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When You’re Jealous of My Alone Time…..Think of This

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“What are you going to do what all that time?”

“Um, I don’t really know.”

“You don’t know?!?!? I know exactly what I’d do without my kids for five days. I’m so jealous. You’re so lucky!”

Luck.  That’s not exactly how I look at my life.  Have I seen God’s hand of provision pulling me through? Absolutely.  But lucky? Not so much.

And yet, I get this all the time.  Every Wednesday that my daughter is with her dad – “Oh, I kill for one day a week without my kids!” Yeah, I get it.  It is nice to have a day to do the grocery shopping alone and make my doctor’s appointments.  But that also means no Wednesday library activities or playdates with our friends at the park while everyone else is getting together (and for some reason, it seems like they are always on Wednesdays!)

We get it every other weekend when the triplets are with their mom – “Wow, I’d love to have a date night scheduled with my husband every other week.”  Yeah, but how often do we actually get to go out? Not very.  And when you factor in how many birthday parties, family functions and other special activities they miss, is it really worth it? Not to mention that we only get to all go to church together once in a great while because daughter P is with her dad every Sunday.

So you see, my “free” time comes with a lot of sacrifices.  To be honest, sacrifices I don’t really want to make.  This week my whole family is gone for 5 days.  Sure, it was really nice to go to IKEA and shop.  Then I ended up going to the movies by myself.  But you know what I saw? Cinderella.  Because all my girls had already seen it with their other families.  And while it’s kind of a luxury to go to a movie alone, I would have given anything to have my three daughters there with me.

On day three you know what I did?

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I cleaned my fridge.  High excitement here, folks!

I’m not trying to be too hard on you moms.  I get it.  Being a mom is hard.  We all need time to ourselves. Heck, sometimes just to go to the bathroom! I am all for Mom’s Night Out. and getting a chance to unwind.  But understand, those of us who have to be without our kids, we miss our kids, and would give anything to have them here with us all the time.  We will gladly give up every free moment to have what you have.

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To My Daughter’s New Stepmom

ABURKE2014 (11)I always knew this day would come.  I mean, I didn’t expect my ex-husband to stay single forever.  Nor do I want him to stay single forever.  I really don’t have a problem with him getting married.  So in that way, I am happy that he met you.  But to say that I’m happy for you would not exactly be telling the truth.  You see, you aren’t exactly the woman I pictured being the stepmom to my baby girl.  But, if I’m being honest, no woman probably would have measured up to that. I would want that woman to be just like me.  Someone to love her just like me, and I know realistically that’s not going to happen.  

I haven’t actually met you yet, so I don’t know what you think of me, but I want you to know I don’t hate you.  I do hate the fact that by marrying you he is leaving our daughter and moving across the country.  Because, you see, our daughter adores her father, and it’s going to crush her when he leaves.  It’s hard enough on her now that she only sees him twice a week – what is she going to do only seeing him a few times a year?  I don’t know if you have a father, but if you do, maybe you can imagine just a little bit how much my daughter loves her dad and how much she’s going to miss him.

I know that you don’t have any children of your own.  I have already been down this path of stepmom-hood, and I can tell you that it’s hard – really hard.  I know it’s not going to be any easier just because the child is mine.  But when the going gets tough, please just try to remember a few things:

  • When she cries because she misses me, it’s not because she doesn’t like you or even because you’re doing anything wrong.  It’s because she’s six and she doesn’t adjust to change very well.
  • Sometimes she gets scared and emotional at night and needs someone to lay down with her a little extra longer before bed, but then she’s usually fine.
  • She’s not there to come between you and your husband, but she needs some time one-on-one with daddy too.
  • She loves to bake.  Any time you spend with her in the kitchen will really help her bond with you.
  • Too much TV, ipad, sugar, or dye makes her CRAZY – save yourself!
  • She likes to have a nightlight and a drink of water by her bed.
  • If she decides one day to call you “mom” that’s ok with me – I hope it will be with you too.

I know you won’t love her just like me, and that’s ok. Unconditional love doesn’t just come overnight. She can be frustrating and sassy and too talkative – but she can be SO loving and funny and caring and she’ll be your best little friend, if you’ll just give her the chance.

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When the Marriage is Over, but the Wedding Dress Remains

When I got married the first time, I had one of those pretty big, fancy weddings most brides have these days.  I was never really one of those “it’s my day – I must have my way” kind of brides, but I was pretty insistent on my dress.  As soon as I got engaged (like, that night), I went to Wal-Mart, bought a magazine, and picked it out.  The dress.  A few months later I went with my mom and Grandma to David’s Bridal, tried it on, and it fit perfectly.  I did not need a single alteration.  It was meant to be.  I seriously loved that dress.  But alas, a wedding lasts only a day, and all to soon the day was over and the dress was put into storage.  I thought for a while like most moms that maybe I would save it for Daughter P to wear, but once my first marriage ended in divorce, I just felt weird keeping it around.  It wasn’t really the symbol of marriage that I want for her to wear on her wedding day.  It doesn’t represent what it should.  And, let’s be honest, styles will be totally different by then, and she will probably hate it.

So I opted to keep my “crown” that I wore for her instead, but I could never figure out what do with the dress.  I tried to sell it at a few garage sales, but no one bought it.  I thought about having it turned into a quilt, but I never had it done.  I just couldn’t bear to give it to Goodwill, so it’s sat in my garage for almost 9 years.

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Today, a friend of mine shared a local newspaper article on Facebook about two infants without any family buried in a joint ceremony given by members of the community (source The Indy Star).  As a mother of four, I was deeply affected, as a always am, not only by the deaths of these precious babies, but by the fact that they died and were buried without any loved ones around them.  Although I know they now rest in the arms of their Heavenly Father, the world is just so cruel and unfair sometimes.

And yet in the midst of these tragedies, my old wedding gown, with it’s own reminders of betrayals and sin, I find can now be repurposed for good.  Little Angel Gowns is a non-profit organization takes donations of not only wedding gowns, but all formal dresses (hello hideous bridesmaid gowns!) and first communion dresses, and makes them into burial gowns for infants who either have no family or whose families cannot afford to bury them.  They then work with other local companies to provide all the components for a complete burial for these children.

I looked up their website (they are also on Facebook), and I will be donating my dress this week at a drop-off center in my town.  Although I live in Indiana, they have sites in Alabama, California and Iowa as well.  If there is not a location in your state, perhaps there is a similar organization.

I am overwhelmed once again at how God continues to take the dirt and sin and mistakes from my first marriage and provides the grace to transform them into something redeemable and useful for something else. Truly nothing is too broken for Him!

Dawn

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How the “Mommy Wars” Are Destroying the Christian Church

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“Please don’t judge me.” Her words caught me off guard, as judging her was the last thing on my mind.  Here was my new friend, tears fresh on her cheeks, sick baby on her hip, 4-year-old at her side, rushing her daughter into acting class early on Saturday.  She’d obviously had a rough morning.  She repeated the phrase often that morning while we entertained her boys and waited for our daughters to finish their play practice.  “I’m not judging you.  I think you’re doing a great job.  You’re boys aren’t bothering anyone.  Let them run around.”  I pulled out paper for them to draw on, then my phone, then finally walked around with them as we waited for the time to pass.  Anything to help her de-stress. But I just kept thinking, this is my friend.  Why is she so worried about me judging her?

The answer’s really not that hard is it? That’s what we women do to each other.  ALL. THE. TIME.  Even to our “friends.”  Oh, we’d rarely admit it.  But there’s pretty much a non-stop commentary going on in our heads of what other women are doing (or saying or wearing) that’s wrong.  Even in us Christians.  Maybe especially in us Christians.

Although they officially started way back in 1986, the “Mommy Wars” are alive and well.  And they are destroying us.  Destroying our friendships, destroying our families, and destroying the Church as a whole.  Think about how many friends you have.  True friends.  Friends that you never judge and who you never worry about judging you.  Up until this year, I had maybe one.  My divorce pretty much ruined friendships for me.  I lost ALL of my friends from my previous church in one fell swoop.  I tried out moms groups in my new town after I married Andy, but it seemed like it was just a big competition of who’s kid was smartest or who had the most expensive outfit or purse.  It was exhausting.  I never fit in.

We judge each other on whether we work or stay home.  On whether our kids go to school or are homeschooled.  We judge each other on the types of snacks our kids eat and the brand of clothes they wear.  We judge each other on the cleanliness of our homes and the kinds of birthday parties we throw for our children.  The list is exhaustive.  And exhausting.

So what’s the result? We now live in a society where we was women never truly connect with one another, because we don’t feel we can ever trust each other.  Instead, we are constantly evaluating how the women around us are judging us.  We don’t trust their words, because we believe they are just covering up negative thoughts they are thinking about us.  We have no real friends.

What are the implications for the Church?

  1. It hinders our worship – We are too focused on how others are viewing us to focus on God.  Your mind is not prepared to praise the Lord or learn from His Word when you are worried about how other women in the Sunday School or Sanctuary are viewing you or your children.
  2. We are not fulfilling the command given to women in Titus 2:4- “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children…” How can we teach one another when we can’t form trusting relationships?
  3. We are not reaching other women for Christ.  If we are too busy judging or worrying about being judged to reach out to new women, we will never be able to share the Gospel with women who desperately need it.

It wasn’t until this year that I finally found a core group of homeschool friends that I can honestly say I never feel judged by.  And it’s amazing.  It’s something that I wish I could give to all of you and a peaceful place I pray you can all find for yourself.

Dawn

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I Asked My Abusive Ex-Husband to Forgive Me

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Oh, my heart is so full of things I want to say, that I feel I don’t know where to begin.  Please bear with me as my heart is heavy with these words.

Abuse is wrong.  Abuse in ALL forms is wrong.  I don’t care if it’s physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, etc.  And I don’t believe being a submissive wife means that you allow your husband to abuse you.

The Bible says in Ephesians 5:25-28, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives…”  (emphasis mine).  If a husband is abusing his wife, in any way, he is certainly not leaving her spotless or without blemish, and thus not loving her in a Biblical manner.

It’s something that on the whole, the church is just ignoring, and from the stories I’ve heard, it’s a rampant problem.  My ex and I sought various types of counseling for years before our divorce.  For many years, I never labeled what he did as abuse.  He said and did things that “weren’t nice,” but he never beat me, so he wasn’t abusive.  But he tore me down year after year until I was just a ghost of my former self.  I literally ended up in the hospital with my organs shutting down before I realized how bad things were, and how desperately things needed to change.  And yet, I stayed.  I stayed another year or so until I just couldn’t do it anymore.  I firmly believed I was going to end up dead (from sickness) or in a mental health facility.

Originally I wanted a trial separation, but my ex refused.  He wanted all or nothing.  When I went to talk to my pastor, he said (and I quote), that since I had never been “hit in the face” that I didn’t have a Biblical reason for divorce.  He acknowledged my husband treated me poorly, that he had a raging addiction to pornography, but apparently he wasn’t the right kind of abusive for the church.

I left the meeting and filed for divorce.

Eventually, I met and married Andy and joined his church.  The Lord convicted me for some things regarding my divorce, and I confessed my sins to Him and moved on.  Except I couldn’t.  My spiritual life was stagnant.  I was going to church faithfully, reading my Bible, listening to godly music, but I was so distant from the Lord.  I began to earnestly cry out to Him, “Show me what I’ve done!”  “I NEED you, Lord!” “Bring me back to you!”

The Scripture says in Number 32:23 to “…be sure your sin will find you out.” And boy did they ever.  Over and over and over again.  The Lord brought to mind time after time that I was not the wife that I should have been to my Ex.  You see, I started out as every young Christian bride, planning on being the submissive loving wife, but as he let me down, I stopped trying.  I gave up on him.  And honestly, I became a hateful, vile wife.  I said and did just hateful things that I am deeply ashamed of.  Things that there is no excuse for, as I have the Holy Spirit living inside me.  And as the Lord brought those things to mind, it became clear what I needed to do.  Not just confess them to the Lord, but seek forgiveness from my Ex.

I talked it over with Andy, and he graciously listened and prayed with me.  I set up the meeting with my Ex for the next day.  I met with him, and with tears in my eyes, apologized for not being the wife that God had called me to be.  You see Ephesians has some words for us wives too.  It says in 5:22, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”  It doesn’t say if they’re nice.  It doesn’t say if they deserve it.  It just says if they’re your husband.

Now, again, I’m not saying anyone should stay in an abusive marriage.  That’s between you and the Lord.  But I chose to stay for 6 years.  And during that time, I should have done my best as a wife to follow the instructions given to me by the Lord.  And I didn’t.  Who knows the changes that could have been made in my Ex if I had.  I never gave him that opportunity.  Maybe it would have all ended the same.  I’ll never know.

I also felt God calling me to apologize to that pastor who gave me the terrible advice.  He was my pastor, and I had placed myself under his authority.  To be honest, apologizing to him was WAY harder than talking with my Ex.  Not that what he said was right AT ALL, but I should have been willing to sit under counseling with him and my Ex for a period of time, and I wasn’t.  I simply wanted his stamp of approval on my actions, and when I didn’t get it, I stomped out.

But here’s the deal.  The only reason the Lord blessed is because I truly humbled myself and truly sought forgiveness only.  Because you know what? Neither one of them apologized back.  My Ex has always blamed me for the divorce, so I imagine he felt pretty validated.  And that pastor? His response was pretty smug.  But, I got my clear and full relationship with Jesus back.

As 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

It may not be your Ex.  I may be your parents or a sibling or a friend who has wronged you that you may need to ask forgiveness of  It’s not easy, but peace with God and yourself is SO very worth it.

Dawn

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Mishaps, Mistakes, and Misery

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  – Genesis 2:18 (ESV)

A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with my sister downtown, when I had a little accident.  I am a terrible parallel parker, and in trying to park, I hit another car.  This has never happened to me before, and although the damage was minimal, I was afraid to tell Andy.  We have only been married for 4 months, and he’s still traveling out of town each week, so I wasn’t sure what the best way would be to tell him.  With my heart beating fast, I called him on the phone and spilled the story.  And you know what his reaction was?  “It’s no big deal, I’m just glad you’re ok.”  That was it.  Once he got home and actually saw the car, we had a little chuckle about my parking skills, and we moved on.  The End.

Fast forward to this past weekend.  Although I won’t go into the details, Andy did something that I thought was incredibly stupid.  (I’m not proud to say that, but I’m being honest here).  As the time progressed, and we dealt with the consequences of his decision, I got madder and madder, until finally, I blew up and snapped at him.  A much different reaction than the one he gave me after my bad parking experience.

As I have been studying Eve, I have been more and more convicted about my role as a wife, and how often I fail to meet the requirements.  In his book Twelve Extraordinary Women, John MacArthur explains the roles this way,

 “Adam was created first; then Eve was made to fill a void in his existence.  Adam was the head; Eve was his helper.  Adam was designed to be a father, provider, protector, and leader.  Eve was designed to be a mother, comforter, nurturer, and helper.”

As I look on this list of “job roles,” I couldn’t help but think about all of the ways Andy meets his requirements.  He is a wonderful father.  He works long hours and far away (for now) to be a good provider.  We have a lovely home, no debt, and I get to fulfill my dream of being a stay at home mom.  He would do anything to protect us, and even though I don’t always agree with his decisions, he is always focused on making decisions the way he believes God is leading him.

So, why do I find it so hard to fulfill my roles? Although I love being a mom, I can’t say that I am always great at comforting and nurturing my kids (or husband), and I certainly am not always a happy helper.  When the situation arose this past weekend, instead of pointing out the discomfort I was facing, I should have stood behind my husband the same way he did me.  My attitude should have been, “It’s no big deal.  I’m glad we’re all ok.”  Because we were.  No harm was done, and one day in the future, I know we will look back on that time and chuckle.

May God continue to point out ways in which I fail my family, so that in the future when mistakes and mishaps occur, instead of following it up with misery, I can show our family mercy and create a merry atmosphere.

Dawn

(Originally Written in 2013)

 

 

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When the Going Gets Tough

“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.” – Proverbs 12:4 (ESV)

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The past few weeks have been very rough on me. Andy was given an amazing work opportunity that will be great for his career, but requires him to be gone Sunday – Thursday every week for 6+ weeks.  That means that the running of the household has fallen on me.  I have been trying to juggle kids, school, work, Christmas shopping, etc., and at times, my strength has failed me.  It’s been especially hard because the Triplets and I are still learning how to navigate as a family. 

As much as I even hate to admit it, I had to ask Andy’s forgiveness last week for calling him during a “crisis” and adding stress to his plate instead of turning to my Lord and having Him help me deal with it on my own.  It’s a fine line between wanting Andy to know that everything is handled at home and letting him know that he is still needed and missed.

I have often felt like a failure in the past few weeks, but today Andy sent me this incredible email that not only blessed my heart tremendously, but helped me refocus:

 

“Every time I’ve seen a picture of a king on TV or a magazine, I’ve always looked at his crown first. There’s something fascinating about it sitting on his head, covered in jewels, inlaid in gold. It shines and is a symbol of his position and place in the world. It shows his authority to lead. It garners respect from others around him and sets him apart. In effect, it makes him special and without his crown he’s just another man in the room. Without the crown, he cannot accomplish anything. But with it he can build great things, lead others, and care for a kingdom that God has given him.

You are the beautiful crown of my life, Dawn. You make me special and help me accomplish what I set out to do. Without your help I couldn’t do very much. Thank you for lifting me up and supporting me. I hope I am doing the same for you. As a crown you’ll never be hidden or stepped on. Crowns are for wearing and adorning; boots are for stepping and kicking. I love you with all my heart. I’m so very thankful for you.”

As a woman who was raised to be a “Proverbs 31 woman,” I cannot express to you how wonderful it is to hear my husband say this to me.  Not that I am a perfect wife (I am not even close), and not that we have a perfect marriage relationship, but isn’t this what we’re all trying to attain? For our husbands to feel supported and secure, to know that his wife is behind him no matter what.  This certainly isn’t a prideful thing for me, but much more of an admonishment and reminder of what my husband needs from me.  May I always be able to let go of my selfish ways, my need to be reaffirmed, and my complaining and put my husband first.  Not an easy task by any means, but well worth it to gain favor in the sight of my husband and God.

Dawn

(Originally written in 2012)