My Messy Blessed Life

screenshot_20200315-164131_wordpress

Life doesn’t always end up like you expect. The choices we make and the consequences that follow can either enhance your life, or they can cause you to take a major step back to work on yourself. The latter is what I have been doing.

I am navigating through a divorce. I’m sure that comes as a shock for some of you that follow my blog. I thought my marriage was restored and I wanted it to be restored. I tried, as did he, but in the end it was too late. I also had fallen in love with someone else, and we have been in a relationship for the past year.

Needless to say, this last year has been incredibly difficult. There is a reason scripture says that God hates divorce. 

I hate divorce, says the Lord, God of Israel. I hate it when one of you does such a cruel thing to his wife. Make sure that you do not break your promise to be faithful to your wife. – Malachi 2:16 (GNB)

Divorce rips apart family, friends, and children. It is ugly and painful. Bitterness, resentment, and anger start to take root in your heart, and if your are not careful, those three things will spread and contaminate all aspects of your life. I have experienced great shame and guilt that I continue to struggle with because of the choices I have made. I am finding that the only way for me to try to forgive myself, is accepting the forgiveness that God has already given me. It is a process.

I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. – Isaiah 43:25 (ESV)

I tried to be as transparent as I could be in my prior posts, and yet I held back the deep and dark secrets of my heart. I cannot fully express how sorry I am, and I humbly ask for your forgiveness. 

I mentioned earlier that I took a major step back and worked on myself. I was diagnosed with a mental illness in April 2019, and since that time, I have been in therapy. Therapy was a long time coming, and I should have taken that step years ago. I am finally able to start working through my childhood, past traumas, and life as it is today. My plan is to share some of my journey with you.

I have revamped this blog, and will share and discuss numerous topics. I originally started to create a new blog entirely. I found myself having a mental block. Something just didn’t feel right. I didn’t know what I was going to do with Living By Grace. Finally, after talking with a dear friend, the answer was obvious.. I couldn’t delete my story.  No matter how things had turned out, or what I should have done or could have done, it was still my story. I wasn’t supposed to start over. I was called to continue sharing the messiness of life and all its blessings.  

..the answer was obvious. I couldn’t delete my story. No matter how things had turned out, or what I should have done or could have done, it was still my story. I wasn’t supposed to start over.

So now here I am, starting over in more ways than one, and excited to share and talk about life. Real life. Real struggles. Real blessings. I hope you will join me!

Messy blessings,

Misty

 

 

A Moment of Light In the Darkness

What a difference a few weeks can make. How one minute I am publishing a blog on the stages of grief and how far I have come; to a few weeks later,  waking up after 15.5 hours of sleep, and not remembering anything.

I didn’t expect my grief to return with so much force. I didn’t expect to literally not be able to wrap a single gift without breaking down. I never anticipated not caring if I celebrated Christmas at all. I also didn’t plan to come home one day and give up…and take too much of my anxiety meds; because I had become so tired of fighting through the struggles and pain.

Last night, I looked at my husband and asked him why I continued to struggle. I have prayed incessantly, begging God to remove this pain from me. I have cried out that I am just too weak and that I have no fight left in me. Why hasn’t He answered? Why am I not fixed? Jason told me that He is very much still with me. I laughed, and then asked the one question that so many people ask, “If God exists, and is such a loving God, why is all of this still happening?”

If God exists, and is such a loving God, why is all of this still happening?

This morning, I shocked myself. I actually got ready and went to church. My family was going to light the advent candle this morning and give a reading. I went to bed last night, and didn’t care one way or the other. Jason and the boys could do it without me…but I woke up and felt like I could go. I don’t know if my pastor gave the sermon he originally intended; but I do know that he gave the one I needed to hear.

First the advent reading and lighting of the advent candle, love. As I read the assigned scripture, I felt a stirring inside my heart,

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. -Luke 1: 46-48

“He has looked with favor”… this is Mary, the one chosen to be the mother of the world’s Savior. My pastor’s sermon spoke on how the punishment during that time, to be an unwed mother, was death. That Joseph was probably criticised and ridiculed by his peers for staying with Mary, be he defended her and loved her. That sounds alot like my story…I have a husband who has stood by my side, despite the ridicule of those who just don’t understand how he could.

Then the mic drop moment happened, as I sat there in the pew trying to keep it together. Pastor talked about Emmanuel, which means God is with us. My mind went back to last night and how I had laughed at the thought. The reminder of this specific name, was a moment of light in the darkness that I had been living in again.

He then asked the very question I asked Jason the night before, “If God is so loving, why does He let bad things happen?” He shared a story and began talking about the gifts we are each given by God, and maybe it was time to stop giving in to peer pressure, or what others think, and just be us. That is really all I remember of his sermon, because I began writing right there. Maybe my prayers had already been answered, He had already equipped me with what I needed. Writing is my gift from God. Writing is the avenue He has given me to work through and process my pain.

  Maybe my prayers had already been answered, and He had already equipped me with what I needed. Writing is my gift from God. Writing is the avenue He has given me to work through and process my pain. 

I would like to share with you what I heard spoken to me during that moment. It didn’t come from my pastor… it came from that inner voice, that I believe is the Holy Spirit, and left me with questions that I think we all should ponder,

Maybe it is not a loving God that allows bad things to happen; but a fallen world. A world where people are failing to extend God’s love to those who are broken. Are we doing our part? Are you showing the love of Christ to your Muslim neighbor? What about our President who you may not agree with, are you extending grace and praying over him? How about your neighbor, the single mom with five kids who needs government assistance? Or, the family who is hanging on by a thread?

What is your response? Who can you choose to show love to today? We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ. He has equipped each of us with certain gifts…

Maybe it is time to starting using those gifts, in all of their forms, to help heal, comfort, and lessen the burdens we all carry.

emmanuel

 

By His grace,

Misty

Finding Joy this Holiday Season

20181128_1953005881316444391567961.jpg

The holidays were fast approaching, and I found myself struggling with how I was going to get through them. A big part of me didn’t want to host Thanksgiving this year, but I also wanted to spend time with my side of the family. A decision of who was hosting or where my family would go, wasn’t made until four days before the day of thanks. My children were a big part of why I decided to host my family again. The boys enjoy having a house full of people, and watching their daddy fix the turkey.

The day of, as I stood in the kitchen cutting potatoes, I became overwhelmed with tears. My mom would not be there, and I said softly to myself, “Mom, I don’t think I can do this without you.” As quickly as the tears came on, they vanished. I finished cutting the potatoes and had a peace within myself. Why?

Because I knew she was with me.

Memories flooded back throughout that afternoon, and in my mind I could see her smile and hear her voice. I am quite certain she was happy to see all of us together, and that she would want us to carry on with joy in our hearts and continue making memories.

It is our family tradition, the day after Thanksgiving, to go to our favorite Christmas tree farm and cut down our tree. It was a great day! The following day we got out our Christmas decorations, and I froze. I couldn’t decorate the tree. I didn’t want to. Although I made it through Thanksgiving seemingly ok, the start of the Christmas season felt like a nose dive. I sat on the couch, and watched my children decorate the entire Christmas tree.

So, how does one find joy when their heart is broken, and they miss their loved one deeply?

First, let’s take a look at Paul…

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Philipians 1:2

The Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Philipians, while he was imprisoned for spreading the news of our Lord Jesus. How can one write a letter or book about joy as they sit in a prison cell? Because the joy Paul speaks of, and the joy I know, isn’t found in things of this world, it is found through Jesus.

Seems simple enough, but grief is a strange thing. The five stages of grief* are:

  • Denial– Life no longer makes sense. We only accept the thoughts and emotions we can handle at that time.
  • Anger– Feel it, because it is necessary. This is the time where I became very angry at God. Anger is an emotion that I know well, and it felt good to actually feel something after coming out of denial. The thing with anger, is there is usually an underlining reason for it, and in the case of loss, it is pain. Our anger shows us just how much we loved that person.
  • Bargaining– The “what if” game. I try to not let my mind go there. I know it won’t change the out come, there was nothing I could do, and I end up having sleepless nights filled with anger.
  • Depression– “The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response. To not experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual. When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realization that your loved one didn’t get better this time and is not coming back is understandably depressing. If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.*”
  • Acceptance– This does not mean that I am ok. I don’t think I will ever be the person I was before I lost my mom. Acceptance is accepting the new reality of life without her. Finding my place in this new family dynamic, creating new memories, and continuing to live. I have more good days than bad.

These stages are not a check off list. They overlap one another, and sometimes I think I have moved on, only to be found back in anger or depression. That is what happened the day of decorating our Christmas tree.

My relationship with God has changed. I was angry towards Him for awhile. I didn’t understand why mom was diagnosed with such a rare and devastating form of cancer. I questioned His goodness, and why He chose to save others but not her. Now, those intense feelings towards Him have passed, and I know God did not give my mom cancer. We live in a fallen world, and when He created it, it was perfect and good. Cancer did not exist, but when sin entered the world, we all became broken. Could God have placed His hand on mom and saved her? Yes, but His answer was no. I don’t understand the why’s, but I am not meant to. In Isaiah 55: 8-9, it says,

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

It has been in reading this truth over and over, that has helped me find my joy this holiday season. Whatever happens (in my life), rejoice in the Lord (Philipians 3:1). Instead of finding peace and comfort through things in this world, seek Jesus, and allow the Prince of Peace to settle in your heart.

merry

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again-rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philipians 4:4-7

Merry Christmas…

 

By His grace,

Misty

*information by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Dave Kessler at https://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/