I was looking at my calendar last week, and I realized that it was seven years ago that my world came crashing down around me. My mind wandered back to that awful night in November when I discovered the heartbreaking truth about my first marriage. I had been so busy working on exciting new things that I had forgotten about that particular anniversary.
Seven years. Wow.
I’ve taken some time since then to ponder all that has happened in the last seven years, and I am in awe. I never would have dared to dream about where this story would take me.
Seven years ago…
I was broken.
The future seemed hopeless.
I felt so alone.
I had three scared little faces looking up at me for reassurance.
I had to be strong… for them.
Seven years later…
My heart has continued to heal a little more each day.
I have hope – wild and beautiful hope for the future – and now I get to share it with others.
I have learned that I’m not alone, and sharing the darkest parts of my story lets me help others know that they aren’t alone on this journey either.
There are three growing boys smiling back at me.
When I can’t be strong, I have my faith and the arms of my Beloved, family, and friends to hold me up until I can walk again.
The world which once felt so dark, scary, and lonely is opening up right in front of me! Somebody needs to pinch me, because I can’t believe what I’m about to tell you – 2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year…
I’m going to KENYA in July!
And then I’m going to southern INDIA in September!
Everything has happened so quickly – but I am beyond thrilled to be joining our church in the work they are doing in both places. After years of learning about the situations and struggles that women and girls face in both countries, praying, and wondering what in the world a little mom from Kansas could do to help – I feel like it’s all getting plopped down right in my lap! I get to work with amazing women who are going through some of the very same struggles that we face. These women are just like us – they need to feel that they are seen, loved, and accepted for who they are. They need friendship, community, and security. Many of them are in abusive relationships. Many of them know the pain of their husbands being unfaithful in their marriages. These are male-dominated societies where women and girls are not valued, and my heart is aching for them.
My friend Joy told me stories of women who have to attend secret church services so their husbands do not realize that they are Christians. Sometimes the husbands will follow the wives to church – and beat them right in the middle of the church service. For their faith. It was when my friend told me about this that I immediately felt my heart drawn to these women. Seven years ago I didn’t have a voice, but healing, growing, and those who poured into my life were my voice until I found it again. My heart’s desire is to be the voice for others who can’t speak up for themselves, and to give them hope while they find their own voices again. Joy’s sister Elishba let me use her photo of one of these secret church services…
This is Nalini. She is one of these precious ladies. When her husband found out that she attended church services, he would beat her and lock her out of the house at night so she had to sleep in the street. Thankfully, her husband has been changing and she has been able to attend services without any trouble from him recently.
Dear friends, these women and girls are our sisters, and I hope that we will all stand with them in support. We’re all on this journey together!
Another exciting piece of news is that my lovely friend Joy is translating many of my blog posts into her native Tamil language – to be a book!!! Her father is the pastor of the church above – and they want to share our story with the women in their city. I am still in awe of how things are coming together! I have been busy editing and putting together our blog posts into a manuscript for Joy to translate – and then share with whomever can be encouraged by it.
This is what I’ve been doing lately – printing, playing around with the order of the chapters, and editing with my handy red pen…
*Sidenote – Isn’t my new African journal beautiful? My friend Toni from Red Pen Travelers did a fabulous job – and I can’t wait to take it with me on my travels! She will be making leather India journals in a few months to help support my trip to India! Check them out for yourself – her notebooks would make perfect Christmas presents!
I am so excited to share all of this with you because you NEVER KNOW what the future holds. You never know how your story can be used to touch someone else’s heart. To you, my friends, who are hurting right now – when you feel like you’re being pulled under by the unrelenting waves of your own pain, please know that there really is hope. There’s no telling who you might help by sharing your story with someone going through their own storm.
Seven years ago I never could have dreamed that one day my story of feeling so broken and alone would help anyone – especially women in other parts of the world. I feel so humbled that this Kansas girl gets to take a message of hope to our sisters in India and Kenya next year. I can’t wait to throw my arms around them and let them know how loved they are. Just like you, my friends, I want them to know that they are seen, they are loved, and they are not alone.
I am so honored to get to spend part of your day with you. Thank YOU for going on this journey with me!
Love & hugs,
I can see the hurt in your eyes as you try so hard to be strong. I can hear you convincing yourself and others that everything is okay. I watch you hiding behind the mask of having it all together, when you really feel helpless and with no way out. I know that you feel invisible. I know that you wouldn’t dream of speaking up, but please know that you are not alone in this. I see you because I see myself in you…
I love you, but…
I never said that…
You’re crazy. I never did that to you…
You must be remembering it wrong…
You brace for the words you know are coming as he embarrasses you in public again. He must not realize how much it stings. He’s only teasing. You take things too seriously, he tells you. You feel yourself harden as layer after layer of his words threaten to squeeze the life out of your once tender heart.
You try to explain it all away – He doesn’t mean to be so critical. He just had a hard day. He’s under so much stress. If you hadn’t been so dumb. If you hadn’t messed up.
You try so hard, but somehow he knows just what to say to make you feel increasingly small.
It wasn’t always like this. Your mind drifts back to before – when it all began. Back when he first noticed you. Back when he showered you with attention. Back when he couldn’t get enough of you.
Being pursued was all so exciting in the beginning. You finally meant something to somebody. He said that you were the prettiest. The kindest. The sexiest. The smartest. The best at everything. You had wanted to take things slow, but things spun out of control. He had this urgency about your relationship – almost as if he were afraid that you’d slip away. You almost felt smothered in his affection, but this had to be love, right? This is what you’d been waiting for all your life.
You’re not quite sure how it happened. One day, when you were completely his – when you had fallen under his spell – something changed. A sharp word. A rolling of his eyes. Something was your fault. You were hurt by a joke he made about you to his friends. He said he didn’t mean it. You are too sensitive, he told you.
Things escalated so gradually, and you’re not sure how you ended up here. You had found your worth in him, but now you feel like nothing outside of your relationship with him. You’re a grown woman, but in an instant he can make you feel like a small child. There is a sense of security in him. It used to be that he needed you, but now you need him. It kills you when he shuts you out. You just want to make him happy. You try so hard to earn his love and approval once more – but it just doesn’t come.
You get blamed more and more, and you rationalize to yourself and others how he treats you. It seems like you’re always explaining or making excuses for him, but for some reason you are the one who ends up feeling guilty. You start to wonder if you are going crazy, if this is all your fault…
Oh, how I wish I could gather you up in the warmest of hugs right now. I would make us cups of tea, and I would ask you to sit and talk with me. There’s something I want to tell you. Sweet friend, you are not crazy. Absolutely none of this is your fault. You have loved, trusted, and believed in this man. You gave him everything, and have received nothing in return. I wish I could help you see that you have given him your whole heart, your self-worth, and your life – but now you can take them back. You are so precious, and you DO deserve to be treated better than this life he has cultivated and has controlled around you.
I know that it seems so strange to even think about, but the first step in healing your bruised and broken heart is recognizing what it really is… Verbal abuse. Does this story resonate with you? Please take some time to really think about it. Once this sinks in, it feels as if a blindfold has been lifted from your life. You no longer have to accept the words he throws at you. Your eyes can finally be open to the truth.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:32
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can find healing, acceptance, and your joy in life again. If any of this resonates with you, I beg of you to find someone you can talk to and who can hold your hand as you walk through this journey. I still have so much healing and growing to do, but I could not have come this far in my life without my counselor. She was truly a major key in me finding my voice and becoming who I am today. If you need any help finding a counselor, please READ THIS POST. I also could not have done it without the support of my close family and friends. Please open up to someone whom you trust and let them help you through this.
And I can’t stress this enough – if you are in a relationship where someone is hurting you physically or sexually, PLEASE SEEK SAFETY. Chances are that if those are happening to you, then you can relate to the other stories, too. I beg of you to take your children and find a shelter or a safe house where you can get help. Call the police – they are here to protect you, but they can’t help if you don’t go to them. It doesn’t matter what he said in the past. If it has happened once, studies show that it will happen again – and I just can’t bear the thought of one of you precious friends getting hurt again… or worse.
Would you please do something for me? If you know someone who is hurting and could be encouraged by this post, would you please share it with them? There is nothing I want more than to come alongside them and let them know that there really is hope.
If there is one thing that I may to leave you with – please know that even though not many people talk about these parts of our stories, there are so many of us on this journey together. Please don’t be afraid to reach out. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. You can also email me at email@example.com.
You are loved. You are seen. And you are not alone.
More in this series:
I am always so touched by the messages and comments I receive here on the blog. I can’t tell you how much hearing from you has meant to me, and I am so honored to spend a little part of your day with you!
Today I’m sharing from my heart about a question that I hear pretty often… How do you heal after infidelity?
Each one of the messages that I receive about this pulls at my heart. I want to reach out and give each of you a giant hug. I would fix us some comforting tea, and then I would sit down next to you and share the ways that helped to heal my broken heart.
When I found out about his unfaithfulness, my heart raced, my veins turned to ice, my stomach revolted, and I couldn’t breathe. Every time I discovered a new aspect of the betrayal, feared for my safety, or relived the hurt – it felt as if an elephant were sitting on my chest. I purposely let myself slow down enough to concentrate on breathing in for five slow counts, (1…2…3…4…5…), and then out for five slow counts, (1…2…3…4…5…), until the feeling passed. My world was crumbling and spinning around me, but when I spent a few minutes throughout the day on my breathing, I felt a little more in control of my situation.
Do the next thing.
Write out a list of routine activities you need to do today, and just concentrate on one thing at a time. Walk the dog. Read your little one a bedtime story. Take out the trash. Go to the grocery store. Pay the electric bill. Try not to focus so much on the unknown future – but continue on the little normal tasks in front of you. These might feel small and nearly impossible at the same time. You may feel easily distracted, but these will help to keep your body busy and your mind on track.
Take care of yourself.
Shower. Brush your teeth. Fix your hair. Go for a walk at sunset with a friend. Eat something, even if you don’t fee like it. These might sound simple, but when you are truly wrestling with such devastating news, it can be hard to gather enough focus and energy for even something as routine as shaving your legs.
I know it doesn’t feel like it, but each time you do something to take care of yourself, it’s another step forward on your journey to healing.
Make an appointment to see your doctor.
I hate this part, Friend, but I can’t stress how important this step is in your healing. You need to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Call your doctor’s office and set up a time for you to be seen. Take a supportive friend with you, if you can. I was so lucky to have a friend there holding my hand, and a caring doctor who got me in that same day for a whole panel of tests.
Once you have the results, a large weight will be lifted off your weary shoulders. If the tests are negative, you can move forward. If something does turn up, you can be treated as early as possible, and then continue moving forward.
*I would also highly recommend requesting that your partner be tested for the same large panel of STDs, and have the results printed out for you to see. They may not like it, but you have every right to know if they brought anything concerning into your bed.
Allow yourself to grieve.
You’ve just been through so much, Friend. The news that your spouse has been unfaithful is one of the most devastating betrayals that you could ever experience. Take the time that you need to process what has happened. There will be so many moments when you will need to be strong, but it is okay for you to let yourself crumble sometimes. Just don’t stay down. Allow the tears to fall, but then get back up again. You really will smile again. You will get through this… I promise.
Explore healthy ways to vent your anger and frustration.
No good can come from taking, “a Louisville slugger to both headlights,” like the country song. As much as you might want to hurl obscenities or your wedding China at your spouse, I promise that it won’t help.
This is the time to remain calm – almost businesslike – around him. There are other ways to release some of the frustration, anger, and hurt that you are feeling. Write in a journal, write a letter to your husband or to the other woman, talk to a friend, go for a run, or join a kickboxing class. Lock yourself in a room and scream into your pillow. This way you won’t do something that you will later regret.
Surround yourself with love and support.
Seek out family and loving friends right now. Find a support group through a church. This is not the time to shut yourself off from the world. It’s hard to let down your guard and say the words out loud, but I think you will be surprised at the love and understanding that you will find. I will be forever grateful for the support of my family and friends. I couldn’t have done it without them.
Keep things as normal as possible for yourself and your kids.
Whether or not you talk to your kids about what is going on, they need stability. Keep your routine as normal as possible, and it will help you and them as you process and heal. If your children know about the betrayal, please consider having them go to counseling where they can express and work through their confusion and hurt as well.
See a counselor by yourself.
I’ve shared before how important therapy was in my healing. I grew so much during my time in counseling. Having someone comfort, guide, and challenge me on this journey was incredibly helpful.
I’ve also recently learned about peer counseling. Infidelity Counseling Network is a wonderful FREE resource for women who need to talk over the phone to someone who has been through it, too.
Attend counseling together.
Making an appointment for marriage counseling was one of the best things that I could have done, even though our marriage didn’t survive. A good couple’s therapist will listen, see through the hurt, and identify ways that the two of you can start to heal.
Your spouse will learn how to begin earning back your trust – cutting off communication with their lover, calling you throughout the day, being home when they said they would be home, reading books with you about healing and marriage, attending a support group for men with a lust addiction, and living transparently before you. This isn’t about punishing him – it’s about him respecting what you need as he works toward restoring broken trust.
Don’t rush. Work through healing slowly and intentionally.
As hard as it is right now, try to be logical and reasonable in your decisions without letting emotions get the better of you.
Don’t rush things back to “normal.” So much healing needs to take place, and that will take time, patience, and hard work by both of you.
Don’t rush into seeking separation or divorce either. Only time will tell if your marriage will survive. It takes two to tango, and to be restored, but you can do everything in your power to facilitate reconciliation. There is no rush when it comes to ending a marriage. Getting a divorce will not suddenly make everything better. Only healing, time, and forgiveness can do that – whether or not you stay together.
Don’t seek to get even.
You might feel desperate for them to know the searing pain they are putting you through, but do not look for comfort or revenge in someone else’s arms. It’s not worth it to bring more devastation into the relationship.
I believe this the most important way that you can heal after such a devastating betrayal. You can go down the list and check everything else off, but if you do not forgive, you will not feel whole again. Forgiveness is not a gift that you give to them – it is a gift that you are giving to yourself. Forgiveness releases you from their power over you. It frees you from the pain that bound you to them. Once those chains fall away, your heart will be free to heal once more.
Sometimes forgiveness is a daily practice – every time he comes to pick up your kids, when you see him with another woman, or even if he blames you for his affair – you can take in another deep breath and remind yourself that the worst is over. You have come so far on this road to healing, and you should be deeply proud of yourself.
And you are not alone… I promise.
What about you?
Do you have any advice for our friends? Can you think of other ways that we can heal after such a dark time? I’d love to hear all about them in the comments below!
Can I ask you for a big favor? Do you know anyone who might be encouraged by this blog post? Would you please consider sharing it with them? I want nothing more than to help others to know that they are not alone in this journey.
As always, thank you so much for spending a little bit of your day with me. Your encouragement and comments mean the world to me! You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time,
So this is one of THOSE weeks where things aren’t going quite right. My computer ate this post that I had aaaaaalmost finished the other day, and my Beloved is needing to take my laptop with him during the day to school and work, so I’m trying to finally get this post out to you before another whole week flies by!
Let’s see…What’s been happening lately? I finished up my 30 day fitness goal!!! Just over a month ago I was really frustrated about my health and body image. I felt sluggish and squishy, my joints ached, and my clothes didn’t fit. I had fallen off the exercise wagon, and was dragging in the dust. I felt self-conscious around my Beloved, and I just didn’t want to feel like that any more.
I looked at the calendar and realized that it was exactly 30 days until my birthday, so I jumped into 30 Day Shred workout videos. I decided to plow on through, doing the workouts for 30 days in a row with no rest days.
I’ve used these videos in the past, but had forgotten just how brutal Jillian Michaels can be. I got up early, bounced around doing jumping jacks, high knees, push-ups, Supermans, and more. Before the first 10 days were up, I felt ready to move on to Level 2. And before the next 10 days were over, I felt as thought I needed the challenge of Level 3. By the time I was several days into the third level, I was bored and frustrated with being yelled at by a trainer on my TV at 0530 every morning.
On top of all that, my hip wouldn’t allow me to do a couple of the high-impact moves, so I had to find other ways to challenge my body during things like jumping lunges. I had hip surgery a year ago, (and knee surgery 16 years ago), and while I have regained so much strength and ability, I do have to be careful about some of those more jarring moves.
I was already seeing progress in my body. My shoulders were more defined. I could see muscle tone in my legs. My core was feeling tighter… Things were moving in the right direction, but I couldn’t stay with the Shred for those last few days. That’s when I decided to give PIYO a try. It’s a fast-paced Pilates/yoga regime where you use your own bodyweight to work on strength and flexibility. I’d heard great things about it from a friend who loves her PIYO workouts, and she thought it would be a perfect low-impact workout for my joints, while giving me the results I wanted.
I’m several days into it, and it’s been great! I love that there is a different workout to do each day, and I am drenched in sweat after each session! So far it has been pretty gentle on my hip, and I actually look forward to rolling out of bed at 0530 and having a little ME time before the rest of the house stirs! It took about three weeks for my body to adjust to getting up so early, but now it’s just part of my routine and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s something so invigorating about being up at such a peaceful hour.
I don’t have any pictures from my PIYO workouts, but I pretty much look like this when it’s over – in a good way! (via Pinterest)
I’ve lost about an inch from my waist, about an inch and a half from my hips, an inch from each of my upper thighs, and an inch from each of my upper arms. My clothes fit better and better each week, and I’m actually starting to feel good about myself again! Isn’t the human body an amazing thing? The science behind how our bodies work, move, and strengthen is fascinating! I love having more energy to keep up with my guys, and seeing my body develop into a leaner, stronger woman is pretty awesome!
I still have a little muffin top, but I know that will come off with time. This last month has taught me so much about setting a goal, showing up no matter what, and seeing it through. Results will come! It’s not overnight, but I didn’t gain the extra fluffiness overnight either. I’ve been so encouraged by watching my physical body go through this transformation, and I’m excited to apply this in other areas of my life as well!
Last Week’s Goals ~
Be up by 0530 every morning to get an early start on my day with exercise and quiet reading time. I set my alarm for 0600 on the weekends, so it was nice to get a little extra sleep before getting up early to tackle my day.
Continue with the 30 Day Shred and 30 Days of Yoga every morning, or find something more challenging to finish out my month of working on my health. But do not weigh myself. Check!
- ~ Drink 3qt. of water each day. I slacked one day last week, and I could tell a difference. I didn’t feel as refreshed, and I felt parched the next day. I love adding lemon and lime juice to my pitcher of water every morning!
Write two more blog posts this week.
- ~ F
ind ways that I can encourage a friend this week.
This Week’s Goals ~
- ~ Wake up at 0530 each morning to get an early and quiet start on the day.
- ~ Continue working out each day with PIYO and activities with our boys.
- ~ Drink 3 liters of water each day, along with coconut water to stay hydrated.
- ~ Experiment with my new Beeyoutiful mineral foundation, and play around with other makeup ideas.
- ~ Hop into bed by 9:30PM – early enough to read before falling asleep.
What about you?
I’m curious – as I’ve been thinking about all the things that have kept me from taking better care of myself, I’m wondering – What things are keeping you from taking a little time for you? Kids? Work? Crazy schedule? Are you like me and forgot how to take care of yourself?
One of the hardest parts of taking a little time for myself has always been coming up with ideas for how to take care of me. That’s why I’ve come up with a list of 101 FREE (or nearly free) Ways to Take a Little Time for US! And I’d be thrilled to send it to you! Subscribe to the free email updates from Just One of the Boys – just enter your name and email address below -and I’ll send you your FREE copy!
I’ll keep sharing even more of my progress on Facebook and Instagram this week with the hashtag #takealittletime, and I’d love it if you joined me. It would be way more fun with you! Let’s find a second to actually take a minute, SIT DOWN today, and just breathe. And don’t forget to drink water! You can even tell me how you are taking care of your body here in the comments or tag me in your photos! Let’s put our health, our hearts, and our heads back on the to-do list – and let’s start taking better care of ourselves today!
So… My morning didn’t start out so great. I turned my head when something caught my eye, and I was not looking behind me when I backed out of our garage.
I felt my stomach drop as the realization of what I just did washed over me. I had just hit my husband’s car. Joe was still inside the house, so I sent in one of the boys to go get him.
I put the vehicle in park, and I just sat there – still shocked by what I had just done. The sound of my own thoughts echoed inside my mind…
Look what you did. How could you be so stupid, Ginger? How could you be so careless? You know better than to get distracted. You’re so irresponsible. I can’t believe you just did that. Stupid!
Blame. Name-calling. Judgement.
That’s when my Beloved walked outside, and I saw him involuntarily cringe when he saw my predicament. That’s when my heart and my tears fell.
“I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay, Honey. That’s why they call it an accident.”
“But I’m really, really sorry.”
“It’s okay, Honey. Really. It’s just a car.”
Our oldest son climbed up next to me and wrapped his arms around my shoulders. “Are you okay, Mom? Everybody makes mistakes.”
No blaming. Just GRACE.
I ran my errand still shell-shocked, and returned home to my family. Aiden’s concerned face greeted me when I went inside. “Mom! Are you okay?” Our freckled middle child who doesn’t enjoy showing physical affection could sense what I needed just then, and he gave me a hug.
No judgement. Just GRACE.
Our littlest guy hurried up the stairs. “What’s wrong, Mommy?” He leaned his head against me and looked up as I explained what had happened. His brown eyes got even bigger, and then his face softened. “It’s okay, Mommy. Sometimes stuff like that just happens.”
No name-calling. Just GRACE.
And my Beloved. His kind eyes searched my face and could tell that I was still beating myself up for my mistake. He stood there with open arms – full of the forgiveness and grace that I was denying myself… that I have become accustomed to denying myself over the course of my whole life.
It was then that I realized the only one pointing fingers of blame was me. My whole family had surrounded me with love and forgiveness. I could continue on in my shame spiral, or I could accept what everyone else was already handing to me. GRACE.
This certainly isn’t the last time that I’m going to mess up, but today I’m choosing GRACE.
What about you?
Have you found ways to give yourself a little grace when you let yourself down? Do you struggle with it like I do? I’d love to read your comments below. It means so much to me that you let me go on this journey of life with you! Thank you so much for being part of our Just One of the Boys family!
Hiya, Friends! It’s that time again – time to share in Leigh Kramer’s fabulous link-up – What I’m Into! I just love going through the other links and finding out what everyone has been reading, watching, eating, and into over the last month! I’ve found some of my new favorite blogs and people this way! So grab a fluffy blanket and a cup of tea, and let’s dish about January!
Mama’s Got a Brand New Bag!
My Beloved and our boys gave me an Etsy gift card for Christmas – and I finally found the perfect thing to get with it! It’s a purse/messenger bag that just happens to be made out of a coffee sack! I had another purse sort of similar, but it wasn’t as well-lined as this one. This one has pockets inside, plenty of room for my laptop, and a sturdy strap! I get compliments whenever I take it out – and I couldn’t be happier!
Check out the Etsy seller Sublime Surprises for more of her beautiful bags! Shipping was super fast, and she was a dream to work with!
Last Month’s Reading ~
Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, by Queen Liliuokalani – Wow. I’m a history nerd, but I had no idea about the incredible life this woman lived! Definitely one of my favorite memoirs, and it has fueled my interest in learning more about Hawaiian history and culture!
Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, by Nadia Bolz-Weber – Y’all. Now I understand all the fuss around this book. This book is not for everyone, but I really enjoyed her rich storytelling and fresh look at life, pain, addiction, and the church! And guess what??? She’s coming to Kansas THIS WEEK!!! And guess where I’m going??? Yep! My friend Andrea and I are going to have a little mommy road trip to go listen to her speak, and I couldn’t be more excited! Some girl time with my wonderful friend AND getting to listen to Nadia speak – Sounds like an awesome night to me!
Plot and Structure, by James Scott Bell – I learned so much about structuring a story this month! I probably highlighted straight up half of this book for future reference, but I feel as though I have a better grasp and understanding of what goes into a GOOD story, and why some things tend to work while others don’t work.
Essentialism, by Greg Mckeown – While I learned quite a bit about analyzing whether or not things in my life are essential, it wasn’t my favorite read of the month. I wanted so much to love this book – but it just didn’t hit it out of the park for me.
The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield – I breezed through this one. Full of quotes to get you fired up about living creatively, it was fine – but it’s probably not going to be one of my all-time favorites.
February’s Reading ~
Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott – I’m continuing my quest to grow and learn as a writer. You can’t go wrong with Saint Anne! Every time I read her book I learn something new, and I’m already absorbing new things as I’m only a few chapters into it!
The Ship of Brides, by Jojo Moyes – My friend Jan (Hi, Friend!) lent me her copy of this book yesterday at PE class. I love everything else that I’ve read from the author of Me Before You, so I’m excited to get started!
Love and Respect, by Emerson Eggerichs – I mentioned HERE that my Beloved and I are re-reading this one together.
Shoal of Time, by Gavan Daws – A history of Hawaii, this one looks captivating!
The Betrayal of Liliuokalani: Last Queen of Hawaii, by Helena Allen – I’m telling you, I can’t get enough of this Queen. Her life was fascinating, and I can’t wait to learn more about this brave woman!
And if I finish those books, I have plenty of books to dive into:
What have you been reading lately? I’d love to hear all about it!
Screen Time ~
Like almost everyone else on my Facebook feed, I watched the Parenthood finale last night. *sniff, sniff*
My Beloved and I watched Unbroken and American Sniper. Both were pretty difficult to watch – American Sniper especially for this military wife. But I thought that both were very well done. I’ve read and enjoyed Unbroken, but I might see if I can borrow my dad’s copy of American Sniper to learn more about Chris Kyle’s life.
I watched the first part in the documentary A Path Appears this past week, and again my heart feels so burdened by the stories that Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn! I love seeing the work that people are doing all over the world to free women who are enslaved in trafficking, and I can’t wait to see what things are spotlighted next week.
On the Blog ~
(Just click on the photos below…)
This month we revamped a series – Take a Little Time for YOU!
My friend Tammy shared 25 things she learned in 25 years of marriage ~
I shared a few of my favorite links from around the web ~
We began a new series – Yours, Mine & Ours: Blending Families. This first part in the series focused on my 10 Favorite Books on Remarriage and Blending Families!
I shared a peek into our family’s evening routine – that has become a memory that I will never forget. A big thank you to my friend Cara Meredith for letting me share it as a guest post over in her corner of the world!
I shared this post from last year for my little man’s birthday ~
And I was thrilled to join my friend Alysha in a video chat/interview where we talked about being intentional with our families while in the midst of trials.
Screen Time ~
Like almost everyone else on my Facebook feed, I watched the Parenthood finale last night. *sniff, sniff*
My Beloved and I watched Unbroken and American Sniper. Both were pretty difficult to watch – American Sniper especially for this military wife. But I thought that both were very well done. I’ve read and enjoyed Unbroken, but I might see if I can borrow my dad’s copy of American Sniper to learn more about Chris Kyle’s life.
What About You?
What have you been up to this month? Found any must-read books? Anything on Netflix catch your eye? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!
Wishing you a phenomenal February!
“Know what, Mommy? I like being Quinn.”
I’m so glad you like your name, Honey! I think it suits you.
“No, Mommy. I like being ME. I like Star Wars and my brothers and doggies and my friends and I’m good at math.”
Just like that. Not a pompous air about him. Just a little boy who likes being Quinn.
Of course he should like himself – he’s a cool little guy! He loves jokes, always has a goofy grin on his face, is meticulous with his things, has an incredible memory, and he’s such a good little helper.
And he had a killer mohawk when he was just a punk baby. What’s not to like?
The wheels in my mind began to turn, and I couldn’t help but wonder… Could I say the same thing about myself? Could I actually say those very words out loud about me?
Are you like me? I get embarrassed when someone gives me a compliment. Instead of just saying a simple, “Thank you,” I brush it off and turn it into a put-down about myself. I used to think that I was being humble by deflecting the kind and encouraging comments of others. It wasn’t right to find things that I actually liked about myself… But my little guy has once again opened my eyes and is helping me to change the mindset that I’ve had all my life – nearly 34 years – of never feeling good enough.
Y’all know how I’ve been working on taking a little more time for myself – but all of the nail polish, tea, and healthy breakfasts in the world are for naught if I don’t actually VALUE the life that I have been given – to be GINGER. Crooked smile and all.
I can’t be the only one who feels this way, and it would mean the world to me if you would join me! I’m going to start down this road of not just becoming okay with who I am, but actually liking me. I heard a wonderful message on Sunday similar to ones that I’ve sat through before – but this time I really heard it. I am not a mistake. I am Someone’s masterpiece, and He wouldn’t change anything about me. I have a feeling that this project will stretch me in ways that I’ve never had to grow before, but it’s kind of exciting, too!
So here’s my challenge to us for today: Let’s find ONE thing – (baby steps, friends!) – that we like about ourselves. It can be the color of your eyes, or the way you save your family money, or the fact that you can let loose and dance in the kitchen when no one is watching. What is ONE thing that you like about yourself? If you have trouble coming up with something – ask a friend what they like about you! I bet they can think of something. (I might have to do that one myself!)
When you have that ONE thing, write it down. On paper. With a pen so you can’t erase it. *wink* And then drop me a line in the comments and let me know what is the thing you discovered about yourself today? I’ll share mine with you, too!
Let’s be there for each other!
I’ve shared with you before how our family is going through a big change. After nearly 5 years of living apart because of my Beloved’s military career and custody arrangements with my ex-husband, we are finally all under the same roof! This has been a HUGE cause for celebration, but it has also been a time of transition and learning how to blend as a family.
At times the growing pains have been downright painful.
When I became a single mom, I had to fight to develop independence. I am not naturally independent or gritty, but as I protected my three little cubs, this mama bear had to dig deep to heal and find a strength I didn’t know I had. The learning continued as Joe and I married and the boys and I were not able to be with him in his military travels. Living alone, going through months of deployments, along with basically having to conduct my day-to-day life as a single mom meant that for the last six years I have been the boss. I’ve made the decisions. I’ve made the feverish middle of the night ER trips alone. I have fixed the leaky pipe and mowed the yard. I did it all.
One day shortly after my Beloved finished his military career and was able to finally move home, I was rushing around the house and stressed to the MAX. You know how it is… Wash the dishes, move over the laundry, let the dogs outside, fold the laundry, let the dogs back in, step on a LEGO, wash the shampoo out of a little guy’s hair, check if the big boy’s room is clean, vacuum the stairs, check the homework papers. Joe kept asking me how he could help, but I just brushed him aside and said I was fine. I would take care of everything.
He gently took my the shoulders. “Honey, please let me help you. You don’t have to do it alone anymore. I am here. And I want to help.”
I looked up into the blue eyes which were radiating safety and unconditional love, and my walls began to crumble. That’s when the tears fell. The weight of the world was being lifted off my shoulders.
I really didn’t have to do it all on my own.
I don’t have to do it all on my own anymore.
This isn’t the only area where I’ve failed. It has been a big transition for everyone in our family, and I want us to continue to grow together. I want our home to filled with love, teamwork, commitment, and respect for one another… and I need help. That’s when I decided to call in the experts. I approached several of my friends who have also been through remarriage and the blending of their families. I asked them for their tips for a newlywed couple like us, and their encouraging advice has been such a gift to me. I know that we are not the only family who is on this journey of blending right now – so I wanted to share what I am learning with YOU!
While there are so many things on my heart right now, I thought that first off I would share with you 10 books that have helped us over the years to begin laying the foundation for our marriage and our family. We worked so hard over the last five years to build a strong bond with each other and with our children, and we couldn’t have done it without this list!
These are the TOP TEN BOOKS ON MARRIAGE AND FAMILY that we read to help us get to where we are today:
The Remarriage Checkup, by Ron L. Deal and David H. Olson – This is one of the first books that we read when we were planning to get married. It was an excellent help as we laid the groundwork for our relationship and future family! It’s on my list to re-read and refresh my memory now as we are finally getting to live together!
Saving Your Second Marriage Before it Starts, by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott – This was another wonderful book that we read “together” while my Beloved was deployed. We would separately read one chapter each day, then we would write to each other or talk about it what we learned whenever we could squeak in a phone call. I read this again once he moved home, and it was a wonderful reminder of the things we learned a few years ago!
For Couples Only, by Shauni and Jeff Feldhahn – Another one of our long-distance deployment reads, we really enjoyed talking about the things we were learning about communication in this book!
The Smart Stepdad, by Ron L. Deal – This is a book that my Beloved read while we were preparing for our new family. I haven’t read it myself, but I think I will at least flip through it now that Joe moved home and it’s sitting on our bookshelf. I’d love to see what he learned and how I can encourage and support him in this transition. I’ll go into this more soon, but whatever he learned was awesome!
Love and Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs – We are actually rereading this book together RIGHT NOW! It really is helping to smooth over the rough bumps that we have encountered during our transition so far!
Sheet Music, by Dr. Kevin Leman – This was a fun read that dealt with cultivating marital intimacy. We read it out loud on a road trip (without the kids). *wink*
The Smart Step-Family: Seven steps to a Healthy Family, by Ron L. Deal – We went to a Successful Stepfamilies conference where we learned about this book. A-mazing. And I’ll be rereading it again soon.
Cracking the Communication Code, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs – Are you sensing a pattern here? Communication is big! Big! HUGE! Sometimes I can’t understand why he thinks the way he does, and I’m POSITIVE that he’s thought that about me *wink* and this is a great book on breaking down the differences in how men and women communicate.
The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman – You can’t go wrong with this classic. Discover the different ways that you and your spouse give/receive love, and learn how you can keep their LOVE TANKS full! (This comes highly recommended by several of my blended family friends too!)
Living in a Stepfamily Without Getting Stepped On, by Dr. Kevin Leman – Dr. Leman is one of my favorite marriage and family authors. His practical advice and humorous commentary make it easy to fly through his books. I just put this book on hold for myself at the library again. I need the reminder, and it’s just that good.
I asked a few friends who have already traveled this road and blended their families to share their suggestions of books to read while blending families, and they gave me their awesome recommendations. I put these on hold for myself at the library, and I can’t wait to dive in!
How About You?
Are there other books that have helped you in your own marriage and family? What would you add to the list? I’d just LOVE to see your recommendations!
Have you been through a remarriage journey of your own? If so, I would be thrilled to hear from you!
And lastly, do you know of someone who is also walking through a time of blending and transitioning? If so, would you send them a link to this post? It’s my heart’s desire to send encouragement their way as we walk this road together!
Until next time,
Today I am thrilled to share with y’all a video interview that I had with my friend Alysha from An Intentional Future! She has been hosting a wonderful series this month on living intentionally, and I was honored when she asked me to be part of it! She has such a wonderful message – and I am so grateful to have connected with her through this crazy world of blogging!
This is what Alysha wrote about chat our on her blog:
Ginger of justoneoftheboys.com is no stranger to trials and heartache. From being left a single parent of three young boys as she watched her first marriage dissolve, to being transformed into a caregiver as her husband was diagnosed with cancer, she is no stranger to incredible difficulties. Despite it all, she has managed to thrive.
I believe the key to intentionality is effort. Ginger is constantly reevaluating how she can not only better serve her family, but herself. I hope you’ll watch and listen as Ginger shares specific tips for being intentional with family. I also hope you’ll visit and subscribe to her blog!
I had such a wonderful time chatting with Alysha! I had been nervous about my very first video chat, but she made me feel right at home. She even made me cry a little as I talked about my boys – in a good way, I assure you! Click HERE to watch our chat – and don’t forget to leave a comment to enter her FANTASTIC GIVEAWAY!
I wrote this one year ago when our oldest son was celebrating his 10th birthday, but I wanted to share it again today! He may be 11-years-old, but it still seems like just yesterday…
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
You make me happy when skies are gray…”
“We’re going to see if we can keep you out of the hospital, Ginger.”
“I’m going to hook you up to an I.V. now, okay?”
Voices swirled around me as I closed my eyes to try and stop the agonizing motion.
Why won’t the room stop spinning? So dizzy. So sick.
The physician that I worked for practiced just down the hall from my OB doctor. They had decided that I would stay after work and have I.V. fluids to help fight off the dehydration that unrelenting morning sickness had brought to my life. I couldn’t keep anything down, not even water. I had dropped to almost 90 pounds, and I was carrying my first baby.
Please be okay. Baby, I love you so much. Do you hear me? You are loved…
“Miss! Are you okay, Miss?” Someone was shouting.
I opened my eyes to see that I was hanging by my seatbelt. A man was struggling to pry a door open.
“Grab my hand, Miss! Is there anyone else in the car with you?”
No, just me. But I’m 23 weeks pregnant. I’m going to have a baby.
“Oh no! The girl is pregnant! Call 911!”
My hand went to my belly, cradling the tiny bump that had just a few minutes before been wiggling and kicking happily as I sang to him. Now, there was only stillness…
Men pulled me out of the crumbled vehicle.
I had been hit by a semi-truck.
Someone wrapped a blanket around me as they set me on the ground.
Sirens. Ambulance. Gurney.
Emergency Room. Contractions.
“Ma’am, if we have to take this baby, the good news is that you are far enough along in the pregnancy that he will have a 1% chance of survival.”
Please, God. Please let my little boy be okay. Baby, can you hear me? I love you…
“Your baby’s heart rate is disappearing with each contraction. We need to get him out now. Push, Ginger! Push!”
The labor contractions had come hard and fast. My little boy had held on all of those months, and it was now four days past our due date. We had only been in the hospital for a little over an hour, and it was time. But he was facing the wrong direction, and he was stuck. My baby was in danger once more.
I pushed while the doctors pulled one more time. It was finally over. His cry was the most beautiful sound that I had ever heard.
They laid my precious bundle next to my heart. I was finally a mommy.
My Camden! I have waited so long to meet you, Little One. I love you so much…
The music swelled as he excitedly bounced up and down. His little brothers had already taken their turns, and our new little family was waiting for us just beyond the door. My little man, my Camden, was going to walk me down the aisle and give me away to my Beloved.
He looked up at me as I swept his black hair to the side once more.
Camden, I love you.
“I love you, too, Mommy! Are you ready?” He slipped his little hand into mine.
I’m ready, Honey.
A tidal wave of emotion is flowing through me as I think about you turning 10 years old. You are growing into a kind and generous young man. I love that you are becoming such a gentleman, always looking for ways to help others. You have the special ability to make people smile, and you are a wonderful friend to those around you. You may be growing up, but you will always be my baby. I am proud of the boy that you are, and of the man that you are becoming. I am truly the luckiest mommy in the whole wide world, and I am so thankful that you were given to me.
No matter where your life’s journey takes you, please remember something for me…
You are ENOUGH. And you are LOVED. Always and forever.
“…You’ll never know, Dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.”
Happy 10th Birthday!
*Photos 3 and 5 are courtesy of NZ Portraits by Joanne. Photo 4 is courtesy of our wonderful friend Cindy.