Monthly Archives: November 2013

the divorce chapter

with Rob – God’s plan beyond what I ever could have imagined

Despite being deeply in love and grateful for a wonderful husband and marriage, I’m going to talk about divorce. About being single in my 40s. About loneliness and dating as a divorcee… things I would rather forget, but they are possibly worth sharing.

I remember marveling in my early 20s at how and why people would divorce after 20 years. If you can make it that long… why quit? I also dreamed of my 25th wedding anniversary. That milestone is so romantic and noteworthy.

Forum, Rome Italy

I divorced about a month shy of my twentieth wedding anniversary. Though I had many great memories in those years, from a marriage perspective, all twenty years were hard. For a long time, I couldn’t even say the word divorce, much less contemplate doing it. Finally, in the privacy of his office, my minister gave me the permission I needed: “Louise, divorce is in the Bible for you.” I don’t want to glorify divorce, so I’ll share details sparingly. My hope is that my personal experiences through some commonalities might help someone else. Whether you are going through divorce, newly single, or know someone who is, I’m offering some perspective for navigating really rough waters.

Worth noting, I never heard from any pulpit (publicly) that leaving marriage is the right choice in some incidences — until a few weeks ago. It made me cry, even though I’ve been remarried almost 4 years.  I wish my children could have heard that. I wish those blessed with loving spouses who see divorce as a character flaw and want to give divorcees and their children a politely wide berth could have heard it. I wish those contemplating divorce because they “have grown apart” or “just don’t feel in love anymore” could have heard it. God gives specific grounds. Nothing else is legitimate.

IMG_2126No one has a right to a happy marriage or to leaving one that is not “happy.” He can redeem all things! God does say in the case of infidelity and abandonment, divorce is allowed.  I believe abusive behaviors – both physical and verbal abuse – demonstrate clear abandonment of the Biblical covenant. I wish more ministers would boldly speak from the Word of God on this. If more people sought Biblical wisdom, even with the allowances present, I believe less Christians would divorce for unbiblical reasons.

I believe in the sanctity of the marriage covenant. I believed (in my first marriage) that if I loved God and my husband, God would fix my marriage. But it takes three. God continues to shower me with His Grace. Still, divorce hurts children and spouses, even when it is the better choice. The repercussions don’t just end, because the covenant was never meant to. But, there is hope and healing. Our God is a God of redemption!

My divorce was a long and awful process. I have asked for and received God’s forgiveness for my sins involved. It’s all part of my story. I wouldn’t be who I am today without my first marriage. I wouldn’t have my children. I wouldn’t be married to Rob, who is the most amazing person I know. Divorce was ultimately the result of sin — both those of myself and my ex husband.

IMG_5541But God allowed it all and used it for my good! I desperately wanted happily ever after. But through the processes of divorce, being single, remarriage, and blending families, I continue to learn. I have been taught a much deeper dependence, faith, surrender, and trust than I ever understood. I was probably too stubborn, self righteous, naive and self sufficient to grow more like Christ without heartache. I have much more confidence and hope for the future (whatever it holds), because I can look back at God’s incredible tenderness, presence, provision, love, and faithfulness through the tough times I’ve survived and the gifts and blessings He gave along the way.

Not long after my divorce was final, I wrote 5 articles — thoughts to share with those who might be walking the path I just completed. Or even with those who only experience divorce from the outside. It is my hope and prayer that God will use all I have been through to help someone else. To this end, I will share my humble experiences, all categorized under divorce. But I don’t let them define me anymore! 😉 They are just a chapter in a story, all moving toward a more fabulous wedding feast than I could ever imagine!

Waiting Joyfully

I currently get two devotionals emailed to me daily.

1. Church of the Apostles    and    2. Henri Nouwen Society

the dishes too dirty for me too handle wait in the sink for Rob
the dishes too dirty for me too handle wait in the sink for Rob

Today, both posts (copied below) are about waiting on God. Appropriate since I am in a forced waiting period. I had surgery on my right wrist and elbow almost two weeks ago. Talk about shutting down the busyness of life!  I am right-handed without use of my right arm. I am home, alone with only my journals, Jack Russell,  and my computer (I am now officially a Pinterest groupie – making lists of all the things I want to do).

I’m waiting to be better — to be able to do the dishes, dry and style my hair (which I have never enjoyed or been good at). To clean the fallen leaves from the pool. To exercise — which I have put off for a year and a half in the midst of my chaotic life changes.  To rearrange furniture so the house will comfortably hold all 5 children at Christmas.  To work in the yard. All of these privileges will be done with a little more gratefulness and bounce in my step — once my body allows!  Absence of ability also makes the heart grow fonder! But I’m waiting for more than just physical healing.

the skimmer is also clogged...
the skimmer is also clogged…

I’m not sure what the next season of life looks like for me. We recently moved to Tallahassee from Atlanta. We bought a business and a house, and “remodeled” both! Neither is quite where we’d like. I’ve been working full time for a year and a half.  Because of surgery,  I ‘ve cut my hours drastically. I don’t plan to ramp back up. We’ve decided my passions and gifts lie elsewhere, but where exactly? I’m not sure.  What I will do next is still a question.

I feel called to be my husband’s helper, at home and at work. Different than the work partner that I was. I feel called to join a church body, but unsure of which one or if God wants us to join Him in starting a new church here in Tallahassee?

I feel called to hospitality, encouragement, art, beauty, evangelism, stillness… all these “callings” are vague and conceptual. Basically, I am just waiting. Waiting on God’s voice, so that I am sure to follow instead of rushing ahead and asking for His blessings, as I call my plans back over my shoulder. I’ve gone that route one too many times.

IMG_5836I entered into my first marriage prayerfully, but my prayers were all spoken in demonstrative and politely imperative sentences. “I am marrying this man. Thank you for sending someone to me. Please bless our marriage and our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

God was faithful, and despite my independent attitude, He blessed me in so many ways — especially with three amazing children. The marriage, however, did end. He used some tough circumstances to draw me closer to Him and to teach me what it means to be His child. He does use all things for our good when we love Him and are called according to His purposes. And I did love Jesus back then, but I didn’t understand much about surrender or waiting. If so I would have asked more questions. Listened.  And waited for Him to speak. For Him to move. For Him to beckon me to join Him.

IMG_0082Waiting is hard, but today’s devotions give me comfort and perspective. They encourage me to be “active, alert – yes, joyful” and expectant in waiting!  I will trust that God  is preparing me like he did Paul, “—softening his heart and positioning him so that he could be used.”  I didn’t know “ten years passed from the time Paul encountered the risen Christ to the time God commissioned him to ministry. Ten years!”

There’s nothing profound I can share with you, except compassion and empathy in understanding the struggles we all have with waiting. The consequences I have known when I rushed ahead, and God’s relentless pursuit of my heart — no matter what. Hopefully, these devotions encourage you today, as they do me.

November 19, 2013

The Triumph of Grace

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D. (Church of the Apostles)

Reading about the apostles of the New Testament, our views can be skewed somewhat by knowing the entire timeline of their ministry. We read highlights and letters, dramatic bits and pieces of lives that proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus along with the power of the Gospel. The days, months, and years they spent waiting for God to do the impossible in a post-resurrection world seem mere pauses in a flurry of God-orchestrated activity.

Regardless of the vision we may have for our lives or the direction we have been led by the Holy Spirit, we cannot expect to get ahead of God’s timeline. After Jesus left the earth, the disciples spent a substantial amount of time waiting for prayers to be answered as well as wondering when God was going to rescue them from dire situations. We, too, must be willing disciples, waiting patiently for God to work in our midst.

God’s plan oftentimes has curves we never expected. Ten years passed from the time Paul encountered the risen Christ to the time God commissioned him to ministry. Ten years! During that time, the Lord was preparing him—softening his heart and positioning him so that he could be used to impact the church in the first century and for generations to come.

Waiting on God can be difficult at times. In our anxiousness to see Him move, we have a tendency to try and prod God along. We want to see His glory here and now. Yet, God does not let us venture into new territory alone. He prepares the hearts and minds of those we are to encounter on our journey so that the fullness of His plan becomes apparent in the aftermath.

Prayer: Lord, quiet my heart and help me to remain patient as I wait upon Your plan to unfold in my life. I trust in Your faithfulness and Your power. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).

Tuesday November 19, 2013 / Henri Nouwen Active Waiting 
Waiting is essential to the spiritual life.  But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting.  It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for.  We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus.  We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory.  We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps.Waiting for God is an active, alert – yes, joyful – waiting.  As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes.

Confession of a Glory Hog

IMG_1075My name is Louise, and I am a glory hog! There. I’ve said it and removed all illusions that I am writing because I think I have things figured out or all together!

Many of my ideas came to me while reading Emily P. Freeman’s new book A Million Little Ways. I read it on the tails of her first book Grace for the Good Girl. Both books are excellent! I couldn’t put them down, and they inspired me to start writing and painting again (I’ll save more about that for another post).

I have to admit, reading the eloquent words of others that so thoroughly peg my life and thoughts, I find myself wishing and dreaming that I had written them — to share with others, of course. So they would know me… GLORY HOG!

It’s my tendency, the natural bent of my flesh. I wanted to be the one so brave as to be transparent and so smart as to interpret the Bible for others. Thank goodness I am humble enough to see the jealousy and still  learn from others.

IMG_1781Oddly enough I feel called not to writing something profound, but to smallness ( explored in an upcoming blog). A quote from Emily Freeman, “The small only get that way because they first recognize how big we thought we were.” I have felt I must make things happen. Do things for God… BIG things. You know, “to whom much has been given…”

Instead, while great in many ways, my 49 years of life spent trying-oh-so-hard have been seasoned with frustration, disappointment and grief. I have realized I can not be and do all that I have asked of myself.  I feel like a nobody.  A failure. Despite all my good intentions, all my best efforts, I know the truth of how I’ve fallen short. I have hidden and worn masks. I’ve been self righteous and condemned.

But all this is a GOOD thing, because I am not all alone. I am in the presence of the king, and I am His daughter… a princess, no less! It is in His presence that I am free to be humble and small. Surrendered to His strength. Offering my life (weak and war torn as I am) and letting Him do the work through it. No more striving. It was never meant to be as I thought it was. He will use my gifts — in His way and to His Glory. I can trust Him.

DSC00188So simple, so beautiful. But then, then she slips in… the GLORY HOG!  Is that pride I am  feeling? … at the fact that I succeeded at failing in striving?!  😉

I was never meant to strive to be like Christ. I worked at it, and failed bitterly. That was Lucifer’s sin. My sin, even with the best of misguided intentions. The good news? My failure in offering my best efforts at doing life  is an opportunity for me to sink deeply into God. It’s not a liability, but a prerequisite for surrender and total dependance on God. The Glory Hog in me didn’t want to reflect the image of God, but to embody it.  (Emily nailed the truth of my flesh here). But that is not what I’m called to do. Oh the freedom in knowing it’s not all up to me — but to my Father.

IMG_1974Possibly this sounds familiar, or possibly, like too many words that make no sense. Let me offer a metaphor. I absolutely LOVE sunsets and sunrises — especially at the beach. The clouds and colors change dramatically as God does His magic in the sky. Blue water takes on all shades of pink. Diamonds sparkle in its waves and we all take pictures, trying to capture that which never quite shows up the same as simply experiencing the beauty. That blue water is reflecting all the Glory of God’s work in the sky! Reflecting. Gorgeous, but never quite as magnificent as the sky, it is still blue water. But just by being in the presence of the heavens, it reflects all the colors of the sun and atmosphere as God paints his canvas in the sky, and the waters shine pink and wonderful. Through no amount of valiant effort could the blue ocean ever become pink.  It is meant to be blue as He created it, and simply to reflect God’s glory — much like you and me. To God be all Glory!

Jude 1:25

to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.