Friday, July 17, 2015

a new leaf

Where does one begin when walking through something of this magnitude? I've avoided blogging for the sheer fact that I don't know what to write anymore. (Well, that, and Instagram kinda took over the world.) For a year and a half I was clinging, fighting, clawing, scraping at any shred of hope for reconciliation. My prayers were cries to God to restore and redeem. But what do you do when those prayers you spent so many tear-filled nights praying aren't answered? The only thing I know to do is cling to hope that the restoration and redemption is still to come. It just might look entirely different than the picture I had in my mind. I choose to believe God can do more work in me and through me as a divorced woman. I heard someone say, "sometimes God allows what He hates, in order to accomplish what He loves." I honestly don't know if that is biblically sound. Maybe the bottom line is this world is full of sin and we're all taking detour after detour off the path He originally called us to walk. But I do know God uses the most painful parts of our stories to open our eyes and make us more like Him. And the closer our heart beats to the heart of Christ, the more we will accomplish for His kingdom. So ultimately I do think He'll be able to use me more now that I'm somewhat of a cast-off. An outsider.

I read a Jen Hatmaker quote back in March that gave me permission to open my hands and let go.
"That broken thing you keep trying to put back together can't even compare to that beautiful thing waiting to be built. Doesn't hindsight tell us this is true? Sometimes we go back to the same well and try again, but sometimes we lay it down, acknowledge our lessons, grieve what is just not going to be, and move on to something new and healthy and beautiful. No matter what we've lost, we can still build anew." 
Please hear me on this--this quote is not an excuse to give up. I never gave up. I was in it 100% until the bitter end. I never stopped doubting we'd be restored until that door was firmly closed. But there comes a point where no amount of praying, pleading, and apologizing will change another human's heart. I believe God is sovereign and I'm trusting that if there was still something to fight for, He would have given me at least an inkling of hope. I'm thankful my boys have two parents who are committed to put their well-being first, which often means laying hurt and frustration aside and making room for peace. And that extends out to both sides of the family because we are not the only five people affected by this.

Starting next week my life will look very different than it did a few years ago. I'm moving again, into a smaller house. This will be the third move for me in a little over a year. I'm not excited about the process of moving again (that's putting it politely. I have lots of curse words in my head.) but I'm excited about the new little house I'll be in with a beautiful kitchen and screened-in porch. This house in the woods has been a beautiful retreat and has so much potential but it's too much for me. This house was initially supposed to be ours to work on and grow in together as a family of five. It's completely impractical for a single mom. I will miss my porch swing and the beautiful views out every window and the cozy cabin feel. I will not miss all the bugs and mice inside my house or the appliances from the 1980's. Thankfully it will still be a part of the boys' life since their dad will live in it for the foreseeable future.

I'll also be starting a full-time job on Monday. And because I know some of you will ask, I'll be the executive assistant to the general manager of a golf and country club. I had a couple interviews that didn't work out when I was first searching. It was mildly defeating and very overwhelming to have to find something I could support myself on. I answered several Craigslist postings and this was one of them. It checked every single box I had in my head for my ideal job. None of the others I was applying for even came close. And just to heap on some extra blessings and reassurance that God's got my back, I'll get to eat lunch and dinner at the country club with the staff every single day. 1/3 of my meals completely covered every week. I obviously have very mixed emotions about leaving my role as stay-at-mom and being away from my kids so much but I'm mostly excited. I haven't been a good mama to them. As the stress in my life has built up around me and affected my mental, emotional and physical health, I haven't been able to handle the stress of parenthood. And I know they're suffering for it. I'm looking forward to quality time with them, rather than quantity.

I have not handled all of this separation and divorce stuff perfectly. I've said things to the kids that I've regretted. I've acted selfish and entitled about my time alone. I've often turned my back on God and instead distracted myself with anything and everything to fill the void of loneliness. I've doubted God's ability to satisfy my aching and parched soul. The list is endless and ugly.

And yet. 

And yet time and time again He has extended his hand and waited for me to grasp it. And even when I've refused to hang on, He says, "No matter. I love you all the same. And I'll show you just how much you matter to me and just how trustworthy I am." I received a brand new professional camera as a gift from a dear friend just a couple weeks ago. This was something that would have taken me months to save for but that I've desperately needed to push my business to the next level. And I know it wasn't a gift that was easy for them to pay for. It cost them something. I know they had to give something up in order for me to receive it. But all I had to do was accept it for what it was. Love. I pulled it out of the box and I felt the weight of it in my hand. And then the tears just started streaming down my face and didn't stop for a long time. It was such a physical reminder of all that God has done and will continue to do for me. I felt the weight of his love for me in that moment.

I will forever wear the title, 'divorced'. It's not some shiny badge people admire. There is so much judgment that goes along with that. I know because I used to be one of those people, judging away and making assumptions about those people's lives and kids and walks with God. And as things have gotten more public, I've had to accept the fact that people are going to assume a lot of things about me that aren't true and people are going to talk. People are going to blame and choose sides and it often hurts. But in those moments I've learned to tune out the lies. And tune in to God's voice about who I am in and through Him. I am beautiful in His eyes and fully loved and fully forgiven. I'll just mentally stick that badge right over top of the big D-word. I'm going to keep making mistakes. Every day, every hour. I will never live a perfect day in my life. But that sin doesn't separate me from God. It makes me aware of how closely in step I need to walk with Him. He's fully aware of our humanity and He's not mad about it.

I'm not out of this winter season. I won't be for some time. These days are still extraordinarily heavy and hard. Every day of my life has felt like a struggle for nearly two years now. But they've been sprinkled through with just enough blessings to keep my head above water and filled with people who have loved and supported me so well. I love Colossians 1:11 and I want it to radiate from every fiber of my being but I'm not quite there yet.
We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul--not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory strength God gives. It is the strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. 
Angela Thomas' book, My Single Mom Life, was one big gulp of fresh air. I couldn't get enough. Every single mom needs to read it. If you know one, send it to her. 'Cause she probably can't afford it. ;) I'll end with her words that lift my spirit in an instant:
Hey, you with the heavy load. Lay it down. Just put it all right here in front of Me. All your dreams and your insecurities and your pain. Everything those kids want you to be. All your worry and the responsibilities that are too much for one woman to bear. The disappointment over how life turned out. Your weakness and your weariness and your aching body. The constant needs that never go away and the little battles that just rip out your joy. Lay it down and come to Me. Come in your ordinary. It's OK. I do extraordinary work with ordinary women like you. These circumstances will not win. Love has the final say. 
Yeah. That.


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  2. Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God's story never ends with 'ashes.
    Elisabeth Elliot

    This is the quote I thought of as I was reading your post! Amazing how God uses us small people to show His wondrous ways! He's writing a beautiful story out of brokeness, one that is a testament to many including myself! Thank you for your vulnerability and your desire to share your story!
    You are constantly in my prayers!

    Much Love, Eva

  3. Love your heart so much, friend. I can tell how well God has loved you and provided for you. Your Maker is your husband and He delights in you, Haverlee. At the risk of suddenly making this about me, here's what God told me this week when I was/am broken hearted about some seems to be perhaps where you are at too. "I know it hurts. I know wrongs are being committed against you. But I have to till the soil before I can plant. And I am planting seeds of testimony that will yield amazing fruit." It helped. It made me say, "okay, then it's so worth it." It will just take time for the seeds to grow. Love you. And also lets talk.

  4. I'm so sorry to hear about the heaviness and pain you must be feeling. God will carry you, He who promised is faithful. And about the initial quote you mentioned "God allows something he hates to accomplish something he loves" --> reminds me of the cross. How God must have hated the Sin that lead his beloved son to such death but he allowed that sin for his glory and for us, that he loves.


  5. Thank you so much for this. I've been following you on Instagram for some time and have read your story. I'm a newly single mom to two boys. My ex husband and I separated last August and our divorce was final later in that same month. It has been the toughest year of my life. So many ups and downs. Just when I think I've made it through the hardest parts, I get thrown another curveball. I, too, was a stay at home mom and had to re enter the workforce after being home for six years. It was a tough transition, but I'm grateful for the outlet and emotional support that my job gives me. I am thankful for your transparency. It gives me so much comfort and hope to know I'm not in this alone, I'm not the only one dealing with these thoughts and fears. I've struggled with having the label of being divorced...what people think of me, my boys. All we can do is continue to move forward, take it one day at a time. It's so hard though. With so much uncertainty running through my head, I have to know that better things are to come and this isn't the end, but rather the beginning. I will be praying for you as you start your new job and know this will be a wonderful thing for you!!

    I took your recommendation of Streams in the Dessert devotional so I'm going to have to check out My Single Mom Life too!

  6. Did you ever read Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning? He writes so well a out the no-matter-whatness of God. I think you're the cat's meow. So much love, Sweets.

  7. Oh, Haverlee, thank you for sharing. You didn't have to. Now I know how to pray. I've mentioned before that my parents divorced when I was 3. While it was ugly, I didn't experience that part. The situation was different. My dad left my mom. It was the 70's so there was no joint custody. My mom never spoke ill of my dad because "no matter what, he's your dad". I didn't ask why they divorced until I was 20 because life was just so "normal". I don't know how she did it. I don't know how you will do it but, another Elisabeth Elliot quote spoken to her by another after husband passed away, "Do the next thing." I cling to those words often. Sometimes that's all we can do in the face of uncertainty. God knows. He sees you. He loves you. Praying.

  8. Hi Haverlee, its been a while since I've read your blog. I can relate in some my head I was going to be a stay at home mom to 4 kids (private school) and instead I am work from home mom to with special needs and we go public. Not what I pictured, but God is good. He is faithful and strong. I pray He brings supernatural comfort+strength to your heart today! I'm excited for your new job. It sounds like a new stage of life and that is incredibly exciting!

  9. Hi Haverlee - I haven't kept up with your blog, but try to check in for time to time to know how to be praying. I am so sorry to hear that reconciliation didn't come as you had hoped...I can't even begin to imagine the hardness of it. But I know that God is good and He has a greater plan. I will continue to lift you and your family up to our Father and pray great things for all of you. That He will be your greatest comfort and friend and that He will fill in all the gaps. I love your transparency in sharing your heart and story...I know it is touching many. Please know that you have many people cheering you on! Keep moving forward...God has great plans for you...of that I am certain! Hugs Mama!!

  10. You are so brave, grace-filled, beautiful and inspiring. I am blown away. Praying for you this moment sweet sister.

  11. I'm so glad I stopped to read this. Been there, friend. All I can tell you is God is faithful. And He makes beauty from ashes time and time again. Keep going. XO


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