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An “Unglued” Mama

When I am feeling unglued, my husband and kids can sense it from a mile away.  Commence the walking on eggshells.

So when I recently heard about a new book being released entitled, “Unglued,” I thought, “Hey, that sounds like me more times than I’d like to admit!”  But, I didn’t just hear about the book.  I think if God could have hit me upside the head with the book, He would have.  I have felt like an unglued mama for a looonnnggggg time now.  With all the demands of motherhood, a full-time job and a household to manage, I am just one spill of milk away from becoming unglued on a daily basis.

So, when Lysa TurKeurst’s book was being released recently, it seemed as though I could not get it out of my head.  I kept hearing about it and reading about it and listening to Lysa talk about it on the radio.  How could I not read it?  I downloaded it to my iPad and read the first two chapters.  It was right on point!  And then life got in the way and I didn’t read anymore of the book.

And then God thumped me again.  He showed me through Facebook an online Bible study led by Melissa Taylor of Proverbs 31 Ministries that started on September 23.  And I accepted the challenge!  Work, laundry, homework, grocery shopping, gym, potty training, stomach flu and all!  I have committed to completing my first online Bible Study along with 15,000 other women who know what it feels like to become unglued.  And I can’t wait!!

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Tug of War

A wise friend of mine recently told me to write about what God has put on my heart, so I’m taking her advice.  I haven’t blogged in a couple of months for various reasons, only one of which has been writer’s block.  And then life, kids, travel, work, etc. got in the way.  But, I am still here, and I continue to chug along with daily life, kids, work, etc…

And my separation from my husband.  Since Easter Sunday.  So, technically speaking, we have approximately three months of non-living-together under our belts.  Which means we only need 9 more months before the state of South Carolina will allow us to get divorced.  If we so choose.

Problem is… neither one of us is choosing anything.  To stay together. To divorce.  To stay together. To divorce.  It has become a tug of war of emotions.  Just when I think we are moving toward a reconciliation, we step backwards.  It feels like the flower thing, where you pick one petal off at a time.  He loves me, he loves me not.  He loves me… You know how it goes.

So where does the petal-picking end?  Together or apart?  For today, at least, I still have no idea.  I guess I have at least 9 more months to decide…

Is love enough?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

New International Version (NIV)

4 Love is patient,   love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,   it is not easily angered,   it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil   but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

My husband and I separated on Easter weekend.  We remain separated today.  As Mother’s Day approaches this weekend, I find myself reflecting on my marriage, my children, and my family as a whole.  Or as its separate pieces, really.  My marriage to my husband is one piece of the puzzle.  My role as the mother of my two biological children is another piece of the puzzle.  And my role as the step-mother of my husband’s son is another piece of the puzzle.  I have spent the last few months trying to determine if, in fact, the pieces of the puzzle actually fit together.

I know I love my husband, my children, and my step-son, but do we all fit together?  It’s hard to say at this point.  As my husband and I continue to talk through our marriage, our separation, and our hopeful reunion, we wonder… what is the glue?  Is it love?  Is it patience?  Is it hope?  Or is it some complicated concoction of all of these things?

I have made a new friend recently who is going through a very difficult separation from her husband.  Her separation actually makes my separation feel like a piece of cake.  But yet, I still can’t seem to find the magic formula to fix my marriage.  The positive thing that I have learned from getting to know her and her situation is that I DO love my husband and want to fix our marriage, whatever it takes.  The negative thing that I have learned from her situation is that sometimes, love just may not be enough.

There has to be more than love.  There has to be a desire to cultivate and grow that love.  To nurture that love.  A belief in that love.  The need to do whatever it takes to keep that love from dying.

I hope with all of my heart that my husband and I will find a way to fit the pieces of our lives back together.  One at a time.  For the love of each other and of our children.

Amazing Grace

Have you ever felt as though a veil had been lifted from over your eyes?  Like all of a sudden you were seeing the world with greater clarity?  I have.  Very recently a veil lifted and I began to see my life in much more vivid color.  The good and the bad.  It was like I had woken up from a long slumber, similar to Rip Van Winkle, confused and wondering where the time had gone.  I know that I am 35 (Can I possibly be middle-aged already?) with 3 beautiful kids, a caring husband, a neurotic dog and a cat who has more generalized anxiety than I do.  I know I have a good, full-time job as a paralegal in a very difficult economy which thankfully continues to pay the bills (Thanks, George!).  But how had I gotten here?  All of a sudden I felt as though I had just cruised through the years since graduating from college in 1999, not really paying attention to the details or taking the time to store them for future recall.  For that matter, what did I really remember about the years before college?  From high school and even the years before that?

I know I was a child once, but for the life of me, I can’t remember a lot about that despite my best efforts.  I know I had a lot of fun in college and partied with the best of them (Sorry Mom and Dad), but surely those four years hadn’t erased THAT many memories.  So where were they?  Hidden in the deep recesses of my brain?  And then it hit me: I have several good and solid memories of my early childhood growing up in Rock Hill, SC and then Charlotte, NC.  I remember attending Pineville Elementary School then Nations Ford Elementary School.  I remember moving to a new neighborhood before I started 6th grade and making new friends in the neighborhood, one of which (who shall remain nameless) would become my college roommate, and then, shortly after graduation, my ex-best friend.  And I remember the day in 6th grade that my parents told me that they were getting divorced.

My dad told me about the impending divorce over the phone, if I remember correctly, when he called one day.  I remember he had seemed to be out-of-town a lot on business prior to that, and it clicked for me at that moment.  He hadn’t really been out-of-town that much.  I don’t really know when the beginning of the end of their marriage started, and, quite frankly, as a 12-year-old, I probably didn’t really need to know.  They were good about keeping things behind closed doors.  I just knew at that time that my parents were splitting up and my dad was leaving.  And stop playback.

So there it ends.  In 6th grade.  Sure, I have SOME memories from the years after that.  I would have to be a complete amnesiac not to.  But in all reality, the years between 6th grade and college are a blur.  I think I started to wake back up a little in high school and then definitely some more in college, as I set out to “find myself” and prepare to enter the real world as (GASP!) an ADULT!  But when I had a recent epiphany, I realized that I had not actually even begun to find my true self until I reached my 30’s.  And thanks to God’s grace and love and the continued support of my wonderful family, husband and children, I can say that I have finally, without a doubt, reached that moment in my life.  At the ripe young age of 35.  🙂

My mom has told me in the past that I “checked out” when my parents divorced, but I didn’t completely understand what she meant until very recently.  When things started going sour with my once healthy, stable marriage, I realized that I had to closely examine myself to find out what it was about me that was contributing to the decline.  In that vein, I started thinking about my childhood and my parents’ divorce, and the very real impact that it had on me.

After the divorce, my younger sister Cameron and I began splitting time between our parents as required by what I assume was a separation/custody agreement.  We juggled our time with them as necessary and we spent time with each of them as we could.  They were both very good, as I remember it, at making sure that we saw both of them equally and fairly.  But although I may have been present in the physical sense during those years, I had, in fact, checked out emotionally.  I can only assume that this was the coping mechanism that I used to deal with the hurt and non-understanding of why my parents couldn’t stay together.  My 12-year-old brain certainly didn’t understand divorce, and it was a major bummer for a 12-year-old girl.

I managed to get lost after that, without really even trying.  Lost to myself and to others.  I didn’t fully connect with other people, despite their best efforts to draw me out.  My grandmother, Jinny, who had practically been my third parent, tried particularly hard to help bring me back to life.  My mom tried to help.  My dad remarried and my step-mother, Jeanne, also tried to help.  My father did, too.  But despite their very best efforts, I didn’t check back into life until about 4 months ago, when I realized my own marriage was starting to slip away from me.

What I realized 4 months ago was that only I had the power to stop the train wreck before it happened right before my eyes.  And with that realization, I finally woke up.  MANY changes were needed and there was a LOT of work to be done, but I knew that there was no other choice if I was going to make my marriage last.  I don’t ever want to have to tell my children that Seth and I are getting divorced.  I don’t want them to be on the same end of the message that I was given many years ago.  As an adult, I can now appreciate why my parents divorced even though I know very little about their particular situation.  Marriage is work.  Very hard work at times.  Both people really have to be on their game, willing to listen to each other and strive to make each other happy and to feel loved every single day.  Being married is hard enough, but when you throw in full-time jobs, kids, bills, debt, illness, past baggage, past disappointments (and the list goes on), things can get very complicated very fast.

I don’t know how to express in words how truly happy I am to have woken up from my slumber.  I regret that it took my marriage traveling this far down the wrong road for the awakening to occur.  I am thankful, however, that it happened before the damage was irreparable.

My very favorite hymn has always been “Amazing Grace.”  The hymn is special to me because I used to listen to my great-grandmother, Mimi, and her son, my Granddaddy Bill, sing the hymn at Christmas celebrations we used to have at his house years ago.  And now it has an even more special meaning for me, as I realize that it applies to me in an even more personal sense.  I once WAS lost, but most definitely now can see.  As my grandmother Jinny recently told me, my awakening has been “magical,” and I have to say I agree.

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.