Saturday, November 21, 2015

An Open Letter to My Ex-husband's New Bride

photo credit: Flower crown, wedding headpiece, floral headband, ivory hydrangea crown, bridal hair accessory via photopin (license)

I always knew this day would come eventually. And I always wondered how I would feel. Would I be bitter and angry? Would I be jealous? How does one feel on the day when their ex-husband pledges his love and commitment to another?

I have to admit, when I first learned about you, I felt uneasy to say the least. Who was this girl he was flying off to see in another country? What was this all about? Was this serious or a fling? My heart was burdened for many reasons.

You see it was only ten months after our divorce that I learned about you and he was on a jet to the Philippines. He and I had spent the prior two years separated, in the midst of a long, high-conflict battle. He had moved to another area and was sowing his wild oats. In the meantime, I was raising our three children and for the first year, he wasn’t around much at all. I was trying desperately to finalize the divorce and have some closure. But paperwork was the last thing on his mind and it dragged on for another year.

After the divorce was final, I anticipated relief. I anticipated closure and peace. But healing from the prior two years took time. And I wasn’t quite there when I learned of you.

I had just begun to sway to the rhythm of this delicate divorce dance. And then I felt like a bomb had been dropped. I think I spent the entire time he was away on my knees in prayer that he wouldn’t be robbed blind or thrown into a foreign prison. Maybe I’m a little over-dramatic. But the whole situation was unconventional to say the least.

I learned he had applied for a fiancé visa from a mutual friend on Facebook. I was shocked! He had told the kids nothing. In fact, we knew very little about you. I spent from that time on waiting on your impending arrival with my stomach in knots. I knew you were around 23 years old, in some sort of graphic design work and from Cebu City, Philippines. But that was about it. I was worried what kind of negative affects a relationship like this would have on the kids. Were you here just to gain a green card? Were you in it just for financial stability in the states? I worried of many things.

As the date grew closer, he began to share a little more. I knew he was planning to propose if all went well when you met the kids. I knew he had a wedding date in mind. And about a week before your arrival I knew that a friend had opened their home to you so you would not be staying with him while the kids were visiting. I was so thankful for that.

The kids were so excited knowing you were coming. In fact, my son wanted to surprise you the night of your arrival with a visit. I talked him out of that one. You’re welcome.

Over time, I began to have peace. Finally the day came when we met face to face. I don’t know if you could tell, but I was so nervous. I called a friend and asked exactly what you wear when you’re about to meet your ex-husband’s new fiancĂ©. (Did I just admit that for the world to see?)

But as soon as I met you, my worries began to dissipate. I saw standing before me a tender, brave young woman. I can’t imagine all that you have gone through in the last month since your arrival. At such a tender age you have experienced more than I have in my lifetime. You have left your home country and your family and all that you have known. You have traveled from a place with 80-degree weather year around and chosen to live in central Indiana where there are four seasons, sometimes experienced in the same day. You have chosen to take on the role as stepmother and accept his children as your own. And you have shown nothing but politeness and respect to me.

You have done all of this out of love.

I sit here today and know that now begins the sway to the delicate dance of divorce yet again. But there are no feelings of bitterness or anger or jealousy. This time, I have closure. This time I am thankful that my kids have another advocate in their corner. 

I’m glad that I can send pantyhose with the girls to dad’s house and know you will be there to help them put them on. I’m glad they have someone to brush and comb and fix their hair before Sunday morning church. I’m glad my son has another example of the kind of woman he may want to marry someday. 

And I’m thankful that my ex-husband has found love once again.

So today, as you walk down the aisle as a young bride and pledge your love to the man of your dreams, I wish to you, the best.
May God richly bless you and your future together.

With deep regard,

Monday, January 19, 2015

Silent no more

Today as a nation, we take pause and remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The leader of the modern American Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King spent nearly 13 years of his life promoting equality and peace in our nation. His life was taken from him way too soon, but his work began a wave of change forever changing American history.

We have come so far since his "I have a dream" speech delivered August 28, 1963. Segregation is no longer. The promise of the Declaration of Independence that all man are guaranteed 'unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and pursuit of happiness' still stands. We have the first black President of the United States residing in the White House.

But as recent events began to unfold in St. Louis, it became very apparent that in over 50 years, we have not yet realized the dream.

Opinions on the situation began to bombard social media placing blame on both sides. As I read through the comments and statuses, memes and blogs my mind kept returning to that day in Washington D.C. where the dream began. What made Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so different that those before and those since?

One part in particular, grabbed my attention:

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

Dr. King spoke in truth. Then he took a stand.

He took a stand for justice.

He took a stand for equality.

He took a stand promoting peace among all races.

He didn't just take a stand against. He stood up for.

He called for the joining of hands. He didn't call for battle lines to be drawn.

And even more significantly, in faith, he took a stand in the name of God.
This nation needs a hero. Someone to take the legacy of love and peace that Dr. King began and carry it into this generation.

Violence is not the answer, but neither is silence.

So today Dr. King, on behalf of this nation, I'm sorry.

I'm sorry injustice is still rampant.

I'm sorry equality is still a fight.

I'm sorry violence has broken more souls.

And I'm sorry silence has spoken louder than words.

Dr. King, your dream is still alive and well. And may the Lord help us make it reality.

May we as a nation, as a generation and as a united people stand together for change.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
                Free at last! Free at last!
                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!3

Read Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream speech in it's entirety here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fear, ISIS and a Call to Action

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

Fear. An overwhelming sense of dread.

Sometimes it can render paralysis in our lives.

A few days ago my soul was burdened. I had an overwhelming sense of evil and corruption over a particular situation. I just couldn't shake it. My stomach was in knots and my feelings came out of nowhere.

I remembered 2 Timothy 1:7 above and I began to pray in faith. "Lord, if this is not from you, please remove it."

Yet it remained.

So I hit my knees in prayer. And I called on others to pray with me.

As our prayers overwhelmed the gates of heaven, my soul finally felt peace. The burden was still there, but I knew God was in control of it. I knew that what He needed was for His people to pray.

God has not given us a spirit of fear as the world gives, but He can allow fear to come into our lives. Not to paralyze, but as a call to action.
There was a time in my life where anxiety and fear haunted me wherever I went. I'm talking 'leave-the-full-cart-of-groceries-in-the-store' anxiety because I couldn't make it through without panic causing me to flee.

I've come to learn through therapy and research, that the emotional abuse I was enduring in a failing marriage was the root cause of my anxiety. Gaslighting was the major component. It made me question everything I ever did and slowly eroded away who I was. It's subtle. Manipulative. And extremely damaging over time.

On a healing path now, my anxiety has diminished. In fact, I would dare to say, it's almost gone. My confidence has grown. I can speak and tell a story without pause or stutter. I can make decisions without second guessing all that I know. I have a freedom I never dreamt possible.

So when this feeling descended upon my soul, I was shocked. I questioned whether I was 'making stuff up' again, as I had been accused so many times before. But a few days later, through a series of events, reasons for my unrest were confirmed.

The Wrestling

Nothing can tighten the noose of fear around my neck like something beyond my control. Unable to predict or guide an outcome sends me into a panic. And I know I'm not alone.

The loss of a job. A surprise illness or test result. An impending move to another state. Waves of fear can overwhelm.

For me, as a believer in the Almighty God, the initial moments of shock and instability are instantly laid at His feet. It's the leaving at the altar where I struggle. Think of Peter walking on water. He began to sink when he focused on his circumstances instead of His Savior. Before long, we're relying on our own strength and we've snatched it back and tried to regain control.

I don't think it's always a lack of faith that causes us to pick up what we've laid down.

And I don't always think fear is a sin or from the enemy.

God says over and over in the Bible, "do not be afraid." "Fear not." He knew our human finite minds would not be able to completely wrap themselves around Who He is and what He's capable of.

He knew we would forget and look around instead of up. He knew that we would have to lay our burdens down over and over, because we are living human beings. Human sacrifices prone to crawl off the altar.

But we need to be aware that the enemy can monopolize and use that fear for his purpose if we don't recognize it. That is where fear can turn to sin.

A Call to Action

Today marks the 13th anniversary of 9/11. A day our world forever changed.

Recently more threats against America have surfaced with ISIS. I've seen post after post on Facebook of fear over the unknown magnitude of this situation. Darkness and corruption are definitely at the forefront.

Are they already in our country? Is there a plan already in place to cause mass destruction? Are we going to just sit back and wait until something happens on our soil? Don't we need to do something?

And the answer is yes. We do need to do something.

We can let fear cause panic and chaos in our souls or we can channel that fear into purpose for Him. We can sit back and worry, floundering in our faith. Or we can turn our faith into action. The choice is ours to make.

I tell you, the time is now to tell others about the hope you have in Jesus. We need to have more fear for the people that do not know Jesus as their Savior, than we do of any terrorist group.

We were never promised a full life this side of heaven. We were never promised a life without difficulty. In fact, as believers, difficulty is certain. Because we live this side of heaven in enemy territory. Our only hope is in what is beyond this existence, eternally in heaven. We should hit our knees in prayer and hit the pavement telling the world of our hope in Him.

God has called us to be brave. He has called us to do the one thing that can only be done this side of eternity: To tell others about the willing sacrifice of God's Son on our behalf.

A consuming fear that stops us dead in our tracks is not from God. Bravely, we can take fear by the horns and do as God calls us.

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)

Today I choose to leave the crippling fear at the altar. Today I choose to put my hope in the only One Who can breathe life into me for eternity. And in an hour or a day or next week, when that fear creeps in again, I will do the same. And I pray you do too.

Let's be brave together and do what God has called us to do: to go and tell others of His saving grace.

If you have any questions about the hope I have in Him, please send me an e-mail at or find me on Facebook. I would love to talk more with you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mystery in the Desert

With the 'funny paper' in hand, I remember crawling up on my Daddy's lap as a girl. Sunday mornings were such a special time. Frame by frame he would tell a story beyond the words on page. The characters would come to life as I clung to every word.

As I grew older, Mom would read chapter books to me like Bambi and Bambi's Children, The Secret Garden. I would sit back immersed, soaking in the story and forming pictures in my mind.

These early childhood memories cultivated a love for reading and the written word. I have read hundreds of books in my lifetime. Genres of every kind: sci-fi, crime thriller, romance novel, Bible study, historical novel,the list goes on. 

And no matter the story, they all follow the same pattern: a beginning, a middle and an end.

photo credit: Maarten Takens via photopin cc

Every book is unique. Some are better than others. It may lack that 'hook' from the beginning, but if you keep reading, a good story opens up. Sometimes the middle is too shallow or too repetitive or just plain boring. And sometimes the close of a book makes you want to go back and rewrite an alternate ending yourself.

But none the less, you are hard pressed to find a book that gets into the meat of a story and then just stops. The characters are usually well-developed and come full circle. There are no loose ends. It is signed, sealed and delivered in a nice, pretty little bow.

All except one...

The scariest book I've ever read

Some books I can't read at night because I'm too chicken. Crime-thrillers, mysteries, Stephen King novels, books that make me jump at the slightest noise in my house. Stories where I dread to turn the page yet can't bear to put it down because the excitement is too intense.

But those do not come close to the book that incites fear deep within my soul.

I'm talking about the book of Jonah.

Yes, the Jonah we learned about in Sunday School. The one who was called to Nineveh to preach and ran to Tarshish instead. The one who finds himself on a ship surrounded by angry shipmates because the storm raging was his fault. The one who was thrown overboard and swallowed by a whale-fish. That Jonah.

And it's not for the afore mentioned Sunday School story either. No, at the end of chapter two in this four chapter book, Jonah has survived the whole whale ordeal and is spit onto the shore, fully intact.

Chapter three shows Jonah's obedience. He travels the city of Nineveh preaching a message that God will destroy the Ninevites in 40 days unless they turn from their wicked ways. His message penetrates the hearts and the minds of the people and they believe.

The king goes so far to say in verse nine "Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish."

And in verse ten, God does just that. Because of the Ninevites' genuine turn around, he decides not to destroy Nineveh after all.

Now, if God chose to end the book here, what a nice pretty little bow. Jonah has conflict, he finally obeys, the people are saved, God's great, the end.

But you do remember I said there were four chapters in the book of Jonah, right?

The desert...

Chapter four begins with Jonah praying a very angry prayer to God. Verse two reveals the real reason Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh. Jonah says, "I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity."

Jonah knew God would change His mind. He saw the Ninevites living in deep sin knowing God was going to destroy them and he wanted to leave them there. He didn't want to give them the chance to repent and turn. In his mind, their fate was sealed.

I'm not sure what happens in the prequel of Jonah's life, but somewhere along the way he has received great grace. In chapter two, he had just praised God for answering his own cry for help as he sank to the depths of the ocean. And God spared him. Yet he didn't want anyone else to receive that blessing.

God asks Jonah a question in verse four of chapter four: "Is it right for you to be angry?"

photo credit: szeke via photopin cc

There is no recorded answer, but Jonah flees to the dessert. He builds shelter for himself and he sits down to burn in the sun and his anger. God sends a green leafy plant to grow and provide shade for Jonah easing his discomfort. Apparently, the shelter Jonah had built himself wasn't enough to shield the intense sun.

Jonah was happy about the plant. He accepted this blessing from the Lord.

But the next day, God sent a worm to eat the plant. He also sent a scorching wind and a blazing sun. Jonah was in such misery he asked to die.

But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnightAnd should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” ~Jonah 4:10-11 
...And you ask, Becky, what is so scary about a plant and worm in a desert? 

It's not what is in the story that terrifies me. It's what is not there.

That verse ends the book. 

A question from God. 

There is no verse 12. No chapter five. That's the story of Jonah. We leave him in the desert wanting to die, bitter that God is gracious and compassionate over a judgement that Jonah wanted to own.

We have no idea what happens to him. Did he repent? Did he accept God's love and compassion for others he didn't feel worthy? Or did he die a bitter death right there in that desert?

I'm no scholar, but I think that if there was a change in Jonah's heart that glorified God, we would know about it. 

Make no mistake, God does not leave the story incomplete. There is a clear beginning, middle and end. But God's concern from the beginning was not Jonah. It was Nineveh. 

Jonah is mentioned one more time in the Gospel of Matthew and again in Luke. Jesus is asked by the Pharisees, the teachers of the law in that day, to show them a sign. His reply: no sign will be given except for the sign of Jonah. In Matthew 12:40 Jesus says: "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

God chose to use Jonah for His good. Jonah had a hand in bringing 120,000 people to redemption in Nineveh. God even uses him later to reference the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. But did he die a bitter man, wrapped in self-righteousness, angry that God had compassion on ones he thought should be unforgivable?

I hope I'm wrong. I hope when I get to heaven I'll see Jonah and hear stories of man-swallowing fish and grace found and a heart changed in a desert.

But if I'm right... Oh God, have mercy on us. 

Gracious Father, 
Help us to not sit in self-righteousness that we know better than You. Help us want Your grace and compassion for each and every soul that needs to turn to You. Do not let our bitter and angry and selfish ways overshadow your grace and mercy and compassion. You are abounding in love and slow to anger. Your grace runs as a waterfall over our sin and cleanses us. Help us to remember that grace, as water flows has no boundary. That Your love can change any heart. And we must trust Your ways. 
In Your name we pray,

Friday, March 7, 2014

Confessions in a Millennial dating scene...

So as a recently single woman in her mid-thirties, I've gotten back into the dating scene.

And by dating I mean texting. And by scene I mean online dating.

I have yet to actually go out on a date, but my encounters so far have been enlightening to say the least. Let me break it down for you.

  • No, I'm not interested in a 'hook-up'.
Are you familiar with this term? When I was young and free back in the day the term 'hook-up' was used as follows: "Hey, we're headed out. Maybe we'll hook-up later at so-and-so's party." Meaning meet up. See each other. Reunite. Hang out.

Now a 'hook-up' is another term for a one night stand.

Uh....No! One Republic's song "Counting Stars" comes to mind with a line that says "Old, but I'm not that old. Young but I'm not that bold". Or stupid. Or desperate. Or whatever has to be in place mentally for this to be OK. I respect myself and so you should respect me too. Thanks!

  • Believe it or not, my go to celebration after an awesome day does not involve a 12-pack of beer.
I'm sorry, I'm not in college anymore. I'm a Mom. My celebrations involve balloons and ice cream. I don't sit and get wasted and drink myself into oblivion after my awesome day. That's stupid.

  • I am no one's Sugar Momma and I don't need a Sugar Daddy
Are there not young, attractive, eligible females in your age bracket? I mean, come on! If I was in high school when you were born, I don't think we have a future.

Or better yet, if you were closer to retirement age when I was born, I'm pretty sure that future's not there either. What the heck!?

  • The first chat is not an acceptable time to lay out all your baggage.
Oh. So you're a recovering alcoholic, with no vehicle, short term memory loss from your last 'yee-haw' that lost you that license and your living with your Mom. Of course I'll go on a date with you. Sounds great!

  • I've birthed babies and survived. So will you.
I am a compassionate woman. I even have empathy. But you want to babied because you 'injured' yourself putting together a toy stove for you daughter and needed a band-aid? Unless it required a trip to the hospital for a tetanus and stitches, I think you'll be OK. Man up.

And just so you don't think I'm a heartless witch, I consulted a friends husband. He agreed you need to grow a pair too.

  • Last, but certainly not least: percentages on matches for online dating mean NOTHING.
Interestingly enough, who showed up as a potential match on an online dating site? My ex-husband. 89% match. #fail

Because curiosity killed the cat (I mean, wouldn't you want to look too?) I clicked his profile. Where was that 11% non compatibility anyway?

And the next time we met to exchange children he invited me to dinner. And sat me down and proceeded to give me dating advice. To make sure I was 'safe and cautious' because there are some 'crazies' out there.
He encouraged me to date, because his experience is: 'it's fun'. And he shared he had 'some stories' too but thankfully didn't elaborate.

I thanked him for my fast food meal and the advice and left.

Did I mention our divorce was months from being final at the time? #awkward

So yeah....this has been a real blast. I'm so thankful I'm single and free again. It's awesome!

Seriously though, I am so far from being ready for any type of relationship beyond friendship. (And yes, that's the 1950's term for friendship I'm referring to, not this millennial 'friends with benefits' thing - just to clarify.) 

I've given up on the online dating thing. Because there are some crazies out there.

In the mean time, I am happy and content just being a mom. And someday, when I'm ready, love may come again.

Oh, and if you know an eligible bachelor with a job, a license, non-alcoholic, who's somewhat normal....feel free to send him my way. Thanks!   ; )