Category Archives: Freedom living

Warrior Princesses and Giant Slayers

When I was in the midst of some of the heavier moments of my early adult life, I desperately wanted there to be a reason for it all; so through various means I latched onto the idea that my pain would somehow help someone else someday.

Oh. Good.

Then, when I first started learning how to process the events of my broken life through writing, I saw blogging as a perfect way of bringing that whole helping-someone-else thing come to pass.

For some reason I thought that there would be a definitive “ok, your time of enduring hard stuff is over, so now let’s focus on helping others through theirs.” 

Nope.

Hard stuff doesn’t stop. 

Give the girl a prize or a gold star or something. (Nothing gets past me.)

***

Here’s the thing.

I think.

There’s always going to be tough stuff to face. We don’t get to escape it as long as we live on this earth.

But… we can get stronger each time.

And better.

And maybe right now my purpose is to continue to mother my girls; mentoring, encouraging, advocating, loving, and using the power and authority I have discovered from rising out of my ashes to launch two of them into their God-spoken-&-given identities as Warrior Princess and Giant Slayer.

Yeah.

I’m in.

We are fierce.

We are delicate and strong.

Beautiful and hard-core.

Bring it, baby.

… As it is in Heaven.

 

love love

Shev

Fairy Tales and Very Real Life

Are you gagging or oohing?

Doesn’t matter… we’re all going to have different perspectives and back-stories to draw from in regards to how we feel about fairy tale romances and our Very Real Lives.

Either we’re still holding out for the hearts & tiara & handsome prince, or we’re sneering at the ludicrous imaginations that come up with this stuff.

Or maybe we’re somewhere in between.

I don’t know. I’m no expert.

What I do know is that even though I outgrew the whole Disney princess thing ages ago, I still felt twinges of sadness when I would witness the tenderness between my brother and sister-in-law; and somewhere down deep I’d feel the familiar question tapping at my heart’s door: “how come I don’t have that? What’s wrong with me?”

***

I distinctly remember my then-husband talking to me while I sat on the bed, and feeling like a bucket of ice cold water had been thrown at me.

This isn’t working.

I don’t think we should be married anymore.

I want a divorce.

#stunned

I guess I was naive, but I truly didn’t expect that. Not from him.

Granted, we hadn’t been happy in three or four years together, but surely we would make it through this. Surely he would eventually forgive me for rocking the boat with my honesty about my own unhappiness with our lives, and we could move forward.

But no. Apparently not.

So I read all the books I could find on marriage.

I listened to all the marriage courses I could get my hands on on disc.

I asked for a marriage study in adult Sunday school at my church.

I prayed.

I fasted.

I went to counseling.

I worshiped. Sang.

Cried.

Fell apart.

***

I knew from the beginning that there was something different about our relationship.

I chalked it up to the fact that everybody’s different, and, well… its too late now.

We said vows. We were a team.

To be honest, I know now that I was grasping at straws. I also know now that I was married to someone who had great difficulty letting me in. Being vulnerable. Accepting love, or even knowing how to love me in return.

At the time, though, failure and rejection were the banners soaring above my head.

There was something wrong with me. 

I knew I was missing out.

I knew that fairy tales and Prince Charmings weren’t real, but I also knew that some people had the benefit of being connected with someone special in their lives.

They weren’t perfect. They had stuff and junk to work through just like everyone else. But they respected each other.

They worked together.

They chose to love each other well.

#Chose

And they really seemed to dig each other.

I wanted that.

Bad.

This is where I envision certain people rolling their eyes in disgust.

That’s ok.

I honestly don’t care anymore.

My longing to have an intimate relationship with someone is not something I’m ashamed of.

I used to be.

I used to feel guilty for wanting deep connection with a partner. For wanting to love and be loved. To be celebrated for our individuality, yet mesh as one.

I listened to the voices around me, and tried to tell myself that it was a fairy tale, just like the Disney princess stuff I used to think was so great.

Yet, I would continue to observe candid moments of sweet adoration, admiration, selflessness, respect, honor, and loyalty in a select few around me, and that knocking would start again in the recesses of my heart.

“How come I don’t have that? What’s wrong with me?”

***

I have discovered that the storyline of our lives can change.

That Hope is a very powerful force.

My personal story of various losses and brokenness has slowly begun to change.

I have felt battered.

Alone.

Lonely.

Helpless.

Stuck.

And somehow through that junk I have had tiny strands of hope gleam, catching my eye, causing me to keep going.

I think I’m ready to tell my story again.

You see, I have a happy ending now. Despite the eye rolls and sneers of the cynics and hurting, I have a love story to tell.

A love story that centers on Love Himself who taught me my worth, who broke the chains that have so paralyzed me for most of my life, and who showed me that He created me to want deep connection in a relationship with my partner.

Which doesn’t make me weak or irrelevant.

He is the Author who invites me to co-create with Him. And I keep saying yes.

So we’ve rewritten my story, and for those who wish to hear it, I will begin to share.

Stay tuned.  

love love

Shev

Divorce is Like Death. (I’m Sorry For Your Loss.)

If you are one of the few who have found themselves faced with divorce, whether you want it or not, may I have a few moments with you?

I am sorry.

So sorry that those dreams and butterflies and plans and hopes are now in the trash. Trampled and soggy.

I’m sorry if you were rejected. That the vows you both spoke weren’t adhered to, and that in some way, shape or form, you were dishonored and passed over.

I’d like to tell you something.

I realize that I’m just a face plastered on your screen beside some black and white words, but I think its important to share something with you that I have slowly come to understand through my own pain of rejection and divorce.

Its this: You are enough.

And you didn’t deserve it, no matter what floats through your mind or in the atmosphere from people who don’t know squat about your life.

You’re going to be inundated with umpteen lies about how you didn’t try hard enough, how you’re giving up too soon, how you are obviously not sexy enough, attractive enough, smart enough, funny enough, capable enough…

Even if you don’t truly believe those things, you’re probably going to feel them at some point, and its gonna really hurt.

Divorce is like a death in so many ways. Death of the love you thought you shared. Death of a loved one, because they no longer want to be your loved one, or else you realize they don’t actually love you.

Death of how you thought your life would play out. Death of dreams.

So, take your time grieving the loss, however it looks in your situation. Your partner may have cheated on you, may have mistreated you, may have sucked the life out of you, may have taken everything you worked for and left you to start from scratch.

Its ok to be sad. To get angry. To feel at loose ends.

But know this: You Are Enough.

Don’t let “them” win by staying bitter and resentful.

Allow yourself to feel the junk, but keep moving forward no matter how slow.

Because you are worthy of love, even if they did not value you.

Some day you will know that in your bones. You are worthy of love. 

And respect.

Fidelity.

Honor.

Smiles. Time. Partnership. Camaraderie.  Laughter. Shared dreams and goals.

I’m not saying you have to find someone else to replace them. But I’m saying that you are worth those things, and the death of this relationship doesn’t define you as a failure.

The marriage failed. But you can come out of it a winner if you choose to.

It happened. It sucks. It hurts. And you’re allowed to know and feel that.

Just remember that you are not a loser just because of the failure. You can come out of this. I know it.

Hang in there baby.

love love

Shev

When Life is Not What You Expected

When I signed in for work this morning, the date caught my attention. June 13th. The day I got married 25 years ago. 

 

Except I’m not married anymore.

Sometimes life just doesn’t go the way we think it should.

So we adapt as best we can, sometimes with bitterness, most of the time with heartache, and find ourselves getting through each day with a noticeable limp.

Broken dreams, dashed hopes, unexpected loss, trauma, and pain tend to set our world upside down and shaken, and most of us don’t know how to get beyond mere survival.

Survival is important. 

No question.

But when does thriving come into play?

Or can it? Maybe we’re too far gone now.

Is it just a myth, this notion of a full life?

A life filled with meaning, with purpose, with happiness, love and goodness?

Yes. Call me crazy, but I believe it is possible.

A good portion of this possibility stems from the notion of hope. Yeah.

Hope.

Despite all the well meaning (I assume) “friends” who made it their mission to tell me how much God hates divorce,

(of course He does. He hates anything that causes us pain, and since He knows the end from the beginning, He also knows all the pain and heartache that brought me to this point. That coat, that cloak, that tunic? It was ripped in two before I took the step to make the end of my marriage legal. You don’t need to pull Malachi out of your hat because my messy life doesn’t fit into your tidy box.)

to try to talk me into praying for my husband more fervently,

to try harder,

go to counseling,

(btw counseling has been a lifesaver for me. I cringe to think of how much longer it may have taken me to realize how horribly codependent I had become. And how horribly narcissistic and manipulative my partner truly was, – not just my dramatic female imagination. Too bad he continually declined to go with me.)

lose weight,

(insert choice expletives here)

and the myriad of other helpful suggestions lobbed my way.

Gee. Thanks.

I used to be one of the pew huggers that looked down on fractured, failing marriages.

Back before I was told that it wasn’t working and he loved someone else.

I used to cringe at the idea that someone was just “giving up on their vows”. The world sure has gone to pot.

Then I became the pariah. The one that became a notch on someone’s belt for inviting me over to lunch after church because it was the “right thing to do”.

Hope still fought to twinkle beneath all the debris.

I saw glimpses of happiness around me, and I wanted some too.

I saw glimmers of hope, and I latched on for all I was worth.

And now…

After all the years of hoping, of praying, of crying, of desperation, of struggle, of pain, of heartache, of weakness,

I gradually became stronger.

Bigger than I had originally thought.

Happy.

Because. I. Chose. To. Be.

Don’t tune me out yet. 

I had to learn, just like you, that how I thought, how I process, how I imagine, and how I speak are crucial to how my life plays out each day.

No joke.

I learned that I don’t have to have a man in my life to be happy.

I really, really wanted one, and I believe that that is just how God wired me and I’m ok with that. Especially since He brought Tinman into my world, and I see what it is like to have my dreams take life.

Pretty darn cool.

The point is, that I hoped for more. I didn’t just stay in my faltering, broken survival state of being. I learned how to thrive and choose happiness even before I felt it.

I made choices to move out of my brokenness. Sought help. Acknowledged my pain, made friends with it, and stepped beyond it. I wanted to be whole.

What you hope for may be different than anyone else.

But it is still hope.

When life is not what you expected, it doesn’t have to keep you pinned and immobilized. At least, not forever.

Don’t let anyone tell you you are not worth more.

Hope is yours. Grab it.

love love

Shev

 

Anxiety and Weirdness and Growth 

Stay there! You can’t leave – no! Don’t get up! No, Mom, you have to stay and watch it all the way through… awww Mom!”

This is what happens when I get triggered.

Could be a movie. Could be Grey’s. Could be anything that draws me in to pain, and I immediately react.  It ain’t pretty.

Most of my adult life I have been walking around in some sort of pain, so I have never really bothered to analyze what the heck my reactions were all about. All I knew was that pain hurt , even on a tv screen. Leaving the scene was my only option.

Along with gasping breaths (which I now recognize as hyperventilating).

Heart racing.

Stomach in knots.

Adrenaline flowing.

You know… normal everyday stuff a grown woman does when watching the boob tube with her kids. (insert eye rolling emoji here)

Its only been in recent months that I have been curious about this weird thing that I do. And I have come to the conclusion that it is anxiety.

I know. I’m a rocket scientist.

Guess what? I’ve been dealing with anxiety for a long time, without realizing it.

Guess what else? My kids are prone to high anxiety too.

Gah.

But here’s the thing: now that I know what is happening to me when I’m triggered by witnessing pain in any form, I can learn how to manage my reaction. I’ve even discovered Tapping recently, so maybe I will employ some of those techniques. It may take some time to get a handle on it all, but the thing I’m happy about most is that I am aware now.

I tend to get anxious about a lot of things. Even writing gets me agitated. For instance, as I have been typing this piece, I have had to get up numerous times, walk around, rub my hands on my pants, go get some peanut butter and chocolate, and force myself to sit back down again and continue typing.

There is power in the knowing.

And you know what else? I see growth as I look back over the last few years.

So many of those years were spent simply surviving. Ragged, broken pieces of my heart that knew there was more to life.

A faith that refused to give up on what I read about God and the tantalizing possibility that I was important enough to Him to matter. That He would indeed breathe life into my dry, dusty bones and create beauty out of my ashes.

I have held onto those hopes, reveling in His whispers along the way that He was doing a new thing and that I would see it soon.

That His plans for me are good. That no weapon formed against me has a chance of taking me down for the count.

***

I can truly say that I know what joy feels like.

I remember what it feels like to be happy, because I am happy! I am seeing new, green shoots of life begin to come forth and I am giddy with anticipation.

Instead of feeling bound by the chains of fear, disappointment, religious rules, and social approval, I instead feel His freedom.

I feel loved.

Ephesians 16-21 “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Umm. Yeah. I’ve tasted and seen His goodness.

Its for you too. Stick out your tongue and try.

love love

Shev

You Are Made For More

I’m going to come right out of the gate and tell you that it is has been one heck of a week.

I felt like my greatest enemy snuck up behind me and took a bat to my knees. I lay crumpled on the ground, whimpering in pain and disbelief, fear gaining more access by the minute, feeling completely out of control.

But then, are we ever really in control?

I digress.

I refuse to tell you what has actually happened because it is too personal, too fresh, and too painful. I will tell you this, though: my enemy knew the exact spot that would hurt the most.

My thought processes over the last few days have been all over the place. I mean, how much does one person have to face in their lifetime? How much pain is there to endure? What the heck happened to all the promises I have been clinging to, that have been been steadily whispered, chanted, strummed, sung, and roared into my heart, into my soul in very recent months?

I didn’t realize that when you have hit bottom at least once in your life that it was possible to do so again. That there is no statute of limitations on how many times one ends up lying in a heap in their lifetime.

This has been a very intimate attack on my family. Debilitating. At least for now.

I woke in the middle of the night a couple nights ago, and terror seized my heart as the possibility of further destruction entered my mind. I ran into the other room to ensure all was well, and as I climbed back into bed, I trembled as I told God that if this got any worse, particularly after all the recent promises I’d been hearing from Him, that I just didn’t think I could be His anymore. It would be too much.

Yeah, I went there.

In the morning I felt like a wet rag, completely devoid of hope, strength or motivation for anything beyond getting kids fed. Once I had them off to school I sat and knew I needed to continue my conversation with the One & Only.

Before I got anywhere, my ears picked up the sounds of Hannah’s radio still playing the local Christian radio station, and the song was reminding me of Who it is I was about to speak to.

And I repented. Meaning that not only did I say I was sorry, but I switched gears. Changed how I was thinking.

Why?

Because I remembered that He is God and I am not.

You can call bullshit if you want, but this is how it is.

After navigating over a decade of pent-up grief over the death of my infant son; after 20 years of learning how to love and successfully raise a daughter with special needs; feeling trapped in a loveless, warped, dysfunctional marriage for over twenty years and then finding the guts to walk away and live through divorce; figuring out how to love and support my children who live with anxiety… I suppose one could chalk these things up as life’s occurrences and – hey – no one is immune.

But this.

This was an attack.

But God Does Not Change.

Jesus warns us that there will be trouble in this world. The God who loves us so much that He made a way for us to have relationship with Him through the death and resurrection of His Son, allows for us to exercise choices.

Free will.

So, in allowing this… there are often repercussions. Consequences.

People choosing poorly.

Doing bad shit.

Hurting others.

And we can get caught in the crossfire.

Yeah, I pray every damn day for protection over my family. And I was pretty ticked off when it “didn’t work”.

You know what? I forgot that prayer isn’t a lucky charm. GOD is not my lucky charm.

What God is though, is my Savior.

My Helper.

The One who fixes things, even though I wish to hell there was nothing to be fixed in the first place.

He is my Redeemer.

He is my Recompense.

The One who Loves me most. And its deeper, wider, longer, and higher than I can possibly know.

So what now?

Well, hear me on this.

God Does Not Change.

He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

He is good.

He brings beauty out of ashes. Joy out of mourning. 

HE will restore what has been taken. What has been lost.

And multiply it.

Today I will stand.

Not out of my strength, but out of His.

He has infused me with His strength, reminding me that the battle is His, and He is already victorious.

He has reminded me that He has called me. That His hand is upon me, upon my children, and that they will indeed taste and see that He is good.

Because He Is Real.

And He doesn’t mess around.

He is not happy about this turn of events, but His hand is upon us, and there will be moments where we will say: “Wow! Look at God!”

Yes, there are giants in this land. But my God goes before us, He comes behind us, and His hand of blessing is upon our heads.

No weapon formed against us shall prosper, and though the winds may blow, we will not fall down.

He’s made me to be a bad-ass for Him. I am unique, called, and dearly loved.

But it is He that will bring the goodness around.

Not by might, not by power, but by MY spirit says the Lord. (Zechariah 4:6)

Here’s what I want to say to you:

Life can really throw some wing-dingers.

I know.

But you are not trapped.

You are not without hope.

You are important.

And you need to see that.

God is bigger than the stuff you’re in.

He sees it.

He sees you.

And He loves you and wants to work good out of it all.

He will if you let Him.

Take it from somebody who’s been through some garbage, and finds herself there again.

Except this time I see God walking with me. I feel His power. I hear His words of strength. Of encouragement. Of direction.

You are made for more than this.

I’m calling you to rise up.

Its better up here.

– love love

Shev

 

 

 

God WILL Bring Goodness Your Way

“God WILL achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for His miraculous power constantly energizes you!”  (Ephesians 3:20 The Passion Translation)

***

When reading a scripture verse like this one many of us have an immediate reaction.

And it’s not necessarily positive.

When we have been living with difficulties for any amount of time, we wind up becoming leery of good things that present themselves.

Because the rug has been pulled out from underneath us so often in the past, we are hesitant to believe that the good thing in front of us will either happen or stick around.

It’ll just be booted to the side after another doozy hits us.

***

But… what if we’re wrong?

***

Personally speaking, I was able to ride the festive and busy wave of the holiday season primarily because I learned how to switch my thinking to something positive when  negativity wants to reign.

But I am not immune to the emotions that can whip up without a moment’s notice. The emotions that are tied to memories, – both good and awful. For some reason they are harder to catch than the thoughts I work so hard to manage.

I find myself easily transported to familiar aches.

The shadow of that loneliness that haunted me for so long.

The suffocating pressure of shame & guilt that wants to hold me under again when I realize that I still make mistakes.

To strip me of any hope that I may have been able to muster.

***

As I choke down the cries that bash against my throat and swipe at the tears that keep slipping out and down, I hear a familiar whisper:

“praise me.”

I know this Voice.

I have learned to listen to this Voice.

So I shake my head and sing the song that immediately comes to mind because I understand what He’s trying to do.

Kinda.

***

It is crucial to remember that emotions aren’t to be ignored or stuffed.

But it is equally important to recognize that they are merely indicators of deeper things that should be addressed. They are not to rule our lives or direct our choices.

***

I know I need to learn something here… the shame and embarrassment that keep taking shots at me are not from the Father who loves me.

I know that I am not seeing myself as He sees me at this particular moment.

But its hard.

***

As I sing to Him, He reminds me through scripture verses that begin to play through my memory that God does not change.

That His grace covers me ALL the time, not just when I perform properly.

That’s the whole plan.

Jesus did it all.

Not me.

If earning God’s approval was all up to me, then we’d still be in the Old Testament and there’d be no need for Jesus and what He accomplished for us.

Grace.

And oodles and gobs of Love that I can barely comprehend.

I don’t deserve it.

At all.

***

For the last few years, the Three have been slowly expanding my ability to accept His lavish nature.

I have been so brainwashed to believe that I must earn everything that comes to me… even though there is practicality in most of that way of thinking:

  • We work for a living.
  • We treat others as we want to be treated.

You know. Common sense stuff.

But this… this is different.

They have been educating me on how He has always shown up for those He loves in one way or another, even if they don’t understand it.

That He has always stressed that He rescues, saves, redeems, helps, blesses, showers gifts upon His people simply because He is who He is…

NEVER because they deserve it. Only because they belong to Him and its a reflection of His nature.

Makes Him look good.

Gives Him glory.

And He really, really likes to give good gifts.

***

And I am one of His.

Grafted in.

Part of the Family.

A daughter of the King.

A high priest.

Royalty.

Redeemed.

Loved.

Cherished.

Danced around.

Sung over.

Laughed with, and, I’m sure, at.

***

So, as I process these things my Three have taught me so diligently, I lay my shame at Their feet.

And leave it there.

And ask for help, knowing that’s what They’re waiting for me to do.

And I humble myself to accept the answer that inevitably comes, and fills me to overflowing with gratitude (and a wee bit more embarrassment that I really try hard to squelch).

***

You see, the goodness that comes my way will always come, even though I had been trained to expect the worst because of the things I have experienced as a young woman.

God is good.

He does not change.

And He promises to bring beauty our of our ashes, joy out of our mourning.

It is not about what I do that determines whether or not God will show up, or bless me, or give me good things…

It is always about Him.

And whether or not I choose to believe Him.

And I do.

I choose Him.

I choose to focus on Him.

To see myself as He sees me.

To be grateful. To be thankful.

To praise Him .

Worship Him.

Because He is worthy.

— Lets be clear: its not about what we get, really.

When our focus is on Him, and how good He is, we become in a better position to receive it, rather than unconsciously pushing it away.

The goal isn’t the goodness He pours out onto us, but its a fantastic perk that is ours if we are willing to see it and open ourselves up to humbly accepting it.

***

Instead of piously rejecting free gifts from the One whom all good things are created, lets learn to position ourselves to receive them.

Because He’s got plans that involve His glory, His Good Name, His reputation, and the dreams He planted in each of us to carry on His good works.

Don’t dismiss the gifts just because you don’t think you deserve it.

Because you don’t.

Never did.

But Jesus does, and He qualifies us because of what He did for us.

Simple.

Profound.

Amazing.

He is so good. 

love love,

Shev