Monthly Archives: August 2014

5 things EVERYONE should know about Divorce

IMG_0593Divorce, in some ways, is my least favorite topic to write about. Sometimes I wish I could block it all out of my mind. It’s the worst experience God has allowed and redeemed in my life so far. It’s also the season where so much of my spiritual and emotional growth has occurred. I believe God wants me to share all He has taught me through the darkness. If it took what I’ve been through to bring me to where I am — it was all worth it.

My posts around divorce have generated some of the largest responses. Your comments are personally very encouraging to me and an affirmation that maybe God is somehow in this blog. So here’s another “divorce” post where I’ll share from my personal experiences — to His Glory. Everyone’s unique, but many things He taught me through divorce are applicable to anyone.

I’m writing to empathize with others who have been through divorce. To those who want to be a good friend to someone in a bad marriage.  Also, to be real and honest about the BIG picture with those who are still married, but think the grass might be greener in other pastures. And even to the single people who are in love and contemplating marriage — be very thoughtful and prayerful before getting caught up in the celebration. The  wedding quickly ends, but the marriage is intended to last forever.

Unknown-2In 2003 the inevitable dissolution of my 1st marriage became apparent; some tough years followed. By 2009 when I met Rob, my story had become one of Life, Joy and Love. My love story has a happy ending, in that I am now married to the most wonderful man in the world. We have the kind of relationship I never dreamed could exist, in a totally good way. That’s why I asked my daughter to read Ephesians 3:20 at our wedding. I am often overwhelmed with gratitude for all God has done in me and for me, despite my sins that led to divorce. He walked with me through it all, which gives me a much greater faith moving forward. The words in red above are links to previous posts related to divorce and some things I’ve learned.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARob and I are building a business and a home together — it’s not always easy. A successful second marriage (or single life for that matter) is not the final chapter of the “Divorce Book.”  Even with our happiness, the consequences and pain of divorce continue to creep into our lives, as we muddle through each new stage of life.

Five things I’ve learned about life after divorce. #1 is primarily for those who are divorced, but we’re all touched by divorce in some way. If I had understood these things earlier, the outcome wouldn’t have changed for me. But I would have been better prepared to navigate my own divorce and a better friend to others in theirs.

images-11. Divorce is NOT who you are. It took a while for me to be able to even say the “D” word out loud; I didn’t see myself as the kind of person who got divorced. Then for a while I totally defined myself as a divorced person — in shame. I was a second rate citizen, a misfit in my own mind. If you can relate, stop the lies now. Repent of the sin that led to divorce. Let God heal you, and live your life a new way!

Following are a few TRUE things God has to say about me (and you) in His Word. God says I am loved. I am favored. I am His child. I am chosen. I belong. I delight Him… We all need to seek  truth, what God says about us, and believe that — not the shame filled lies and condemnation.

2. Though sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, your life will be good again. I don’t know what your future holds, but I do know, if you seek Him and trust God ruthlessly, He will redeem it all in a way that is perfect for you.  Hang on to hope. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you.'” (Jeremiah 29:11) And reread Ephesians 3:20 — it’s true for you too!

IMG_10493. Divorce will most likely never “go away,” especially if you have children.  This is a BIGGIE. Even after  18 (and certainly before) — children deserve parents who love each other.  Many details were out of my control, but divorce made me a participant in stealing “family” as it was intended from my kids. I grieve that for them every single day. Children don’t divorce their other parent, even if they can understand the dissolution is all for the best. As co-parents your ex are still somewhat  thrown “together.”  A few things you may not have considered if you’re contemplating divorce and have children:

  • Your children could have “significant others” playing a parent role in their lives – half of whom are totally out of your control.
  • Holidays can be wonderful, but there’s an element that is forever tough and broken. Sometimes you might be alone.
  • “Blended” family is a misnomer — even in the best of circumstances. A blender combines elements creating something altogether new. In reality, it’s more of a crock pot life. SLOW to evolve, with each individual ingredient maintaining its identity — there’s a lot of heat and steam as things things cook. Each ingredient plays a role, and possibly something wonderful emerges!  Sometimes the crock pot just nukes things.
  • The other parent will do things you don’t agree with (like they probably did in marriage) and you will probably have LESS chance of discussion and influence.
  • Even now with older children — I look ahead and wonder how “family” events will go (where sometimes family is a bunch of people who wish they didn’t remember each other). I know I will need to put my desires and feelings on a back burner to support our children — who didn’t ask for any of this. All part of my daily broken heart.
  • When everything familiar is ripped from beneath them, kids have to grow up too fast. No matter how much you try to protect them, divorce prematurely launches children into an adult  world. Because they are not developmentally ready for the turbulent waters,  children often experience a range of changes: anger, disrespect, loss of relationship, confusion, perfectionism, personality changes, depression, anxiety, fear… Parental emotions and fatigue are heightened. It’s a bad combination, and the adults have to step up to the plate. That said, guilt is a horrible parent — and hard to shake from your parenting tools during and after a divorce. Fight hard for your children’s family to remain intact. And no matter what happens,  trust God and believe He will use it all for the good of everyone. (Romans 8:28)

IMG_11334. God gave Biblical reasons for divorce to protect you, not to limit you. I know this is controversial territory. If you are a believer contemplating divorce, read your Bible and trust Him. Seek Godly counsel. Be sure you and God are together in your decisions. can help you get started; “First of all, no matter what view one takes on the issue of divorce, it is important to remember Malachi 2:16: “I hate divorce, says the LORD God of Israel.” According to the Bible, marriage is a lifetime commitment… God realizes, though, that since marriages involve two sinful human beings, divorces are going to occur. In the Old Testament, He laid down some laws in order to protect the rights of divorcees, especially women (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Jesus pointed out that these laws were given because of the hardness of people’s hearts, not because they were God’s desire (Matthew 19:8).” The flip side: Divorce can be our loving God’s provision of protection for you and your children. Sometimes the preachers fail to say this from the pulpit – for fear they will mislead those who shouldn’t divorce. Whether divorced with or without Biblical grounds, sin was involved.  God forgives and redeems those who seek Him — those who love and obey Him.

IMG_08865. Divorce is a financial downturn- no matter what you’re dividing. While nothing matches the emotional costs of divorce, the monetary repercussions are worth mentioning. Of course there are the obvious: often enormous legal fees, twice the living expenses (once you separate), double purchases to take care of children and the splitting of assets controlled entirely by a legal system that is more of a crap shoot than a justice system. Then there’s the inevitable changes that follow — good ones and bad ones that mean a rebuilding of the infrastructure of life. Instability is expensive. Moving and rebuilding your life costs money that otherwise might have gone to much more rewarding things.

IMG_0947In summary, I hope it’s obvious that despite having been through a divorce,  I strongly believe in the covenant of marriage, and God’s teaching around it. I think God hates divorce because it hurts people deeply.  In the case of my first marriage, I was also struggling to grow significantly in my faith while remaining in the environment that relationship provided.

A good marriage is one of God’s most amazing gifts to us. My marriage to Rob has taught me so much about God and His love. However, if I hadn’t met Rob, I had arrived at a place where I was okay being single — for one reason. Jesus. Jesus loves me. He is my first love, and He is all I  ever needed. God is Bigger than divorce, He is BIGGER than my sins. He loves me and He is GOOD all the time.


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Do you ever wish you could just hit the rewind button — and do it again, another way?

IMG_0283Last weekend I behaved poorly in response to people I love – and it caused us all avoidable pain and sorrow. There was a small issue I needed to deal with, but I didn’t pray first or take care to be kind and loving in my discussions and delivery (even though that would have best reflected my true emotions).

“Be gentle with one another, sensitive.” (Eph. 4:31) God’s gentleness was within me to tap into, but I forged ahead in my impatient  flesh and came across more harshly than I felt.

photo-113I was sick and tired, and just wanted to relay the information as quickly as possible – to minimize my own discomfort and responsibility. To selfishly unload the pain of the situation to another, even someone I love dearly, so I could be free of it. That’s how sinful and childish I can be on my own.  And it didn’t work very well.

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)  How differently things might have gone had I stopped for a moment of humble prayer. I should have remembered Proverbs 15:1, A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

balancing pottery in Amalfi, Italy

My explanations for behaving poorly are plentiful: I have been sick for 3 weeks. I am exhausted from seemingly necessary travel and sandwich generation activities. Work has held many changes and long hours. There have been conflicts out of my control, where I’ve felt helpless and carried burdens with others. Many have demands on my time and resources, and I feel depleted. I’ve been away from home too much and just plain crazy busy. Is it all really necessary? Within His will? Do I need more planned neglect?

My excuses mean little to nothing to the ones I have hurt. To the ones I love. They also mean little to God – who says to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) But I didn’t seek him first, and my flesh was exposed instead of His fruit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:22-26)

IMG_3841That same day, I also witnessed someone I love being treated unreasonably and hatefully. I was greatly upset with the one in the wrong, and my heart broke for the one hurt. This all occurred just before my own poor behavior. Even as an outsider very close to a situation, I saw everything more clearly and felt compassion and love. God has used the comparison to drive me to repentance.

I behaved with much more grace when I was a step removed; trusting God’s wisdom I didn’t enter an argument that was not mine. Solomon’s wisdom prevailed: “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.” (Proverbs 26:17)

IMG_06752 Timothy 2:24-26 says, Run away from infantile indulgence. Run after mature righteousness—faith, love, peace—joining those who are in honest and serious prayer before God. Refuse to get involved in inane discussions; they always end up in fights. God’s servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. You never know how or when God might sober them up with a change of heart and a turning to the truth, enabling them to escape the Devil’s trap, where they are caught and held captive, forced to run his errands.”

I have been  hearing God calling me to just love others. The word just here isn’t used to minimize “love,” but to eliminate all the other things I could do… rebuke, preach, teach, guide, judge, etc. This is especially true with my adult children. I want to give them the freedom to be themselves and discover who that is –- and feel love, acceptance and support from me. That’s what I feel, but not always what they feel from me. I’m not contradicting the Biblical wisdom  to speak the truth in love, when someone is clearly out of God’s will. I am emphasizing love.

IMG_1873I like the translation of Micah 6:8 in The Message, “But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously, take God seriously.” (bold mine) This verse alone could have saved my family a lot of misery. Take God seriously, and be loyal (not selfish) in love.

The Bible has many words of wisdom I believe I need to live out in all my relationships with my family – siblings, adult children, and parents. And everyone else in my life, if I’m taking God seriously! A few verses that jumped off the page this morning.


“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20)

“ Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!” (Phillipians 4:5)

When I let my emotions, fatigue and circumstances lead the charge, I’m like a bull in a china shop, despite my best efforts.  I don’t even realize how I sound, but communication is the message received, not the one intended.  A pause for prayerful acknowledgment of Who is in charge and ultimately in control and responsible is always the right response. Then I can walk in who He says I am in Him — rather than my sinful, selfish flesh. My prayer is for more consistency in seeking Him first.

“Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.”  (James 3:17)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn summary God says, “So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” (Colossians 3:12-17)

The easy part now is asking forgiveness from those I have hurt.

the bright shop of another Louise, in Amalfi Italy
the bright shop of another Louise, in Positano, Italy

The hard part is forgiving myself. It’s easy for me to listen to the “soundtrack of shame” Steven Furtick describes in his book, The Chatterbox. I could berate and tear down myself, saying “you always screw things up. Why are you so weak? You know better! You will never change!” But I know that is self destructive, and not the whole story.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s true I behaved outside of who I am in Christ, which always ends poorly. I don’t need to ignore or justify my sin. But I also need to allow the Holy Spirit to take away my guilt and restore me to redemption.

Thank you God, for grace and truth. And repentance… You have reminded me there is another way to live –with You — and it always leads from darkness to light.


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CARPE DIEM! But how in the world do we?

no, it’s not Carrie and Vince… but another wonderful duo at YL Camp

I LOVE hearing Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill’s version of “How Great Thou Art.” Recently, I couldn’t resist clicking on a friend’s facebook link to it.  I cried again — for the 10th or 12th time. I love the ending, when the crowd of stars is all on their feet, and Carrie Underwood is simultaneously wiping tears and beaming a huge smile. I get the distinct feeling that the cheers are even more about our God and how great He is, than they are about Carrie’s amazing voice or the undeniably awesome performance.

Without much awareness I continued clicking randomly and moved on to a spontaneous act of culture by the Philadelphia opera — singing the Hallelujah Chorus in Macy’s at Christmastime. Commerce stopped, as shoppers joined in and gave enthusiastic applause. It seemed everyone in the mall sensed the sacredness in what was happening and fully attended to the moment of celebration and praise. Job 8:21 says “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting.”As I watch, I can’t see for the tears I am wiping as a smile,  alone in my night gown in my kitchen… Do I look like Carrie? Maybe just a little?

Positano, Itlay
Positano, Itlay

Watching  these feel good videos is addictive! I’m compelled to keep clicking an unmapped, but easy to follow path to similar videos. It’s like the Sunday pleasure driving of old — where people just meandered slowly about with no destination in mind (don’t you remember calling the slow people “Sunday drivers” when you had places to be?) They were visiting as they enjoyed whatever they saw and experienced along the way. In our crazy busy world, this type of “wasted” afternoon is all but unheard of.  At least we have Godvines, google, facebook, and youtube.

sunset over Bay of Naples, Italy
sunset over Bay of Naples, Italy

Even “every day” occurences compel us —  the antics of family pets, animals in nature, babies laughing, the face of Jesus in a cloud… How many pictures of sunsets have you “liked” on facebook? Or mountaintops? Vacation scenery: the serenity of a beach,  a wide open field, quaint towns, or colorful flowers? A great meal, family photos, silliness, athleticism, perseverance, beauty, accomplishment and triumph — all make us “like,” them,  smile, cry and just plain feel good.

Why? You could argue this is wasted time. Then why do we never tire of seeing the joys and beauty of relationships and our world? The smiles and hugs, the praise of God and his handiwork in creation? Why do scores of people emotionally respond to a flash mob’s singing about Jesus in a country that we hear has all but secularized Christmas?  Why are we so drawn to the human spirit that overcomes adversity, to laughter, to the hands of creativity and to the heart that is wide open to love? Could it be it’s because we are made for this?

Yesterday, Robin Williams committed suicide. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are exploding with tributes to a tremendous artist (one of my favorites) who made us laugh out loud.  The world loved his wit, compassion, and exuberance. Who would have ever thought he was living in a world of darkness? His death is our  corporate loss; the private pain was all his to bear.  This real life story makes virtually all of us sad and confused. Why then do we willingly enter similar darkness in both overly sensationalized news, reality TV and the fiction of Hollywood?

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

Robin Williams was a master of his trade. He created thoughtful, uplifting, feel good TV and movies. Romantic comedies, sitcoms, dramas, adventure stories, cartoons,  and science fiction have inspired us over the past decades. Lightened  our load. Given us hope. They were feel good entertainment, and it was the norm to leave the theatre thoughtful and smiling. Today? Not so much.

it's just me, but still creepy
it’s just me, but still creepy

When Rob and I want to relax with a little “mindless TV” or have a date night at the movies, we struggle to find anything decent. With some exceptions, a large portion of what we call entertainment has gotten violent, dark, vulgar, scary, and sexualized. It brings us down, even as it draws so many in. Are we addicted to watching darkness in the lives of others to help us make sense of our own world? Or are we being lemmings, just following the world’s trends?

puppet shop in Oia, Greece
puppet shop in Oia, Greece

It’s not a novel idea to say we are overloaded with bad, evil, fear, and hate.  The major networks must now fill the time 24/7 with “news” that sells ads and attracts viewers.  “Local on the eights” makes sure we know the danger is very close to us, as well as across our nation and abroad. We need to be informed. But is this overload of “news” really necessary? A typical hour watching or reading news or entertainment  could understandably leave us drowning in depression and anxiety, as if we’re drinking from a fire hydrant of ugliness.

There is little mention of the good stuff. I have become somewhat desensitized from so much trash, and I just feel sort of numb after watching. Resigned. Empty. Tired. But Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  Like when I watch Carrie Underwood, Vince Gil and Robin Williams!

IMG_0089Many noisy extremists around our country would have us believe America is no longer a Christian nation. But America is our people. According to a 2012 Gallup survey, 77% of the adults in the US claim to be Christians. Our nation has a  desire for God. Why are we letting politicians, entertainers and news anchors bring us down — creating a society where record numbers of men, women and children report regularly suffering with depression and anxiety? What then shall we as Christians do to combat the darkness being fed to us?

Capri, Italy
Capri, Italy

As believers we can seek to truly know the Savior and Lord we follow. God, the Creator,  is constantly revealing Himself to us. Romans 1:20 says “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and the sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”

He created us in His image — therefore we are creators too! The art of cooking and conversation, painting, writing, performing arts, serving, medicine, business — virtually anything we do with our gifts to the Glory of God are reflections of Him. We can share ourselves and God In Us with others.

islands of Greece
islands of Greece

In an earlier  post, I wrote “Why do we try to live life in our own knowledge and power — as we see fit? So often, we do what feels right, looks good, and what we want to do — rather than slowing down and giving God our first fruits of time — in prayer and reading His Word (living and personal to us) for the day. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” We need the Bible to see clearly what God’s will is for us — each day. When we don’t seek Him, we’re in danger of being sucked in by the world’s  patterns and noise.

Capri, italy
Capri, italy

Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2, NIV). I want to eliminate as much of the junk the world is screaming at me in so many ways, and listen to what God says to me in prayer and in His Word. That means giving Him my time and attentions first. What’s most important is Who He is, Who He says we are, and what He says He will do. More to come on that…

Philippians 4:8 says, “whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent and praiseworthy — think about such things.” And Ephesians 6:11 tells us “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

stained glass in church in Greece
stained glass in church in Greece

Have your quiet time. Watch a few “feel good” videos! Catch up on the oldies: Cosby, Robin Williams, Andy Griffith… Why should we let the darkness of this world enter our minds where we don’t have too?

Romans 8:6 reads, “so letting your sinful nature (the allure of the world’s ways) control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control you mind leads to life and peace” (parentheses mine). John 10:10 says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  We are not made for what this world presents us, but for the abundant life God offers us in His Word.

Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”

James 4:8: “Come close to God, and God will come close to you.”

Proverbs 4:23: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

Carpe Diem! But I want to seize today knowing God is with me. Where you lead me Lord, I’ll follow. Let’s love and laugh together.