.S. – “Subscribe” part of blog is not working right now – come back later if you’d like to subscribe and have posts come to you inbox. Thanks.

Your stories: walking through separation and divorce. Part 2

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This is Part 2 in a series on separation and divorce among Christians. All these stories include editing and parts of a bigger picture. We’d be wise to know that what works for some families may or may not work for others but my hope is that God will use these posts in some small way. Maybe we gain a deeper understanding of just how hard this journey is for some of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Maybe it causes others to take a long serious pause before taking the next step in pursuing a separation or divorce. And perhaps it helps some give new thought to how they are handling their own current situation. 

Today’s story comes from a Christian man who has also walked through divorce in the recent years. 

Don’t divorce, especially if you don’t have biblical grounds. You have no idea how bad it will be for you and for your kids, and the negative consequences will never go away for your kids — not least that they’ll never again have an easy holiday, birthday, graduation, wedding, birth, or anything else. If you don’t have biblical grounds, it’s pure selfishness — you’re putting yourself ahead of God, your kids, and anyone else who knows you and observes your life.

If the divorce has to happen (which, in our no-fault legal system, is the case if your spouse chooses, regardless of your wishes), making the best of it for your kids is simple, though it may not be easy: just act like an adult who’s familiar with the Golden Rule. Unless a fight is for the benefit of the kids, let it go. It’s not a game you’re trying to win over your spouse. There aren’t any rewards for getting your way. You’re not proving anything. Grow up.

Never put the kids in the middle of any issue. They hate it, and you’re stressing them. Don’t communicate through your kids — communicate directly.

Don’t rush into a remarriage (goes double if the remarriage requires relocation a long distance away). Take all the troubles that are inherent in divorce and multiply them by 10 (or 100, if/when the second marriage starts to crumble, as it will do something like 75% of the time).

Don’t bad mouth your ex. You may succeed in alienating them from your ex, but then what have you accomplished? Even the secular course for divorcing parents that was mandatory in our county’s court system stressed this. The effect can be cumulative, with delayed results.

Tell your kids about the divorce together, agreeing in advance what you’re going to say to them. Doesn’t have to be dishonest, but it does have to be together. Doing it any other way is completely unfair to the other spouse and automatically puts the kids in the middle.

Leave new boyfriends/girlfriends out of things (especially the kids’ events) for as long as possible — preferably until there’s a ring involved.

Do joint celebrations of the kids’ achievements, like graduations, parties, etc. 

DivorceCare is a good program and helps with multiple issues, including bitterness and doing what’s best for the kids.”

Father, give guidance to the families that are walking through separation and divorce. It’s your grace and love that doesn’t leave them alone in this process. You do not withhold your love even though you hate divorce. For the couples using bitter words towards each other and holding kids as leverage I ask in  your Name to put a divine guard over their mouth. To open their eyes to what you want to help purge and renew. Give hope to the ones who think “things will never change”. Remind them that you are a God of miracles and the impossible. In Jesus Name, Amen. 

The next article is from a woman who says,from her experience, that divorce is harder than the death of a spouse – she has experienced both. 

Hey guys….I know this is a hard series. Hard to read and hard to write honestly. I’m ready to move on to some funny and light hearted stuff. But I know God has put this on my heart and as hard as it is I want to push through. 

 

Your stories – walking through separation and divorce. Part 1

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This is an unusual week at Life is a Bowl of Wedgies because I’m sharing some of your stories with your permission and with complete anonymity. It started with this comment/question I posted on Facebook last week.

I’m watching a lot of people right now go through separation or divorce. I watch broken families come to their kids school programs, church, special events, etc. and I see pain on their faces. From knowing where to sit to talking to the “other person” if their spouse has a significant other, to wondering how people will respond to them. These are just a few things I perceive as I sit next to some of my friends and watch from a distance in other cases. I’m sure the beginning stages are harder and everyone is figuring out what the new normal looks like and how to navigate these new waters. My question is not about whether separation or divorce is right or wrong and I’m not wanting to debate that in this space. I’m taking this question from the place of “the separation or divorce is in process or has happened”. How do you do this well? How do you walk through separation and divorce without growing bitter towards the other person and protecting your child from anger and bitterness? 

People responded in the comments on Facebook and some responded privately. I don’t take your stories lightly or the fact that you trusted me with them. I appreciate your desire to want to help others from what you’ve learned and for sharing what you’re going through right now. My prayer is that God might use your stories in some way to encourage us all.

Our first life story comes from a godly Christian woman that I love dearly. These are things she learned while walking through divorce:

“Some of the best advice I ever got was from my sweet dad and mom when I divorced. Mom said, you can let this (the divorce) make you bitter or make you better in your relationship with the Lord. She said do not ever bad mouth your former husband to your children because in time, actions will show themselves. As the children grew older, they did ask me questions and I was able to answer them as I felt was fit for their age and what details they should know or not know. We always appeared together with or without our significant other at the kids events over the years. I told each of the children at different times as they were old enough that divorce is never God’ s first choice for our lives but there are times when it cannot be avoided. I told them that I was sorry for the hurt our divorce has caused them and I take responsibility for their hurt but that also, God can use the difficult things in our lives to mold us if we let Him. Have treated them (ex and family) as we felt Jesus would do and do not have regrets for our actions. The children are the innocent parties and when they are little they do not comprehend why you cannot be together but you can say and do comforting things to them such as….I love your daddy because he is your daddy but right now, we cannot live together. That does not change our love for you and mommy will always love your daddy because he is your daddy. If you know the Lord then you are still responsible for your words and actions. I still gave our son money so that on every holiday that honored his dad in anyway he could buy for him what he wanted….Christmas, his bday, Father’s Day, If it was important to our son we honored that.

Although there were times I wanted to make some of my own decisions concerning our son, I always talked to his dad and asked what he thought. I was the primary custodial parent but we both are his dad and mom.”

I don’t want to sanitize divorce or separation. I have strong feelings about it but it happens. And some people choose to walk through it bitterly and others gracefully. This woman has chosen to walk this journey gracefully. And I believe God has blessed her for it in many ways. Never think God can’t use you or bless you or love you the same if you’re divorced. This is the grace our God bestows to us.

Our next story is cut and dry and to the point. It has excellent advice in it and I look forward to sharing that with you later this week.

Lord, I praise you for being our perfect Shepherd. Today I pray over my friends who are traveling the weary road of divorce and separation. Remind my friends that anything is possible with you. Would you reclaim what the locusts have eaten. Rebuild. Restore. Redeem what has been broken. Give hope where hope is needed. Holy Spirit, do what only you can do. Breathe life into these men and women. Let them cling to you and your word during these times. It is life giving and what we all need. Use these stories of your children to encourage, challenge and to give insight to us all. We need you to do that, Father. Amen.

This is Part 1 of a 5 Part series. To see the other posts click below:

Your stories: walking through separation and divorce. Part 2

Your Stories: walking through separation and divorce. Part 3

Your Stories: walking through separation and divorce. Part 4

Your Stories: walking through separation and divorce. Part 5

 

How the church can walk beside recovering addicts

I am learning from a new friend who is serving God by showing up weekly and walking beside women recovering from various addictions. Our conversation started with a few questions about how to help those who are struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. What started as a conversation ended in this blog post. Thank you, Sally, for writing this so that we can all have a better understanding of how to help others. My prayer is that God will keep using you and us to love each other well. 

Those People: How the church can walk beside recovering addicts

If it’s Wednesday, I’m in rehab.

I don’t go alone. A bookkeeper, a housekeeper, a horse trainer, and a nurse go with me. Usually we drive separately, then meet in the dark dirt lot in front of the sun-weary blue flat-roofed building so we can enter together. One of us grabs the clipboard from the nail on the wall to sign all of us in. (For some reason, we sign in, but don’t sign out.)

Inside the room to left  are two sets of  bunk beds. A menagerie of bedding and personal items clutter the space. (But, the rules state to keep personal space clean and tidy, or something like that.) There’s another sleeping room, then on the right is the meeting room, or the Black Sofa Room, as I call it. Six 8-foot long sink-in-deep black pleather (plastic leather) couches surround the room, like they’re guarding the walls. They’re cold in the winter and slippery in the summer.

There’s no carpet.

Sometimes, when we enter the “sofa room”, women are gathered in the room already. Sometimes, we sit alone, waiting to see who will join us. Through the picture frame windows we watch the people traffic pass by and by. Will they come in?

In time, the door will open. One will come in. Another will follow. Another will follow.

Introductions.

Handshakes.

Hugs.

They’re hungry and thirsty, so we start.

But, first we open in a thanksgiving prayer to Jesus for making a way for my friends and I to bring a study of God’s Word into this house, to nourish those who come to be fed.

I Don’t Know What to Do Either

Wednesday night is Bible Study Night in this home to women residing here temporarily while they work to overcome their addictions to drugs and/or alcohol. Some come here from jail. Some are brought here. Some walk many miles to get here. All are here by choice. They have a lot on the line: their lives, their children, their marriages, their jobs, their homes….That perspective makes it pretty easy for my ministry partners and I to give an hour or two of our time each week to bring hope to those who are searching for it. What we do is not a big deal, really. But, I’ve learned some people (Christians, mostly) think it is.

My ears have caught cast-out comments like:

“I wouldn’t know what to do,”

“That’s quite a ministry you have” and

“I’m glad you are reaching out to those people,”

Is there an invisible barrier between “us and them”? I wonder, is there a wall that separates “Christians” from “those people”?

Those People

Those people? Naively, I never considered the women (and young children) living at the home as different from me. I never considered that stepping into their lives would draw attention–or not. All I knew when I joined 3 other women was that those struggling to overcome addictions are

Someone’s daughter

Someone’s mother

Someone’s wife

Someone’s sister

Someone’s granddaughter

Someone’s friend

They’re hurting

They’re lonely

They’re scared

They’re lost

That’s about all we know when we show up on Wednesday night. That’s really all I need to know because God knows and He says He equips us for what He calls us to. I believe that. Do you?

My only hope in writing this post is that I am able to give you just enough courage to reach out to women just like you who got hurt, then got lost. This is not a how-to post; it’s more about bringing some understanding to who “those people” are so you can ask God what, if anything, He asks of you.

Let me share insights I’ve gleaned over the years of walking beside women in recovery, working to overcome addictions:

Be A Safe Person

Trust is earned and addicts trust slowly because they’ve been burned by so many. Remember we’re all wounded; some of us just show it more than others. Maybe you can relate. But, you do not need to know what to do or say in every situation. Just let them know (by showing not telling) that you’re a safe person so they can be honest with you.

Practice listening and reserve judgement.

Be Available.

This doesn’t mean you need to meet every single request yourself. (Read ahead to the part about boundaries.) A little goes a long way. There are several little things you can do to help women in recovery build a bridge back into mainstream life:

  • Invite her to church, if she doesn’t have transportation or doesn’t want to go alone. Encourage her into a safe body of believers where she can enter into a supportive community and find fellowship. (We all need that.)
  • Invite her to an event.
  • Ask casually if she needs anything. (Anything practical!)
  • Always pray with her and for her.

Walk with Her

Bringing a new friend with you to church or an event attracts attention. Trust me. People are curious and they want to know who’s with you. When asked, I try to help her protect her privacy by simply saying “this is my friend so-and-so (first name only).” I think it’s important that each woman is seen as my “friend” and not labeled as a resident of the local drug and alcohol recovery facility. If they want to volunteer that information, they can.

Keep Clearly Defined Boundaries

Just so you know, addicts usually don’t have clear boundaries, particularly if they were born into a family of addicts where there were no boundaries. So you need to establish a few, in love. There’s nothing fancy needed here, simply “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” Keep roles and responsibilities defined. You’re the grown up in the relationship. It’s OK to say no.

One word of caution: If you’re a people-pleaser, rescuer, co-dependent or enabler personality, you may want to support a recovering addict from a distance. The path in and out of addiction is often writhe with lies and manipulation. If you have trouble with boundaries you might get tangled in a web of manipulation while thinking you’re just being helpful. Know thyself.

Speak the Truth in Love

No matter the conversation or situation, love conquerors all. Speak the truth in love. Addicts have lived a life of lies. They need Truth and they need Love. Just like all of us. Bring strength, not pity. Bring encouragement, not condemnation. Be supportive, not enabling.

Keep It Simple

Our human nature is to complicate things. But, God’s way is simple

In the Book of Matthew, Jesus said: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)]

I know God cares deeply for the the lost and hurting and He rejoices when we care too. So, as you’re praying about what God is calling you to do, please pray about:

Who is God to you?

How does God see “those people”?

Then you will know what to do.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with your friends.

Disclaimer: I am a layperson. I do not have a formal theological degree or training, I’m not a counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or ‘ologist of any kind. I am not a specialist or have any formal training about drug and alcohol addiction. This post is written from my personal experience and insights. Nothing more.

Sally Olson is a writer, blogger, wife, and battle-­proven homeschooling mom to sons. God, good words, good coffee and honest country living refresh her soul. She blogs about apples and country life at Garden Valley Homestead.