Recent Stories

  • A Valley Girl: Yolanda Stith's Story

        I was born and raised in Southern California in the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of greater Los Angeles.  It was there that the term “Valley Girl” became popular.  It held special significance to me, not only because I came [more]

  • Roller Coasters – Emily's Story

    Brent and I had been married for 16 years. We had been through quite a bit. In the midst of many physical illnesses, we had two wonderful children who really have been a blessing. We were ministry minded and when we were turned down to move overseas to work with some [more]

  • Where is God in My Suffering? – Kit's Story

    My name is Kit Danley and I am the president here at Neighborhood Ministries. I come from affluent America. I come from a background off the lake, say in Milwaukee, both parents and grandparents were prominent Milwaukeeans. And as my parents tried to do adult [more]

Coping With Divorce – Self Care and Thankfulness (Part 2 of 3)

Welcome back to the Lessons Learned series. This is part II of the series about lessons learned while dealing with divorce.

Taking care of myself was such an important lesson to learn. I had been so tuned in to what my ex and kids needed that I wasn’t really taking care of me. One way to cope with my divorce in the making was to take baths rather than showers. I tended to hold negative emotions in my body; so my shoulders got stiff and painful. Relaxing in the tub seemed to help me to deal with those divorce emotions. Another thing I did was journal. I wrote out my feelings in prayers to God much like David did in the Psalms. What helps you to get rid of stress? Talking with a friend, praying, running…?

The fourth lesson in dealing with divorce has been the most important one for me. It’s choosing to be thankful and walk by faith, not by sight. How do I do that? Well, God has made many promises in his word that I have claimed and my goal is to remember them when I start to feel anxious for the future, or worried about retirement. Those verses give me hope. I am making a choice to live one day at a time, thanking God for simple things like a roof over my head, a car that doesn’t break down, a job, clothes in my closet, friends… My situation may look a certain way, but God says______! It’s challenging to choose to be thankful while dealing with divorce, but well worth the effort. And in so doing, you will grow closer to the Lord.

In a few weeks I will conclude this series with what I learned about emotional support and what to teach the kids and hopefully it will help you in your journey as you deal with your divorce.

Coping With Divorce – Choice and Perspective (1 of 3)

Where do I go from here? From what I thought was a firm commitment, a life-long relationship, a one-way ticket with no refund! Why do I have to be one more statistic; another Christian marriage ending in divorce? What do I do with my emotions? How do I deal with divorce anger?

Tough questions, all of them. Coping with divorce isn’t easy, but I can share with you what I did to deal with divorce emotions such as anger, frustration, depression and grief.

When my ex-husband told me he wanted a divorce because he wasn’t happy in our marriage I was totally shocked, angry and irritated. I lashed out at him and stated that I couldn’t trust him to keep his word on anything. What about the “divorce isn’t an option” comment he made 15 years before? No way. No divorce.

Six years later, after exhausting all I knew to do and say, I filed for divorce. Those six years were extremely difficult, but I learned much about God, myself and dealing with divorce.

The first lesson I learned was that although I had grounds for divorce, it wasn’t necessarily the best solution for us. Should I leave or stay? At that time it was better for me to stay and work it out. What was God’s will? What did scripture have to say about it? Well-meaning friends offered their advice…you should leave him…you should stay…how do you cope with that? I took it to the Lord in prayer. What do I do? How do I deal with this pending divorce? I thought I heard the answer, but others said God would never say that. The lesson? Each case is different. There are no pat answers; no one can decide for me, it’s all so individual. I will choose to trust other people with their decisions about divorce whether or not I have an opinion.

Lesson two. Looking at my life from God’s perspective. OK, my life looked pretty dismal. Like a mucky pond it was rotten, smelly and gross. I felt like a failure. But when I distanced myself from the muck and moved uphill the pond looked much better. In Genesis 50:20 Joseph states:

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (NIV)

Could it be that from God’s perspective my coping with divorce was something beautiful? Was my dealing with my anger and frustration honoring to him? Could something good come from this horrible situation? When I chose to see from God’s perspective rather than from my perspective I sensed a great deal of peace. You can read more about the pond at http://www.dontwastethepain.com/Our-Blog/September-2010/The-Pond.

Next week I will post two more lessons I learned while coping with divorce. I hope they will encourage you.

Prayers For Strength When Coping With Loss

Have you ever been too weak to offer a prayer for strength? Me too! Are you coping with a loss? I have needed strength to cope with many losses; and would be surprised if in your struggling with the loss of a child or spouse you haven’t felt totally drained and too weak even to send God a prayer for strength. So what do you do?

I was reading in my journal the other day and came across a prayer I wrote a while back:

“God, you are the giver of life. You are the one who makes me strong. You give me hope. Please show me the reality of Isaiah 40:29-31. I need to trust you with my whole heart. I need to look to you for strength, for hope, to overcome weariness. Please teach me the reality of soaring with you. Right now I feel drained, I feel weary, I feel weak, I lack hope.”

Isaiah 40:29-31 in The Message says:

“He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind.”

Why was I struggling so? I remember not being able to pray, I was overwhelmed and sick and tired of being sick and tired. My prayers for strength were mostly moans and groans as I didn’t have the strength or ability to focus. God understood this! He just wanted me to reach out to him and let him encourage me, build me up and empower me to continue. There were days when I just didn’t think I could go on anymore. I didn’t have a desire to end my life, but sure understand how that feels! Had I not known I had a purpose for living, who knows what might have happened to me?

I found great comfort in God’s word, especially in the Psalms. David poured out his heart to God, let his emotions out and it was not always pretty. But, ultimately, he concluded that God was strong and powerful as well as compassionate and merciful. Although I didn’t always “feel” his presence, I chose to believe he was near me and continually prayed for strength. Whether you are coping with loss, pain or illness you may find encouragement, help and life in these prayers for strength from The Message.

“God is my strength, God is my song, and, yes! God is my salvation. This is the kind of God I have and I'm telling the world! This is the God of my father - I'm spreading the news far and wide!” Exodus 15:2

“I'm tired of all this – so tired. My bed has been floating forty days and nights On the flood of my tears. My mattress is soaked, soggy with tears.” Psalm 6:6

“I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.” Psalm 121:1,2

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest.” Matt 11:28

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.” Romans 8:26

 

Here is my prayer for you for strength…Lord, thank you for the reminder that I need you, because I do. I guess I don’t like being needy. But it’s not a question of what I like; it’s a matter of what the truth is. And the truth is that I am totally helpless without you. Help me, please, to focus on you, allow you to be my comfort, my strength and my portion. Help me to rest in you and allow you to battle for me. You are my strength.

Pikes Peak

Living near Pikes Peak and seeing it every day from my home, on the way to work, at various locations from Colorado Springs, on the way home, from my home in the evening, I have really come to appreciate what an awesome representation we have of God!

You know how scripture states that God has made himself known in creation? I have been pondering recently about how God is like Pikes Peak. There is something comforting about this mountain!!

When I look at Pikes Peak, I am in awe. It is massive, impressive, dominant and humbling. There is no way I can compare to its size, shape, composition or beauty. I can drive all the way around it and view it from all sides and see that it is different from all directions. Yet, I can recognize it far away from any direction because I know what it looks like. That is a comfort to me.

Sometimes I cannot see the mountain at all. Does that mean it isn’t there? No. It never moves. Just like God, it is always there. So why can’t I see it? Perhaps I am looking in the wrong direction? Maybe there is something blocking my view. Do I expect the mountain to move in order to see it? No. I just need to change my location and perspective in order to bring it into my vision. Much like God! Other times I can't see the peak because of cloud cover. No matter what I do, I cannot see it. But, I can envision it, remember what it looks like and believe it's still there. Lots of parallels here.

Another way I can see that God is like Pikes Peak is in getting closer. As I have climbed Pikes Peak (not on foot, mind you, but by car), the normal brownish grey I see from a distance becomes beautiful, sparkly red granite. The wildflowers and tundra, the trees and shrubs are all individual, not blended together. You can’t see that from far away, it takes getting closer to pick up these details.

Then, there is the perspective from the top. The view from the summit is tremendous and beautiful.

Let me encourage you to really ponder this and consider the similarities. How is God like Pikes Peak? Here are some other natural things to consider; how is God like an oak tree, a river? How are we like vapor? How are we like sand?

The Pond

I was at a very intense time of emotional pain; sharing with my pastor and crying about what was going on in my marriage and frustrated with my circumstances. I will never forget his words of encouragement (even though he has forgotten what he said to me)!

He said that it was as if I was stuck in a mucky pond, looking at the scum and algae, the bugs, the broken glass, and the mud. In further analysis, I added smelling the stench of stagnant water and old, rotten wood and plants, the feel of the slime and bites from the mosquitoes. The humid, dirty air…you get the picture.

Then he suggested that if could look at my situation from God’s perspective, like looking at the pond from above it, it would appear different. So, in my mind, I pulled myself out of the sticky muck and walked around the water, climbed the nearby hill, and once the pond came into view again I pondered what I was seeing.

From up above, the pond was glistening in the sun, reflecting the trees and clouds off the water. The trees surrounding the pond were waving their leaves at me. It was a wonderful sight to behold. I didn’t see the muck, the slime, the bugs. I couldn’t smell the rot. Actually, looking down on bodies of water from above; they are beautiful. They are so peaceful! What happened to all that rotten stuff? Did it all go away?

Could it be that I was stuck on all the mess and missing the beauty?

My perspective of my circumstances changed in that very moment. I had to make a conscious decision as to what I would focus on. It wasn’t easy, but well worth it. That was years ago, but you know, it still rings true! When my life gets too focused on the slime, I again take that trip around the water, up the hill and sit. My desire is to enjoy the view from above; thanking God for the beauty and trusting him to make something of the scum and algae in my life.

 <<  <  1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10  >  >>