Saturday, October 23, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again!

Lily loves riding horses.  She started riding when she was ten years old.  I remember when she had her first really bad fall.  The lady who was teaching her had said that her first hard fall would quickly show us if she was a true horse girl. She jumped right back on and took off again. Okay, she has the horse gene in her blood.  It was decided!  She knew she could be hurt again and probably would be hurt again, but she wasn't afraid to jump back in the saddle and trust again.

I wish it were this easy to trust people and life again after you have been hurt.  When you go through a divorce, trust dies a quick and sudden death.  You are convinced that it will never live again. There are truly no words to explain it. Only those unfortunate ones who have traveled this path can understand it. You stood before God with the one that you loved and pledged to live your life out with him. "For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part." I meant that with all my heart. I knew that I would be married to Jason forever. He was my soulmate and my best friend. But now it was over, and how could I ever trust anyone again with that vow before God?  So the easiest way to protect myself is to build walls and not let anyone in.  This way I don't get hurt.

Late in the summer the girls started encouraging me to get "back in the saddle."  I had a good friend who suggested on-line dating.  She told me that it is a great way to ease back into dating.  You can meet someone for dinner.  If you don't like him, you never see him again.  You don't have to worry about hurting his feelings or the feelings of the person who "set you up" with him.  Lily was completely on board and thought it was great.  Anna thought it was just weird.  So I held off.  Lily continued to push the envelope for a while longer, so finally I relented.  I sat down with her and created an account.  The deed was done.

When I got home from school on Thursday, Lily checked the site.  She had way too much fun with this.  I was getting ready for dinner with a friend, and she was going through the e-mails and matches.  She was cracking me up.  The second e-mail was from a guy named David.  Lily said, "I like this guy."  She called Anna back and got her in on the fun.  Anna liked David too, and they both agreed I should reply to the e-mail.  I am going to tell you, that must have been one of the hardest things I have done in a long time.  Through sending this one e-mail, I was opening up the door to trust again.  I was hopping back on the saddle, and I was absolutely terrified of getting hurt again.  We typed the e-mail.  It was a family affair.  I could not send it.  I absolutely could not bring myself to do it.  I just sat there and looked at the e-mail.  The next thing I knew, Lily reached over and hit send.  It was done.  I felt ridiculous for being so anxious.  I mean, come on, it would probably be one date, and I would never see him again.

We e-mailed back and forth for a few days.  I have to say that he had an unfair advantage, because he was able to read my blog.  He was and continues to be such a gentleman.  He would not even ask me on a date until I said that I was ready to see him.  I do not know how it happened, but through exchanging the e-mails and texts, something that I thought was completely dead within me began to come back to life .  I am not naive, and I understand that a part of this is the excitement of a new relationship.  But even so, there still is something there that I cannot explain.

I finally said that I would like to see him.  We had our first date on Friday, October 8.  He stressed that he felt like he was under a great deal of pressure here, because this date could show up as the subject of a future blog!  Well, I have to say that it was the perfect first date.  We went out to dinner and then went geocaching.  This was a new experience for me. Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online.  It was great because it gave us something "to do" rather than sitting at Starbucks having awkward conversation.  It was also better than sitting in a movie, because we actually could have conversation while searching for the treasures.

It was a great evening.  One of the things that touched me the most was the way that he looked at me.When he looked at me, he didn't look away.  It is as if he were staring right down to my very soul.  It was as if he saw every pain I have ever felt and knew every tear that I have ever cried.  He traveled a very similar Unplanned Journey several years ago, and he does know the pain, and he knows it well.  There he sat, looking at me, as if to say, "I will make it better."  Somehow, things started to come alive again.  I had feelings that I have not felt in a long time, if I have ever felt them.  Amazingly, I began to feel alive again.

The funniest thing to me was when he met the girls and two of my "other" children, Ross and Robyn, for the first time.  This funny, outgoing and witty guy was suddenly nervous and shy!  I asked him what is harder, being a teenage guy and meeting a girl's dad or being a grown man and meeting a woman's teenage girls.  He relaxed quite a bit last week when we had a geocaching competition with the kids.  Ross put the competition together.  They called it the "Old Ones" versus the "Young Ones."  Guess what?  The old ones rocked the competition.  There were seven caches.  We found all seven and they found two!  (Okay, I should say, David found all seven.  I was just moral support!)  The best thing of the night was that we all had fun.  I never thought back in the spring that I would ever again be enjoying life like this again.

What am I to do with all of this?  I honestly don't know.  Truthfully, it frightens me.  It is all so fast.  Is it rebound?  Is it that I am feeling cherished and appreciated after months of feeling rejected and unworthy?  I just do not know.  What I do know, for now, is that when I am around him, I feel good.  I feel happy.  I feel special, and I feel beautiful.  So for now, I choose just to put it in God's hands and go with it.  I have my idea of how future relationships should come to be.  In my mind, they would happen over time, after the girls have moved on with lives of their own.  But who am I to know the future?  That is all God's business and His timing.

Regardless of how anything turns out, there is one thing I know.  I really like this very special guy.  I like him a lot.  I hope to spend much more time with him.  One thing I can say is that he has invaded my thoughts and taken over the places of sadness that once existed.  I find  myself thinking about him, and then I realize that I am smiling.  This is so much more pleasant than in times past when I would be deep in thought and come to and find myself crying.  I don't know where this is going.  But for now, I choose to cherish and enjoy every moment of it!

I know as many of my close friends and family are reading this, they are preparing advice for me!  "Be careful."  "Don't rush."  Let me say that I know all of those things.  I do!  I get up every day and put this relationship in God's hands.  The best thing of all about David is that he is a man of great faith.  He loves God deeply and passionately.  He also seeks God on a daily basis concerning the future of this relationship.  With God at the center for both of us, I may be afraid, but I feel safe.  So I am going to grab the reins and go for the ride of my life!

Early on in my journey, my dear friend, Kristy Stephens, gave me a Bible verse.  It is her "life verse," and she wanted to share it with me.  I don't think there is a more fitting verse to end this blog with!

Psalm 37:3-6 (New Living Translation)

Trust in the Lord and do good.

Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Anger Management

Let me share a snippet of an e-mail that I got from a very dear friend:

"I have read a lot of what you have written and even tried to respond silently, but that didn't work. What I want from you for both me and you is to just hear/read just one word of anger. I could quit being so "ocd" with my prayers for you. 

"Seriously, just a hint of something about the unnecessariness of it all. Maybe just a little righteous indignation?

"I love you more than my luggage but show me something so I can know you are not stuffing that anger."

Hmmm.  I have a special friend, and every time he is mulling something over, he always starts out with "Hmmm."    This topic is definitely one to be mulled over.  I have been doing that a lot since I got the e-mail.

Am I angry?  I have asked myself that and prayed about it and believe the answer to be "No."  Allow me to clarify.  Have I had moments or even days of anger?  Absolutely!  I would be lying through my teeth if I tried to say that.  My family is torn apart.  I have known heartache on a level that I never knew existed.  My girls have had to adapt to a "new normal" in life that they never saw coming.  Anna "liked" a group on Facebook recently that was titled, "My life has changed so much this year."  Was this all unnecessary?  Absolutely!  Is it enough to fill someone with the toxic poison of bitterness?  You bet.  I have felt the temporary satisfaction as the poison of that bitterness flowed through my veins.  But here was the turning point.  I hated the way that the anger made me feel more than I enjoyed the satisfaction of carrying that anger around.  Here is what I have found.  Initially, the toxic poison of bitterness feels good as it flows throughout us.  After all, it is justified anger.  Don't we deserve to wallow in it for just a while?  Here is the trick of the enemy that we have to recognize.  He wants us to feed off that anger.  As the matter of fact, he treats us to the cheapest "All You Can Eat" buffet of bitterness.  He doesn't charge us a dime for the meal, and the table is always overflowing with endless supply.  In time, it will consume us.  We start feeling anger not only toward the person who wronged us, but toward others in our lives.  We start lashing out at innocent victims because the anger has become a part of who we are.  It becomes the way that we communicate with people.  The toxin takes over and destroys us bit by bit.  This, my friends, is a terrible place to be.

As Christians, God wants to fill us with His presence.  His presences brings peace.  Let me clarify one thing.  It does not happen overnight.  It takes time, much prayer and encouragement from others in the faith.  In the onset, it is a choice.  You choose to forgive, even when you don't feel like it.  When your mind begins to wander to the contempt that you feel, you choose to think about something different, something pleasant.  You continue to make that choice day after day.  I don't know how it happens, but one day you wake up and realize that you are not mad anymore.  You are at peace, and it is a wonderful feeling.  Of course, sometimes things happen and you revisit the bitterness buffet.  But when you make the right choices over time, you find that it becomes so much easier to walk away from this table and go to God's table. 

Here is the other reason that I cannot be angry.  As a result of my divorce, many great things have happened in my life.  I want to be careful in saying this.  I know it was not in God's will for me to be divorced.  However, I know in my heart that He is able to bring wonderful things into my life to redeem this situation.  I have had such an outpouring of love from my friends, family, and students.  I always knew that I had many people who loved me but never realized the depth of that love and how they were willing to travel the dark paths with me.

Three weeks ago, my journey took an unexpected turn.  I wasn't prepared for the turn, as it took me quite by surprise.  A very kind and wonderful man has slipped into my life.  His name is David, and I have no doubt that God brought him into my life.  He has traveled a similar journey to mine and has survived as well with a stronger faith.  He understands my fears and insecurities, and he makes me laugh.  Yet again, this is one more blessing that has come into my life.

Finally, the journey has made me stronger.  I know now that when you reach the point where you think all is lost and you can still have hope, you have made it.  I walked through the valley of the shadow of death, and my Good Shepherd was with me all the way, loving me and carrying me through every dark moment of the soul.  Just as I now know the depth of love of my friends and family, I also know and have experienced the great love of my Heavenly Father as He walked that dark path with me.

So this is where I am.  I am not trying to sugarcoat and make things sweet.  It has been real and raw getting to this point, but I am here, and I am thankful for the lessons that I have learned and the blessings I have gained.  Why would I choose anger, when I can choose peace and contentment?

One of my favorite verses is found at the end of Genesis.  It is the end of the story of Joseph when he is reunited with his brothers, the same brothers that sold him into slavery.  He said to them, "What you intended for harm, God has used for good."  It is my prayer that this could be said of my life!

Wisdom From a Teenager

This was a comment left on my blog, "A Very Dark Place" by one of my students.  She is traveling an Unplanned Journey as well.  I asked her permission to share it as a blog.  There is much wisdom in the heart of this 17 year old girl that could help many people.   

 "This really touched my heart and made me cry. I can relate to this dark place, and I know how it feels to just want to crawl in a hole and not want to come out. I know you have heard about everything that has happened with my dad, and I never ever in a million years thought that it would happen to me and my family. We were the perfect family, always taking family trips and never ever going a day without telling each other that we loved each other.  Every night me and my sister would kiss him good night.  I never thought the morning of Saturday, oct 24th that would be the last time I would kiss his cheek.  He and my mom were together for 27 years.  He was her one and only love and they had been together since she was 13 years old. I watch her everyday and it really does hurt me so much worse because I hate to see her so hurt and lost without him.  My sister and I try and get her out of the house, but sometimes she just want budge. I watch her cry herself to sleep every night and I beg God for him back.  I sleep with her since dad has gotten killed and there are nights she wakes me up thinking I am dad. It hurts to see all my other friends with dads and know this is my senior year and he's not here for any of it.  But I do believe with every piece of my heart that he is with my God and he is in a much better place and he looks down on me, shanda and mom and protects us. Even though he is not here, I can still feel him and I can still feel his presence. I know he is with me.  Every time I get in my car and every night when I close my eyes, I say a prayer. 

I know how the dark place is and I know its no fun and I know how it feels to just want to lay in bed for the rest of your life. I am a lot better than I used to be because I kept telling myself wwdd (what would dad do).  I know he would not want me to be miserable and sad all the time and that he would want me to enjoy my senior year and make memories. My life will NEVER be the same. I would give anything to be able to go back to the way things used to be but this is my new life. I'll probably never be used to it and never adjust but its something I have to learn to do because I have no choice. 

This Sunday will be a year and it still feels like a bad dream. I still wake up in the morning time and reality hits me that he is not there and  he's not coming home. I dont think you ever get used to it. I still look for him to come home from work every afternoon and he never shows up. Our situations may be different, but I know how life can get you down in the dumps and leave you asking why? But you have no choice but to go on and be strong. God will not put anything on you that you cant handle. He's always that one person that will not ever let you down and He's the one that picks you up and keeps you going when you feel like you cannot. I love you, Ms. Adams and I really do hope things get better for you! You are so strong and just remember He will not put anything on you that you cannot handle!"

Life is hard.  I am so sorry that this precious girl is traveling this Unplanned Journey.  But I am so proud of her and the inspiration that she is to me and so many others.  I love you, sweet Cindel.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

If home is where the heart is, then my heart cannot seem to make up its mind.

I wake up to the smell of bacon frying.  I walk into the kitchen to see the most beautiful view of Lake Jordan.  I have stayed up way too late visiting with friends.  Maybe we were sitting around that familiar dining room table playing a game, or maybe we were just lounging on the comfortable sectional sofa.  Whatever it was, it felt easy and it felt good.  With keeping such late hours, I could probably sleep in a little longer, but I just can't resist sitting on the barstool and talking with Anita as she fries the bacon. This is the Barretts' home, and my heart calls it home.

I wake up to the sound of a crazy bird fighting with itself in the glass window.  Here, I can sleep in later than normal.  I am not sure why, but my biological alarm clock doesn't go off when I am here.  I finally wake up around 8:00, which is late for me.  I walk to the house next door.  Charles made a fresh pot of coffee before going to work.  I pour a cup and curl up on the couch as Mary Charles and I enjoy the morning on the lake.  I catch her up on my life, and she catches me up on hers.  I hear about all the tales and adventures of her life with her children and grandchildren.  I always tell her that when I grow up, I want to be her!  Charles puts in a long day at work and makes it home around noon!  Later in the afternoon, we may go out for a boat ride.  We usually then cram around their kitchen table for a wonderful meal.  There are lots of other places to eat, but it just feels better to squeeze tight and all eat together.  I watch Anna and Charles fight over the fried okra.  I laugh.  I feel good.  This is the Agertons' home, and my heart calls it home.

Speaking of fried okra, in the summertime when the days are long, Bobbie will often call and say, "Ya'll come over, and I'll fry up some okra."  I walk in her house without knocking.  She is that kind of friend.  Ellie, her dachshund comes running up. I always bend down and hold her away from me for a few seconds because she usually tinkles from the excitement of a visitor!  After cleaning up behind her, I pick her up.  She just nuzzles my neck and tries to get as close to me as she can.  The table in the family room always has some kind of really cool arts and crafts project that Bobbie is right in the midst of.  I hear Bobbie yell, "Ya'll come on in."  Jessie is either working on the project or on the computer.  I usually start cleaning up the kitchen as Bobbie cooks. She cooks.  I clean.  We have this thing figured out!   (We have decided that the days when everybody lived with Grandma might not have been such bad days.)  In a while, Steve will come strolling in from his golf or fishing outing.  He and Anna will banter back and forth about one thing or another.  (She told him one time that her died blonde streak in her black hair was a birthmark.  He believed it for weeks!)  There is not much okra left when we finally sit down to eat.  We have all walked by and grazed while Bobbie was cooking it, and there are only a few pieces left now.  Everyone watches each other like a hawk to make sure they are not getting more than their rightful share of the small amount left!  This is the Macks' home, and my heart calls it home.

In the afternoons when I just feel stressed and want to get away for a little while, I walk down to the neighbor's house.  Pig, the dog, greets me at the door.  He loves to greet company.  I walk on in, and David usually meets me first.  "Hey there, darlin.  Come on in."  JoJo is busy running around doing something.  She never sits.  "What can I get you to drink?"  Do not plan on going to JoJo's house without having something to eat and drink!  We sit around and chat about life and what is going on.  We have such a great neighborhood.  JoJo knows everyone, and she keeps us all up to date if there is something we need to know about one of the neighbors.  Her son and daughter-in-law usually come in  for dinner.  They may even bring their dogs, and sometimes I will have LuLu.  So this means there are four dogs running around the house: two big ones and two small ones.  The small ones cause much more of a ruckus than the big ones!  This is the Turnages' home, and my heart calls it home.

It is 7:15 on a weekday morning.  I unlock the door to my classroom and go inside.  I plan on getting some things done, but it usually doesn't happen.  The majority of the time, there are three or four students gathered around my desk.  I am hearing about the latest funny outing, last night's  fight with a boyfriend, or sometimes it is earth shattering  news that will forever change the students' lives.  These are good moments of being able to listen to and mentor these young lives as they face the ups and downs that life brings them.  This is Central, and my heart calls it home.

Here is one for my girls.  They are sitting on a familiar campsite.  Ross is harassing Anna.  She is getting so mad.  Robyn is over there giggling at them, and Lily is ignoring them.  They have their beds in the camper picked out.  As the matter of fact, when the new camper was purchased, they went over first thing to lay claim to their spots.  Ross has his Taj Mahal of tents set up.  There are three rooms in the tent.  Two are for sleeping, and the big one in the middle is for entertaining.  The tent is air conditioned.  Don't ask questions; you just have to know Ross to understand.  The middle room is decked out with a television, a wii, and a dvd player.  There is a continuous "Just Dance" competition going on in the tent.  Mrs. Leigh brought lots of home baked goodies that are quickly disappearing as everyone sits around the campfire.  This is the Shirers' camper, and my girls' hearts call it home.

And then there is Echo.  I am the baby of the family.  When I go back, it is easy to slip back into that mode.  I can walk into the home that I grew up in and say, "I'm starving."  At that moment, I am not a forty-two-year-old with two children, a job, and all the responsibilities of life.  I am my mother's child, and she is going to take care of me.  "What can I fix you, babe?"  Several of the nieces and nephews will be in and out throughout my trip.  I love being their aunt.  We will all go and sit around my sister's pool as we watch the kids play.  They are getting so big.  Some are already adults.  These days are slipping away from us all too quickly.  So, for now, I relish these moments with my siblings as we watch the children enjoying the last few years of childhood.  This is where I grew up, and my heart calls it home.

When I started this Unplanned Journey, something changed about the house that I live in.  I love this house.  It is so much fun to entertain here, and it has brought us much joy through the three short years that we have lived here.  But when our family changed, something changed about my feelings for this house.  It is hard to explain.  What I have come to realize over time is that it is just a house.

According to the Urban Dictionary, the saying "Home is where the heart is" is something that you say which means that your true home is with the person or in the place that one loves most.  There you have it.  Home for me is being with my friends who love me and have cared for me throughout this journey.  I have named a few of the places, but this list is certainly not exhaustive.  There are so many people who have made their family home for us.  I thank God for each and every one of them.  They have made the path of the journey so much easier to travel.  I don't think we could have made it without them.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It ain't over 'til the cute lady sings!

My friend, Blair, sang in church this morning.  It was beautiful and inspiring.  I do not think there was a person in the service who was not moved to worship through her voice.  It was the first time she had sung in church in eleven years.

Blair's son attended our preschool.  The church had a workday to complete some projects on the playground.  Blair and I just so happened to end up working beside each other.  I say "just so happened,"  but I believe it was a divine appointment.  She and I struck up a casual friendship that day.  We would always stop and chat at church, and we went out to lunch.  Because of our busy lives, we didn't get to spend a lot of time together, but we always enjoyed the time we did have.

She knew nothing of my journey until March when she received the letter in the mail saying that Jason and I were divorcing.  Blair called me the next week.  She simply said, "I want to be there for you."  Remember, we were not really that close because we had not been able to spend the time we needed to build that relationship.  I also had another casual friend, Cindy, who called within one day of Blair's call with the same offer.  I am so thankful for these two and for all of my other friends who have helped me through the journey.  So many times we see people suffering, and we think, "I would like to help, but I don't really know them, and I am just not sure what to do."  Both of these wonderful ladies said, "I don't know what to say.  I don't know what to do.  But I want to be there for whatever you need."  Let me encourage anyone reading this.  If you know someone who is struggling, just offer to be there for that person.

I had dinner with Blair.  We laughed, and we cried.  It was a good visit.  Blair told me that in the past she had sung solos.  She said that she had felt God nudging her to start singing again.  She went home and later that week heard the song, "His Hands," by J.J. Heller.  Please allow me to share some of the lyrics with you.

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That You would take my pain away
That You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crookedly lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

When You walked upon the Earth
You healed the broken, lost, and hurt
I know You hate to see me cry
One day You will set all things right
Yea, one day You will set all things right

Blair told me that she started singing that song in the bathroom every morning.  She said she would always sing it for me as she prayed for me to have the strength I needed to make this journey.  This summer she sang it for us at a Bible study.  That is what led to her singing in church.  Everyone's immediate comment was, "Where has she been all this time?"  God has definitely blessed her with a beautiful voice and a tender heart and spirit for sharing in song.

I cried when Blair sang last Sunday.  This time, I cried happy tears. Especially when I heard the last verse...One day you will set all things right!

As I sat there listening, I had another thought. "The enemy may have won a battle in my life.  But God is NOT going to let it be in vain."  He is not sitting up there thinking to Himself, "Well, I am sorry that happened.  That is just too bad."  He is working through this terrible situation to bring about good things.

Most of us know Romans 8:28 by heart.  "All things work together for good, to them that love the Lord."  I love how the Message paraphrases it: "That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good."

God placed that song on Blair's heart to sing for me because of my journey.  As a result of that, a talent that had been in hiding for eleven years came out today.  I am certainly not the only person in that congregation on an Unplanned Journey.  I know for a fact that there are others there facing far more difficult things than I have had to face.  I wasn't the only person who needed to hear that song.  Others needed it as well, and today they received that wonderful blessing from God.

I will never believe that my journey was God's will.  However, I will always believe that He is able to use it to bring about wonderful new things.

I hope to have a video of her singing this song posted soon.  Please check back for it.  You will be blessed!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Algebra and Life

I love teaching.  I would not do anything else in the world.  I often say, "What other job in the world can you do that will make you laugh at least once every day?"  I have this one precious girl.  She was new last year.  She is vibrant and full of life.  One day she came bouncing in to class.  "Ms. Adams, I met a boy named Tree Stand."  Nothing surprises me these days.  She then said, "Yeah, his parents named him that because he was consumed in a tree stand."  I just started laughing and replied, "Darlin', don't you mean conceived?"

She has been really frustrated with Algebra 2 lately.  She says that it just isn't sinking in.  I wish that it would come easy for her; truly, I do.  I constantly get asked the question, "When are we ever going to use this stuff in life?"  I am always honest with them and tell them that most people are not going to use it.  But does that mean it is useless?  Of course not.

I have a speech that I regularly give to my students when I get asked this question.  Some who are in their third year with me know the speech by heart.  I tell them honestly that they probably will never use matrices to solve systems of equations.  People do use them in their jobs, but those very special people are few and far between!  However, this does not mean that it is useless to them.  In the "real world", employers want people working for them who are problem solvers.  They are learning to be problem solvers.  They are learning that when something comes along that is too hard, they don't just quit.  They plug on through and find the solution.

I also think this concept can be taken a step further in teaching life skills.  I care deeply for my students.  I wish that algebra came easier for my sweet student that I mentioned earlier.  I hate that she gets so frustrated.  Last week she had a status on Facebook that said, "I am sitting here stuck on a problem in math, i thought i understood it. Ughhhh stressssing!!!!"  How many times does that happen to us in life?  We think we have our  lives all figured out.  Then something comes along, and there we sit stuck, confused, and stressed.

Well, she finally figured the problem out and made a pretty decent grade on her test.  Maybe this is the greatest lesson that algebra teaches us.  Life is going to have difficult moments for my dear student.  She will have struggles, pain, and disappointments.  But when those moments come along, maybe she can think back to algebra and remember that sometimes, she just has to keep going, even when she doesn't understand.  Maybe she will remember that even though she sat there bewildered and confused as she was struggling through her homework, with hard work and help from her favorite math teacher, she eventually worked through the problem and got to the solution.  That is what I want her to do with life: face it head on and not quit when problems come!

I know that years from now, most will not remember what a contrapositive is, but I hope that they do remember that once upon a time, they had a teacher who believed in them!

Me and Hayley!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

He's a Good Kisser

Lisa makes me laugh.  I cannot be around her two minutes without cracking up about something.  The other day she was going on about someone with whom she wants to set me up.  She showed me a picture and said, "AND...he's a really good kisser."  She has never dated this guy.  I asked her how in the world she knew, and she said, "I can tell by looking at his lips."  I never knew that one could be a kiss connoisseur simply by looking at someone's lips, but this is Lisa about whom I am talking.

Everyone who travels the journey of divorce will at some point come to the crossroad of relationships.  I have avoided this road at all cost.  It is me and my girls, and we are just fine.  When I embarked upon this journey, I said I would never be in a relationship again. I was still in love with Jason.  To think of being with someone else would have been betraying him, even though we were no longer together and were soon to be divorced.  I don't know how it has happened, but with time the love has changed.  I will always love him as the father of my children, but it is different.  I can't explain it, and only those who have traveled this journey can understand this.

Once I reached this point, I still did not have any desire to be in a relationship. There is one sure way to never be hurt again, and that is to never allow a relationship to develop.  I am happy with who I am, so why should I open up myself up to be hurt again?

The two greatest reasons that I would not even discuss a relationship are my girls.  They are my heart and soul.  Unfortunately, they have been thrust on their own unplanned journey.  I am so proud of how they have handled their journey.  They have been strong and resilient, and their faith has not wavered, but it has not been easy for them.  My life now is about them.  The other day someone asked me what I do for fun on the weekends.  My daughter piped up, "She caters to her daughters' every whim."  I have enjoyed them so much.  They bring laughter and life to most any situation.  I am blessed to have them.  Having said that, I would not want to bring someone into the picture that would complicate this in any way.  It is that simple.

I have been given advice from so many people about relationships.  The funny thing is when two people, both of whom I trust, tell me completely conflicting things.  So once again it comes back to this.  Everyone's journey is different, and what is right for one person is not right for another.

Two things have happened that have made me stop and rethink my strong stance on relationships.  Last spring I traveled to a workshop in Orlando with a new friend.  We got to know each other really well.  When you spend twenty hours in the car with someone, you can't help but get to know that person.  At the end of the trip, she told me that she wanted to tell me something before we went our separate ways, and she hoped I would not be upset with her.  Her mother had gone through a similar divorce, and she told me that her mom never remarried.  Actually, she never even went out on a date.  She said that through the way her mom handled her journey, she taught her two things.  First of all, she taught her that she could handle life on her own, and there was nothing she couldn't do.  This was the great lesson because it made my friend become a strong, independent woman.  I will never forget what she said next.  "Subconsciously, my mom taught me that there are no good men out there."  She was not telling me that I should jump into a romantic relationship.  She was in full agreement that such a move would not be healthy.  She was just suggesting that maybe dinner with someone wouldn't be a bad idea.  I listened but was not really ready to hear. That was too early in the journey.  But as time has gone by, I have begun to "hear" her words and what she was saying.

The second incident that made me think happened in the car with the girls.  We were having a great time laughing and talking about different things.  Even with them, the relationship discussion comes up.  They were asking me about how I felt about that topic.  I told them that I was completely fulfilled being their mother and that I just wanted to spend time enjoying them.  That was enough for me.  They got really quiet.  I asked if something were wrong.  One of them said, "Mom, I am glad that you feel that way about us.  But one day we will be gone, and I just don't want you to be alone."  We were all quiet for a moment, and then I assured them that I don't worry about being lonely.  God has a plan for my life.  I don't know what it is, but I know it will be good.

As time has passed, I have processed those two incidents a little more.  Maybe I am finally getting to the point of being a little more open to the whole concept.  But here is the catch.  The two priorities in my life are Lily and Anna.  They come first.  It is that simple.  I will not even consider dinner with someone who cannot understand and appreciate that.  They are the most innocent victims of this journey, and I have no intentions of doing anything to complicate things further for them.

I have listened.  I have prayed, and I have placed this matter in God's hands.  I am happy, complete, and fulfilled.  But if there is someone out there that God has to be a good friend, I am open.  And if there is someone out there that God has for me to get to know on a deeper level, I am open.  Finally, down the road, if there is someone that God has for me to grow old with, I am also open. It is up to Him.  I am not going to worry about it because when He brings His plan to fruition, it will feel right, and I will be at peace.

I have mentioned this verse before, but I think it bears repeating.  This time I want to share the message paraphrase.

Jeremiah 29:10-11 (The Message)

This is God's Word on the subject: "As soon as Babylon's seventy years are up and not a day before, I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.